Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Album Preview "The Coracle and The Yellow Shell

Album Preview "The Coracle and The Yellow Shell by concretedog

Just thrown up a little preview handful of tracks from my new album "The Coracle and the Yellow Shell". It's scheduled for release on warm data under catalogue number DAT031 sometime late Jan early Feb 2012....I'm going to release it on a pay what you think it's worth/donation type scheme so everyone can get it!

For the people who listened to my last ep (some years ago) this album is quite a different bag as although it uses much electronic/homebuilt/hacked stuff it features much more acoustic instrumentation and has a different vi be about it. If you are however desparate to support concretedog in the meantime you can always purchase my last ep "Until Forever" here ;)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Album tracks finished Artwork on the way.

Aaaaah indeed, I have finished mixing the album and the artwork is in the pipeline. Then hand it to the labelboss who will curate and describe and release......can't wait.....not long now....

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Great New Blog

A great new blog about building Lunetta type soundmakers has sprung up written by Draal who not only posts comments here but is also a throughly nice fellow.

Check it out here and I'll add it to my links.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A piece of history

Couldn't resist this charity shop find yesterday a lovely wooden framed 150 in 1 electronics projects board in perfect order. A little bit of googling around shows this one dates from the year I was born 1976. It has the book of experiments/projects with it which includes lots of noise making/oscillator projects......maybe I can get an ep out of this beauty!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A silly lathe chuck

I've just got back my mig welder which had been on a rather long term loan and once setup in my shed I wanted a little job to do to test it and my auto darkening mask (20 quid off ebay). So I made up this little chuck from a washer and some tiny mechano nuts. I have a job in mind in that eventually I'd like to  setup my dremel as a mini lathe and turn some tiny knobs to fit some trim pots I am going to use in a future synth build. Not the easiest job as the mig is not really the best bit of kit for this, brazing would have been much neater and easier...haven't got brazing gear though!

Lungwah's "This World" Remix

The mighty Lungwah has performed his sonic surgery on my track "This World"

Concretedog - This World (That Lungwah Remix) by Lungwah

The original was released on "Data Protection" DAT018 which you can find and listen to (and buy) here

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Still cooking up the album

This frying pan seems to feature on most tracks....

Monday, 24 October 2011

Late night sampling

Had a late night sampling session returning to one of my earliest circuit bent creations my yamaha pss6. Sounds great, I am always shocked by the quality of the stock sounds on this let alone the glitchy madness.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

O silly scope

An amazing man rocked up to my house tonight and long term loaned me this beautiful old valvy oscilloscope and a function generator....nice.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Blarp Patch Timelapse

Quick and dirty timelapse of me patching Blarp, audio is parts of the patching session with a hint of reverb and delay.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

More £15 Camera (Puch E50 Timelapse)

£15 camera with CHDK Timelapse, Puch engine rebuild. from concretedog on Vimeo.

I have carried on working my way around my new £15 Canon A470 and CHDK and got an intervalometer script running..I had imagined that I would do endless timelapses of clouds in the sky but due to the grey monocloud that has been everpresent over the north wales sky that would have been a bit featureless! So when I rebuilt this Puch E50 engine I had stripped down I thought it would be a good subject for a timelapse.

Incidentaly I got a great bargain in a charity shop the other day this...

It's an old camera clamp, really nicely machined out of aluminium with a ball joint on the end the camera mounts to, it's really sturdy when done up and light enough and small enough to mount to any small protrusion...for 99p...nice!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Nice lunch break

I do enjoy nanolooping in castles! Nanoloop 2.2 is currently providing a bit of inspiration for the final quarter of my album which I hope to finish in the next couple of months.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

£15 Camera and CHDK (Swinging synth shots)

