MacroFab Engineering Podcast #176
The US Mint Denver produces 30 million coins a day. Denes, the tooling department manager, discusses with us how production at this scale functions.
Stephen is on the hunt for the next step in his electrical engineering career and shares the shifts in the industry and what employers are looking for.
Relay manufactures hate this one simple trick that makes your “sealed” relays last longer! Except TE connectivity who has an note about this relay feature.
What is the bitty?
How did you get into hardware design from graphic design?
Links and Callouts
Visit our Public Slack Channel and join the conversation in between episodes!
Parker is an Electrical Engineer with backgrounds in Embedded System Design and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. The following year he designed and produced an Atari 2600 video mod to allow the Atari to display a crisp, RF fuzz free picture on newer TVs. Over a thousand Atari video mods where produced by Parker from 2006 to 2011 and the mod is still made by other enthusiasts in the Atari community.
In 2006, Parker enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin as a Petroleum Engineer. After realizing electronics was his passion he switched majors in 2007 to Electrical and Computer Engineering. Following his previous background in making the Atari 2600 video mod, Parker decided to take more board layout classes and circuit design classes. Other areas of study include robotics, microcontroller theory and design, FPGA development with VHDL and Verilog, and image and signal processing with DSPs. In 2010, Parker won a Ti sponsored Launchpad programming and design contest that was held by the IEEE CS chapter at the University. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Spring of 2012.
In the Summer of 2012, Parker was hired on as an Electrical Engineer at Dynamic Perception to design and prototype new electronic products. Here, Parker learned about full product development cycles and honed his board layout skills. Seeing the difficulties in managing operations and FCC/CE compliance testing, Parker thought there had to be a better way for small electronic companies to get their product out in customer's hands.
Parker also runs the blog, longhornengineer.com, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components.
Stephen Kraig began his electronics career by building musical oriented circuits in 2003. Stephen is an avid guitar player and, in his down time, manufactures audio electronics including guitar amplifiers, pedals, and pro audio gear. Stephen graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University.
Special thanks to whixr over at Tymkrs for the intro and outro!
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Welcome to the macro fab engineering podcast. I am your guest Nick tell you about
and we are your hosts Parker Dolman and Steven Craig. This is episode 176.
Nick Celli above is a freelance interactive art director and graphic designer. Born in Moscow, Russia and raised in Los Angeles, California, Nick has worked on a wide variety of art direction and graphic design projects. Nick started vide a pocket drum machine three and a half years ago.
So thank you, Nick, for coming onto our podcast.
Thank you, too. And
how what is Biddy?
Biddy is it's a pocket sized, drum machine synthesizer, new music toy. Although some people get hung up on the word toy, but like, I'd love to get into that later, too. It's a pocket. It's a drum machine and synthesizer, music toy, or instrument, if you want to be, you know, technicals. Yeah, you know, I think it's both a toy and an instrument because it's fun. But you can also master it, you know, so it gets kind of like Toy covers the fun. An instrument covers like the breadth of what it can do. Sure, and it's, it's like somewhere between. It's like roughly like, it's roughly an inch and a half across by like three tall with two big ears. It looks kind of like a rectangle with Mickey Mouse ears has a big car door speaker. So it's nice and loud is louder than all the other little music things you can get? Because one of the virtues was, it needs to be loud enough to be annoying.
Was that on the spec sheet on the design sheet?
Totally, totally. Yeah, actually, like, I'm working with Gavin Lund, who's been a macro fab customer for a long time. And he's he's the one that turned me on to macro fab. And so Gavin and I talked about loud enough to be annoying, you know,
so that we don't put that on your packaging, because parents won't buy it?
Oh, no, right. Right. But if parents, if parents and teachers are like girlfriends and significant others or want to take it away, you know, then you know, it's fun. Like, I have, I think like growing up in LA and you see, like, people roll down the street, like bumping their music. Like I used to be one of those people too. It's just, it's just fun. I think part of the reason people do that is like, you feel bigger, you get to kind of like own your space. So I think there's a there's a lot of like, there's kind of like a an empowerment to being able to you know, like kids ride around with a little speakers on their bikes and stuff, just kind of like pumping their music. I wanted to get into that in
well, I know you've created a pocket sized thing that can do that. Right? So a drum machine just basically for those who don't know, can you kind of give a description of what a drum machine is?
Sure. I guess. Well, the history of it. A drum machine is at some point, people try to replace drummers and bands with machines like in the you know, I'm gonna like butcher this history. So I kind of don't want to even go for it. But like, go for it.
We've been wrong many times on this podcast. Really? Yeah. Okay. Don't
worry about it. We're not known for our accuracy.
Okay, I'm glad to hear it because I just assumed I'm like, these guys are really smart. They know everything.
Oh, yeah, that was the first mistake.
Cheers. It was the Linndrum. The lender on was the first first drum machine. You know, people try to get like say you're a guitar player. And you want to play with a drummer. You can play with a metronome. At some point people started making basically like computers, computer boxes that you could tap in a rhythm. and it would play you know, drama kick, a snare, kick, hat, snare, a Tom whatever. And you could set the tempo, they'll basically give you a backing track for for the, you know, to accompany you while you play your your guitar or another instrument. And then in like the 80s, the Roland drum machines like the 808. And, you know, like every other pop song you hear has that like, boom, the whole kind of kick, that's known as the 808. So that like, because basically a bunch of like pop and hip hop music started using it using drum machines, like the 808. Exclusively like so no drummer anymore. So then we're
using it as an instrument to replace a drum set, basically.
Yeah, yeah, replace a drum set. And then like the Detroit guys got started making like techno like acid. Using these things where it was kind of like you get you lay a groove in there. It's like super mechanical, but then you end up tweaking the knobs as it plays back for like the accents, you know? Right, right. So you can like kind of accent or filter stuff as it plays.
