Monday, December 28, 2009

Bob Crowley explains how to hook up an Argonne AR-57 to a Zenith Clock Radio

Something about that AR-57 dual crystal micro phone caught my eye early, and the $3.89 price tag at Lafayette Radio Electronics helped too.  Here I am explaining to cousins Cathy and Bobbie how you can get a regular tube-type clock radio to act like a PA system.

If you look closely, you can see the perforated back of the transformerless, hot chassis radio placed loosely so that the interlock cord still connected power with most of the back open. The ability to electrocute oneself at a young age is a right we have apparently lost with the advent and widespread use of wall warts to power everything.  Existential risks aside, coupling the high impedance of the Argonne AR-57 dual crystal element to various points in the radio - would give interesting and sometimes loud, feedback generating results, which were fine since  "Paperback Writer" was playing on WBZ's Nightline Show with Dick Summer at the time, along with much other pyschedelia like The Beacon Street Union, and The Ultimate Spinach.

The way to do it, if you must, is to connect two series caps of 600V to each microphone lead, one to the chassis, the other to a stick as a probe.  Turn the radio on and find the detector, and that will work. Listen for your own voice, or loud feedback.

It was Winter, but the window was cracked open enough to let various antenna feedlines through the opening and over to a shortwave radio - a Hallicrafters S-38, which I still have.  Actually a lot of that junk you see in the background is still in place at my mother's house, another time capsule.

Location: Newton Centre MA, off Langley Rd, near the Hammond Pond Woods.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Waterworks Steam Engine - predating Steampunk by over a century

Unlike  an interior shot of the engine room of Captain Nemo's Nautilus in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this seemingly Jules Verne inspired four story high, triple expansion Levitt Steam engine is absolutely real.

The story is that my friends Jim and Jamie knew the engineer, Bruce, who was in charge of this out-of-commission pumping station that still is located in Chestnut Hill, MA, very close to Boston College.

We made several visits to this amazing time capsule of gages and valves, and an incredible array of German silver fittings, and huge flywheels that went through the floor to the decks below, with cast iron spiral staircases leading to service decks covered with more gages and oilers.

At that time I was the proud owner of a Nikon F with a 50mm F2 lens (the F1.4 was much desired, but costly) and a small supply of Kodak Ektachrome T transparency film with an ASA of 100, process E4.  Film and processing were expensive and I had other things to do with the $10 it would have cost to process this cassette, so I put it aside,  in 1972, only to find again in 2005.

So I sent it to a lab called Rocky Mountain Film Services or something, and they promised to process it properly, and if I was lucky, there would be some image remaining.  After a long wait, I was surprised to see a pile of underexposed prints show up at my door - disappointed and angry I was - because they had processed the E4 film as a color negative!  Aghast I put the film away. What a loss.

Then, last month, I bought an Epson 750 pro film scanner.  This is the same scanner that produced the good scan of Hemlock Gorge that is shown elsewhere on this blog.  So last week I finally pulled out "The Waterworks Negatives" and got to work, using the Epson scan utility, some patience, and a dose of Photoshop, and here is the result.

Click on the image for a larger view.  I think I will do this again, and at even higher resolution.

The Boston or Metropolitan Water Works fell under the Metropolitan District Commission which was eventually folded into the State Police.  A few years ago, the roof of this building had holes in it from neglect, and the brass, steel and wood were badly corroded. Now it is a partially restored museum, and some of the space has been converted into extremely expensive condominiums.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Speed Graphic Chop Job Gets Weird

It all started out innocently enough, I thought. Shortening an Anniversary Speed Graphic, first stripping off the leather, sanding, filling and cleaning up the brass.  Then out came the red Dykem, a marking dye used for scribing metal surfaces and other machining tasks, and for coloring and staining, but here applied directly to the mahogany in a cavalier way.  Chopping a Speed Graphic so that the lens to film distance is shorter should allow the use of a wide angle 65mm Angulon with a 6cm X 12cm rollfilm back.

All of this is related to transducers and the rest of the material in this blog, but that's not apparent yet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A large, high dynamic range file - Polaroid Type 55 Negative

Video, audio and photographic imaging share many things in common, including the need for lots of data to deliver and present detailed information over a large area, or time frame.  In the case of music, compression schemes lighten the data load while degrading the original file.  Images suffer the same degradation in jpeg compression.

Blogger is set up to give you a clickable thumbnail image, like the one you see on the left derived from a 4X5" Polaroid Type 55 black and white instant negative shot with a view camera.  The scene is Hemlock Gorge in Newton, MA, where the Charles River spills over several dams built before the turn of the last century.

