blog

Cracklebox page is alive.

Thu May 31 2007 22:58:13 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

tags: cracklebox electronics noise

cracklebox I finally got around to putting up a page for the cracklebox project I completed a few weeks back. Really a fun device...will be incorporating much more of it in near future recordings. The Grimley/Menche/SVS show last weekend was so really totally fun and amazing and impressive on all kinds of levels. Very inspiring. Grimley is on the radio right now...wish I would have had a chance to meet him and chat with him.

PDXBot.07 and the future toasts an audiopint.

Tue May 22 2007 23:52:31 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

tags: dorkbot dorkbotpdx artbot PARTS

Last weekend, PARTS (the Portland Area Robotics Society) held its PDXBot.07 event at at hotel space in Portland, OR. Even though the space left something to be desired (the noise bed was sometimes nearly unbearable and the layout made it easy to confuse vendors with dorks), the thing was a lot of fun!

pdxbot.07

have a set of photos and short movies available here.

By way of Dorkbot Portland, my nonsensical quickcam-on-a-chip-with-antenna design thing was used pretty ubiquitously at the event. It was fun to see it on shirts and signs and similar. As a co-overlord now of Dorkbot Portland, I ended up becoming a judge and stand-in MC for the artbot events (both junior and adult). I enjoyed talking in front of an audience again, even though I was completely unprepared and just stuck to the accidentall-odd-guy-in-shades persona I adopted [after waking up with a harsh red spot on the white of my left eye again]. I'm not too cool for school...I was saving you from disgust factor nine.

In any case, Don's robot turned out nice...it was fun to see it come together at the last moment. Great platform, rushed software. :) My creation didn't get finished (I ran out of time), but hopefully I'll have an entry when (if?) we do it again next year. Something about a power struggle between feeder insects.

I have started ordering/assembling parts to build my own audiopint, which is probably several bazillion times better than rolling with a laptop. All I really want is a portable pd capable device that I don't have to think much about....although I'm sure I will overwork and over-analize things.

Negativland!

Sun Mar 11 2007 23:53:03 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

tags: negativland radio

Last night in Portland, Negativland performed a live version of their Over the Edge radio broadcast. The performance was also simulcast live on KBOO radio (the main independent free form radio station in Portland). It was great to be able to see these legends in person and to see their methods...which, from what I could tell, were surprisingly simple. On a whim, I decided to look on archive.org to see if somebody had posted a live version of the performance. No luck, but I did find the death of circuit bending. Who knew? :) I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet (nor the handful of CDs I walked away with last night), but I will soon... There's a guy who posted some images of his Hulk hands midi controller conversion. Even tho I'm not sure what the actual mechanism is (is it just a single trigger per hand?) [Ed: I looked at the images again, there's a "spring and can" switch, so yeah, it sure seems like only a single switch per hand], I like the idea...although I wonder if he realizes that Wayne Coyne has been rockin the big hands for a few years already. Major loss of goodness points by showing Max/MSP screens instead of PD.

Lily is pretty sweet.

Sun Mar 04 2007 23:40:41 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

tags: dataflow programming web

I lurk on various PureData lists and get quite a bit of mail in digest format. It's often enough to skip over or skim very quickly, but recently the author of Lily posted OT about web patching via javascript...and wow. What cool stuff. Now don't misunderstand....I've gone on record bagging on this whole AJAX thing and how the web browser is a terrible "platform" for all this software we like to run (a windowing environment or even OS in a browser is totally redundant, no?)...but this looks damn fine. I haven't tried a demo or anything, but the movies look quite nice. Although maybe a bit simple and cryptic, the few examples of full "applications" (if dataflow languages create apps anyway?) being whipped out in a few mere minutes is, to me, pretty impressive. I suspect that [parts of?] it may be Firefox specific, which is probably less than ideal, but again, it looks to work really well! When I first read about this project, it immediately reminded me of Yahoo Pipes, which has been making the 'rounds. This is like a streamlined, less AOL version of the same...one that (to be fair, without a demo!) seems to actually work well, in an efficient and more intuitive (at least to us patchers) way.

Inkscape for great success.

Sun Mar 04 2007 22:52:21 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

tags: linux software graphics vector svg

I've been getting into and exploring with Inkscape lately. Although I was first tipped off to it a couple (?) years ago (now already?), I hadn't actually installed/tried it until recently. Now that I have put it through some test runs, I'm quite impressed! Of course the main idea (at least to me), is to be able to draw nice bezier curves and have them be smooth and be able to arbitrarily scale them and to edit them later (which you can't do with traditional bitmap/raster editing software...even thought Photoshop and Gimp have incorporated "paths"). It does this beautifully...things are highly intiutive, I got up to speed pretty quickly I think...and although I hit the occasional quirk, it did just what I wanted. As with other software, like Gimp, I'm sure the Adobe design zealots will soon start ranting about how inferior it is and how it lacks all these great features that product has...but whatever...I've never claimed to be a designer, but I can recommend it. I used Inkscape to draw up a series of logos for DorkbotPDX and for the PDXbot event this year. You can view them on my dorkbot subpage. A week or so ago I tracked down the LM709 op-amp from HSC Electronics and hacked up a cracklebox of my very own. I haven't put up a proper page for it yet, but I have some content online and will bang a page out soon. Do superworms molt? I've got a bin of 20 of them in oatmeal and I've been adding potato chunks, but I'm worried that they're not doing well. I once read that they'll eat each other if they get desperate, and I've seen what now look like carcases, but it might just be exoskin or something. I haven't even had time to really take care of them properly, which also implies that I haven't yet had time to record them.

