Category Archives: Retro - Page 2

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)

Maker Wedding: Rustic Edison-style hanging light fixtures

Edison-style light fixtures


After deciding to have our wedding in a barn which had been converted into an event space my thoughts turned to lighting. With the rustic nature of the barn and the impressively high ceilings, one type of lighting sprang to mind instantly — Edison-style bulbs.

I’ve long been a fan of cloth covered wire, so I decided to make each bulb a separate hanging fixture with twisted cloth covered wire, an outlet and a bulb socket. This made the setup completely modular, allowing us to adjust for electrical loads and support almost any arrangement of bulbs. Each fixture would be plugged into a multi-outlet extension cord and secured with a small electrical tie. Each multi-outlet extension cord was plugged in through a lamp dimmer, which was also affixed with an electrical tie to avoid disconnections.

The parts I sourced are below, feel free to comment with better prices. These sockets are three-stage but the bulbs are not, bulbs could be swapped for three-stage bulbs or the sockets for single stage, but it all works regardless. Three-stage bulbs may eliminate the need for the dimmers, but having the dimmers made adjustments quite easy.

To wire the hanging fixtures I first slipped one piece of heat shrink tubing (without heating yet) over the cloth ends encompassing both leads. I then worked the cloth back, stripped the insulation inside and then attached the leads to the socket and plug. Once the leads were secured I shimmied the heat shrink as close to the connections as it would go and blasted it with the heat gun (or, oh my, harassed it with the soldering iron).

Before you go wild with these, do some math to see how many fixtures you should be plugging into each extension cord, and how much wattage your dimmer can support — watch dimmers closely at first, they may heat up, but make sure they’re not melting!

If you’re interested in other Edison-style lighting ideas and/or wondering what I did with all these lights afterwards check out DIY steampunk-style iron pipe Edison fixture and DIY reclaimed lumber hanging Edison bulb chandelier.

Update: Close to a year following our wedding we sent these lights, along with a simple handcrafted fixture, to family and friends as a token of our appreciation and as a keepsake from our wedding. Details about the Edison light thank you packages can be found here.

Parts

MAME Arcade Cabinet

I went and made a Mame cabinet. I had a whack of old PC stuff sitting around,
a P2-266 with a motherboard, CDRom and ATI All in Wonder Rage Pro. I managed to pan handled
an ISA SB16 off a friend and resurrect an old PCI NIC.

After cruising some sites of doods who’ve done this, I began thinking of my cabinet.
I decided that it’d be better for me to buy an old one rather than make one. My reasoning being
that my homemade one would probably not turn out as hoped, and for $150 or so I can get an old
one with art and everything. So I checked ebay, ebay’s no good. Prices are usually too high and
shipping is craziness. Living in Toronto I found two distributers, Starburst, who holds auctions and New Way Sales. Starburst, although very friendly and helpful, did not have any stock of old cabinets on hand ( they later alerted me when they recieved some ). Starburst was going to charge me ~$100 Canadian for a bottom of the line used cabinet ( probably without art ). So I found New Way Sales. After a little email back and forth, I showed up to find they had tons of old cabinets. I picked up an old 4 player cabinet with Ninja Turtle artwork on the side and X-Men on the Marqee. Complete with quarter slots. They offered to throw in the old controls, which in retrospect I should’ve taken, but I had already ordered mine ( see below ). Anyhow, I got a cabinet, with working quarter slots, screen bevel, marqee with light, speaker, and some leftover innards for ~$200 Canadian.

For the controls, after surfing some sites with info, I decided to use a hacked up keyboard interface since I had an old keyboard laying around. The keyboard interface ( show below ) was a series of ~30 leads. Connecting different leads produced different keystrokes. So I plugged it into the normal PS2 keyboard port and spent an hour or so with my favourite girl mapping out which lead combinations produced which keystrokes, being careful not to touch any of the leads connected to the LEDs ( could royally mess your motherboard ). Ending up with something like this. Most if not all keyboards have their own unique matrix so you’ll have to do this for yourself. There is a program available from Arcade Controls Download Section which will display keystokes on the screen which came in handy. I then soldered wires to the leads I mapped out and attached them to a row of terminals ( little screws that you can put wires under ) to make control connections a little easier.



I then ordered my controls from Happs which ended up costing me way too much ( ~$100 Canadian ) for 2 joysticks and 14 buttons. But I’m very happy with them so I guess it’s worth it. All of them are horizontal microswitches, although I noticed that Starburst had some leaf switches on display ( some say they’re not made anymore ). I then just attached said controls to the terminals which I had attached the keyboard interface, having the buttons and joystick directions produce the keystrokes I desired ( “O”, “K”, “ENTER”, etc. ). I also hooked up the quarter slot switches to the terminals so I’ve got to feed the monster quarters to play.




I went to a pawn shop and nabbed some no name 21″ TV for ~$100 Canadian, took the back cover off for better fit ( being careful not to touch anything in the TV for fear of instant death by electrocution ) then braced it with a 2×4. I then tossed the PC together and threw it in the bottom of the cabinet, connected the SB16 to the speaker in the cabinet, plugged in my hacked keyboard interface and connected the TV to the AV OUT of the ATI All in Wonder.




I bought some plexi glass ( actually clear acrylic sheets ) and cut / drilled a sheet to fit the control panel ( which I had made from some extra ply wood and spray painted black ) I also cut a sheet to fit the screen and cut some presentation board to frame the screen perfectly. I ducked into a home stuff store and found some nice shiny black cabinet liner which I tossed under the plexi glass of the control panel. With all that done, I plugged it in and went to town!




Some further notes, 14 buttons weren’t enough. I had to buy some el cheapo buttons for the side so I could have “ESC”, “TAB” and “~” for Mame control. A TV with SVideo IN would’ve been nice ( but expensive ) for better clarity. All in all, cost me ~$500 ( keep in mind I already had the CPU and PC components ). But I now have 1000+ games in my living room!