Wednesday, December 31, 2014

SMART Phone Mix Monitor

A few months ago we did a Blog post on changing monitor environments since the 1980s  that suggested a smart phone monitor is also important to now consider...

So this is our mono SMART Phone Mix Monitor Prototype.  It is based on a SAMSUNG Galaxy Smart Phone Speaker from eBay, an old floppy disc case and a stereo jack and cable salvaged from a PC speaker set. Put together using a hot glue gun.

It is actually an 8 ohm driver. The unit needs to be mounted to a panel to give any type of sound volume, hence the floppy case. It will be wired up in a similar way to our Auratone clone.  The details of making that can be found here.

This is a round device, which makes it a little easier to cut the hole for than the Apple iPhone spare parts I saw....

We can be contacted at Art & Technology

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Heavy Metal Garage (Board) Game MockUp

We have our eBook on Amazon - The Heavy Metal Garage  and a webcomic  and we have been thinking about the Heavy Metal Garage (Drinking) Board Game.  The above being a mockup mostly done in Photoshop.

It is based on the theme of Car rebuilding/ Hot Rodding.  This combines the comic with interactive jokes on the Fortune and Event cards.  Of course the things that help you get ahead in this car "rebuild/ hot rodding" game are a skilled friend and having the great workshop tools, like the "ACME MOTIVATOR", "ACME STEEL CAPPED BOOTS OF STOMPING GOODNESS" and "ACME BOLT PERSUASION" .......and all the "ACME PARTS" you need

It is still just an experiment at the moment and focussed on the Card Jokes and Illustrations.

You would say boardgames are dead and gone, but I think the same about Vinyl Records. And they aren't. You also cannot drink with your computer!

We can be contacted at Art & Technology.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

DIY Studio 50W RMS Channel LM3886 based Amplifier

We use passive speakers in our modest studio and so use a stereo amp to power them.  The 1970s Rotel Receiver we had been using for the last 8 years had recently died and we were using a stand in CLASS T amp, that even though it sounded good, has a reputation for an early death.

We also had all the bits and pieces from prototype things we have developed over the years and after seeing you can get the assembled guts of an amplifier, using the wonderful LM3886 IC on ebay for about the same as just buying the ICs , it seemed a useful exercise to make an amplifier using them.  All I really had to buy was a case to put it in. So I ordered a flat pack rack box and slowly set to work among the other paid projects I had going. 

This is the term to search for on ebay for what we ordered:
HIFI YJ LM3886 68W+68W stereo amplifier board 3pcs total  , 
US $23.20 free shipping.

For your money, you don't get any documentation or schematics of any kind. I had to reverse engineer the PCBs to see what I had.

Without going into all the details (may be I will write it all up later, and clean up all my hand drawn sketches), over a few months it is now finished.  Some pictures above of the initial test assembly.

We have the mains and transformers front left, and the signal inputs back right, as far away as possible.  The heatsinks with the modules run down the far right of the case, as the case top cover has ventilation slots in that area. 

I used two multi-tapped transformers to get the +/- 24VAC needed for the PSU board, as I had them.  I wired the primaries out of phase to each other, like a hum bucker. Does that make it hum less?   Not sure, but the resulting amp has no background hum.

The case is connected to mains earth. The audio electronics are only earthed via the RCA input ground connections. The RCA sockets are isolated from the case.  Possibly a 10R between audio ground and chassis would not go astray here....

I added 2A fuses in the 30V rails to the modules, and an old relay speaker protection unit I had. Modified it with a bigger relay and changed the 30V to 15V supply to include a 5W 56R series resistor and a 7815 regulator, instead of just a zener diode. Runs cooler that way.

We bought a Dremel grinding stone,  using it in our standard drill, to remove the powdercoat around all the case screw holes and any place an earth connection is needed.  This is required to actually make a completely earthed and shielded metal box.

During the initial testing of the assembled modules we found they worked, but there was a low level oscillation you call motor boating.  The modules don't have any stability components to roll of the HF amp gain, or any output zobel networks. The High pass around the feedback (the 1k and 22uF) is at a very low 7Hz and would be better off being a bit higher.  The data sheet suggests a cap across the differential input of the LM3886 helps too, but we have not done this.
Adding these fixed, or seems to at the moment, with normal RCA cables connected to the input, the issues and now it seems like a rock solid amp module.  If it was just an opamp, a capacitor across the feedback resistor would have been enough, but it isn't just like an opamp... 

I also reduced the input attenuation so the volume on my monitor controller has the range I'm used to.
The amp is way quieter then the Rotel amp was.  There is no audible hum or noise from the amp they way I use it.

