I built an AVR Programmer from a kit. The electronics are definitely the easy part, but sadly not even half the battle. I have to install the firmware by booting from a Linux disc while doing all this other stuff I unfortunately dont understand. And THEN tackle that whole actual programming thing. The meat and potatoes of of it all are still way out of my reach, and it may be a while till I learn that Miso isnt a delicious Japanese soup and Mosi is not a typo of Miso. I guess I just SCK at programming. I am digging a hole in the GND with these bad programming jokes. Reset.
sir cut bent in strum ants hacked elect ran ick die vices pro jacks ex pair ah mints i daes etc
---------> reid at 8:49 AM
this blog aint dead yet. after much adventure and circumstance I am finally building again! A quick run down of the past few months in pictures:
I tried to turn a volume pedal into a tremolo pedal by using a vactrol.
Which became this. BUT was a total failure.
Participated in Bushwick Open Studios with my lovely housemates.
this was before our apt had walls.
Sometime in August Ari asked me to teach a workshop for a bunch of 5-7 year olds in Newark for the Barat Foundation. This was truly one of the most fun (and exhausting) times Ive ever had teaching electronics. I breadboarded a few simple oscillator circuits and in place of the resistor that controls pitch, put two very long wires. I then had the kids draw picture with NO.2 pencil that was effectively one line starting at the edge of the page, like their names in cursive, stick figure people, flowers, or just crazy scribbles. By connecting one wire to the edge of their drawing, they can take the other wire and drag it along the graphite and play their drawing.
Some kids really got and Jathanel, who is in the video, was even asking me how to learn more about electronics! I gushed.
Later that month I set up the incredible GRL Laser Tag system at the Sound Liberation Front's party at Little Field down in Gowanus.
A few months later I got to take a workshop with Rob Hordijk, the guy who taught me how to build this, and Jokee Nies to build 2 totally bad ass noise machines. One is the Benjolin, the Mini-Runglers bigger badder brother, and the Zeitgeist, an INSANE delay module with photocell control capabilities. Both of these are legit synth modules with CV ins and CV outs (7 for the Benjolin!).
Its always great to take workshops in Harvestworks, with its dim light, complete lack of ventelation, and tangled mess of hot irons and piggybacked powerstrips.
I think that day I was on a ratio of 2 large coffees per circuit board soldered.
The Benjolin LIVES.
There was some trouble with the Zeitgeists, bad chips and what not, but luckily mine worked and I took home what would become endless hours of insane noise making.
I started jamming with my housemate Luke so we decided to start recording these sessions. No songs, just process. I will be posting more of these jams in the future but for now here is our set up. We also made one of these things.
There was a ton of other stuff that happened, but in terms of electronics the only one that really matters is that we built walls in my apartment and lofted my bed. No longer sleeping on the floor, I finally have a real workshop for the first time since I moved outta Jersey.
Whats even better is I cleaned it and organized the hell out of it.
The first project I finished was rehousing the Zeitgeist in a cigar box.
It came out great, and is the first project I have built that doesnt need batteries!
---------> reid at 10:05 PM
After being on an electronics hiatus for a few months I am finally refocusing again. To get some momentum, or as a warm up of sorts, I decided to do a quick 1-2 day hack of a kids toy. The toy was a simple noise maker, generating some annoying beeps, siren sounds, and short melodies. In the end I found I could add a pitch bend to it as well as a loop function that could loop the sounds. I also added a 1/4 inch out and switched the batteries from those tiny button cells to normal AAs.
Here is the completed circuit.
When I was building the circuit I had a lot of issues trying to find a suitable enclosure for it. Without a proper place to do wood or metal work, and without anything suitable or cheap enough for this toy (I wasnt going to use any nice cigar boxes for this) I was at a loss for a bit about what to do with it. Then I decided FTS I will just use what I have lying around my house. I happen to have a lot of 2x4 blocks, screws, zip ties, and random bits of spare wire, so away I went.
The circuit itself is screwed into the block of the wood in the ripped up original enclosure it came in. Going against my past, I actually tried NOT to use hot glue. So to mount the pot I nailed 4 nails around it and bent them inward slightly. It holds really well.
