sábado, 27 de diciembre de 2008

Is EH watching me?

On November 2008, Electro Harmonix introduced the "Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker" pedal (see the green big muff on the left in the picture above). When I saw it I was amazed to see how much it looks like my DIY Big Muff (see the big muff on the right in the same picture), but the similarities are not only on the looks (being honest, both my version and the new "green muff" do look a lot like the little big muff pi, with the Pi sign on the right of the bypass switch and the smaller than usual box), they also added the switch to bypass the tone control circuit, which I called "Tone Bypass" and they called ¨Tone Switch". Is EH reading my blog? if so... I want the old Electro Harmonix Mini Synthesizer back!!! not the bass and guitar micro synth, but the mini synthesizer keyboard. Keep up with the good job EH...

Here is also a picture I recently took a picture of both my DIY BMPs (the Mogwai and the normal BMP) which I forgot to post:

viernes, 26 de diciembre de 2008

Arduinome phase 1: getting the parts (II)

I just got my MAX7219 as a christmas present from Maxim. Remember it is this maxim, not this other one... I know the second one is more interesting and they also use sillicon, although in different ways.

The parts I am missing are:
- LEDs
- Diodes
- 74165
- 74164
- Resistor network
- Screws and nuts

Check out the whole Arduinome build log here.

sábado, 13 de diciembre de 2008

Bands that make you go CTRL+D: Saturday Night Villain

Saturday Night Villain seems to be a two man band, Logan Mannstrane and Lord Kickdrum. I found about them through the matrixsynth blog. As far as I know they only have one song made public. The song features synthetic voices made with "Linguatec Voice Reader". The player in their webpage repeats the song in a loop, so watch out cause you might end up listen to it over and over again for whole hour as it happened to me.

Check out other things that make you go: CTRL+D

miércoles, 10 de diciembre de 2008

Arduinome phase 1: getting the parts (I)

While in my US exile, I got today a parcel coming from Colorado. Here is the box:

Any guess of what could be inside?

well, it contains the first step for building an Arduinome, a monome based on the Arduino hardware.

Check it out:

If you recall my previous post about the arduinome, you might remember what I said, quote:

"I am not planning to buy the sparkfun buttonpads so the first step will be to find some cool buttons."

Well, I thought it was going to be easier to find some cool buttons to use or that I could make my own, but after a lot of research and considering that I was going to travel to the US before the end of the year, I decided to go for the real stuff and bought the sparkfun buttons. Doing business with Sparkfun is painless and their service and products are great. It is the third time I buy stuff from them and would probably continue doing so.

My other option for monome buttons was seeedstudio. I was considering these ones, but they are not that cheap after all and definitely not as cool as the sparkfun buttons. I might still be getting parts from seeedstudio, they got decent prices.

I have to decide now the color of the LEDs... white, red, green... hmmm.... so many options...

Check out the whole Arduinome build log here.

domingo, 7 de diciembre de 2008

Street Keytar Player

I am currently in the US, in california, and found this guy playing keytar in the streets. I originally thought it was a guitarist playing and was quite surprised when I saw a guy with a keytar.

domingo, 23 de noviembre de 2008

Bands that make you go CTRL+D: Spleen United

I discovered this band through VSE forum. Someone was asking the usual "what synth is this one?" question and when I saw the picture (not sure if it was the one in this post), with the Korgs MS-20, the Roland Junos, the Fender Jazzmaster and the Rickenbaker bass, I said to myself: "A band with such a good taste when choosing their instruments has to be worth listening", and I loved them. They play a good mix between Electronica and Rock music with a kind of dark sound. I think their instruments can tell you a lot about their sound: Juno Pads, Korg MS-20 synth leads, Jazzmaster distorted chords... Check out more about Spleen United in their webpage and in their Myspace.

