22 June 2014

Another useful 3D print for the Aquarium

My daughter has an aquarium in her bed room and some times when we are away we want the fish to get their food automatically, so we have a feeding machine. The problem was though to find a good spot for it. My wife asked me if I could come up with something so I though I could maybe make something on the 3D printer. First thing was so measure the thickness of the glass and start drawing a design in Cinema 4D.

Here is a close up of the design. It is a simple 15 x 15 cm plateau with an edge below with a 5mm gap so that it fits around the glass. I though it would take a couple of version to get an exact fit, but actually the first print was perfect right away :) My daughter chose this green color for the plastic. The whole print took about 20 hours on the Ultimaker 2. So again it was a nice feeling to be able to design and print something useful with the 3D printer :)

New Studio PC

I told you I'm currently rebuilding my studio. The first thing that really needed an update was my studio PC. I ran on a quad core2duo with 4 Gbyte of RAM and Windows Vista 32 bits for a long time, but it started to crash on me. I wanted to upgrade to Windows 8.1 anyway and get more inputs in the machine. I had two RME PCI MADI cards in there and a UAD2 quad card. So time for an upgrade :)

Here is a picture of some of the parts that went in there. I decided to use the same ASRock X79 extreme6 motherboard that I use in my render servers for the render farm and also the same Hexacore I7 processor. I put in 32 Gbyte of RAM and a OCZ Vertex 4 SSD to boot the OS from and run my applications. I got a new UAD-2 Octo card and the quad will move to my mastering PC that still had an UAD-1. This one is no longer supported and doesn't run moders plugins anymore. And finally a RME PCIe MADI fx card with 3 MADI inputs and outputs giving me 192 channels of digital audio in and out!

Here is the finished result. After this I started installing. Unfortunately it didn't work out as easy as I had hoped. The Windows 8.1 installation went like a breeze. Also the RME card drivers installed easily, but when I wanted to install the UAD-2 card every time Windows crashed with a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). Not nice. First I replaced the power supply since the old one was only 430 Watt. The new one is 700 Watt, but this did help unfortunately. Then I moved the UAD-2 to another PCIe slot and that did the trick. Then it installed and also worked! After this I had trouble again with the RME card. I used the WDM and had digital artifacts on my audio signal. I switched to ASIO and then everything was fine. I don't really understand why, but to be honest I don't care :) ASIO works fine and I was using that on my old PC too. Now I have to install all my software and see if I can open my old projects that I'm still working on. But the first step is made in the studio upgrade.

07 June 2014

Two more Ultimaker 2 prints

 Here is one more print I did on the Ultimaker 2. Looks a bit like the Pixar lamp doesn't it :) I really love it. It was printed in separate parts that you could snap together. Well snap sounds easy but actually it took quite some force and even pliers to get it fitted in, but I think it looks great now. The whole thing is only 15 centimeters tall, so that should give you an idea of the detail. I had most trouble printing the foot. With the white material it just didn't look very good with infill on it. So eventually I decided to print everything without infill at all. So all parts are completely solid. The difference in quality compared to the K8200 is amazing I think.

Here is another print I did. For you who don't recognize it, it is a robot for the famous Terminator movies. I was printed with support that I had to break up and I didn't really clean it yet. Unfortunately it was not completely successful. The part of the head you don't see isn't there ;) After 50 hours of printing the whole thing fell over and I had to cancel the print. I still don't know what happened. I will have another go at it for sure. In the mean time I learned a lot again about working with the Ultimater 2, so I'm sure at some point I will have a full one, but I already love the detail on it.

03 June 2014

My second generation 3D Printer the Ultimaker 2

After building the K8200 I was very enthusiastic about 3D printing and I already printed lots of stuff for other people as well. For printing real 3D objects I found the resolution of the K8200 too low though. It can print with an accuracy up to 100 micron (0,1 mm). In it self that is not bad, but then I came across the new Ultimaker 2. It actually can print up to 25 micro (0,025 mm). I can tell you that is a lot of difference. Also it is pretty quick.The downside is though that I have to learn printing all over again. Different speeds, different temperatures and different materials and of course different software. I spend the last months getting to know this printer and finally I'm getting some results.

Here is a picture of the first serious thing I printed. A fully working wrench :) It is printed with some support material that you have to break away. In this picture that is already done. But as you can see the result is pretty spectacular. I still have lots of problems with the printer. Some prints came loose from the heated bed and fell over. I don't know why. Some print I have trouble with warping/curling of the material. I just got new software again where I can adjust temperature per layer. Unfortunately 3D printing is still not as easy as people that sell these printers want you to believe, even with this second generation printer. But eventually I will get there. Getting to know the K8200 cost me a couple of months as well.

