I’ll be at Penguicon again this year (April 28–30).But instead of just sitting on a few panels and mooching a lot of free drinks, I wanted to do something extra special.So this year I’m spending the entire weekend building something extra special for you to experience and interact with—and for the Slinkies to finally be heard.
Won’t you join me—and the Slinkies—before it’s too late?
A reader recently asked for audio samples of a few projects from my first book, so I made this quick lil video:
(Daaaaamn does that fuzz tone wail—and it’s literally ~$5 in parts!)
You might need headphones to hear the detail on the straight tremolo, but the throb becomes really pronounced at the end when I chain the two effects together.
In the process of uploading that demo video, I stumbled across this guy’s build of the Single-Chip Space Invader synth from my most recent book. Oh, man, do I love that Star Wars lunchbox he used as a case! So rad!
Any of this look rad? You can download a “jam pack” of complete projects drawn from both books. Click here now to get your freeJunkyard Jam Pack PDF!
In “The Traveling Salesman Solution” a wheelchair-bound veteran of the “War on Terror”—now working in the IT department of a Big Ten university—starts investigating suspicious marathon results, and ends up face-to-face with an absolutely chilling mathematical conundrum.
I don’t give a shit about Elon Musk, so I’d largely ignored Hyperloop, but now that I’ve taken even a cursory gander—
Y’all are shitting me, right?
Just to punch one hole in this mess:
The train will take folks from LA to San Francisco (~350 miles) in 30 minutes.It can reach these hella crazy high-speeds because it’s a bullet train traveling through a vacuum maintained in an unbroken, direct-shot tube.Based on their own experience with their ~1 mile long test track, we can expect that it would take 200 to 300 hours to evacuate the air from this LA-SF bullet train tube.i.e., it could make the run between those two cities in 30 minutes, but only do it once every 10 days?And how much energy does it take to create that vacuum?And how much money to maintain a pressure vessel orders of magnitude larger than any other ever created?
(Also, FYI, in their test track they expected to hit maybe 80—not 800—miles per hour, but actually maxed out at 60mph. My dying Prius—henceforth, the HyperCar!™—exceeds that every single day on Michigan’s crumbling roads.)
That number sounds bad—but you don’t really have a benchmark for this, right?I mean, you ask yourself “Well, how often do folks call bomb threats into YMCAs or non-Jewish daycares?”, and the answer is “Basically zero”—so that sounds bad.But then you poke around online, and find that U.S. schools get over a thousand bomb threats every year (in fact, I used to teach at an alternative school, and one of my students—a very sweet and peaceful kid when I knew him—had been kicked out of his last school for making a bomb threat).And how often do schools get bombed?(Actually, bombs are placed at schools more than you think: According to some old ATF numbers, nearly 100 devces are placed each year in schools).
If January 2017 is indicative, then we can expect 600 bomb threats this year.And if bomb threats generally correlate to the volume and volatility of anti-Semitic hate floating around out there . . . well, you can do the math.
I love, love, love(!!!) seeing and hearing the projects my readers build, and sharing them with folks thinking about how they want to tackle these same projects. First up is Jason Jaknunas’s take on the Bleepbox 8-Step Analog Sequencer (Project 16 in Junkyard Jam Band)—which is easily the best version of this I’ve ever seen (it totally leaves mine in the dust, and I designed the damn thing!)
Everything is just so sweet and just-right here: the knobs, the brushed aluminum label, the wood cheeks, the grommets padding out the LEDs, the labels—but also the little things, the visual balance among the elements, the use of different sizes of knob on different functions. Give it a look, then give it a listen. So rad!
This one is pretty interesting if you stick with it; what you no doubt initially take to be a precursor to the 8-track is playing cartridges loaded with ribbon-based analog records(!!!). The macro-lens bit at around 5:20 gives you an example of both the sound (pretty damn solid) and the mechanism (OMFG! Wünderbar!) Hilarious remote control, too.
(FYI, that caption was Wordpress’s suggested—and I love it!!!)
o_OThe thing that makes this one, for me, is how the strings are anchored in the eye sockets(!!!) The Met has several of these—from different generous donors and almost certainly different artisans—and they all use the eye sockets and brow ridge as a saddle and bridge. Humans, amiright?
N.B. that, according to current expert opinion, this thing—which is indeed from Central Africa, where it was crafted in the 19th C by a native artisan—was produced for no other purpose than to sell something fantastically “primitive” and “savage” to European tourists/anthropologists (and thus inform European opinions of these nations and, in all likelihood, form the foundation of the moral justifications for brutal colonialism). I invite the reader to meditate on their own how this might mirror our current situation with imported polarizing/fake news, and who the greater savage might be: The supplier who makes the ersatz evidence, or the customer who furnishes the demand and shells out the cash?
Crappy fluorescent fixtures flicker at 120 Hz (i.e., 120 times each second, twice the frequency of the AC mains)—but that’s when performing perfectly. Usually, you won’t notice that at all. In fact, a flicker can get down to around 60 Hz before the average person can see it (I’ve been told that this was part of the motivation for choosing that frequency, as early incandescent bulbs would tend to noticeably pulse along with the AC).
But if the fluorescent light is visible and unambiguously flickering, then it’s definitely down below 50 Hz. And here’s the thing: the bright LEDs they’re using in this experiment to successfully treat and reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s, they’re pulsing at 40 Hz—i.e., the “creepy horror-film industrial building” frequency.
(Please do listen to the entire podcast before deciding to spend a lot of time sitting under shitty office lights; the research is in its infancy and the rate of successful transfer of Alzheimer’s research from rodents to humans is something like 0.4%).