Martha Graham Cracker and a String Quartet from the Philadelphia Orchestra!!

A string quartet of members of the Philadelphia Orchestra will be playing Rich Hill’s and my arrangements in accompaniment of Martha Graham Cracker on Sept 5th, 11:30pm at the new FringeArts venue located at Delaware Ave and Race St.

The event is free and open to the public starting at 10pm. Doors to the theatre open at 11.
http://fringearts.com/event/martha-graham-cracker-cabaret-with-members-of-the-philadelphia-orchestra/

Needless to say we are thrilled beyond belief, not mention a bit nervous, at such an opportunity.

Repaired Broken Cry Baby 535Q – Extremely Loud Static When On

I bought a broken Dunlop Cry Baby 535q Wah Wah pedal recently to re-purpose as a teensy controller or passive volume pedal. When I tried it out, though, it worked perfectly. Later it started making really loud static noises whenever it was engaged. I figured it had a loose component or one that was overheating. There was an easy fix, and one I did not find anyone mentioning online, so if you have a noisy 535Q, try this.

Cry Baby 535Q

After taking apart too many pieces (hint: never remove the pot/PC board assembly if you don’t need to!) I discovered that touching a micro transistor, Q2, made it work again.

Cry Baby 535Q - Q2 Transistor - Reflowed Solder Joints

Cry Baby 535q, 9-volt Schematic
I’m not certain that this is accurate, but it looks about right. The transistors, Q1 and Q2 – MMBT5059, are bordering on non-existent. They may be Polish, but I’m not sure how to replace them.

Since pressing helped, I decided to reflow its solder joints, and that did the trick! It’s been working great for a month now. Not bad at all for $20.

1967 Baldwin Burns Jazz Bass

Due to a shortage of information on what’s become one of my favorite basses ever, I’m attempting to compile as much as I know about this instrument in a single place.
Baldwin Burns Jazz BassMine is a 1967. Burns manufactured the Jazz Bass from ’64-’65 (http://www.brianmaycentral.net/burnshistory.html). Baldwin purchased the company in ’65 and the Jazz bass was continued until ’70 (http://www.guitar-list.com/baldwin/bass-guitars/baldwin-jazz-bass).

Specs:

  • 22 frets
  • 30.5″ scale
  • Controls:
    • Pickup selector – 4-position rotary switch
      • Contrabass – Neck Pickup, with highs rolled off
      • Bass – Neck and Middle Pickups
      • Treble – Bridge Pickup
      • Wild Dog – Middle and Bridge PIckups with Bridge out of Phase.
        • I added the neck pickup to ‘Wild Dog’ to give it low end that was completely missing originally. The out-of-phase sound is still there, so it’s a nice contrast to the ‘Bass’ position.
    • Tone
    • Volume
  • Burns patented Gear-o-Matik® Truss Rod Gearbox mechanism in heel of neck. geared low, i.e. requires more turns than traditional direct adjust truss rods. The modern gearing is 1:18. I don’t know if the old ones are the same. It turns easily and did take full turns where I’d normally have made only partial turns.
  • Fully adjustable bridge with roller saddles on threaded shaft for side to side adjustment
  • Burns Tri-Sonic pickups, but not split-sound that are mentioned frequently which only seem to be on the guitars. They are low impedance requiring transformers.

Truss rod tool and bolt head:

Burns Gear-o-Matik® Truss Rod Wrench Burns Gear-o-Matik® Truss Rod Bolt Burns Gear-o-Matik® Truss Rod Wrench in Place
About the pickups (I contacted Burns UK and got the following response):

“Regarding the pickups – the low impedence units that you have were only made for a few years and then discontinued, never to return. Although the system worked quite well, it was massively expensive to produce/manufacture and really the same sort of sounds/tone could be achieved with the standard high impedence units which were fitted to different Burns models, at a fraction of the price. If you disconnect your pickups from the transformers, they will basically become useless and un-useable. If you try to wire high impedence units through the transformers it would probably work, but the residual noise would be ridiculous and there would be almost no high end frequencies whatsoever. All the new pickups currently supplied by Burns London are the high impedance standard units.”

