Circuit Bent Greeting Card

You gotta admit, this is probably the dumbest thing you've ever seen. Bent. Ever.

This is one of those (finally) $1 musical greeting cards that everyone gets at least once, is initially amazed, then really annoyed that the tinny tune coming out of the tiny piezo speaker has like one bar of any given tune, and sounds not unlike your 1983 Casio LCD watch alarm. Happy. Grating.

I actually got one of these for Valentine's Day from my mother-in-law. Yep. She knows what I like. So, I found out where she got it (a "99cents for Some Things" store) and trucked down to pick up a bunch more at 99cents each. Neat!

This one I made for my good friends dAs and Ninah Pixie, of Bag Citie Urchostrax.

It plays a two-tonal version of the "Love Story" theme. Ugh.

Here's the front of the card. Being that I'm currently obsessed with spraying fields of dots on everything, this card too got the treatment. I also painted the heart black. Had to. dAs is evil.

You'll notice the envelope also done up in dots. Neat.

The actual bending was pretty easy—there wasn't anything to the circuit, just a black blob, a battery, a piezo speaker, and a contact switch (on when the card was opened) that connected the battery to the blob and the speaker. I just bypassed the switch with an optical resistor. I had to do some trace-cutting to re-engineer the switch to bypass the straight-to-the-battery connection and have it go thru the optical resistor so that when the card opens, it turns on, and as the card opens further, exposing more light on the inside, the sound pitches from low to high. This also has the unfortunate defect, because the optical resistor is hooked up between the battery and the blob, that the speaker tends to get very quiet when the pitch is low.

And, of course, instead of re-casing, keeping it intact inside the original card makes it especially stupid.

Of course, to make this a "legitimate" "instrument" I had to add a mini jack so you can hook it up to that stadium sound system and jam out to thousands of adulating fans (yeah, right, with a slow-to-fast wristwatch-alarm version of "Love Story." You'd either be hailed as a pioneer of "hip" for the next few minutes or chased out of there with a napalm pike up your ass). Better to just hook it up to your damn stereo because the built-in speaker is so quiet.

Also, here's the optical resistor placement. You can open and close the card to change the pitch, using the shadow from the front of the card. Nifty.

Here's the back. "Blessing from univac"

How sweet.

I'm going to make a bunch of these, various kinds. Happy Birthday in Spanish (Feliz Cumpleanos), Merry Christmas (Feliz Navidad), etc. They are insulting. Terrible things. The dumbest bend I have ever done (altho the Emperor George comes close, but not because of the bend. He's just stupid for many, many other reasons).

And yet, pretty funny.

So, if you want one of these to give to an unsuspecting victim, let me know. My email is at the bottom of the front page.

Completed: 02/21/05
Dimensions: Appx. 7.5" x 5.5"
Current Status:

Making dAs cry every time he opens it. He's such a softy...

Audio Bits:

Soon to come. Like a loser, I forgot to record it before I gave it to them...The audio is not that interesting anyway. Like I said, it's really dumb.