Archive for the ‘ music ’ Category

Latest projects

Over Christmas vacation, I cobbled together a PCB drill press using my Dremel, some aluminum channel, and other assorted bits and pieces.

I was inspired by this Hack A Day post and took some pictures during the build for a future post.

This weekend, I’m going to drill my first board with it, an Electro-Harmonix Pulsar clone from

I transferred the resist using glossy magazine paper printed on a Brother laser printer, then ran it through the laminator about 10-12 times. The magazine paper method seems to be the only one that works with my printer (go figure), something to do with Brother’s toner.
I’ve tried Press’N’Peel, photo paper, and even parchment paper, all to no avail. They either wouldn’t transfer to the copper, or, with the parchment paper, the toner wouldn’t even stick.

Here’s the result after trimming the board down and cleaning up some traces:


Time to etch and drill!

Update 1: Etched, tinned, and drilled.






Wonderfully under productive Saturday

I didn’t do any work today. I think over 21 days straight (a couple were only around 4 hours) is enough, and I needed some down time.

I did manage to give my new drums a satisfactory tuning, and spent a couple hours disassembling my bass pedal while trying to figure out how to adjust the throw. You’d think they would include some instructions. This helped.

I also found some good video lessons to start working on. I need to set a goal for myself.
Also, I took a nap.

On a more somber note, I learned that my primary and junior high band director/music teacher died today. He was a great brass player, and was truly passionate about teaching kids about music. He had such a profound effect on my life. He really helped nurture in me an absolute passion for music.

Ironically, the last time I saw him was 16 years ago, almost to the day, at a funeral – my father’s
Rest in peace, Mr. Howcroft. You too, Dad.

Cheap cymbals are cheap

So I got a drum kit. I had a very specific budget, did a ton of research, watched video reviews, etc. I chose the kit due to the excellent reviews, the smaller size (good for jazz), and of course because it looked cool.
The kit I chose, the Sonor Safari, is what’s called a “shell kit”. That means the price you pay only includes the four drums, and you have to shell out more money to get all the other parts. This include buying cymbals.
Now, being a musician and having worked in a music store (r.i.p. String Shoppe) I’ve learned that pretty much any musical instrument, no matter how cheap, usually has some redeeming quality that a little work and effort can bring out.
Cymbal “starter packs” are the exception to this rule. There’s nothing you can do for a crappy-sounding cymbal: you can’t rebuild it, you can’t set it up properly. I knew going in that I was going to have to cut corners on my cymbals.
When I was making my purchase at the Home Depot of music stores, the guy working in the drum department suggested a cymbal set from Meinl. The only time I’ve ever seen Meinl cymbals was on Lamb of God’s drummer Chris Adler’s kit. My sales guy, who was very cool and helpful, said they’d sound better than the Zildjian set I was originally looking at. Since I’ve been out of the music scene for so long and really had no idea, I decided to take his word on it.
I could have assembled a better sounding set of cymbals from my kitchen and garage. To my ears, these things sounded like random round pieces of metal. The 10″ splash actually sounded like a pie tin.
The next day I boxed them up and took them back to the store to exchange them. I grabbed the original Zildjian set I wanted and actually took them out and tried them, they actually sounded like cymbals! I even played the pie tin next to the Zildjian splash, which sounds like a splash, and the guy actually said “you think that sounds better?!”.
The lesson learned here is that even if you’re buying a cheap cymbal package that costs as much as one “good” cymbal, make sure you play them before shelling out the cash.
Now to figure out how to tune these drums…

It’s a bit blurry, but here’s the happy new cymbals:


Update: I think I’m going to write a WordPress plugin that automatically replaces the word “actually” with a synonym.

Note to self: look up synonyms for “actually”

A new creative (and stress) outlet

How to add some fun to your life in 6 easy steps:

1. Unload the boxes


2. Start putting stuff together


3. Keep putting stuff together


4. Keep putting stuff together


5. Sprinkle liberally with children. Mix well.


6. Enjoy!

Note: The optional “warn neighbors” step was skipped.

Used CD’s

I picked up a few used CD’s the other day at a local used video game shop while my kids were looking for games. At $1 each, it was completely worth it for some 10-15 year old discs.
I have a CD player in my car, but it also has Bluetooth which I use more to stream Mog or Pandora while driving.
Anyway, I started to realize that I was going to have to rip them all to MP3 and get them on my phone, or in the cloud or something. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a service that would allow you to take a picture of the disc or scan the barcode and automatically get streaming access to it.
I know there are some serious holes in my idea, like walking through BestBuy scanning barcodes with your phone, but it would still be pretty cool. Maybe I can find an Angel to finance it 🙂