Homemade Metronome

by Dr. Marvin Phillips

A metronome is a device for timing the speed of a musical piece and for helping musicians to practice at a constant tempo. The tick-tock of a swinging pendulum metronome is a familiar sound at arduous practice sessions. While building a clock mechanism is beyond even the most enthusiastic tinkerers, building an electronic metronome with a few basic parts can be accomplished fairly easily.

Supplies

A basic homemade metronome is based on a 555 timer chip and several resistors, capacitors, green light emitting diodes(LEDs), a small printed circuit project board, some bell wire and a 9-volt battery. Local electronics stores should carry all of these parts in stock. Using one of several schematics that can be found on the Internet, make a shopping list for these electronic parts along with enclosure parts and construction supplies. Typical construction supplies might include a soldering iron, rosin-core solder, small wire cutters, drill motor, drills and a crescent wrench.

Constructing the board

You will first insert the components into the printed circuit board. Connect the leads of all the components together using bell wire as needed. Solder all the connections. Install the battery and test the operation. Vary the potentiometer to change the speed of the metronome. If everything works properly, proceed to constructing the enclosure. The most common problem is an incorrect connection or a bad solder joint. Double check all connections if there is a problem.

Constructing the enclosure

Drill all the component holes needed into a plastic enclosure box you have selected for your metronome. Install all the components with the appropriate hardware. Be careful not to short any of the connections. To have a little fun, paint the enclosure or better yet apply some graphics or stickers. Get out the guitar and play some jazz.

Other fun metronome projects

For an interesting sound effect in the metronome, build the circuit based on a CA741 operational amplifier. This circuit is a little more challenging and it provides a real interesting "tick-tock" sound. For another fun project based on metronome technology, order a tactile metronome ready-to-build kit. It will provide some automatic rhythm with which to play.

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