loopwav

I’ve been playing with SamplerBox on a Raspberry Pi lately, and one of the things I need are WAV files with loop markers, and I’ve not been able to find free/open source software for Mac OS X that allows you to set loop markers. One suggestion was Wavosaur, which does loop markers, but is a Windows application.

I’m familiar with WINE which I thought was just for Linux but also works on BSD and Mac operating systems. In fact, this blog post titled Wavosaur for Mac ! with Wineskin was just what I needed. It uses Wineskin which is an open source utility to covert Windows applications to Mac OS X applications, and yeah, it uses WINE to do that.

It seems like most people who want to run Windows software on other platforms are interested in games, but I’m just looking for ways to not have to use Windows any more than I need to, and if I can get some niche utility to run on my main computer(s), I’m all for it. Of course right now only 32bit Windows applications will work, but hopefully 64bit will be in the future.

byte-shop-joystick

Back in the 1980s my brother bought an Apple ][+ from a local computer store called the Byte Shop in Greenfield, Wisconsin. (And yes, there were other stores that used the same name.) I was lucky enough to be able to use the Apple ][+, and learn about computers and programming, and it was the start of my journey of understanding and using technology that has been part of my life for the past 40 years.

My brother recently gave me the receipt for the joystick I purchased in 1982. Yes, this is what 12 year old Petey was saving his money for, an analog joystick made by TG Products from Richardson, Texas. (And you knew it was from there because it was printed right on the top of the enclosure.)

The included "documentation" mentioned a method of removing the springs inside that centered the joystick when released, and I used the "hack" to utilize the joystick as a drawing device (which was quite difficult with the springs in place, and still difficult with the springs removed.)

I remember a lot about this joystick and using it with the Apple ][+ at the time. Computers were so scarce back then, and I don't think anyone else I knew at school had one at home. I did my best to treat the computer with care, and even to this day, I'm sometimes shocked at the way people treat their technology, as if it's disposable... but maybe that's just how it is today, with computing devices being so ubiquitous and easily replaceable.

TG Products Joystick

Above is a great photo of the joystick that I borrowed from the Computer History Museum’s web site. Those buttons are still available, and I’m pretty sure I’ve used them for projects. (I may have even bought some from Radio Shack back in the day.) Also, check out that awesome ribbon cable! (Hey, it was an analog device.)

I did a bit of searching for this old joystick and came across a few links. Here one from a Vintage Apple site. It’s a bit weird because it’s extra long… what’s up with that? Well, see this tweet for some interesting info on that.

I found a few other TG Products online as well. There’s also a TG joystick at The Strong (which I wish I had known when I was there two years ago.)

And this one is a little weird… It’s a Super Game Stick for Apple II I found on Amazon which is obviously a clone.

The other strange thing for me is that back in 1982 I bought a computer controller (a joystick) and in 2019 I now occasionally build computer controllers, sometimes for work, sometimes for fun, and sometimes it’s a joystick.

Well, you know what they say… you can’t ESC your past.

dodecahedron-connectors

I honestly can’t remember where I got the idea to make a bunch of dodecahedrons for Maker Faire Milwaukee came from, but I do remember looking at Thingiverse for some connectors I could use with 1/4″ dowel rods. I know I tried Trammell Hudson’s design, since I always admire his work, but I was not using pencils, so it didn’t work. I did attempt to alter his file, but ultimately ended up designing my own file, which worked well enough that I wanted to share it. (Check out Dodecahedron Connectors on YouMagine.)

dodecahedrons-colors-01

So I made nine dodecahedrons that could hang from the ceiling in the Dark Room. And since they’d be in the Dark Room I figured I should use fluorescent filament to create the connectors, and fluorescent paint to paint the wooden dowel rods, and with help from Kathy H. at Milwaukee Makerspace, we got everything painted. Sadly, we did not get the blacklights set up in the Dark Room due to budget constraints, and there was too much light where they were placed, and we had to bundle them all together, and… well, anyway, they turned out great, despite a few issues with presentation.

dodecahedrons-small-01

I’ve also made a smaller (hand-held) model for home. It’s small enough to fit on a 13″ MacBook Pro, though I might hang this one from the ceiling as well. Or maybe make it into a lampshade. I don’t know yet.

dodecahedrons-mms-01

This is the original version, which uses 12″ long, 1/4″ diameter wooden dowel rods. A pack of 100 dowel rods is under $15, and a roll of fluorescent filament is about $22. Since you need 30 dowel rods and 20 connectors per dodecahedron you can easily build three large ones (or a lot of small ones) for under $40 USD as long as you’ve got access to a 3D printer.