Click on the image, wait for it to load (a fraction of a second if you have broadband) and thank google.Or click here and get the full size file.

Monday, October 26, 2009

WSCA - FM Portsmouth Community Radio 106.1 FM and streaming

My friend and WSCA on-air jazz docent Gary Lowe sent me a link to Portsmouth New Hampshire's WSCA FM.  WSCA has a live stream and I am now listening to an Orbital remix at 4pm local.  Great stuff.  Check out WSCA - they need your help!  Send money, PCs, equipment etc.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New CD "The Juggler's Progress" from True Margrit

I met Margrit Eichler at the 2006 AES in San Francisco and have subscribed to her mailing list ever since. Just got her band's new CD today, (which has not left the changer since it arrived here last week!) and it reminds me a little of Zamcheck, from the 70s, and Stormin Norman and Suzy, but not really. Here's an entertaining clip of True Margrit from Youtube.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Stylophone

World's first vacuum tube ribbon mic - pre WWII

I've scanned in and posted an excerpt from Electronics Magazine of this fascinating article about early ribbon microphones using phantom power and with tube amps on board.  Julius Weinberger  was a well known writer in various hi tech magazines of the day, and this particular gem caught my eye recently.

This article is 75 years old!  It is amazing that nearly all of the advancements in ribbon microphone technology were demonstrated that far back.  The only fundamental aspect that has changed is the ribbon - and the elimination of "foils". And that occurred in 2007.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The current front page artwork of Anthony Resta's Studio Bopnique home page, with enough contrast so you can see the music lessons in progress.  It's amazing how photoshop can bring an image out of the fog, making details visible, restoring tonal gradients enough to delineate shape and form.

Old movies have this high contrast look after many years of reprinting. Each successive print loses dynamic range, and eventually the images are all black and white, with no greys.  The Three Stooges sometimes look that way, same with The Little Rascals, if you can find 
them.Visit the liquid centre of the rhythm factory,
the heart of the sci-fi mambo lab

Thursday, October 15, 2009

WZBC 90.300 MHz FM Newton/Boston

As I type this entry I am listening to the program "Rare Frequency" on my favorite radio station WZBC in Newton, at Boston College.

Ambient, progressive, experimental, unclassifiable.  This is where I discovered Heiner Goebbel's Eislermaterial, P5, Demos of Saturn, and numerous other heady favorites.

From their own website:

" 1979 when our broadcast signal became stereo. However, arguably the most important change in WZBC history occurred later that year, or perhaps the following one (depending on whom you ask), when the station changed its format to something called modern rock. The frequency formerly home to James Taylor and his ilk became inundated with innovative new bands which commercial radio would not touch. At approximately the same time, WZBC also began broadcasting more experimental music under the moniker, No Commercial Potential, thus changing the future of WZBC irrevocably. Since the initial format change, WZBC has grown to become one of the most influential and respected college stations in the country"

Indeed!  Tune in on iTunes to Alexandra or Phader at 8am Eastern time on "Melody du Jour" for a selection of gems sure to make your music exploration explode, and stimulate your hunger once again for the new, the innovative, and the ear-opening sounds.

iTunes 9 is an artless disappointment

If you are thinking of upgrading to iTunes 9 and you don't have an iPhone, you might want to wait. The problem is that Apple has changed the color scheme in such a way that viewing iTunes 9 on the glossy screen of the Macbook Pro is nearly impossible unless you turn off all the room lights. I made this mistake and now find I can't go back to the previous version. To all those (including me) who have griped about Microsoft, I can tell you I feel no better about Apple, and find them to be at least as draconian, and more simple-minded than MS. For instance, there are no controls that you can access to change simple items like screen colors and backgrounds.  Amazingly thoughtless, and artless. from a company that depends on those who speak, think and live aesthetics. Or at least used to.

Monday, October 12, 2009


KSM 313 and KSM 353 at the Shure Booth - AES 2009

Hands fondling a KSM313 (previously Naked Eye Roswellite) and next to a KSM353 (el Diablo Stainless) at the Shure booth.

Nice to see these mics go into a big channel like Shure!

Neumann and Sennheiser Booth

A lot smaller than previous years, especially the Neumman section, which was literally a corner of the larger, but very modestly-sized Sennheiser booth at this year's AES show in New York.

AES Antennas

Bunch of antennas at the Shure booth.  L-R Helical circularly polarized, above that some little antenna or something, two shark fins, AKA "paddles" and some wireless mics and gadgets.

