Friday, October 30, 2009


I watched an interesting promotional video today from electro-harmonix, manufacturer of guitar pedals.

What interested me the most in the video is when they used something silly looking as an input for the expression pedal, they soldered a LDR (light-dependent resistor) to a stereo guitar jack, and it created interesting theremin-ish sliding of sound.

So, of course i wanted in on that action, and after scavenging needed parts from the boxes i have laying around, i created thereminizer (it is popular now to call your instruments something-izer and something-ism, just look at throbbing gristle recently :), oh and i used a mono jack.

Ok, so i made this in a few minutes, it is rather cheap and easy to build, and it would be a shame if you didn't build it yourself.

Does it work? Well yes and no, it worked erratically on my distortion, there was a constant hum, so you couldn't control anything with it. On my delay it was a bit better, since you could control the amount of hum by opening and closing the LDR with the palm of the hand. Yet the most fun thing about this little shit was when i connected it to my kaoss pad. it made swirling noises on filters and lfos, chippy geiger counter like crackles on granularizer (-izer? :) it sounded dubby on delay, and sampling on the kaoss pad enabled me to make layers of sound.

I haven't tried it as an expression pedal. Might do that tomorrow, if i find time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Digital lomography

How many of you have heard of lomography?
Seeing that this is (although scarcely populated and visited) arty-farty themed blog, there is a high possibility that you have.
To tell you the truth, i have a love-hate relationship with it. I don't talk about the usual criticisms of you can find on-line. Yes they are after the money (as any other company), and yes they are overpricing the cameras you can find on the eastern european flea markets for pennies, but ok, it's their business model, and no one makes you buy from them (on the other hand, they are the ONLY distributors for LOMO cameras).
My main problem with them is the "lifestyle" part of their marketing. You know, the feel-nice, life-is-good, oh-look-at-the-cutesy-brightly-colored-plastic hipster bullshit. That and the fact that 99% lomographers keep shooting the same few motives over and over again.
mhhh...ok, enough of this rant, let's do something useful.
A year ago i got an korg's electribe sampler, for which korg decided to use a deprecated technology called smart-media (precursors to today's SSD and similar memory cards), and because of that, i could not find any new cards locally and reckoned that the easiest and cheapest way to obtain those is by purchasing them second hand from some photographer, as these cards were extensively used in early digital cameras. And i did find a photographer, but he only wanted to sell me his cards (32 and 64MB) if i bought them with his old camera...for 40 euros (new ones were around 50euros for a 128MB, and i could not find 64MB which is the maximum allowed capacity for the electribe).
So i bought the bloody camera, and until today it was left in some box.
I had in the back of my head that it would be kewl if i could hack it into something that might be useful to wifey and her experimental photo escapades.As it turns out, after gruesome opening and disassembly process, it is fairly easy to make the camera make glitched photos. I show you only the end result as i was intoxicated with solder fumes when it was open.

The hack is this: open your old camera, and locate the CMOS chip. It should be behind the lens. So what you should do is find the chip's pins on the other side of the PCB and carefully solder several thin wires to the top row of pins, then drill the case of the camera to pass the wires. What these wires now do is enable you to mix and mash colors which come to the optical chip, and this is rather fun. Now comes the fun part, assemble the camera, and play around with wires, you can touch them to one another, or you could make gradual changes if you solder some pots to the end of the wires, or, if you are feeling spontaneous, you can solder some light dependent resistors. What i am planning is a modular system, where you can exchange different parts, so stay tuned.

How is this digital lomography? Well, the faultiness of this old camera prevents you from having a screen for imaging, so you rely solely on heuristics for achieving the result, and this in turn leads to many happy accidents!

Until then, look at some quick pictures i made using this thing