Red Echo

August 31, 2010

I have had this idea kicking around idea for a percussion synthesizer device, probably based on an STM32F103. Today I found a document on the ST web site explaining how to generate 12-bit stereo using the built-in DACs. Super simple – all you need is a pair of RC filters and an audio jack!

There is something a little perverse about embedding what ends up being a softsynth into a piece of hardware, but I really like having a dedicated UI for my audio gear, and I like not having to deal with all the complexity and uncertainty of a computer.

How to program an MSP430 from Linux, using TI’s Launchpad board (the one that costs $4.30 and includes a USB interface). Looks like it is generally a big nuisance. I wonder how much work it would be to rig up an Arduino-style interface for the LaunchPad that does all the necessary mspgcc manipulation?

August 30, 2010

The Mesh Potato project appears to have a lot in common with my walkie-textie concept. It’s based on a completely different set of technologies and user interactions, but the end result is similar: a free, open, decentralized telecommunications mechanism. I wonder if it would be possible to make the systems cross-compatible?

August 27, 2010

I really overcommitted myself this summer. I did finally manage to get the last of six bloom lights working just before Eva had to leave for Burning Man. I don’t have any pictures but hopefully there will be some good ones when everyone comes back from the burn. I also spent an evening helping Chris with his group’s firefly costumes, assembling four controllers with light sensors and high-powered LEDs; the idea is that each light will flash at some adjustable interval, and that the controllers will watch for other flashes and try to stay in sync. This of course means that they will pick up on any source of flashing light, of which there will be many on the playa. Add on half a dozen minor errands I’ve run for other friends, and I’ve ended up doing a surprising amount of Burning Man prep considering the fact that I am not even going this year. Oh, well. I’m working down my list of commitments and trying to refrain from making any new ones for a while. I need a break – and a few long nights of sleep.

Ava and I looked at a couple more houses yesterday. One was a 1900 construction just around the corner from John & Holly; it was in surprisingly good shape, had a nice big yard, and would have needed very little work. Three bedrooms upstairs, a nice big kitchen (built as an addition to the original house!), even a parking space. The other place was a wreck – priced accordingly, to be sure, but it would have been months of work, and it really wasn’t what we were looking for.

I think we’re about ready to make an offer: despite being on a busy street and having no yard, we really like the house on 23rd. It’s a good price, a good project, and a good location.

Work is going OK. It has been tough keeping everything in the air since I have been burning so much energy on other projects, but that is settling down, and I’ve done some good work in the last couple of days. I’m working on a design and estimate for the next phase of the project I just finished; not a big thing but it has some interesting challenges.

August 26, 2010

Wedding anniversary

Ava and I got married one year ago today. We took a motorcycle trip down the Pacific coast, hung a left at Crescent City, rolled into Reno, got a wedding license, and headed over to the Arch of Reno Wedding Chapel about twenty minutes before they closed for the day. Tonight we’re going to go celebrate the milestone at El Gaucho.

She’s the one I want, and I’m glad we have each other.

August 14, 2010

I had an unexpectedly adventurous night and ended up sleeping til noon this morning. So far I have spent this scorchingly hot summer afternoon sitting at my desk; my sister MJ is working on a paper for a law journal, and I’m trying to help her out with the final editing work. Truth be told I’m almost always happier indoors with a fan when the weather is this hot; I’ll almost certainly perk up when sunset approaches.

I finally got around to listing my FJ600 on craigslist. I haven’t gotten any responses yet, though, which is disappointing – it’s such a pretty little bike! Oh, well, I’ll keep at it.

Ava and I are thinking seriously about making an offer on a house. We looked at the place a couple of weeks ago – it’s definitely a project, but one well within our capabilities, and it has a lot of Craftsman-style character that will make it cozy and appealing when we’re done. It’d be a great place to live, within a few blocks of many of our friends – it’s actually just a mile further down the road we currently live on.

I’ve always been scared of the financial commitment involved in buying a house, but between the low interest rates and the depressed housing market, the monthly mortgage & tax on this place would only cost half again as much as we’re currently paying for one bedroom of a house shared with two other people. The place is big enough that we could easily continue sharing space with friends, too, making it even more affordable.

August 13, 2010

I get the impression that most people who rave about Git are really not so much talking about Git specifically as the notion of distributed version control in general. Take, for example, this very helpful cheat sheet: the features the author gets excited about are those every DVCS shares, while git itself is such a complex beast that it justifies this kind of lore-collection.

Maybe Mercurial is better. I’ve installed it on all my machines now and hope to set up a repository here soon so I can try out its workflow.

August 11, 2010

A list of publications on algorithmic botany: a long list of formulas for simulating various aspects of plant development.

August 9, 2010

Projects I am currently working on:

– Handbag for my sister Joanna
– “Walkie-textie” mesh-networked text-messaging device
– “Orb of Awesome” for Aaron B.
– Intelligent juggling ball circuit prototype
– Rhythm Robot v2 circuit board layout
– Four more bloom lights, for Eva’s flowers
– “Hammerbox” percussion synthesizer algorithm
– “Steadyrocker” MIDI clock device
– Helping Chris W. and company build blinking firefly costumes

Projects I am not working on, but wish I were working on:

– Sell the older two of my three motorcycles
– Install the new Corbin seat on my Suzuki
– Fix the grille on my car so the hood once again stays latched
– Summer jacket, in grey cotton twill
– Red shot silk dress w/gold lining
– Radian
– Tuning up the groovik’s cube dimmer code
– Fixing Adam’s light-up hoodie

August 6, 2010

The LeafLabs blog has an article on realtime audio processing with a Maple board – particularly interesting as realtime audio processing is exactly what I want to do with the Maple board I bought a few weeks ago. I haven’t had a chance yet to do more than make its LED blink, but the design of my upcoming percussion synthesizer is an ongoing mental background thread.

August 5, 2010

The Octatrack is an upcoming multichannel sampler/looper device from Elektron, makers of the Machinedrum. It’s good to see someone looking after the hole in the market left by the departure of Electrix and its marvelous Repeater, which is the cornerstone of my live-PA DJ rig.

August 4, 2010

The Dropout’s Guide to Antenna Design looks like a great reference for people like me who know almost nothing about antennas. I have been learning a lot about digital electronics over the last year or so but I am a total ignoramus when it comes to analog signal processing.

The first batch of Xbee modules I ordered had wire antennas; when Adam ordered his, he picked one with an external antenna. I think this is a better choice for long range, so I ordered a little SMA connector and am going to solder it on to my existing device.