Latest Tech News…

September 22, 2016

This just in. North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un shows off NK’s latest advance in storage technology:



Arrrrr… It be…..

September 19, 2016

Talk like a Pirate day!

Fun with Electronics…

September 16, 2016

Earlier testing and use had proven that the midi out signal from my little Arduino Uno based projects was far too weak to drive the signal over a long MIDI line so I’ve been researching how to boost the signal. I found a circuit on the internet that uses a BC212 PNP transistor as a driver however it seems the BC212 is now obsolete but can be replaced by a 2N3906.

This is the circuit I found:


I’m not using the input side although I am now starting to add something similar to my MIDI hardware circuits just to protect the Arduino and to make them conform to the spec although I an using 6N138 isolators.

Anyway, back the output side of things. I knocked up the output circuit on a breadboard although I omitted the 220 ohm resistor from pin 5 to ground and used a different pin on my Arduino for the output so that I did not need the ‘programming switch’ in there for my little test.

Threw together a little test program to continuously send out a MIDI CC command with changing data so I know it’s working because I can see the differing data. The command was actually a BeatBuddy MIDI volume command. Hooked it up to my iPad via the iRig and gave it a try. Once I knew it worked with a short MIDI cable I tried it with a long cable,  around 20 feet long. Success:


With it all working a connected it up with the long cable to the BeatBuddy and was able to see the volume setting change on the BeatBuddy.

With all this working, the next step is to integrate these changes, plus the functionality of the BeatBuddy MIDI Volume Control (BBMVC) into the Hackman, my magic box that makes the Jamman Solo XT and the BeatBuddy work together. For that though I am going to try to design a ‘real’ circuit board in Eagle and then have the board made up as by that time,it’s going to be getting far too hard to squeeze everything onto a small prototyping board and solder all the connections by hand. Plus it just takes far too long!



It’s a beautiful planet…

September 15, 2016


I’ve always wondered…

September 13, 2016

How come Google earth has such clear pictures of the ground. Here’s a recent screen shot of the the HDEV feed from the International Space Station:


Notice how it all CLOUD. Most of the time that’s all you see, very little ground detail so how come Google Earth shows so much detail?



And fail…

September 7, 2016

Took the new pedal board, complete with BBMVC to an open mic last night. Now it’s been fine practicing at home but at the open mic it totally failed. I am not sure what was going on but it looked like the MIDI from the Hackman (which controls the BeatBuddy drum pedal) was not getting through in spite of checking all the connection and resetting everything. Since this occurred as I was ‘performing’ I was a bit flustered. Trying to debug this sort of thing live is not something that should be attempted. I managed one song, more by luck than good management as the drum pedal just happened to be set to the same tempo as the loop pedal so it sort of worked, except for the stop which went a bit awry because the drum pedal did not get the stop signal from the loop pedal.

At that point I gave up.

Once I got it home I tried it all gain and it was still all very flaky so I’ve removed the BBMVC from my board. Guess I’ll have to revert to bending down to adjust the drum volume for now.

However it has not been a total waste of time. I did learn a heck of a lot and it occurs to me that I think I could incorporate the function into the Hackman as the Hackman is already talking to the BeatBuddy anyway. It’ll make the whole setup a lot simpler as well. I’d just have to add a jack for the pedal to the box, hook it up and merge in the relevant code from the BBMVC into the Hackman code.



September 5, 2016

After trying the BeatBuddy MIDI Volume Control for a while I found that the pedal was far too sensitive, so much so that sometimes just taking my foot off the pedal would change the volume from where I had set it. In the original software I could adjust the volume from 0 to 100% using the foot pedal but I really never needed to go much below 65 to 70% so most of the pedal travel was never used.

So I’ve changed it now so that the full range of motion on the foot pedal will now only affect a much smaller volume range (which is configurable). This makes the foot pedal much less sensitive and much easier to use at the expense of not being able to completely silence the BeatBuddy (although I can still configure the BBMVC to let me do that if I wanted but then I’m back to the sensitivity issue).


I give you the BBMVC…

August 30, 2016

This is the little project that I have been working on. I call it the BeatBuddy MIDI Volume Control or BBMVC.




And fixed…

August 28, 2016

Turned out a message buffer area in some of the debugging code associated with handling the midi input was not large enough which was obviously causing a storage overlay! Quick change and it all works just fine now. I wouldn’t mind but that code won’t even be in the final ‘production’ version of the code so the problem would never occur.



Or maybe not….

August 28, 2016

Did a little test this morning and I am beginning to suspect a software problem. The enable/disable switch for the volume pedal only stops working after the unit receives midi commands from the other unit it is plugged into.

So all is not lost yet!



August 27, 2016

I have to declare my latest project a failure. It works fine on it’s own and hooked up to the computer but once I put it on the pedal board and hooked it up to all the other gear, it was just to flaky. The switch (which enables the volume pedal) would simply stop responding which means I cannot actually use the box to do anything.

