Categories
Uncategorized

Sound Experiment for 2021-09-20

Here’s a fun sonic experiment. The RD-6 has outputs for each sound (well, some are shared) so I ran a splitter from the bass drum output and the clean signal goes to one input on the Dude Mixer and the other goes to the Monotron Delay and then out from there into the Dude Mixer. The third input into the Dude is the standard output from the RD-6 which is all the rest of the drums. (Minus the bass drum because when you output a specific sound it subtracts it from the main output.)

So that’s one channel for plain bass drum, one channel for bass drum through the delay (and the Monotron itself) and one channel for all the other drums/sounds.

Then it’s just a matter of twisting those knobs and coming up with crazy sounds! And that we did… at least we think so. Check it out!

Categories
Uncategorized

Synth Jams – Early September 2021

I’ve been dropping all these videos of synth jams over on YouTube but haven’t put any of them here, so I figured I would fix that.

This one is just Pocket Operators. They are tiny, limited devices that can still do a heck of a lot. They’re awesome and fun. I’m using a sync splitter so I can run them all into a mixer separately and adjust the levels. You can chain them all together, but it can be difficult to get the sound levels of each one set properly.

This one is a “Sonic Exploration” (or “Sound Exploration”, I mean, I don’t even know.) I can see doing more of these “knob twiddling” videos where it’s sort of organic and goes… well, wherever it goes. The Crave is a semi-modular analog synth, so it’s perfect for that sort of thing. The Arturia BeatStep is a fun sequencer and pad device that does MIDI and CV. (And I might have some more hardware perfect for Sonic (or Sound) Explorations coming up soon.

This one pairs the Pocket Operators with the Behringer RD-6 Drum Machine. I’m using the PO-12 Rhythm which is a “drum machine” it it’s own right as well, but it’s playing bass tones. There’s also a PO-14 Sub which is a bass sequencer, so… double bass I guess? The PO-24 Office rounds it out as… lead? Yeah, sounds good.

If you want more of this crazy sound subscribe over on the YouTube because I plan to keep going.

Categories
Uncategorized

That DAWless Thing

Recently I posted about my history of music making and my love of the Pocket Operators. Now if you don’t know what a DAW is, DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation, and basically it’s a computer with music making software. GarageBand, Ableton, Logic, even Audacity. There are tons of pieces of software to turn your computer (or tablet or mobile device) into a music making machine… and I don’t really want to use any of them right now.

Don’t get me wrong, I love computers, and I love creating things. I mean, I often spend 8 to 10 hours a day using a computer, staring at the screen, moving a mouse and typing on a keyboard. And for my own sanity, I want some time away from that. I want to be able to get away from my desk and be creative and have fun and not have to be disrupted by alerts and notifications and the lure of my browser and email. Doing DAWless means you can walk away from the computer, disconnect, and still be creative.

One of the reviews I read for the Pocket Operators was from a dad who said it was the perfect gift for his son, “No boot up, no login, no screen time, no advertisements… just him pushing buttons, turning knobs, and making beats.” There’s something kind of beautiful about that.

Another friend of mine who used to play in a few bands said that with a you child at home it became difficult to meet up with other to jam and make songs, but he could do it all at home on his own with synths and other gear. (Jamming at home alone with headphones is also pretty pandemic friendly!)

Honestly I think my goals with this all are to have fun, explore sound, and maybe even make music that I actually like listening to. So far I’m doing well with those goals, so I’m pleased with where things are going. Oh, if you want to check anything out, here’s a YouTube playlist!

Here’s a few interesting articles about the DAWless thing well beyond what I’ve discussed here:

Categories
Uncategorized

Big Button Audio Player

I was recently contacted by an artist who really liked The Big Button and wanted to use it for an art installation. After some discussion it turned out they really didn’t need a USB controller but needed something to trigger an audio player. When I asked what they were going to use for an audio player they said they didn’t know, so I suggested building the whole thing to ensure it would all work together. And it did.

The control box (which is the “audio player” in the simplest terms) allows the button to plug into it using a 3.5mm TRS cable. This allows the customer to swap out to a longer or shorter cable if needed. 3.5mm TRS stereo cables are everywhere and pretty cheap. Since we only need three wires there’s no need for a more complex connection. (Though if you need an RJ-45 solution, we’ve got that covered.)

The control box also has a 3.5mm jack for audio out. This is to connect to external powered speakers or a PA system. (Or headphones!) And in the center of the front panel is a Mini USB jack for powering the unit via a Mini USB cable and a 5 volt wall wart.

There’s a hole on the side of the unit for access to the Micro SD card in the audio player. Just in case sounds ever need to be changed, or if the card fails, etc. Without this hole it would be very difficult to get to the card. (Just like the Game Show Buzzer System I covered the hole with tape before shipping.)

Here’s a look inside the unit. There’s an Arduino Nano with the audio player, and the 3.5mm jack and… some wires! And a few wire connectors taped together just to prevent them from rattling. This was a quick build but it came together fairly easily. I did a good amount of testing with this one, and luckily it all went well. (I should really build a permanent testing station again, as it’s becoming of a need lately.)

So hey, if you need some weird electronic device that does something… let me know!

Categories
Uncategorized

Bit Board & micro:bit Powered Step Sequencer

The first guide I published for Brown Dog Gadgets was a step sequencer using their Arduino-compatible Robotics Board back in April 2020. You may also remember my WMSE sculpture that was a step sequencer, and I never did a write-up on it, but I also built a step sequencer for an interactive museum exhibit years ago, which was kid-tough and focused on sequencing as a form of programming.

Anyway, since it was nearly a year from the first Crazy Circuits step sequencer I think I should revisit it as a micro:bit project. So here’s a guide to building a Bit Board & micro:bit Powered Step Sequencer.

The code was written using Microsoft MakeCode for micro:bit, a block-based programming environment, which also supports Javascript and Python in text modes. It’s been interesting working in a block-based programming system, and I’ve gotten used to it in the past six months. I do really like the fact that you can toggle between block view and text view.

I’ve got a lot more micro:bit projects I’ve worked on in recent months, which you can check out in the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Database.