About

Michael Zucchi

 B.E. (Comp. Sys. Eng.)

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Friday, 28 December 2018, 08:46

Speaker Boxes and Music Players

I finally got around to mostly finishing the speakers I was making out of recovered drivers. Here's a bit of a photo-diary of the final stages.

Here we have the completed woodwork. It has been glued and sanded square. I'm mostly happy with how it turned out but I could have done a bit more sanding; I was over it by then. In each case I pretty much practiced on one and got better on the other one, hence a few differences here and there. The one on the left is unpainted and the one on the right has a coat of sanding sealer and also the binding post mounting mechanism.

Three undercoats, lots of sanding and two overcoats and it's ready to be put together.

Given the paint was so expensive ($90) I did a bit of a shit job in the end; I just got sick of dealing with everything. First I had a cheap throwaway brush which I should've just thrown away before I even started. Then the paint was too thick for the weather and needed more thinning, then I tried using a small roller - but again i got some cheap junk which left behind piles of dust and shit, and because I hadn't used a roller before I didn't apply it as well as I might have.

The next shot just shows the mounting point for the binding posts.

Even this I kinda fucked up. I tried using the drill press to drill the screw holes to mount it but to avoid scratching the paint I had it on a small block of foam. It moved when I wasn't looking and I drilled it in the wrong spot. It's hidden but I know it's there.

Soldering the wires.

Completed binding posts.

Connecting the driver.

Inserting the acoustic foam. I have 25mm at the read and 12.5mm down the sides - about as much as could fit in the small box.

A completed speaker (so far). The screws (all 24 of them) for the box are really only aesthetic as the box is very well glued. They did help when setting the glue though.

The pair. I've only redone the rubber surround on the right one so far, the one on the left is still a bit scratchy with high volume as a result. The mounting rubber washers/etc is still work in progress.

I'm still yet to get some fabric for the grilles. I did a quick peruse through lincraft but couldn't find any suitable, next time i'll ask and there's a couple of other places to try.

And finally a shot in testing. The plan is to put the electronics in another box with a battery pack. I've got the bits for the battery but am still working on the mechanics.

How do they sound? Well ok. They're not going to break any technical records; there's no engineering behind the boxes other than being a sealed box with a bit of foam in it. Each only has a woofer so the top-end is very retarded. The bottom end isn't too bad but it does have an echoey effect with some mid-tones, then again so do any other small speakers i've tried (including the $1000/pair units I just installed in the dining room). Quite ok for a bit of outside doof though!

It's been a good little project to get away from the screen so far, although finishing it off will not be.

Electronics and Software

I was looking around for hardware for the player but since I have the mele doing nothing I thought I may as well use that. Most of the other prototyping boards around now are either too high powered or missing some necessary bits; although the nanopi boards look quite attractive (on a side-note I can't believe how expensive raspberry pi shit is in australia). As this is nominally a 'portable' system based on recycled speakers (with no tweeters!) the audio quality isn't terribly important, the on-board dac/codec sounds good enough to me. I'm also considering an old phone or an old 7" tablet I have, although it's far less attractive to me if they can only run android (fuck that shit; yeah fuck you too google).

After spending most of a day on it I managed to get debian running on the mele. I tried the sunxi wiki and building my own kernel and bootloader but without any debug console I couldn't tell if it was working or not. I got this server image to work in the end, using the jessie image.

While trying to build using the sunxi instructions I discovered that the ubuntu maintainers have a really broken idea about what a cross-compiler should do. And they're really quite rude about it, hiding their rudeness behind the `code of conduct'.

To avoid dragging in gobs of junk and other poettering snot I built a basic SDL (1.2) and a cut-down ffmpeg (1.0) from source and have a basic console music player working. With a little more work I can control it with the mele airmouse although without a screen it's going to be difficult to do too many interesting things. Something to poke about with.

Tagged hacking, linux, workshop.
Thursday, 29 November 2018, 18:18

Dropper Fire Grill, and Firefox suxors too

So this came about because I was fighting with firefox and needed to get away from a screen for a while. I wrote a couple of plugins (oh sorry, 'addons', no hang on, web-extensions, WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT TO CALL IT MOZILLA) and the experience was sour (can't you tell?).

The aforementioned BBQ/firepit thing I haven't gotten around to using yet, one reason is because I wanted to make a fire grate first because it's a bit too deep.

So a few droppers, a bit of hacksawing and some angle grinding later here it is. It just slots together with no fastening or welding.

It's even adjustable! No brick, brick flat, or brick on side!

Actually it might just work better as an esky, but i'll see.