I really like the look of the exposed wires and contacts. Its functional in that it allows me to fix breaks as well use the exposed points as body contacts. I also like how looks aesthetically. I actually tried to work the wires into a design element here but gave up halfway through just so this wouldnt take to much time. Next time I make a circuit like this, though, the wire is going to be a design or aesthetic element and Im excited for the possibilities it brings to mind.
This is the looping switch bay. I learned a neat trick at Bent Fest where if you connect the ground from the output of a cheap toy to its buttons it can make it loop. It worked for this toy and instead of wasting switches, which I wouldnt even know how to mount on a block of wood, I just used wire wrapped screws and an alligator clip.
The output jack is held into place with a screw in the back that you can see here, a nail in the front, and a zip tie. It is SUPER sturdy. I often worry with some circuits I make about the output jack coming loose after repeated use, but I will never have to worry about this one. Its going no where.
I was really happy about the zip tie method I used and will definitely use it again. I just drilled a whole straight down into the block and then one in the side making a tunnel for the zip tie to pass through. Worked great.
Zip ties and electronics dont hang out enough.
Here is a video (I added the delay effect on the amp):
---------> reid at 2:04 PM
Years ago, literally, I told Colin I was going to make him The King Of All Chorus, a totally awesome Katamari themed, hacked up, custom designed chorus pedal for his birthday. Well I have finally started making it! Making a pedal from the ground up with a kit can be simple, or extremely difficult. Its simple if you just follow instructions, solder it all together and throw it in the unpainted plain gray box. It will only take you a few hours if you choose that route. But half if not most of the reason people buy guitar pedal kits is because they can customize and paint the pedal any way they want. This means adding mods to increase its functionality and painting some truly incredible designs on it. I chose the harder route, but hopefully it will be worth it. Because of all the mods I am adding I had to get a new enclosure and drill it myself. This is the first, and one of the harder steps about this process. Most people who do this a lot use drill presses for straight drills, templates, nice drill bits, and a good garage or basement to do the work. I had none of these, and because its my first time drilling an enclosure I had several mistakes.
This is the enclosure with all the wholes I could do at the time.
Of my many mistakes, the obvious ones are that my wholes are not in straight lines, and that I did the wholes on the left side backwards from the other two.
What sucks even more is that by this last whole my drill bit was completely eaten way. I had no mineral oil to lubricate and protect the bit and while I tried to use corn oil, it did not help at all. So as you can see the drill slipped, because of the corn oil, and messed up the enclosure. To add insult to injury, I actually ended up drilling the small whole to far away from the big one and have to get my dremel out and make it oblong so the pot can fit.
Here you can see wild and futile attempts at accuracy.
Also, even after drilling out the window of my apartment and getting aluminum shards everywhere I couldnt even finish the job in one shot! I needed to drill 2 half inch holes but the drill bit wouldnt fit in my drill! So bummed.
Once I find a drill or a drill press to finish drilling the enclosure I can get on with the fun, but tedious, part of painting and decaling. I got a few months before Colins next birthday so I think I can finish it by then!
On the topic of pedals, I had this Tremolo pedal that I made the easy way, with no decaling or painting, and decided one night to do something with it. So I covered it in shiny sticker stuff I found in the trash at MTV.
---------> reid at 12:18 AM
In May, Colin and I played a show at the Oromancer in New Brunswick. It was a fantastic day long show with several incredible people playing in a wide variety of locals in and around the house. Jen took a bunch of great photos I will make her post soon, and in the mean time check out the Post Neo Blog for full video documentation. Tomislav also did an incredible job recording audio of the entire days events so you can download that here if you missed it. Below are the three songs that we played that day.
Photo by Jen Sohn-Park
---------> reid at 3:54 PM
Early this month I finally got around to making a Noise Toy from Loud Objects.
It was a super easy build, no more than ten minutes to make (gotta let the soldering iron heat up) and is incredibly fun to play with. Jen and my housemates however probably disagree after several hours of this:
The best part is you can reprogram the chip to make your noise. Check the Noise Toy sites programming hall of fame for some DMB(!!). While they recommend this kit, you have to pay in euros and that sucks, so I am wondering if I can use this and modify it or find one thats 5 pin for as cheap.
