Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I'm heavily considering making this for my nephews - they would really get a kick out of it. You can build it from a kit or make it yourself with your own parts. Check out the website for schematics and where to buy a kit here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

busted gear: a visual guide

I found a great gear repair website recently that lists certain repairs on keyboards and amps with schematics and close-up photos for every step. Really wonderful for the visual learning type.

Check it out here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

boardx motherboard

This is what I love about electronics and the diy community. Not only is this motherboard compatible with any processor and is Arduino SDK compatible, all of the designs for this motherboard are open source for greater innovation, giving you the most amount of flexibility in using and expanding on this product. The Kickstarter campaign is so he can produce them en masse and sell them at a fair price to students and hobbyists.

Please help support this project:

Can't wait to get my hands on one!

Monday, October 31, 2011

combo organs and tape machines

I apologize for the lack of posts lately for anyone who might be following. I've got two big projects on my plate. The first is a Farfisa Combo Deluxe I Compact that I received for my birthday. A bevy of electronic issues - there is sound coming out of it but it is as if the keys are depressed when they are not.

Second project is an Otari 1/4" 4-track that needs some TLC. Input level issue and general maintenance.

Updates are forthcoming!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

free mad professor workshop

Just a heads up to anybody in the NYC area. UK-based dub producer Mad Professor of the famed Ariwa Sounds studio is giving a free workshop at Dubspot on 9/16/11 from 6-7pm as part of the Dub Invasion Festival I'm helping out with. If you're at all interested in dub production, you should RSVP to with the subject line "Mad Professor". And if you can't make it in person, the workshop will be streaming live on the Dubspot website.

You check him out live the same night at Knitting Factory Brooklyn:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

moog demonstration record

A special someone got me this demonstration record from Moog. Made in the late '60s when the company was called R.A. Moog, Inc., the record is a collaboration between Robert Moog and Wendy/Walter Carlos. You can listen to it in the Moog Archives and download a 320 kbps version I ripped here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

synapse magazine

I came across an ad for this magazine in WET, which is another excellent publication from the late '70s. The scans are online courtesy of Cynthia Webster of Cyndustries, maker of awesome modular analog synths and the founder of Synapse. Please check it out here and enjoy!

P.S. If any hard copies surface anywhere, I will pay good money for them...

Friday, July 8, 2011


The aurora open source mixer is a real beauty. It's a usb-powered midi controller that's compatible with software like Ableton Live, Max/MSP, etc., making it ideal for the digital DJ and VJ. All the info to building your own is listed on their site along with schematics.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

technics SL-1200Mk2

I fixed a Technics SL-1200Mk2 turntable in the record store today (Good Records NYC if you ever want to come by and say hi) that had an issue with the speed slightly wavering. Pretty painless procedure - just opened the baby up and cleaned the speed adjustment pots.

I've listed a few resources for repairing/modding a Technics turntable if you should ever feel so inclined. These turntables are built like tanks. I'm pretty sure you could drop it down a flight of stairs and it would probably still work.

For basic info:

FAQ of Technics 1200Mk2/SL-1210Mk2 Turntables

For the DIYer:

Technics SL-1200Mk2 Service Manual

And last but not least, the MAN of Technics turntable mods:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

clara rockmore and the theremin

For a special Memorial Day treat, here's a video of the great Clara Rockmore playing the theremin with the delicate vibrato of an opera singer. Just saw the documentary about the theremin called Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, which features Clara Rockmore, Bob Moog, Brian Wilson, and Léon Theremin himself. Amazing film about an amazing invention.

The theremin operates with heterodyne oscillators for both the frequency (pitch) and amplitude (volume) antennas, using L/C circuitry and grounded variable capacitance (your hand as the "ground") for changing the frequency and volume - much like "tuning" a radio or the electrical equivalent of a tuning fork. As you can imagine, DIY projects for the theremin are plentiful and varied with solar-powered optical theremins that are light-sensitive like this one by the artist Jan van Nuenen (check out his awesome animations, too!):

And back to my love for the arduino, check out this one with infrared sensors called the Squaremin by Nick Hardeman:

And finally, scans from Electronics Illustrated 1960 about the theremin available online thanks to the wonderful website SynthGear.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

learning from the pros

A quick look at a few living legends of custom preamp/mixers for your everyday sound system. There are a few features that seem to be included on all of these preamps: kill switches for treble, mid, bass, sub (or alternately, low mids), 10 band graph EQ, parametric equalizers for bass, mid, treble, etc.

Jah Tubbys Sound System (JTS):


Barracuda (retired since 2005/2006):

Jo Red:

Also on the Jo Red website are extremely helpful tips and schematics to building your own DIY preamp.

And if anyone ever finds a copy of this, let me know:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

diy rotary mixer

Looking to start a new DIY project inspired by vintage rotary mixers:

and new DIY ones:

More photos of this one by Igor here.

