Oscillators pt. 1 - Monophonic

This was so exciiitiinngg (: (: (:. Used a hex schmitt-inverter IC. This converts values of 1 to 0 and 0 1, a.k.a. creates a square wave who’s frequency and frequency range can be modified using resistors and capacitors. First clip is using variable potentiometer as resistor; second uses a photo-resistor. I found that a 10μF capacitor provided a very nice (not too high which would strain the battery), controllable range for the purposes of either resistor.

… and the frustration continues…

oKAY! Well! So it is now spring quarter and apparently I am continuing this project which is really exciting because I noticed that later in the book exists some video manipulation which is exactly what I’m in this for.

That being said, I’m super frustrated. After a bout of spring break pneumonia I finally got back to hacking my Wiggles electric guitar- a circuit board with nice, normal components, and a therefore easily replaceable clock resistor… but it doesn’t work any more. Not because I’d taken out the resistor- I soldered the wires back into the board and reconnected it- I think it’s just so old that everything’s finally corroded. It was smelling really really really really gross before, so, cool. I just spent another forever digging into the screws of my backup toy I got, but it has surface mount device components instead of the normal diodes, etc, which I’m preeettyyy sure I can’t replace with the old fashioned parts I was going to use. I’ll ask my advisor just incase, buuttt yeahhh. Back to goodwill tomorrow it is!
This is why I’ve been limiting the goals of these contracts to “at least” one project a week. Blah.

KEEPIN KEEPIN ON!!!

12!

I never made a video for this and have now taken out the necessary diode in prep for the next chapter project, but the last thing I did for this contract Winter quarter was to find the clock circuit in an electronic Wiggles guitar toy. When you use your human connectors (fingers) as variable resistors on the “clock” resistor circuit (the one that times the frequency of sound let out of the toy), you can make the Wiggle’s get weirder than ever before!

Here is Nic Collins tutorial it is pretty freaky: http://www.nicolascollins.com/hackingtutorial10.htm

Stay tuned since I’m continuing this contract into Spring quarter (which starts tomorrow)! woop

Alright! I’m finally in part II of the book, which is where the more circuit-bendy stuff starts happening. For this project, you flip from the “component side” of an AM radio to the “solder side” (in image). You then lick yr fingers and make new connections between the solder connections (the small metal bumps). Using varying pressure and conductor (spit), your hands become transient resistors and capacitors. Or they just, like, switch from the AM to the FM band. Anyways, it’s lots of fun and feels… well I mean it’s very feels, isn’t it.

My first attempt at a wiring diagram (for electret condenser mic element project shown in video which is taking forever to process). If I had done this in pencil I would change it so the .1MF designation is below the symbol, leaving room to draw ground connection in a straight line, which is how these are supposed to look. I’d also probs draw the battery a little smaller. Got most of the symbols here.

Okay this wasn’t technically my first attempt. I did a draft where I didn’t know the symbols but wanted to practice drawing out the wiring first. That’s the second one, on cardboard. Not so official but I think I’ll probably keep doing drafts with non-straight lines in the future just because it’s kind of difficult to figure out right from the start what the best connections to draw would be. I’m sure there are computer-y ways to do this but I want to get good enough at thinking-through-wiring by hand for the purposes of my live audio/video set ups I’ll be doing at work again. I talked to my boss on the phone the other day and he said that even after doing live setups for some decades now, they’re still always coming up with different/ neater wiring setups for conferences at the Red Lion hotel (where I worked this summer) and other places/ events.

According to the site I’m looking at, circuit diagrams show how electronic components are connected while block diagrams are used to understand and design complete circuits by breaking them down into smaller sections. I need to go catch up on my other classes, but this quarter and definitely next quarter, my goal is to get in the practice of using and reading both kinds of diagrams as an effective planning tool for live audio and audio component set ups.

Signal Flow Workshop

This last Sunday I attended Signal Flow Collective’s introduction to electronic audio workshop for women and transfolk. I only got to catch the last 2 hour workshop but it was pretty cool. Leala who was instructing provided us with clear, no-nonsense typed notes on what we were learning, complete with diagrams and jargon-free examples. All was explained and demonstrated. After the demonstration, we were encouraged to ask questions and play with equipment that was provided (this is the most important part!)

I think it’s really important to have spaces like this. I used to be kind of on the side of “well I mean if you’re trying to be egalitarian, you shouldn’t exclude males.” One argument against this is that non cis-males have been excluded from that shit for hundreds of years. We have a lot of catching up to do and you can’t just undo that by simply spreading awareness of the inequality…

Something like that. I think this is a viable argument but the one I think is a little bit more whole of an explanation is that, because of these years and years of oppression and the awareness that we will probably be judged more harshly than men, it’s really important to provide safe spaces for women and trans folk to really just do their thang without fear of being judged unfairly. At least as a starting spot. Everyone has trouble when they’re first learning things. But it’s getting past that shame that I think can be the biggest barrier to really being able to learn enough to apply it confidently and in real time (a musical performance or on the job or when explaining something for example), especially in the tech and mechanical fields.

