Posts Tagged ‘Kits’

WTPA2: Straight Up Struggle

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Last week was hellish.
Srrsly, yo. I forgot how much work this is. I flew my buddy Nick out from Chicago to be in charge of kitting and assembly, and my job was to get the firmware rocking. We had from June 20 to June 24 to stuff 300 kits, 100 jack boards, 100 drilled and tapped enclosure kits, build and test 100 microSD daughterboards, build a dozen assembled units, and get ready for Bent and our Solid Sound panel talk with Moog!

Woes, take 1:
China called and were like, yo man, your main boards are gonna be late. I blame myself for letting it get so close to the wire, and to be fair they were totally sports about shipping the paste stencils and small boards early. Still, with no main boards, I would have nothing to show at the festivals. Eff that. So I called up Advanced Circuits and was like, hook a brother up in the meantime, and they were like BLING BLING. So, I got 27 “Limited Edition” green pcbs, and made some acrylic enclosures to match. Financially, it was retarded. But I have my pride.

Woes 2:
Joe at Prototope really nailed it cutting a ton of enclosures. T&T PlasticLand over by Canal also came through in the clutch with like 100 pounds of fluorescent acrylic with prices that McMaster can’t hang with. However, some dumbass specified that all these enclosures should be drilled and tapped, and those operations alone took DAYS, even with my fancy drill jig:

Here’s Nick hating life:

Woes 3:
That effing pulse shaper circuit (see the last couple posts) was wrong. Of course we didn’t figure this out until an hour before Bent. It was borderline such that it worked _a little_ even though the circuit had not changed since the prototype. The routing and components (though not the component values) had changed, and that was enough. Basically the LM358 had shitty rise times into whatever load the circuit presented, and the effective edge frequency (what the pulse shaper really looks at) was too low to work. I threw a handful of expensive TI opamps into some kits and dragged them out anyway, determined to have something to sell, but I only thought of this after Bent (but before we drove to North Adams for the festival). The new opamps slewed a lot faster and were an effective (if again, expensive, bandaid).

Woes 4:
The microSD card. I came up with new swears for these things:
More 0xFF plz
Originally for this project I bought a crappy Kingston 2GB uSD card for testing from a pre-paid cellphone store near my house. FOR WHATEVER REASON, it turned out to be the fastest, most forgiving device ever. This week, on a whim, I ordered every crappy uSD card between 512MB and 2GB that I could find on Ebay. They all behaved differently. It took days to test my drivers to make sure that all the cards behaved correctly, and there are definitely exchanges in there that you have to do which have pretty much zero to do with the SD spec (or at least the free one). This sucked, to say nothing of then trying to make a filesystem and buffers to read audio in realtime. While card access was rock solid for all tested cards by Bent, I kinda though my sample read-write routines sucked. In the end I threw them out. The devices at Bent could format an SD to the WTPA filesystem (which is NOT FAT16, but a more real-timey system that I think makes more sense) and that’s about it.

Woes 5:
Driving to North Adams after Bent with a trunk full of expensive, lovely, VERY PROTOTYPE-EY WTPA2s was the worst experience ever. I’d been up for about 72 hours on about 4 total hours of sleep (none the night before) and I seriously saw animals that do not exist in this world. Anybody who can’t afford bad acid should try writing device drivers for three days while inhaling plastic fumes and then driving through a woods full of deer at midnight.

But then we got there, pounded a bunch of beers with our nerd friends, got pocket protectors from eminent wizard Cyril Lance of Moog and generally had a great time.

And, oh yeah, in the process we made THIS:
Hot shiz

Bent looked like this:
It cost a lot to talk to these 20 nerds

Shop aftermathz:
Counting to 10 a million times
Many tubes dies that we might live.

WTPA2 is not ready to sell, but I have 300 of them and they’re pretty f’ing close. Expect to see the sales link by the end of July.

Adafruit Headphone Amp Design

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

So a few weeks ago I met up with my old buddies Limor and Phil at Adafruit Industries and was griping about work being slow, and they were like, design us a kit.

So I did. They wanted a headphone amp which, in their words, “didn’t suck”.
This was really exciting to me! I do a lot of contract work, but I almost NEVER get to do something that’s exclusively analog! Granted, an HPA is not exactly pushing the boundaries of silicon magic in 2010, but I’ll take what I can get. It was a blast. I got to figure out phase margins and characterize ringing and overshoot and make a cable mess (and then worry about the capacitance of it) and just generally get my party on. Plus it was a chance to flex skills in an arena that is full of a lot of crappy designs.

And though the thing is GPL’d,, they did ask me not to go into specifics here or post any schematics or juicy bits UNTIL they have the product out, so until that happens I’m afraid I can’t go into a lot more detail.

Can’t wait to see them lay it out.
Thanks guys!

ALSO — I’d be remiss in not mentioning my friend Shea who had a lot of great advice on this circuit and who has generally forgotten more about audio electronics than I’ll ever know. He re-did the Trident A Range board at Soma Electronic Music Studios when I was back in embedded diapers and let me help re-cap some modules and generally be a solder monkey. I got paid $10 an hour for that and those were still some of the most exciting electronics dollars I ever made.

WTPA2 Initial Hardware Release Announced! With a Pretty Case, too.

Monday, May 31st, 2010

First beta WTPA 2 release date got announced on the Narrat1ve Forum today. I promise to have pictures of a more-or-less-working printed circuit board HERE by July 1st. I’ve already got a rep at Future who I think can save me some dough in parts sourcing, which is good, and I’ve got initial hardware specs (RAM, rotary encoders, new MCU etc) done. The board is starting to come together too. Once all that happens the firmware will start to get changed and I’ll make sure the pretty case fits and looks nice.

WTPA Version 1.01 Sold Out!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

As of today, there are no more OG WTPAs!
The last 20 or so (of 200) took forever to get out the door.
Thanks, everybody, for helping make this happen. Thanks for all the feedback, and for the patience, and for giving me my first less-than-wack experience designing a product.

Hats off,

(Note, there are still lots of benighted and lonely bare PCBs and microcontrollers for the H4RDC0R3)

Shipping Backlog Over; Running Low on WTPA kits.

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

It is with a sigh of relief that I can announce that the Russian-Winter-like Narrat1ve shipping backlog is OVER!

I have something in the neighborhood of 50 packages waiting to get picked up as of Monday morning, meaning our poor comrades overseas are now caught up with my cheeseburger’d nationals as far as shipping goes. Better still, I’ve gotten all the forms, legalities, phylacteries, and ephemera to make sure this never happens again. On a related note, I will be expecting roughly 48 new forum applicants in 6 to 10 days :-)

Furthermore (and excitingly) I am beginning to run low on WTPAs! The original pressing is close to 70% gone! In all likelihood I will reprint them again, but being an inveterate tinkerer there will be some changes. If anybody has any ideas about things they’d like to see incorporated into the new version, feel free to holler.

Most excitingly, this means I can now get back to some guilt-free nerding out on NEW designs… I’ll keep you posted.

Xoxoxo, TMB