Archive for the ‘studio’ Category

mood and time lighting with $35 in LED tape

The other set of LED tape lights arrived. Initially they had less impact when tested; the window behind the baffles in the left on this photo don’t go as high as the baffle, so the top lights were a bit hidden. So I tapped in a bit of wood to raise it.

Here are four configurations I’ve already found I like quite a bit and am actually using at their appropriate times of day – the idea is that if I don’t have BRIGHT DAYLIGHT LIGHTS on at 2pm, I won’t look up and go “oh look it’s 3:30 and I have to be up at… eight!”

Click to enlarge in a separate tab.


Sunset and Evening

(It really does feel like daylight in there.)


The pictures are colour-manipulated a little to try to get at least in the neighbourhood of the correct colours; this was as close as I can get. The white areas around really the colours you see near them, not white. The orange is more orangy, the green is more greeny, the snozzberries taste like snozzberries.

Exactly like snozzberries.

But yeah, $35 in LEDs – including the controllers and remotes. That doesn’t include power supplies; I had one already and paid $10 for a second one that can handle the full input requirements of the longer strand, so I do things now like put that one on cycle and leave the other one steady if I want. Just because I CAN.

Mood/time-lighting LEDs are awesome. 😀

other reasons to open the case

While I was opening the computer to add glowy bits and more importantly a case fan to support the new graphics card, I noticed the wiring inside was a bit of a mess, and cleaned things up a bit.

While doing that, I noticed that the cable providing extra power to the USB root-hub card I’d previously installed 1) used an utterly unnecessary adaptor, and 2) had a loose piece. As in, one of the wires – the yellow one – was basically just reseting against the connection point, rather than being clamped on properly.

Now, things have been working reasonably well lately, but I have been getting a sudden hard bus error about once a day. Ardour crashes, JACK reports a hard bus error but restarts successfully.

That the yellow pin was just resting against its intended contact might explain that problem. Even if it doesn’t, that’s not okay, so I yanked the adaptor, used one of the extant four-pin power connectors in its place, and went on my merry way.

I have had exactly zero bus errors since making this change.

It’s still too early to claim victory – I’ve had error-free runs before – but it’d be awfully, awfully nice if installing a case fan and glowy lights actually lead to solving a known problem.

what do you use for GPU temperature monitoring?

After all the hell involved late Friday night in getting nVidia drivers running under Linux (a.k.a., “Hi, I’m Running A New Kernel Now, Ask Me Why!”), I thought it’d be a good idea to get a case fan. I got the quietest 92mm fan they had at Fry’s, clocking in at 14.6db. I also picked up some hum-dampening silicon bolts for attachment.

Installing it proved I was right in deciding I couldn’t possibly afford the noise of a graphics card with fans onboard. Even the whisper-quiet-as-such-things-go case fan required me to throw some sound absorption behind the box to get it back to inaudible in the recording space.

…and okay maybe I couldn’t resist grabbing a case light while I was at it. It was only $8, so why not? 😀 But behind the case, you can see that I’ve attached some leftover sound baffle material to the wall – it’s just a single layer, but that’s okay, since fan noise is pretty high-frequency and easy to scatter.

In addition to the visible pieces, there’s another attached to the underside of the shelf that overhangs the case. It’s just out of frame above this picture. That piece catches some of the sound bounce coming out from the back which isn’t picked up by the wall pieces. The reduction is enough to hear, close up.

This baffling brings the case noise back down to the same level as it had before, without the fan. It’s nice to be justified in my card choices, but I wish I’d been wrong – the GT520 chipset isn’t bad, but I’d really kind of like, oh, a 750 TI. But… not today, not in this machine, not in this room.

What do you use for GPU temperature monitoring? Given the temperatures of everything else, I’m confident I’m fine, but I wouldn’t mind monitoring the card itself for a bit. Windows or Linux is fine.

Oh, and! On Internet Skyrims Elder Scrolls Online, I’m Starbird the Fleet, username Solarbirdy. Still in starting environment at the moment, breaking out of prison – and getting used to PC controls again after a long time being a console gamer only – but I’ll be out of that soon. Look me up.

century separated technologies

I decided I liked how the LEDs looked where they were in the photo from yesterday, so here’s how I made a more permanent version using 100 year old knobs from knob-and-tube wiring!

