Sunday, January 25, 2009

Retro Radio Redux - Part 1.5

It's done. It's complete. It's amazing.

I plan on posting a video tomorrow of the unit in action.

I played uncompressed .wav files though the unit and it sounds simply amazing.

Remember that the speakers are old Creative FourPointSurrounds that I've had since 2002, so it could always be better. My original plan was to shoehorn my Rotel RC-931 integrated amplifier along with my Acoustic Energy speakers into the unit.

I took the path of least resistance in order to get the unit up and running. More mods will follow.

Some Errrr.. Plans

So we're months away from Summer. You would not believe that with the temperature hovering around -15 this morning. anyways, it's never too early to plan for Summer projects.

This summer is all about curb appeal. We plan on getting circular pavers under the Blue Spruce that adorns our front lawn, and then stain the 40 year old brick to match the paving stones. A dark grey. The slab outside the front door is not perfectly centered and I will extend the slab another 8 inches to the left. After the slab has cured, I will use rectangular slate tiles in a brick pattern. Then I will build a pergola above the front door to match the style of the pergola above the gate leading to the back yard. Finally I will make 12" high street numbers which will be painted white to match the pergola.

This is what I envision that t will look like. The brick color is not an accurate representation, but everything else is to scale. Drawing was done in Google Sketchup with a 1 day learning curve.

Monday, January 19, 2009

How Tubes Work

Probably the best explanation to date (Satirical) of how Tubes work. This is courtesy of Had a nice laugh at this.

"We won't go into much detail as to how it works here- you can wiki it for more info. But briefly; a magical fairy flits about in the lightbulb-like structure using her little wand to make music louder. The manufacturer simply puts a little thimble of honey inside the tube to lure her in there in the first place. The fight against this heartless practice was one of the first crusades which brought PETA to the world stage, though, to be fair; fairies aren't animals."

Yeah Sure - And Conrad-Johnson amplifiers are made by Bill Conrad and Lew Johnson who are PhD Economists and once worked in Washington DC at the Federal Reserve. Oh. Hang on - They are!!!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Little Misses Fixits!!!!!

While most people are content with getting their kids the latest greatest toys, I just hand them my garbage!!!!! This is the girls with my tools trying to further take apart the PCB that I removed from the old Luxman.

Yeah. I got Gearheads for kids......

The Script - The Man Who Can't be Moved

If you had your sound turned on, you would've caught the first few bars of 'The Man Who Can't Be Moved' by The Script.

Ever had a song so stuck in your head that you keep singing it all day??? That's this song!!!

The Script is a band out of Dublin, Ireland and are truly amazing. Their Studio Album titled The Script went multi platinum when it debuted last August.


Media Center Build - Part 1

Building a Music Server has been one of the projects that I've wanted to do for the longest time. However, I needed that the Server not look like a computer as I wanted it to reside with my current Audio Components.

HTPC cases are all the rage right now, but the prices fall nowhere within my budget. Which is in the same range as President Bush's popularity. Zero.

I needed this built - and soon. I'm almost finished with the Turntable Monitor and the Squeezebox Mod. Both of these rely of having somewhere to read the information off.

I lucked out at the ReStore when I happened upon a very nicely maintained receiver from the Seventies. It looked about the right size to hold a PC Power Supply and a Motherboard with any daughter cards if and when required.

Turns out that the unit was a Luxman. Anyways, I plugged it in and it did not work. Could it have been repaired?? I plead the 5th on that.

I've so far gutted the unit, removed all of the PCB's desoldered the front panel controls from their PCB's as these will screw back onto the front panel as dummy units. The only things that will work on the front panel are of course the lights, which will light up the tuning dial, the Power button and reset button. The FM Stereo indicator will light up as the PC power indicator and the FM Signal Meter will act as the Hard Disk Drive activity indicator.

On the inside, I do not need anything powerful and will be installing one of my older machines running a scaled down version of Windows XP.

More on that soon.

Retro Radio Redux - Part 1

This is just me being totally impatient. The Radio is nowhere near complete, but all cosmetics are in place. After finding out that the cheapest roll of window tint was CAD 17.00, I decided to beg as a cheaper option.

