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Hardware Hack: DIY $3 contact mic/piezo pickup

October 22, 2010
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Hello all,

Just thought I'd do a post about a hardware hack I threw together. I have built a contact mic out of $3 of parts from RadioShack. Less if you buy the parts online somewhere. Here's what it entails:

Parts and equipment:

  • Piezo transducer element with two lead wires (I used RadioShack part 273-073)
  • 1/4" mono jack
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Wire (optional)
  • Electrical tape or heat-shrink tubing (I used electrical tape as I have no heat-shrink)
  • That's all you need. The first step is optional, and just increases the length between the mic and the output plug.

Instructions:

  1. (optional) Solder lead wire to desired length to the two terminals of the mono jack.
  2. If your piezo element came in a plastic or metal housing of some sort, break it out of the housing carefully without damaging the piezo disk inside.
  3. Solder the positive lead (red on the RS parts, the one attached to the silvery/white part of the piezo disk) to the tip terminal on the mono jack (or lead wire).
  4. Solder the negative lead (black on the RS parts, attached to the gold-colored rim of the piezo disk) to the barrel terminal on the mono jack (or lead wire).
  5. Tape or shrink tube the two solder points.
  6. Tape or shrink tube the wires together to add stability.
  7. Add a small amount of electrical tape over the solder dots on the piezo disk to protect the joints.

That's it!

It works fantastically, just tape the gold side of the disk to whatever you want to record/amplify. It even works on throats, rather nicely (my roommate is rather awesome and suggested that). Pictures and demo recording below.

Photos:

Parts

parts

Assembled, pre-soldering

assembled, pre-soldering

Finished product (version with lead wires)

finished product

Demo recording:

Piezo Mic Demo - recorded from my guitar, just to show the range

Keep tweaking~

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