A few thoughts on the Theremin I bought.

I bought a theremin like two months ago or so. After some initial research I ordered a burns theremin, it has two antennas and is resonably priced. It was shipped almost the same day, so that was nice. The package arrived to me a week/ten day’s or so later.

However, the theremin was a lot smaller then I suspected. It was also not very impressed by the power supply that you could not pop out of a connection. It’s stuck inside. The “documentation” consisted of one paper with a warning that you can burn your new theremin if you plugin the theremin directly. very _little_ information about how to change it. A plug would be much better, that way you could just have gone and bought a wall-wart.

So I cut the powercord and replaced the wall-wart with one that should work, and nothing started burning so I guess I did right.

The sound was awful though, nothing like in the videos on the site. Sounded distorted and the pitch was waaaaay of, and uncontrollable. I had it hooked up to a battery-powered speaker. I also tried with another amp, and headphones. It was not until I tried with a guitar amp that I also hooked to the wall that it did not distort. Also touching any of the ground parts of the cable changes the pitch drastically. This makes me suspect that the grounding in the theremin is lousy.

Still it was almost impossible to play, so I looked up all the how-to videos I could on youtube (remember I was on vacation) and I was supries that as a footnote on one of the videos there was info stating that the theremin had to warmup. Why was that information nowhere in the package I got from burns?

After that it was a bit easier to play, and I got the hang of it, but since the theremin is so small your pitch-hand interferes with the volume antenna and vice verse. that sux.

I tried to add a distortion to make the sound more interesting while playing, but since I was barefoot and the little big fuzz is of metal that bad grounding showed it’s ugly face again.

I’m not that impressed with that theremin and I’m going to sell it as soon as I get around taking a few pictures of it. any takers?

At least I managed to make a song with it, because I was scared after watching drag me to hell.

here it is: Mums filibabba lilla Maja (two theremin voices and drums)

The HC-FA10 was a lie! (but might be a nice bent device)

20090928144116

As many men my age the weight is starting to escalate beyond what is good for once health. To stop this and to be able to measure my progress in doing so. I bought what I thought was a resistive body-fat measure device. However upon first use at the coffee table together with a few colleagues it soon revealed itself that the little device has all the properties and apparent features of being a device that measures the fat in your body by sending electricity through it.ย  You enter data about yourself such as age, weight, sex and length, then you hold your thumbs on the metallic plates and a progress bar appears, after a while you get your bodyfat in %. So I tried to trick it after we checked our fattnes, me and my colleagues, by wetting my thumbs thus removing resistance. Same % as a result. Then the others tried it, same % as me (on my settings). But when shorting the path it did say error (almost half-clever) . You can let go as soon as the progressbar starts though.

I was fooled, thats the downside.

The upside is that the device has two body contacts, a battery compartment (for a standard CR battery),ย  a pretty decent screen and a speaker. So perhaps you could put something that makes noise inside it that uses body contacts to make the sound. That could be awesome, using it for what it was intended for isn’t.

Experimentation with shitwave

Last week, or if it was the week before I signed up at 8bitcollective, a site for fans of chipmusic and 8bit aesthetics in general. I was doing this while I was having a little Nintendo revival at home, trying to get the Game Boy Advance up and running and trying out LSDJ. In that process I found a little game boy program called Shitwave. it’s written by Nitro2k01 over at http://gameboygenius.8bitcollective.com/wordpress/ .I found this to be really interesting and I’ve wanted to do some noise music for a while, so I had a stab with Shitwave as sound source. I also used a boss betal distortion and a danelectro fab echo that I have previously circuit bent.

here’s a video, enjoy!

also you could go browse it over at 8bit collective: http://8bitcollective.com/music/larsby/Shift+8bit+noize/ There’s also an mp3 for you to download if you need a new ring tone for your mobile!

Binaural beats and the Atari Punk Console

So I’ve been thinking about this idea for a few days. First of let me explain the idea.

The Atari Punk Console is a piece of gear that has been around a long time. It’s a noise machine that makes some noises that are similar to an Atari, at least in the mind of the creator.ย  More about this can be read up on over at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Punk_Console

There are a bunch of videos of it running over at the tube, two of them are mine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyWNBLDJvTg and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wIDqMIzRdk.