The shots above are what you get when you take a £15 camera, hack the firmware to enable long exposures and then string up a DIY Synth (BLARP) and take some shots of her LED's swinging! This has come about as my elderly canon powershot a430 was getting mightily outdated so I picked up a canon a470 for £15.56 from ebay. I was particularly interested in this model as it is the lowest canon powershot model that is reported to work really well with CHDK (stands for Canon Hacking and Development Kit). Basically CHDK is a firmware patch that's loaded from the SD card (you can return your firmware to normal whenever you like). CHDK opens up the firmware in many ways and gives you much more functionality than standard, I have full control of exposure times up to 64 seconds and down to superfast, full control of ISO (the shots above are shot at an ISO of 5 with an exposure of 4 seconds). Whilst the shots above are JPEG I can now shoot in RAW, do bracketing for HDR etc etc. One of the finest features of CHDK however is it's ability to load user written scripts from text files. There are loads of examples of user scripts online that can acheve many other functions, I've been playing with a script intervalometer for time lapse, motion detection scripts and thats just the tip of the iceberg. I'll post the results of further experiments.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Playing with Pixitracker

Pixitracker is one of the examples included in the coding software Pixilang developed by Sunvox creator Alex Zolotov. Pixilang (and things built in Pixilang) can run on Windows, Linux, WinCE/windows mobile OSX, and has just, as of yesterday been updated to version 3. Pixitracker is a sample based tracker with a really intuitive GUI and enough features to make it useful whilst maintaining a simplicity that means you instantly get to arranging patterns without getting bogged down in patching and effects and stuff..I like it. The original Pixitracker file runs in an average PDA screen size of 240 x 240 pixels (as above) and as I've been using it on my Jornada I wanted to make some I am no coder...I've done a bit of object oriented stuff in synth building enironments but thats about it...However reading the documentation here and looking at the Pixitracker code I managed to make a few Jornada useful changes.
So as you may see (click the image above to see it's actual size) I've increased a lot of the sizes of the GUI elements making placing notes etc a lot easier and increased it's size overall to 640 x 240 to utilise the Jornada screen, I've also increase the step length of each pattern to 32 and also increased the number of Patterns to 14, having discovered how to do this could also make versions to do alternative time signatures etc. Finally I messed about with the colourscheme a bit just for kicks. I'm not going to put the code up for this as I reckon if I can work out how to do this.... anyone can!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Raspberry Pi

Now I know I don't often do these type of posts, but I just read about this UK project via hackaday. Holy smokes its impressive, basically its a tiny computer featuring a 700mhz processor, 128 or 256 ram, wired network, sd, usb host, hdmi, analogue av out, audio out and more...hopefully available around november 2011 for $25 or $35. The Alpha boards in the video are oversized with the board they are going to release being about the size of a credit card. I've read around the site and other facts that appeal to me are it's low power requirement, they say it should run well from 4 AA batteries. I'm definately getting one/some to play with. Read more here.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Overclocking Jornada 720 (a bit!)

I did some posts ages ago about getting the mighty sunvox onto an old Jornada 720 (mine is 10years old and still rockin) and I have a couple of further things to report. One is to confirm that the latest and greatest Sunvox version 1.6.4 works fine on my Jornada. The other is that I have found an overclocking utility, originally designed to work with ipaqs running the strongarm processor, however this works on my Jornada. It will overclock from the original 206mhz up to 236mhz however I found that audio stops working at 236mhz It managed to run stably at 221mhz which provided noticeable improvements in sunvox tests with big sunvox projects....heck when your writing tunes on a 206mhz machine anything helps! You can also underclock if you want to conserve battery life etc. Here's the overclocking utility.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

New Work Space

New space building from concretedog on Vimeo.

Not the wildest of posts, but above is a brief dodgy video of the new attic space I've built that will serve as my new work space...since this video it is now filled with all my gubbins and I hope to spend a lot of time in it over the next few months to get some tracks worked up and also do some electronics builds.

