A piezoelectric transducer is a thin ceramic disk or strip connected to two electric outputs. When the disk is bent or compressed, it produces an electric charge. Conversely, when an electric charge is applied to a piezo transducer, it causes the transducer to bend. Piezo transducers can be used to detect sound as a microphone, produce sound as a speaker, detect motion as an electronic trigger, detect stress in a mechanical system and in a number of other roles. One of the simplest and most common uses for a piezo transducer, however, is as a contact mic or pickup. The transducer is attached to the bridge of a string instrument or some other surface that vibrates to record those vibrations for music.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Piezo transducer
- Wire cutters
- Wire stripper
- Shielded hookup lead
- Soldering iron
- Hookup jack
Cut the wires of a piezo transducer to about 1 inch long. Use a wire stripper to remove half an inch of insulation from the end of each wire.
Cut the last inch off of a shielded hookup lead. This will expose an inner wire with strands of an outer wire wrapped around it.
Pull the strands of the outer wire to one side. Twist the strands together so it forms a single strand separate from the insulated wire. Push back the insulation on the inner wire to expose the end of it. The exposed ends of the outer and inner wire should not touch.
Turn on a 10- to 15-watt soldering iron; more powerful irons will destroy the transducer. Tin the tip by lightly touching the end of a strand of rosin core solder to it. The solder will smoke, then form a bead on the tip. This is called tinning the iron.
Twist the inner and the exposed end of the black wire from the transducer together to form a tight, single wire. Place the soldering iron against the combined wire and touch the solder to the wire right next to the soldering iron. Remove the rosin and the iron as soon as a small bead of solder forms on the wire. Wrap the exposed end of the wire in electrical tape.
Twist the outer wire and the red wire from the transducer together and solder them as in the previous step. Wrap the exposed wire in tape.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other end of the hookup wire.
Touch the inner wire from the second side to the tab on a hookup jack marked with a minus sign. Hold the soldering iron against the point where the two meet and apply rosin core solder to the tab. Remove the soldering iron as soon as the solder covers the connection between the wire and the jack.
Repeat the previous step with the outer wire and the second tab on the hookup jack. You now have a transducer attached to a hookup jack. Place the transducer on the surface you want to mic, plug the jack into a guitar cable and plug the other end of the cable into an amplifier.
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