Binaural beats is the brain interpreting sound coming in to left and right ear with a slightly different frequency. This makes the brain align to these low frequencies and setting it’s working pace. This is very similar to that blinking light you can try on different festivals and such. This has the effect of you getting relaxed or hyperactive. More reading at Wikipedia as per usual http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_beats.

So what has this to do with me? well, I’ve tried a few binaural beats and they work pretty well on me, I get relaxed or hyper. There has been more research in the area and there has been tests on lowering frequencies and using water or stuff as the source to get more extreme effects.

And what do you get if you make a stereo Atari Punk Console with an extra knob for shifting one of the APC’s? A deranged Binaural beat machine I hope ๐Ÿ˜€

So I’, ordering part’s for two APC’s with stereo pots for all the usual settings one can make, and then I’m going to experiment to see where there will be the best place to put either a knob or a capacitor, or perhaps a combination.

Down here is my shopping list (at http://www.electrokit.se).ย  it’s about 5dollars without the extras needed to skew one to the side, but I have plenty of stuff at home to cope with this.

40811347 MF 0,6W 1% 4,7K 2 0.35 0.70
40813310 MF 0,25W 1% 1,0K 4 0.28 1.12
40813410 MF 0,25W 1% 10K 2 0.28 0.56
40512410 MKS2 10nF 63V 5mm 2 1.60 3.20
40512510 MKS2 100nF 63V 5mm 2 1.28 2.56
40521001 YXA 10uF 50V 105C 5×11 2 0.5 1.00
40350556 NE556 DIL14 dubbel timer 1 6.50 6.50
40910230 Pot 100 kohm lin PCB stereo 1 8 8.00
40910232 Pot 500 kohm lin PCB stereo 2 8 16.00
41001294 6.3 mm chassi stereo 1 8.00 8.00
40210001 Batterikontakt 9V 1 2.40 2.40
40220024 Vippomkopplare 2-pol on-off-on lรถdรถron MTS-203 1 7.20 7.20

A few Old posts

As you can se I’ve uploaded a lot of old material to the blog instead. That is nice, I really like to have these things collected on one place. Although not all is moved and probably never will be because they did not age well.

Tomorrow I’ll start posting a little old music that I created a few years ago. still good though, or interesting at least.

perhaps I should find a better template then the standard one.

RedString

,---.         |     |         o
|---',---.,---|,---.|--- ,---..,---.,---.
|  \ |---'|   |`---.|    |    ||   ||   |
`   ``---'`---'`---'`---'`    ``   '`---|
                                    `---'

________________________________________________________________________


This is how it looks and this is how it sounds

Yeah, uhhm, I wanted a little guitarish thing to play powerchords on.
You know to bring to festivals and impress girls and all that.
Something that is easily connected to my little amplifier, that I
made from an old mc-player, follow this link to check it out.

Anyways, I built this using an ukulele as size-model.
Ukulele strings, if you buy a 4 pack of ukulelestrings I used the fattest
next fattest and the thinnest.
I’ve tuned them to C, E, C (one octave higher) to play them powerchords.
I did not frett it, just drew with a pen on, if you want to fret it best
use a chromatic tuner for to find the sweetspots on the neck.
The tuning pegs are from a cheapo kids acoustic guitar, cheap but working.
A large pice of metal (actually a bbq pin) is bent to hold the strings down.
A pice of square metal is used as to lay the strings on.
Same pice of bbq stick is used to rest the strings at on the end of the
string instrument.
The pickups are piezo discs connected in serial to increase the volume.
And the jack is a standard guitarjack.


Top View


Back.


Dont do mistakes, then you have to glue stuf together.


Side of head.


Back of head.


The jack from behind.
Forgot to take a closeup photo of the unpainted front, sorry.

A bunch of tips:
* Pizeo tutorial at Erinys superb how-to
* Get the tuning pegs first, and measure everything, otherwise you will end up with
a few more holes then expected (as I did)
* You can use metallic strings, but that its not needed with piezos.
* Try different placements on the picups before attatching them (you can alter the
sound pruduced radically, I went four loud volume though)
* Have fun.