Oh, what was this thing you ask? A volume control pedal for my Beat Buddy drum pedal that used midi to control the volume.

Like I say, on its own it is fine but I guess all the other signals and electrical noise going through it just cause it to die/stop responding in various ways.

I am still running the development code tough and I know that’s not going to be as fast as the live code because of all the debugging messages in it but even so, it should not be as flaky as it is. No way I can use it live for now.

Oh well, it was a fun little exercise and I learned a lot too.


Cable length it is…

August 26, 2016

Did a quick test this morning using just a gender changer coupler between the midi source and the new box and it works fine so it’s obviously the length of the midi cable that is causing the problem. I can only assume that the Arduino is not capable or driving the signal over a long midi cable. While I think everything will work for now I may have to look into some sort of signal driver circuitry for future Arduino based midi projects.


Couriouser and Couriouser…

August 25, 2016

Well it works, just not when hooked up to the MIDI controller on the pedal board that it will eventually be hooked up to. Now this might be because I am using really long MIDI cables since my little gadget has to sit near my computer since I am using the USB to power it plus also to receive the debugging messages I have built into the code, while my pedal board is on the other side of the room.

So as a little test I hooked up my iRig midi interface to my iPad and used Midi Wrench to send it some midi commands and it worked just fine. I could see the debugging messages in the Arduino Serial Monitor. I even hooked up the output midi from my gadget back to the input midi on the iRig and could see the commands getting passed through the device and returned to the iPad where I could see them in Midi Wrench.

So, I am hoping it’s just a matter of using short cables. Since the new box will live right next to the existing box on the pedal board that should not be a problem. It could well be because the Arduino just cannot drive the output midi hard enough to go over a long cable. I could always beef up the output circuits in the other box but if it works with a short cable (pleas god make it work with a short cable!) I’ll leave that for a future revision (I.E. Never!).

Anyway, just for fun and to relieve the boredom, here’s a couple of pictures:

First up is the iRig test setup (sitting on top of my shredder):


And next, inside my magic box:


I always think it’s a shame that people (I.E ME!) put so much effort into building things like this and then have to go and hide it all inside some nondescript project box. For me, after getting the bloody thing working properly, what’s inside the box is the best part!


Time to get the ol’ scope out…

August 25, 2016

I added the missing resistor and also found that I had the wires from the midi in socket reversed (probably not good!). Also checked the continuity of all the other connections involved in the midi in but still no joy.

What is annoying is that this same circuit works just fine in my other project. The only difference is , is that I had to directly solder the opto coupler chip to the board this time due to the height limitations of the project box which I hate to do, much better to use a socket. Oh well, next step is to get the old silly scope out and start looking at signals!

If that does not help then I guess I need to redo the interface board and perhaps use a socket this time. I did figure out that I could put the socket and opto coupler on the underside of the board instead of the top. It’ll still work just fine, I’ll just have to think ‘backwards’ or upside down or maybe end both, when wiring it up!


Close…But not cigar (yet)…

August 24, 2016

My latest little electronics music project is ‘almost done’. Got most of the bugs worked out of the software (hopefully all of them LOL) but I did find the MIDI input is not working which sorta sucks as I need that! Anyway, did a little bit of digging on the ol’ t’internet and I think I just forgot a resistor on one of the lines to the opto coupler (oops) in my circuit diagram so hopefully an easy fix tomorrow.



August 22, 2016

In the middle of my current little electronics project, I came up with an idea for an other ‘quicky’ project so my efforts are taking a small detour as I put together this new idea. In the middle of that I came up with an idea for yet ANOTHER project but I suspect that will be more involved so it’s going to sit on the back burner until I get the first one (and this little detour) out of the way.

I need more time (or fewer ideas!).


I love it when…

August 9, 2016

You sit down to write some code and find that you did it a couple of weeks ago. That change log in my code finally came in useful!


Oohhh… Pretty flashing Lights…

July 31, 2016

While I was working on the MIDI input code I decided to add a couple of ‘status lights’ to the display to indicate MIDI activity on the two inputs. It was as much about just seeing how well it would work as being anything useful since I know the hardware works already.

Anyway, here’s what I have so far:


Notice the cool vertical captions on the screen as well. Extra effort just to do that. Does it make any difference? Probably not but it was a bit of fun just doing it and who knows, it might come in useful sometime.


MIDI Shield – Works…

July 28, 2016

Whoo Hoo! Did a quick test, just reading MIDI notes in on either input and echoing them to the MIDI out and it worked just fine.

Now the serious coding begins!


Islamic State – Responsible for everything…

July 26, 2016

I would not want to minimize or make light of the threat that this group makes to the world but I have noticed a trend recently in the news that IS seems to claim responsibility for almost every ‘terror’ event in the world.

I am sure that pretty soon we will see a headline along the lines of “Five Year old stubs toe. IS claims responsibility”