Theremax, Help

Posted: 6/22/2007 11:42:19 AM

Joined: 5/2/2007

I have just completed construction of the theremax kit. I don't know much at all about electronics and this is my first project of the sort.

I ran into my first major problem: it won't turn on.
I have spent a good bit of time looking for things that could be the root problem, but component orientation and connections are all apparently in order. I don't know what I should be looking for and any help would be appreciated.
Posted: 6/24/2007 3:11:30 PM

From: Toledo, Ohio United States of America

Joined: 2/22/2006

Welcome Tin,
Paia Electronics has a wonderful customer service department. I would start at and look for the customer service link,

email Scott Lee at

REPAIRS [ Warranty Information ]
PAiA Corporation (Customer Service and Repair)
3200 Teakwood Ln.
Edmond, OK 73013
Phone: +1 (405) 340-6300
Fax: +1 (405) 340-6378

Good Luck,
Posted: 6/24/2007 5:05:19 PM

Joined: 5/2/2007

Well, I emailed Scott a few days ago and am still waiting for a reply. As I am slightly impatient I was hoping someone on this forum could just point me in the right direction as to how I can narrow down the problem.
Posted: 6/29/2007 9:21:33 PM

From: Napa, CA

Joined: 6/9/2007

I haven't quite completed mine and tried to turn it on yet, so I may very well run into the same problem as you...

however, from what little I do know, I would recommend you carefully check the following:

* make sure all parts and components are correct and in the right place (resistor problems shouldn't cause it not to turn on at all, but certain pieces have polarity which you need to make sure positive end is in positive slot, etc.)

* check for small solder bridges which could be causing a short. This is a more likely problem. Several people have posted that the reason the Tmax didn't work when they first tried was because there were tiny, miniscule beads or specks of solder which had fallen between two leads that they shouldn't have connected. Sometimes a magnifying glass was needed to find them.

I know that if my Tmax doesn't work when I finish it this weekend and fire it up, that will be the first thing I look for.

* make sure that when the case is on, exposed areas of the floating or "flying" wires are not touching each other (hard to do with case closed, but you can sort of position the wires to ensure this, and make sure they don't have large exposed areas)

Anyway, I presume Scott will be getting back to you shortly. Generally his responses to me have taken 2-3 days, but when he does respond he has ben extremely friendly, thorough, and helpful. You could also try calling him on the phone. I only tried this once (well, after a week of failed attempts because he was on vacation with no notice about it), but was able to get through to him quickly and he took his time on the phone with me to discuss and explain things.
Posted: 6/30/2007 10:12:30 AM

Joined: 5/2/2007

Well I finally heard back from Scott, and he mentioned that the power switches are heat sensitive, something it doesn't mention in the manual. I bought a replacement from Radio Shack and now it works fine. I had apparently broken the original by way of my intense perfection seeking soldering tactics.
Posted: 6/30/2007 2:05:45 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

oh no! Hope you didn't overheat the coils! They are much more sensitive than the switches.

Good luck with your project.

[i]-- Kevin[/i]
Posted: 6/30/2007 9:51:57 PM

Joined: 5/2/2007

Ive got a new problem, the theremin was working fine and I was working on calibrating the pitch and volume. I fiddled with this on and off for a couple of days and now the volume antennae has mutated into a volume/pitch combo, and the pitch antennae no longer does anything. I have no clue what I did to invoke this, but I would love to reverse it.
Posted: 6/30/2007 11:22:53 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005


This link will lead you to a calibration procedure that might work for you:

Good luck!

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