Thinking about it it is probably the biggest hack/build I've done this year. :)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Low noise of late

Just picked up this lovely old decibel gauge...although i'm not that into steampunk I am a sucker for an old gauge. It also indicates my output of Actually I have been working on a few tracks but they are hopefully for an album release later this year so I am not sharing them yet. A lot of my studio corner (my pile of stuff- studio is overselling it a bit!) Is also going into storage as I build an attic over a large room we have....this means not having a place to play and also having a LOT of diy to do. At the end of it all however I should have a very small triangular attic space all of my very own...yay.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

DIY Kalimba

I had a go at making an electric Kalimba or thumb piano yesterday, using a few street sweeper bristles (yep that's right the bristles that fall off a street sweeping machine..also useful for making a bogata rake ;) ) and an electricians chockblock connector. Add to this a piece of wood a clamp and a peizo pickup and away you go.

I like how this design could allow you to tune the kalimba to different scales by moving the bristles to different lengths before clamping in the chockblock. I will definitely build a better version.

Here's a little recording made with my micro br...I didn't use headphones and so realised to late that I'd recorded with reverb.

Kalimba1 by concretedog

Friday, 17 June 2011

Sampling delight

I still love the fact that sampling can take a beautiful yet monophonic instrument and render it polyphonic.

Monday, 30 May 2011

A young tinkerers first solder!

A proud day for my daughter aged 4 years and 1 week she used her own soldering iron under supervision to construct her first circuit, a yellow led that lights up. She was really pleased and was very sensible with the iron and solder.

I'll get her started on those PCB's I've got that need filling next! :)

Friday, 20 May 2011

The 1000 hits of BLARP

BLARP Finished from concretedog on Vimeo.

It's a proud day for me..the video above is the first of my videos to go above the 1000 viewing mark. Many thanks if you have had a look. I reckon its because Getlofi, Matrixsynth and Palm Sounds featured it, thanks guys.

If you want to check out my other video offerings here's the link

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Palm Sounds is 5 years old

The mighty mighty Palm Sounds is 5 years old this month and has been celebrating with many promo codes and special offers for mobile music making applications, as well as looking back across the five years of posts. I've been a daily reader of Palm Sounds for most of that five years so as a tribute to Palm Sounds I thought I'd take a picture of just some of my mobile music devices. The majority of these Palm Sounds posts got me interested in. Palm Sounds continues to post all relevant information and reviews etc across the spectrum of mobile sound creation and recording etc, in fact I reckon if you have an old smartphone, pda or an early laptop (let alone a gameboy, iphone, Android, tablet etc) a quick search of Palm Sounds will reveal a way to make music on it.

Palm sounds has been tremendously supportive of myself and has posted many many bits of concretedog news/posts generating loads of traffic for me here for which I thank Palm Sounds heartily.

Happy Birthday Palm Sounds, heres to the next five years!

(PS..many extra geek credits if you can name all the devices in the image correctly!)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

New Warm Data Compilation Albums

Warm Data have released 2 retrospective compilation albums featuring a heady blend from the Warm Data roster of artists...including track on each volume for yours truly.

They are released via the Warm Data bandcamp outlet and are priced at £3.33 per 14 track volume. On the links below you can stream the entire albums for free however and if you haven't checked out any of the Warm Data offerings these compilations give the perfect flavour of the grand selection of sonic treats available.

Check them out if you can

Monday, 9 May 2011

Lunchtime workflow

Lunchtime at the office and I am trying to use any free time to do little jobs on some tracks I am working on.....hopefully to release something this year! For a track in progress I wanted to sequence some percussion tracks to add to it. I love the gong/bell type sounds you can get out from bits of wire clipped to a piezo disc. I knew I would get limited time later for sequencing so sample creation in my lunchour seemed a good time. So  I used the micro br to record and then used a portable apps version of the audio editor Audacity running off the pendrive to edit the recording (as they don't like us installing stuff on our work machines).  The edited samples were then saved onto my trusty palm pda for sunvox sequencing later. Luckily no collegues were in today so i didn't need to explain what I was up to!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Zoom R16 impressions

I've been wanting a simultaneous multitrack recording solution for a long while now, and these zoom R16 seemed like a good option for my needs. Its an interesting bit of kit..I don't know of anything else quite like it. Standalone it's a 16 track recorder with the capability to record 8 tracks at once to an SD card at either 16 or 24 bit at 44.1khz using either a mains adapter or 6 AA batteries. It has mic and line preamps on all 8 inputs and they are pretty good, a bit noisy and edgy if you crank the gain but certainly workable for the kind of sounds I'm recording.