More on the firefox plugins later, they're just for overriding site fonts and site colours. There do exist such plugins but they no longer work for some reason. OF course there's not much use distributing the source becuase you NEED A FUCKING MOZILLA ACCOUNT JUST TO INSTALL THEM.

Tagged rants, workshop.
Monday, 26 November 2018, 16:58

Putting things back together

My brother was here a few weeks ago and I took the opportunity of having transport (I don't drive - just never got a license) to get a few things that are a little difficult to transport on the bicycle.

One was to take my old VAF DC-7 Rev 1.0 speakers and get them reconditioned. It wasn't exactly cheap but they replaced the old drivers (required a bigger hole) and i'm not sure what else. But I asked to keep the old drivers just to muck around with, perhaps build a 'portable speaker' type thing out of them. They are a bit scratchy from uh, over-use, but I noticed the main problem is the surrounds had perished. I looked up some info about replacing them and ended up ordering some cheapies from China - i'm not sure I can recover them regardless and it's not worth the cost if I fail.

Part of the probess is removing the old rubber, and about all I can say about it is you have to be patient. I used a very sharp chisel and it took a couple of hours just to remove one, although the final 1/4 went much faster than the first once I got the technique sorted out.

Tools

Another thing I got was a welder, small drill press and some other tools. And that lead to a bit of a spending spree that continued after he left, buying a bunch of other workshop tools. They're mostly cheap bits and pieces because i'm not sure how much use i'll get out of them.

It wasn't the reason I got the welder but the first thing I thought of making was a belt buckle for a very wide kilt belt. I had asked a small leather work place (shoe repair, belts) shop in the city whether they could make wide belts but they couldn't and directed me to a saddlesmith at the other end of town. I dropped in one day and asked about it - yeah he could make any width belt, but he didn't have any buckles suitable. So the next weekend I got the welder out and turned a couple of pieces of wine barrel ring into a rather large belt buckle.

The welding is pretty shithouse but I haven't welded for years and the grinding and polishing hides most of it. The buckle has a loop through which the belt connects and a single pin which selects the size. The end of the belt comes around out the front (or can go behind) and a loop holds it in place.

The front finish is a sort of coarse brushed/dented appearance from using an angle grinder, wire brush and polishing wheel. I'm still not sure on the finish but I will probably clear coat it.

The belt I got made up is 70mm wide and the loop which connects to the buckle uses press-studs so I can make more buckles and easily replace them. 70mm is about the widest that suits the kilts I have which is just as well because I didn't really know what it would look like till it was made.

Not particularly cheap either at $99 but at least it's locally made and very solid leather - it should last forever. My existing belt was relatively 'cheap' one from utkilts that uses velcro to adjust the length. But the finish is wearing already (mostly creases), the velcro is coming off around the back, and the buckle - while ok - is a bit cheap. The actual bits are made in Pakistan I believe but the shipping costs from USA are outrageous - although they seem to have gotten slightly better, but to get the same belt ($26) and buckle ($17) again would cost $77 when shipping is added anyway, and they don't handle GST (I have no idea whether this means you get hit with import hassles above the $7 GST cost). And that's the absolute cheapest/slowest option, it ranges up to $130!

Actually I have an idea for another buckle mechanism that I might try out when I get time, if I do that I might get a 60mm belt made. The other idea would be a lower profile, hide the tail of the belt (wrap under), and possible be hole-less if I can create a binding mechanism that wont damage the front surface of the belt.

And today I turned one of the practice pieces of barrel strap into a bottle opener. I drilled some holes and filed out the opening shape by hand.

The finish is a little shit because I cut a bit deep using a sanding disc on an angle grinder and gave up trying to sand it out, although it is a lot shinier than it appears in the photo.

Partly I was experimenting with finishes and patterns and i'm happier with the pattern here, or at least the general approach. I created a round ended punch from an old broken screwdriver and used a small portable jackhammer (/ hammer drill) to pound in the dots. Because i'm just cold working it's a bit difficult to do much in the pattern department.

Gets me away from the computer screen anyway, i'm kinda burnt out on that. I'm not really doing enough hours lately for the guy who pays me (for various reasons beyond our control he's got more money than hours I want to work!), although the customers who pay him are quite happy with the output!

I'm at the point where I finally need to get some glasses. I had another eye test last week and while I can still survive without it it's to the point that i'm not recognising people from afar and squinting a bit too much reading at times. I need a separate reading and distance script unfortunately so I got a pair of sunnies for distance and reading glasses for work. They would've helped with the fabrication above! It's going to take a while to get used to them, and/or work out whether I get progressive lenses or whatnot, for example I can't read games very well on my TV, but that's farther away than the reading glasses work at, sigh. I guess i'll find out in a week or so.

Tagged workshop.
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