29 June 2012

New E-Live 2012 Website

Last week I made a new header image for the website of the new edition of the E-live festival that my record label Groove Unlimited organizes every year. I got some pictures of the main acts being 'Bernd Kistenmacher' and 'Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij' and made this composition of it in Photoshop. The rest of the website is build in Joomla so Ron Boots from Groove Unlimited can edit/add the content himself. Keep an eye out for the other two acts that will play on this festival. They will be announced soon. I hope to see you all there at the E-live festival in 2012. I might have a new release there as well on my stall. You can find the website of the festival on http://www.e-live.nl/

25 June 2012

Replacing Yamaha AN1X Battery

This weekend is the Swingungen Party in Hamm Germany where some artists play that I know very well. I'm going there as a visitor to see them play, but two of them asked me to bring some equipment since they can't bring much because of their limited space in transportation. One of the synths is the Yamaha AN1X. Of course I wanted to test the synths before I bring them and when I switched on the Yamaha it gave the message 'Battery Low'.

So this morning I went to the local electronics store to get a new battery. And then I started to see how to open up the AN1X. It turns out you have to put it up side down and then remove ALL the screws on the bottom. There are a lot I can tell you. I didn't count them but more than 30 for sure. I think Yamaha was afraid it would fall apart during playing ;) Well once you have it open and lift the cover you can easily see the battery and replace it. It is nicely put in a battery holder and takes a second to replace.

After you have replace the battery it has lost all it's settings and you need to do a factory reset and then put your sounds back into it. So if you didn't make a backup now is when you are screwed ;) But luckily I had no sounds in there that I had an emotional connecting with. After this I tested the whole synth and played a little on it and I must say it is a very nice synthesizer. One of the better Virtual Analogs out there I think and it is small, light and build as a tank so you can bring it a long on tour easily I guess :) Maybe I'll see some of you at the Garden Party next weekend!

Space Invaders Project (Part 1)

Last weekend I was playing Space Invaders on my Atari 5200 and I thought: Wouldn't it be fun to model these Space Invaders characters in Cinema 4D. So I downloaded some gifs with clear pixel and redraw them in Adobe Illustrator. After that I gave them some depth with the extrude nurbs function in Cinema 4D. This picture I also used Depth of Field to make it a bit more artistic. I hope you like the picture. You can click on it for a larger version of course.

Here is an overview picture of all the models I made so far. Most of them have different poses. I didn't account for this yet with the colors. I need to see how to animate this later, maybe with pose morphs, but we'll see about that. I do plan a little animation with this in the future, but I need to think it out first :) That is why I called this part 1 and I'm sure part 2 will follow when I have a little more time.

And here is one last picture, just for fun purposes with some rows of the same characters, just like in the game. If you never played Space Invaders before go and look it up. It is still one of my favorite game next to Galaga and Galaxians. All of them are so called 'vertical shoot them ups'. I used to be addicted to them. And this brings me to the thought that I should look up the Galaga and Galaxians figures to of course soon. Ah well. It was nice to spend some hours on a rainy Sunday this way. Now back to music again ;)

23 June 2012

RME Fireface 800 Repair

Yesterday evening is was working with Remy Stroomer in my studio on our upcoming collaboration album. When we done and still talking about all kinds of stuff suddenly a loud bang occurred in the studio, followed by another one and it smelled very burned. So something broke down, but I could see right away what. Then suddenly I saw that all the lights on my RME Fireface 800 started flickering and it went dark. I immediately cut the power from it and unscrewed it from the rack. It was very hot to start with, which wasn't a good sign. When we opened it up. The first thing I noticed was an capacitor that seem to have exploded.

It was already late so I called it a night and started looking further this morning. Since we heard two bangs I suspected there must have been another capacitor that exploded. The first thing to look at was the power supply. And I found it quickly. I expect that the first capacitor that blew was in the 48 Volt circuit of the microphone input I used last week, since that input was already acting funny. Probably after that one blew it also took one out on the power supply that feeds the 48 Volt to the input. And my suspicions were correct.

After this I de-soldered these two broken capacitor and some other ones that looked suspicious and drove to the local electronics store. Unfortunately they didn't have two of the capacitors that I wanted to replace as a precaution, but they did have the rest and most important the replacements for the exploded ones. After carefully screwing the main board and power supply back in place I first put power on the power supply without the main board attached to it. I could measure some stable voltages on the connector so I reapplied them and everything seemed to work based on the led sequence that I'm used to when it powers on.

I left it running on the bench for a while and nothing got abnormally hot or anything so I decided to put it back in place. And guess what :) It worked perfectly again. It is always nice when you can repair something like this yourself. Feels very satisfying and of course saves an expensive repair from RME. If they would actually repair it in the first place. My experiences with them are not that good actually in that sense. OK I guess I can take a cup of coffee now to reward myself :) Back to music!

14 June 2012

Dutch Soccer Team Defense Computer Model

I'm no soccer expert at all, but after watching the Dutch national soccer team lose twice this European Championship I came up with this computer model of the Dutch defense. (You can click the picture for a bigger version) I hope they will learn something from this model and I'll gladly share it with the national coach if he is interested ;) OK. back to serious stuff :) Congratulations by the way to the Germans!