On top of recording it has a rake of effects and amp simulators, phantom power for 2 inputs, a hi Z input for guitar or bass and also has 2 built in condensor mics.

Recording aside it also can act as both a soundcard/interface and again can record 8 inputs to whatever DAW you're using, in this mode you can record at up to 96khz. It's 3rd function is as a midi controller, it's compatable with the mackie control protocols which most DAW packages support (I use Reaper and this worked flawlessly)...although it acts as a midi controller there is no way of midi synching the recorder to any midi time code which is one drawback.

You can, of course, use the recorder standalone and then transfer the uncompressed wavs off the SD card and load them up in your PC, the R16 can act as a SD reader but a very cool feature IMO is it can also act as a USB host meaning if I create a track on either my phone, PDA, micro br etc I can import it to the R16 without turning on a PC..also you can back up audio files onto a USB device this way.

All in all I'm pleased with it and it supplies and awful amount of functionality at this pricepoint. It's not a bit of kit for everyone but certainly useful for me.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Happiness is.......

Rare, much needed, obsolete chips through your door from the Netherlands, in 3 days, at a good price. Aaaaah bliss!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

New Tap Looper Design

I'm continuing to explore the tap looper concept and have come up with this schematic for a variable length, tap programmable looper (click the above image to open it in a larger window). The great thing about being able to vary the length of the register is that you can then create sequences in alternate time signatures as well as 4/4. This variable shift register IC the MC14557 can be programmed to create any register length up to 64 the video below I am using 48 bits to create a 2 bar 3/4 time signature using 8 bits per 1/4 note resolution. I am pleased with this design (mostly as really it is the first thing I have designed from scratch based off the info in the datasheet) however it has the same shortcoming as the 4031 based tap looper- that it only maintains resolution at faster tempo's. I plan to experiment with cascading 2 of these registers, doubling the length of any given loop so that I could create 4 bar sequences at higher tempos and 2 bar sequences at lower tempos whilst still maintaining enough resolution.

Feel free to use this schematic however you like but give me a credit if you can :)

New Variable length Tap Looper from concretedog on Vimeo.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

New Module 4031 Tap Looper

This tiny "Blarplette" module is a shift register set up to be a tap programmable looping trigger. Its made from a 4031 CMOS chip which are a little tricky to find. I made a little video of it in action...if you don't want to hear me waffle about the patch then skip to around 2 minutes in.

New module 4031 tap looper from concretedog on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Antipodean Matrix MIxer

Great to know that on the opposite side of the world someone has seen my schematic for my matrix mixer and is building one. Find my post with the schematic here.

video of Vampyre's matrix mixer and other projects here

Friday, 11 March 2011

Blarp out and about

Went for a jam last night with some Warm Data colleagues. It was great to just be able to sling Blarp in a backpack and cycle over. It was the first time they'd seen Blarp in the flesh and where amazed at how small it is - 20 cm by 20 cm. If any audio gets posted I'll link it from here.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Portable Project Planning

You know you've got it bad when you can while away a 5 hour train journey plotting and scheming new electronics projects. Getting the appetite up for more building for sure.

Monday, 28 February 2011

New Track "Doktorus"

Been trying to redress the balance between building and recording as I'd like to release something this year! This track is a WIP that I'm quite pleased with so far..(needs remixing and I may re record some sections). All the synth type sounds are supplied by BLARP and the rest is me playing my Xaphoon pocket sax or my collection of cymbals and pans! Oh...and the name...I asked my three year old for one and thats what she said?!?

