20200509

Designing Winterbloom’s Big Honking Button (2020) theavalkyrie. A solid rundown on how to design eurorack modules. The text is informative and teaches how to read schematics, how microcontrollers work and what goes into designing a module. The honking button seems fun but a little gimmicky. Build a simplified USB +/-12v&5v power-supply based on this discussion. Opted for the Meanwell DKM10E-12 and the palm size board I assembled offers ~ +/-420mA! I’m now sourcing parts to make my own USB A-B cable (all of the cables I had caused power drop issues). Planning piezo-amp units and dreaming of a complex ramp generator or LFO/SLEW/ENV 1.1 by Kymatica.

Some links on the site don’t work but the protocol seems usefull for haptic devices: “Buttplug is an open-source standards and software project for controlling intimate hardware, including sex toys, fucking machines, electrostim hardware, and more.”

Sourced parts for radio transmitters & receivers and learning of the strange world of radio. Wide-band WebSDR is an interesting online radio project, the purpose of which I don’t understand (for testing transmissions?). Spectres of Shortwave a 2016 film by Amanda Dawn Christie seems interesting. Also listening and reading more Tetsuo Kogawa stuff. Found two great performances of his which use radio as a medium (radioart). In Looking for the Silent Interference (2018) the artist stacks transmitters which are broadcasting on the same frequency to produce audible ripples in radio waves (I think this is what he means by “folds” in radio space, referencing Adorno). In A Simple Way of Radioart (2019) he uses a pair of transmitters and receivers to produce a feedback loop which tone is depended on how he plays the transmitter antennas. In some of his texts he talks about hands as instruments and both examples are very good examples of this: The shape of his palm sets the sound. I cannot reach him using the email on his site, I’ll have to reach out to his colleges. Here is a quote from A Radioart Manifesto (2008)

When does radio become into radioart beyond being a medium? For newspaper, for instance, paper is a medium. […] How and when paper becomes an art? It is when the material of “paper” changes itself into a different material. Whatever you write and draw on a sheet of paper, it remains a medium. Therefore such attempts create not paperart but art on the paper. And when you crumple up it, it becomes a garbage. Adorno argued that “all post-Auschwitz culture, including its urgent critiques, is garbage”.

This “garbage” (Muell) is, however, not a worthless thing but a new material of art in Adorno’s critical perspective. In my interpretation, post-modern arts (arts after the modernism) starts with Adorno’s “garbage . His argument advocated “trash art”. But considering his critiques against the electronic mass medium such as radio and television we can argue that the most post-modern material as “garbage” would be airwaves.

Thinking about how airwaves as garbage become an art, the aforesaid example of paper might help us. When a sheet of paper is crumpled, it becomes garbage and at the same time it has many folds. They damage the material as a writing/drawing paper but change this material into another. Giles Deleuze provides an interesting understanding on fold although it is in relation to Leibniz’ monadology. A labyrinth is said, etymologically, to be multiple because it contains many folds. the multiple is not only what has many parts but also what is folded in many ways. [sic]

20200429

Oh.. What a weird and wonderful night. I was exited about assembling the walky-talky modules and went on imagining of scenarios I could use them in. An idea gloomed.. What if the module would work in FM domain? I’ve been making radio experiments with my raspi (see Hammeradio) and the itch to send wireless signals is an old one. The question led me on a frantic internet search stream and eventually I run into a website I visited years ago: Polimorphous Space by Tetsuo Kogawa. I learned about the site from Diego Cruz Martinez an activist/engineer who worked for/with Radio Oaxaca. I interviewed him when I was working for M2Hz and the interview in available Finnish: Ääni intiaanikylille (2009).

Kogawas site is fascinating. There are texts and interviews dealing with the work of Félix Guattari (whom Kogawa met in 1981), manifestos and poetry, bundled with technical notes and schematics. The radio art guides he offers are thorough and the radio transmitter builds seem very robust. Here is a quote from his Micro Radio Manifesto (2006).

Today, our microscopic space is under technologically control and surveillance. Our potentially diverse, multiple nad polymorphous space is almost homogenizee into a mass. Therefore we need permanent effort to deconstruct this situation. In order to do this, to use a very low-power transmitter is worth trying. Small transmitter can be easily made by your own hands. [SIC]

This is a direct call for action and aligned with the texts he offers, this sets a clear trajectory for critical radiophonic work! The looks of his builds are wonderful. He uses an adaptation of “Manhattan style” method in his circuit construction (some notes on the style on Parasit Studio blog). The name Manhattan style reflects the street grid and urban planning of Manhattan, New York and I guess it links to the era of the Manhattan project too.

I’m now dreaming of building an eurorack unit of “the standard model” transmitter in Manhattan style. Some components are rare (2SC2001 transistor) but he also offers plans with alternative components (BC337 transistor). I imagine that in a rack the transmission would cause a lot of noise and interference but the build is conceptually firm. I think that as a module it reflects and is a call for the “responsibility of speech”. I’ve come to believe we have a responsibility to make sound, to voice opinions so that we do not collide to each other. This idea is well drafted in a boating story I heard from Topi Äikäs. In short: “If everybody is silently looking for the truth, nobody is safe!”. I could etch this story on the PCB.

