By a popular request here is my take in the Coldheat device. It works! And it doesn’t suck like some people say. A friend for mine got one at RadioShack when they were GIVING THEM OUT! with a $20 purchase. Being just short of the goal, he purchased AA batteries for the Coldheat to push the amount over. At anyrate it is pretty amazing. It appers to work by conducting electricity through the solder thus heating it to the melting point. So the tip never gets hot persay. However you could get burned by the molten solder pretty easy as a result.
Is this useful for circuit bending? Possibly. If you are working with larger wires and don’t need to melt anything other then solder. Smaller tips are also avaliable. Is it worth $49 for the Ver2? probably not. Would I pay $5 for Ver1, maybe. Also consider conducting current through delicate IC pins, this can potentially false trigger a bend or crash the device.
Is it good to have one in your gig bag incase you have to fix your keyboard while playing a show? Definatelly.

2.99 soldering Iron Review

My soldering iron of 4 years bit the dust last nite. It was a 35 watt Radio Shack and it will be missed. The tip became perma fused and simply broke off when I was trying to twist it. However it was its time. Enter the $2.99 Jameco 35 watt soldering iron.
The first impression ofcourse is cheap chinese construction, yet sturdy and small. Perfect for small electronics. The tip is nice and sharp, doesn’t wobble. The cord is about 4 feet. It fit very well into my soldering stand. However did seem kind of small in it. The heating time was very short. Probably 1 minute before it was ready to go. The new iron fumes quickly filled the workstop. After a succesful evening of soldering I have this conclusion.

Its OK, the biggest and possibly a major problem with this stick is that it gets HOT in the area where you typically hold it. Possibly due to it being in the holder and all the heat traveling upwards. Solution, hold further out or come up with some sort of thermal insulation around the holding area. Another easy thing to try would be to angle the iron holder further down so the heat has a chance to escape upwards before it heats up the handle. All in all very happy with the $2.99 stick. I’ll just have to see how many soldering hours I can rack up on this cheapy.

What toy megaphones are really made of

I’ve heard of people turning these into effect boxes and for the longest time I wanted to see what those things had inside. My newest aquisition was promptly undressed and inappropriate pictures were taken. Oh My!!! Somewhere in that blob of cheap chinese goodness must be an A/D converter for the Mic and D/A that runs into a standard 386 amp. The effects must be some sort of a redementary DSP. However the board shows alot more interesting marks. OSC1 and OSC2 pins would suggest that an external oscillator can be connected. It would be interesting to hook this thing up to an oscilloscope and determine what wave alterations are being done to the signal. My current bending project is going well, so possibly Saturday this megaphone will get explored further.

Good Day for the Circuit Bent Auctions

Looking at the Circuit Bent Items on eBay, I came across some good looking stuff. One is a whacked out keyboard with Video synth capabilities and a load of patch points. Right below that is a MIDIfied Major toy with the keypad setup to send MIDI notes out. Internal tone generator works as well, although that is not MIDI. Next up is a 5 Oscillator box/synth. Sounds are pretty neat, I really love the case though, wonder what it was originally. Last but not least is a circuit bent AM/FM radio. Not sure what it really sounds like, but I have a pretty good idea that its just a feedback circuit of some sort.

Attack of the 9090 clones has some interesting info on building a 9090 clone.

9090 User Guide | pdf
74kb | date : 16/11/02
9090 Parts list | pdf
29kb | date : 5/Jan/04
9090 Wiring guide | pdf
86kb | date : 14/10/02
9090 Board layouts | pdf
237kb | date : 14/10/02
9090 Schematics | pdf
203kb | date : 10/6/02

There is a complete part list plus board layouts and useful links to other clone sites. It does look to be fairly complicated but the interesting part is the schematics for each individual drum sound.

EA-1 probbing deeper

One of the main ICs located on the board turns out to be H8S/2350 microcontroller.
Taken from the website of Renesas Technology.

“The H8S/2350 Group is a group of high-performance microcontrollers with the internal 32-bit H8S/2000 CPU core, and a set of on-chip supporting functions required for system configuration.

The H8S/2000 CPU can execute basic instructions in one state, and is provided with sixteen 16-bit general registers with a 32-bit internal configuration, and a concise and optimized instruction set. The CPU can handle a 16 Mbyte linear address space (architecturally 4 Gbytes). Programs based on the high-level language C can also be run efficiently.
The address space is divided into eight areas. The data bus width and access states can be selected for each of these areas, and various kinds of memory can be connected fast and easily.
On-chip memory consists of large-capacity ROM (H8S/2351 only) and RAM.
On-chip supporting functions include a 16-bit timer pulse unit (TPU), programmable pulse generator (PPG), watchdog timer (WDT), serial communication interface (SCI), A/D converter, D/A converter, and I/O ports.
In addition, an on-chip DMA controller (DMAC) and data transfer controller (DTC) are provided, enabling high-speed data transfer without CPU intervention.
Use of the H8S/2350 Group enables easy implementation of compact, high-performance systems capable of processing large volumes of data.”

C language with a serial interface, now we are talking!
From further reading it seems like this chip is perfect for music applications. However for some interesting bedtime reading refer to the full Chip Document located Here.

Get Lofi Gallery

Being back from vacation I’ve been out of the loop. So the update today is gonna consist of a new feature added to the site, a long awaited Gallery!

I do take alot of pictures while circuit bending and modding. So this should be great for keeping those. The first Gallery is alot Electribe EA-1 board pictures some of which were discussed in the previous post. The gallery is also perma-linked on the leftside, enjoy.

EA-1, ER-1 in disguise?

As it were, noone on the net has put up any inside pictures of either ER-1 or EA-1. So taking the matter in my own hands I carefuly taken my EA-1 appart to snag some images. With this information bending/modifying of these units may be possible.

Just from looking at the makings on the board it appears to be that ER-1 and EA-1 are very simular, and as a matter of fact possibly even interchangable! As seen in one of the images the ER-1 and EA-1 functions are separated by a single jumper on the board.

The extra output can been spotted by looking at the outside case.
By comparing the difference in knobs and the emply spots on the board. It appears that the waveform pot is missing from the EA-1 board. This would definatelly open up alot of potential in EA-1 giving it more then just saw, square, and ramp. The second missing knob is located in the place of the Delay depth spot on ER-1.

From one of the main DSP chips there is a wealth of jumpers leading to the memory chip located just above. Those jumpers are not used. I was told that the sound engine is the same as MS-2000. The same source was also right on the two DSP chips located inside of the unit.

My conclusion:
It is not unheard of for companies to use the same boards and chipsets on different instruments and equipment. The other day I was reading about modding DVD players to make them better and adding Cartridge slots to the ATARI FLASHBACK 2.0. So I guess anything is possible, even modding EA-1 into an ER-1 or vise versa.

The next step is to aquire an ER-1 for more board shots. If my theory is true then all the parts present of EA-1 will be missing from the ER-1. Ofcourse there are the control interface differences, however those could be overcome with MIDI control, somehow.

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