The Next Four Years…

December 10, 2016

This is for all those folks that voted for Trump in the belief that he’ll fix the economy.

For many folks, their economic situation has gotten worse of the years as the rich got richer and the rest of us didn’t! Along comes Trump saying he’ll fix all that so here’s what’s going to happen (and is already happening to some extent).

Trump will build (is building) a cabinet that consists of people that:

  • Are all part of that rich set and whose vested interests are in keeping themselves that way.
  • Are all buddy buddy with the leaders and CEOs of the major corporations in this country
  • Oppose unions and worker rights
  • Oppose raising the minimum wage
  • Oppose pretty much anything (I.E. laws) that will regulate their business.
  • Oppose anything (laws again) that protect the environment (and thus all of our children’s future) from being exploited and/or ruined.

What this all means is that you, dear Trump voter, has effectively given the government of this country to the very people you thought Trump was going to protect you from.

Enjoy the next four years because I bet that by the end of it you’ll all be wishing for the good old ‘Obama’ days!





Yet another electronics idea…

November 10, 2016

Sitting in my (ever growing) box of unstarted projects are a couple of Arduino blue tooth transmitters/receivers. It occurred to me the other day that I could integrate a receiver into my beat Buddy midi controller (the Hackman) and put the other one as a transmitter up on the keytar near where my thumb sits. I could hook up a couple of switches to the transmitter on the keytar so that I could get the BeatBuddy to play fills and transitions by pressing the buttons on the keytar instead of having to look down and do a tap dance all the time.

Taking that a step further, I could do something similar and make it drive ‘simulated’ switches for my loop pedal to make it step up and down through tracks as well as stop. This would make live playing over pre recorded tracks a lot easier as no need to look down to tap the correct switch (For complex songs I break them into multiple parts and prerecord the backing tracks into the loop pedal).

In fact, I could create a dedicated blue tooth receiver for my pedal board and then have that send signals to the Hackman and loop pedal. That would mean that I would not have to stand right next to my pedal board to work the loop pedal or BeatBuddy.

Mmmmm.Might be onto something here.

The Popular Vote…

November 10, 2016


So how’s this going to work…

November 10, 2016

During the election run up, Trump promised to make companies that move work offshore pay a penalty for doing so.

Aren’t these the same large companies that back the Republican party?

It may be a Republican president and a Republican congress but somehow I just cannot see the people in congress, the same people that are backed by those large companies, wanting to bite the hand that feeds them.

Were Screwed….

November 9, 2016


Use a Stamp Day…

October 21, 2016

Back in 2009 I nominated October 21st as “Use a Stamp Day”. You can read about it here. Like all my great ideas it’s been mostly ignored which means that as an idea, it’s totally naff or I am way, WAAAY, ahead of my time! Either way I still like it and since today is the 21st, I thought I just mention it again in the hope that someone takes it to heart.

US Stamp

Fall 2016 TV Show Reviews

September 26, 2016

Fruit has a season, most grown foods have a season, the weather has seasons but TV! Who knew. no matter, there’s another round of new and not so new shows on TV so I thought I’d review some of those that I have watched, will continue to watch and those that I won’t be watching any more…

Halt and Catch Fire

Love this show but it’s been so long since the last season it’s taken me a while to catch up with all the plot lines. I grew up in this era. When Wozniak was building the first Apple Ones, I was messing around with electronics and similar stuff. The only difference is, is that he had some guy named Jobs to sell it while I didn’t which is why he’s rich and famous and I’m not. I’m pretty sure that had he not had Jobs around he’d be the same as me, just another nerd!

No matter, the show builds on all of that, plus IBM’s dominance in the field around that time and the struggle of the PC based world to break free. Gotta love the Boz character, an old dinosaur struggling to make sense of a world that suddenly changed under his feet. Reminds me of my old dad.


Blue Bloods

I love this show but I think it’s because of the cast more than the story lines. The plots all tend to end up just right in the end. Even when the ending is less than perfect they still seem to make it sound like it came out OK. That aside, the cast can make even the worst story line seem plausible although I doi think Tom Selleck should stop coloring his mustache and either let it go grey or just shave the bloody thing off, been there done that.

While I love the show I do have to think that a family this ‘nice’, especially a family in law enforcement wold have been eaten by the sharks and discarded a long time ago.


Designated Survivor

I thought I’d give this new show a try and so far it looks like it has the potential to be interesting although we’ve already had an early look at the treacherous general looking to undermine his new CIC. That’s a plot line that could be interesting or could become just another highly predicable TV sub plot that should have been drowned at birth. We shall see but I suspect it will be the latter, the ‘bad’ guys are never THAT easy to spot in real life.

As for Kiefer Sutherland as the lead, so far so good. He plays his mild mannered, almost reticent part well. The only ‘glitch’ I’ve seen in that persona is when he had to deal with the Iranian Ambassador and he suddenly becomes this really strong, don’t mess with me, presidential leader, albeit followed by a sigh of relief after the Ambassador had left. That sudden switch in personality was a bit too unrealistic for me but other that, well, we shall see. So far, so good.


The Good Place

Another new one I thought I’d try since I do like a good comedy. Sadly¬† have to say that this is not a good comedy. In fact I’m not sure it’s a good anything, it’s certainly not in a good place!

Ted Danson was great in Cheers. Since then he seems to have become what I would like to call ‘a parachute’. He seems to have become the actor that the networks bring in when a show is struggling and needs some new blood to save its fortunes. E.G.CSI. It’s bad though when the show starts out like that, you just know it’s doomed.

I’m also not sure who the ‘lead’ actor is in this show, Danson, Kristen Bell who plays the fly in the ointment or Jameela Jamil who plays the obligatory Brit bird (for those of you that don’t speak British slang, a bird is a woman) with an over active larynx.

Basically the show seems to be relying upon every typical (and well worn) humor situation to draw it’s laughs, including the fact that apparently only the top zero point zero one percent of the top zero point zero one percent of all the goody goody people in the world get into ‘the good place’ with the rest of us all going to hell. All seems a bit unfair if you ask me but as far as religion goes, it’s probably as good a theory as any other I’ve ever heard!

For me, the best character in the whole show is the Buddhist Monk that has been paired as the life partner of ‘the talkative one’ (Jameela Jamil). He has this look of “F**k it, if she doesn’t shut up soon I’m gonna kick living crap out of her and screw the fact I might go to hell”. he manages that even though he does not say a word throughout the whole show but every time you see him, he has this ‘deer in headlights’ look on his face.

Off hand I’d give the show (let’s be generous) six episodes before it gets killed off. I’ll never know though because I won’t be watching any more episodes, life is too short and The Good Place is just not good enough for me to spend any more time on it.


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!