Fleshing out a medieval amplifier idea

So I always loved going to Renaissance festival and stretching the rules of what’s actually allowed. My thought process went like this. We have the knowledge about how speakers and amplifiers work. All of the materials needed to make them were around during the Renaissance. Could I somehow put together a working midevil human powered electric lute/amplifier to bring to a festival? I’m not really sure where to even get started on this kinda thing.

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Foot power spinning pedal with a wheel of enough mass to keep it going for a while?
I’d start with mechanical amplification some massive cone contraption attached to the bridge of a viol da Gamba.
I’ve had plans for a hurdy hurdy style controller to get that bowed effect but never got round to experimenting.

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This turned up on a quick google, might have some ideas:

For electronic amplification would you need tubes? I think transistors would be stretching it in terms of medieval technology.

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Yea, no transistors lol. I was thinking something like a piezoelectric crystal speaker. See this as an example. How to Make Piezoelectric Crystal Speaker - YouTube

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Does only the exterior need to be correct to the period? Or the whole damn thing.

Magnets were definitely known in 1600, there was a big treatise on them. That gets you a lot of the way to pickups and a speaker. Capacitors are probably right out though. Even a leyden jar is 18th century.

The impedance of a pickup is generally quite high, while the impedance of a speaker is quite low. So I don’t think you can just repurpose a circuit from a clock radio.

Another problem is that solder sounds like it would be right out too. So you would need some other way of making electrical connections.

Can you go to a steampunk festival instead? haha

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Iirc, solder has been around for about 4000 years as it was used with Jewelry crafting. Anyway I would prefer it to be as accurate to the time period as I could get but only to make sure I don’t get tossed out of the festival haha. I don’t mind hidden components or anything like that and I should have room considering the idea I had was to build this onto a pull cart.

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Wikipedia:

There is evidence that soldering was employed as early as 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia.[1] Soldering and brazing are thought to have originated very early in the history of metal-working, probably before 4000 BC.[2] Sumerian swords from c. 3000 BC were assembled using hard soldering.

Soldering was historically used to make jewelry, cookware and cooking tools, assembling stained glass, as well as other uses.

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oh wow, I didn’t know that. I only ever associated it with electronics.

if you can get away with concealing some modern components then that’s a whole other thing.

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You mean contact transistors? I remember someone talking about home made diodes they build for a battery charging circuit. Doped silicon isn’t the only semiconductor out there… As for a power supply, you can make a battery from metal disks and felt pads soaked in some acid… (I had a bad night and my memory is sketchy this morning) That should give you enough to Google on…

Here’s an interesting page, may be of use?
http://www.sparkbangbuzz.com/mag-amp/mag-amp.htm

Not sure 1800 is considered mediaeval, but I’m pretty sure all the things that you’d need to build this kind of thing would have been available back in the day…

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That’s the one I was talking about! Thanks!

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While not time period accurate I think this would actually be perfect and at the very least look the part.

Hydraulics and pneumatics (water and air) were both available in the mediaeval period and before. Indeed the earliest pipe organ exploited both technologies, in classical era Greece (third century BCE.) In that, a head of water was harnessed to drive what amounts to a bellows, providing the wind needed to create the resonating tones in the pipes. The natural amplication of the sound is intrinsic to the design. It’s difficult to expand that idea without risking accusations of steampunkery, which may lead to the culprit spending the entire renfair in the pillory.

The hurdy gurdy is an example of a genuine mediaeval automated stringed instrument with mechanical amplification (a conventional acoustic soundbox derived from the violin family). Early versions required two operators, one to turn the wheel and one to operate the keys.

Incidentally, seemingly anachronistic inventions are often found in nature, from those geckoes that exploit the electrostatic force in clinging to smooth surfaces, to the two-billion-year-old nuclear reactor found in Gabon, Western Africa.

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As opposed to certain modern versions, which require three

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An early brochure for that design of hurdy gurdy is shown on Wikipedia.

There’s “time period accurate” meaning what was actually being done and then there’s what could very plausibly have been done. Apparently zinc was not purified in Europe until the 18th century but it was done in India 500 years earlier, so if no one in that time period stacked up a bunch of zinc and copper discs with brine soaked paper and connected the result to a frog (or something) it’s only because for some strange reason it never occurred to anyone to try it. One wonders how differently history would have played out if it had. One also wonders what remarkable technology could be available to us right now if only someone got it into their head to try it.

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