Mobius. Of strip.

Sun Feb 18 2007 01:21:40 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

Of course, I get hung up on and otherwise find language often interesting. I am frequently capable of finding myself in that certain zone which entertains me and simultaneously frustrates others -- a fixation on wording, language, verbal expression. Oh, I'm no good at it...I never claimed I were. I just noticed that I used "smoking" and "patches" in an unintentionally clever context in my last blog entry. "Oh you're just arguing semantics!". That's all we have, bitch! Reason number 1095 to hate Texas. Digg labs is starting to be a huge time kill for me...I've been a voyeur of human nature for so long...this helps. Fortunately for me, the diggers are narrow and specific...if it were more contextually relevant, I'd be threatened. I have a son now. I love him. I will likely not talk much of him in such a public and impersonal forum. Although once novel, advanced, and technologically impassioned, this whole connected thing is starting to kinda give the spooks. I've already sworn to wean myself off The Googleplex this year...it's going to be challenging. The increasing darknet war on anonymity and relevance and context is long begun. We'll continue to build 29 levels of protocol upon protocol, unless somebody actually reveals that the mathematicians have fucked us long ago. I managed to find a source for the LM709 chips for the CrackleBox, and I made a new Eagle schematic and layout of what we plan on building...should be a fun tribute. I've got 3+ albums half finished...must progress. Building versus recording is becoming a burden (n'. recurring theme). Project-wise, tho, the crackle and the PIC-based artbot (for the Dorkbot hosted PDXbot artbot event) are topping the lists. Insects.

Smoking, APC, pd patches

Fri Jan 19 2007 23:33:33 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

tags: apc electronics noise

I finished up my version of the Atari Punk Console (APC) a few days ago. At its core, it's just a simple 555-based oscillator

apc

but I added a few twists (LEDs, speaker, switched caps and resistors). Even though I wanted to incorporate some of those nice Wacky Willy's piezos, I just couldn't hack anything decent sounding with minimal components...so I tossed it and opted for action over a drawn-out design period. I like that it's gritty and analog while still throwing out that low-res 8-bit sound that's all the rage these days...and it sounds especially nice and thick when bathed in effects.

I used the APC thing as a means to revisit board design, layout, and crafting, since it had been quite some time since I last did one. I maybe even picked up a few tricks along the way (ie. I never actually tried nail polish before etching to fill in pits/gaps). It's nice to build again.

I'd like to pick up micros again, mostly PIC or AVR, and I'd prefer to have a USB-powered programmer that supported in-circuit action. The arduino is a popular and flexible choice...and although it's slick, I still think it's kinda pricey. I'd rather spend a little more on a nice flexible usb programmer (Linux and windows support preferred) and roll my own bread/etched boards...got any good suggestions?

This week marked our 1-year quit mark for the quitting of the smoking! Really, it seems like only yesterday...and even tho I still crave on occasion, it's certainly become easier with each passing day. The Bikram yoga has certainly been instrumental in the success.

Finally, I posed a few new pd patches and an update or two over on my pd page.

The last Dorkbot PDX meeting was virtual because of the extreme snow and dangerous road conditions...the one before that was excellent and drew quite a few new faces. It was certainly a record for the most contraptions on the table....I hope that trend continues! It's kinda exciting to be living during this trippy time of convergence and appreciation of technological weirdness...

70s records, breadboarding, and beer.

Fri Dec 08 2006 21:36:07 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

tags: music records vinyl

Moods are odd. Moods are moody.

I managed to walk into the record store that I've been walking by for 6+ months since my office moved from the arts district to a strip-mall suburb. Surprisingly, it was a pretty nice shop with a good inventory and a nice (and talkative!) owner. I'm no expert, and I'm really not even a record collector, but I walked out with 3 records for $5:

patti smith group Patti Smith Group - Radio Ethiopia. Of course, I know of Patti Smith (through punk references/tributes, primarily from Sonic Youth), but I'm not really familiar with the work. I gave this record a listen and really enjoyed it. It started off a little rocky, ended with a wonderful experimental kick. Will totally recommend and listen again soon...

carney Leon Russell - "Carney" - I bought this only for the cover art, which looks like a proper original version of Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses. The music isn't bad, I guess, but I didn't really get into it. Mostly bluesy white guy stuff. There are a few gems, but none were amazing. The first track on side B sounds like the Liquid Sky soundtrack tho, and that's pretty freakshow circus style.

pleasure principle Gary Numan - "Pleasure Principle" - This was a no brainer for me -- A synthpop classic that I needed to own. You will like this.

