Moped Horn Instrument

Sean Colvin /
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After a year or so riding mopeds, I find myself consistently intrigued by the different tones and timbres of their horns, and the different frequencies produced at different voltages, at different rpms.

I have limited elemental knowledge of electronics gained from building guitars and mopeds, and studying schematics for tube amplifiers. I also have an intermediate knowledge of music theory. I have it in my head that a simple instrument could be made from using moped horns. Rather than trying to make any kind of major or chromatic scale, to start, I think I would try to just make a simple single 9v battery-powered circuit with a potentiometer and toggle button to a single horn, just to get an idea of the range of sounds that can be created. I will quickly be able to tell if it’s realistic to try to achieve a full octave or not. I may also experiment with other batteries to test the upper limit of voltage your average moped horn can handle.

From there I could add parallel circuits with discrete pots and switches, but might need to add batteries to make more amps as I go.

My only goal for now is to be able to tune the pitch of each using pots to either make some sort of chromatic scale, or, If I find this is unrealistic or the range is too limited, to just make some sort of simple ‘synthesizer’ and get a blend of frequencies that are quite close to each other to achieve some sort of droning symphony where I can tweak the overtones and the interactions between notes. Maybe the whole thing will sound like shit. I think no matter what i’ll learn something.

Eventually i think it would be cool to find an appropriate step-down transformer and chassis and adapt it to 120v from the wall.

Some feedback I would like is:

-Does anyone have experience tinkering with moped horns?

- Does anyone have a surplus of spare horns that they may want to donate to this cause? Preferably the same make/model, but different model horns might provide a certain diversity of sound that could be interesting.

Note* I don’t know a TON about electronics, so please just be constructively critical if my vocabulary is off. Any and all suggestions welcome.

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