The amp speaker outputs are connected to my studio speaker selector box, that also has a headphone output and additional PTC speaker protection. This connects to 4 sets of speakers and can mute the speakers for just headphone listening.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Mazda Turbochanged RX2 Drag Car Vector Design Wireframe Reveal

A recent drag car vector design, showing a little of what goes into making such an illustration.  It is all made of of shapes that have a graduation from one color to another or lines. All stacked on top of each other to get the desired effect.

Very different from the digitally painted comic book approach, that we also do, even though the starting sketch is the same.

Here is a video of other recent works, most of which were done in the digitally painted method. It also has one of our  original electronic soundtracks.

 We can be contacted at Art & Technology.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Front Engined Dragster, Topbike, 4x4 Corvette and Cadillac Cartoon Shirts!!!!

New Heavy Metal Garage cartoon designs shirt at our  online store !!!!

And at new lower prices!

Friday, November 7, 2014

FREE Heavy Metal Garage 2015 Calendar

We have prepared a FREE 13 page Vavavavoooom Heavy Metal Garage 2015 Calendar as a PDF this year. It even has featured the special events, New Years Eve, News Years DAY and the LeMans 24 Hours!!!

Has plenty of space to mark any OTHER dates you might be able to come up with too, like when you need an oil change or should change your guitar strings..

Available here  Heavy Metal Garage 2015 Calendar

And this is how you assemble it!

Contact us at Art & Technology 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Digital Comic Car Caricature Cartoons

Another example of the way we do the digital comic style caricature cartoons, from a 13+ series of car icons done for a car forum website.

We start with our base template for the first car of the series, and draw the body in blue pencil.  I use 0.5mm blue leads, such as Staedtler Mars micro color,  in a mechanical pencil.

This pencil can be erased, but the coolest thing is that you just ink straight over it and don't have to erase it once inked.  That saves a step that damages the black ink and paper. Scanning in RGB allows you to drop out the blue channel and are left with just the black inked lines.

This is the same way we have done our Heavy Metal Garage Webcomic.

That is scanned and then colored in Photoshop, using a Wacom tablet to airbrush most of the colour.

We can be contacted for freelance work at Art & Technology.

Friday, October 10, 2014

e Type Jag Car Cartoon Caricature

Jag Car Cartoon Caricature

Recently did a series of 12 car caricatures and a logo for a car building website and its various sub sections, and this is one varied to make a sample cartoon by adding a driver.... the E-Type Jag, in the style of our Heavy Metal Garage Cartoon series.

These aren't vector designs like most of our commissioned work is, but were done in blue pencil, inked in black pens, scanned, then colored in Photoshop to produce the transparent background PNG files in the way you do a comic...

Also did Toyota Celica, Mazda RX3, Ford XY GTR, Valiant Charger, first Holden Sandman , Holden Torana, 1971 Holden Monaro, 1962 Corvette, BMW e21, early Ford truck and a modern tuner style Mustang.

We can be contacted at  Art & Technology and do design work to customers requirements.

Xtreme iPhone 6, Does it Bend?

Most things can be reinforced and made unbreakable.  The Show XTREME 4x4 and host Ian Johnson are all about that.

.... the guy Apple should talk to about making a really tough, unbendable iPhone 6.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Project Studio Monitor Speakers, Then and Now.

Studios used to have huge 15" woofer based main monitors, Yamaha NS10 bookshelf speakers and 5" Auratones on the mixer bridge, as the picture above from 1986 shows.

There are many stories of classic albums being mainly mixed on the Auratones, while the main monitors were just used to impress the record company executes, or during tracking.

Small Project Studios now rule, and everyone has one.  The current fashion is to have them based around powered 2 way monitors with 5" to 8" woofers.

But that isn't what we have. We were using an old 30W channel Hi-Fi amp with passive 8" 3 way bookshelf near field monitors, larger 10" 2 way tower type far monitors, topped off with our Auraclone and some tiny 3" computer speakers. All these things modified or rebuilt.   The switch box selecting them is a DIY unit using the case from an old PC printer selector unit for instance.

But the point of this article is the tiny computer monitors for checking low end playback. They are what we use much of the time now. And we have recently rebuilt them from 4 ohm 3" 2W units to 8 ohm 2" 10W units using SWAN B2S drivers.

Used thin MDF to make new baffles for the smaller drivers, cut the plastics and put it together with contact cement and some hot glue.


