…Fritz Lang’s Theremin Stand

by Stephen Hobley on November 6, 2011

Post image for …Fritz Lang’s Theremin Stand

(Sounds like something you’d find in Warehouse 13)

For many weeks I’ve been trying to come up with a cabinet design for the vacuüm tube Theremin I built a while ago.

I decided that the electronics were far too marvelous to hide away in the classic RCA “drinks cabinet” – and that something more radical was required. (Electronic design by Mark Keppinger – more information is available here)

…and it had to have *lots* of elliptical curves. (‘Cos nothing says CNC like ellipses)

What I wanted was something that would be open enough on the front, back and sides so that the coils and tubes would be visible. It was routed from 3/4″ MDF and then the beveled edge was created using a small table router and “tracing” bit.

I still need to figure out a way to attach the antenna – and replace the 1/2″ copper tubing with some stainless steel, or brass. The front panel will eventually house the pitch tracker and midi interface I designed.

(Yeah… it’s dusty)

The speaker is not in the ‘ideal’ place for performance – it should really be behind the player’s head. This position does allow the speaker to be placed facing forwards or backwards, and it can be removed completely and placed on another stand if required.

I’ve been experimenting with different paint finishes – and I think that black satin is probably the best. High gloss would be nice, but requires more maintenance. Unfortunately the seasonal window on spray painting is starting to close, so it might be spring next year before I can finish the project.

…and even though the Fritz Lang thing was a joke – it does remind me of this scene from Metropolis.



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Robotdad November 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Couldn’t you do the beveled edges on the black toe with a bit change? Or did you have to swap to the router table to get both faces? I’m thinking a lot about getting a black toe myself and I’m curious about how the software and designs make use of special bits for bevelling and the like similar to what your finished piece here has.

Stephen Hobley November 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Yes, I could have done the beveling on the CNC router – but it was much faster to use the manual router.

I’ve learned that it’s best to use the CNC for just the essentials, and all other finishing by hand.

Philip Neidlinger December 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Your case is marvelous. Have you joined the Yahoo keppinger theremin group?
Happy new year!

Philip Neidlinger

Philip Neidlinger December 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Just posted my idea on the kepptheremins Yahoo Group:

“How does one know if they are on pitch at the center of the “keyboard”? Don’t
remember if its an A or a C.

Anyway, this is my idea. Develop a frequency sensing circuit, perhaps similar to
the vibrating reed types used in the old land mobile service. Remember “Emergency”,
the old tv series? In each episode, you would hear a series of tones over the fire station PA prior to the dispatch alert. I think each fire station had a sequence of tones as an IDer. If all three were present, then the alarm would sound.

Anyway, the reeds were tuned to a certain frequency. If your pitch is dead on
where it is supposed to be, then a signal is passed, and the reed will vibrate
in accordance with its excitation; maybe this a sympathetic resonance situation.
Not sure if I have the exact terminology correct. Vibrating reed tone sensors
are obsolete, since everything is digital now. BUT, the reeds can be adjusted,
if I’m not mistaken.

Finally, if the correct tone is passed, a Cat’s eye indicator vacuum tube would
“WINK”, letting the player know he is on the money. One could integrate as many
tones as could be accommodated by a mult-position switch and several tuned reeds. AND, it would be a perfect retro tuning aid for a thereminist.

A modern tuning indicator just doesn’t do it in my opinion.

Given time and money (of which I don’t have in abundance), I could likely do
this project. I’ve been thinking about it for years.

If someone here designed one and built prototypes, I’d buy it. I’m sure there is
likely a market out there for a widget of this type.

There, I’ve thrown the ball out there. I’d appreciate it if one of you
gentlemen/ladies would run with it.

Happy New Year!

Philip Neidlinger
Richmond Hill, GA”




Steve Mauck June 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Greetings, Stephen: I just thought I ought to tell you that I copied your design of the “Fritz Lang” theremin stand. They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. I must say that I greatly preferred your design over the 1920 “drink cabinet” design that is most copied to hold a tube theremin. My kepptheremin is several months away from installation into its cabinet. A local Cabinetmaker made my stand from solid mapel (solid except for the holes). I’d send a picture if I knew how. Maybe I can post one on the Yahoo site or on Theremin World. But I’m pretty proud of it.

Stephen Hobley June 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Going to have to see a picture of that!

Steve Mauck June 15, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Theremin Cabinet

This link might work. The folks in the picture are the ones that built it.

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