Archive for June, 2013

The Ships Clock

Posted in Gadgets, History, Maritime with tags , , , , on 06/16/2013 by Baghead Kelly

Ships Bells 2
When I first got married I bought an antique, ships clock and barometer. At the time my wife thought that it was too expensive but these days she lovingly and dutifully winds it each Sunday and takes it to the watchmaker when it runs awry. The clock features the eight bell system in homage to days of yore when a ships crew would take turns manning the ship 24/7. The term ‘watch’ refers to these shifts and is perhaps a little overused these days by our dullard politician’s who like to bandy the ‘not on my watch’ cliché.

There were many variations of this set up but essentially if a large crew were divided into three then each crew would work on a four hours on and eight hours off rotation. That is an attractive proposition to someone like myself who has been working night shift until my skin has turned a glowing alabaster.

When the bell tolled eight bells it marked the end of one crews watch and the beginning of another’s. The bell tolled every half hour with an odd number of bells and tolled on the hour an even number of bells. Note the table above only shows twelve hours and is repeated to make up the twenty four hours.

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The Return Of Vinyl Records

Posted in Gadgets, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , , on 06/03/2013 by Baghead Kelly

Vinyl blog

My grandfather gave me a reel to reel tape recorder when I was around eight or nine years old. It wasn’t one of those fancy home studio kind of arrangements it was small and had little three inch reels that you would have to thread through like a sewing machine. I loved it to death and I would listen to the radio and try and record songs without the DJ talking over the top. That tape player was the beginning of my lifelong love of music and general musical geekery.

I also had a little portable record player with a speaker in the lid that I would play my 45rpm records on. Later on my father got a real stereo and I started collecting 33rpm records. The records were appealing not only because of the music but also for the artwork and literature displayed on their covers. They were tactile objet d’art that you could read whilst you listened to the record itself.

Alas records gave way to CD’s and the digital revolution. Digital laser technology promised an end to the snap, crackle and pop of vinyl records. It promised a purer sound experience and I fell for it hook line and sinker. I was an early adopter and when I bought my Phillips player there was only a choice of 10 CD’s to choose from. I still am a true believer in CD’s but in the department of album art they were a retrograde step. The second evolution of the digital age the MP3/Wav era has reduced album art to a mere thumbnail.

Lately I have realised that something was missing in my audiophile world. I missed records. I missed the albums and I missed marvelling at the wonderful engineering of a good record player. It was like the difference between having a solitary cuppa with a tea bag and the ritual of sharing a pot of tea with good friends.

This whole mid life crisis event came about when a record store opened in a nearby town. In an earlier life I had harboured a desire to open a record store in that very same town but wisely declined when another one went bust nearby. So with a vested interest I watched closely as the little record store prospered and eventually I was seduced back into the allure of all things vinyl. I went and purchased a turntable and once a week I trot off down to our new record store and buy an album. It has become my Saturday night highlight.

The little record store owner and I have developed a friendly rapport but I have noticed that the price of Jimi Hendrix records have increased now that I have been identified as a fan. I think the proprietor sees me as a new revenue stream. Not to be deterred I have widened my net and discovered a whole new underground of vinyl enthusiasts that I didn’t know existed. Although not a purist I am looking forward to my first vinyl fair to hopefully track down some old favourites. It’s the thrill of the hunt especially when I find a gem from my old record collection. You see there certainly is an element of nostalgia not only in the process of playing records but also because I am essentially recreating my old record collection. One that I foolishly gave away many years ago. This time around though I am being very selective of which records are worthy of my collection because I believe that playing music on a record player is special. Like bringing out the fine china. These days I even like the snap crackle and pop.

Rainy Day Pedalboard For Guitar

Posted in Carpentry, Design, Gadgets, Home Studio, Music, Songwriting with tags , , , , , , , , , on 06/02/2013 by Baghead Kelly

PB 1
If your into electric guitar, then chances are that you’ve got a few stomp boxes, lying around. Once you’ve collected a few then eventually you get to the point where you start thinking about a pedal board. Such is the dilemma that I faced on a recent rainy afternoon.

The brief was simple I just wanted a board that I could walk up to, plug in and play –  no flat batteries and no multiple adaptor clutter.

I went about researching such a thing simply by checking out a whole lot of other peoples boards on Google’s “Image Search”. Interestingly, during this process I saw a few pedals used more often than others. The four common stand outs were;

  1. a Wah Wah pedal of some kind,
  2. an Ibanez’s tube screamer as made famous by SRV,
  3. Boss’s RC20 looper and
  4. Boss’s TU3 Chromatic Tuner – the one with the disco lights.

Beyond these four pedals it was open slather. Each pedal board was wildly individual, incorporating a plethora of designs and configurations – some home made others just plain obscure or whacky.

In assimilating these designs another design concept came to the fore and that was the use of velcro tape and hook carpet to enable the pedals to be securely but temporarily mounted. In the end I went with this idea because it was simple and allowed for ongoing adjustments and configurations.
PB 2
I started with just a simple 15° wedged box (800mm x 300mm) shown above.

Originally I planned to enable the wedge to sit over my microphone stand and the red and green lines on the bottom of the wedge indicated the microphone’s legs that would sit in the as yet unbuilt slots. I abandoned the idea for the sake of simplicity but I still think the idea has merit.

The power supply is the Gator G-BUS-8. This worked out fine because one of my pedals was the 18volt Dunlop Univibe and the Gator was the only supply that would accommodate 18V (3 of) as well as 9v (8 of) plugs. It was for me, expensive but in the long run all the electrical work was thus pre-solved. The Gator is not the only option here for those of you contemplating such an adventure; there is also a Dunlop version and T-Rex have several models.

The other practical concern was to be the fact that there was going to be a whole lot of cables that were to be stuffed into this wedge shape and so eventually I would have to make a sealed cover to keep them tidy within the wedge. Ultimately when it was finally set up I would only have to plug in my wedge, guitar and amp to be good to go.

I have three commercial pedalboards, which all have their own unique benefits but some of them are extremely complicated affairs and my needs are simple. A little distortion, some chorus maybe some E.Q. is all I really need. That’s not to say that I don’t like experimenting with the kinky stuff because I do but in the end its all about the music. The old K.I.S.S. adage seems to apply here and this pedal board is both simple and adaptable which I really like.