And Finally some pictures of me rocking out on it.


Opal

What why?

A while ago I found an interesting post on the arduino forums about
a guy who made a 8×8 LED panel for his friend to use to visualise when
playing music. So when I was browsing my local thrift-store
I found an old slide viewer (for you kids, it’s an old pre digital way
to take photo’s).

-Hell yeah I thought (but in Swedish) this would look sweet if I mounted
a bunch of LED’s in it. So i bought it for 15 SEK. (1.51 EUR or 1.9 USD)

Hardware.

I have already made almost all of the arduino-code I needed on my
moanonme. Also the 8×8 LED matrix is no mystery to me. If you want to
recreate it it’s dead easy. First you read the shiftout tutorial on
arduino.cc and make one of those a bit more permanent. After that you
make 7 more rows with led’s and connect each row’s gnd to a different
pin on the Arduino. Then with a little bit of code magic you write to
the shift register which led’s that are on on a specific row. that row
being set to “read” in the software forcing that row to be the only one
that is lit. By doing this superfast you’re eye wont notice the difference.

This might sound easy, and it is, unless you do it on a small scale. The
Lens on the slide viewer was only 3*4cm so I needed LED’s that would fit.
I found some green that fitted perfectly. I tried to glue them toghether
first but in the end that was all a big heap of fail. easiest was to use
a perfboard and mount them on that. I used an iDuino board since these are
smaller and thus easier to mount inside the pretty cramped battery
compartment inside the box.


Decimilia used for prototyping

Backside of LED matrix

The 595 chip shiftout for the led’s

Software

There where a few features I wanted of the finished build. I wanted to
easily create sprites/images. And I wanted to be able to controll the
displaying of the images from within Ableton Live. Prefferably as a
MIDI device so I would not have to code yet another VST.

So yep a very tiny little Arduino program which you can get here

So I made a little processing sketch that let’s you draw on your computer
screen and both show it there and on the device. This was as really easy.
Press 2 to paint, 3 to erase and 1 to print the image in data format so
I can copy-paste it to a server program. I choose to print the data in a
human readable/modifiable code so I could change it without the program if
I wanted to.

Here it is if you want to play with it: opalpainter.pde (you’ll need
processing)

So to the serverside. Easypeasy aswell as always with processing, chose
another type of visualisation though. It all worked well until I tried
to get any of the MIDI processing solutions to work. fail fail fail.
It works though, and here it is for your playing fun: opalserver.pde
1 and 2 to flip between your images

So in the end I reused stuff from the moanonme project. os x serialport and
MIDI in from a totally own port. Most of this code is not written by me
although I’ve seen that os x serialport stuff on more then five different
places on the internet so I’m not really sure who’s the original author.
Anyways, this program listens to midi-in and tells the arduino to display
graphics I hooked up to the current MIDI note. get it here

The video

What would a build be without a video? nothing, since nobody reads these text’s
of mine that’s what!

Total Cost:

Arduino iDuino 17.82 USD
Diabildsvisare 1.91 USD
LED’s 4.57 USD
some wire and solder 1 USD
——————————-
Total 25.3

just below 200 SEK, NICE!

Moanonme

  __  __
 |  \/  |___  __ _ _ _  ___ _ _  _ __  ___
 | |\/| / _ \/ _` | ' \/ _ \ ' \| '  \/ -_)
 |_|  |_\___/\__,_|_||_\___/_||_|_|_|_\___|

________________________________________________________________________

How I started making a Monome and ended up with something else.

The following images and text is only interesting to those who would like
to know how I build my Monome40h Arduino clone and ended up with something
different. The text contains lots of nerdish references and dry jokes, the
images are solder/electro-pron (at best). For those of you that don’t want
to read a lot of text, just scroll down and there will be a video with the
highlights from this text)

Basics:

The Monome 40h is a 8×8 button and led grid that is used as an interface to
your musical programs/synths etc. The Arduino is a microprocessor based
hardware interface with development environment on the computer.
The Arduinome is a merge of the both, creating a clone of the original Monome
with the use of an Arduino as brain. It was one of these I tried to build,
but failed with as you will read further down, so instead I created something
that suited my skills better and something I probably will use a lot more ๐Ÿ™‚
Thus I dubbed my contraption to Moanome.