There's a cacophony show tonite, a really good one in fact...but I'm just not up to going. I'm at home, listening to records, fiddling with a breadboard and drinking beer.

Alltalk documents, Linux audio updates, Atu XV, DotD, Dorkbot

Tue Nov 07 2006 23:14:29 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

tags: infiltrationlab noise music

It's been some time, mostly because I intentionally delayed posting because of a drawn-out server migration. That's right, I've finally migrated noisybox.net (and related sites) off the 2U VA Linux beast and onto a newer, quieter, more efficient box with more storage. It's true: Noisybox is literally less noisy! Since I last posted, I did manage to get overlays and a manual for the Alltalk device I described before. Through some very simple testing, I have concluded that the Alltalk requires the battery to be present and charged to function properly. I haven't yet had time to do additional troubleshooting, but I suspect something else may be going on in the power circuits. More on that later. For now, I have scanned the manual and inserts and made them available on an Alltalk page. A few really good notes on the Linux/Debian front that I discovered recently...the Jack HEAD branch has finally incorporated the "clockfix" for dual core AMD64 users like myself! This means that the jackd server can now (from 0.102.20 onward) be started with -c option ("-c hpet" for amd64 I believe) to choose the clock source and prevent drift in tight realtime setups. This hasn't made it into Debian unstable yet, but I'm sure it will soon. Similarly, tight realtime users (like myself) used to have to run a patched version of PAM (libpam) that understands the new kernel's approach to setting realtime limits for users. Fortunately, Debian unstable now contains 0.79-4 of libpam-runtime that understands the rtprio settings. One note -- my patched version seemed to use "rt_priority", but the new stuff uses "rtprio"...don't let that sneak up on you! atu xv I recorded a 3" CDR during the summer and slowly mixed it into a reality sometime in September. The album is called Atu XV, and I finally managed to make it available online (also here and here). Ever since I moved back to Portland, I've been wanting to do the tour of the Shanghai Tunnels that run underneath part of downtown. Last week was the Day of the Dead, and I was fortunate enough to make it to the Soriah+Lana performance that was held in the friggin tunnels. The performance was really enjoyable, I'm certainly glad I crawled underground to be there. I emerged with an evil smirk and a renewed appreciation for the great things Portland has to offer. Last, certainly not least, the PDX Dorkbot is continuing to come together...if you live in the area, drop by one of the meetings, join the mailing list, and help us out. We're mostly looking for chairs and a projector, but we can use all other variety of goods and services. If I stop procrastinating, I'll be giving a short talk about the p5 glove and pd at the first "real" meeting.

The Alltalk and the caradisio

Tue Sep 26 2006 23:17:33 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

tags: alltalk caradisio

Sadly enough, it seems that Wacky Willys will be no more as of this coming Sunday. I recommend heading over there to pay your respects and bid farewell to the I stopped by this weekend and picked up some general supplies, but scored an interesting device called the "Small Alltalk". The unit is a little larger than a laptop and has tape in/out jacks, a mic jack, a built-in speaker, power jack, and a built in rechargeable battery pack (which I actually can't find at the moment). The top is covered with a touch-sensitive, grid-based screen in which paper(?) overlays were once installed (mine has no overlays). The touch mechanism seems very similar to the touch and tell.

alltalk

(The only photo I could find online, and it's horrible quality and doesn't exactly match my revision)

From what I can tell, the apparatus was used in developmental rehab classes and was helpful for people with certain handicaps, like those that prevent people from speaking normally. Unlike other similar pieces, this one used actual recorded speech and could be reconfigured/rerecorded (sounds an awful lot like a 1986 sampler, eh?)

When I got it home, I plugged it in and started pressing random buttons. Oh wonderful grating noise belched forth from the speaker...but it was near impossible to tell what I was actually pressing without an overlay. A few more presses and the noise subsided. A few more, and it entered a strange mode that prevents it from making any more sound.

Unfortunately, there's very little information online about the Small Alltalk built 20 years ago. Through much digging, I discovered the name of a place that repairs them, and I tried calling at 10:30 last night. When a woman answered half asleep, I apologized, said that I had the wrong number, and hung up. While at work today, my phone range and a gentleman asked why I had called his house at 1am! I apologized again and explained that I was trying to reach a service business and dropped the name of the device. Sure enough, this nice old guy used to build the things!

Well, we had a really great chat and he filled me in on a little history. I asked about the company that manufactured them (Adaptive Communication Systems, or ACS), and he indicated that the owner just one day closed up shop (sounds sad and eerily familiar, eh?). He seemed to think that he might have a few manuals and/or overlays in his shop, and he obliged me by offering to send one! If all goes well, there will be a resurrection!

I posted the caradisio "kit" (wish I had a better word for my loose assembly of related pd abstractions) and a sound sample over on my pd page.