Saturday, May 4, 2024

Mister Norton, Poetics and Principles, Chapter 3, The Ringler Clicker

 April 2003:

A Musik like whirring propeller blades was heard, 

and the plush curtain lifted on Ted’s bonsai at the event. 

It was withered.

Ted said, this April we had a freezing event, 

which is actually very good for bonsai of the sumac, 

because it cripples and makes micro leaves. 

But here is the symphony in the wound, 

Ted said, brushing the foliage.

You bald trombonists gaze into the curly mysteries at the event.



Here is a new circuit using only BT:NORTONs. It is for making two clicks, such as in the military clicker for seeking landscape features at night, using your ears. Thus each click must have a symphony in a millisecond, according to Jan St. Werner. An hysterical oscillator is purposed for pulse trains and envelopes, with varying slopes and frequencies.

Ringler: the swoops are multiplied by each other as are the oscillators, and the ringlers goes back to modulations. Thats what makes them ringlers, not just ring-modulators.

Mister Norton, Poetics and Principles, Chapter 2, My Other Faces

The ferret comes at night and chews my wires.

I'm a technician, it’s a devil,

So i make ultrasound techno.

creating tools to modulate country animals.


My backwoods friend JIM still has a tube of me in his shed, covered in poison ivy. He still makes simple class A circuits with a yellowed 70s manual about me. They are a little smaller than BILLs class B circuits. He uses me for swine management.

BILL still wears plastic shirts from the 70s. But BILL has moved on from his old manual and now builds modular synths. His special sauce is to use transistors and a secret chip from the 70s. It is the 90s.

BILL also uses me for swine management, in an art gallery in the city. See, his circuit has control inputs, and he creates a web of bubblegum colored cords around a wooden pod, for his art. The name of his art is GWYNNDAMUFFIN.

Country sounds are twangy. Twangy is a sound that easily echoes off the hills, and vibrates over the corn with amateur (movable, flexible tuning, dissonance) techniques. Fast banjo also has a sort of rascal nature, like the shenanigans of bunnies and creek hops.

Faces are important in electronics. The old Mister Norton, ridgid, with a plastic shirt, focusing on class A circuits, which are simple resistor things and bric-a-brac capacitors. The new Mister Norton has transistors in his dreamy eyes. At the very end of the datasheet (Application Note 72, LM3900, A new Current-Differencing Quad of Plus or Minus Input Amplifiers, Texas Instruments), is a hint that you can hack a differential pair onto the two inputs of the Norton, thus expanding it to all the sorts of arp and serge mechanisms. Class AB is a pragmatic mix of simple resistors and the newer transistor installations.

Mister Norton, Poetics and Principles, Chapter 1: My Face

Garden gnomes were once eerie, 

because they held still, 

bleached ancient things looked at, 

But privately,

they bump and scrape the night,

thought bill as he looked out at his yard. 

I want a modern gnome:

one who carts his miniature wheelbarrow around cheerily, 

now, while I stare at it in my sunny yard.

The solar gnome eclipses the butterfly.

But when I sleep, 

he holds stillness, 

a bleached stone in the moonlight.

There are two Mister Nortons, Bill and ted, and they form the foundation of BT theory. Upstairs at the New Zork art gallery, video art was displayed. In the basement, Bill created a synthesizer on a piece of canvas, roughly 2 m long and half meter high, and filled with frames wooden frames, which formed the basis for hand etched circuit boards. He found oscillator schematics in the data sheet for Mr norton (Applcation Note 72, LM3900, A new Current-Differencing Quad of Plus or Minus Input Amplifiers, Texas Instruments). He had some in his Bronx basement, the head flooded many times and was filled with rat poop. At the same time as the exhibition, Ted was working, it was July 2nd 1993. Ted was working on repairing barbed wire and because of the damage to the barbed wire fence, he decided to create ultrasound circuits to control swine. He went to the shed where he had a tube of Mr Norton chips and a yellowed tobacco stained data sheet.

The first schematic is a picture of Mister Norton. It is a face. The face arises often in a circular circuit schematic. There's a triangle for the nose and curly cue for the eye and other riffles for the lips. Just the basic symbols of the analog world: triangles, swirls and curlicues.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Performance Notes for Solar Sounders on the Canal, May 2022

Near Patch Point on Forsterstr in Kreuzberg, Berlin, flows a canal slowly, with a peaceful bank of flowery bushes. A French cafe is always bustling with expats. This sandy shore receives sunlight most reliably, compared with the urban canyon of old houses that Patch Point sits in. There the birds echo accross the buildings, many high twitters, and in the evening a songful blackbird who claims the street trees by its everchanging, multi-resonant patterns. 

To perform an afternoon of solar sounders, the sandy canal bank was targeted, and thus thereafter, a demonstration of vegan fishing would be folded into the performance. The opportunity would not be missed, to combine my two favorite sports of center-pin reel casting, with experimental off-grid electronic sound art. 

To prepare for this piece, I had finished a new case design that combines two of my favorite aspects of woodworking: computer scripting for efficient and tight-fitting parts in fine hardwood, and scrapcrafting with glue... The scraps are mini lumber from the edges of old prints (previously cut pieces of hardwood). Often this way I can save many beautiful patterns that would otherwise be burnt.

The case features a parabolic bulge that houses the panel and mount, and two angled chubs for speakers. The panel supplies nine volts and comes in a few different sizes, roughly corresponding to frequency energy for soprano and bass voices. After gluing the structure together, the sides are crafted with scraps simply glued on, then everything is sanded like its from Pier 1. Yes, this is how I chase my ideal 90s import store.

