Nicolas Collins: Workshop in Hardware Hacking

This is a workshop in hardware hacking for audio applications. No previous electronic experience is assumed. Basic soldering skills will be learned through building contact microphones and coils to sniff electromagnetic fields. We will then open up a range of battery-powered "consumer" technology (radios, boom boxes, electronic toys), observe the effect of direct hand contact on the circuit boards, experiment with the substitution of components, and listen to unheard signals running through the circuit. 


Knowledge acquired through this process will be applied to building circuits from scratch (oscillators, amplifiers, fuzztones, mixers, etc.), both from documented designs and as invented by the students. These circuits will be prototyped on plastic “breadboards” and then soldered up onto circuit boards for the students to keep.  

More information can be found here:

About Nicolas Collins

New York born and raised, Nicolas Collins lived most of the 1990s in Europe, where he was Visiting Artistic Director of Stichting STEIM (Amsterdam), and a DAAD composer-in-residence in Berlin. 

An early adopter of microcomputers for live performance, Collins also makes use of homemade electronic circuitry and conventional acoustic instruments. He is editor-in-chief of the Leonardo Music Journal, and a Professor in the Department of Sound at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

His book, Handmade Electronic Music – The Art of Hardware Hacking (Routledge), has influenced emerging electronic music worldwide. Collins has the dubious distinction of having played at both CBGB and the Concertgebouw.