An Auratone and our Auraclone is too Hi-Fi to now judge the low end delivery platforms.  As most of our videos and music will be listened to on a Laptop, Smart Phone or tablet with built in tiny speakers, if you haven't got a bass sound with enough upper harmonics, it will just disappear.  Also if the midrange sounds are too bright, that is all that comes across.  Putting a high pass filter in the Master output at 400Hz or 500Hz helps too with this worst case,

We also put tracks on our cheap Android phone with a mono speaker and that has proven instructional. So much so that we plan to get a replacement Galaxy Phone speaker (they are about $3 on eBay, which appears to be a 32 ohm unit?) and connect that into our monitor set up and see how that compares.

The world has changed. Hi-Fi isn't a thing any more, and people use much smaller audio systems as the lowest common denominator. The low end reference needs to change.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology, and check out our YouTube Channel or our music on SoundCloud.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Rough Starting Scribble to Final Rendered Illustrations Video

We have put up another 3 minute sketches to final video on YouTube.

The main purpose of these isn't so much to show "how to draw", but to show that the really, really rough starting sketch is a part of the design process, and not indicative of the final quality work.

They are rough because we cannot afford to spend a lot of time refining the initial starting concept, as it may not be the one used.  To put that another way, if the initial sketches were refined, the customer would have to pay for several finished illustrations, rather than the one they want.

The instrumental music in this is also unlike most of our stuff, in that it doesn't have any guitar in it. It is all Arturia Arp2600 VST and drums, all put together in Reaper using a Roland Midi Keyboard Controller.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Youtube Music Video Demos

We now have a few video at our Youtube channel.

They combine our original music with samples of our graphics, how they were made,  or a demo of some technical article from our main website, Art & Technology.

Currently the most played video shows initial rough sketches, a few progress steps and the final illustration for a series of our car caricatures.

But that changes. Not always the same.

I find it interesting that these get played far more than just the soundtracks on SoundCloud.  That is really because most of the video have an educational "how To" aspect to them, especially the ones that accompany the articles on the website.

Check them out!

Friday, June 6, 2014

From the God Father of the Yahama DX-7....and other synthesisers

I have visited Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics,  CCRMA, pronouced karma, and met John Chowning several times. During the Tokyo ICMC I was even a bit of a translator at a restaurant with him and a few other attendees.

He invented FM Synthesis, which Yamaha then went off to refine and eventually produce the Yahama DX-7. The biggest selling synthesiser until the Korg M1 hit.

John of course is a composer, and has been in the Academic Computer Music world for a long time, and the CD he gave me was of his works.....  this isn't pop music.....

I spent years in Music Technology R&D and attended the International Computer Music Conferences and AES trade shows, and a few others.....

You probably didn't notice me as I kept a very low profile. One of those that did know who I was was Dave Smith, of Sequential Circuits fame, even though he was at Korg R&D at that time.

This is a really interesting talk on Dave Smith's history and what he has been involved with.

I have some parallels with some of that in my own career..... details here

I can be contacted at Art & Technology

Friday, May 23, 2014

Something different - Fun in the Sun Synth Instrumental

This 3 minute track is mostly ARP2600V from Arturia with some drums and guitar. Fun bouncy, happy.... put together in Reaper.  The distorted wha guitar is the only thing similar to many of our other tracks...

The surfing suited Astronaut  makes what fun and what sun a bit clearer....  and we did have Dark Star and the Red Dwarf ending theme "fun fun fun in the sun sun sun" in mind too....

We can be contacted at Art & Technology

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Finding Your Audience...

There is a really interesting article on Joe Satriani as a business man. The Unexpected Entrepreneur: One-on-One With Joe Satriani

What it points out though, as even if you can do everything, produce a great product, have complete artistic control, you still need connections to get out to an audience.

You might have the most brilliant material, in whatever field your in, but no one will know about it without help. Joe's break was his album was used, AND credited when played, in the Winter Olympics broadcasts that year.

Even with the self publishing options now, we all still have the same problem of discovery, and the problem that MOST people don't go and find new stuff. They wait for someone else to do the mining and refining and point it out for them.

And I don't have the answer to that.  Wish I did.

Don't have a 16 step sequence to follow.....

Joe says you need to tell your story, as that has impacted on what you create.
Now you tell your story through your works, which in my own case is quite a mixed bag of things. You are a combination of you influences, cultures exposed to and discoveries.

I'm one that has always drawn pictures and made things.  And in the process of growing up with influences like Astroboy and Thunderbirds have also seen technology as a future hope. Something that Science Fiction, and not fantasy, has also contributed too, as have the hi tech motor sports of CAN-AM, Le Mans and high end drag racing and custom vehicles. But due to the influence of music, the electric guitar and audio, took me to university studies in electronics and software, and not car design.

