Hackaday Podcast Ep014: Keeping Raspberry’s SD Card Alive, We Love MRRF, And How Hot Are Flip Chips?

Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys take a look at advances in photogrammetry (building 3D models out of many photographs from a regular camera), a delay pedal that’s both aesthetically and aurally pleasing, and the power of AI to identify garden slugs. Mike interviews Scotty Allen while walking the streets and stores of the Shenzhen Electronics markets. We delve into SD card problems with Raspberry Pi, putting industrial controls on your desk, building a Geiger counter for WiFi, and the sad truth about metal 3D printing.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

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This Is The Delay Pedal You Can Build Yourself

If you’re looking to make money in electronics, there’s no better market than guitar pedals and modular synths. The margins are high, and all the consumers are otakus who will spend outrageous amounts of money chasing the next big thing. The products are just one step above audiophile wank with zero oxygen cables, and if your opamp sounds ‘more transparent’, you’re going to make a fortune, never mind how something can sound more transparent, whatever that is to begin with.

If you want to do something really cool, build a delay, because everyone needs another delay. If you want to build the latest in delay technology, just grab a PT2399 chip. That’s what ElectroSmash did with their Open Source Time Manipulator delay. Everything’s right there, all the parts of the circuits are described, and you too can become an effects pedal engineer.

This pedal is based on the PT2399 chip from Princeton Technology, a digital delay chip that can be used with something that sounds like an old-school bucket brigade chip or something resembling a tape echo. As a digital chip, you’ve also got the clean, clear sounds of a digital delay, with just a few tweaks of the circuit. We’ve taken a look at the PT2399 before, but surprisingly not many people are sharing their secrets.

The circuit for the ElectroSmash Time Manipulator is built around the ATMega328, the same chip in the Arduino Uno, with two PT2399s that can be configured to operate in serial or parallel for everything from a slapback echo to a 600ms digital delay. If you set everything right, you can get choruses, reverbs, or some psychobilly flange-ish sounds.

The entire circuit is open, with a board designed in KiCad, the code is right there written in C, and the only hard-to-replicate tech is the PT2399 chip itself, which can be had from the usual vendors for less than a dollar a piece. It’s a great pedal, and be sure to check out the video below.

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Oreo Construction: Hiding Your Components Inside The PCB

In recent months, the ability to hide components inside a circuit board has become an item of interest. We could trace this to the burgeoning badgelife movement, where engineers create beautiful works of electronic art. We can also attribute this interest to Bloomberg’s Big Hack, where Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley asserted Apple was the target of Chinese spying using components embedded inside a motherboard. The Big Hack story had legs, but so far no evidence of this hack’s existence has come to light, and the companies and governments involved have all issued denials that anything like this exists.

That said, embedding components inside a PCB is an interesting topic of discussion, and thanks to the dropping prices of PCB fabrication (this entire project cost $15 for the circuit boards), it’s now possible for hobbyists to experiment with the technique.

But first, it’s important to define what ‘stuffing components inside a piece of fiberglass’ is actually called. My research keeps coming back to the term ’embedded components’ which is utterly ungooglable, and a truly terrible name because ’embedded’ means something else entirely. You cannot call a PCB fabrication technique ’embedded components’ and expect people to find it on the Internet. For lack of a better term, I’m calling this ‘Oreo construction’, because of my predilection towards ‘stuf’, and because it needs to be called something. We’re all calling it ‘Oreo construction’ now, because the stuf is in the middle. This is how you do it with standard PCB design tools and cheap Chinese board houses.

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The T-Pain Toy Is Now a Guitar Effect

T-Pain is rapper hailing from Florida, who made his name through creative use of the Autotune effect. Nobody quite does it like T-Pain to this day, but kids the world over got the chance with the release of the “I Am T-Pain” microphone, which puts effects on the user’s vocal to make them sound as fly as possible, batteries not included. In the spirit of musical exploration, [Simon] decided it would be interesting to turn the effect into a guitar pedal.

