1. I love working with walnut, and these sides are almost too good to use on a ukulele. Using such beautiful materials keeps me motivated to do the extra bit of work and get every little detail right.

  2. Cookin’ up a new gurdy preamp with even less noise than before. The secret ingredient? The pot itself! Turns out EM shielding is every bit as important as all those grumpy people on guitar forums spend their spare time telling each other.

  3. Turns out that it’s possible to use cheaply available (~2€ each) 7-pin SPI OLED displays with the magpie modular 8hp microbraids PCBs. A hardware and software modification are required, although as the ATMega is using software SPI it may be possible to work around the hardware modification with further software modifications.

    Please note that I would not recommend building the magpie modular micro braids module! Instead, try one of the newer adaptions (e.g. the one from Antumbra) which uses normal LED displays and have prettier panels. This guide is intended as reference for people who still have one of the old boards lying around and want to get it working without shelling out 20€ or more for a tiny OLED module.

    The seven pin SPI header on the cheap OLEDs I bought maps to the eight pin header of the original Adafruit OLED (and therefore the microbraids PCB) like this:

    CS DC RS MOSI CLK Vin GND
    |    X      X      |        \
    CS RS DC CLK MOSI Vin 3.3v GND

    I cut the relevant traces on the OLED board, scratched away some solder mask and used enamel-insulated wire to connect the traces to their new pins. Then, I installed a 7 pin female header on the braids PCB, and bridged the 3.3v and GND pins, which sounds like a terrible idea, but the board doesn’t make any use of the 3.3v pin, I’m just using it as a convenient way of connecting the OLED GND pin to the braids GND pin.

    If your OLED module has the same layout as mine, it should end up looking something like this:

    The display ends up being in a slightly different place to the original, but five minutes of filing the aluminium panel fixed that. It ended up looking a little bit messy, but the panel (from pusherman, not a magpie modular original) is extremely ugly anyway so it didn’t make much difference. I quickly cut out and filed a 3mm acrylic screen, wedged it in place and secured it with some high-viscoscity superglue.

    After reflowing and flashing both the ATMega and STM, everything was working perfectly, except the display was upside-down. Looking through the Adafruit graphics library led to a simple solution: adding the following line to the init function on line 39 of mbraidsv3.ino:

    display.setRotation(2); // Invert display for use with cheap Aliexpress 7-pin OLED

    After re-flashing the ATMega, everything worked perfectly.

    It was only after I made the hardware modification that I noticed the ATMega is using a software SPI library, with the pin definitions on lines 9-13 of mbraidsv3.ino. It should therefore be possible to achieve exactly the same result by leaving the OLED module unmodified, bridging the 3.3V and GND pins on the 8 pin OLED header on the PCB, and swapping the pin definitions around so they look like this:

    #define OLED_MOSI   10
    #define OLED_CLK   9
    #define OLED_DC    13
    #define OLED_CS    12
    #define OLED_RESET 11

    The display rotation mod will still be necessary, unless your display module is oriented differently. If anyone attempts the software modification please let me know, I’d be curious to know if it works!

  4. Useful reference for anyone trying to get a monome grid working with vanilla puredata

    Perhaps when I have developed it a bit more I will contribute a new tutorial to the monome docs website, and create a [serialosc] object for easily managing devices and connections.

  5. Today’s late-October tomato harvest, straight from the garden, no greenhouses involved. If it keeps getting colder, these will probably be some of the last.

  6. After missing the crowdfunding campaign, I was happy to finally be able to buy a copy of Tobie Miller’s excellent Bach solo hurdy gurdy CD at Chateau d’Ars last week. I couldn’t find any official album artwork on the web yet, so here is a quick scan of the cover, for anyone else who got a copy already.

  7. Recently scanned some album covers I couldn’t find on the web. Here they are, to save the work for any other fans of similarly obscure music:

    Seitti, Brelo

    Tanz', Duo Haertel Wascher

    Eetu Klemetti - Kampi-Klemetin nuottikirja

    Gregory Jolivet - Alt'o solo

    Marylin Tucker & Paul Wilson - On The Tide

    Marylin Tucker & Paul Wilson and friends - Dead Maid’s Land

    The Cornwall Songwriters - The Cry of Tin

  8. I built an Ambika to join my family of Walnut Mutables!

    I messed up the LED holes in this one, but the laser engraved front panel graphics and text came out really well. The back panel is acrylic so I can admire my electronics handiwork and Olivier’s amazing design any time.

    I took the opportunity to give my Shruthi a knob upgrade, too.

  9. Successfully exhibited my acoustic/electric/electronic gurdy at the Mazurki Festival Tagowisko Instrumentow! Thanks to everyone who came by, and a special shout-out to the one person who recognised the Shruthi XT!

  10. Dramatic happenings at the mill last night! A huge dead tree fell over the bridge, causing a minor earthquake. Nobody hurt apart from a fence (which fortunately doesn’t even belong to us)

  11. Hurdy Gurdy , finished and picked up by the customer!

    3x chanters, 2x drones, 2x trompettes, 4x capos, 4x sympathetic strings, 3 channel active preamp system. Very happy with how this one came out — in fact I need to retro-fit some of the electronics changes onto my own instrument… No more 50Hz hum!

  12. Put my Shruthi XT back together after the final missing piece for the 4PM filter board upgrade arrived, complete with its fancy new laser cut walnut panel! The whole case is now solid walnut.

  13. Found at a market in Berlin: what I think is an old DIY oscilloscope, complete with handwritten panel lettering!

    I’m guessing this could have been a build by someone living under the GDR who couldn’t get hold of a scope.

  14. ✅ improved gurdy MIDI system
    ✅ improved 3 channel gurdy preamplifier
    ✅ DIY hybrid digital+analogue synthesizer

    After a year of work on the hardware and software, finally all the pieces are in place to start composing!