Features of my Arduinome:

* 8×8 bright LED’s
* 8×8 arcade buttons (I mounted the LED’s inside)
* Handcrafted box.
* Midi-out.

Building the Box:

I had some prior experience in mounting such arcade buttons on wood, but that
did not prepare me for how long it would take me building a box from start
to end. I used 3mm plywood as outside and a piece of an old IKEA wardrobe
that I had in the garage. So I spent many hot summer afternoons in the garage
sawing and drilling. I didn’t bring the camera out so there are few images
from this part of the build-process. These are two from the finished (almost).


I didn’t do a backplate here though, I made one later, or, I made two, first
I tried to make one out of plastic but that was to squiggly, so I made one from
wood instead. I drilled loads of holes so you can sort of se the inner workings
of my Moanonme.

Modifying the arcade buttons:

I found an instructable on how to add a LED to your arcade-button, it’s really
simple. Dismantle the arcade button, drill a hole for the LED, insert the LED,
Put everything together. Sounds easy enough right? well try boring, that what
it was doing that 64 times. Funny story about the buttons, if you want to buy
a bunch like I did, you better have a friend in the USA because the UK reseller
really adds a hefty amount to the price. Thanks again Nils and snygge-Mange
for getting me these.



Connecting the LED’s in a matrix

First of all the buttons needed to be mounted in the box. To bad the paint had
made the wood swell just enough to not let the buttons slide through the holes.
Borrowed a round file and filed all the holes by hand (it did not work that well
with the sander in the picture). Then mounted the buttons


This was a very nice step, and it made me realize just how stylish the finished
product would be ๐Ÿ™‚
And of-course you have to solder the together:


The Arduino-shield-failure.

I started this with the intention of using the Monome Arduino shield. No problem
there, bought it as part of a group-buy and when it arrived by mail I ordered the
parts. Soldering was easy-peasy and didn’t take long. Eager to test things I
hooked it up to the LED-matrix but I couldn’t get it to work. The Arduinome is made
to fit with Monome like plastic buttons and pcb from sparkfun. I didnt want to use
that, I was to much in love with my arcade buttons idea. Anyways my LED matrix did
not light up where it should although I tried with the Monome test max/msp patch and
loads of different MAX7219 Arduino examples from the Arduino site. I tried like a
gazillion different configurations and different source-code. I also bought not
one but two new LED Driver IC’s and tried breadboarding and loads of things.
Nothing worked, I spent most time of the project here. And I didn’t get it to work
at all. BIG FAIL. If this where a romantic comedy type of movie this is the
part where the guy looses the girl.

The shiftOut success.

If you look at the Arduino-site there is an example on how to get more out’s, i.e.
ShiftOut one. very nice, I got that working in like five minutes. a few minutes later
I had it all connected to my LED matrix and multiplexed via inputs on the Arduino.
Here is the program for it.
Led.pde

I’m very proud of this piece. I’s the first thing I’ve prototyped on a breadboard,
the moved to a protoboard and got it all working. Made me feel confident in myselve.
(this is where the strings come in and the boy get’s the girl back)

Replacing the shield altogether (aka the shiftIn success)

So now I’m thinking, what about removing that shield altogether? I suddenly remembered
me buying a few PCB’s a while back from www.ucapps.de specifically the DIN modules
(digital in) So I hooked up them to my buttons and viola, everything works Hooray!
actually it took a few hours soldering everything together and twice that looking for
shorts. but it works and I extended my previous LED test program so that it lights the
buttons that you press.
Led.pde
led_multiplex_3.zip


As you can se I really really wanted ppl to se parts of the back with all the work I
had with it.

Adding midi-out to the soup.

