First page of the Electronics archive.

Makin’ a little noise

Posted by is9582 on December 14, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , ,

Most will know that I’ve made a Les Paul styled guitar and an electric bass guitar, both from scratch (minus the fretboard on the Les Paul). I’ve been playing for a long time (not that it necessarily shows in my chops) and if anyone out there has ever wanted to play an instrument, I have a sort of running shoe style response in Just do it! It can be such a great relaxing tool, and if the instrument you choose is similar to a guitar or smaller, you can take it with you.

If your child(ren) talks about learning to play music, encourage it, as it can also help with their math skills and reasoning, beyond helping round out their person.

Quite a while ago, I posted a little snippet of me playing the electric guitar, which was some pretty hard rock, which I’ve always loved. I recently had some time available and wanted to see if I might put together some background stuff, that I could play over, hitting a different part of my musical thinking. In advance, I played these licks on the first pass over the backing music, so there are at least a few places I’d do over, if the recording was important. This was really more of an idea, and by recording it, I can come back anytime and see if they are useful at that time.

I’ve had hours of playing where I wished I’d recorded in some manner, as the feel of what I’d played never totally returned. This is where the recording studio in many computers, is such a valuable tool. I use Mac computers, and they come with Garage Band, which is really decent. I also purchased Logic Pro X, which is a much stronger recording studio type software, and it comes with a ton of pre-recorded snippets of different instruments, different genres, different beats… There are also modules that allow you to completely control the “voice” of midi instruments, along with loads of readily known keyboards, synths, and on and on.

I’ve been using a Fractal Audio AxeFXII for a number of years, and if you’ve not ever seen or heard of this unit, it will completely blow your socks off! I was a die-hard tube amp guy for most of my life, and tried a number of modeling units that honestly, never sounded like what they were trying to emulate. The AxeFXII is THE REAL DEAL! I know, you’re probably thinking that my ears must suck, as there isn’t any way to have a solid state unit actually sound, play and feel like a tube amp. Before I heard the AxeFX, I was right there with you. This is amazing stuff.

There are more and more professional acts that are seeing the light, and shifting over to the AxeFX. In tube amps, the tubes are always changing, from the day they are made until they ultimately fail. This slight change can be enough to have THAT vibe one day, and you play the lead of your life, to only just not quite have the same feel the next. The AxeFX has the consistency that instills confidence and with that, you can play your best.

Ok, enough about the AxeFX. Here is a link to one of the quick little things I’ve put together. All of the background stuff, from keys to drums, are sounds from the Logic Pro X library, with the drums the only part I didn’t actually play. The guitar is straight into my AxeFXII, going into the computer on USB, and into Logic. I added nothing to the guitar sounds, in Logic, just in case anyone is interested.

Remember, there are some flubs, but it’s the whole of the feel I was after.

Thanks for checking in and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Lee Laird

Replaced my 2007 VW Rabbit’s battery and what a mess!

Posted by is9582 on December 1, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

I know I try to keep the majority of blog posts to either woodworking or a music heading, but this is one I really wanted to share with everyone, as it seemed I would need to drop over $1K to make her right again. I don’t want to see any of you dropping any cash for something that is unnecessary.

Ok, so for the briefest of background on myself, I worked on/hot-rodded cars as a teen, so I have a decent understanding of cars. I came out to my car yesterday and it was completely dead. Not even the faintest indication of power. And dang it, yep, I’d accidentally left my lights on last Tuesday afternoon! Yep, and now it was Monday morning. I’m sure you can now appreciate just how dead!

Even with all of my previous experience, I couldn’t coax it to even take a jump from another vehicle. Off I go to pick up a new battery. After I return, the old battery is out in just a few minutes, and the new is back in place. So far its exactly as I expected, but I’ve forgotten a brief little something that may, or may not, have played a hand in what was about to take place.

While I was waiting for the other party to arrive, in order to jump the battery, I decided I’d pull out my jumper cables from the trunk. Oh, the switch on the door, for the trunk, is electronic! I go to the trunk, and no, there is no actual key hole with which to open it manually. Ok, I’ll go in through the rear seat, but they are both locked. Hmmm, I decided to reach around and open the door from the inside, using the manual handle. Oh, and no, this door doesn’t have a physical lock that you can use to control the door’s state. Wow, why didn’t I realize all of this stuff before?? After laying the rear seats down, it turned out the cables where down in the well for the spare tire, and I decided to abort the hunt, and just use the other party’s cables. Jeez!