02 June 2014

Kurzweil KSP8 Battery Replacement

After I replaced the battery yesterday in the Sony DSP V77 I realized I had some more equipment that actually did complain about battery replacement. One of them is this Kurzweil KSP-8 also a very nice effects machine famous for its LaserVerb preset. This thing is actually a surround machine but you can also use it as 4 x stereo :) Quite powerful. It was still working fine, but I though let's replace this one BEFORE problems arise. So I opened it up.

Then I stared at the PCBs for a while and was getting crazy because I couldn't find any battery. I did look up what kind of battery it was and it was the same CR2032 that I had in stock so it should be spottable. Well I'm not sure if you are familiar with the abbreviation RTFM, but this was a clear case ;) There is a hatch on the bottom site of the machine where you can easily reach the battery without taking the whole machine apart. Duhhhhh :) Ah well good news is it stopped complaining now and I hope it will for a while. Again I hope this tip will help someone else :) Back to relocating and rewiring equipment.

01 June 2014

Sony DPS V77 Battery Replacement

The last time I wanted to use my Sony DPS V77 it didn't work any more. I though it was broken and that made my quite sad since it is a very nice vintage digital effects processor. I was already looking for a new on on E-bay and saw that prices have risen on these machines. So I thought maybe I can repair it. Then I switched it on and off a couple of times and noticed that sometimes it actually did start up, but the display was looking funny. So first I thought it was some kind of memory problem.

Today I had to take it out of the rack anyway, since I started renovating the studio today, so I downloaded the service manual and thought I could maybe find the problem. And one of the options it gave is look at the battery Voltage. So that was the first thing I did and guess what? It was way too low. So if you have one of these and it is acting funny. Check that first! It doesn't give you any warning or anything.

Replacing is it quite simple. The battery is a standard CR2032 and I even had a couple in stock. It is fitted in a nice fixture so you don't even have to do any soldering. After replacing it I measured again and now it was fine. I powered the machine up and directly it gave a correct init procedure again. I changed the preset, switched it off and on again and it came back with the same preset. Problem solved :)

If you ever come across one of these machines on E-bay or whatever do give it a serious consideration. They sound really good for the money. Lots of producers use them as a secret weapon. If you want to hook it up digitally you do need a special break out cable, but you can still buy those on E-bay too once in a while. OK now I'm going to put it back in it's new spot. I'll show you where soon.

Lexicon 480L Reverb

One of my all time favorite reverbs is the Lexicon 480L. I have looked for one in a good shape including the LARC remote controller for a long time and finally I found one on E-bay from the Netherlands. I didn't like it to be shipped so I picked it up personally. I need to find a nice spot for it now. I'm currently working on a small studio rebuild that I will tell you all about on this blog. There is one more reverb I'm looking for and that is the even more classic Lexicon 224. They are even harder to find though. As you can see it even came with 2 expansion cards and a digital break out box. I'm going to find out now how the digital interface works, since that would suit my setup better than the analog I/O interfacing.

Very Powerfull 3D Work Station

I promised to write something about the new 3D work station that I put in my new office. Even though I can use the render farm for animations it is nice to have a very powerful PC to work on the 3D projects. Primarily you need a very powerful video card to use the GPU for screen calculations. I installed a Asus Nvidea GTX 690 for this. But also CPU power is helpful since you do need to render out a single frame on high quality to see how it is going to look later on when you render the animation on the render farm. And you don't want to wait for ever. So in this machine is a special work station mother board from Asus called the Z9 PE-D8WS and on there are two Intel Xeon processors of the type 2796 V2. Actually the fastest processors out there. They actually have 12 CPU cores each so that makes 24 CPU cores in one machine!

I also installed 64 Gbytes of RAM and it boots its OS and loads its applications from a super fast OCZ Revo Drive 3. This is kind of a SSD drive on a dedicated PCIe card. The there is a OCZ Vertex 4 for the data I'm working on for the project and a Raid 1 set of two Sata disks for storage of larger files. The Asus mother board is very big, so I needed to buy a very large case to fit it all. And then to keep things a bit quiet I installed a lot of large cooling fans with a special fan control unit that you can see in the picture below. This really is a monster PC that makes working on the most complicated projects a breeze. For your idea this PC scores 2960 CB points in Cinebench where my normal Render Node Servers in the render farm score about 1000 CB.

