Thursday, December 19, 2013

Music Box Files - Pan's Labyrinth Lullaby

I finally got around to scanning a music card strip and collecting all the resources needed to share it with others. I scanned the strip for the Pan's Labyrinth Lullaby, which you can see in action here:

In this resource pack:
  • A scan of the card (filename Lullaby.jpg)
  • A chart that shows what notes the music box plays (filename actualnotes.jpg)
  • A file for use with Sekaiju, a free & open source midi sequencer (filename pan_lullaby_final.skj)

Notes on using Sekaiju:
  • Open the .skj file in Sekaiju
  • Use the 'View' > 'Show new piano roll' feature to see the editor I used
  • The file is not identical to the final punch card composition, but very close
I bought my music box from this online store based in the UK but you can also get them through Grand Illusions now.

Other note: the music box punch card note labels are based in another key, as I understand it, and you can 'translate' by transposing to the key of C. I'm not a classically trained musician or a trained musician of any sort, so instead I ignore the stuff printed on the card and just refer to the handy chart I made (filename actualnotes.jpg). I transcribed this piece by ear off this version of the theme:

Happy punching! P.S. -- if you're interested in a resource pack of another music box project let me know. I plan to get them scanned and online eventually, but if I know somebody is interested I'll expedite that. The best way to let me know is to send me a message via youtube (not just a comment on a video). Actually for any resources pack you need (laser cut stuff, etc) just let me know in some form (I think I get email notifications on comments left here...)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Laser Cut Hannukah Gifts (& update to the painting)

The laser cut holiday gift posts begin! On the left: My Neighbor Totoro cubby for my sister. On the right: a paper-on-plywood piece based on traditional Japanese woodblock prints. I like the technique and will probably experiment with a few more similar pieces, or the same piece with new patterns.

Above: the painting is soooo close to being done. Once it is finished I'll collect all the work-in-progress photos and post them side by side.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lullaby from Pan's Labyrinth - Music Box

I did another music box piece, this time the lullaby from Pan's Labyrinth.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

TFT LCD Project

I got a broken Fujifilm digital camera from the local hackerspace 'purgatory' shelf. After pulling it apart, I immediately became fixated on the possibility of learning how to drive the LCD. Below are some notes on the process. I started know absolutely nothing about this device.

Step 1: What is it?
The only identifying mark on the LCD screen was a set of numbers on the back. After some google searching, I found a Russian language website that listed parts in cameras, presumably to help with home repairs. They also linked to a number of repair manual pdfs. The camera I had was not there, but the information there indicated that some of the other cameras might use the same LCD.

Step 2: Best Guess for Pinout
I counted the tiny contacts on the ribbon cable and noted positions of the dummy pins (the pins that don't lead anywhere). I eventually decided that my most likely pinout was the same as the one in the Coolpix L1000 (see left diagram).

Step 3: Identifying the Connector
There was no way to disconnect the ribbon cable connector from the board. It was far too flimsy and would break or melt when I tried to desolder it. I don't remember how I figured this out, but probably by forum trawling (not trolling) I was finally able to identify the part.

Step 4: Driving a TFT LCD
By this point I understood that my LCD was called a "TFT LCD." I found some resources that described how these devices work. I also found a pdf for an ANDpSi025TD-LED 320 x 240 Pixels TFT LCD Color Monitor that is probably identical or similar to my LCD. From all the documents I found, I had some good suggestions for circuit diagrams and driver code.

At this point though I stopped and decided I couldn't justify the time or money needed to finish this project. I didn't have enough items in my cart to justify the Digikey shipping costs. I needed to make a breakout PCB for the connector. Besides, there were affordable TFT kits available online, that would cost less than my Digikey order and PCB order. Maybe one day, if I'm already sending out a PCB and Digikey order for some other project, I'll take the time to finish this up. The main incentive is that this TFT LCD is a bit bigger than the ones available in kits.

Laser-cut Shirt (aka first sewing machine project)

I have started making shirts. The process involves laser cutting pieces and assembling them with my new sewing machine.

Step 1: Choosing a machine
  • I learned on an Emerald 116 Husqvarna Viking, an 'analog machine'
    • The foot pedal sits inline with the power cord, controlling motor power directly
    • Knobs control the stitch type, width, length
  • The most widely/highly reviewed machine on Amazon is the Brother CS600i, a 'digital machine'
    • (1,770 reviews averaging 4.4 stars at time of writing)
    • LCD display is very convenient for choosing stitches, lots of stitches to choose from
    • Will not allow 'mistakes' like trying to stitch with the presser foot up
    • Foot pedal connects optionally via standard 3mm audio-type connector and port
    • Competitively priced. I paid $155 for it, but I see it has dropped to $140 at time of writing
My one suggestion for improvement of the machine is the addition of a USB port and the option for users to upload new custom designed stitches onto the machine. That would be so cool.

Step 2: Fabrics
JoAnn's had some knit stuff appropriate for clothing, but not much. I have to find a better supplier for the next round.