Check out other things that make you go: CTRL+D

"Things" that make you go CTRL+D

I am starting today a new section named " 'Things' that make you go CRTL+D ". In case you don't know, CTRL+D is the keyboard shortcut that, on a PC, gets a certain webpage into your bookmarks (or favourites or however your browser of choice calls them). The posts under this section will have the tag CTRL+D bellow and will talk about webpages that called my attention. I will be mostly treating about bands I discovered on the net, but some other web pages might also fit in.

lunes, 17 de noviembre de 2008

El Columpio Asesino Live

El Columpio Asesino is playing in Fuenlabrada, Madrid, this weekend. The cool thing is that you can get free tickets if you upload a video of yourself wishing CeJota (CJ) a happy birthday. CJ is the Youth Council of Spain. This Youth Council was founded 25 years ago. I already sent my video, what are you waiting for???

domingo, 16 de noviembre de 2008

Faking Monome

I spent saturday night at home trying to recover from a cold, so I decided to investigate a bit more about monome.

First thing I did was install and try the software:

To use monome's software, you need to install Max/Msp for some applications and also chuck for others. You can download the runtime version of Max in their webpage for free. Chuck is also available for download in their webpage. The runtime version allows running software but not making your own or modifying the existing. Then I downloaded from here the following software:
  • monome base: This contains monome40h_fake, which is a "virtual Monome", which can be controlled by clicking with the mouse in a monome displayed in the PC screen.
  • mlr: What seems to be the most popular application for monome, a live sample-cutting platform.
  • Other cool apps are 64Step and life, for example... those are the ones I tried.
BTW, I am using PC, but everything should work OK in Mac, not sure about Linux.

Some tips to get the thing to work quick:
  • Read the instructions provided with the software.
  • Make sure your soundcard is working properly in Max by going to extras->audiotester (not sure if that is available in the runtime version).
  • For monome40h_fake to work with mlr, you need to set the prefix to "/mlr". Other monome applications use "/box" (64Step, another cool app) or "/life" (for the game of life).
  • mlr only seems to support aif and wav files... do not try mp3s.
Once you start working with mlr and monome40h_fake, you will realize that you are missing a lot of functionality by only being able to click on one pad at a time. The solution for this is to use nonome, a monome emulator with keyboard support. You may find nonome here. The way to use nonome is explained with a lot of detail in the same link, so I won't bother. There is also a modified version of the mlr software (you can see it in the picture above).

Once there, you are all set... get some cool samples and enjoy. I did not have many samples in my PC so I went to NIN Remix webpage and downloaded the samples for "The Hand that Feeds You". I enjoyed it a lot and made me even more anxious to get my arduinome project started.

I am feeling better today, just ready to go to work tomorrow.... ?@#$%&"

viernes, 7 de noviembre de 2008

Keytar for sale

Remember my friend's Lync LN 1000 from this post?

Well, it is now for sale on eBay here. My friend wants to buy some other gear and since he is not usually playing live these days, he decided to get rid of it.

I know it is not cheap, but I can tell you it is worth it. It is in perfect condition and you do not see many of those coming out on eBay. I wish I had the money...

Happy bidding.

lunes, 3 de noviembre de 2008

1st Gen iPod Nano Line-In Recording

So I managed to get my 1st Generation iPod Nano to record audio... yeeepe!!!

This probably does not sound very exciting these days of iPhones, iTouchs and 5th, 6th or whatever Nano generation we are at now, but it is definately exciting to me and probably to many other proud owners of (so far) the last "hackable" iPod (and by hackable I mean the last one that allows changing the operating system).

I got the Nano as a birthday present when it came out 3 years ago. Since then, I have been looking at the iPod Linux project status every now and then, hoping they will start supporting audio recording through the iPod Connector line input. But that never happened. One day, while browsing through the iPodLinux forums, I found the RockBox project, a multiplatform and open source firmware for mp3 players. Some people in the RockBox forum claimed that they got their 1st Gen iPod Nanos to record from line in, so I got a PodBreakout from SparkFun Electronics and eventually tried it. After some failiures, mainly due to my hurry and usual lack of time, I managed to find some spare time, did some decent soldering and got it to work.