There also need to be more welcoming spaces in general (Olymega is moving out of the procession space today!) for collective hardware work that welcome all cultures, genders, orientations, learning styles, experience levels, and projects people bring in. I’ve been talking to a few students at evergreen about starting a space similar to the bike shop I volunteer at that would be like this. A room with a couple soldering iron stations, wire cutters, hookup wire, shared salvage bin, screwdrivers and third hand tools, for starters. It could be a space shared with Paul Pham’s project club as I’m sure some projects would overlap. It would be cool to have workshops there, too. So that’s something that I know is on a few people’s minds.

After the workshop, Melanie, one of the organizers, checked in with individuals for input on how the classes went. She told me that they will be continuing to work on doing more, and that if I wanted to teach anything they are open to that. So yes. I’ve talked to Leala about teaching a workshop on soldering and making a contact mic, since it’s a very good project/ hands-on way to teach some very basic principles of electronic audio. (ring-tip-sleeve, ground and hot, positive and negative, soldering skills, signal flow, crystal batteries, mechanical waves). She says they are working on a grant that could help provide soldering stations and other elements that could be used for these purposes. Exciting!!

Next quarter, I’m planning to go back to working with Pacific Stage on a far more regular basis, as an internship. I’m interested in somehow incorporating my involvement in the making of maker spaces and the inviting of people to those spaces into a contract for next quarter, as well as starting to put some hours into practicing basic electrical theory and reviewing that live music manual again. So maybe an 8 credit. The rest of my time will be spent making art & music. (:

Update

Still waiting for solder head to come in in the mail. This is really frustrating. They didn’t actually have the replacement at radioshack and I had to order it from them offline even though I bought the iron from radioshack. In conclusion: don’t buy from radioshack. Unless it’s something that is really obviously only one part. But don’t rely on them to have parts either. Essentially Radioshack sucks.hard.

That being said, I’ve read over the chapter on building yr own electret element condenser microphone. It sounds lovely. I’ve also been reviewing my live sound manual from senior year as well as looking through some stuff on video signal manipulation: Distribution Religion, Muff Wiggler (yes what a weird name), and some specifics having to do with converting signals from PAL/NTSC to RGB color mode (for manipulation), and then back to PAL or NTSC again. Understanding the MC1377, for instance, has become a distracted interest.

By distracted interest I mean that I realize I’m veering off course a bit here. I could say that this is because my solder tip is still in the mail (which is part of it), but honestly it’s probably more to do with that I’m getting a mad senioritis-induced spike in adhd symptoms and am finding it really difficult to discipline myself focus-wise. I mean, it all ties together, very much so, and I think there are far more off-topic things I could be distracted with… still though. I’m working on it. I am. 

Started a video playlist just to keep track of the tracks I found from the book that are available on the youtubes.

I’ve been re-evaluating (though mostly re-membering) the reasons I wanted to do this ILC (aside from just that I want to). And the biggest thing was just that I want a fun, hands-on introduction to DIY electronics; pragmatically for the purposes of being a better live sound engineer but also just because there’s something very exciting and interesting about it all… of course I want to incorporate some of the stuff into future musical acts but I’m not going to force it. It’s not the top priority for while I’m in school. School was not made for people like me and it tends to stress me the hell out and squelch my desire to practice musical instruments. Generally, if I’m practicing my instruments a lot I’m probably being a bad student and if I’m trying to be a good student, my music takes the back seat. That’s how it has been, at least. I’ve started playing again more, and now that I’m at evergreen I really want to figure out a way to let music making happen… organically… I mean I’m already doing a couple projects or more now. But I want to keep doing them, better, more. I also still want to work through the electronic music stuff for the aforementioned reasons. Oh and video art but don’t worry about that I just do that sometimes.
Point: I’m going to move on. I could linger on this magnetic tape thing (which I scrapped together with alligator clips since my solder tip is fucked/replacement’s in mail) and I could linger on making a reverb unit and everything… but I have to practice drums and I really just want to do these projects for now as concept builders- as electricians school for kids w/ adhd. I can always return to the projects themselves later.

So next projects coming up are to patch together an electret element condenser mic (UNDERSTANDING DIODES A ‘LIL MORE) and right now I’m making (or finding) a youtube playlist of the artists/tracks I’ve been reading about in this book because I like being sonically aware.

Oh man oh man

Speaking of handmade…

I went to a handmade 16mm film animation group thing this evening IT WAS AWESOME. Visual, mainly, but one woman did do her scratching on magnetic reel instead of the usual image-only feed most of us were using. Right now, I’m reading over my next chapter (9) coming up and it’s all about playing different kinds of magnetic media over tape heads. I’ll probably show you that part tomorrow. But for now here is a note-to-self to think about the possibility of handmade sound waves… what that might do. I feel like the reel she made this evening wouldn’t make especially interesting sounds just because there were pretty big slits cut through a lot of the frames which would probably just sound like white noise (not that that’s bad). Still, it would be fun to try. So I’ll let you know if I end up doing that. Might need to order some o’ dat tape off ebay.