Archive for Music

Making A Roadcase

Posted in Carpentry, Design, Gadgets, Home Studio, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , , , on 03/24/2016 by Baghead Kelly

Road Case Blog

Roadcases are fun little projects to encase and protect your precious electronics. This is the second one that I’ve built and I’ve enjoyed both of those endeavours. My old one became superfluous after I blew up the amp (I have a habit of doing that) and as these projects are bespoke by nature, it was time to update.

I’ve had this Yamaha EMX 512SC for a few years now and I cannot speak more highly of it. It has a great sound with lots of bottom end when paired with my A15 speakers. The big surprise for me though was the cheap arsed Chinese DMX lighting controller that you see on the top. My lighting system consists of this unit and 10 x ADJ Mega Par Profile plus a couple of laser lights. DMX is 80’s technology which basically is a standard for lighting systems. I didn’t know much about it but today you can buy these units very cheaply from your electronics store and they are very versatile. Paired with DMX standard lighting you can change the colours, intensity, focus and direction of your lighting. It depends on the light what you can do with it but with the controller you can also program lighting shows to match a song or play.

Anyway these two units complemented each other perfectly and so it was a natural progression to pair them into one unit. This way I had only one power point to plug in plus two speaker cables and one DMX cable daisy chained to the lights. An easy set up.

I had to also include an electronic fan and venting to ensure that the P.A. was happy with access to the reset on the ELCB within the unit. It is quite heavy for the size of the unit and so I added the wheels. The trick with wheels is to have two fixed wheels and two lockable, swivel wheels to steer with. I incorporated a lockable drawer and a shelf to stash the microphones cables and torch.

I used ¾” construction ply for the construction which used to be 19mm but seems to have been downsized to 17mm these days. The last time I built one of these I added corner protectors which you can get in plastic or metal but this time I didn’t feel the need.

The last tip that I can impart on this project was that I got an RCA to 1/8” jack so that the kids could use the play lists on there cell phones and run them through the P.A. It worked a treat so long as they didn’t play around with the phones whilst songs were playing. You can get some pretty harsh sounds with any loose connections.

Party Lights

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Making a Lagerphone

Posted in Carpentry, Design, Free, Gadgets, Home Studio, Humor, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , on 03/15/2016 by Baghead Kelly

 

I’d always harboured a desire to make a lagerphone and finally I’ve ticked it off of my bucket list. A lagerphone is essentially a tambourine type of instrument made from a broomstick and crown capped bottle tops. From the Idiophone family it is mainly used in folk music and is known by many names from many different cultures.

The first task was collecting the bottle tops, which required much merriment and the sampling of various types of lager which had different coloured bottle tops. I was clearly the right man for the job.

Another pre-requisite was my penchant for hoarding. During renovations I kept one of our old curtain rods, which was about an inch and a quarter diameter (32mm). It also featured a finial which with a nose added became the ‘Noddy’ head. In my research I discovered that it was commonplace to place a boot at the bottom to protect a venues flooring. It so happened that I’d kept one of my fifteen year old’s boots from when he was a toddler. Actually we kept all of them.

The next stage was punching holes in the bottle tops. For this task I used an off-cut from one of our veranda posts, which I had drawn diagonal lines from corner to corner and drilled a 5/16” (8mm) hole in the centre where the lines bisected. With a nail punch I could then line my bottle top up over the hole using the diagonal lines and with one tap I could punch a hole in the centre. The jig worked quite well although I had to manually pull off the bit off metal still left hanging.

Next I space out where I wanted the bottle tops which was basically a north/south/east/west pattern. I carefully drilled them and bought some screws with a clean shank to affix each set of twin bottle tops.

Additionally I placed a mint tin containing ball bearings into the boot which was simply screwed to the curtain rod between the tread of the boot. I used a bit of plumbing pipe insulation for the handle and the sock of the boot. Also on the large beer can at the top I placed a nut suspended from a bit of wire to act as a clapper.