Now that I had abandoned (saved for later) the shield I was thinking of diversing my
build. I really wasn’t satisfied with building the biggest Monome, the first with
LED’ed arcade buttons so I went for creating the first with a midi-out port. This was
an easy hack as it seems. To bad you need to use the UART that the USB uses to
communicate with the computer. And if you try using port 1 and 2 for multiplexing the
LED’s, strange lightning phenomena’s occur. I still will use the midi-out for for
something though. Since it was the only part of the build that hurt me so bad I
started bleeding.

Modifying the Arduinome source-code to utilize my hardware.

This could be a long chapter, but it won’t be. I started porting the Arduino-Monome
firmware to my hardware setup. Then the new Arduino firmware came out. So I used to
do that the conversion instead. But after optimizing the Arduinome-code (500 bytes
just by changing int blah 47; to #define blah 47) and dividing the source into
logical parts instead of the “singe big file” previously present. Anyways, I stopped
converting because of a number of reasons. 1. I got very little response. 2. I didn’t
get it it to work as I wanted. 3. I don’t really care about max/msp. So I stopped the
conversion and started creating my own setup. anyway: here is a zip with how far I got
in case you’re at all interested.

First signs of success, and a new name.

So I made an os x program that communicates via the serial-port to the Arduino. and that
program communicates back to the Arduino and creates a virtual midi-port. This is very
nice. I can with this setup create whatever programs I want without using max/msp. The
downside is that I cant use the already made max/msp, chuck and or whatever programs and
contraptions other people have created.

Anyways here is the source-code for the os x program (ccmidi class borrowed from
Monome-serial)
And the current firmware for the Arduino (a little borrowed here from the Monome firmware
(button de-bounce): both WIP and both will change and be added to. I’ll probably forget
to update this page so feel free to email me and ask for the newest version ๐Ÿ™‚
there are 3 modes, first of is a press and it will play midi, second is a toggle and play,
and the third is a xoxo step sequencer that is far from finished. It will probably be
rewritten altogether. Perhaps before I publish this little text for the rest of the world ๐Ÿ™‚

MOVIE:

Links:

http://docs.monome.org/doku.php?id=tech:ports:arduino
http://post.monome.org/comments.php?DiscussionID=2092
http://bricktable.wordpress.com/30/
http://createdigitalmusic.com/2008/08/20/arduinome-an-arduino-based-monome-clone-behind-the-scenes/
http://post.monome.org/comments.php?DiscussionID=2186&page=1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arduinome
http://sourceforge.net/projects/arduinome/
http://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/ShiftIn
http://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/ShiftOut
http://www.ucapps.de

Final thoughts.

First of, If you only want an Monome, go buy one from monome.org. If you want to learn a little
bit about electronics. Try and get a hold of the shield. (I still have one that I wont use)
For me though it was a big learning project, and as such has taught me a lot and taken loads of
time. I hope in writing that I in some way can encourage and discourage you, dear reader. But
I can think of way worse places to learn about music and electronics then Arduino and Monome
communities.

Convert an MC player to a amp box (with distortion)

Ok, I made a little text about how to convert a walkman to a
distortionpedal, however the info were to little there for some, so here
it is again, but this time with a twist.

I’ve converted a tape recorder to do the same thing, this can be handy
when circuitbending and/or annoying ppl.

Ok so the theory is pretty darn easy. Sound enters the circuit from a
tapehead.
We substitute the tapehead for an input option of our own.
Distortion occurs when we feed the amplification part of the circuit with
higher volumes then it was designed to handle.

To identify the tapehead press play and look for the part going forward.
Then look for the cables connecting the circuitboard to the tapehead,
here we want to jack in.

Most players dont let the engine draw the tape round if the playbutton
isnt pushed in, this is the tricky part, you need to find how they
connect everything, in the case you se below it was easy, just 2 blue
cables.

Anyways, check out the video to se it in action.

Incase you are wondering why you dont se me, its because I'm semi-nekkid.
 ________________________________________________________________________


The blue wires where connected to 2 metal plates that connected when you
pressed play or forward but never else, these I connected to a switch (
se further down)

The red and orange (and one more cable lost in focus) where connected to
the electric engine engine, these I just taped toghether to avoid shorts.

The grey and the red cables that are twined together are the ones that
used to go to the tapehead, instead these go to the guitar jack in the
side.