The fan controller is also very nice. It has a touch screen where you can regulate the desired temperature for each fan. There are sensors attached to this controller on certain spots in the machine, like CPU's, GPU's, drives etc and it regulates the fan speeds to keep this temperatures. This results in a very quiet PC when it is idle and just a little bit of noise when it is at 100% CPU. I also have some software where I don't have licenses for the render farm yet, so for those applications I also use this machine to render frames for customers on RenderFarm.NL. I recently did a series of Vue renders on this machine for a customer. It is not a cheap machines as you can imagine but it does have the power of three normal PC's. I already had a lot of pleasure from it. I hope this post can help anyone else that need to spec a very nice 3D work station. But for animations do contact me for the use of the render farm so you can work on other projects on your work station during the rendering of your animation.

29 May 2014

Our New Office Space

As some of you might know I resigned in 2012 as CEO from BIT BV, the company that I founded together with my business partner in 1996. Don't worry we didn't sell it, but I didn't like the job of being CEO any more. I like working with my hand more and that wasn't possible anymore in the company. I'm still connected closely but in the background. So in 2012 I started a new company and since then I've been very busy setting up some new services and have been working on several products.

In the beginning of the year we did a little renovation at home, mainly putting in a new floor. Since both myself and my wife work from home now we decided to build a little office at home. In the picture above you see my work space on the left and hers on the right. Here is a close-up of my workspace. It is mainly focussed on doing both maintenance of the Virtiso and the Render Farm hardware/cloud platforms and also on doing 3D design and animation stuff for Van Osenbruggen Productions. I can also work on my videos for here now. I'm currently working on new websites for Virtiso and the RenderFarm so more on that soon and also on what I do there. I know I haven't posted here in the while, but I will try do pick that up again.

Here is some of the input devices I use. On top (almost our of site) is a track pad, left a track ball in the middle a 3D mouse, then on the right my Oculus Rift and below a drawing pad. They all have their use in my work flow even though the Oculus is mainly for fun :). So this is where I spend a lot of my time lately. I also build a very special work station. I will do another post on the soon.

So I can hear some of your thinking. Did he stop making music? No I didn't! To be honest I can't wait to get back to that very soon, but I just had to start up all this new business too. That took a lot of time. Unfortunately as many of you know, you can't make a living from music any more especially the kind of music I make with Synth.nl. I will pick that up for sure soon. I plan some changes in the studio first that I will tell you about as well. OK enough on the office now. I just wanted to share with you what has been happening here lately.

3D Print for the Kids

I didn't use the 3D printer for a while since it actually broke down. I had some material stuck in the extruder and couldn't get it out. When I removed the print head I could push it out, but accidentally damaged the NTC resistor that measures the heads temperature, so I had to replace that as well. Well that is all done now. Another problem I had was that the material didn't stick well to the print bed. After reading and experimenting a lot I finally decided to stick blue 3M scotch tape to the bed and now it prints like a charm :)

But what to print then to test if it is working OK again. I decided it was time to print something for my kids. I have two daughters in the age of 11 and 13 so what to print for them. Well I did print a nice T-Rex puzzle for myself a while ago and back then I found some more of those so I started to look with them for something they would like. And we did find this very nice one. Here is a picture of all the parts and then look what you can make from that :)

A very nice butterfly. Actually it isn't as easy as it looks to put it together. Since the printer has some tolerance some parts don't with and you will have to use a knife to make the connections a but smoother and then still you need some force to put the parts together. The good side about this is that once it fits it won't fall apart easily. By now I have quite some colors of PLA print material on stock so they could choose their own colors.

As you might have guessed my oldest daughter wanted one in pink and the youngest in yellow. A nice project that took my mind of work for some time. I have been way too busy lately to be honest. Printing and building a butterfly like this is a whole day's work by the way. Of course you can do other things while printing, but still you have to keep an eye on the printer as well as somethings things go wrong. Here is a last picture of both of them together.



24 May 2014

Biz2Be 3D Logo Animation

I made another 3D Logo Animation. This this for Biz2Be. It was animated in Cinema 4D and it was rendered in High Quality on RenderFarm.NL. The customer uses the logo as intro and outro of his videos that you can find on http://www.biz2be.nl.