He also said in another exchange:

“Regarding your E-mail to Burns London about the schematics/wiring on your Baldwin bass. There is a copy of the original UK Burns schematic printed in Paul Day’s “Green Burns Book”. However, this is a copy from an original heavily used schematic – and in all honesty is barely legible – and gives little info on component values etc.. Burns instruments were also notorious for changing spec on an almost weekly basis – this was really down to the availability of various components at that time. To make matters even more complicated, when Baldwin purchased Burns – much of the actual production moved to the large EKO plant in Italy. This also caused circuits/components to change. Regarding the “wild dog” setting – many people are under the impression that this was some sort of booster or overdrive sound. In fact, it was essentially an “out of phase” setting – which basically sucked the mid frequencies out of the signal. The pickups were normally very low impedance units and the small transformers under the pickguard boosted the coils back up. This was an attempt to achieve a very “clean” un-distorted type sound.”

Baldwin Burns Jazz Bass - BodyBaldwin Burns Jazz Bass - Controls

Other feature of note – the awesome scroll headstock.

Baldwin Burns Jazz Bass - Head

I use Thomastik-Infeld flatwound Jazz Bass strings – JF324
http://www.juststrings.com/toi-jf324.html - they’ve gotten expensive, but they really make the bass speak well. It’s amazingly consistent all over the neck with a nice fat sound around and above the 12th fret. It came with unidentified roundwound strings that were unremarkable.

I have a ’75 Gibson EB-3 that I also love, but it’s hard to play live because its sound is inconsistent on the lower frets, ranging from really dead to super boomy. I’ve had good luck recording it, but I don’t play it any more, though, because I moved the now 10-year old Thomastik strings to the Baldwin bass.
'75 Gibson EB-3

I would like to draw up a schematic with as much info as I can determine. The transformers are only labeled 3206 and 3136, which I’ve found is consistent with other Baldwin/Burns instruments, but I doubt I’ll ever figure out any more than that.

Other links:

Extracting Data From a Broken USB Flash Drive

Last year I was able to extract all the data from a friend’s 16GB USB flash drive that was broken in half when the laptop it was still plugged into was put in a knapsack. It was broken almost cleanly through, so I broke it all the way to expose the guts, cut open a USB cable and soldered wires to the power connector PC board traces. The exposed parts of the traces for the data connectors, however, were torn off and what remained was too small to solder to. So I stuck two sewing pins through a piece of 1/4″ lauan, lined up the pins with the data traces, wiggled them through the insulating coating and after a few tries had a slow but steady transfer of the nearly 16GB of critical, non-backed up data. On my first try, I was holding the board and the pins (needed enough weight to make contact), but my hand cramped up before it could finish. After that, I steadied the board with two finishing nails and weighted it down. All I had to do then was tip toe and keep the cats away from it. Kinda surprised it worked.

Hotwiring a USB Drive

Repaired Presonus HP4 v1 Headphone/Monitor Amp

My very useful Presonus HP4 v1 headphone amp fried last Fall. I found another on eBay for not too much, but I hung onto the old one. Turns out they’re full of this quad amp IC, MC33079P, and one on the input stage failed. The chip is obsolete, but I replaced it with an MC33079PG that seems to be the same. Or at least compatible.

The hardest part was un-soldering a 14-pin IC without destroying the PC board. I added a socket in case something else had (and would again) aggravated the chip, but after several long days’ use it seems to be doing fine.

What spurred me on to do this was that channel 1 of the replacement HP4 failed. A check with a VOM from the power pins to the signal pins shows the same lack of potential (15V DC) across one of the amp’s pins. The power supplies seem good, so I think it is the chip that’s failing, and not the power supply or a current limiting resistor.

Next project is to replace the channel 1 chip on the replacement HP4 and try to make two complete units.

 

Update: after receiving a question about suppliers, here’s where I found the IC and the socket (thanks, Jordan):
Digi-Key
MC33079PG IC
14-pin Socket

Update II:
- Apparently these amps are version 1 which use a 16V AC power supply. The latest ones seem to use a 12V DC power supply. I’m not sure what other components have changed. Since I can’t find the original ICs, it’s a good bet, they’ve changed in the newer ones as well.
- 3 months later the repaired HP4 is working great.
- I repaired my other one with a bad channel 1 and a scratchy channel 4. Made the same IC replacement. So far, so good.

Shrinkify Arduino Project – LED Pumpkin Candle

I just successfully completed my first “shrinkified” project – a flickering LED pumpkin candle.

I built the project on an Arduino Uno and then using a tutorial from the High-Low Tech group at MIT, I flashed a ATtiny85 with the code and freed up my Arduino.

The LED candle flickers randomly and occasionally glares angry red for a few seconds before returning to flickering. The LEDs are tri-color and flickering is accomplished changing the green color value (against steady red) and the overall brightness of the LED. 3 LEDs seem to be enough and can be safely powered directly from the ATtiny85 pins. They pull a max of 6mA. The tiny85 can handle 40mA/pin with a max of 200mA/chip.