The ground mount is a new addition to the solar sounders, and this piece thus concerns itself with ground. A steel pipe, purchased at Bauhaus, screws in firmly to an aluminum flange on the underside of each box, after it is hammered into the ground. The flange and thus whole assemby is connected to ground of the solar circuit. Thus we can create or even play with the ground connection between each instrument. 


Traditional banana plugs were mounted on each box, and connected in to the androgynous pulse-brain within its circuit. We listened to each without any patched points, while I poured canal water gently into the sand at the base of each one. There was a simple experiment to be done, asking if we could hear a modulation with this wet makeshift ground for it all. THe banana cords were connected between each instruments, and what was heard as un-syncronised birdsong, became synchronous.

While the experiment was running, I threaded a european canal bobber onto a long rod with light line, and affixed it with banding. Three lead-free splitshot (ROhS) anchored the bobber upright from beneath, and they tapered in size properly from largest at the top to tiny at the bottom. As I said, this is vegan fishing so just a wisp of line hung beneath the tiniest splitshot. I could assure protection of my audience as I started with only underhand casts but moved to overhand once I got my courage up.

The weather was a perfect mix of everything chaotic. It had rained earlier but the sand was still quite dry. There was strong blasts of sun followed by deep depths of cloud, which is the best most natural solar dynamic, as far as musical expression is concerned. As a bonus, the wind came from many directions, gusting up the canal in ripples, and even coming from behind me to get a rare cast with the wind. 

As the instruments clucked gently and resonant in the shade and bloomed in the sun, I bided my time watching the bobber slowly drift down the canal. The analogy was about ground and the canal. Current flows in the channel, but it can only be measured if there is a still ground under it all. A bobbermontage will also demonstrate a gradient if weighting is properly spaced, as current is fastest on the surface and slowest on the bottom. I joked that I was sensing bites but no one in the audience got the joke.

The audience was there to experience electronic music at patch point, and drink beer later in the evening. This is the time of Superbooth, and many visitors had just arrived from out of town. 

The sand is a compelling medium for performance because of the electro-shamanism of ceremonially imbibing its earth. Vegan fishing was a great way to bide time non-violently.


This is the Berlin (wood) workshop. We currently have three 6040s, one 9040, and we are building a collection of 3040s upstairs for little work. Managing all these CNC machines at once, in a loud and dusty environment, required some rethinking.
The traditional way to run CNCs is with a desktop computer assigned to each one, that sit nexts to it and you go to it every time you need to change a job. There exist, however, wonderful open source operators for arduino nano (GRBL) and ESP32 (GRBL ESP32). These make the woodshop into an internet of cutting things!
So, in GRBL ESP32, each machine is on the local network, and has a name that you type (such as tony.local) into a web browser. There are seven signals that then go to the CNC machine through a printer cable. We are currently working on making musical sense out of these square waves, but this report concerns itself only with making CNC machines work the best.

Each ESP32 fits perfectly inside a Busch-Jaeger "Ocean" Steckdose, which was already being used for the electrical wiring in the workshop. When I got one for myself I was rekindled on home improvement case hacks. It even has a rubbery cable relief that perfectly fits one usb cord and one printer cable, which is split up and soldered directly to the board. Extract all the electrical plug furnishings, and the protective flap on the front leaves a perfect little space for the SD card, also wired directly to the board.

Eventually, I realized something about the dusty, noisy environment. These are little computers, being left in the cold woodshop, with tons of electrical noise emanating from the spindles. Our biggest CNC was crashing a lot, and I made a plan to separate its grounds with opto-isolators. Now the ESP32 has its own private ground, which it does not share with the ground of the CNC driver. You can see in the following picture, floating above a layer of kapton tape, seven licorice jelly beans which are the optoisolators for each channel:
Inside an Ocean Steckdose with ESP32, seven licorice jellybeans are there to optoisolate grounds.
how to prep the opto-isolator spider ticks.

Another brashless view inside an Ocean Steckdose.

Schematic of the opto-isolator circuit, after Oskar Schlemmer.

Ocean Steckdose with GRBL ESP32, and in front, an Aquastar Steckdose with GRBL on a nano, which requires the nintendo game-style controller for movement and program control. This option is also solid, especially at 9600 baud.

Another view inside the Ocean Steckdose with ESP32. You can see the cathode resistors (around 150 ohm) for each optoisolator. Red button is hold, and there's a resume button on the opposite side.
Here is a handy chart that should work with any parallel (printer cable) driver on any machine bigger than a 3040.:
signal name
esp32 pin
parallel cable pin
nano pin
xstep 12 2 2
xdir 14     3 5
spindle PWM

Note, the SD card is wired according to the standard hacker instructions, where you solder directly to a microSD holder.

Under the 3040 size, CNCs don't usually offer a printer cable connection. They are usually only connected by USB, but usually they have their own GRBL driver and you can always hack into the TX and RX pins to use a nintendo-style (also called "random-style" in the 3018 manual) controller.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Shbobo Fret


Trying to get this cast in either brass or nickel silver.

Meanwhile I found a company who says they can machine them from brass.

Will make shtars much nicer to make.


Friday, October 1, 2021

Lecture on Bauhaus vs Hornbach

 On September 19, 2021, as part of the SUPERBOOTH non-activities, I delivered a lecture at Patch Point on the topic of Bauhaus versus Hornbach. Here is a description of the lecture:

I will procure a laser pointer to narrate twenty slides about the history of the bauhaus movement and its relationship to hornbach. My words will be mangled/backworded by cocoquantus that we sell at patch point, a solid group of interesting people.

I did not procure a laser pointer, and I did not pursue a slideshow with projector, so the program became the usual, a narrated benchmark test procedure of cocoquantus. In retrospect, I realize that I realized quite a few things about the oranging sector, and what it means to be an orange store, of home materials or synths. And since this is an orange blog, it seems important to document here. So here's the google slides, what could have happened was awesome: