Number 42

Number 42

So this is what happened. At the end of April 2013, I packed a 43 lb. suitcase and took a discount red-eye flight from San José, Costa Rica to New York City. And, after a brief jaunt around the east coast, entrenched myself into the family farm in Rhinebeck, NY and embarked on a grueling regiment of job hunting. As it is written. I also watched a lot of cartoons and read a bunch. But mostly, job hunting, since the next part of my newly forged adventure accompanying my return to the motherland involved, well, such adult things as gainful employment. Why? Well, a bunch of reasons, but for the sake of reading, increased regular income lends itself to increased building and inventions. It’s a win-win situation, really.

A note or two on grueling regiments of job applications:

  • Try pursuing careers that will send you an email when you aren’t selected. Hope may spring eternal, but what’s the point of holding out hope for a position that doesn’t even have the courtesy of letting know know that you didn’t get the job. I mean, really – would you really want to work there?
  • Set limits. For instance, only hit the digital pavement between 9-5 – don’t let your search for work consume you. And finally (for the sake of this build report),
  • No work hunting on weekends. Seriously, you can spare two days. The folks at HR aren’t going to read your resumé over the weekend, so you might as well go out and enjoy yourself.

Unless, of course, it’s raining. And animated felines in sombreros are contractually obligated to appear elsewhere to dispel boredom. Growing up in the northeast, and accustomed to ice storms and other spells of “no go outside” weather, we always had some sort of activity box and a couple puppets to keep us occupied when monsoons raged outside. But, alas, I couldn’t find any. And, being tweaky and not wanting to peek at higheredjobs to see if there was anything new, I decided to see what I could build out of what was lying around. I’d made a couple builds this way before – ok, maybe not to keep from getting twitchy while it’s raining out and there’s nothing else going on, but you get the drift. However, unlike the last few boredom builds, this one came hot on the heels of our TicoTronics course and I was sitting on a trove of components and schematics that contributed to the research for the course that I simply had to try – if only to see if any of these ideas could be adapted for the next round of builds. This was also around the time I had just finished the initial tweaking on Number 41 and wanted to try a couple new experiments with making the 4093 and 4077 CMOS IC’s play nice. Not to mention experiment with a couple circuit snippets from Tim Escobedo – good stuff, but kind of in a different vein of electronic geekery that I’m commonly involved with. However, after diving into A Magic Pulsewave’s website, I decided that I needed to try cobbling together a Gargletron, which is a formant filter-esque, “talking” effect. Think wah-wah, but with vowels. Kind of like that dubstep stuff, but a little more straightforward and you don’t feel guilty listening to it.

So the signal starts with a 4093-based cascading synth, is pseudo ring-modulated by the 4077 and then passes through the filter. Actually, this happens twice. Once on the left once on the right – so 4 oscillators and a filter per channel with an individual volume control before the output. Kind of groovy, not to mention the blinking lights letting you know what the frequency is.

Update, 2017: Sometime around 2014, I added a crude CV input to the box via 1/8″ jack that would allow it to be powered on and off via clock signal – something I did to a lot of the builds from this era until I ended up plunging down the rabbit hole otherwise known as Eurorack. Not to say that the two are mutually exclusive. At the moment, this particular box lives in Oberlin, Ohio, in the care of the Oberlin Conservatory’s TIMARA department.

Here’s a video of it doing it’s thing. Not quite sure what the future of this build will be quite yet, but I’m glad I built it – even for the sake of a rainy day craft project.

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