Step 3: Designs
I used my point and shoot to take pictures of the front and backs of some of my favorite shirts. Then I went in with Corel Draw and created designs (cloning the left hand side from the right for symmetry). Finally I added outer contours for seam allowance and scaled the whole thing appropriately. I did an okay job but should have left a larger seam allowance.

Step 4: Cutting pieces on the laser cutter
On very low power, I cut all the parts out for the shirt using the files I created in Step 3. Because of the laser cutter bed size, I had to separate the shirt into 32" by 18" pieces. Therefore my favorite theme for this type of design is 'colorblock shirts,' though this shirt was not one of those.

Step 5: Sewing
This was by far the most difficult and time consuming step, of course. My first trial ended up wearable but definitely could use improvement. Here's a photo of the shirt and the design (the white thing is just an undershirt that I already had). Again, once I get a license for my Corel Draw I will clean up the files and export PDF versions for sharing.

Music Box - Theme from Being John Malkovich

The big existing music box composition app is designed for the more ubiquitous 15 note diatonic DIY music box by Kikkerland. The source code is not available. Also it is for Android only.

The next music box project will have to be writing some music box composition software. This took forever using a mix of free tools not designed for the job at hand. You can see my extensive notes all over the punch card.

My music box software desired feature list:
-Platform independent, written in python
-Distribute source so others can modify it for their particular music boxes
-GUI allows user to click and drag holes on a virtual punch card
-Allow for variable speed playback to previewthe sound, pause and play with easy keyboard shortcuts
-Highlights timing issues (minimum spacing for repeat notes due to the music box mechanism)
-Creates a vector format file that can be printed (for easy hole punching) or lasercut

Bamboo Pentagram of Circles Trivet

Trivets, coasters, candleholders, and other pieces are good ideas for laser cut gifts, except for the fact that most people already have been receiving those sorts of things for the holidays for years, and have more than they know what to do with.

Except...students! In general, I've found that single people who are students or who were recently students don't usually have a lot of this stuff.

In fact, I fit that description. I don't have any trivets. I have candle holders admittedly. But no trivets. So I made this out of a bamboo cutting board. You can find bamboo cutting boards for cheap at stores like Home Goods.

I found a png on Wikimedia (an amazing resource for png and svg files like this) and spent a few hours in Corel Draw making the vector cut file.

I need to get a license for Corel Draw but once I do that, I will clean up all my files and export them as pdfs to share.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Great Fairy Fountain - 30 Note Chromatic Music Box

I got my first diatonic music box a while back, and then started searching for a chromatic one. I finally found one here:

The video above is the Great Fairy Fountain theme, adapted by me for the music box.

I'm working on modifying the gear system a bit. The problem is that the holes on the same line (same note) have to be a certain distance apart in order to play the same note twice in succession. The solution is to scale the piece so that all the holes are farther apart. The problem is that then you have to turn the music box handle really fast to make the same tempo as before. I'm going to pick some gears out of my collection (yes I have a gear collection) and try to fix this problem.

The next music box related project is to get large sheets of cardstock and use a laser cutter to cut them out and also punch them with tunes I've adapted for music box. I also want to write some code to create either an easy system for writing music for the box or for adapting pieces from the tool I already use, Noteflight.

Finally I'll want to build a permanent 'box' for the music box--something nice, maybe cherry wood. I'll need to think carefully about the design in terms of resonance, but also handle placement, weight, ease of use, etc. The design of any particular project is always way more complicated than I expect it to be.

Lasercut Holiday Gifts

As I promised, here are photos of the gifts I made with the laser cutter for the holidays.

Magnetic Tessellating Escher Fish. Based on this design. I made these out of plywood, then stained them.

Tea light enclosures, based on this design. I added a base piece with a circular hole, which keeps the tea light in place (they come in a standard size).

I made these with thin planks of what I think is called red oak, sold in the hobby section of Home Depot or Lowe's.

First order logic blocks. Design based on the idea from

I made these from a longer piece of oak. My roommate is a woodworker, and let me cut the blocks  with his table saw.

I made 18 blocks. Choosing the set of symbols, frequency of symbols, and which faces of which blocks to put them on was not easy. Credit goes to my boyfriend Scott for helping design this piece.

Jewelry tree based on this design.

Didn't change anything but the slot thickness (to match the plywood thickness).

Lissajous coasters. Original idea, though the svgs for the curves themselves come from Wikimedia.

I made these from thin poplar planks, sold in the hobby sections of Home Depot or Lowe's.

This piece is a giant version of this design. Due to the variance in the thickness of the plywood I picked, I wasn't able to make some of the last few pieces fit. I scrapped this and decided to remake it again later, smaller, with new materials, and stain the pieces different colors for better visual effect.

Another tea light design. This one is 'modular,' in other words the panels are not glued together and it is meant to lie flat for storage. The design was made with resources from this amazing collection of free, high quality traditional Japanese designs. The site is in Japanese. I found it through, another useful resource.

The gifts during the gluing, staining, drying, finishing process. I loved doing this but I have a job and school that eat up all my next year I will probably won't be able to justify doing all this again.