And there's there's that electronic clap that everyone knows you've heard it a bazillion times. And now it's almost like tongue in cheek. You know? It's yeah, it's that. Exactly. It's that cleft. And everyone knows Yeah.
It's kind of like a punch in a video game like,
yeah, they just sampled Final Fight, right? Yeah.
So you started out as a, as a graphic designer, and doing that kind of work. So how did you get into doing electronics?
So I went to I was always the nerdy kid and in high school, and then I went to art school in LA. And I was always kind of like, into Photoshop and 3d stuff, which at the time, like, I graduated art school. I'm sorry, I graduated high school in the year 2000. So I think I'm like, officially the oldest millennial possible. I think it's 81. You have to be born in 81 to be like the, on the cusp. Anyway, so I graduated, graduated in the year 2000, which is kind of fun. Like it felt like the future. But then I went to college, and I went to art school. And I was always into like computery stuff. But I didn't know any engineers. My dad's a biologist, my mom's a painter. But I didn't know anything about electronics for years. Like I worked in like entertainment advertising for a few years. I then went freelance continued to do that, I met my girlfriend, who's now my wife, and we moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, 10 years ago. And that's where it got really nerdy.
Here's all the snow, right? Yeah,
the snow and the kind of like, you know, MIT grads in like, just people into since and I got, we lived here for a year, I basically did the same stuff I did in LA at home. My girlfriend was like, Is this what you want to do for the rest of your life? And I was like, I hadn't thought about it. But then the answer is kind of like no. Because you know, that whole like movie thing, like felt cool. When I was like 25 and I was driving around LA, there's billboards and like, oh, I worked on that movie, quote, unquote, but like really, I just took some art pre existing art and kind of like, anyway, whatever
into a salad bowl, mix it up and throw it on the website.
Yeah, yeah, put like a lens flare and like some sheen on it and like made it extra punchy. You know? Like
quick side tangent. What do you think of blue and orange color schemes?
There will be workable be challenging, I guess. For Let me guess blue and orange feels to me like it could be out like sports apparel.
Just going down the like almost every single movie posters blue orange color.
Oh, light, like kinda like yeah, like one side is warm and one side is cold and the whole thing? Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Yeah, orange pop against each other. They do.
Here's some here's some nerdy stuff. Simon Belmont in the original Castlevania game. He was orange against a blue background. So it's at your character like popped against it?
Mm hmm. Yeah. It's also an art school thing, or just an art or painting technique to make the light parts of something warm and the add some blue to the shadows to sort of like ad separation. Yeah.
So you can see the action better?
Yeah, just kind of makes it look more plump like John Wick. By the way. Have you guys seen John Wick three.
No, I have not seen that one yet. I'm waiting to see it probably this weekend,
man. Okay, I'm not gonna say well, I'm gonna like what?
How many? It's a movie about shooting lots of people.
Yeah. Yeah, there's there's a, there's a knife to the eyeball scene. It's really. I didn't even ruin it. I know. No.
That's not even a spoiler alert, right? No.
I think the only thing you could spoil for that movie is like, how does John Wick start killing more people again? Because they've already done the dog thing. And yeah.
Oh, yeah. There's a horse.
ways the horse the one that gets stabbed in the eye.
No, no, no. Regular guy. Regular guy gets stabbed. Joe Schmoe. Joe Schmo? Yeah. There's a horse that kicks a guy in the head. That's cool. Yeah. It's got dark pocket. Yeah.
All right, back to. So you moved to Massachusetts?
Yep. I did. All right. Yes, yeah.
We were going on with figuring out how you got into electronics.
Oh, yeah, right. Oh, yeah. You know, the Yeah, the thought the John Wick thing they do. They do warm light and cold shadow. The whole the whole movie. The whole movie is orange and blue. Just yeah, that's what I meant to. That's why I brought that movie Up. Gotcha. Yeah. I found after a year of being here, basically working at home while my girlfriend went to school and kind of like not knowing what to do with myself. I found a hacker Makerspace called the pirate ship. And it was in Somerville, which is right next to Cambridge. The whole the whole area is kind of like sometimes referred to as Cambridge Hill.
Okay, why is it called the pirate ship?
It was totally kind of like a anarchy ish Co Op. Nobody was in charge while everyone was in charge. And like so really no one was in charge. In SF that, like the DSL broke, we'd have to like climb on a pole and screwdriver. You know, it was that part was fun. That part was really fun. It was like three years later when I left like the younger kids like 22 year old started moving in like sleeping there and it got like kind of it got weird. got weird. Dramatic got got musky and dramatic.
So imagine like trying to find a screwdriver there. Yeah, yeah. It's like you. Like I bet you you walk in there. And there's tons of tools. What's never the tool you need?
Yeah, you're like, yeah, that's like borderline psychic. Yeah.
No, yeah. Parker's just seen this before. Yeah, happens that macro fab because it was like a tool chest. And it's like, the rule is if you take a tool return to tool. Yeah, right about once a month. There's a I call it the tool Roundup, and I just walk around, like every single desk and corner of the fab and just collect all the tools back.
Now Nice. Okay. I'm glad. I'm glad you know. There needs to be that person. I don't know. Yeah, right. Because it sucks.
Well, yeah, people need to be responsible for their tools.
Right right. Like like I never like my wife hates telling me to put my clothes away. You know? This is saying like she would rather I just do it.
Does she look at you and say this isn't the pirate ship because that would be awesome.
I think she might after she listens
the Makerspace in Houston, TX RX. Oh, the that there was one area. This you know, this was at the old one because I never actually I didn't spend much time at the new building. But at the old building, there was one gentleman who he had all of his tools on pegboard. And every single tool he painted the outline on it. So you knew if there was a tool missing and you knew what tool it was and you knew where it was supposed to go? And he was pretty Twitch when a tool came off the pegboard. Yeah, he could sense it like a mile away.