Wireless is in a state of flux these days, with TV Band Devices (TVBDs) that are going to occupy the so-called White Spaces, and other band changes from the FCC expected, including a possible future rule or order from FCC for wireless mics to vacate the 700 MHz band, maybe within a couple of years.

The performance wireless space is peopled by a lot of ham radio types, already familiar with the vagaries of coax, RF connectors, antenna patterns and other things not generally well known or appreciated by the audio crowd.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Roger Hooper - Composer

I just now happened to see a tweet from Roger Hooper, who I remembered from his brilliant VOA themes that had caught my attention before.  Roger must be at AES right now and was attending some of the sessions today.

What I like about theme songs, news bulletins,film scores and incidental music for film and TV, is that it is Art with a Purpose.  Art with a purpose is sometimes spoken of as mere craft, but it is not so.  Well-directed, clear musical concepts that work in their specific context are rare in "art" music today.  Sometimes it takes the limitations and to-the-point requirements of commercials to distill the essence into concise, strong and satisfying minute-long segments.

Here is a link to Roger's website.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

FUBAR III Headphone Amplifier

Apparently just in time for the Holiday Season is this nicely knobbed FUBAR III headphone amplifier.

I assume that FUBAR had a FUBAR 1 and 2 that preceded the III, but I never spotted it before today.  Companies sometimes spend a lot of effort on naming their products, or, like us, let the customers make suggestions.  If that was the case with the FUBAR III, then you should know what FUBAR has stood for since at least World War II.

FUBAR - acronym

Army definition -- Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition

FUBAR is a close cousin to SNAFU.  Hopefully, new owners of the FUBAR III won't have one. FUBARITE, the mineral is also interesting.

The Naming of Roswellite - Advanced Acoustic Nanomaterial

Quite a few people have asked recently how Roswellite got its name.  Since I will be at AES this year and might run into you, here is a piece written before Shure Inc. purchased the rights to Roswellite for use in their KSM313 and KSM353 Ribbon Microphones. If you haven't heard, Shure Inc. manufactures the mics in Illinois, using the same methods, materials and tooling that we used at Crowley and Tripp.

ONLY Shure has this material. No other ribbon microphone manufacturers have it.

Here is a link to that article in which the naming of Roswellite is mentioned.  It happened at Tape Op Con 2007,  and was helped by some of the attendees who were at the booth who had a hard time with "acoustic nanofilm", which meant nothing to them, but a world to us!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Birds are Missing in New England

Where have all the birds gone?  A month ago I noticed a sharp drop off of goldfinches at the feeder. The local bird seed supplier has seen his sales of birdseed go to almost nothing, as there are so few takers at the feeders.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Time for a ride

It's that time of year, cool, crisp days and long shadows in the afternoons, the most comfortable time for a bike ride through the multicolored Fall foliage New England is famous for.  This year looks like a good one for the leaf peepers, with brilliant maple reds and other intense and vibrant colors in evidence on the higher hillsides and frostier valleys. 

Reviewed Proposal Paper - a new form of patent publication in scientific literature

I am developing, and proposing, a new subclass of scientific paper called a "Reviewed Proposal Paper" (RPP)  that allows an author or group to propose new scientific inquiry, thought, research, technology development or other advances, while supporting the rights and proprietary nature of the work, which is often funded by private investors.  Today, patent applications are usually ignored in the academic literature, yet patent applicants must consider academic publications as a matter of law.  This inconsistency has led to a knowledge disparity and unproductive conflict in the industrial sciences, in particular, which slows progress, and wastes or misdirects funding from both private and public sectors.

In addition to peer review, an RPP will track the disclosure format necessary to satisfy an improved, more well-vetted patenting process geared toward higher quality and valid patents.  Additionally, the RPP, if adopted, will open the vetting process for patents earlier than presently supported by the United State Patent Office publication rules, allow public, scientific, academic and industrial comment on patent applications, and provide a process for the supply of pertinent so-called "prior art", which would be collected in a database, and other public disclosures and publications made at a date earlier than the date of the RPP or its attendant patent filing.

