Category Archives: Online

Maker Wedding: Vinyl “flexi” record wedding invitations

wedding invites vinyl flexi records

My wife and I enjoy music immensely and are both enthusiastic musicians, with that in mind we decided to have vinyl “flexi” records cut for our wedding invites. You probably remember the flexible records or flexi-discs that sometimes came in magazines, or with children’s books — turns out the rumours of their demise are greatly exaggerated, they’re still around, perhaps even making a comeback.

After some preliminary investigation of the process we realized that dealing with a commercial recording just wasn’t going to work, copyright issues and permission issues would’ve bogged us down for months — so we decided to write and record our own collaborative instrumental song. A fun little tune we titled “Invited” was the result of a feverish week of writing, re-writing and recording (and re-recording).

The next hurdle was finding out the who and how of having them pressed, cut, printed, etc. The first place we found was Pirate Press but they were somewhat unresponsive and not at all impressed with our timeline or order size. We needed only about 150 and we were hoping to have them in 3 to 4 weeks, the regular turn-around is 5/6 weeks. Another place overseas (Northern Record Pressing, Norway) was quickly crossed off the list due to distance and our time constraints, in retrospect they may have worked out since we ended up dealing with international shipping anyway. With time running out I contacted David Read, The Vinyl Record Guru. David was friendly, helpful and while cautious regarding our timeline was willing to take on the project.

Once David was on board we mastered the recording and handed them off along with the printing template. We decided to print white ink on clear flexis to contrast the silver and black of various other items in our invite packages. Vinyl mastering was minimal as flexi audio quality leaves much to be desired we decided not to belabour the process, though some simple tips may have gone a long way, ie: center any low frequencies and assume anything below 40Hz or above 16Khz ain’t going to make it in. You can find more info here and here. You can also “simulate” what a recording is going to sound like on vinyl by either applying both a low and high pass filter or by running it through a VST such as iZotope’s Vinyl, which is what I’ve done for the simulated version below.
wedding invites vinyl flexi records
As it turned out, even though David is based in Canada, a lot of international shipping is required, the plates from Europe and the flexis themselves from the U.S. (perhaps from Pirate Press after all, I’m not sure), but in the end it took about 4 weeks to get the flexis after providing everything required — and they looked great!

A new needle for our portable record player from the good folks at Ring Audio in Toronto and we were off to the races. We paired the flexis with a sheet of translucent white vellum and stacked them with the rest of our invite package. The flexis are 7″ x 7″ and fit nicely into 7.5″ x 7.5″ envelopes — though these didn’t fit so nicely into some mailboxes. Another thing to keep in mind is that most paper places won’t stock this size of envelope, you’ll probably have to order them. We ordered ours from Paper-Papers and were quite pleased with the price and expedience, your local paper shop will most likely offer to order them for you but they’ll be ordering from the same supplier you can find online where you can have them shipped directly to you, without a markup.

All said and done, the flexis alone came in around $750, we had to settle for a minimum order of 250, by no means the most inexpensive invites but they came with the added benefit of having our original song on vinyl and, as musicians, that gives us the warm fuzzies.

Invited (MP3, Simulated Vinyl Version)
Invited (MP3)

Ester Pugliese (Lead Guitar, Electric Air Organ)
Phil Tucker (Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar Two/Three, Percussion)

“Spaghetti” IP Cam / Arduino Motion Detect Sprinkler

arduino motion detect sprinkler


After a neighbourhood dog decided my front lawn was a fantastic place to poop on and his owners decided that they don’t care for bylaws I set upon finding a solution. Sure you could try cayenne pepper, mothballs, ammonia or even marking your own territory (take that!) but I already had an IP camera monitoring my front yard for security purposes, so I figured I’d just hook up an Arduino and a sprinkler valve. This yard defense solution has two added benefits, it keeps my lawn healthy (I can set up timed watering through this system) and it sends offending dogs home stinkin’ wet. From me having to shovel dookie off my lawn to negligent owners having to deal with wet dog — perfect.