The turns are knobs, pulled out of a 1911 house. The supports between long horizontal sections are foam core. To show a bunch of the colours, I decided to try panorama mode on the phone while the LEDs were in colour-cycle mode. It kinda worked, but really does more “look where Apple takes its samples” than describe how it looks in person. Still, it’s kind of cool:

And here’s what it looks like with the baffles put back into place. Only, not actually rainbowy all at once like this, it’s cycling through each of these colours as I pan the camera. Still, you can see how the shelf underlighting section works:

Finally, here’s a still shot, with only one colour, in this case GREEN! It’s actually greener in person than this, but my cell phone amps that up to white because it does and I can’t stop it.

People asked in comments yesterday how much power it draws. Well, it depends upon the mode. The green above is drawing about 10 watts. It draws as little as 5 watts while on, and 1.2 watts when “off” but listening for remote. At full brightness white, it draws nearly 40 watts. The colour-cycles draw anywhere from 18 to 38 watts, so that probably averages around 28.

Make sure if you do this that you’ve got a power supply capable of handling that 40 watts, and test it – the supposed 52-watt Radio Shack 12V power supply I had on hand blew out in 10 minutes! Badly done again, Admiral Shack! This one seems better, despite being rated for less.

I definitely want to order more of these, they are awesome. And they really do set a nice mood. If they blow up, I’ll be sure to post about that, too. 😀

somebody, by which i mean me, has led light tape

I may already be addicted to these. I want more of them. SO MANY MORE OF THEM.



They also do normal colours like radioactive green, daylight, warm light, and OH GOD I LOVE THESE THINGS HOW CAN I PUT THEM EVERYWHERE?

They’re pretty bright, too. I am not disappointed on that front.

I’ve got this strip colour cycling now (fade/slow transition) but it can be set to specific colours and and yeah these are awesome. They’re like $16 for five metre lengths with controller but without power supply. I have plenty of power supplies sitting around, so that’s just fine by me.

Honestly right now I just want to put them everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

just under the wire

Thank you very, very much to everybody who threw data at me during the XP-to-Windows 8.1 migration, particularly dw:dreamatdrew for all the back-and-forth on Dreamwidth, which was critical. Thank you.

A few impressions about the process:

  1. Win8.1 handles multimonitor really pretty well. It has bad data about one of my cards or monitors (not sure) which means I can’t run one at best resolution yet. I’m hoping to find a way to override that. But otherwise, it’s really good, and the whole weird-tiles-UI thing works a lot better when you have one monitor where you’re actually working, and another where you’re sometimes desktop-working and sometimes letting the tiles live there. It’s much less crazy that way.
  2. There are no circumstances under which software on the compatible list should require this kind of misadventure to install. I should not be downloading hax0r toys from GitHub to make it work. One of the other commenters on the thread called the process “Linux-like” which … is about right.
  3. Awwww, QBASIC doesn’t work anymore! XD
  4. 8.1 is convinced nothing is plugged into my front sound output jacks, so won’t play to them. I eventually figured out it would let me use the back sound output jacks, even though it specifically said to use the front ones. WHY ARE THEY EVEN DIFFERENT?
  5. Adventures in Open Source Documentation: the official support docs told me to install a package which no longer exists, and the live discs for which it does exist don’t start correctly on my machine, because who even knows. Something about my graphics cards and startx buggering off, it’s ugly. But I managed to manually boot via the grub command line and get enough installed under 12.04 LTS on my hard drive that boot-repair could run and FWOOM! We’re off.

That wasn’t so bad, now, was it? Well, okay, it was. But everything survived, and I didn’t even have to use the backup images I made earlier in the day! Any landing you can walk away from is better than an OS upgrade.

Anyway, I did indeed get it done, a new backup is running now, which means making it just under the wire for another hammer dulcimer recording session. Not the last day of that; there’ll be one more brief session in early June. Talking of, got to go get ready for that.

Don’t forget to stop running XP! Even if it leads to adventures like this, it’s better than what’ll happen with XP on the net after support ends.

a followup to that XP post

Over the weekend, I posted about still having a Windows XP partition (that boots very rarely, but not quite never), asking what to do about it. If you’re still running XP, you need to do this too, because security patches stop coming on April 8th.


It’s going to be a hax0r’s field day; as of last month, 29.53% of desktops were still on Windows XP. All of them will be active parts of botnets on April… 9th, probably. Even those which haven’t been turned on. I know this because of facts, but it’s also actually true.

Anyway, I’ve been making a backup image of my hard drive and I’m going to try what dreamatdrew said, after I run out to buy Yet More Crap because Reasons, most of which involve how I really, really wish Windows talked to ext3 filesystems, but it doesn’t, because kill everyone.

Killing everyone is an important part of a supervillain’s daily workout. That, and petting the kitty. Hi, George.