Turns out that beggars are on to a good thing. The first two shops said that they were not in the habit of maintaining any of the scraps as they were generally of no use to anyone. The third shop invited me in, took an interest in what I was going to use the tint for and gave me a piece for free. This guy did not believe in throwing anything out. Probably was an Indian in a previous life.

After tinting the glass, I mounted the grille cloth (Parts Express # 261-810) and reassembled the entire unit together. I have yet to get some dummy potentiometers to hold the knobs in place. The knobs have no function as the Squeezebox has a remote controlled volume, with a built in Pre-Amp stage.

I mounted the Squeezebox in place just to see if it was visible through the tinted glass. Here are some pictures of what the unit will look like, sitting in my Living Room and pretending to be that what it is not.

Pictures were handheld and without flash as that would wash out the display.

In Screensaver mode - Faux Analogue VU meters

Now Playing - From my Music Library on my Laptop

Searching for Internet Radio - Bosnia anyone????

A Station in Amsterdam

Railroad Radio in Vancouver

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Retro Squeezebox Mod

In 2007, I posted my latest aquisition, a Murphy Radio from the 60's or 70's. See here.

In the summer of 2008, Jita, Lynda's good friend and my Logitech Godess gave me a Slim Devices Squeezebox 3. Only this week, I plugged it in and set the unit up. It is an amazing device which gives you access to all you music on your PC as well as a host of Internet Stations. It's only drawback being that it needs to be connected to a Stereo. This has since been addressed by the Squeezebox Boom. But I digress.

I now plan to integrate the Squeezebox 3 with a pair of Amplified Creative Speakers into the carcass of the now restored Murphy Radio set.

It's a Work In Progress and I will be posting pictures soon.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Turntable Hack

For the longest time, I've wanted to digitize my audio, allowing access to my 600+ (and growing) collection of CDs. At one point I even considered an iPod, with a DLO dock. That would have limited me to encoding my music in the lossless AAC format instead of the more preferred (by audiophiles) WAV or FLAC formats. I finally settled down to eventually building myself a Media Server, but was still stumped by what I was to use as a monitor to make my selections. I could have used the TV, but that would've meant keeping the TV on, and that is something that we try to keep off as much as possible.

Then it struck me. I currently have a Turntable that I like to listen to, so why not pair it up with yet another turntable (DJ style) but instead of the platter I would replace it with a monitor while keeping the tonearm and dust cover as a nod to it's heritage. 

The Donor Turntable is an old Sansui SR-222 Belt Drive that I scored from the Value Village for CAD 7.00. I felt quite bad about ripping it apart... for about 5 seconds.

But by now I would've lost you all. So why don't I just illustrate the same in pictures.

I have yet to build the Media Server, and will do so in the coming months.

With the Dust Cover open. Running Album Player. I have yet to paint the monitor Bezel Flat Black

The Tone Arm installed just for looks 

From the side. The Sansui Badge intact

With the Dust Cover closed

Pimp My Dining Table

Having spent Christmas with the D'Souza's (Chaves, Baptistas, Gonsalves'), Lynda wanted to do something with the Fernandes side as well. We decided on dinner on the 28th. We wanted this to be a sit down dinner but our current table can only seat 6 comfortably, and we were to have 12 persons at the table.

I got myself down to the Depot on the 28th morning and bought 3 lengths of 2 x 12 x 12'.

Unfortunately even with all of the precautionary flashing lights tied to the 2' that was protruding out the rear of the van, I was pulled over by Peel's Finest to be informed that it was illegal to drive with the rear door wide open. Having explained myself and what I was up to, I was then offered an escort home. What an experience to be escorted home by the POPO, flashing lights and all...

Anyways, not much to explain on the construction. I used the existing legs of our dining table which is of the 'Farmhouse' style. I replaced the central lower support with a 2 x 6 x 8' which meant that the table essentially cantilevered 2' at each end.

The table was an absolute B***h to turn over, but Lynda assisted and all was well.

It came out quite well and comfortably sat the 12 of us with ample elbow room for everyone.

The Planks laid out. They are heavy

The braces screwed in and the central lower support being prepped for cutting

The legs attached to the planks and the central support braced in place

Voila!! 12' Farmhouse table for CAD 54 and change.

And here's the table all decorated and set. My basement ceiling was removed and is still a work in progress!!
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