When the IP camera detects motion in configured regions of its video stream (the rectangles in the screenshot) it triggers one of its General Purpose Input/Output ports (GPIO). The Arduino is listening for this GPIO signal and once its received the Arduino triggers a relay which connects a 24v power supply to the sprinkler solenoid valve. The valve opens when 24v is applied to it and “sprinkles” whatever was responsible for the motion.

The TRENDnet IP camera I employed works great as it already records video of events to network or attached storage, sends email alerts with snapshots and allows manual triggering of its GPIO.

The TRENDnet monitoring plugin only works in IE but after some reverse engineering and C# coding I had an easy to use web interface for all browsers and mobile devices.

If there’s enough interest I’ll post circuit and wiring diagrams. Ensure the valves you get are non-latching 24v solenoids, some 9v valves seem tempting but are magnetic and require a more complex circuit.

Why Spaghetti? Watch more ATHF.

Parts

 
Update: Some folks have asked why not just trigger the valve relay directly from the GPIO on the camera. This could’ve been done, but then I wouldn’t have gotten as much control as I wanted. This way I can configure timing to prevent the sprinkler itself from setting off the motion detector, set up timed watering as well as trigger other devices at various timings (DSLR for reaction shots). Another addition may be an XBee based remote control or hardwired buttons for various functions.

Update: I’ve added a quick circuit diagram and simple Arduino code.

Arduino Code


int gpioPin = 1;       			// GPIO input
int val = 0;           			// value read from GPIO input
int trigPin = 13;      			// solenoid relay output

void setup()
{
	pinMode(trigPin, OUTPUT);
}

void loop()
{
  val = analogRead(gpioPin);		// read the GPIO input pin
  if (val > 500)
  {
	// GPIO triggered, open the valve
	digitalWrite(trigPin, HIGH);
  }
  else
  {
	// GPIO off, close the valve
	digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW);
  }
}

Video: Slow-motion speed bag and affordable high-speed video

slow motion speed bagWho doesn’t like watching stuff in slow-motion? Ever since I added a speed bag to my workout I’ve been wanting to see exactly what’s going on in slow-motion — turns out, exactly what you’d expect. The camera I used was an inexpensive Casio EX-FC100, sadly off the market at this point, but its replacement, the Casio Exilim EX-ZR100, though a little more expensive is still a great budget high-speed video solution, especially if you catch it on sale.


 

osPID Sous Vide: Open source high tech cooking on a budget

osPID Sous Vide

It seemed inevitable that I’d put together a sous vide immersion cooker, when I came across a post regarding the osPID I knew the time was right. The osPID or Open Source Proportional–Integral–Derivative Controller is a device which can be employed to turn a heater on and off in such a way as to keep the temperature of an environment at a specific level — in this case a container of water used to cook sealed food, or a sous vide.

What I liked about the osPID is that it’s more than just a PID, it’s a platform. Programmable as any Arduino is along with four buttons, a two line LCD display (my favourite white-on-blue style) and limitless expansion possibilities, the osPID can be used in many, many applications — a sound investment I thought, so I invested. Can anyone spot the other PID in the gallery?

Commercial sous vide cookers can be extremely expensive. Creating one yourself is easy, it can be taken apart for storage and you can also salvage parts from it for other projects if need be.

Parts

  • osPID Kit $85.00 (Rocket Scream)
  • Exoterra Repti flo 200 Circulation Pump $10.99 (Pets & Ponds)
  • Milwaukee Type K 49-77-2002 Thermocouple $14.17 (Amazon)
  • Norpro 559 300 Watt Water/Tea/Coffee Heater $7.05 (Amazon, eBay) *Ensure the coils are submersed before powering (plugging-in) or these will fry themselves
  • 12V, Positive Center, A/C Adapter
  • Grounded Extension Cable
  • Coat Hanger
  • Clip

Alternate Parts

Once I had the osPID up and running, thanks to great support from Brett (one half of the dynamic duo responsible for the osPID), I cut the black (hot) wire of the extension cord and attached each stripped end to the relay onboard the osPID. By using an extension cord I can plug any type of heater into the relay, for this project I purchased two Norpro Water/Tea/Coffee Heaters which have a useful clip style base. Because the extension I wired only had one outlet I needed a power bar to plug both heaters in — whether or not you’ll need one will depend on how many heaters you want to use.

