Audiophile power conditioners.

voltsGiving 5oo€ for a audiophile power conditioner sounds crazy but depending on the tech inside it might actually help prolong the lifetime of your Hi-Fi gear. Yes, I actually wrote that and I’m not joking.
Archimago’s blog has a great objective test and review about a power conditioner from a very reputable brand called Belkin.
Belkin unlike some audiophile brands actually has some pretty amazing engineering behind their surge protectors and power conditioners.

Sadly its not always the case with audiophile brands, often selling their so called filters and cheap surge protectors inside glamorized power strips.
Anyone with a little knowledge about electricity will notice the ripoff on the components and so called tech. I had the sad vision of a so called power conditioner selling for 5oo€ that had a very minimalist construction, so minimal that my Lidl brand surge protector power strip might have more engineering inside.

Audiophiles will buy that kind of gear and expect better sound because the power line is being filtered, but the gear in question is so basic any DIY enthusiast can actually build something similar from way less money and do a better job at filtering and surge protection. I won’t point fingers at bad brands because I don’t want any legal problems but I advise anyone who really needs a solid power conditioner to search for reputable brands like Belkin or APC.

I also advise anyone who doesn’t have a surge protector to buy one for their sensitive gear, I might actually save the day, specially during thunderstorms.

Raspberry pi + Wolfson Audio Card project.

 

So I finally finished my Raspberry pi + Wolfson Audio Card project.

Yea, I was lazy….anyway I now can play 24-bit, 192KHz lossless audio on my rig and there’s no need for a power hungry computer.

The Pi box is behind the TFT, its a simple black box similar with the one with a wood front in the photo. HDD is next to the decks and yea I’m gonna disconnect the blue LED ou cover up that light.
I did a little overclock to the CPU but nothing too serious, heat dissipation is enough and the box has an open back.
I also have a little hub to connect the keyboard and mouse.

Software wise the Wolfson cards suck…most distros out there aren’t compatible with it.
It runs the OS image provided by the amazing Ragnar Jensen.

As for playing music, it does sound nice and there aren’t dropouts or noticeable hum.
Anyway I’ll put a decent keyboard on the thing when I can.

On a final notice, stay away from this board as it doesn’t have decent support.
There are better things out there these days.

Don’t make stuff to sell it cheap.

I enjoy crafts, they are fun, you can make great gifts and if you need a second income they might at least pay some bills related with your hobby.

One thing I don’t enjoy is browsing ebay or etsy just to find really good home made gear for cheap. Most of you must think I’m crazy or something but I have a serious reason to rant about DIY gear sold for peanuts.

If you sell cheap you are hurting people who actually build gear to make a living.

People who build gear must sell it to make some profit, besides paying taxes, utility bills, tool repair and replacement, hourly wage and insurances.

Everyone has a different pricing system but it often takes in account all of the above things plus many others related to country lawys, etc.

Now if you just do it for fun selling cheap might be a fast way to get rid of old projects and at least have the price of the components back and that’s fine if you are only selling to your pals, but if you actually build stuff to sell online for a cheap price that only includes your wage and the components price that’s really unfair to all the other makers who try to make a living.

Most people I know who sell cheap gear have a first job and the second income is just to pay for other ongoing projects.

Selling cheap DIY clones is also a great way to hurt companies that actually make R&D for their products.

Remember my rant about someone asking me to sell Grado headphone amplifiers, yea thats pretty much illegal and I really like the Grado family so it would be wrong to do it.

Sadly I see many makers selling Grado clones like its a normal thing to do. Bullshit in my modest opinion.

Also to my attention came the fact that some audiophile DIY gear stores closed their doors, I find it curious that some actually remained open for so long, specially if you know how much money it takes to build a piece of gear and what those stores where asking for the said gear. Selling for cheap in the long run will kill a store if the owner forgets that taxes and other legal obligations must be paid.

Makers should sell gear but always understanding that such gear should be priced in a correct and fair way.

That way some people should at least understand that handmade takes dedication and work.

Stencil on denim jacket.

 

This one I did today and it’s my second attempt at painting denim.
Again stencil on denim with 2 shades of red paint and white posca pen.
I wanted a vintage look and I think it doesn’t look bad.