The steps I followed were the following (follow them at your own risk):
  1. Install RockBox in my Nano (follow the instructions for that in the RockBox web page, it is very simple). You get some cool games for your iPod as a bonus.
  2. Solder a jack connector to the PodBreakout. The pinout is the following (full pinout is here):
    • Pin 2 in the PodBreakout goes to the ground in the jack (the jack sleeve)
    • Pin 5 in the PodBreakout goes to the right channel in the jack (the jack ring)
    • Pin 6 in the PodBreakout goes to the left channel in the jack (the jack tip)
  3. Configure RockBox for input through the Line In.
  4. Start recording.
  5. Stop recording.
  6. Reboot iPod. There is a bug in RockBox that makes it necessary to reboot the iPod after each recording if you want to listen to it. UPDATE: RockBox version 3.0 does not require rebooting the iPod after recording, so don't be lazy and update your RockBox. Thanks to guys in the RockBox forum for letting me know and sorry again for blogging about a bug that was already fixed.
  7. Listen to your recording.

More info here.

And that's it. You get a 44.1kHz recording, which I think it is better than what you get with the "official" accessories in other generations of iPod Nanos. There is an option to do realtime mp3 encoding while recording, but I have not tried it yet. ANOTHER UPDATE: I have tried the realtime mp3 encoding and works as it should (cool!!!).

domingo, 2 de noviembre de 2008


Long time no see... I know... too much work, too little time... sorry about that.

I have been craving for a Monome since I first saw them a while ago and now I see an oportunity. I bought an Arduino sometime ago, but have not really used it much... now I know what to do with it, I am going to build an Arduinome, an arduino based monome. I am not planning to buy the sparkfun buttonpads so the first step will be to find some cool buttons.

Check out the whole Arduinome build log here.

martes, 6 de mayo de 2008

Oops NIN did it again!!!

I just got a call today telling me that my copy of the NIN "Ghosts" CDs arrived home and while doing my usual daily blog reading I found out that NIN has just released another CD under the creative commons license. The CD is named "The Slip" and is available for download here. I am listening to it right now, so still can not make a judgment. It seems to be more like the usual "NIN style" than "Ghosts" (whether that is good or bad is your call... I personally liked "Ghosts" a lot more than other NIN CDs, but I am a strange guy).

martes, 1 de abril de 2008

Moog Music guitar

Moog Music has announced today its next product: an electric guitar.

Looks like an April's fool joke, but apparently it is not, according to hispasonic. It seems to be some kind of polyphonic sustainer guitar. It does not look too impressive to me, if moog had to make a guitar I would always think it would be a synth-guitar (roland GR-700 style). Anyway, let's wait to see the actual product details to judge.

You can see a teaser video in here and matrixsynth took the time to capture some of the frames of the video here.

lunes, 24 de marzo de 2008

El Columpio Asesino, new song

As mentioned here. There is a new album from "El Columpio Asesino" coming out in May, and they have just released a new song in myspace named "El Destacamento". Listen to it here.

It is a bit dark... I like it... We also have a name for the album: "la gallina".

El Destacamento

El fuego que te has inyectado
no lo apagará la muerte
El día pasa a fuego lento
y el diablo hierve dentro

Una campana fuerte suena
fuerte tras de tu sonrisa
hace bailar a tus dientes
hace temblar a los perros

El destacamento

Latigazos mañaneros
el hijo de Jesús sacude
familias de bien alerta
el nuevo redentor ha hablado

Engorda el cuervo en la bandera
gusanos comen al toro
bajo el oro de las campanas
rebelión piden los santos

Convocad a las calaveras
la eutanasia ha llegado

El destacamento
El destacamento…

De Viaje

I have been "De Viaje" enjoying southeast France, but now I am back...

miércoles, 5 de marzo de 2008

El Columpio Asesino, new album in May

One of my current favourite spanish bands, "El Columpio Asesino" is releasing a new album in May and should be playing in a stage near you soon!!!

More info here: http://www.myspace.com/elcolumpioasesino

martes, 4 de marzo de 2008

NIN new album "Ghosts I-IV"

NIN have just released a new album named "Ghosts I-IV". It has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license., It is very interesting to see that bands have started to realize the the whole CD business model is wrong and not ready for the "new" digital world and have started changing it... better late than never.

