Controlling CrystalFontz LCDs with Perl

Mon Nov 26 2007 21:58:00 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

tags: lcd crystalfontz perl audiopint

Late last night I posted a first version of my Perl-based serial packet app for talking with the CrystalFontz 635:

crystalfontz in perl

It's not rocket science, but there just really aren't very many working implementations out there, let alone working implementations that allow one to save the LCD state as the boot state. It's certainly not feature complete, but it does what it does and it actually works.

The app was built with the express purpose of configuring the CF-635 in my audiopint before LCDProc is able to take over. It certainly makes the startup/boot sequence nicer, and it allows me to start LCDProc later in the boot sequence, maybe even asynchronously.

The next step now is to build a small set of puredata (Pd) abstractions to talk directly to LCDproc via the netsend socket abstractions.

Incisor Clipping Technique is released.

Mon Nov 26 2007 00:13:16 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

tags: infiltrationlab noise pd puredata music

After more than a year, Infiltration Lab has released a new 3" CDR.


As always, mp3 audio is freely available for download from from (Although apparently right now there's a problem with the post, ug. Will update later when the dust settles...sorry).

This little abstract recording is a 22 minute trek into the insufferable human psyche. It was composed mostly for several pure data (pd) patches and instruments (like the cracklebox and atari punk console) that I built earlier this year. The foldout covers are printed in full color, and the CD labels were each individually hand drawn and painted.

All things considered, I'm pleased with the final recording product. I do wish I would have spent more time on the final mix (the sound/range is a bit low, so crank it up loud!) and made things a bit louder, but the end result is a rich dynamic range balanced on a lofi string of radio and electromush.

Noisybox blog, software updated

Fri Nov 23 2007 23:23:24 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

tags: blogging url rss tagging web

After some digging, I determined that it's been just about 3 years since I really updated the blog software on I've long been kicking around the idea of making things better by replacing the cryptic ampersand-get-query-parameter syntax with something a little easier on the eyes (and fingers)...but I kept pushing it back and calling that effort worthless or kinda silly and unnecessary. But a few weeks ago at a Dorkbot meeting, my friend David enthusiastically asserted the opposite: This wasn't an unimportant undertaking. By his assertion, constructing meaningful URLs is fundamental to how the web works. The more I started looking around, the more I discovered that damn near every modern, frequently-updated site was using URL path syntax for permalinks. There was certainly a trend afoot, and it seemed that only the aging and decrepit sites (like mine!?) still used the kooky HTTP GET syntax. I needed to bring the site up to snuff...something had to be done. So I put in the time, made the code more modular, made it better, and after fighting PHP and Apache...viola...we now have nicely scoped and well defined URLs that correspond to blog entries. I've also implemented a first pass at tagging my (new) entries with categories. This also includes having categories in the RSS feed that get populated with the tags. You see, once again, I'm late jump on the bandwagon, but I've been thoroughly convinced now that tagging is a workable, useful, and important (if not critical) way to help define a taxonomy for the web. Maybe now I'll be more inclined to post more often and provide better content!? Hah...we've heard that before. I've concluded that although my approach to blogging (yes, I've finally allowed myself to say the word) has changed over the years, it hasn't changed enough. Part of my lack of posting can be attributed to some weird sense of pressure, or a need to "get caught back up" and to somehow capture all that's been going on. Although it was my intention at the time, far too many of my past entries have been imprecise and just jump around two or three recent happenings. That's fine -- but I'm now making a clear attempt to focus. I'm starting to understand the value in having 3 separate posts about 3 topics rather than lumping them all into one single, often hurried whammy. Gone are the days of non sequitur irrelevant subjects. Long live the new order. The theme is now this: More frequent, more relevant. There are two key nice-to-have features that I haven't yet built. The first is tag-based filtering, or the ability to filter by one or more tags. This also implies the ability to create dynamic RSS feeds for any tags that exist on the site. Powerful powerful stuff. The second is date-based selection, so that blog entries can be viewed based on their year, month, day. I'm saving those for another day, likely after I rework the photo gallery sections.

Mini bursts of recent things.

Tue Jul 24 2007 22:49:54 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

A friend of mine is continuing to rid himself of worldly posessions...and I keep landing some pretty cool junk as a result. Case in point...this 60's era oscilloscope:

60s scope


Sure, it's old, and likely doesn't work, but the case is just great and the controls alone are worth the somewhat strange looks it fetched on public transit. Not sure exactly what I'll do with it yet, but I'm slightly inspired by the vague but kinda stupidly awesome mini tv instructable. The case might even work as a little portable mini amp, which I've been wanting to build for a while.

...but new projects are on hold until I free up from a few existing the audiopint I'm building. I've ordered 4 iMic sound cards, an extra USB flash drive, and continued securing things to the inside of the case. I'm planning on mounting 8 mono input jacks on the top face tonight...and I need to start thinking about a serial LCD. Although it can certainly go without, even a little 2x16 can provide enough info to give a hint in the visual feedback path.

I recently got copies of the long-awaited 2CD "Power/Field" compilation CD that Bob Bellerue put out. I submitted a track nearly 2 years ago (IIRC it's track 11 on CD1)...and so it's great to see this come to fruition. Of course I'm biased, but the album is pretty damn great.

OSCON is this week, and as a result I get to attend a bunch of geeky talks about open source software and products. Not only am I looking to the shortened commute and temporary freedom from the office...I'm really quite excited about a few of the topics/presenters.

DorkbotPDX 0x00

Tue Jun 26 2007 23:12:06 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

tags: dorkbot portland dorkbotpdx

So this past Sunday was the first "official" (more formal) DorkbotPDX event in Portland. I've been meeting with the group semi-frequently and really enjoyed seeing the first major event come alive. I gave a brief talk on the p5 glove controller as used as a sound controller with free/open source software...especially pure-data. I have slides and demo patches from the talk available here I had a real blast! Things went pretty smoothly for being a first-time event...and we're well positioned now to learn from our experiences and move forward toward great success. The momentum factor is a big thing IMO, especially during mid summer when people are on vacation or are generally more active...travelling, enjoying the outdoors. That's a big yearly theme in the NW -- sun comes out, people go out. We tend to get really busy during the summer. I'm slowly and surely working on building an audiopint, but I had to RMA the PSU, and so progress has been delayed. (crossing fingers hoping the problem is actually the psu). David has been super helpful in explaining some of their process and what the caveats/pitfalls are. I still don't have a great method of mounting things to the inside of the case/lid without poking through from the outside...but I'll likely resort to JB weld or a plastic weld to hold in brackets/bolts so things can remain secure. More updates on that project as it progresses...

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!


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 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.


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 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 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.