Doktorus ruffmix WIP by concretedog

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Blarp Cometh

Just a quick recording of a Blarp patch from today. Pure blarp, no effects or post production.

Blarp Cometh by concretedog

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Say it with solder

Happy Valentines day :)

Friday, 11 February 2011

BLARP finished

Below is a quickie video showing BLARP in all her glory. She's sporting a nice copper clad top panel with my logo etched on. In the end I had some issues around both the lack of space inside and deciding what to build in the last corner of her boards so I decided that a breadboard would be the most versatile option.

BLARP Finished from concretedog on Vimeo.

For the final time, for those into CMOS/Lunetta etc, the final contents are;

2 x 4015 giving 4 x 4 bit shift registers
1 x 4040 divider
1 x 40106 providing 6 x Oscs (these are pretty wide range and go from audio rates down to really low freq)
1x 4070 giving 4 x XOR
1x 4070 set up as an XOR chain
1 x 4093 giving 4 x Gateable oscs
3 x AREGVCA (Attack Release Envelope generator and Voltage controlled Amplifier)
1 x 4069 giving 2 x triangle LFO
1 x 4046 as VCO
1 x 4011 Pseudo ring modulator
1 x passive LP filter with LDR control
2 x 3 input passive mixer
4 input resistance mixer with diode summing
Power output rails
Small kludge area

Data Ferox released today, with concretedog track

Data Ferox, released today, is the latest offering from the amazing Warm Data. Featuring tracks from many of the Warm Data roster and also me! My track is entitled "Big Bad Wolf" and was made entirely with Nanoloop 2.2 on my Nintendo Gameboy advance SP.

Feel free to listen to it and the other warm data releases, and if you like you can always purchase :)Here's the link Data Ferox

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Etching stuff

Just a quick post. I've had a load of stuff for making/etching pcbs for ages now but decided that actually making pcb's for the scale of stuff I'm building is harder than just using stripboard. Anyway I decided I should still try etching so thought I'd etch my logo onto a panel I am making for the Blarp.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The glorious guts

It occurred to me today to take some shots of blarps innards, as you may see it's getting a bit packed in there! I'm glad I partialy built the enclosure as it has made the final boards/panels easier to work on. I added an XOR chain, 4011 "pseudo ring mod" and am halfway through adding a final pair of 4 bit shift registers. I am onto the final quarter of front panel and after finishing the shift reg's I'll be adding some 4018 AND gates (possibly diode summed inputs so I can turn shift reg bit outs into sequencer oneshots) and a couple more AREGVCA's.

I haven't posted any schematics for these but they are all findable on either

Electro music forum


TSOL (the sound of logic)

However if anyone ever wants any advice on getting into building any of this stuff feel free to get in touch if you think I can help.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

BLARP, half finished!

Sorry it's been a while, I've been continuing with the machine started in the last post. It's turning into a monster project and I'm getting limited time. The beastie has acquired the name "Blarp" and is shaping up well. I've gone for a sloping panel as a compromise between ergonomics whilst both standing and sitting and despite it getting pretty cramped inside it's still small enough to be pretty portable.

For those into cmos/lunetta (!) it already contains, 2 x 4015 shift registers, 6 x 40106 oscs, 4 x XOR gates, 1 Kludgey area, 2 x 3 channel passive mixer each with jack outs (Jacks to be mounted in a flat panel at the top of the console), 2 x AREGVCA as designed by Richarius, 2 x 4069 LFO ala scott gravenhorst (modded for 9v), 1 x 4040 divider (only 5 outputs/divisions utilised). Also since this picture was taken a week ago it also now contains, 1 x passive LP filter controlled via LDR, 4 x 4093 gated oscs, 1 x 4046 VCO, and a 4 input resistance summer/CV mixer.

Not 100% as to what the final modules are to be as yet, I may include another shift register, another VCO and I'd quite like some form of active filter in there...but then I'd like more AREG's...a Sequencer, more oscs...more logic gates, a pseudo ring mod.....the list is endless!