You're like snaps awake at night is my screwdrivers gone
he liked me Yeah, re buffers this memory. Oh, I saw it was empty. Yeah, that's that's good idea. I like that sounds like organized by the way. Tr th TS TX RX. Yeah, that's one of the guys one of my good friends now whose name is Rex Baker, who's a lawyer used to be at that at that old like it must have been like eight years. Oh,
yeah, yeah, no, I No Rex, I did a handful of projects with Rex. And I used to go over to his place and play board games. Wow. Yeah. Rex. Rex is a cool guy. Really? I really like it. Tell him I said hi.
Yeah, I will. Yeah, he also fixed the Hammond organ this morning. Did he really huddle was
that funny for good old good old Rex? Yeah, we did uh, he and I did uh, well, he and I and a handful of other people did a big project for a Summer Fest that was in a waterfall pie. Yeah, the water. Yeah, the water wall. Yeah, we were he and I've worked on that together. That was, that was an interesting project for sure.
Wow, dude, small worlds, right. Yeah. That's amazing. That's amazing. I met Rex because our wives met in St. Louis. That's random. Random. Yeah. And then they moved here and I was at the pirate ship and he joined the pirate ship. We were there for like a couple more years before we both left.
What's he up to now?
He's in this building upstairs. So we both moved on to another co working space that's way more professional but still loose enough to be five?
Do they have all their tools on the wall that's outlined in paint and stuff?
You know what everyone, there's like a bunch like Gavin's upstairs. Gavin's Gavin's the man responsible for the latest PCB. And so there's people and there's other engineering companies and I have like a bunch of everyone kind of has their own tools. And there's a common woodshop that's cool. So there's no like shared welding station. Because there's more people that brought their own here than Yeah, we I guess we just didn't it's a
common works area instead of a common tool. Collective.
Yeah, yeah. And people like we all rent desks here. So there's a management structure. But like the management structure is two people for like a build a four storey building of probably like, 80 people. So it's like, no one enforces the, you know, like, the way stuff has to look. You know, like, you get this like, we work or something like we work. I feel like it's like the Starbucks of co working. Oh, yeah. And it's like, everything's standardized. There's rules, you know, like, there's a dress code. Yeah, it seems that way. Yeah. So he's upstairs. He's doing law. So like,
does that building have a x ship name?
I know it's called industry lab. Okay. You know, some couple MIT grads founded it. I feel like, you know, I feel like it 10 years ago or five years ago, like 10 years ago, like everything lab, like, you know, like the Media Lab. Like half the things around here and name something lab. I felt like it was that good. You know, then, like, startups got to be like something li like trend li or Bitly or whatever. Yeah.
And they started dropping you know, valves out of their names.
Yeah. Yeah. Like we ran out of valves actually it I think now we're going through a long name trend like curious objects is surfing that creek. I'm sorry, curious sound objects is surfing that because it's like, Okay, fine. I can type a real phrase in there.
Oh, so that. Is that the name of the company for vide? Yeah. Yeah.
I guess we're making our way all the way back to Biddy, right. Yeah, we
are. Yeah. Okay. So I'm rolling this
pirate ship back
okay, yeah, let's,
so we got up to five years ago. Yeah, yeah. We got two and a half year gap now.
Okay, okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. pirate ship. A bunch of people doing a bunch of different weird shit sleeping. They're like having parties kind of mostly drinking while playing WarCraft at night. And smoking cigarettes. You know? The there's a few people in there that were making their own sense. No, of otter is an interesting example. He's a good friend. He actually helped with a little bit of he wrote the compressor code for the Biddy he was making he was at the Media Lab and then he graduated but like while we were still there, he was making these like exertion instruments. Like he wanted to make a portable instrument like a guitar that was as loud as a guitar
I'm dying as loud as the guitar and that didn't need any batteries. Okay. Yeah, it's like yeah, If he's got his own YouTube channel and stuff, like I think it's called DIY DSP or something, I actually I'm sure it's called DIY DSP. So he was making these like, variety shapes, but some of them were like tubes. And you would row row them. Like you are like, like you bow
them resonate or something.
Exactly. So he figured out how to use the least amount of power to actually, he figured out how to generate enough power to boot a microcontroller in less than six, six milliseconds, power on a synth engine and then pump it through speakers that would resonate loudly enough in that cavity for you to like play instruments, like kind of like a trumpet type of synth. Not sound but like, you know, interaction model like you had for for keyboard buttons. Yeah, anyways, hi. Like, I met people like that. And I'm like, Oh my God, this guy is making like a computer that boots like in like, latency free, like real time powers, the synth engine and like, sounds loud, you know, like, all of those things were like, foreign to me.
So that inspired you to build your own thing, then.
Yeah, that inspired me to take that class like so you know, I learned a little bit from him and from other people around me, but you know, I needed to like up my up my game. And my wife had taken the class and she was more of an artist. And she took the class the year before. And so I took it. And then at the very end of that class, actually, if you Google as to 20, Nick Celio POV, you'll see my all of my homework from that class.
want to grade it right now.
When you say that class, I think I think we were talking about that before we started recording. Which which class was that?
Okay, there's a there's a class at MIT called make almost anything. And Neil Gershenfeld is the guy that teaches that class, and he teach us something like 14 people, a semester or a year. So, you know, 14 people at MIT get to take it every year. So he decided to syndicate that class. I don't know if he'd like that word. But basically, he created a thing called Fab Academy, which is 200, or something. Fab Labs across the world that basically go through the same curriculum. He teaches it via video for three hours every Wednesday morning, I think. But anyway, he teaches it three hours a week for over video, and then you get two or three days per week with a local teacher. And you go through one week, it's like MIT shotgun style, one week scenes. One week 3d printing, one week laser cutting, one week CNC the assignment for that as make something big. Then you get like casting and molding and networking. Like you have to get your computer to talk to embedded device. It's crazy. It was like, getting hit on the head every week. But it was also like, really, really fun. So was that class? Yeah. And like, if you're are you looking at my homework?
