Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Gimme Five, I'm Still Alive

 I've been getting comments on and off in posts on this neglected blog, and reviewing the posts I wonder, "who is that guy? how did he have so much time and energy to write about odd stuff?" Well not really, I've just been busy with life and such. Last posts were about my first forays into modular synthesis. Well, that's continued.

I went from one 3U row of 84HP, to 8 3U rows...and it's not stopping. Most modules made from PCBs made by others and my own milled panels. I'm keeping it on that level of DIY to avoid GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and keep costs down generally. I have done some basic PCB design myself (Kicad) and a few modules are constructed on stripboard.

I made a pretty conscious decision not to publicly document my DIY progress in the hobby for three reasons:
1) I'm doing a lot more learning and it'll be a long while before I feel comfortable giving advice or tutorials (if ever) on synth design or electronic engineering.
2) There are tons of people who do know what they are talking about.
3) It's burdensome to constantly document hobby progress.

That said, I will try to post about interesting things I come across going forward. Social media just hasn't replaced the utility of blogging.

Oh yeah, I've been doing a lot of gardening, getting back to my hippie ways. Here's the garden in July:

I'll leave you with this picture I took last week of two slugs mating in my back yard and also implore you to WEAR A MASK while the pandemic is ongoing.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Eurorack Modular Synthesizer Case

Yay, new hobby/midlife crisis. Slowly putting together a eurorack format modular synthesizer. The case is the first bit you need. casebuild01casebuild02casebuild03
Rails from Synthrotek. I wish they had measured drawings.

Meanwell RT65-b power supply. Busboard was from a random Ebay auction.

Milled a slot so I can slip in more nuts without disassembling the case.

casebuild10Fine tuning the rear panel after mounting the power supply, so covered everything with plastic.

The wood is from a 1x8 I found laying in the road. It has insect damage and checking.casebuild14

I finished in early November 2017.

This is how many modules I’ve built since. I’m buying PCBs for various modules and then sourcing components and soldering them up. Fun.

Friday, August 25, 2017

I Should Be Ashamed Of My Laziness

But heck, life with two ~teenagers is apparently tiring and busy.
I’ll try to catch you up on some of the more interesting things.

Exciting things like how I organize my “wallwart” power bricks. You can’t just throw them in a box together because they twine together like a king rat.wallwart1Divided roughly by voltage (but not AC/DC).
Individually bagged, mostly labelled. Ziplock type bags are cheap.

I built one of the incredibly XR2206 based cheap function generator kits available on Ebay from China. I think it was maybe $6 or $7. I’m too lazy to look it up.

I worked a little bit more on what I believe is a Quixotic attempt to fix the Alesis keyboard I bought at the beginning of last summer. I found that the previous repairperson/demon from hell had ruined one of the pads & vias for a capacitor (probably pulling it off mechanically rather than desoldering?) on the PCB and just glued the cap onto the board.

So I used a grommet to create a new pad and via and scraped back the solder mask to connect. I haven’t done that before. The synth is still dead but now the power section works.

I found even cheaper function generator kits on Ebay (it’s fun to search “DIY kit”) They were about $2.00 each. Why? Don’t ask.

In 2014 snow smushed down our grape arbors. I finally pulled them upright and pounded in some supporting t-posts. The grapes were happy.arborday1

Felice’s riding mower had a small problem with one of the spindle housings…

It took me hours to get it all apart…cheaters and extensions and swearing.

After I rebuilt the mower she took it out and got it stuck in one of the grape arbors.

That brings us up to the 4th of July.


Playing with a old webcam and adapting it to a microscope. It was unsatisfying.micro1

I decided to build one of the cheap DSO Oscilloscope kitssortSorting resistors with a breadboard and an Ebay component checker.

If you were living under a rock and hadn’t heard, we had a total eclipse in Oregon.
eclp1Felice and family enjoying the weirdness.

eclp2Playing with colanders.

eclp4eclp5They had several alerts.

Weird shadows. I didn’t have a good lens to take an actual eclipse picture, but there are plenty of good ones out there.
I will say that I was skeptical about how amazing a total eclipse would be. It was, in short, the most interesting, largest and amazing thing I have ever seen in my 50 years. Breathtaking does not do it justice. If you have a chance to see one, do it.

There was also a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t take pictures of this year. But I’ll try to do better.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Catching Up In The New Year

I really would like to post more. Maybe I’ll make that a resolution. Nah, that never works. But here are some recent pictures.

Felice wanted n electric pencil sharpener because the kids were driving her insane with pencil issues. I looked online and all the reviews of current offerings were poor. So I found one for $3.00 at Goodwill. It worked but was a bit slow and rattle-y so I took it apart.

Made in the USA.

Full of shavings in the housing.

This was the cause of all the problems, plastic (some cheap pencils are plastic coated) wrapped around the cutter bearing. Cleaned it up.

Works fine now.

I have an old battery tester (for AA, etc. batteries) that was becoming a bear to use, seemed like the probes weren’t making good contact.

How many products come with schematics anymore?btet03
This was the problem, the lead was poorly soldered to the probe tip and the cable was corroded inside the insulation. So it needed replacement.btet04btet05
I mounted some banana jacks to the case.

The whole circuit is on the rotary switch.

Works fine now and can use standard test probes.

I finally whipped up a 3V voltage regulator for the Monotron fake modular synth. Now it can be powered from a 9V DC power source (I have one on my music desk for pedals and such).

Charlotte is always injuring herself playing sports to make her more healthy. She had me make a flip out key lever so she can start her van.

I try not to take free monitors in need of repair, but this Dell monitor worked but the menu buttons didn’t. The flat cable had cracked connections where it was soldered to the button panel. I scraped back the insulation and tacked on some 30 ga. wire to bridge the gaps. Easy fix!

We had a bit of ice dumped on us for the new year.

I made a cork record mat to replace the extremely slippery one that came with the MCS turntable I was gifted a while back. Records sound better with a little torque behind them.

Culling tools I never use, I decided to take apart this non-functioning wire stripper.abmk12
Made in Malta!abmk13abmk14abmk15
Sadly the rubber that springs the individual jaw teeth around the wire is decomposed. Maybe I’ll try to replace it or maybe I’ll throw it away. Not sure yet.abmk16
Put it all in a bag for later…

I made a lot of latkes (potato pancakes) over the holiday.