Best albums of 2016

Here’s my top picks for best albums of 2016. I dunno, 2016 wasn’t a great new music year for me. I mean, I discovered lots of new music, but most of it wasn’t fresh so to speak.

The Albums, in no particular order:
    • Voice of the Void – Anciients. These guys are a great Canadian band from Vancouver. Interesting metal with lots of layers. A good follow up album to Heart of Oak, which is always near the top of my records pile.


    • III – Asteroid. New to me with this album, fuzzy rock with stories of the devil throughout.


Elephant Tree
    • Elephant Tree – Elephant Tree. The last album was great, and this one is even greater! Got my vinyl preorder two weeks before the album was released and listened to it over and over!


  • Repeated Exposure to… – 1000Mods. Another band that’s new to me. More fuzz, more rock, and more heaviness. Good vibes keep this one steady.


  • The Winds That Forestall Thy Return – Summit. Largely instrumental with heavy sludge metal riffs, this debut album gets a lot of play time.


If These Trees Could Talk
  • The Bones of a Dying World – If These Trees Could Talk. Big fan of the progressive intricate ambiance created in this album. A perfectly detailed imaginary story.


  • The End of Electricity – Domkraft. More heavy fuzzy sludge doom whatever. You get it, that’s this year.


Devin Townsend Project
  • Transcendence – The Devin Townsend Project. Well Devin will always be up there in any list I make. He is probably my favorite musician/entertainer. He’s quite an amazing and interesting guy that puts on fun performances. Although he’s gotten a lot softer with age, he’s still churning out new, different, jams.

Well, I don’t even have a “Top Ten”, it’s more like a “Decent Eight”, but that will have to do. By no means to a consider this THE LAW, but I would definitely recommend giving these a listen.

Been A While

Well, it’s been a while to say the least. I’ve been in BC over a year now, and I’m pretty set up in the geek/DIY department. I’ve taken on some crazy new projects (a car????) and I’ve been a part of other peoples projects.

In this last year:

  • Got my drivers license
  • Built a guitar tube amp
  • Built various guitar pedals
  • Swapped an engine in a 92 Honda Accord
  • Built a small rack to hold this server
  • upgraded my pi music player to Volumio with an i2s DAC
  • Built some braided CAT6 speaker cables
  • Started and built a prototype CMOS noise synth (more to come!)
  • Installed Arch Linux on an 80$ Thinkpad (took a while!)

Obviously I’ve done more then that, but those seemed like the most relevant and mention worthy feats…. not like anyone reads this. Anyway, I will try and kick my butt into gear and get posting stuff about project I’m working on.

Getting Ready For The Move

I’m moving across the country with my girlfriend so I’m going to have to do something about this site. Today we saw a major theme update, lots of css and maybe a little konami easter egg, but that doesn’t solve the problem of the fact that my server wont be plugged in for at least a week! Plus my girlfriend and I just started a new blog to document our move/future adventures, and I’ll need to keep that online during the move! Then of course the server is also hosting my ever important photography site.  Initiate backup plan:

  1. Clone HDD
  2. Find new PC
  3. Setup new PC with cloned HDD
  4. Find someone to hold, power, and forward port 80 for one week

Well let me just say, I love Linux, Unix, whatever you want to call it. Non of this crappy driver BS we get stuck with using windows. My Ubuntu Server install probes the hardware at start up and loads the appropriate drivers. BOOM, whats up now! That makes cloning to other PC’s, or even just moving your HDD between hardware pretty simple. Obviously not everything is going to work, and in my case it was still pretty simple. The UUID of my SWAP got changed and my Ethernet adapter went from eth0 to eth1. Not too tough to figure out!

To clone my drive I used Gparted Live on USB. Its quite excellent and simple to use with a nice GUI. The command line is awesome, but often poking around with a mouse is more intuitive. The hardest part in this was the fact that the PSU in my server has only one SATA plug. I remedied that by cutting one off a blown PSU and jamming the wires into a free molex plug. HA, close enough.

Next I had to find a new PC and got a donor from my buddy JM. It’s an older HP with a Pentium 4 and 4 gigs of ram. Hell, that’s even better then what I’m running my server on now! Best of all, its SUPER quiet, so that’s a hit when you need to convince someone to keep a computer on 24/7.

Now I just have to head to my buddy Dru’s place to set up the server. He’s generously agreed to house the machine during my trip. Great!

computer mess
Working on the floor, that’s how I do it.

Dwuino – First Proto.

Well just as expected I woke up, reviewed my layout/schematic and had a few revelations. I decided to add a 3.3v regulator to the board and that proved to be a tricky task. For the regulators I am using cheap AMS1117’s, they have a pretty high voltage drop (around 1v) which makes them less then ideal, but they are good enough for this.

The updated schematic is as fallows. I also used a 3 pin external power connector to connect two grounds together where I couldn’t find another way. That makes a total of 3 jumper wires, the longest of which being the RESET.

One really great thing I learned in Eagle is the “naming” tool. If you name any two or more wires in the schematic it will ask you if you want them connected on the board! This makes it a lot easier to look at the schematic without tons of wires everywhere that you have to follow like a maze.