No, it looks okay.
It looks okay. Yeah, that's really good. So this class kind of gave you I guess, a kick in the ass or in a way, like the the, the the firepower to go and do your own thing, right?
Yeah, you know, so like, as a graphics guy, I played around with 3d stuff, like even in high school, but all of a sudden, were 3d printing things. And I'm like, okay, hey, I can I know some 3d modeling tools. Like that part was pretty easy. Laser cutting stuff was pretty easy, because I can like kind of think in 3d and, you know, use use vector, you know, use drawing tools. But the board design was a whole new like, Eagle was a dumbfounding plus, I think the eagle UI sucked back. A lot. So
see you and I argued just last night about this. I'm sorry.
But okay, quick tangent. If you're used to graphics design software, then eagle is probably a giant pain in the ass. Because it doesn't it doesn't play by the same rules. Correct? Yeah. So that Yeah. So it's still usable? It's just the button clicks don't do what you would expect them to if you come from that world.
Yeah. Because i Because, you know, I come from the other side, which is CAD software drawing stuff in 2d. And so when I started using Eagle, I'm like, Oh, this is just like Autodesk. 2000. And, yeah, everything all the button commands now. Now I go use like Photoshop. I'm like, This doesn't make any sense.
You're I I saw fuck almost come out of your mouth.
Don't know what's going on?
Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. Okay. Yeah, it's different language. Oh, yeah.
It's what look the left mouse button on the right mouse button does,
man. Yeah, it's the Yeah, right. It's the mice. It's the mouse button. Mice. Mice buttons. Yeah, the right click does it? Yeah, man. Okay, but it's fine. It works. Yeah. Now it looks really sophisticated. And it just new paint on it. Yeah. You know, like Gavin design this board and Eagle and he looks like super proficient. So, you know, I can't hate like, it's just,
I I'm of the opinion of use the tool that you're good at?
Yeah, I'm with you. Yeah. You know, it's like, you get to see people get into like debates, but like, what camera should I buy? You know? And like, I've been down that rabbit hole too. But really, it's, you know, it's the one you use.
It's Do you want to use Yep.
So, yeah, back to the Biddy again.
Oh, yeah. You know, so. Parker, do you have that? My page loaded? Your, your homepage? Yeah. No, no. The as to 20 Nick Telia POV No, I don't have that open anymore. Okay, nevermind. Basically, the short version is at the end of that class. Like, I'd made a soundy cynthy thing. I had, you know, my friends from the pirate ship and some new friends in this in this new space. You know, I got to know a few people that made you know, these kinds of things. And I was like, let's have a show. You know, I like I got it was kind of because my wife is that had asked me like, I think she planted the seed. And it was like, sometime it was like a year or two later that like, I'm like, Yeah, you know, like, all this advertising type stuff is like, it just not fulfilling. I'm like, let me put this thing I made and some other things my friends made into a show and let's call that show curious sound objects. And that's how that whole thing was born. And there's, there were four, four shows eventually, but you know, I was thinking like, okay, because like, most of the time, all the stuff that we make is sort of in this like, workbench, like science, science, fair environment.
It's just a mess of wires, parts, stuff everywhere. I've seen I've seen Stephens workbench.
Hey, come on. It's gorgeous. It's beautiful. Right, I'm looking at your workbench right now. And it's exactly what you just described.
Yeah, I mean, so it was mine. Like I have like this external GPU box I built, but like I left the cover off, because I couldn't fit the wires inside. And like, you know, it's like, yeah, I have like a fan. I've have a loose fan like to the left of it, like cooling it off, because I couldn't find out. You know what I mean?
My favorite was the it was the last project we did before Stephen moved up to Colorado, and it was that synthesizer. And it was a single board synthesizer. But like, we had to do some mods and stuff to it. And oh, he's gonna go get it right now. The inside of it is just horrendous. Look at the outside and love how it looks.
Here it's absolutely beautiful. The outside looks kind of the inside is what it was a nightmare. Oh, it totally works. Yeah,
it's a nest. Yeah, I bet if you leave it outside, you'll get like a bird.
Yeah, no, it already has. It already has a couple in there.
And the thing is, I bet you if you organize all that wiring, it would sound different. It wouldn't sound as good.
Yeah, I know the magic is the rat's nest of wiring. Is that what you're telling me? Yeah. And the fact that the boards are not screwed, and they're just floating in free space?
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Adds harmonics man.
as possible. Yeah. Yeah, sure. Like there's like some impedance or whatever.
That should be the name of this, this podcast, some impedance or whatever.
Like that. But I agree the front of that looks awesome. It's got the like, tape the label machine. Oh,
yeah. The boss, the embossing label machines. Yeah, I bought one specifically for this project. Because I looked at when we were making this project. I was like, that's just perfect for what we're doing here.
Yeah, you could
have gotten the like, fancy new one. I like prints flat, like black text on white stickers. But no, no, you had like that. That's the one. Oh, yeah, for sure. Like the 3d one. Like you can read it. It's also you know, like you could say, like, you could find it in the dark.
For all those times for all those nights in a jazz Odyssey is that I go oh, I love it.
Alright, so you started designing the Biddy and that kind of stuff. What made you go to Kickstarter?
Yeah. Surprised as a Kickstarter.