Also, while cleaning up junk at my parents house I found this:
It was (I use past tense because I scrapped it for parts) a hand held magnetic tape scratcher. I put the body of a cassette tape player in a cassette tape case, used a small toy mic to hold the tape head, and apparently didnt do a damn thing about the battery holder.
---------> reid at 12:33 AM
Way back in April I helped Terminal Reynaldo film a music video on a totally boss sound stage in Manhattan.
The director Chris Holt got the hook up with the space and the band asked me to help with some projection and set design. I had a bunch of O-Scopes and video type writers I had borrowed from Benton-C, so I brought those over to help make some control panels for this 70's space race themed video. Its incredible how with the right camera angle and lighting a bunch of old A/V gear can look like a spaceship control panel. Obviously this photo does not do the set designer's brilliant work justice but when video is finished you will see what I mean.
I also ended up doing some on the spot soldering of LEDs to make some blinky lights for the space port thing. The set designer Chris brought (I feel terrible but I forgot his name) truely did some incredible on the spot work to turn a few pieces of wood into a believable (to the camera!) space ship.
The rest of the time I helped out on set and did rear projection/projection on the band. We were supposed to some projection mapping on the bands instruments but sadly, there just were not enough hours in the day. Will post the video when its finished, I am truly excited to see how it comes out.
---------> reid at 6:51 PM
Sometime in April after all these shows Eric called me and was like "I got these circuits I need built by tomorrow can you help me?" and I was like "awesome." After a nine hour over nighter we had a Cellular Automata Video toy with audio wired to a GetLoFi Delay kit. Sadly, I have this problem of not taking enough photos, or just not taking any photos at all when Ive been working really hard on something. Especially before during or after all nighters. So this is why I dont have a single digital image of NYCEMF, Bent Fest, and of this totally awesome circuit we made. There will be more on this later because once Eric gets it back to my place in BK I am going to house it in a Nintendo and mod the hell out of it. Here are some photos of the build process with the GetLoFi Delay.
---------> reid at 5:08 PM
Picking up where Colin left off...
On Saturday I heard Tom Bailey give a talk about digital sampling and the Wheres The Party At sampler he just finished. Besides being really nice and a brilliant electrical engineer, he is an incredible speaker, somehow discussing these really complex electrical concepts in a way I can understand (read: peppered with curses, pop culture references, and excessive hand gestures). At the moment the kit for WTPA is staring me in the face....sooooooooooon it will be built.
After that I took part in one of the best workshops I have ever been too. Rob Hordijk, a synth master audio science genious who litterally wrote the book on the Nord Synthesizer, gave a workshop for building a small circuit called the min-Rungler. The circuit was designed and made by him, based of chaos theory, and is available no where else. This man builds Blippoo Boxes for over 600 euros a piece, and this work shop was 30.00. It was one of those drool inducing once in a lifetime sorta things for an electronics geek like me. Which like the true electronicrack addict I am completely ditched my best friend (SORRY RYAN!), missed all the shows (SORRY BENT!) and didnt eat (SORRY STOMACH!) for. Luckily Moiz showed up to Bent and we took the workshop together.
The circuit itself is so full of potential I cannot even begin to grasp it all. It has 3 outputs, a triangle wave, stepped, and pulsed, has potential connections to the computer, can be used to drive real modular synthesizers, and has a whole bunch more features I cannot even begin to grasp. It may be a while before I understand it all but I am using this circuit as a platform to learn about op amps and audio synthesis.
After a hectic de-install and ride back to BK, Bent Fest was done. Bent Fest 09 was an incredible experience, thank you to the organizers, artists, and friends who came out!
much more will posted soon!
---------> reid at 3:56 PM
Played a show on the Seventh of June. It was awesome. Here are a few picture's of Mike's set up and mine. Watch the video to listen to the whole show live. It was recorded from my camera on the milkcrate setup. It was dark, the video was mostly unintersting so I threw some effects on it and encoded a secret message in it. Good Luck:
---------> El Colin at 2:00 AM