Saturday, December 26, 2009

Next batch..

Having major issues with the new batch of PCBs. Can't figure out what it is. If I ever do find out what it is, and if it's serious, then the next batch will be delayed another two months, and a lot of wasted money.

I wish I could drop everything.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hollow Earth orders

I am no longer taking orders for the Hollow Earth. I need to get through the current list. This thing has been too much of a time eater, cost and source of stress, and I need to figure out what to do.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

new HE PCBs are in

4'th revision Hollow Earth PCBs are finally in (7 week wait, ughhh), so I'll get started on builds #12-18 shortly.

fixes include using surface-mount switches instead, some additional noise filtering (not that it was much of a problem before), volume adjustments, and stuff that'll make building them easier for me.

Monday, November 30, 2009


vibrato I built for someone. design similar to the one I made months ago (down the blog) with some improvments/bugfixes.

and yes, still making Hollow Earths. it's just taking time to get through thel ist is all. and yes as of 2010 they will be $275 instead of $200. I underestimated the cost in time and materials when I initially started making them. sorry about that. people on the list have already been informed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Eight Bit Organism

here's a lame-ass demo. I'm playing a discarded umbrella into a TV that's on fire.

It's a bunch of stuff. A bitcrusher, samplerate reducer, a granular sampler/repeater/glitcher, a harsh digital fuzz and noise source. Controls are as follows (left to right):

[B]bitdepth[/B]: bitcrush from 8 to 1 bit. things get noisy and ugly and awesome!
[B]samplerate[/B]: rate reduction, atari/nintendo-ish sounds, etc
[B]tone[/B]: just a big muff tonestack. middle is neutral. right is high boost, left is low boost.
[B]blend[/B]: wet-dry blend
[B]volume[/B]: makes the pedal vomit kittens

[B]grain size[/B]: sample size of the granular sampling buffer.
[B]grain mod[/B]: modulates the grain sample up or down in pitch
[B]glitch 1 and glitch 2[/B]: makes it stutter in different ways. the toggle switch at the top makes the soft-stomp on the right active one or the other of the buttons.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Digital garbage

Today I worked on cheap granular synthesis, bitcrushing and samplerate reduction, all at once. It sounds like the world caving in!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Custom-painted Hollow Earth up on eBay

Custom-painted Sonic Crayon FX Hollow Earth. s/n #011

Starting bid $150. Ends in one week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Custom painted Hollow Earth

I'm still selling a small handful of these a month, and hopefully I can optimzie production a little to be able to squeeze a few more in that timeframe. Getting through the waitlist, slowly but surely...

I'm building a custom-painted Hollow Earth that I'll be putting on ebay soonish. Hopefully before the end of the week. It's functionally no different from the vanilla ones, but it'll be pretty with swirlies and specks on it. See it as an experiment, testing the auction waters on a custom item.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

fun with graphic LCDs!

Got this graphic LCD from MC Shop, the DX-160. Wedged it inside a bare-bones Hollow Earth with a basic UI to see the potential!

Maybe I'll build a simple synth/drone box with manually drawable waveforms too.

I'm also clocking the AVR chip a lot fastern ow, 20MHz. I could get it to update the screen a lot faster, but I don't want it to drain juice needed for other stuff.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

potentially new Hollow Earth features..

I'm trying to squeeze the most out of this design. I've had a few feature requests and a lot of them were tap-tempo. Harmony-Central user crxsh had a good idea about making the soft-stomp, the one used for recording of shapes, multi-function. Specifically, being able to toggle it between record, tap-tempo and bank select.

I'm gonna see how feasable this is. It won't be ready for the next few batches as I still have PCBs to use up. Testing and optimizations also take time. But hopefully I'll get those to work. A three-way toggle switch could be placed on the side of the box next to the soft-stomp with a label describing the three states.

Another issue the Hollow Earth seems to have is that expression-out doesn't work with every pedal with expression-in, only some of them! I never intended it to be a main feature, just as a fun extra, but it seems more people want to use it than I had previously thought. I'll try and put some effort into increasing the compatibility of exp-out.