No, no, no, it's like you decided I want to sell lots of these two people. One was that oh, it's one thing like, you know, see you and I built a synthesizer. We would never take that Kickstarter. So what made you go like I want to take this and have other people enjoy it
you know what I missed? Can I go on a back tangent I'll totally the pirate ship so I grew up like I'm Russian even like when I was a kid in like the Soviet Union. By the way, we had to like sit on our desks with our like elbows touching our fingers. And you raise your arm like this and you write with Kurt and pen and cursive in first grade is fucking crazy. I don't know if that's relevant. Anyway, I moved to like the US and California and you get your pencil and you get your big ass line with a dash down in the middle and you can like, you know, anyway, but Oh, right. Why did I bring up the whole? It's like, Yeah, I had a piano teacher back then. And then I had a piano teacher when I was a kid here. And I quit in eighth grade when she got to music theory because like, it wasn't that much fun. So like, I kind of didn't touch music again until I moved to Cambridge. And until I moved to the pirate ship and there was a synth night where people will bring their DIY since or whatever since or like software, you know, like supercollider stuff, like, all sorts of like, open open music Labs is here. So like, someone would bring like a xox box, which is like a 303 remake, or like, like, one two, anyway, whatever. And so we would play music, we would drink beer, and we play music sometimes to like one or three years, six in the morning. And like that group, like wall of sound like it was kind of it was magical. It was like, it was like half music and half like fire dance, you know?
Burning Man with synthesizers. Yeah,
it is like mostly guys like sometimes girls would come by like Gucci skull bras. Sometimes we put like 2001 or like Blade Runner on the wall and like rescore it. Oh, that's awesome. It was awesome. It's so great. It was yeah, like I used to live. It was Wednesday night. I like I would live for that. Like, I would look forward to every every you know, and that that was amazing. And so, yeah. And so then I took that class, and I was like, Hey, let's have an art show of the stuff everyone's making. Like let's have a proper art show. Like put it on a pedestal hide the electronics. So like there's only the thing you interact with, like either snobs or like or even a banana or
like how I went from like normal interface things like knobs and then for it just went from that to a fruit
Yeah, you know, impedance or whatever Yeah, one guy, my favorite thing and so how did how did Sorry Sorry, I'm
gonna get into this is how did the banana? How did that work? Did you eat it? Did you touch it? Or?
Yeah, no. One of the guys
hasn't sat there and ripened. It influenced the sound
that's that's pretty good.
given away gold ideas here, Parker
gold. Yeah, that's, uh, yeah, I hope I hope you make that.
Where you know what the thing about bananas because you always buy them when they're slightly green. Because you're like, oh, yeah, they're gonna last longer. The moment you get home and you like, you turn away. He turned back to them. They're by Brown and splotch and nasty.
I like them like that. They taste better that way. They intensify you
are one sick motherfucker.
They're so good. So apparently unripe bananas will make you constipated and overripe bananas have the opposite effect though. Like it's like x lakhs
so there's some like Goldilocks area right in between that keeps you regular.
I you know it's never get there. It's like Schroeder
Banana here either. Perfect. And you'll never know until you eat it.
Yeah, you open it. Yeah, yeah, you're right. So I get it goes. It's instant. Like yeah, you turn around.
So listeners if you have a method to Make sure the bananas stay at the perfect rightness. Let us know on Twitter
Yeah, it could be some like weird thing like put it in a brown paper bag like something I would like roll my eyes on and that could actually works
or put an onion next to it or something like that. So there's there's some trick. I'm sure it's gone through my Facebook feed. These cool fruit hacks will save your life or something like that. You
know? This one weird trick will make grocers mad.
Yeah, that's pretty clickbait right. Okay, where are we bananas in art galleries? Right? With electronics?
Yeah, yeah, I thought of some clickbait stuff. For the bitty teachers hate this one new toy or this one music toy? Yeah, teachers hate something. Or researchers in Cambridge hack this key chain, you won't believe the sound that comes out button three.
Actually likes that one. I would click that link.
Yeah, I'm calling myself a researcher in Cambridge. Stretch it a little Yeah. Yeah. Or researchers in Cambridge figure out how to shrink an air horn into your pocket. And so the picture would be like a guy on a bike stuffing a giant air horn into his like, jeans pocket? No, not that one. One out of three. Not that the middle.
So the Biddy Yeah. So you came up with this idea? And how long did it take you to like, prototype it and iterate through the design process? Because I mean, that's where you you, you really wanted to make sure the product felt really good.
Yeah. Yeah. The video had a half a half precursor. Do you guys remember the laser keychains from the 80s little like beer Beer.
That kind of thing. I had a yak back.
That that era like same genre of toy. This one didn't. Anyway, there was a I the very very first curious on objects product was a that laser keychain which had a few little buttons. It looked like a car key fob, okay. And I, I opened it up and basically made a circuit bending kit for it. So you can replace a resistor with a pot. And so you could change the speed of the playback. Okay. Like, you can see it on the website. It's called Patient alpha or something anyway, I mean, yeah, that's a
term I haven't heard in a long time. It's circuit bending.
Yeah. Yeah. Like I just eat out because I took this class, and I had friends around me. And they're like, one of them, actually, is like, dude, lick your finger. And while you're playing it, move your finger around the circuit board until something like squawks. And then you know, that's how you can bend something. And that wouldn't have occurred to me. But that's how that whole thing was born. And it was a kit wood that came with the original keychain that basically let you like speed up or slow down the laser noises. And then that was in December. And then in January, I'm like, Okay, well, that's fun. But it would be cool to have a thing that you can load, you know, fully customized custom sounds custom software. And so that's where piti came from, was like, okay, that little pocket thing is cool. Let's make a little bit bigger. And let's play it. Cool.
So I guess this is what a great one. I'm just curious. Like, okay, so you you went from, you know, licking your finger and hacking someone else's, you know, device to creating your own. So what's under the hood? And how did you choose? What like what all goes into it?
So after that, like I started with what I knew, which is basically Arduinos. And I found a library called, called the mozzie library, which is just like, stellar. This one this man named Tim Barris or he's in Australia, I think he and his brother created it. And it's based on some open Music Lab stuff. They basically figured out how to ditch all of the timings on the like in the Arduino library and use two pins as an output. Basically, like kind of having a two pin DAC straight from an Arduino.
like kind of a PWM architecture. Okay. Yeah.