11 June 2012

3D IC Socket Project

Last week I had to explain to someone what the difference was between the two types of IC sockets that you can buy. Then I wanted to make a picture of them to make it more clear, but I couldn't get a nice image from the camera, so I decided to model them in Cinema 4D. I'm sure they will come in handy somehow in the future. Here is the first type that has round pins on them.

And here is the other type with flat pins. The round pin option is usually a bit more expensive, but they have my preference. They fit better in the holes of the PCB normally and also the pins don't bend so easily. But there is one situation where you would like to use the flat pin type and that is when you HAVE to bend the pins for whatever reason. I needed this recently to make the boot switch for the Amiga 500. There you need to stack two of these on top of each other and bend some pins out. That is impossible to do with the round pin version.

When I was finished building the two I thought: Why not make some variations as well. So that is exactly what I did. I created the most common wide types: DIP40, DIP32 and DIP24 and also I did some smaller versions: DIP16, DIP14 and DIP8. Once you have a base model to work from it is quite easy to adept them of course, but well now they are done and I can use them straight away next time.

And then I did the same for the other type as well. I curious actually if someone would be interested in these models I created. Sometime I buy models from a specialized website myself, but you can also sell your own stuff there. Maybe I should put this on there as well. I made a lot of other models in the time being as well. I'll have to find out how that works and I might just try to earn a little money this way. When you are reading this and you would be interested in these models do let me know off course :)

06 June 2012

3D Main Board Project (Part 1)

I'm currently working on a lot of projects at the same time. Some of them take up a lot of time though so it can take a while before I can show you something. This is a project I did a while ago to learn a bit more about the new physical render engine in Cinema 4D and especially the Depth of Field function. I used a free model of a Main Board and added a CPU and some DIMM memory modules and then tried to find some nice angles to render. As you can see the image is not sharp everywhere. The focus of the (virtual) camera determines this. In this way the renders look more like actual photographs.

Here is another angle of the same main board a bit more zoomed out. Here you can also see the DIMM memory modules. Everything is based on an actual photograph by they way with the components modeled on top of that picture. The Depth of Field in this image is a lot more subtle but it is still there. Don't forget to click on the pictures for a larger version by the way so you can look at the in more detail.

And here is the last one again from a different angle. I think they worked out quite nice. I'm planning to do an animation of this scene as well in the future, but my render farm is already running full time for a long time on some other animations. I'm really short on CPU now-a-days. For your idea: a render of a sill image like this in high quality already takes up a couple of hours. If you make an animation of lets say 10 second, you need 250 pictures since there are 25 frames in a second. So well do the math :) I hope to show you the new animations soon. I just wanted to share these images with you. I'm sure more will follow from this project in the future.

05 June 2012

Video Synth.nl Visits Cooter Pond 2011

In 2011 we visited Florida in the USA for our holiday. During one of our trips my wife spotted a very nice pond at the side of the road that turned out to be full of life. We spend quite some time there watching all the animals. I took my video camera with me and shot some footage that I turned into this video. The music you hear is a track called 'Chelonia' from my 2009 album OceanoGraphy. More information on the album here: http://www.synth.nl/OceanoGraphy. I made the intro and 3D CD animation in Cinema 4D. I hope you enjoy it.

03 June 2012

Another Studio Session with Remy Stroomer

Yesterday I did another very productive session together with Remy Stroomer in my studio for our upcoming collaboration album. The last weeks we did a lot of work editing on the material we already had played. The first thing we did yesterday is listen together to everything again and make remarks about the tracks, note them down and discuss what we both though was necessary to make them better. We agreed on almost everything there fortunately. We both thought one track didn't quite fit the whole concept and feel of the album and decided to play some new lines for that. Eventually we almost completely changed that whole track.

We have 10 tracks left now where we are still not sure about 1 track. That one still needs a lot of work, but we agreed that I'm going to try and work on this on next week and then we will decide later if we keep it on the album or not. We still have 79 minutes of music at the moment so plenty enough for a whole album. We divided the rest of the tracks yesterday so that Remy can work on some in his studio now and I can work in my studio on the other ones. In a couple of weeks we meet again and will do another session. All in all the progress of the whole album is going very well and we are still on schedule for a release by the end of this year I guess. I'll update you of course when there is news.

02 June 2012

Synthforum Studio Warming Party

Last weekend I attended a very nice party that my friend Matthijs organized to celebrate the opening of his new studio. I met Matthijs on the Dutch Synthforum.nl website when I joined there in 2005. He was one of the people that inspired me and gave me tips when I first started making music back then. It was great weather so we actually spend more time in the garden where the BBQ and drinks were than in the studio. It was nice to see some of the other guys as well that I met back then and still speak to occasionally in the Synthforum chat room. My friend Hans Landman also joined a bit later and unfortunately I had to leave early because my brother was celebrating his 40th birthday and of course I couldn't miss that either. I hope we can repeat this kind of meeting again in the future. I had a great time. Matthijs thanks for organizing and you have a great studio!