Thursday, April 30, 2015

Synthrotek Ring Modulator Kit

As you can probably tell I’m getting into music-y/synth-y stuff. So I decided to build a ring modulator. I didn’t have the parts on hand so I impulse bought a kit from Synthrotek on Etsy (the kit was slightly less expensive on Etsy).
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Really easy to put together, just solder it up according to directions, took maybe 15 minutes total to put together in the project box. The box doesn’t come with the kit. This is what my voice sounds like modulated with a carrier wave at various frequencies between 100Hz and 400Hz.

Korg DS-8 Synthesizer Battery Replacement and Memory Recovery.

So I spotted this keyboard out of the corner of my eye at a yard sale. As soon as I saw it had a joystick I was intrigued. That it was $30 and said “needs work” on the tag cemented my desire to own it.DSC06416It’s a Korg DS-8. Pretty fancy for the late 1980’s. I did some reading at it became clear that it needed a new backup battery installed. The voices were all weird or missing and the LCD was displaying garbage characters. A factory reset restored one piano voice, but in order to load new patches (voices, instruments, whatever) I needed to replace the battery. I downloaded the user manual and the service manual.DSC06433DSC06426Joystick!DSC06385 You basically remove all the screws and the bottom comes off. It has to hang over the edge of the table so the joystick doesn’t get stressed.korg1 Korg.DSC06390 A soldered in CR2032 3V lithium battery.  DSC06395 DSC06396 FYI, you can’t solder tabs onto a lithium battery…these are spot welded. You can buy replacement batteries but I wanted to get it running ASAP.DSC06398 I used my Hakko desoldering tool to remove the old battery.DSC06404 While the desoldering tool was warm I removed the CR2032 coin cell holders from some dead PC motherboards I had laying around. Then I made some leads. DSC06408 DSC06409 DSC06412 Soldered in the holder. Now the next guy needing to replace the battery can just snap one in. You can buy the holders but why not recycle?
Coincidentally my friend Kent had the soldered in battery on his CNC mill motherboard (a 486 processor DOS based Centroid PC control…) fail this week, wiping his incredibly specific BIOS. I gave him one of the holders and he was back in business as well, although we did have to find out a bunch of detail about the hard drive, including the Landing Zone specification in order for the motherboard to see the drive.DSC06435The power cord was missing, I didn’t have an exact match so I made do with some large spade crimps that fit.DSC06442I had this USB MIDI cable on hand and tried to use it to upload some factory patches (Sysex files!) using both MidiOx and Bome’s SendSx. But it just wouldn’t work. I could play individual notes from the PC and I could retrieve data from the keyboard but it just wouldn’t work for sending data. Much Googling found some various forum threads that said that you need a better quality interface. DSC06437In what was my second ever Craigslist purchase, I found a nice guy selling an M-Audio MIDISport 2x2USB interface for about half of new price. A quick trip to town and I was in business. I forget which of the two programs I ended up using to upload the file, but it succeeded and I now have all the factory patches installed. DSC06429DSC06428Now if only I had some musical ability…

Some Jerry Andrus Illusions

We're pretty much moved into the new shop although I have a bunch of work to do still. I have been playing with several things of late... andrus1 My friend Jeanine oversees the estate of Jerry Andrus, a famous magician who lived in Albany, Oregon. That's Jeanine above, showing off the nuts illusion. She came over a couple of months ago and dropped off some of Jerry's optical illusions for me to get running so that they can be displayed in the Albany Regional Museum during the month of May. I really wish I'd know about Jerry, he was a fantastic and influential magician and loved optical illusions. There are tons of videos of him on Youtube. Also The Jerry Andrus Story Part 1 and The Jerry Andrus Story Part 2 on Vimeo.
andrus2 This is the Parabox. It is a single element that’s repeated in the revolving blocks illusion below.
Spook Blocks.
andrus4 You can see the nature of this type of illusion.andrus5 Jerry’s calendar. This is what he used to keep track of appointments.andrus6 It has seen better days.andrus7 This video shows it, poorly.
andrus8 The block illusion was fairly complete.andrus9 One of the “blocks” underside.andrus10 The illusion.andrus11 andrus12 They stick on the hub with magnets. The magnets are weak.andrus13 andrus14 The power cord had to go.andrus15 As did the train transformer. Being a crazy hoarder I have a box of train transformers.andrus16 The angle adjustment for the motor was nifty.andrus17 andrus18 “From 1 Rev 2 Sec to 1 Rev Ten Sec.”andrus19 I added a switch that could be actuated remotely (if they end up putting it in a case.)

This is what it looks like in action. I also made that ring.

andrus8For the starburst I needed to get a motor working. The junkbox produced a suitable one.andrus19 Some of the petals had broken loose from multiple repairs of epoxy and spot welding. I decided to use screws to hold the petals on.andrus20 andrus21 andrus22 I made a hub that connects it to the motor.andrus23 andrus24And bent up a little motor mount from sheet metal.

And here’s a short video of it in action.
Below are a bunch of pics of the calendar guts. I didn’t have enough time to get it fully working before the exhibit, there were many missing pieces, cut wires, etc. A pity, but I did get it cleaned up and it keeps time and date now. I completely forgot to take a picture of it all cleaned up. You’ll have to go to the exhibit, if they end up displaying it.
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