Initial plans were to wire the microphone to an input jack, and the speaker to an output jack, but things didn’t remain so simple. The toy comes with a line-in and a headphone jack already, but the wiring scheme is strange and one of the inputs can also act as an output under certain conditions. [Simon] took the kitchen sink approach, throwing a bunch of jacks at the circuit and putting it all in a pedal case with some knobs to twiddle some parameters.

The final result is a warbly, lo-fi vibrato when a guitar signal is fed in. It’s quite different from how the original toy sounds, but recalls us somewhat of the Anti-nautilus pedal when used in conjunction with a looper. Video after the break.  Continue reading “The T-Pain Toy Is Now a Guitar Effect”

A Candle Powered Guitar Pedal

When it comes to guitar effects pedals, the industry looks both back and forward in time. Back to the 50’s and 60’s when vacuum tubes and germanium transistors started to define the sound of the modern guitar, and forward as the expense and rarity of parts from decades ago becomes too expensive, to digital reproductions and effects. Rarely does an effects company look back to the turn of the 19th century for its technological innovations, but Zvex Effects’ “Mad Scientist,” [Zachary Vex], did just that when he created the Candela Vibrophase.

At the heart of the Candela is the lowly tea light. Available for next to nothing in bags of a hundred at your local Scandinavian furniture store, the tea light powers the Zvex pedal in three ways: First, the light from the candle powers the circuit by way of solar cells, second, the heat from the candle powers a Stirling engine, a heat engine which powers a rotating disk. This disc has a pattern on it which, when rotated, modifies the amount of light that reaches the third part of the engine – photoelectric cells. These modulate the input signal to create the effects that give the pedal its name, vibrato and phase.

Controls on the engine adjust the amount of the each effect. At one end, the effect is full phasor, at the other, full vibrato. In between a blend of the two. A ball magnet on a pivot is used to control the speed of the rotating disk by slowing the Stirling engine’s flywheel as it is moved closer.

While more of a work of art than a practical guitar effect, if you happen to be part of a steam punk inspired band, this might be right up your alley. For more information on Stirling engines, take a look at this post. Also take a look at this horizontal Stirling engine.

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The Coolest Electronic Toys You’ll See At NAMM

Winter NAMM is the world’s largest trade show for musical instrument makers. It is a gear head’s paradise, filled to the brim with guitars, synths, amps, MIDI controllers, an impossibly loud section filled with drums, ukuleles, and all sorts of electronic noisemakers that generate bleeps and bloops. Think of it as CES, only with products people want to buy. We’re reporting no one has yet stuffed Alexa into a guitar pedal, by the way.

As with all trade shows, the newest gear is out, and it’s full of tech that will make your head spin. NAMM is the expression of an entire industry, and with that comes technical innovation. What was the coolest, newest stuff at NAMM? And what can hackers learn from big industry? There’s some cool stuff here, and a surprising amount we can use.

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Power Your Guitar Pedals With Drill Batteries

Guitar pedals are a great way to experiment with the sound of your instrument. However, they require electricity, and when you’re using more than a couple, it can get messy. Some will run on batteries, while others are thirstier for more current and will only work with a plugback. There are a great many solutions out there, but most people with more than a few pedals to power will end up going to some kind of mains powered solution. [Don] is here to show us that it’s not the only way.

Mains power is great for some things, but where pedals are concerned, it’s not always perfect. There are issues with noise, both from cheap power supplies and poorly designed pedals, and it means you’re always hunting for a power socket, which is limiting for buskers.

[Don] realised that the common drill battery is a compact source of clean, DC power, and decided to use that to power his rig. By slapping together a drill battery with a pre-assembled buck converter and a 3D printed adapter, he was able to build a portable power supply for his pedals. Thanks to the fact that the vast majority of pedals use 9V DC with the same input jack design, it’s a cinch to wire up. With an appropriately sized buck converter, a drill battery could supply even a hefty pedalboard for a significant period of time.

Overall, it’s a great hack that solves a problem faced by many performing musicians. We’ve seen our fair share of guitar pedals around Hackaday – perhaps you’d like to see how one makes it from concept to production?

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