By Andrew Liszewski
The Drawdio was originally created by Jay Silver, and it’s basically a simple music synthesizer that uses the conductive properties of graphite in a pencil to create unique sounds based on what you draw on a piece of paper. In fact the name ‘Drawdio’ is a combination of the words draw & audio. As you can see in the photos, it’s built around an actual pencil, and while mechanical pencils work just fine, you’ll apparently get better results by using something with softer graphite.
To use the Drawdio you hold the pencil in one hand so you’ve made good contact with the copper tape wrapped around the body, and then touch your finger on your other hand to what you’ve drawn on the paper. The current from the AAA battery on the pencil flows through the graphite and uses your body as a sensor, producing a unique series of sounds based on what you’re drawing. It’s kind of hard to explain, so just take a moment to check out the YouTube video I’ve included showing the Drawdio in action.
Building your own Drawdio is apparently not that difficult, and you can find the parts list and assembly instructions on the Ladyada.net website. Alternately, they’re also available for sale from Adafruit Industries in an easy-to-solder kit for just $19.50.