They offer different ways to get the album:
  1. Download a set of samples (basically the first 9 songs) + the artwork in pdf and jpg files. For free.
  2. Download all the songs + the artwork in pdf and jpg files. For $5.
  3. Download all the songs + the artwork in pdf and jpg files + 2 CDs which will be shipped to you in April (I hope it is not an aprils fool joke). For $10.
  4. Download all the songs + the artwork in pdf and jpg files + 2 CDs + 1 DVD + 1 BRDVD with lots of extras which will be shipped to you in April (again I hope it is not an aprils fool joke). For $75.
  5. The ultra delux limited edition packagge, which I won't even say what it had since it is sold out and it could only cause anger in a NIN fan which could not get one.
Not being an ultra NIN fan (I have to admit I started listening to NIN when I heard "the hands that feeds", the single from "with teeth"), so I went for option #1, listened to the songs, had a look at the artwork and decided to go for option #3. The shipping rate was a bit expensive ($14) but it is still cheap, considering what you get: I was listening to the tracks 30 minutes after I bought the CD and I will still receive a "hard copy" of the album with its amazing artwork.

About the music, I have to say that I am enjoying it a lot (its my third listen to the whole album already), but I guess it might dissapoint some NIN fans. It is basically an instrumental album full of synth "noises", deep and obscure pads and some (not many) distorted guitars.
And about the artwork, it is great... download the free version and have a peek. There are some pictures or Reznor's studio, showing some of his gear, great for synth pr0n lovers.

lunes, 25 de febrero de 2008

Mogwai Big Muff DONE

My first Big Muff Pi clone is done!!! One more to go.

You can see here a picture of my take on the Mogwai reissue BMP. I decided not to change the knob names to Volume, Rock and Action as in the real Mogwai reissue BMP. Other differences from the original are: I added a switch to bypass the tone control circuit and I changed the order of the knobs (I have, from left to right, Sustain-Tone-Volume instead of Volume-Tone-Sustain). I went for the moog style (sort of) knobs, which I quite like.

As I mentioned in my previous posts, "the paint has been a pain", from the first layers of white paint until the last layers of laquer... I am considering not painting my stompboxes anymore... took me 1 weekend to finish the circuit, 2 months to finish the case.

UPDATE: I have uploaded the MOGWAI and the PI artwork here in case someone wants to do another clone.

lunes, 18 de febrero de 2008

Big Muff Pi clones update

Finishing my 2 "big muff pi" clones is taking me longer than I expected due to some problems with the paint and the technique to do the texts and images. I finally decided to do a regular big muff pi and something similar to a mogwai reissue big muff pi, like this one. Here you can see the results so far:

They are missing a couple of layers of lacquer and the electronics of one of them. I should have the other ready in a couple of days.

UPDATE: The mogwai clone is now finished, check it out here.

Freescale new DSP development platforms (Update)

Paul Maddox has created a web page with a blog describing his work with the Freescale Soundbite evaluation tool and a forum to describe other peoples progress. Can be found here.
His plan is to come up with a substitute to the now defunct (I think) chameleon.

domingo, 17 de febrero de 2008

Eminent Organ

I saw this piece of art in a cultural magazine in Madrid. The piece was made by "Os Gemeos" using an old Eminent organ and is being shown in a gallery named Pilar Parra Romero, in Madrid. It does not seem to be the popular Eminent 310 that Jean Michele Jarre uses (toghether with a EH SmallStone) and which features the same (or similar) sound engine of the Solina String ensemble. I wonder if this one also comes with the same engine...
Check out "Os Gemeos" work... it is not necessary music related but you will like it if you like urban art.
As usual, click the image for a bigger view... it is worth it.

viernes, 1 de febrero de 2008

Blue Monday Owners Club

The song "Blue Monday", from "New Order", is claimed to be the biggest selling 12 inch single of all time. The rumor says that its peculiar die cut sleeve was so expensive that Factory records did actually lose money from each copy sold.
A couple of years ago I managed to find a copy of the "FACTUS 10", the American 1983 version of the single. I found my copy in a second hand record store in Santa Cruz, California, that was just two days after I saw the film "24 hours party people", where they mention the story about the die cut sleeve price. Afterwards I found this site: http://www.bluemondayownersclub.com/ where owners of the single send a picture with their jewel. I am in the 5th page of owners.
Do you own a copy? Are you in the owners club?