Parts:

  • 3 Tri-color LEDs
  • ATtiny85
  • 2 220 ohm resistors I had pulled from something in the last 20 years
  • 5-volt power supply
  • Candle glass and ceramic drill bit for making a wiring hole in the bottom
  • shrink tubing and wire
  • Uh, a pumpkin

Assembly:

  • Connect the resistors in series to the red and green LED pins
  • Connect the red LED pins to ground, pin 4 on the tiny85
  • Connect the common anode LED pin to pin 5 (PWM/digital pin 0) on the tiny85
  • Connect the green LED pin to pin 6 (PWM/digital pin 1) on the tiny85
  • Connect ground, pin 4 and Vcc, pin 8 on the tiny85 to a 5V power supply.
  • Frost candle glass (I bought from Target) with white candle wax. I lined the back with tin foil for reflection. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the candle glass with a ceramic drill bit to feed the wires through so they wouldn’t be visible.

Pictures. The angry red glare doesn’t show up in the pictures. When it’s activated, the flicking stops and it transforms to solid red. After a few seconds it transforms back to where it was and resumes flickering.

Here’s the code:

// pin assignments - Red is full on (Gnd), Blue is full off (+5V or disconnected)
int intensityPin = 0;  // common anode pin (+5v for full)  
int triGreenPin = 1;  // green LED pin

// green LED is modulated for flickering, common anode is modulated for intensity
int flickerHigh = 100; // outdide of pumpkin - 44, inside - 
int flickerLow = 40; // outdide of pumpkin - 28, inside - 
int flickerRed = 0;
int flickerVal = flickerHigh;  //starting val for flicker level
int triGreenVal = flickerVal;

int flickerDelayMin = 40;  // min & max time betweeen flickers
int flickerDelayMax = 100;

int intensityLow = 216;  // intensity min & max
int intensityHigh = 255;
int intensityVal = intensityHigh;  // intensity starts off

int cycleCount = 0;
int glareBaseCount = 500;
int glareTimer = 0;

void setup() {
  randomSeed(analogRead(0));
  
  pinMode(intensityPin,OUTPUT);
  pinMode(triGreenPin,OUTPUT);
  
  //setLED(flickerVal,intensityVal);
  rampUpLED(flickerVal,intensityHigh);
  glareTimer = getGlareTimer();
}

void loop() {
  int i = 0;
  int j = 0;
  int glareTask = 0;
  cycleCount++;
  // is it time for a glare?
  if (cycleCount>(glareBaseCount+glareTimer)) {
    glareTask = 1;
    cycleCount = 0;
    glareTimer = getGlareTimer();
  }

  int intensityVal = random(intensityLow,intensityHigh+1);
  if (glareTask == 0) {
    // flicker mode - "normal"
    flickerVal = flickerVal + randomInc();
    if (flickerVal < flickerLow) { flickerVal = flickerLow; }
    if (flickerVal > flickerHigh) { flickerVal = flickerHigh; }
  setLED(flickerVal,intensityVal);
    delay(random(flickerDelayMin,flickerDelayMax)); // flicker delay
  } else {
    //  fade down to red
    j = intensityVal;
    for (i=flickerVal; i>= flickerRed; i--) {
      j = j + (flickerVal-flickerRed)/(255-intensityVal);
      setLED(i,255);
      delay(100);
    }
    delay(7000);
    //  fade back up from red
    for (i=flickerRed; i<= flickerVal; i++) {
      setLED(i,255);
      delay(100);
    }

  }
}

// set flicker and intensity LED values
void setLED(int flick, int intensity) {
  analogWrite(triGreenPin,255-flick);
  analogWrite(intensityPin,intensity); 
}

// random flicker change (up or down)
int randomInc() {
  int val = random(17) - 8; // -8 to +8 range
//  Serial.println(val);
  return val;
}

void rampUpLED(int flick, int intensity) {
   int i = 0;
   for (i=0; i < intensity; i++) {
     setLED(flick,i);
     delay(5);
   }
}

int getGlareTimer() {
  int t=random(1,glareBaseCount+1);
  return t;
}

Martha Graham Cracker plays Jazz Fest 2013

Quote

Well, it was a blast being invited and so warmly welcomed to the Jazz Festival this year. While not without a little controversy, it went off very well indeed.

“Martha Graham Cracker engages her audience through sheer force, willing them to her side by singling out audience members, dancing on the bar, and utilizing her band’s seemingly endless talent.”

http://theswollenfox.com/recap-center-city-jazz-festival-2013/

Pictures here.