For the geeks, an expression pedal is basically a potentiometer. Potentiometers have three lugs, one for the minimum range, the max range, and the wiper. The way the Hollow Earth outputs expression control is by controlling an LED-LDR combo (an electrically-controlled pot), which due to its nature is the equivalent of an only 2-lug pot. While this works with many pedals with an expression-in jack, it doesn't work with those expecting 3-full lugs. So far, this includes the Eventide Timefactor and EHX HOG. I'll do my best to fix this in a later revision.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vibrato build, more Hollow Earth stuff..

Here's a vibrato I built semi-recently. It's based on a PT2399 delay chip and I use an AVR micro with a few wavetables to generate LFO shapes.

An update on the Hollow Earth. As explained in a mass email, I'm moving to a waitlist scheme. So I've asked everyone on the notification list to email me again, and I will use that order. I've already been in contact with the four for the next batch (very soon). In the meantime, here's a video demo by user crxshdxmmy showing some examples of traditional trem and some pattern variations:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

First batch sold out!

Thanks to everyone for the support!

Stay tuned for more information on the next batches and stuff.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hollow Earth batch next Saturday

Just a heads up! I'll be selling four of these next saturday
(25th of july) starting noon eastern-time. As of that time,
I'll pick the first four emails who tell me they are able
to pay right away. Please don't send me money untill I've
confirmed you're one of the four. Payment will be paypal
and is the sum of $200 US, not including shipping. I'll ship
via regular mail (like USPS) from Canada. No Fedex or UPS, they're
problematic for me.

If there are any questions before then I'll do my best to
answer them! I'll also try and put up a page sometime this week
with more details. If you miss out on this batch, don't worry!
I'll definatelly be making more every month, and hopefully more
than just four at a time as well.

12:00 PM on saturday the 25th, send me an email stating you'll buy
one right away!

I think for the next batch, I'll get the boxes predrilled and powdercoated.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hollow Earth (final) v3

It's coming and non-blems will be $200 US. I've set up an email list to inform people a week or two in advance when the first (small) batch goes up, so if you'd like to be informed, shoot me an email at


I'm just waiting for the PCBs. Probably a week or a little over from now. Once I recieve them, I'll send an email to everyone with more info.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Samplerate reducer + resonant LPF

Just a rehouse of the blue samplerate reducer/LPF I build several months ago. Was never a huge fan of the original paintjob.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hollow Earth (v2)

First prototype of v2 is done. Things to do include minor software tweaks, getting expression-out working, cosmetic changes. I figure I'll have a small batch of these available for around $200-225 US in july/august.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hollow Earth v2?


I posted the video sample and details of that Hollow Earth pedal I built a couple weeks ago on about 5 forums. It went slightly viral on a few others thanks to a few users. Anyways, interest in it has been a little overwhelming! So much so that I've convinced myself that I should build a batch of revisions of this to spread around.

Things I'd like to add/change:
-Eight to ten presets, all overwritable with your own shapes
(with LED digit display)
-Expression-in for the shaping
-Expression-out to "shape" other effects
-Rugged footswitch for record instead of the flimsy button
-Random mode
-Triggered envelope mode
-Sample input as waveshape
(the last one is a biiiig maybe)

After a 10-day break from this stuff to play jams/gigs, I started tinkering again. I got random mode mostly working, and I've started the preset saving bit. 8 pin DIP 24LC eeproms are a wonder!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hollow Earth waveshaper

You know that feature the Goatkeeper has? Waveshaping? "design" your own LFO and then use that as a trem? Yeah, that. But a bit more!

Hold down the "record" pushbutton, "draw" out an LFO/envilope shape with the "shape" knob (it can be several seconds long), and release the button for it to start looping the shape and modulate the volume of whatever instrument you have plugged through it. AKA "tremolo". Push button again to design a new one. [U]Or[/U]! Or toggle "punch-in" switch to edit the existing shape with whatever you feel! "smotheness" knob makes it smooth if the waveshape sampling feels a bit too steppy/aliased. It happens if you sample at a very slow tempo and keep it very slow. "speed" accelerates or decelerates the LFO. I forget what "volume" does.

