Friday, 26 May 2017

Stain On My Parade

A Quick Guide to Staining & Varnishing Wood

Before staining the wood I lightly sand it, dust it off with a brush, then apply a stain.  If you're fussy you might lightly wash it off with a rag rather than brush it, but then you'll have to wait until it dries.  Wood tends to be very thirsty so don't be alarmed if the first few stains are absorbed away.  Often the first attempt turns the wood an off-green colour, but if you persevere after about 3 - 6 coats (waiting for the stain to dry out completely, often overnight & possibly lightly sanding between coats) you'll have finished staining.  The more coats you add the more stained the wood will become, so you'll have to use your judgement with that.

To get a dark brown wood, which I call 'Prophet 5', I use a mahogany Brown stain;

 And to get a more 'Moog' style I use a Cherry stain;

Once stained, it's then time to add a coat of varnish.  This'll help protect the wood.  I'm using a varnish designed for boats, but it seems to work quite well with Synths.  I used to use a brush for this, but have found you get better results with a old t-shirt.  Just a tiny amount is needed and you'll have to add more layers than with the brush, but overall you'll get a much smoother finish.  When using a brush I found it was easy to accidentally add too much and would then have to sand down the excess for an even finish.  

The only problem with this varnish is it takes ages to dry, so sometimes overnight isn't long enough. But it gives a great finish to your synths so it's worth the wait. 

And that's how I stain and varnish my synths!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Google Scholarship

It's been a little quite around here lately, for this there's good reason; In December I was lucky enough to win a scholarship in Android Programming with Udacity paid for by Google.  So that's what I've been concentrating on for the last 4 months.  I've not stopped thinking about making & synths and drum machines though (in fact I took the course to help me with programming them better).  I've also managed to design a PCB for the drum machine, so that'll soon be up & running. Stay tuned!

A Faster Horse: Drum Machine Survey Results

The results are in for the Drum Machine Survey.  Thanks to everyone that took the time to fill out the questionnaire; even if I did perhaps force my friends to participate.  Let's take a look at the result;

So people seem to want to keep the case design mostly the same, which I'd put down to the first version being OK rather than people's lack of imagination! 😇  I'm going to make a few variations & choose the best one in regards to looks & ease of construction, but in general it won't be too different.  Another suggestion was to make it rack mountable, this could be a great idea to have an alternative version.

A lot of Goth readers here obviously! So it looks like black it is.

& it'll have a volume pot.

...with a large audio-jack output

...and the audio jack will be at the back

....Along with the MIDI jack

...And the switches will stay in a row

Cheapskates ahoy! But I completely agree, the audio will sound the same with premium or with no-name parts.  The component reliability is a different matter, so I think for this I'll meet the two groups half-way & probably have branded parts from a reliable distributer (hopefully eliminating the chance of receiving fakes).

So I've gone along with the group-think so far, however when it comes to power I've decided that if I'm selling this, I probably (probably) don't want to be responsible for burning down a house or electrocuting somebody (or worse for me, being sued!).  So with that in mind I'm just going to use a 9v battery & leave a couple of open points on the PCB for anybody who wants to instead use a power supply.

This is the answer with the closest results, so I'll order some of each & see what looks best once the next case is built.

So, now on to making the PCB

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Drum Machine Survey

In my effort to make some sort of Homer-Simpson inspired monstrosity, could you please fill out this survey and tell me what you want in a drum machine;

Go on, it'll only take like 30 seconds* and I'll buy you a pint if you do**

Feel free to send it around other people who might be interested, pop-stars and the like...


*Well, maybe 2 minutes
**There is absolutely no way I'll buy you a pint for doing this