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A picture can be worth a thousand words, but sometimes a word — or sound — is just what’s needed. In this project, you work with a sound synthesizer chip, an amplifier, and a speaker. With this setup, you can produce almost any sound you can imagine. You can place a sound chip in just about anything and use switches to activate sounds. For this project, we chose a hand puppet (ours happens to be a wizard because we’re into fantasy fiction); a hollow puppet lets you easily insert the project breadboard and switches. However, you can use anything you like for your talking pal. As you work through this project, you discover how to work with programmable sound synthesizer chips as well as a bit about how amplification works.


The Big Picture: Project Overview

When you complete this project, you’ll have a talking hand puppet. You can program the synthesizer chip inside the puppet with any messages you like. These messages (or sounds) are activated when you shake either of the puppet’s hands or press the puppet’s nose. Alas, adding the electronics to the puppet makes it unsuitable for use on your hand, but you can’t have everything. You can see the finished talking puppet (okay, you have to imagine the sound part) in Figure 7-1.

figure 7-1

Here are the types of activities that you’ll do to create your own talking toy:

1. Put together an electronic circuit containing a sound synthesizer chip, an amplifier, and a speaker.

2. Hook up the circuit to your computer to program the sound synthesizer with sentences, music, or whatever strange sounds you’d like to play around with.

3. Place the box containing the circuit in the puppet and connect switches in the puppet to the circuit.

After these steps, when someone presses either of the puppet’s hands or presses its nose, it plays whatever you programmed in the sound synthesizer for that particular switch. Although the hand puppet we work with in this chapter might seem like a toy, it’s not intended for small children. The wires and small electronic components could be swallowed, and you don’t certainly want small kids playing with batteries.