I then purchased a K-Type thermocouple (don’t ask me what it means, K-Type is what the osPID supports), removed the connector it came with and connected the positive and negative leads to the thermocouple terminals on the osPID. These terminals are polarized so keep track of positive and negative leads on the thermocouple while working.

That’s it really. I purchase a circulation pump to keep the water moving in the vessel and thus heating evenly. I try to include a coat hanger in every project so I used one to suspend the ziplock full of tenderloin secured with a clip in the sous vide.

Keep in mind the thermocouple will most likely not read the proper temperature until calibrated so just use a thermometer to find the target temperature and set the osPID accordingly. For me an input reading of 57 translated to the 130°F I needed for medium rare, so I set the osPID to maintain an input of 57.

I would’ve preferred a larger bowl and will track one down, but the Beef Tenderloin With Lemon-Parsley Butter I cooked with my favourite gal turned out fantastic and we’re looking forward to more sous vide meals.

Thanks to Brett for the swift support and for the osPID itself.

Update: The Norpro Heaters stopped working on my second cook. This is probably due to the fact that I plugged them in before fully submersing the coils, that being said, many others have had these types of cheap immersion heaters die on them — so I included an alternate upgraded heater for those wishing to avoid the issue. Thankfully since I wired in a cord not the heaters themselves I was able to plug in another heat source for the osPID to control in order to get my dinner cooked.

Update: To replace the Norpro Heaters I picked up a couple of heating elements at a local electronic surplus store (Active Surplus) for $3 each. I snipped and soldered the Norpro power cords to the new heating elements and covered the connections with heat shrink tubing. You can see the final results in the gallery above. These weren’t stainless steel but they work just fine, I bent them to follow the curve of the bowl (which I’ll probably regret when I switch to another container) and to keep them from slipping I fashioned some clips out of, you guessed it, left over coat hanger. They’ll probably short circuit if both solder joints hit the water, heat shrinking or no – be mindful of that if you decide to go this route. I believe these are somewhere around 140 Watts, I needed both to maintain a temperature setting.

A year with MySpace support

A couple of years back I tried to edit my antiquated MySpace profile and found that all attempts to change any info resulted in a server-side error rendering my profile all but useless. So I proceeded to enlist the help of MySpace’s crack support team/bot, I found what ensued over the course of the next year quite comical.

Date: 27/07/2009
From: –
To: help@support.myspace.com

Hi, I cannot edit my profile in safe mode or normal, cannot even delete sections to remove offending css code or whatnot. The page either returns completely blank or with only the MySpace header and footer. Can you remove the code causing this? I don’t mind if that means clearing parts of my profile for now as I currently can’t do anything! Cheers.

Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 21:19:45 +0000
From: help@support.myspace.com
To: –
Subject: Re: Error – Site [ref:-:ref]

Hello,

Thank you for contacting MySpace Support!

The problem that you are reporting may be a MySpace page or site error.

…Form Response Continues

Date: 29/07/2009
From: –
To: ca-help@support.myspace.com

Yes this is a site error or conflict with CSS in my profile but it’s been like this for months, I am unable to update my profile in any way. Please have a look instead of sending me another form response.

Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2009 17:19:28 +0000
From: help@support.myspace.com
To: –
Subject: Re: Error – Site [ref:-:ref]

Hello,

Thank you for contacting MySpace Customer Support!