Helpful research links:

Urei 1620 manual w/schematics

ESP Mixer Project

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

google adk

Google just came out with a MAJOR game changer at the Google I/O 2011 streaming live on youtube right now. The Android Device Kit is Arduino-based hardware that will integrate with an Android, allowing creative freedom for hackers everywhere! Waiting for some choice videos to show the early capabilities of this technology. Here are a couple:

Props to Mike Dinerstein for hipping me to this!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

the technology of wah pedals

I've been trying to revive a dead EHX Q-Tron pedal back to life, and R.G. Keen's website GEO-fex on the history of effects pedals has been a tremendous resource for me. Check out the links to schematics and PCB layouts of legendary pedals and mods on the left side. There are also articles published by R.G. Keen breaking down different types of pedal effects that are a great read if you're at all interested in working on pedals. Check this one out about the wah pedal.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

a synth to sleep on/wear/put on your fridge

I have been super crafty as of late, inspired by my friend Jillian (may she rest in peace). Always one to combine the things I love, I was digging around on etsy today for electronic/synth inspired crafts, and I found enough decorative pieces to furnish my cave of gear with colorful felt for a lifetime. These people have a special place in my heart.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Big ups to Dave from Planet Rump for hipping me to this neat little product, which was the darling of NAMM 2010. OP-1 is a synthesizer/sampler/sequencer/multi-track tape recorder made by Teenage Engineering in Sweden. And it has an FM radio built into it à la Casio for endless sampling possibilities! I think I'm in love.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

pyramid frequencies

I went to see Alan Howarth (composer/sound designer for John Carpenter's films) at Le Poisson Rouge this past weekend, and it was a phenomenal concert full of synths and dream-like soundscapes. The opening act Harald Grosskopf was also quite good, and if you ever find his record Synthesist, it's a fantastic record, and you should snatch it.

Alan Howarth mentioned during his set about how he paid $8,000 to rent an Egyptian pyramid for 2 hours and that the music he is currently composing and performing is based on the frequencies and resonant qualities he discovered in the pyramids.

Thinking about pyramid frequencies led me to cymatics, which is the study of how sound waves interact with physical matter. Experiments include observing visual patterns created in sand on a membrane such as wood, metal plates, glass, etc. when specific sound vibrations move through the membrane. The acoustical engineer John Reid performed cymatics experiments in the Great Pyramid and found that the resonant qualities of the granite and the chambers themselves created hieroglyphic images in the sand on a membrane spread tautly over the sarcophagus in the King's Chamber. If you have any interest in cymatics, electronics, and egyptology, you should check out this interview with John Reid:

Please forgive the slight new age-y vibe of the interview. I find it fascinating.

Monday, April 4, 2011

blip festival

Blip Festival is going down this year on May 19-21 at Eyebeam. Put on by 8bitpeoples and The Tank (the people that brought you the Bent Festival), it's always a good time, and while I'm not a huge fan of chiptune, I go for the workshops and stay for the visuals. Amazing interactive visual artists like NO CARRIER, who created a multitude of open source software to make visuals with an NES and brought you the interactive mandala to aid in your meditative endeavors. Also known in Philly as the dude who turned the PECO building into this:

Check out the details and lineup for the Blip Festival here.

Don't forget your earplugs!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the pilgrim

This is one of the more elaborate mods on an SK-1 that I've seen to date. AND it comes in a suitcase.

Monday, March 28, 2011

diy revolution

There was a really interesting post on the Make blog the other day by Johnny Lee. He argues that the resources and equipment for the diy community have improved in quality so much so that it has somewhat leveled the playing field for hobbyists and professionals:

"Take 10,000 professional engineers vs. 1 million hobbyists with roughly equivalent tools. Which group will make progress faster? Now, consider that you have to pay the 10,000 engineers $100K/year to motivate them to work, and the 1 million hobbyists are working for the love of it. Does that change your answer? Even if it doesn’t, you have to concede that there does exist a ratio that will make the output of these two groups equal. It’s merely a matter of time."

Check out the entire post here.

Outside of the field of electronics, I immediately thought of the community biolab Genspace in Brooklyn. The fact that there is a growing community of amateur biologists concurrently tackling scientific research and teaching kids how to cut DNA in a non-academic setting is pretty mind-blowing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

a. magic pulsewave electronics

I have been internet-stalking this guy for a minute - not only for his creative use of DIY electronics but also for the beautiful casing designs. He even includes schematics on his blog for some of his creations. Kudos!

Check out his blog here. And you can buy his handmade gear on Etsy here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

arduino love

I've seen the future, and it involves arduinos. This clever little open-source microcontroller has gone from powering LEDs and robots to large-scale museum installations.

And now this...

NYC Resistor is holding a class on arduinos this Saturday with all of the proceeds going to the Japan Society's earthquake relief fund. If you ever wanted to build an arduino for a good cause, here's your chance: Arduino 101.