And the music of Dr Who puts another unusual twist on things. The theme music for Who is probably one of our oldest musical influences. And then Deep Purple took us in another direction, where Machine Head is still one of our favourites, but don't forget the car cartooning of Ed Roth or Dave Deal, or design of Tom Daniel.

Now professionally I ended up being involved with music production and instrument design at Fairlight Instruments Australia and Roland Japan for a while. Cutting edge electronics and firmware development in fact. One being used in making some versions of the Dr Who theme, as it turns out, but that didn't stop me drawing and being involved in the graphics arts too.  A lot ends up being vehicle centric.  And I'm not  an employee of an instrument company now.

I spent a long time living and working in Japan in a synthesiser company, that also took me around the world and to non synthesiser things. About half my working life in Japan in fact.  In Japan, design is also very important. Comics are also not just kids stuff there, and that visual communication is also very significant in how we work now.

All comes down to Art and Technology in the end, and both are a studio based, crafted activity to us.

We do freelance, technical, illustration and design work, and people generally find us at our website.

But we also have our own book on Amazon, and music on Soundcloud and videos on YouTube.

I wish it was just a simple 16 step sequence.

This short electronic track can be found to download if you have a quick look. Most of our stuff though, is heavy guitar based.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Arduino MIDI Controller Development

We have updated our site with a short article with source code for a Arduino Mega 2560 - Midi Merging Analog Controller

The article is a about a quick mock up of a controller with MIDI IN, MIDI OUT and 3 analog controllers that send MIDI Controller Messages, on the MIDI Channel it receives from the MIDI IN.

The system could be adapted to not use MIDI OUT, and only send via the USB.

We are doing this as a first step in making a controller for VST instruments in our music production environment.  We will be expanding this with more and other controllers.

It could be possible this will also work with the AlternateSerial that produces an extra serial port in software for the UNO version.

This is a short demo video of the mock up

We can be contacted at Art & Technology.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Alleged Facebook Fraud, YouTube, Buying Likes, Subscribers and Social Media

We determined some time ago that Facebook for our business was a waste of time. It just showed the posts I made to such a small percentage of those that LIKED the page that it is a complete joke compared to our actual website and even this blog page views.

And this video seems to explain why.  Even though I haven't bought likes or advertised, I think many people, including myself get impacted by this fraud activity.

I think my subscribers on Facebook AND YouTube (and I would assume all other Social Media Sites too) are mostly on my channel and page to "fool the fraud algorithms".
They have no interest in what I do, but get paid to like or subscribe to OTHER pages and channels, and need a few pages they aren't getting paid to like to make it not so obvious what they are doing.

As of today, my YouTube channel has some 68 subscribers, quite a few from the countries mentioned in the above video, yet I post a new video and get only 6 views, in 3 days and get zilch engagement.

The views on YouTube are also such a small percentage of the our website views that I have often thought it is a waste of effort too. It just happens to be fun to produce the material I post, as it combined our original music and images.

12 months ago I read a few Kindle Marketing Books, and many discussed using and other places to buy likes, spam, reviews, comments with links on other sites and such crud.  I haven't done any of that.  I haven't even written my own glowing review of my book on Amazon.   And have now seen that EVERYBODY else does.

Thing is Facebook, Google and the other walled communities profit from this fraud too.  Gives the impression of activity and interest, which keeps people coming back to post more stuff and exposure to the advertising there.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Time Lapse Drawing Car Cartoon "Music" Video - Our Webcomic Style

The first time lapse drawing video we have done.

Put together a "vertical tripod", a sturdy frame that holds a video camera pointing straight down at the work surface. Used on hand shelf construction angle to make a stand that sits on the desk, about 1 meter wide and 58cm tall, with the camera support in the center top.

This is our first go at a 2 minute drawing video. Doesn't start with a blank page, just the photo blue pencil rough, but drawing that looks just like the redraw in ink shown here.

The video is sped up 4x normal in Sony Vegas Movie Studio.  Would like to have it faster, as cut off the start and end to get it to fit here. That requires some pre-processing of the video. Will try that next time.

The drawing style is what we have done for our webcomic. Loose black ink with Photoshoped colour.

The soundtrack was produced in Reaper, our DAW of choice, using real guitar and a bunch of VST synthesisers along with a KORG Monotron....

The Webcomic itself can be found here

We do freelance design work too. We have more examples of vector work and can be contacted at Art & Technology.