This is where the blue cables used to be connect.


I connected a switch to them instead.



This is the jack that connects to where the tapehead used to be connected.


Solder the twined pieces together, and tape all loose ends.


Full frontal shot.

Knob-box

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My quest for a knobs’ controller for my soft-synths.

Introduction
I wanted a midi-controller with a decent amount of knobs to control my
soft-synths and DAW with, this is the story on what I had to go through to get
one, and how I finally had to make one. If you’re not interested in my why I did
not settle with a pre-made one skip down to the “The Actual making of the
controller”
section.

Pre-made ones.
I actually did buy a Behringer BCR2000, but it was to heavy (what felt like
twice or thrice the weight of my iBook) it did not run on batteries and the
program to do settings and setup in was unintuitive and, surprise, did not work
especially well on my mac. I could not get it to run in Mackie control mode, and
the endless knobs did not work endlessly. And it is ugly. Then I held out for a
Kenton AB mini, but when it was released (as KillaMix) it was priced twice or
thrice over what I was prepared to pay. But it really has the lot, endless
rotary encoders, USB bus powered. still a bit to pricey. With all these options
I decided to make one myself.

Research in to what hardware to base my controller on.
First I had to figure out what I really really wanted. It ended up being at
least 16 knobs, USB powered (or at least not wall-powered) preferably USB
connected and inexpensive. Doepfer was way to expensive (although I hear they
make great stuff). the Ardunio experiments I saw at the time was to limited in
the knob area (a maximum of 8). http://www.ucapps.de/ did not have an USB
“brain” and it could not draw current from USB.I finally ended up with buying
from http://www.midi-hardware.com a device called pot32 where you get 32 knobs,
it’s battery powered and draws very little current, no USB though. I have a few
things to say about ordering from midi-hardware, Firstly I got a (what I feel
like) great deal on the pot32 (all the cabling the pots the midi-connector an
extra little keyboard to program the device and shipping) for 95 EUR. I did pay
with moneybrookers on the 5th of January but there was no info to me for a week
and on my following e-mails where unanswered for 2 weeks that followed, I
finally received the package on 6th of February.

The Actual making of the controller.
I have an old commodore 64 revision 2 that I wanted to use as casing. That
failed, if I had used that as a case everything would have been to close
together. That would have sucked, I wanted it to be nice-looking and practical
to use. So the C64 was out. then I tried to make a steel case something but
after I broke the tools I had for cutting metal I gave that up aswell. So I
ended up with a piece of wood that was supposed to be used as a piece of floor.
Looked pretty nice.


After drilling, sawing, grinding and milling I had a piece that not only looked
okayish (except for the keyboard hole in the middle that was really sawed badly)
it was okay enough for me to use (I lowered my standards after a few hours of
work).


Testing that the stuff I ordered works, hooking one pot up to the board and then
to the computer, and yes, as you can se I got a lot of messages. I didn’t know
which leg of the pot’s to connect to what so I tested around a little here.


Soldering was tedious, very tedious, lots and lots of wires to connect.


Everything works, but its not very ergonomically and its still very
prototypish.So I order knob heads and now it looks much better, I also added
two legs at the sides and an on/off switch that I scavenged from my electronic
scavenger-box.


Finally I have this. some glue and paint made the badly sawed cut in the middle
look ok. For handling I can tell you it is a dream, I’ve set it up with my Korg
padKontrol and its all very nice.

Conclusion.
As much as I love it, and how easy everything went, there has been a few spots
that I would liked to have avoided. Firstly it took ages to get the stuff from
midi-hardware.com. The pots I got from him had all different torque, very very
annoying, and one of them is broken inside. It has a scraping sound when I
rotate it. Makes the overall tactile feeling lousy. I shouldn’t have ordered the
keyboard, waste of money since I have everything configured as when I got it.
I’d really liked to have a few buttons, you know, to trigger clips and stuff.So
next time I build myself a controller I think I will go with ucapps.de’s stuff.
They are perhaps a bit more expensive in time you have to spend to set things up
and things you have to learn, but you gain it in functionality and community
support.