After an exiting couple of hours in the world of Kogawa, I realized that the module should also include a receiver: Whats would be the point in making noise if no-one can listen to it. After some search I found this Simple FM Radio build (credited to Charles Kitchin) which is simple and runs on the same voltage as the transmitter (the unit in the photo is also build in Manhattan style). This means both builds could be powered from the same supply! I’ll have to experiment if this will cause too much interference but the idea is clear. The module could have one input for transmitting and one for receiving. With two modules, two (or more) racks can be made to work in unison.

An additional bonus in the transmitter build is that I could use DIY mineral water capacitors (which I experimented with on the Simple EQ build) for setting the transmission frequency (it needs a variable capacitor between the values of 10 to 20pf). This is perfect because when working on the walky-talkies I felt horrible remorse for not continuing to develop/build modules I’m planning to use in upcoming mineral water performances. Suddenly a side quest to radio transmission domain proofs meaningful and everything makes sense for a while.

20200428

Build a set of walky-talky eurorack modules which accept modular level signals trough their electret microphone inputs. To accomplish this I assembled a line level signal to microphone input adapter (following this guide: 20 dB PAD for line to electret microphone input) and included a 47k resistor before the 10uf capacitor. The walky-talky speaker output is routed to a tl071 based line level to eurorack level amplifier (I followed the TrAniModule line1-lineout design). The push-to-talk button is routed to a switch which is mounted on the panel. At first I powered the walky-talkies using 7805 chips (build heat sinks from salvaged aluminum) but they run quite hot so I replaced them with LM2596 buck converters. This also dropped the consumption from 200mA to around 80mA (~2mA on the negative rail) but this is dependent on the amount of signal amplification the units uses (which seems to be a automated process, based on some kind of feedback between the devices). The power supplies have reverse-polarity protection. I got the idea for building them from a youtube video.

The sound is interesting, like in megaphones but they are still unstable. One feature of the unstable behavior is that in some tests, some frequencies of sine waves would cause the unit to glitch and go silent. Once a different frequency is transmitted the connection is re-established. Very high frequencies cause a morphing glitchy interference space. The units distort sounds in interesting ways, almost like wave folders and I can also pass clock signals trough. Bass drum tones get removed but low frequency clicks pass. I think the glitches are a power-supply issue (my bench power-supply is very noisy), also there are a lot of loose wires and dodgy connections. I’ll rework the connections and set the rattling wires with hot glue, after I receive on-off-(on) switches (I’ll use them for the push-to-talk button). Also had the idea of adding voltage to control the push-to-talk button but it wouldn’t work as the devices make a loud beeb every time they establish a connection. When nothing is inserted to the input the microphone can be used.

The walky-talkies are Exibel FX-27’s, which we got from Kiasma and used with the xxx_group back in 2009. They have been collecting dust for 11 years! They have 8 channels and I’m currently using 446.00625MHz (the same as baby monitors, which I can now use as inputs for my modular!). I’ll have to wait until the libraries open to laser cut pretty faceplates for them and I also want to mount their antennas properly. Currently the PCBs are attached on a dodgy plywood sheets and the antennas are located in the back. They look like bombs. Sending wireless signals has been a longtime fascination. The last time I’ve worked with wireless audio of this type was in 2006 when we established Storijapan with Kristian (a layout of the our wireless setup is still on our server homepage). Transmitting signals from and in a eurorack system feels like a dream I had a long time ago.

20200413

Build a TrAniModule amplifier/speaker using a PCB from the designer. I mounted it to a wooden panel, fitted it with a 1.5W speaker and added it to my Water Lab rack on modular grid. Sounds great, has a nice distortion and the module design is very versatile. My build is featured on the Animodule Facebook page and nicely titled a “gorgeous customer build DIY”.

Next I plan to build three piezo amplifiers in 1u size PCBs which I can mount to a 3u panel if needed. They will be used to amplify the sounds of sparkling water in upcoming mineral performances. Also sourced components for a 1u wavefolder and a MMI USBpower build.

20200328

Build a 1u slew limiter following schematics from Synovatron Limited. Added a switch to toggle between 1uF and 100nF capacitors for adjusting the max slew time from 1s to over 5s (added it to modulargrid). Also build a 1u inverter following tips found on mw-forum. As suggested it is needed to make the Variable Slope VCF resonate, it produces umbfy-bass tones. Assembled a Foxfield Averter 1u kit to learn SMT (1206 size, went well) and acquired a Animodule TrAniModule PCB to complete a speaker module build I made a faceplate for in the autumn. I can also use it to boost the volume of some of my quiet modules. I think it is time to start designing a 7u 104hp case!

I’m drafting a five year project grant application for Taike and send out a spicy proposal for the controversial Kone Home Residency call. The tone of the open call is criticized heavily in Freelancer on poikkeustilan asiantuntija [Freelancer is a specialist of disaster] (2020) Maaria Ylikangas. Ylikangas explains that the Coronavirus should not be framed as an opportunity to develop as an artist, it is a tragedy and shows how unjust the precariats relationship to capitals is.