While I’m still waiting, I get another brilliant idea. I’ll move the car back slightly, so we’ll have much easier time reaching the battery. I start looking around inside the car, and after finding no over-ride or such thing, I grabbed the manual from the glove compartment. After reading what felt like thousands of sections, I come across a phrase similar to this: “If your battery is dead, you are totally !@*&#*@!!” Ok, it actually said: “If your battery is dead, there is no way to move the automatic transmission shifter out of Park!” I had heard a rumor that this was the case, but I wasn’t completely sure I believed their source. Now I did. OMG!

Ok, so back to the continuation of the original time-line. After both cables were re-attached to the new battery’s terminals, the alarm started blasting in my ears. I pressed the alarm button on the side of my remote, to disengage the alarm, but nothing happened. I finally put my key into the door’s lock and unlocked it, which turned the alarm off. I get into the car and start it up, just to make certain all was good. It started just fine, but there were some indicators lit on my dash that are only ever on when the car is first started. These guys weren’t going away. I turned the car off and started towards my front door, thinking I’d go do a quick search on Google, but noticed the car didn’t announce that I’d locked it with the key fob. I went back to the car, grabbed the door handle, and sure enough it opened. What the heck?? Ok, so I’ll just have to reset the fob, which shouldn’t be hard. I manually locked the driver’s door, and just on a whim, I tested the rear door I’d earlier opened. Oops, that one was still unlocked, even though I’d used the key to lock the driver’s door. I got into the car and with the door closed, tried the lock on driver’s door, and nothing. I then tried one of the electric windows. Nope, ain’t happening! Ok, now I was getting worried, since I’d not be able to secure the vehicle, no matter what I did.

I grabbed my laptop and sat outside on the porch, while beginning my search for the resolution of resolutions, so I could make sure no one messed with my unlocked car. (not that I really thought that would happen, but hey, the security nature of old kicked in. I found link after link about people that needed to get their fob re-connected to their vehicle, and there were a number of different techniques that work for some of the group. I tried everyone I could find, but absolutely nothing changed. One person said to just wait about 24 hours and it should reset itself. Yeah, like I’m going to just sit on my hands and expect everything to be fine in the morning. Nope!

Luckily, I saw one trick that I hadn’t even thought to try, and there were a fairly large number of VW owners that professed that it completely resolved their similar situation. Oh, and one person took his car to the dealer and they told him it would cost $1200 to repair what had broken. Ok, I could just see the same thing coming down the pike towards me, and I’d have absolutely nothing to show for the extra money out of pocket.

Ok, so here is the actual trick that worked. Remove the negative cable from the battery, and leave it off for 30 minutes (I decided to leave it off for an hour, just to give it a better chance??), and then re-attach the cable. After I had the cable back on, I was sort of hesitant to actually try my key fob, for fear that it really didn’t do anything. Well, I hit the lock button on my fob and everything locked down tight, and it chirped like it always did, letting me know it was golden. I was happy beyond words!!

With all of the different work/upgrades I’ve done on my cars, from standing inside the engine bay to install headers on my 1969 Mustang Grande with a sweet little 302 V8, to installing starters, I’d never have guessed that this car’s computer had just gotten a little confused and needed a reboot. Oh well, live and learn.

I truly hope none of my readers will have something like this happen to them, but if it does, remember to install the positive cable first and then the negative. If you still have the multi-system malfunctions, disconnect the negative cable and leave it off for around an hour. This is likely giving the car time to drain any power stored in capacitors, so it starts fresh when the negative is restored.

Good luck with your vehicles, as we are seeing more and more computer type attributes making their way inside, and a great chance of needing to “Say it with me”, Reboot the friggin’ computer!

Stay safe everyone, and as always, let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for stopping by.


Lee Laird

Regain iPhone storage space – (non-woodworking)

Posted by is9582 on April 11, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

First, let me apologize that this article isn’t woodworking nor music related; exactly. I’m straying a bit, but there is a nexus, because it does have a direct impact on one of the tools with which I use to share what I’m working on, with you. So I believe it is important! To preface this, […]

Pot confusion – the electrical type

Posted by is9582 on March 7, 2015 with 2 Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I tweeted earlier that I’d write an article today, relating to this subject. This is for anyone that might need to replace a potentiometer in a circuit, or is building an electric guitar. I thought about writing this, as I finally finished wiring my bass this morning, and at first I couldn’t recall which of […]