Category Archives: Deal on eBay

Deals spotted on eBay

The Curmudgeon’s Corner #3 12.20.2010

By Hank The Curmudgeon

Greetings And Salutations! First off Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Wacky Festivus and/or anything else you can celebrate. Oh, if I don’t get #4 out by the end of year Happy New Year! May you have a safe and wonderful holiday season. Here’s hoping you get that soldering station or capacitor assortment you’ve been dreaming about. Now onto this episodes insanity…

Selected Videos.
“Miniature” Microtonal Udderbot & Dulcimer Duet

Frank Giorgini’s Udu Utar Played by Brian Melick. Thanks to Gene Barth for finding this video!


#11 Math.

Your generic ubiquitous Switchcraft #11 1/4″ Open Frame Mono Jack…shopped around on 11/26/10.

But Hank, you whine, why didn’t you note the prices on eBay? Because the jacks may, or may not, be available, shipping can be outrageous, I don’t want to wait 2+ weeks for Taiwanese post, I’ve seen the plating flaking off due to corrosion, etc. That’s why I didn’t list eBay…but I’m not ruling eBay totally out.
If ANYONE knows of better prices for Switchcraft #11’s PLEASE contact me! *We have some Plastic Stereo jacks in GetLoFi.com/shop

DIY Heavy Metal.
http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2009/09/tristan_shones_sound_machines.html
http://www.tristanshone.com/ Go explore the individual instruments at: http://www.tristanshone.com/soundmachines/

Ballet Mecanique At The National Gallery Of Art

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo0H8ztju78

Interesting background material:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Antheil

Ooo Shiny…Hi-Tech Shiny. @ “Only” $12,843.77 each we’ll take a dozen! http://www.reactable.com/products/live/

Urban Planning Meets A Music Sequencer?
Thanks to Chicago Buck for finding this. http://isleoftune.com/ There is some very interesting potential for teaching musical theory and composition to someone who has no music background or training.

Can One Really Bend “Star Wars”?
Or at least use it as a sample source? Yes!!! http://amzn.to/geZjRV If anyone follows through with this I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT!

Virtual Breadboard.
Sadly NOT a dynamic circuit simulator but still a neat idea. Plus it’s great if you need a graphic illustration in your handouts for a class! http://musicfromouterspace.com/ElectronicTools/virtualbreadboard/index.html

Extra Credit: What circuit do I have loaded in this example?

$1.2M Accordioning Brass Musical Watch. Even if I had $1.2 M to waste I’m not so sure a watch, this or any watch, would be on the shopping list… http://www.boingboing.net/2010/11/25/12m-accordioning-bra.html

Performance: Catherine Brisset On The Cristal Baschet And Gilles Dalbis On Percussion. What? You don’t own a Cristal Baschet!

Nicely Done 555/556 Time Page. Good clear explanations of our little friend Mr. 555 and what he is capable of. http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/555timer.htm

Jumbo Otamatone: DIY Seed? First watch the video:

Now, ignoring the silly giant musical note form factor, this would be an easy DIY project coupling either a DIY ribbon controller or a COTS ribbon potentiometer such as http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/5832-SoftPot-Linear-Potentiometer-500mm.aspx with almost any VCO or APC circuit. Now the question becomes what goofy package can you house this in to make a bunch of money.

After You’re Done With That Holiday Brew…

Modified Jaymar Toy Piano

by Austin Cliffe/ Creme DeMentia

Jaymar Toy Piano with Piezo Pickup and Removable Back by Austin Cliffe

Like many of you who are reading this, I spend a lot of time in thrift stores.  I have come across some older toy pianos in my thrift store adventures.  Toy pianos are actually pretty serious and widely used musical instruments.  They have a very distinct sound and you’ll be surprised how often you will hear them used once you recognize their timbre.  They are also somewhat valuable and sought after instruments, believe it or not.

When I bought these toy pianos, it was with the intent to install a piezo-electric pickup in them and resell them, since I had so many discs for making Bottle-Cap Contact Microphones.  I was intrigued to see that Nick Heimer, who I had met at Bent Fest Minneapolis 2007, had a similar idea and brought the resulting devices with him to Circuitastrophe;  his toy pianos were not only equipped with piezo pickups, but also had bent delay circuits bolted to them that would process the sounds coming from the pickup.  They are very bizarre-sounding, beautiful instruments.

Toy Piano with Circuit Bent Delay by Nick Heimer

Adding the pickup and output to my toy piano was relatively easy.  I found a good spot on the backboard to attach the pickup using a stethoscope, then glued the piezo disc in place with epoxy, finally covering it with a protective layer of Plasti-Dip.  The piezo pickup runs directly to a 1/4″ mono jack, which I recessed into the back panel.