I don’t enjoy painting letters, not sure why but it’s hard.
Anyway I love the old Indian Motorcycles so I went for that on this jacket.
Took me also less than 3 hours from start to end.
I wont add any Indian logo because I want a discrete jacket.

My workbench these days.


My electronics and little project desk on my rainy living room.
Not shown are the 4 boxes with drawers I got on the other side of the room, those are where I keep most of my DIY stuff.
I can use my attic for storage space but only for power tools and heavy tools I don’t use often. Sadly the attic is a blazing hell reaching temps of at least 50º Celsius during the Summer so I’m limited to the stuff I can stash here, on the other hand my attic is an amazing place to dry clothes!

Today my dad gave me 8 wood boards that I needed to work on the side of my house. He just saved me 100€. I can finally work to solve some problems my 40 year old house has on the outside walls and roof.

Laptop stand.


My laptop runs hot in the Summer and I mean forge hot, so I had to build this stand for it.
IKEA plastic stand, Cooler Master fan I had around and a 12V transformer.
It works, I really need to practice my drilling without a drilling stand. 😄
Little detail you don’t see easily, the fan is mount on silicon pads.

DIY community spaces

Yes, there are a lot of names for DIY community spaces so I’ll use my own term avoiding possible misunderstandings.

Most DIY community spaces are quite amazing, at least the ones I have the chance to see online. I never actually had the time or the wish to visit the ones in Lisbon so I don’t know the ”vibe” or the community.  
Some of you will ask why I don’t have the wish to visit the ones in Lisbon, I’ll explain or at least try to give an idea why I don’t feel curious about those spaces.

The best DIY space in Lisbon asks for more than 1000€ yearly, sure you got access to all tools but you still need to pay to use some equipment like 3D printers and you can’t use your own filament, now for that price I’ll buy a 3D printer and work at home.
Don’t get me wrong I understand why they don’t let you use your own filament and I also understand the machines needs maintenance but in my opinion something is a bit off with the idea behind a community space that seems to run with a “for profit” business model in mind at least looking at the price tables.

Sadly the idea behind most DIY community spaces is to make money from makers.
Sure I understand who runs the space needs to make at least some profit to pay rent, insurance, bills, and any staff that the place needs but looking at the membership prices it just feels wrong. In the US asking for $150 monthly is just fine because the wage is a bit different from the Portuguese one.
Asking for 100€ monthly in a Portuguese space will not attract young makers at all, unless the business model only wants freelance professionals, but in that case the space should have another name, like a community small business hub or something similar.

The only way those DIY community spaces can truly succeed is to bring new blood to the community, the prices should reflect the members income or lack of it.
Sure this doesn’t apply (thankfully) to all DIY community spaces, specially the ones build around electronics and coding. 
I understand all space founders need to have an income and pay the bills but profit isn’t usually the spirit of the maker community. A good DIY community space should improve the life of all users, if there was indeed some profit it should be channeled to better gear and services of space, not channeled to the pockets of the founders.

I know there are many ideas of what is community work so the opinion above is just one of them.   

As for me, I was lucky to have a father that had a place to build stuff, it wasn’t a community but it was fun for a 9 year old kid.

Audio server.


I will put a power switch on the thing for safety reasons, half ass shielding for the wolfson card, 3 RCA output, one for TV and two for audio.
The connections I wont use will not be on the back panel, this way I’ll minimize stray interference aka the cable antenna effect.  If by any chance I do need any outputs I’ll add them later.

The audio server will not have a “power on” LED, mostly because the switch will control the TFT, and believe me the thing has enough blue LEDs for rave party. The switch will be sideways this way shit (accidental shutdown) happens less.
Damn that shielding looks nice for my headphone amp…thank you Sony for the inspiration! 😄

Geocities and audio Projects

Before wordpress, blogspot , facebook, myspace and livejournal there was a place called Geocities, on that place one could (and still can via mirrors) find lots of audio projects. If you enjoy some nostalgia do search for mirrors of Geocities or just visit the wayback machine. 

These day I browse the geocities a lot. You guys/gals can call me an old timer because in a way I am.