PWM like summing through some like resistors. And yeah, I don't know if something's exactly,
you're correct. Yeah.
And that Mazi library comes with a bunch of sketches that has all sorts of amazing stuff. And I started playing around with that, and on a regular Arduino, and then I'm like, Oh, hey, I I can build a toy here. So I took a nano, or Yeah, the Nano, which is like, I don't know, a centimeter and a half by like three years or something for I stuck it on a, like a Raspberry Pi form like proto board. But you know, that's just had some stuff lying around, I tore apart a Bluetooth speaker, like, you know, like a mini one that has a speaker similar to the one there but it was paper like this, the one on the biddies aluminum just so it's like safe, that actually that's one of the most expensive components on the damn thing. The top part of Bluetooth speaker, I stuck it to a, you know, protoboard I stuck a nano on the back, I stuck some buttons on the front and the speaker and the knobs and like it looks a lot like you, I'll send you guys a picture. I don't know, it's like it basically it looks like the duct tape version of the bitty, like vertical, it's a little bit bigger. It's like three inches by four inches. But I put some stuff on there. I'm like, Hey, let me get because I also you know, like just being in like entertainment advertising type stuff, like I just into sound design kind of like buy, you know, like, it's just one of those things. I've also like doing all of the music playing. Like, I made some samples that I thought sounded good together, stuck it on this thing and I'm like, Holy shit, like now I have a drum machine in my ear just like press a button, you get a sound press another button, you got another sound like use the knob to pitch it. And that's it all of a sudden, like, Oh, dang. Like, there it is. And that was the extent of my heart. Like my personal hardware abilities.
You know, I love I love that because it seems like it's a story of like discovery as opposed to like, rigid specification saying like, I wanted to do XYZ, therefore I designed to XYZ it sounds more like you were kind of like, oh, I can add this thing. Let's see what it does. You know?
It's true. Yeah. Yeah, some of the mechanics in there are like, yeah, it's some of the mechanics, there are results of accidents, like, I'm pressing the snare. But it's looping. Because I copied pasted some code you know, and then I like found some code that led me like, move the the out point of the sample, you know, so instead of like having like a, like a lot of electronic music gear, like snaps you to a grid, like pretty specifically, I mean, not in the modular world, but like in the kind of like. Anyway, so I eat, I'm playing a snare, and it just starts to loop. And so what if I moved the outpoint, and all of a sudden, it's like looping faster. And so I can kind of like dial in a rhythm just by moving the outpoint of the snare, rather than messing with a metronome or something. That's an accident that happened. And the very first one that's like, still in some of the code, because it's fun. You could almost do like a paradox like that. You know what I mean? And like few drugs, like few drum machines that you buy can can like, work that way. Anyway, I'm proud of that particular field, like,
Bob Ross and code. Happy little code, happy little bug, right?
Happy little bug.
Okay, actually, can we walk a little bit through the kind of user interface? Because it's, this device is unique? I guess? You sort of described it earlier. But but you hold it in one hand, and it has, is it four? Or is it six buttons? I think it's four, right?
It's for like, official button. Yes. You know, it's two by two big, you know, like thumb size clicky button. Underneath it are these two little tiny like function buttons. Okay. So I don't expect anybody to depress them. Like to trick you know, they're meant to be function buttons, or like, in some
they're not they're not meant for performance. In other words, yeah, like
you do you do it to like dial in a tempo. Okay, or, like, set the root note of some Sure. Like, a lot of people, you know, like, the pocket operator comes up. And, and the pocket operator is, you guys both know, I'm guessing Steven knows about the pocket operator. I have to admit, I don't you know, teenage engineering, the like Swedish company that makes these like beautiful, since they're like,
Oh, yes, I know this company.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah,
they make it look like CAC, like old school calculator, Steven, but they're like PCBs.
Yeah, I was there making a
game thing now. It's weird. Anyways, go on.
Yeah, yeah, the game thing they does I think they did that as a panic panic, software's making that game thing. That's industrial design. It's very much like their style. Anyway, actually, like, without even like getting into them specifically, like a lot of other instruments. Have you like sequence stuff into a grid? For example, like, or drum machines specifically, have you like sequence stuff? I, because there's not enough buttons. And because of the way the sort of like the experimental stuff, or like the sort of exploration process happen, like, you end up playing these things more, you can't really like, type, like, tap stuff into it and walk away. Which is, like, I think, a feature of most electronic instruments. And I think that also makes one kind of like, you know, like, I tap some stuff into a synth or a sequencer or whatever. And I'm like, oh, that sounds good. I'm gonna leave it. And then like, plays for the next like, 15 minutes. That's great. Yeah. Yeah. And the, like, The scary thing is, like, keep playing something, you know, like, if you if you're, like, jamming, like to kind of keep playing. And so like, part of the kind of like, a spirit of this video situation is it gives you some stuff that's locked into a rhythm that you can change, but you have to hold it down. It gives you some stuff that like you can kind of like really, like, go bonkers, like some one shot stuff, like you press a button that just makes that one sound. It gives you some stuff where you get to kind of like really go wild with the rhythm. You know, like with, like, move away from the beat or move like behind her in front of the like, in front or behind the beat. It's like a It's a it's a man, I wish I could like send some to you guys. He could play him like right now we could play him together.
Oh, no, I wouldn't do is you can send us some stuff. And we can play another time.
Okay, yeah, let's do it. Let's
do like a crazy performance. That would be tons of fun.
Oh, my God. Yeah. And
we can actually record the Hangout. So we actually have video that'd be that'd be awesome. Yeah,
I'm totally down.
