2014-07-16

While sitting in the not-quite-scorching shade of a loquat tree, the dischordant tones of a problamatic windchime bothered me. After fixing the poorly tied string of the chimes, it occurred to me that I am lacking a windchime. Unacceptable! Fortunately, I have the internet and some crap laying about.

What Do I Know About Windchimes?

Ahem... "What did I know about windchimes?" "Not much". However, a bit of internet searching led to http://www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/windchime.html which is a trove of information about the lengths tubes need to be in order to make a musical scale.

What I Now Know
  • The lovely pentatonic scale is:
    1. The Root Note
    2. The Major Second
    3. The Major Third
    4. The Fifth
    5. The Major Sixth
  • A chime should be suspended at 22.4% of the chime's length
  • I should really really really double check my measurement and "cut once"
  • A metric tape measure needs to be in my future because fractions are proof that the imperial system is fucking evil.

Making a Calculator

Before even thinking about what to make the windchime out of, I needed a calculator that would take the largest length of tubing (the lowest note) and compute the lengths needed to make a pentatonic scale of tubes. Originally, I wanted to make the calculator a native application for one of the GNU Linux based mobile operating systems, but none of seem to have native apps. bummer. Anyway I just wrote a crappy Javascript app thingy I'm calling tubell.

The Pain of Fractions

Due to the lack of a metric tape measure, I had to deal with some shitty fractions in order to get a semi-precise measurement. The 1/8th of an inch was my "precise" measurement, and my longest tube would be 2 feet in length; which is 192 eights of a inch.

Sadly, I had to go from eighths to a percent back to eighths. blech gimme that sweet metric system!

The Build

Gather Some Supplies

Make some wrong computations, get some tubes, borrow a hacksaw.

This is my original computations where I use the first 5 notes of a justified scale instead of a pentatonic scale.

Cut the Tubes

Forsome reason, I have not yet built/bought/acquired some form of miter box. Anyway, my hacksaw cuts are a bit wonky, but hey, that's the way I roll.

Make a Metal Drill Bit

After failing miserably to drill a hole through the metal tube with what I can only assume was a drill bit made for wood, I had to improvise.

With my rotary cutting tool, I removed the head from a self tapping metal screw, and used the remaining bit of the screw as a metal drill bit.

The Suspending Frame

The bottom of my PBR bucket was the perfect size for making a circle from which I could suspend my cut tubes.

Divide the Circle Into 5 Parts

Because the windchime will have 5 chimes, it was necessary to mark off the circumference in 5 increments in order to determine where to drill holes in the suspending frame. For this I used a bit of twine, a pen, and a thumb tack.

The smaller circle is from a tracing of my favorite orange cup, and it will be used as the chime hammer.

Make a Metal Drill Bit

Holes were drilled
a rattle can painted things black
scrap was used for the wind catchy thingy
...and the wind chime was hung from an oak tree

In Action

So what does it sound like? Pretty damn good if you ask me!

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2014-06-22

Potion

After crafting a hella magical wizard staff / farm implement / polearm during the Summer Solstice, I thought I should don my Wizard Hat and mix up a potion. There is a beautiful rock on my property, and everytime I climb on the rock I end up getting poison oak.... what a bummer.

The Ingredients

The components for this potion are:

  • 2 liters of distilled white vinegar
  • a couple few tablespoons of salt
  • a couple of tablespoons of dish detergent
  • kippered snacks

The salt and detergent were added to a sprayer, and then the 2 liters of vinegar was slowly added to the mix.

With my handy dandy titanium spork, I ate the kippered snack. One should never fight poison oak while hungry.

The Application

It's German for "The poison oak, the"

Climb on the rock and pssssssssssssssss the sauce on the no-good poison oak.

Previously, I had simply ripped out the poison oak hoping that it would die from lack of photosynthesis. Boy was I wrong.

Another Test

Not content to just use the potion on the poison oak, I though I should test the sauce on my copious supply of nuisance blackberries.

Will this actually work? I have no idea, but I'm not spraying horrid Monsanto chemicals on my property, so I've got that going for me... which is nice.

The vinegar that I am using is 5% acid. The higher the acid, the more effective the potion is supposed to be. Farm stores sell highly concentrated vinegar, but I didn't feel like driving farther than the grocery store. Another option would be to use pickling vinegar which is about 9%.

Oh well, I'll send out an update in a few days to keep everyone updated on the progress of the potion.

Now quite reading, and go get magical.

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2014-06-15

For a while now, I've been wanting to connect a microphone to Bonechop so that I could then use Blather to send commands to the various machines on my local network. After a bit of a quest, I finally found a sweet old CB radio microphone that I could repurpose to fit my needs.

The New Mic

The new microphone is an Electro-Voice 660-D Dynamic Microphone. From what I can tell, this thing is made out of bakelite. Sadly, I don't have a picture of the two-prong plug that needs to be replaced.

Take It Apart!

Ah, the best part of any repurpose: TAKING IT APART!!!

Damn, look at all of those doodads and zipper-zappers. After a bit of snipping and snapping, the old innards were removed.

The New Microphone

A semi-adequate microphone was salvaged from an old touch-tone phone and glued/taped to the bracket that held the original microphone in place.

Finishing Up!

To be honest, I have no idea where the curly cable came from, but it worked wonderfully for this project. After a bit of shenanigans with the wiring, I managed to get the mic soldered to the thumb switch, and a 1/8" microphone plug. sweet!

Oh Bummer

Unfortunately, the USB audio card that I'm using with Bonechop isn't getting any data from the microphone when the audio card is connected to the BeagleBone Black. It works when I plug the sound card into my laptop, so it may just be a driver issue. I blame the ARM architecture.

Now quit reading... and make that staticy sound that old microphones make when you press the "talk" switch.


Oh, if your browser doesn't play .ogg files, you should file a bug report with the creator of your browser.

Comments
2014-06-17 Alison Chaiken:
>Unfortunately, the USB audio card that I'm using with Bonechop isn't getting any data from the microphone when the audio card is connected to the BeagleBone Black.

Kind of like Simon Says: if you start out with "Breaker 1-9!", the audio will start working.
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