Friday, November 10, 2006


Recently, i have had a number of people asking me how Toriton works. For viewers, Toriton corrresponds to the video "Water surface as a cheap music controller ".

  1. Solar panel: 2.0V,200ma.
  2. Audio connector: 3.5mm mono w/solder points.
  3. Laser module: 1mW, 4.5V.
The solar panel can also be 1.5V or 1.0V. The solar panel is simply wired directly to the audio connector. I do not believe that it matters which wire (red or black) goes where. However, I connected the red to signal and the black to ground. The audio connector will need to plug into the computer, so the correct type must be chosen.

Setting up is quite simple. The laser module is pointed diagonally downwards through the glass vase that the water is in, so that it pierces the water's surface and hits the solar panel on the other side.

The simplest type of software that can be used as an interface is by modulating the amplitdue of another signal with the audio input of the solar panel.

In Max/MSP, this would appear like this:

Notice that the audio path input requires a multiplier. This is to bring up the audio input signal level, as the signal straight from the receiver is quite weak. Depending on which wiring and which solar panel is chosen will also determine if some sort of audio filter or filters are needed.

Of course, the audio signal can be converted into data and used in other ways also. Naturallay, programs besides Max/MSP can be used.


Anonymous said...

I found your video on youtube, when looking for some cool hacks I could make - looking forward to experimenting with this, since I love soldering things together, and am just starting on a course in MAX/MSP this monday !!


Anonymous said...

Great! I love a little theremin I own, and it sounds great playing a toriton... I would like to experiment that

Kelly said...

I saw your video on you tube and I must say I am impressed. It's so beautiful! I'm an artist in nova scotia, Canada and I've been trying to figure out how to control faraday waves on waters surface with sound, or even just find out if this is possible. Any Tips?
Once again, very cool, oh, and beautiful.

Anonymous said...

i think faraday waves are caused by vertical vibration. so maybe you could us a speaker to create the vibrations and then start driving it with sine waves to see what happens. maybe different combinations of sine waves would produce different results...

Hawklord2112 said...

quick question, could you use a bunch of these to control a Doepfer Pocket Electronic module ( then click products - Pocket Electronic)

(m'email is hawklord 2112 at gmail dot com)


Sebastian Tomczak said...

Yeah, I am pretty sure you could - you might need to condition the signal in some way though. Also, might be necessary to use an LDR and voltage division instead of the solar panel. But it could work.

quick question, could you use a bunch of these to control a Doepfer Pocket Electronic module ( then click products - Pocket Electronic)

(m'email is hawklord 2112 at gmail dot com)


Anonymous said...

hi!, im from philippines and im interested on your idea, i want to do that as my science fair project, unfortunately i cant understand too much on how to make one of these.

this is my idea by now.

get a solar panel from casio calculators or other similar things, then put the negative and positive to any of the connection on the jacks, then plug it to an amplifier, get the output and plug it on the PC's input signal port beside the output and mic, then plug a speaker on the PC, now ill set the input signal level higher since solar panel has a weak power, then use a laser that hits the water surface and hits also the solar panel.

im getting a bit confused so if you may, kindly send me a manual on how to make this outstanding project, my email is

ill expect you to mail me.

thanx and good luck!


steven edward streight said...

yeah this was excellant, an ethereal soundscape was elaborated quite dynamically.

I'm very interested in unconventional sound generators for my Str8 Sounds compositions.

sara said...

I tryed to make one.
It is working, but it doesn't sound the same as yours.
How can I made it sound like in the beginning of the video?

Please, answer me to my e-mail: