Synths & Software
How does the grounding principle apply to Playtron?
Picture an electrical circuit, with its positive and negative end. Those two have to be connected to close the circuit, thus allowing the electricity to flow. “Ground” is simply the name for the negative end.
With Playtron, the 16 inputs are positive, and the two “ground” pins are negative.
So if you touch, say, “F” with one hand, and one of the “ground” pins with your other hand, you close the circuit with your body acting as a conductor. If you don’t do that, it would be the same thing as turning off the switch of a lamp: the electricity doesn’t flow. To ensure that it works, look at your Playtron: if the light blinks when you touch “F” or the object connected to it, that means the information is being received properly by your Playtron.
Electricity thru my body? Isn’t that dangerous?
You may think: “electricity thru my body ? isn’t that dangerous ? Am I gonna get an electric shock?!”.
Well technically, electricity flows to your body every time you touch electrical devices, but at such low voltages that you can’t notice it. That is possible thanks to a safety mechanism most devices have called “earthing”. It minimizes the susceptibility of electronic devices to interfere with one another and most importantly prevents YOU from electrocution. So don’t worry, it is impossible for you to get shocked when using our devices.
Examples of how to ground Playtron
Now let’s take a look at how you can ground Playtron in more interesting ways than, you know, just touching the pin. You could:
- Hold a crocodile clip connected to the “ground” with one of your hands.
- Connect it to a metal wristband or a ring and wear that.
- Connect it to an object of your choosing, and hold that object.
- Create a surface (for example a sheet of aluminum foil) and keep your resting hand on it.
- Hide the contact close to your body, on your belt for example.
- Connect a metal foil and stand on it barefoot.
- Get a friend to hold the ground cable and ask him to keep touching your skin while you play (that’s a nice way to share some love).
- Put the cable inside a bucket full of water and stand in it. Wait no that’s messy.
Common mistakes and misunderstandings
Keep in mind the following information :
- “Ground” does not mean to bury your Playtron underground or leave it on the floor!
- Your vegetables will not reproduce any sound if you simply touch them (besides the normal sound when you “slap” on something).
- Playtron is a MIDI controller and it does not reproduce any sound by itself!
Check out our tutorial on MIDI for further information.
- Only conductive objects will work (check out this tutorial to learn more).
We hope this tutorial helped you understand better what “ground” is, and how to use your Playtron correctly. If you can’t find the answer to your question in this tutorial, feel free to ask on the “Playtronica Friends” Facebook group.
Other internet references:
- An introduction to ground
- Ground in DC and AC - Simply Put (video)