We apologize, but MySpace Customer Support cannot directly assist you with HTML or CSS questions. However, you can find general information about HTML and CSS on MySpace Tutorials.

…Form Response Continues

Date: 31/07/2009
From: –
To: ca-help@support.myspace.com

How many emails does support take to actually answer anything? I cannot edit or delete any aspect of my profile! Not in normal mode, not in safe mode, the page either goes completely blank or only the header/footer show. This is bad handling in the MySpace .net code.

Date: Sun, 2 Aug 2009 15:46:51 +0000
From: help@support.myspace.com
To: –
Subject: Re: Error – Site [ref:-:ref]

Hello,

To resolve this conflict:
- From your Home page, select Edit Profile.
- Cut all HTML and CSS code from each box on the Interests page.
- Paste the code into a Word document or Notepad page.
- Save changes on the Interests page and review the results.
- Select Clear All in Profile Themes.
- Add the code back in to your profile bit by bit, making sure you Save Changes and check the results on your Profile page after each addition. Or redesign your page again using either the MySpace Profile Themes OR new HTML and CSS code in the boxes in Interests

Thank you,
MySpace.com

Date: 03/08/2009
From: –
To: ca-help@support.myspace.com

I cannot edit any section of the profile. I cannot access any edit forms. I cannot edit or clear any part of the profile through normal or safe edit mode. This not a CSS issue it is an issue with the profile edit forms.

I am a programmer by trade, please stop issuing form responses. For this to be fixed there must be intervention on MySpace’s part, as there is no way through the site for me to edit anything currently.

Both safe mode and normal profile editing DO NOT WORK. The page is either completely blank or only the header and footer show with no content.

Date: Mon, 3 Aug 2009 20:30:14 +0000
From: help@support.myspace.com
To: –
Subject: Re: Error – Site [ref:-:ref]

Hello,

Thank you for reporting this issue to us, however MySpace.com is currently addressing the problem at this time. Until the issue is resolved, we greatly appreciate your patience, and our apologies for any inconvenience this has caused.

Thank you,
MySpace.com

Date: 04/08/2009
From: –
To: ca-help@support.myspace.com

Nice, so it takes almost two weeks and four exchanges to get a final form response saying “wait indefinitely”.

I figured I’d give them some time to resolve the issue…a year should be enough no? No.

Date: 24/08/2010
From: –
To: help@support.myspace.com

I tried to get MySpace to help with this issue to no avail. I haven’t been able to edit my profile through safe mode or otherwise in literally YEARS. Please blank the profile information so that offending CSS code or otherwise doesn’t screw up the editing system as it is now. I can’t do it from any accessible interface. The edit page is just blank, or previously attempting to edit a section would result in a blank page.

From: mycare@support.myspace.com
To: –
Date: Sun, 22 Aug 2010 19:31:18 -0700
Subject: Haven’t been able to edit profile for YEARS [Incident: -]

Hello Phil,

Thanks for contacting MySpace.

Please be advised that Safe mode is no longer an option.

We’ve made the profile upgrade process as quick and easy as possible, so you can get up and running right away. To get started, just visit http://www.myspace.com/upgrade-profile while logged in to your profile.

…Form Response Continues

Date: 24/08/2010
From: –
To: mycare@support.myspace.com

The upgrade-profile page has no effect. Please read the report AND check the earlier issues reported which are exactly the same from last year I believe, nothing has changed and the support is horrendous.

From: mycare@support.myspace.com
To: –
CC: mycare@support.myspace.com
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 17:22:00 -0700
Subject: Haven’t been able to edit profile for YEARS [Incident: -]

Thanks for contacting MySpace.

The issue you wrote us about might be a temporary bug. We’ll check it out now. Just so you know, many site errors resolve quickly, but some can take a day or longer. So be sure to clear your cache/cookies and revisit the page later.