The PCB layout is pretty simular to the last one. The key here was to make it easy to toner transfer even if you’re new at the whole process (like me).

Assembly is rather straight forward. The longest part was drilling all the holes, I need to work on something better for doing that.

Dwuino prototype number 1
Dwuino prototype number 1 populated board.

Using mostly surface mount parts (and a minimal amount of them) makes soldering this board a breeze.

Dwuino prototype number 1
Dwuino prototype number 1 populated board bottom.

Its ALIVE! here we are running the Blink sketch from the Arduino software. All is good!

Dwuino prototype number 1
Dwuino prototype number 1 running the Blink sketch.

I did have one problem though. I plugged the power in backwards once and fried the two regulators! D’oh! I will have to look into Reverse Polarity Protection and find a good way to implement it into the PCB layout. Other then that though, I am happy. It works how it should, it didn’t take me THAT long, and it was cheap. I love DIY!

DWuino. My take on a home etchable Arduino clone.

Well I love the Arduino. It makes all sorts of things possible. My only problem is I always run out of them! I decided it was time to remedy this problem by coming up with my own clone that I could easily build myself with components that were easy for me to source. I will be using mostly SMB components because I find them to be easier on home etched PCBs then drilling holes. Don’t worry though, there’s still TONS of holes to drill on an Arduino clone since I still want the headers!

I have planned on omitting the USB and going with a serial connection. There will also be no ISP, I will program the chips in another platform before hand. With the left over space maybe I will add a prototyping zone? Hmmm.

Credit goes to the Nanino, the only other Arduino Uno foot print home etch board I could find.

Well that’s enough chat, here it is so far:

DWuino, Arduino clone
First look at the PCB
DWuino, an Arduino clone
DWuino Schematic

More to come! I will sleep on it and go over the schematic and PCB layout again before I attempt the etch and assembly.


RC and 2.4ghz

So the biggest thing in RC these days (air and land) is 2.4ghz. A few years ago it all moved from the days of crystals and 72mhz to the new frequency. The best, and worst, thing about it is that you no longer have to worry about what frequency everyone else is flying on (to a certain extent of course). The reason for this is that with the new bandwidth of 2.4ghz each company has introduced its own protocol, some even with frequency hopping, to keep the signals separate and glitch free. The reason why this sucks for the Regular Joe is because once you buy into a system you have to stick with their system (and prices). Lucky for us cheapos and hackers, the DIY community has been hard at work and most of the protocols have been hacked! I am using one hacked TX (transmitter) with 2 different modules that can work on nearly 10 different protocols! (Check it out HERE).

My friends arent so lucky though and they have Spektrum systems. What to do when we all wanted to buy the same quad copter that comes with a very limited TX almost too small to even use? While I had no problems because my TX already supports the protocol used (Hubsan), but not theirs. So I looked around and found just what I needed. A projects that uses a cheap RF module and an AVR to take a PPM output from any TX. More on that HERE and HERE.

Now all that was left for me to do is lay out some PCB’s and build some modules! This is one of the first projects I’ve ever used home etched PCB’s for and also one of the first projects I’ve used Eagle Cad PCB software for! Should be a fun experience!

The schematic I am using for reference.
The schematic I am using for reference.

There’s the schematic I’m fallowing from the linked thread above, should be fairly straight forward!

First I get all my components out

Getting everything in order. I Started with the power supply, the module I’m using can’t take more then 3.3v!

After getting everything laid out how I liked, I printed the board and etched it! At this point I would like to show you the final schematic and layout, but we aren’t going to because of what comes next. I had a few “….oh I don’t really need that part” moments. First off, I thought “Hey! I’ll only need to program the chips once, no need for ISP”…. Yeah right. And also, “The version sans crystal will be good enough”. Oh how was I wrong!

The good news is, my etch was great, soldering the board was fine, and it all worked ok. That wasn’t good enough. First off I wanted the traces on the back with the module on the opposite side. While for some reason, the Eagle part for the module that I used is already mirrored. That means I have to mirror it again to put it on the top. This wasn’t the end of the world because I was able to mirror it in real life and still install it, but that’s not really good enough for me! Next is the crystal. Quads are fun to fly, but drift is annoying. If your quad thinks you are giving it input and in fact you aren’t that’s even MORE annoying! So, back to the PCB software I go. In the meantime, at least I’ve got a proof of concept that works!

The etched board.
The etched board.

The pitting you see is actually because I am lazy. They only had double sided PCB so first I spray painted one side black, etched away the other side, and then removed the black and etched this side. Well the black got scratched before etching. My laziness, live and learn I guess. It didn’t cause any problems though.

Some ghetto ISP
Some ghetto ISP

This is how we do it Ghetto Style; Magnet wire and a fine tipped soldering iron. It works…

Green LED means we are bound!
Green LED means we are bound!

Well it kinda works, too bad it’s not as good as I hoped! Time for REV.2!


Konami Easter Egg by

Konami Easter Egg by