miércoles, 30 de enero de 2008

Keytar Night

My friend C.A. has recently gone into a keytar buying spree. Within a month or so, he managed to score 2 keytars from eBay. The first one he got was a non working russian synth, the Junost 21, pictured bellow, and the second one he got was a Lync LN 1000, also pictured bellow. The lync is actually a Midi controller, rather than a synth as the Junost is. So, since he had not seen/heard my avr synth and I had not seen/heard his keytars, we decided to meet yesterday for a "show me yours and I will show you mine" night.

So we tried the Lync conected to my avr synth. Here we have C.A. with the Lync:

Is that cool or what???? And now myself with the Lync (and the avr synth) in my "keytar pose" (not bad for a guitarist :-P ):

I was quite impressed with the lync, it was realy confortable to use and extremely cool. My friend is considering covering those pink/yellow/green button legends and logo, but I certainly consider he should not or he will remove its soul, its mojo...

And now the Junost 21... As I mentioned before, it is not working, so another reason for my visit at my friends place was to take the Junost home for service. Checked out the schematics from here but I am not sure if I will understand the comments in russian. Hopefully the problem will be something simple, otherwise it will probably go back to my friends place as it came (any help will be greatly appreciated). A picture of the Junost here (more to come soon, stay alert!!):

My conclussions from the keytar night were:
1) We need more keytars!!! if a midi controller manufacturer is reading this, please, buid a new keytar... and do not try to trick us as behringer did, adding a strap button to a regular midi controller (here and here), we want a proper keytar!!!!
2) I need to learn some russian.

UPDATE: my friend is selling the Lync. More info here.

lunes, 28 de enero de 2008


A Kazooka is an electric Kazoo (AKA trompetilla eléctrica, for those from spain). I found out about it from this post in MusicThing. I listened to the samples in here, checked the price ($20) and told myself... got to have one... 3 weeks later a parcel from Texas came home with my kazooka. I recorded the following samples, using some of my diy guitar pedals (wah-SansAmp-Small Stone-Pulsar Tremolo, IIRC):


Here is a picture from the electrickazoo webpage:

jueves, 24 de enero de 2008

Freescale new DSP development platforms

Freescale has announced a couple of DSP development platforms which sound pretty interesting for the DIY Musician. The first one was made with the help of Line6 and aims mostly to the stompbox people:


I assume it will be cased like the other tonecore pedals from line6 but they will add a USB port to allow re-programmability.

The other development platform is this one:


Which has a more general purpose (synths, effects, whatever...).

I have worked in the past with Freescale development platforms for their starcore chips and I did not like them at all, they were full of switches, jumpers and trimmers, but this board seems to be quite nicely done.

domingo, 13 de enero de 2008

AVR Synth update

I have just uploaded a sample of how the AVR synth sounds like here:

The Drum sound comes from a PC sequencer, which is also generating the arpeggio that repeats again and again (and again and again and again...) while I change the AVR Synth settings. Not very musical sample, but a good way to show what the AVR Synth can do.

sábado, 12 de enero de 2008

New case for my AVR Synth

I had some trouble painting my Big Muff Pi clones so, while waiting for the paint to dry, I decided to finish recasing my AVR synth. Since I bought the PCB from Elby Designs, it had been living in many different temporal cases (all of them made of cardboard), so it was about time to get it a new stable home. Enough writting, check out the pictures (click the images for a bigger view):

A closer look:

And now the guts:

For those of you who have not heard about the AVR Synth before, it is a monophonic virtual analog MIDI synth based on an AVR Atmega16 Microprocessor, check the link above for more info. I did not put any labels on knobs or switches, because I plan to use the AVR Synth as an open platform in which to test my AVR assembler programming skills.

Check this post for a sound sample.

jueves, 3 de enero de 2008

What am I up to these days?

Yes... I am making a Big Muff Pi, actually I am making two of them. More pictures soon.