05 May 2014

New Website for TTV BIT.NL

Some of you might know that I also play table tennis. And if you didn't now you know ;) I recently made a new website for the table tennis club. I used to of our players pictures in the header of the website. The most important new feature on the site is the new calendar and the news section up front. The website is hosted at the shared Joomla webhosting of Virtiso BV. I hope you like the new design. You can find the live website at: http://www.ttvbit.nl

Meet Tracy Ray at RenderFarm.NL

As you all know by now probably one of the new companies I'm setting up is a commercial Render Farm. This new company is called RenderFarm.NL and it has a new face. She is called Tracy Ray. Tracy is in charge of all our render cows that are at your immediate disposal. I'm still working hard on the new website but the render farm is already operational, so do contact me (or Tracy) if you have a deadline and need some frames rendered. We support a lot of software already and are always open for new things. Even custom setups are possible. If you know people that are in the media / content creation or 3D animation business then please point them to us. Our contact details are on the website at http://www.renderfarm.nl

Let us know when you have a render job. You can e-mail me at tracy@renderfarm.nl for a quote.

09 March 2014

Makerbot Tractor 360 degrees animation

And here is a 360 degrees view of the 3D model of the Makerbot tractor as I promised. I hope it will help someone to do a better 3D print from this :)

Makerbot 3D Tractor Puzzle

Hi, I'm currently printing parts on my 3D printer for a tractor. The original design is my Makerbot, but I could not find any construction howto. Besides that I'm currently working on a 3D scene for my virtual render farm and I wanted a tractor in that scene as well and I though I would be fun to use the same one. So I started importing all the different parts from STL into Cinema 4D and layed them out and first of all gave them  some material to be able to identify them better.

Then I started building the thing together. I noticed right away that not everything is a tight fit by the way, but I guess a bit of glue can fix that on the plastic model eventually. For reference I used some pictures I found on the internet from other people that build it. Here is an in between render where I already assembled some sub components like the engine block, chassis, hood, and wheels. The big parts are quite logical, but there also are a lot of small parts where I really struggled where they should go.

In the end I even had 3 surplus parts. I really have no idea where they should go and everything looks alright to me :) In the picture you see the finished model. All in all it took me a Saturday evening to put it together. Printing the parts takes a lot longer, but at least now I know how much parts to print and also what colors and where they should go. I will make little 360 degree animation of the whole thing so other people might benefit from it. And if anyone does have a howto with clear instructions feel free to post the link here. OK back to work now :)

Datacenter Pyramid Animation

A little animation I made for a customer to show the management what happens with their ICT infrastructure if they don't put fire surpression in the power distribution are of their data center. The animation was made in Cinema 4D, the fire was done with Turbulence FD, I used a soft body dynamics for the rest. The Animation was rendered on the RenderFarm.NL render farm.

08 March 2014

NachtWacht Fan Video

A nice video Rob made of my 'NachtWacht' track that I made for the 'Dutch Masters' concept album. The track is made to the famous painting of Rembrandt. You can find more information about Dutch Masters on this url: http://www.synth.nl/DutchMasters

02 March 2014

Jeffrey visits Apollo Studio Again

Yesterday I was visited by Jeffrey again (AKA Synthex). He bought a Doepfer Dark Energy that didn't track very well, so firstly we calibrated and tuned it. Then Jeffrey finally got to play on the Elke Synthex that worked prefectly yesterday. Unfortunately that is not always the case. After that he recorded some music for a new album on several synths like the Jupiter 8, Minimoog and EMS VCS3. We had a great time as usual and for me it was actually good to have a break from my work finally. When they left I did a little extra work on one track that is taking shape quite well already. Then I exported all the tracks to WAV to Jeffrey can work on it in his own studio. It was nice to be in the studio again and I really must make some music of my own again soon :) Jeffreys father also filmed a bit, so I'm sure there will be a video on youtube soon. I will post it on my blog as well if I see it.

15 January 2014

iHeartSynths interview

I recently did a very nice interview with iHeartSynth.com about my studio and my music. I also made some new pictures for them to go along with the interview. One thing I also tell in the interview is that I removed the studio part on my Synth.NL website. I will try to keep you updated from time to time on this blog, so be sure to subscribe or look once in a while. You can find the interview on this URL: http://www.iheartsynths.com/artist-interviews/synth-nl/. I hope you enjoy it.

23 December 2013

SchallWelle Awards Voting

Like last year I'm nominated again for the SchallWelle awards. Together with Remy Stroomer this time with our collaboration album 'PrimiTiveS'.

You can find Remy & Synth.nl in: Artist 2013 international
And PrimiTiveS in: Album 2013 international
Bring out your votes (also the simple instructions are explained here):

http://voting.schallwelle-preis.de/
I wish you all Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas (if you celebrate it of course).