Built by Mike Walters
Carrboro, NC 2002


Mystery Circuits Home

More Mystery Circuits Projects


I built Penatron back in 2002 out of a robot toy circuit, a speaker with mount from a kids toy, and some kind of acrylic lab piece. The black momentary switch turns on the circuit, and the two metal springs control the overall timing. Two lights come on that are also from the robot toy.

A few months after I built Penatron, I met Mark Mothersbaugh at one of his art openings in Raleigh. I had the Penatron with me, and brought to the venue to show him. Surprisingly, he offered to buy it right there. I had a gut feeling that it wouldn't go over well with airport security, so I told him I'd ship it to him. Right after my band recorded with it, I shipped it over to Mutato. Our drummer called it Penatron, and the name stuck. My wife suggested I change the name because it was crude, so I came up with Peanut. But I still call it Penatron.

I didn't really hear much about it after that, until I came across this site. There's a 12 second video clip of Mark Mothersbaugh in front of Raymond Scott's Electronium being interviewed about Circuit Bending. I could barely see The Penatron right behind his shoulder, so I emailed Derek Sajbel (who made the documentary) to see if that was my instrument.
To see the rest of the story, check out the Booji Board.

Derek sent me a VHS tape years ago with the raw footage of the interview, and I put it on youtube (about 10 years later). This interview was from 2004.

I cut this from raw footage from Derek Sajbel's long running Circuit Bending documentary project (http://absurdity.biz)

Copyrighted footage courtesy of Absurdity.Biz used with permission