Finished Pieces

Nova Drone

The NovaDrone was designed (and continues to evolve) in collaboration with experimental musician and epic visionary G. Lucas Crane aka Nonhorse and with support from Perte De Signal in Montreal.
I’d like to send a big thanks to Darsha and Robin at PDS for all their help. And I’ll be hi-fiving Lucas for the rest of my life for all the amazing work he’s done so far.

Please send all questions to

What is it?

The Nova Drone is an open source, analog experimental sound and light synth.
It it can be used to create effects ranging from slowly fading drones to chaotic harmonic sequences. It also functions as a complex visual pattern generator when combined with a digital/phone video camera. See the video below for an example of the color patterns generated by holding a camera up to the LED.

The Nova Drones offers 12 potentiometers, 10 switches, 6 oscillators, 9 oscillator sync inputs, 6 frequency modulation inputs and an epic 15 voltage outputs as well as 3 high current outputs for controlling external LEDs. All of the ins and outs have been routed to a prototyping breadboard at the bottom of the unit which allows for liberal experimentation and development of custom circuits. The prototyping area is especially useful for syncing the oscillators of 2 or more Nova Drones together.

The NovaDrone Stacks!

Plug 2 or more NovaDrones together to share power and audio and get super drones.


The NovaDrone offers 3 channels of sound and light. Each channel has the following features:
-TONE pitch coarse tune 24Hz to 750Hz
-TONE pitch fine tune
-LFO rate .008 Hz (around 1 cycle every 2 minutes) to 750Hz
-sync 1
-sync 2
– ext sync 3
-PITCH modulation
-LFO rate modulation
-TONE square wave
-TONE triangle wave
-LFO square wave
-LFO triangle wave
-PWM square wave
-High current LED out for off board LEDs.

V1.2 fixed virtual ground error
V1.3 fixed signal path errors
V1.3.2 added feedback cap to audio mixer. Added tremolo dip
V1 3 2



User’s Manual

Assembly Manual

Circuit Theory

Parts List

Version 1.2



Sorry, no sound files for this piece.

61 Responses to “Nova Drone”

  • 1

    casper said:
    September 1st, 2013 at 4:17am #

    @Ryan. It is easy to build a filter. All you need is a single or dual opamp, a few resistors and one or two capacitors. and a potentiometer.
    Doing one filter per voice is easy too but would require more space.

  • 2

    hlxlplxl said:
    October 14th, 2013 at 1:09pm #

    hmmm. Thats a bummer. I would try first replacing the top right TL074 opamp.”

    it works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thx!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 3

    samE said:
    October 21st, 2013 at 5:16am #

    hi, i could only get 470k log instead of the 500k lin for the LFOs, will this affect the operation much?. could i add a 30k resistor to bump it up to 500k?

  • 4

    casper said:
    October 21st, 2013 at 2:08pm #

    @SamE. That should work fine. There is no need to add a 30k resistor. The curve may be a little weird(because its a log instead of lin)… but it was a bit weird to begin with. Ideally it should be an anti-log pot. but I think you’ll get by.

  • 5

    Controlling the Nova Drone and Light Synthesizer with a Raspberry Pi @Raspberrypi #piday #raspberrypi « adafruit industries blog said:
    October 25th, 2013 at 12:00pm #

    […] This is a cool new project from Manjuan Gnanaratnam featuring our Raspberry Pi Starter Pack! Read more about the Nova Drone here. […]

  • 6

    samE said:
    November 17th, 2013 at 1:18pm #

    hi, i finished my nova drone today, unfortunately it sounds super high pitched and not like any of the demos on youtube.
    I used 100nf box capacitors for the .1uf capacitor.
    an online calculator showed they were the same value. have i made a mistake with that?
    thanks in advance

  • 7

    samE said:
    November 21st, 2013 at 1:30pm #

    hi, sorry to double post.

    the box capacitor is it, 0.1uf = to 100nf or 1uf = to 1000nf?

  • 8

    Casper said:
    November 21st, 2013 at 8:38pm #

    Hey samE. They should be .1uf which is equal to 100nf.

  • 9

    samE said:
    November 23rd, 2013 at 9:05am #

    ok, all my components are correct, but its sounds all wrong,

    any ideas?

  • 10

    Marc said:
    May 19th, 2014 at 1:04pm #

    Just built Double Drone and holy smokes! One of the coolest builds there is! Thanks!

  • 11

    Clark Nova said:
    November 23rd, 2014 at 10:57am #

    Loving this!

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