Okay, yeah, actually, I mean, macro fab is going to have a bunch. So we know.
Well, good. Okay, so we sort of got off onto another of like, 500 tangents that we've been doing. So, so four buttons, and two potentiometers. And a speaker is, is kind of what's on this. So the four buttons are kind of like performance triggers effectively, right, that access samples or, or other aspects of the thing, and then the two knobs? Are they fixed? Or are they something that changes based off of what mode you're in? Like, what do they do?
Loosely speaking, the left knob is time and the right knob is pitch. I try to maintain that convention. Like there's some there's some rhythmic, like drum sketches. I still don't know whether to calm sketches or patches or sound packs. You know, like people
when you upload new things to it.
Yeah, cuz in Arduino, they're called the sketch in like, a lot of music world, you know, they're called patches because either like modular or like Mac's, or PD or whatever. They're called patches. sound packs makes sense to people because like, you upload some new sounds to it. So
right, yeah, like if you have a if you have a pack of drum samples. That's that's used a bit in the recording world, right? Yeah. Like, yeah, you're kind of spanning across different styles of audio production.
Yeah, I haven't figured it out yet. You know, right. You're like, hey, download my new sample, you know, my new sample pack or sound pack like, a lot of like, less nerdy music producers. That's like, they know that more than a patch or a sketch. But I like calling them sketches because that's Fuckit, whatever. And I don't know, I'm sorry. One more tangent for users.
Okay, let me if you're if you're already the let me let me go ahead and just call out the specifications just to give a little bit more detail on what this thing can do. So the Biddy can output sine waves, square waves saw wave triangle waves and noise, right?
Is that all noise?
I guess noise would in this case be like white noise or pink noise. Okay.
Well, it's yeah, it's it's bandwidth limited, random digital noise, right because that is what the Arduino is capable of. So then it also has sample playbacks. You could load a sample into it, I guess you could load a sample pack. And play that back. So up to what? 16 kilohertz
16 kilohertz. Okay, so it also has polyphony. So nice, nice for voices.
Let's see here with up to 16 voices possible with,
I think, probably some,
if you write your sketches really nicely, you can get up to 16. Right?
Yeah, I've got an eight no problem, like, so. I don't know, I think 16 is possible. You know, if it's like, really. There's like envelopes and stuff. Like, yeah, like an attack, decay, sustain release. That's, that's part of the mozzie library. Yeah. You know, that that stuff, like, you know, there's some stuff that adds like CPU, and stuff, but like, I think 16 is possible. Like, it doesn't even feel like it's maxed out at eight.
Sure. And like I was saying, I bet you if you really optimize your code, you can squeeze a handful more out. Especially if you, if you sort of begin to ignore some of the Arduino overhead, you can usually get a couple more clocks out of it. So you also have the ability to do filtering, right, low pass, high pass, band pass, and notch filtering, and then patterns and arpeggiation for all of that. So that's all pretty impressive to hammer into a single Arduino.
You know, I gotta hand it to them. The mozzie library is like what made most of this possible, like the, the, the, I would like, the patterns and arpeggiation is probably like the like, really the stuff I've added on top, personally, like, most of the other stuff, like came already available. The like, the mechanics of the the instrument, you know, because like as like design, UI UX kind of, like, person. I am kind of as like a kind of, you know, a musician. It's hard to call myself a musician, whatever, as a music player. I'm like, How do I get four buttons to give me stuff that I want. And so like, okay, it's like the drums, we kind of get it like some buttons, you repeats a pattern, and you can cycle through the patterns with the knob. I've just gotten, you know, writing back to an array, so you can record a pattern. I was very proud of myself for that one.
It was also way easier than I thought.
Like, like, like looping, like looping a sequence like a quantize sequence, all I had to do is was making an array and write to it, you know? Like, I think looping, like loose looping, like if somebody wants to be like, data, I would have to, like store the time intervals between them. And you know, I might be able to do that eventually.
That's two arrays, right?
Yeah, yeah. But the mozzie library ditches a lot of the like native Arduino timing stuff. So I have to like use some other.
So I'm just imagining like a loose loop. Because a normal C code you do like while, but this would be like, whatever.
Can we can we make a whatever function? Love that.
So I'm actually kind of curious, the knob that controls. You said one of the knob controls time, right? And one controls pitch. Is that is that pitch, like continuously available? Like in other words, if you hit a drum, and it's ringing out, can you adjust the pitch? Yes, it's ringing. That's awesome.
Yes, yeah, it's awesome. I feel like I just patted myself on the back after a compliment, which is rude, I guess.
Because Because, I mean, it's easy to read a pot and apply a pitch at the moment of the trigger, but to continuously adjust it, that means you have to have a lot of other things going under the hood.
Yeah, so you can kind of effectively scratch you'd be like, you know, as as it plays out, right? And like, it also starts to alias a lot towards the bottom of course, you know, so like, this thing has, it's kind of like, it sounds like kind of shitty in an amazing way. You know, it's like, like, you know shitty who like Lo Fi like, like crunchy like if you slow it down like a lot a lot. It sounds like a like a pixel kind of explosion like
almost bit crushed, right?
Yeah. A bit crushed. There's also an input jack on this thing, which I didn't talk about much at all on the Kickstarter, because the input headphone jack is just plugged straight into the micro. And neither me nor Gavin have ever touched it. But it could theoretically do like, you know, crappy real time effects, just like like downsample.
So yeah, just dump anything into it and apply all kinds of crap to it.
Yeah, yeah, the easiest one would be like, read every other, you know, the is easiest one would be just, you know, sample at worst. But if you've got very that with a knob,
I would totally name a function in my code. Sample it worse. Like oh, that's, that's great. So you ran a whole Kickstarter for this. And you got funded, right? Yeah, I ended up pulling over 80k. Right on Yeah. Wow. Congratulations. That's awesome. Yeah.
