Brain/Project Bootstrap

January 3

Since my PhD collapsed I’ve been out of action on the making front, so I’ve taken some time to clear my head and now I’m getting the urge to make stuff again.  It’s coming on strong and the problem is when this happens I get dozens of ideas at once, and then I start them all at once, so it all falls apart pretty quickly!

To get past this I’ve resolved to take the path of the the self-indulgent project dev blog.  Whatever happens on dev days gets written, the good bits and the bad bits – and there are a lot of bad bits. I’m hoping that this will give me a healthier perspective on ‘failure’ days where I’m going in circles making an API that it turns out I didn’t need, or when I get one of those days where Windows/installers failing seems to waste a whole day *

So for starters, here’s what went well today.  I drove up to Nottingham to get myself a signal generator I can gut to make a music interface.  Here’s whats I gots:

marconi-panel

It will anger radio hams that I’m gutting such a beautiful thing but it’s bought more as spares and I’d probably fry myself if I tried to wire it up to the mains.  I’m aiming to make this into an exploratory audience-based music interface, largely focused on rhythm.  This is exactly the sort of thing my PhD was focused on but I will now never complete (massive fuck you to Brookes University here) but I’m going to just going to build what I can an see where it takes me.

The unit is a Marconi CT452A and it weighs 65lbs.  The insides are incredible, I was expecting straightforward vernier potentiometers on the controls but it is heavily mechanical with springs, chains and gears.  I’ve not opened the main electronics section but there are a number of exposed valves and massively enlarged transformer, caps and bridge rectifier.  It’s an old selenium one from General Electric:

marconi-super-diode

So the first part of this project – the pick up – is done.  Next I need to strip back the innards and see how easily I can interact with those controls.

What didn’t go so well today was I was planning to do a bit of sight-seeing in Nottingham, but I got there so late I missed the castle.  I made it the famous pub ‘Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem’ though and the contemporary arts gallery, which was typically pretentious, but in the foyer I found an awesome book on Kubrick by Tashen. Actually one good thing there was a dark corridor with sound in the walls, I’d love to have been in a bigger version of it:

dsc_0326

I drove today to ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed on audible, which is part of the motivation for me getting into writing this.  It’s really good.  Another good thing was this morning I managed to squeeze one more desk into the workshop which is a hugs win as every other surface is covered in half-finished projects.

* Footnote: on failed APIs and Windows-waste days.  I will blog a little about these later because despite being an annoyance it’s wrong to consider them a fail or waste; I learn a lot from these things, the problem is just I don’t write it down anywhere so I forget!  I’ll aim to post about the API experiments tomorrow, it’s an interface for reading Pots and SoftPots on AVRs.



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