Did I mention I really like dodecahedrons?

release-button-01

Launching a ship is exciting! Maybe that ship is a rocket ship, or maybe it’s a traditional ship which floats in the water. When launching a ship there’s often a ceremony involving some champagne and pageantry and a party and it’s quite an event. (I’ve been to at least one boat launch, so I know what I’m talking about!)

When you launch a new version of your software, it’s not quite as exciting. I mean, it is, but in a different way. Sure, twenty years ago there was probably a lot of excitement around master discs and packaging and all that, but in 2019 with most software delivered as a service, it’s not much more than someone typing a few commands, clicking a mouse, and pressing the enter key. Not as exciting.

But! Some software company decided to make it exciting, and they asked me to help. They’ve now got a “Software Release Device” that they can connect to a computer, then turn the key to enable the device (which turns on a lamp letting them know it’s ready) and then they can switch between mouse and keyboard and hit the big read button to launch the latest version of their software to the world. Exciting!

release-button-02

They made it pretty easy for me, as they specified most of the parts for the build. The lamp was meant to run on 24VDC but luckily it was just a matter of cutting open the housing, replacing some resistors, and gluing it all back together to get it to run on 3.3VDC, and it looks really nice.

If you’re interested in some sort of custom USB device, let me know… I’d love to build something for you.

audio-face-5404

One of the projects I built for Maker Faire Milwaukee this year was AUDIO FACE [APC-320], which consists of the following things.

  • A cabinet built from scrap wood and plastic found at Milwaukee Makerspace and Brinn Labs
  • An Atari Punk Console that Kathy C. from Milwaukee Makerspace gave me for my birthday (which was already assembled!)
  • A 320 watt car stereo amplifier that someone donated to Milwaukee Makerspace, that I then gave to Jon H. for Disco Dalek, and he then gave back to me a year later
  • A really nice car stereo speaker I got from Andy A. from Milwaukee Makerspace for about $10
  • Some LED lights from Les, a long-time Maker Faire Milwaukee volunteer
  • A hefty 12 volt power supply and a 12v to 9v buck converter, which I purchased from Amazon for about $25
  • Some random arcade button I had lying around, a handful of drywall screws, and probably a few more miscellaneous things I forgot…

audio-face-5033

The concept behind this “noisemaker” is a continuation of what Maks, Dustin, and I did back in 2017, which was a series of devices that made sound when action was taken. Typically this was pressing a button, and often with potentiometers of some kind to alter the sound. I ended up building a lot of Arduino-based sound devices. Are these synths? Maybe… Are they noisemakers? I guess so.

audio-face-4992

When you press the button you are responsible for the creation of the sound. If creating weird noises embarrasses you, you have to deal with that. If you are getting into it and everyone else hates it, it’s on you. Only momentary switches are used so no one can turn them all on and walk away. If you’re there, you’re the cause of the sound.

Many of the devices from 2017 were somewhat fragile, built from small pieces of scrap material, and they sat on a table. For AUDIO FACE [APC-320] I wanted a large cabinet, which was pretty much a requirement due to the large speaker, amp, and power supply. While all of the 2017 devices were extremely cheap (built from scrap, found and scavenged speakers and components, and $3 Arduino boards or ATtiny chips) AUDIO FACE [APC-320] was a bit more expensive, probably costing close to $40 USD.

audio-face-5407

As a sculptural piece, I think AUDIO FACE [APC-320] is interesting because of the contrast. Some of the build material is really nice laminate material or higher quality plywood, but it’s assembled in a slapdash method. There are rough edges that don’t line up, and there’s very roughly drilled holes on each side. While I love precisely designing things, I also love just building with no plans on occasion. Just getting to work and figuring it out as I go. This cabinet is that. At least one person mentioned this at Maker Faire, seeing this as quite a contrast to my other pieces which tend to follow a specific grid or use mathematical concepts. It’s not by accident.

audio-face-5411

One other interesting thing about AUDIO FACE [APC-320] is that it’s sort of a bench. I mean, you can sit on it, and if you dial in the right sound and then sit on the button it makes your insides feel funny. I really like this part and may explore this in the future. I also like the fact that it’s sort of a table or a stool. A weird table or stool with controls in the middle of the top surface that makes noise and vibrates, but still… could be a table or a stool.

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