Jaymar Toy Piano with Piezo Pickup and Removable Back by Austin Cliffe

Jaymar Toy Piano with Piezo Pickup and Removable Back by Austin Cliffe

Initially the Toy Piano didn’t play quite right, I had to diagnose the problem after taking it apart.  Toy pianos work similarly to regular pianos; instead of the hammers hitting strings, though, they hit corresponding tuned tines.  The comb of tines is mounted directly to the back panel.  The problem with my toy piano was that the back panel was installed crooked at the factory and not all the hammers were hitting their corresponding tines. I pulled out the factory-installed staples, fixed the alignment, and screwed the panel back on correctly.  In fixing the alignment of the back panel, I had the idea to make it removable so that you could play the tines however you like when the panel was removed.  I achieved this with hanger bolts and wing nut accompanied by a handle.

The idea of playing the insides of a piano is nothing new, and this project reminded me of two avant-garde composers of the 20th century, John Cage and Henry Cowell.

John Cage is probably a name you know;  did you know he composed pieces for toy piano?  He also composed a piece called “Cartridge Music,” where the performers would use phonograph cartridges to amplify objects.  Piezo-electric discs are now often substituted for phonograph cartridges in performances of this piece;  Cage’s score provides specific times for when the different objects are to be played, but the choice of objects is left open to the performers.

Henry Cowell you might not know.  Henry Cowell developed a variety of experimental piano playing techniques in the early 1900s, one of which called for leaning inside the piano and manipulating the strings with bare hands to produce scrapes, howls and deep rumbles.  He employs this technique in a piece called The Banshee.  John Cage, like many other musicians, was inspired and influenced by Henry Cowell.  Cage also experimented with the insides of the piano, by putting bolts, eraser bits and other things in between the piano’s strings.  These inserted objects drastically changed the piano’s timbre and a normal piano could be prepared in this way by following his specific written instructions. Cage then wrote pieces for this new range of gamelan-like sounds coming from piano he had prepared.  This process can be undone and causes no harm to the piano.

For your enjoyment, here are some videos of myself and some friends exploring the sound capabilities of this device paired with some effects pedals.  The first video shows the piano being played normally, the second video shows the removable back being played.  As was my initial intent, this instrument will be for sale on eBay shortly after this article has been posted, simply search “GetLoFi Toy Piano.”

How to Hack a Portable DVD Player into a Cheap LCD Video Monitor

lcd_hack_parts.JPG

Foreword: This cheap LCD monitor hack was written and submitted for a Hack Magazine, which I never saw in 2006, so I have no idea if it got published or not. This solution is for when you need a no thrills LCD monitor for a standard analog Video signal, Audio Speakers also come as a bonus, for under $25. Here we go:

lcd_board_schem.JPG

When a portable LCD display is needed for a cool project, but cash is in short supply try searching eBay for “Portable DVD Player As-Is”. Dozens of listings will appear and as you read the descriptions look for “Not reading CDs”, which would mean that the LCD is fine. It is not widely known that most Portable DVD players have an Audio/Video Input mode, effectively changing them into small Monitors when needed. Do not bid more than $15 because these players show up everyday and are worthless to consumers. Always check the shipping rates, $12 should be way more then enough to cover the shipping anywhere in continental US. Always read the descriptions and ask questions about the LCD, don’t just buy blindly.

Once the player arrives carefully disassemble it. Do not pull hard and try do the hinge corners last because those contain the LCD data cable and it is very fragile. If the player does not want to come apart check underneath all the stickers for more case screws. With the player disassembled discard everything except for the top lid with the LCD and the main circuit board. Next lay the LCD on a piece of cloth to protect the screen and use some double sided tape attach the main board to the back of the lid. The corner with the LCD data cable connector should be next to the LCD ribbon on the lid. Connect the LCD to the main circuit board as the final step. Next connect a power supply while observing the polarity. Turn on the power and make sure everything works. The DVD player screen should be at a default Insert CD or CD Open message. Try switching the Input selector switch to ON and plugging in a video source through the Video In jack. As a word of caution do not short circuit any components on the exposed main circuit board, only work with the Audio/Video-In connectors. The video signal is also polarized meaning that Ground and VCC will not display correctly if swapped around. Once the Video and Audio points are mapped out, solder your desired wires and hot glue all connections on the main circuit board for security. Congratulations your first cheap LCD is ready for a variety of fun projects!

Have Fun!

PDF of the LCD Monitor Hack Article