I thoroughly enjoyed the process and the thought of terrorising my clan gatherings with my new lagerphone fills me with wicked glee. So if your interested in making a lagerphone here are a few name variations to Google as the various designs are as different and wild as your imagination.

a.k.a.

  • Boozaphone,
  • Mendoza/mendozer,
  • Monkey stick,
  • Murrumbidgee River Rattler
  • Teufelsgeige
  • Jingling Johnie
  • Stumpfidel
  • Ugly Stick

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.

Laser Violin

Posted in Design, Music with tags , , on 03/23/2013 by Baghead Kelly

xlarge

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/03/a-laser-violin-would-have-surely-blown-amadeus-mind/

Zoom H2n Review

Posted in Design, Gadgets, Home Studio, Music, Review, Songwriting with tags , , , , on 01/10/2013 by Baghead Kelly

Zoom H2N

I purchased one of these little microphone recorders awhile ago after sniffing around the Line 6 Back Track recorder. The unit is about 4”in -100mm in length.

Mostly I am very pleased with the recorder as it has done for me what digital cameras have done to photography. Record as much as you like and as many takes as you like. If I have too many false starts I just stop it and start again. You can easily trim the fat through the machine or with your computer afterwards. (You will have to buy a decent SD/SDHC card for it as it only comes with a 2GB card to get you started.)

You have several options with regards to how you can record using the 5 on board microphones. Most notably the mid-side  configuration which essentially mixes Left & Right microphones with a unidirectional microphone at the front allowing adjustment of the width of the pattern from 30° to 150°. The other major configuration is an XY pattern of 90° which is my favourite.

The unit  takes two AA batteries which give you 20 hours play time. It can use rechargeables but you have to register them within the unit so that it can accurately tell you how much usable time you have left. For me 20 hrs is plenty and AA’s are more preferential then AAA’s because of the cost.

I should also mention that it comes with Cubase LE which is the light version of Cubase. As I already have Cubase 5 I didn’t play around with it too much but it all seemed quite adequate for editing etc.

Along with the Zoom H2n I also bought the accessories kit that in my view should really come with the unit. The accessories kit comes with:

  • Wired remote control with extension cable
  • Windscreen
  • AC adapter (USB type)
  • USB cable
  • Adjustable tripod stand
  • Padded-shell case
  • Mic clip adapter

Personally I’m not likely to use the remote or the windscreen but the rest is essential. Even the strange looking handle attachment means that I can clip it into my existing mic stands and it looks like its meant to be there.

The recording quality is excellent once you get your distances right and I would thoroughly recommend this unit for both enthusiasts like myself and serious recording aficionados who would like a field unit. This is probably my favourite piece of kit that I have purchased in 2012 and I would rate it a whopping 5 out of 5 rubber chickens.

Baghead Bags the Stones

Posted in Art, Lifestyle, Music, Review, Songwriting with tags , , , on 11/12/2012 by Baghead Kelly

I just bought the new Stones album Grrr! I haven’t read much about it and so it was a bit of a shock to find it was a compilation album with only two new tracks; “Doom and Gloom” and “One More Shot”. “Doom and Gloom” kicks arse and “One More Shot” I could take it or leave it, maybe it will grow on me. The album comes in a few different configurations to drive the hard core fans and completists nuts but essentially there are only two new tracks. You can add this one to your pile of other Stones rehashes ; Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass), Flowers, Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), Hot Rocks 1964–1971, Hot Rocks 1964–1971, Metamorphosis, Made in the Shade, Rewind (1971–1984), Singles Collection: The London Years, Jump Back: The Best of The Rolling Stones (UK) and Rarities 1971–2003. In fact if you’ve got any of these I wouldn’t bother with Grrr! just buy the singles. As for the hard core Stones fans, I’m sorry but I’ve got to call it as I see it – 1 out of 5 rubber chickens the Stones are getting lazy.