Thank you. 80.8808.
Yeah, got eight awake. That's so great.
I have I have a secret. Yeah. Like, a friend of mine, like pointed out the 808 thing about the funding, like, oh, man, that's great. A guy today wanted to cancel his pledge. And I'm like, Hey, I'm really attached to the 808 price. Can I just keep you in the system and refund you via Venmo? And we did that. Yeah, I also kept him in there, and he's gonna get a Betty it's gonna be kind of awesome. Yeah. But he was like, Do I really need I just need the money man. Like, I give him my money back. Like I there was a few cancellations. And I talked to like I taught I tried to talk to a lot of the backers. Because, you know, like, I want to know who these people are. And I talked to basically almost everyone that canceled on my Hey, I don't want to try to change your mind or anything. I just curious why you canceled because maybe it'll help me like, either make the product better, or talk about it better. And a lot of people said like, Hey, this is like the 5% of the people that canceled 10% of people bought the night mode, the all black mode. So anyway, I have a lot of a lot of conversations with the people I cancelled because I felt I thought that they would be the most pure, you know, interesting feedback. And then a couple of people were like, Hey, I'm not sure if this is going to be something I want to play with, like for a couple days, and then just put it in a drawer. And so I heard okay, like maybe there's like a price to utility concern. And so that's when I started making all those videos. I posted like me remaking Old Town road and stuff like that, like me making real music as because like, the teaser video is just like lag little making noise. Yeah. And people like, oh, it looks fun. Like, let me get one. But when I heard people say like, I don't know if I can make real music with it, or, you know, this basically what they said, I'm like, let me let me demonstrate. But then a lot of people said, You know what, I like it just like I just
was drunk at the time. And I clicked by, yeah.
Like, I got bills, like, oh, I want a trip. Like, you know, like, I love the thing. And, you know, let me know more about like they were, you know, at first it was shocking. I'm like, Hey, why are people returning it? But anyway, that's a side Kickstarter tangent.
So our, as of the Kickstarter is fulfilled, are there going to be any available for people to buy?
Right now? So I mean, this is macro fab specific, like getting getting them made, not not crappy, not cheap, like, you know, somewhere else. cost more. And so I think like, the, the Kickstarter, and that's it, like, you know, I'm happy to do, I would rather get nice units to people on time, and pay more for it. Then roll the dice and like hope things work out and like keep, you know, keep more of the money. But I think right now, that money will pay for an extra 100 units or so. And give, you know, maybe like a month or two of like, runway in terms of like, you know, I don't have to do client work for a month or two. That's where we're at. So I think yeah, like,
so if someone was really interested in buying one of these, where would they go?
Oh, the extra 100 units, or like the extra 100 Preorder units are on curious sound objects.com Curious sound objects.com Someone could also Google bitty CSO CSOs shortly. We're curious on objects. So the Kickstarter ended last Wednesday, and on the website, three people have pre ordered one and there's a forthcoming. I know just because he messaged me, he's like, Hey, I don't want to Kickstarter. I want to get another one. Like, cool.
How much? How much do they go for?
The early early birds were 78. The middle birds were 88. And quite frankly, I kept the 88 ones available the whole time thinking that like the 98 was the the limit to what people will pay. And the night mode was never on sale. The name was $128. And it's always just going to be $120. Because it's matte black. It's matte black is all black. And you know, that. So some people are like, most people are like, That's ridiculous. And then there's 10% of people were like, Yeah, that one. That's the one.
So you have a bunch of, there's a bunch of videos available on the Kickstarter. And there's also some videos on YouTube, right?
Yeah, on YouTube. Instagram is where I probably post the most like, you know, like, frequent, you know, because on Instagram, you could post like a 10 second video. It's all curious sound objects curious on objects, YouTube, curious on objects, Instagram, curious on objects.com. I try to keep it a secure Facebook to Facebook, things kind of neglected.
So Nick, one more question before we start wrapping up this podcast is what's the future for either bitty or curious sound objects or actually your projects? Like, well, you make a bitty two that has six buttons. three knobs
got the name for it. The B to bigger Betty, be
to there it is to be to. Yeah. Yeah, I think the I think the future well, I mean, the whole thing is, is like if I if I could make sound toys for living, like sound toys, music instruments, like I'd kinda would die happy. You know, like, if I imagined myself on my deathbed, and I'm like, Oh, this like website for this movie. Like, I don't really care, you know, like,
but then your your future son or whatever pulls like a string on a toy. And he goes, the cow says moo and you're like, yeah.
And then you die, right?
That's a Hallmark movie director TV right there.
Right. And the movies just called the cow that said, moo.
Oh, my God. Thank you so much, Nick, for coming out to the podcast.
There's a lot of fun. Yeah. And for those that are listening on understand, like, this stuff is probably really confusing. Go watch the videos, it makes a lot more sense. And it's super cool. So if you're interested, go pick it up. Look at all of the websites and social media curious sound objects, right?
Yeah, wow. I just looked at the time and I can't believe we've been talking for an hour and a half. Like it's straight up feels like 20 minutes from for me maybe.
Great. So Nick, did you want to sign us out with the podcast?
Yes, sir. Let's see. That was the that was the macro fab. I can't that that was the macro fab engineering podcast. I was your guest Nick Celli above
and we were your hosts Parker dough and Steven Craig make some noise later.
Take it easy
Thank you, yes, you our listener for downloading our show. If you have a cool idea, project or topic, let Stephen I know Tweet us at macro at Longhorn engineer with no O's or at analog EMG or email us at podcast at macro fed.com. Also check out our Slack channel. You can find the Slack channel in our podcast notes or on our website that you know macro.com And if you're not subscribed to the podcast, Chet click that subscribe button that way you get the latest episode right when it releases and please review us please please please review us wherever you listen as it helps us show stay visible and helps new listeners find us we need more listeners