Anyway, that’s what I’ll be doing today, so wish me luck with all that, or else. Or else what? Well, I haven’t worked out today yet. That’s what.

a groupnoun of microphones

If there isn’t already a group noun for microphones – you know, like murder of ravens, school of fish, and all that – there should be. I propose a silly of microphones:

A Silly of Microphones

I had all those wired up at once because we were doing some test recording of Anna for flutework on Kitsune at War. Despite appearances, the two mics on the far left are quite different to each other, due to their different head capsules having dramatically different pickup patterns.

The choices coalesced really quickly, as it turned out, because Anna’s metal flute is totally clicky in the keys. Lots of clicking sound, and no way to turn it off.

Not even when dampened with a shirt. Not even two shirts.

The funny part is, back when I was trying to get these couple of Octava 012s, I really mostly just wanted the cardioid heads. And one came with that option only. But another ended up having a set of three heads: cardioid, hypercardoid, and omnidirectional. And that’s come back to serve us well now.

See, most microphones you’ve used have either been omnidirectional (pick up in all directions fairly evenly) or cardioid (pick up in front of the mic in kind of a circular-bubble area in front of the microphone). A hypercardioid mic, though? It’s like a laser beam, or at least this one is. Instead of a circular pickup area, it’s shaped more like a dirigible. And that means you can zoom in on the sound you want, and simply not record a surprising loudness of noises coming from shockingly nearby that you don’t want.

Which is why it was a damn good thing I bothered hooking up two versions of that microphone. Otherwise, we’d be looking into rental flutes. But we’re not. Go us.

eta: Over on Dreamwith, Corvi suggests “a Feedback of Microphones.” I do like that! But feedback also requires speakers – or in extreme cases a turntable – so… hm…

eta2: With 29 more ideas for this from people(!), we decided to make a list and poll, here. Look and vote if you want!

airplanes in my ceiling

I got up into the attic above my studio this weekend, because I have this leftover rock wool sound insulation, and wanted to see whether I could further dampen the occasional airplane noise that makes it through everything.

I’ve never lived in a new-construction house before. This thing was built in 1998-2000. (Why such a wide date range? Because this.) I’ve always lived in old buildings. Attics are dark spaces with 2×12 joists and random boards lying about and forgotten storage and knob and tube writing (sometimes just remnants) and hopefully bare-bulb light-fixtures and places where they took out the pull-down staircase and probably spiders and possibly livestock and almost certainly not ghosts.

This attic? Basically, this attic has no goddamn floor at all. Turns out the top floor ceiling is just wallboard held up by 2x4s, which are in turn hidden and drowning in an ocean of blow-in insulation. And while blow-in insulation is awesome – I’m all for insulation – having literally no visible places to step is not awesome. It’s like the end of the world in Skyrim. LOL NO FLOOR ANYMORE HAVE FUN WITH THE OCEAN.

I’m not walking around up there, much less putting in rock wool. And while, okay, 2x4s, they can hold up wallboard, and hopefully me at least briefly, and hopefully all that blow-in insulation but I’m not convinced, I’m mostly in the category of whose idea is this?! Can wallboard ceilings hold up rock wool? I would think so, but I don’t even know! Hell, I’m not even enamoured of it holding up that much blow-in thermal insulation because that is a lot of insulation up there.

Basically what I’m saying is that compared to what I’m used to, this attic “floor” is made up of assurances which are made up of lies. So I’m not remotely surprised I hear airplanes through it.

What do I do here? Continue to live with it? I mean, it’s only occasional, and it’s at -60db when I do hear it at my normal recording levels, so even if it happens during recording it’s not that big a deal. Do I tack up another layer of wallboard to absorb low-frequency airplane noise, maybe on floaters of some kind? Do I make rock wool pillows and hang them from the existing ceiling and try to compensate for the brightness loss by taking out other baffles? Will this all literally come tumbling down on my head if I do any of it?

I’ve no idea. And really, I suppose it’s not that important. But it tasks me. It does, it does.

and sometimes the mistletoe explodes

I swear to you, I am not reorienting the compass in this video. I’m keeping it as much at the same angle relative to the room walls as I can.


there y’are

I guess the mistletoe is gonna explode again, too.

I know about metal effect on compasses, but this looks more like every piece of metal in my studio is magnetic now. Honestly – these mic stands are magnetic enough to use the compass to identify their poles. My shock mounts, too. And I think I can feel the magnetic attraction to my wire-cutters on some of them.

Is that normal? It doesn’t seem like it could be normal, because I don’t see how anyone could use high-gain preamps and cables. I remove the mic stands; no radio on the pre-amp. I bring one back: radio on the pre-amp. Magnetic induction, somehow.

I am officially at a loss.

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