If we do identify a larger issue, we’ll keep you posted on the MySpace Help site at http://faq.myspace.com/. You can also find a list of current issues (along with info on how to use MySpace features and products) in the bottom module labeled It’s Not You, It’s Us.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please reply to this email, leaving the subject line intact, and we’ll get back to you soon.

Sincerely,
The MySpace Support team

Date: 25/08/2010
From: –
To: mycare@support.myspace.com

This is not a temporary bug, read the subject. How on earth does one avoid canned responses from this system?

From: mycare@support.myspace.com
To: –
CC: mycare@support.myspace.com
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 22:41:52 -0700
Subject: Haven’t been able to edit profile for YEARS [Incident: --]

Hello Phil,

Thanks for contacting MySpace.

We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. Would you like us to remove your current HTML coding from your profile. This may assist you in being able to edit and/or upgrading your profile. Please let us know so we may assist you.

Sincerely,

Javier
The MySpace Support team

Date: 27/08/2010
From: –
To: mycare@support.myspace.com

Hi Javier,

Yes remove the current HTML coding from my profile, I would appreciate that.

From: mycare@support.myspace.com
To: –
CC: mycare@support.myspace.com
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 08:53:09 -0700
Subject: Haven’t been able to edit profile for YEARS [Incident: --]

Thanks for contacting MySpace.

Upon careful review, we found the issue you reported has been resolved.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please reply to this email, leaving the subject line intact, and let us know what’s going on.

Sincerely,
Jamar

Date: 30/08/2010
From: –
To: mycare@support.myspace.com

Hey Jamar,

I see that you have indeed removed the HTML from my profile, and I appreciate that there is some effort being taken to address the issue however this has not solved it.

I still cannot edit my basic info ( in any browser ), the page which should be an edit page is still blank, only the MySpace header and footer with no content ( this is what was happening before you cleared the content as well ). With the number of users MySpace has I find it hard to believe that this is not a known issue.

From: mycare@support.myspace.com
To: –
CC: mycare@support.myspace.com
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2010 09:09:49 -0700
Subject: Haven’t been able to edit profile for YEARS [Incident: --]

Hi Phil,

It looks like you’ve recently switched over to Sites. I’m unable to see the issue that you originally reported. Please confirm is this has bene resolved for you.

Thanks,
Matthew
The MySpace Support team

For assistance with all MySpace services please visit:

http://help.myspace.com

Date: 01/09/2010
From: –
To: mycare@support.myspace.com

When I select “Edit Profile” > “Basic Info” I am sent to a page with only the MySpace header and Footer but no content. There is nowhere to edit the Basic Info.

From: mycare@support.myspace.com
To: –
CC: mycare@support.myspace.com
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 2010 07:39:53 -0700
Subject: Haven’t been able to edit profile for YEARS [Incident: --]

Hi Phil,

Upon careful review, we found the issue you reported has been resolved.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please reply to this email, leaving the subject line intact, and let us know what’s going on.

Sincerely,
Steve

The MySpace Support team

Date: 02/09/2010
From: –
To: mycare@support.myspace.com

Hi Steve,

The issue I mention below,

“When I select “Edit Profile” “Basic Info” I am sent to a page with only the MySpace header and Footer but no content. There is nowhere to edit the Basic Info.”

Still occurs. There is no way through the user interface that will allow me to edit my basic info. I’m not sure if you can view attachments but the attachment is the page which results from a “Basic Info” click on the “Edit Profile” page.

From: mycare@support.myspace.com
To: –
CC: mycare@support.myspace.com
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 2010 20:05:44 -0700
Subject: Haven’t been able to edit profile for YEARS [Incident: --]

Hello,

Thanks for contacting MySpace.

We double checked this issue and in basic info we can see the page with all the information please just try to logout and login again and should be resolve

Sincerely,
Philip
The MySpace Support team

Date: 02/09/2010
From: –
To: mycare@support.myspace.com

It does seem to be resolved now. Thanks.

Wuhoo! Finally I can edit my profile on the leading social network again! Wait, what’s that you say?