Two LEDs on either side of the bypass switch (under the decals/finish). The one on the right follows your wave "drawing" as well as when it's looping. "firmware upgradeable"

Video sample tomorrow.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

AVR programming and effect automation...

If there's one thing I'm really bad at, really really really bad at, when it comes to electronics, it's control logic. The little bits that need specific timing, when to do such thing and when not to do it, if voltage dips below X then do so-and-so, etc, that kind of crap. Using traditional logic chips, I just can't get my head around it. Ever. I've also been wanting to integrate more automation in my synths/pedals. Thus, easy to program AVR microcontrollers have been interesting me as of late.

Here is the kit I've just purchased (thing on the left):

I did a lot of Basic programming in school. QBasic, Visual Basic, etc. It's pretty easy stuff compared to assembly or even C. Microcontrollers at first seemed daunting to me because I wasn't prepared to learn any good language, but then I found out that these little AVR chips can be programmed from a Basic environment called BASCOM! It took me a few days to get serial com to work (had to go out and buy a serial PCI card, the USB-to-serial adapter I had was rubbish, I found out days later). Once I was up and running though, it was pretty easy to get basic things going. Blinking lights, input, potentiometer reading (ADC) and PWM (sPitting out Waves that I can use for Modulation or whatever).

The little project in the photo is something I started today. It's one push-button, two potentiometers and a LED, all hooked up to the programmer. I got it so that pushing the button will make the MCU go into "record mode", where it will record pot-twisting for up to several seconds (one byte per sample at 60 sampels a second). As soon as I let go of the button, or if the severa lsecond limit runs out, it loops the recorded twisting which can be observed through the LED! The other pot can adjust the speed of playback/record.

This opens up all sorts of fun additions to effects! I could for instance "record" a certain knob on a delay or synth, and have it automatically loop! Exciting stuff! Once content with my program, pop the chip out of the programmer (that long chip in the center) and stick it in my own circuit. Done!

They make smaller chips. I'll get different sizes depending on how I need them.

Monday, February 16, 2009

new build

simplified TS clone with a few mods

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tremulus Lune

the Tremulus Lune is a popular DIY tremolo design. I've already bought the one with speed modulation straight from 4ms (who are an awesome company with awesome philosophies), but sometimes I need a minimal one that doesn't take up the space of 4 regular-sized pedals. hence I made this.

two LEDs. the red one is bypass LED, and the yellow one blinks the shape and speed of the trem (even when bypassed). the LEDs are *under* the finish too, so it's quite seamless!

commonsound layout. the gain pot is inside because I have no use for that when playing. I have it set as very slightly louder than bypassed, to make up for the dips in the trem modulation. I accidentally etched the PCB backwards, and was too lazy to re-etch it. so I just populated everyhting on the "wrong" side of the PCB.

I drew the girl. the patterns were "found". paints are acrylics and mostly painted on with a toothbrush. everything coated with clear epoxy resin.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

samplerate reducer 99% finished!

still not named as of yet

sound/video clips maybe tomorrow if I find my camera (the one that does video). still needs a bit of tweaking. LPF resonance can get loud at times so I'm gonna hook up clipping diodes. resonance pot is also wired backwards, and I want to paint lines o nthe knobs!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

yet-to-be-named bitcrusher

the ringmod from two weeks ago is being broken-in by a buddy so I had a bit of time to do something different. bitcrusher/samplerate-reducer type effect! this sports the taditional atari-ish samplerate reduction sound, a break knob that makes it spazz out in a cool way and a droning resonant low-pass filter. also blend control and a noise gate.

it's also my first project where I didn't touch the PCB autorouter....

the epoxy coat takes about 24 hours to harden before I can comfortable handle it. I'll try to populate the board before then.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Turmoil 2 proto

It's aliiive!

Blend control isn't working for some reason, but otherwise it's working. Doesn't seem to like onespot power supplies though! At all! Works fine with my Diago though. onespot sucks!

Clips when I get blend working.