The first RPP hasn't been written.  The review process hasn't been ascertained, nor have the potentially varied paths to publication, which could include academic journals, online publishing, and perhaps even multimedia been given enough consideration yet to propose.  These are the minimum requirements: A system, possibly one put in place on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis, could supply a framework to regulate the accumulation of qualified comments and contributions in the idea vetting process.  The barest essentials might consist of the following:

1. The RPP, available online on or after the date of first filing at the USPTO or other patent office working within the rules of the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
2.   A references list of all references supplied initially (if any) by the author(s) of the RPP.
3.   A submitted references file in which any interested party may submit qualified references that are pertinent to the novelty, teaching and realization of the matter disclosed in the RPP, before the first date(s) of disclosure.
4.   The commenting section, in which submissions are either accepted or rejected, based upon relevance, date and other criteria, populated by at least one peer.
5.  The summary section, containing all the accumulated references-to-date, in a form that can be readily used and accessed by academia, industry, patent examiners, attorneys and others interested in the prosecution course.
6.  The response section, in which the author(s) of the RPP can further explain the matter in the RPP, and make amendments based upon newly uncovered prior art and other preceding publications and verifiable knowledge.

The system would run in stages paralleling the traditional patent process , such as the filing stage, the prosecution stage, the post-grant stage (where the standards for introducing new matter might require a higher materiality criteria), and even the reexamination stage, which this system would possibly reduce the need for.  Reexamination is a process of challenging a patent at the patent office, sometimes well after it has been granted.  It is sometimes used by well-funded entities to "clear a path" through patents they would otherwise have to pay royalties to use, and it avoidably wastes greater resources, time, money, and opportunity than if a more open system was in place.

The most fundamental concept of such a system, if adopted, would be to continue and make better the important deal between inventors and innovators, and the rights-granting bodies: In return for bringing forth the idea for the benefit of the public, the inventor receives a short period of exclusivity so that he or she may benefit from the value of the invention, and after that time, the invention becomes available to all. Today that short period is approximately 20 years.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Motorola Dome

I have quite a few old radios lying about, and some of them have interesting details such as this Motorola table radio from the 1950s, complete with an atomic domed tuning window against a greenish plastic cold war motif.  If you look closely, you can see the mandatory Conelrad marking on the dial, put there in  US radios as part of an early warning system in the event of incoming Russian ICBMs.  Remnants of Conelrad, which is a contraction of "Control of Electromagnetic Radiation", can be heard in the occasional Emergency Broadcast System alert.  For many years, we also had a weekly warning siren that could be heard across America, usually at noon, on Fridays. We called it "the twelve o'clock whistle".

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NASA: Xena is bigger than Pluto, Quaoar and Sedna

Quaoar?  Sedna? We already knew about Pluto, once regarded as the ninth planet in our Solar System.  But Pluto was demoted from planet to "object" not long ago, and placed in the club of other Kuiper Belt Objects.

It's not easy to remember that Quaoar and Sedna are Kuiper Belt cousins to such objects as 2003 EL61, an ovoid planetoid with a name like a vacuum tube, let alone pronounce their names.  I'm struggling with Quaoar and am sure that I sprained my tongue. I imagine Quaoar might be more popular in some country such as Saudi Arabia, since they are already near Qatar, which is also unpronounceable in Massachusetts. 

Kuiper, I think, is supposed to sound like "wiper" with a K, but maybe not.

Say it like this:  Qwaaaaooooorrrrrrrr !  Sedna is easy, but weird.  Xena, of course, is the Warrior Princess.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Free Online Dictionary proves that you get what you pay for

The Free Online Dictionary and a couple of other online references are attempting to establish that the word "whose" may correctly be used as a possessive form of "that", arguing that writing "of which" sounds stilted, and so the more idiomatic "whose" sounds better.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Videosphere, Transmitters and Racks

Here is a shot of a JVC Videosphere from 1970 hanging from the ceiling of my ham shack.  JVC, Sony and many other Japanese electronics manufacturers responded to the 1969 moon landing motifs - known as "Apollo Style" - with rounded, helmet shaped radios and TVs. Lots of other products of the early 70s echoed the rounded corners, truncated pyramids and strut motifs found on the Lunar Module.

You can just see two 1976 bicentennial candlestick telephones.  The one on the left is a genuine Western Electric telephone, its identity given away by the enlarged base needed to house the then obligatory telephone inductors, and the one on the right is actually a transistor radio.

Two 19" rack cabinets holding various things including a Johnson Valiant 100W AM transmitter, SP600 reciever, James Millen scope, Tektronix mainframe scope, audio processing equipment and power supplies. To the left is an ersatz Collins 30S-1, build from scratch by superb homebrewer Ken W1RIL.  Better than any Collins, this clone easily puts out 2500 Watts of RF, if told to do so.

The Z-stool is original and not a repro.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


My good freind Mike Weiner just sent me an excellent book entitled "HARMONOGRAPH A VISUAL GUIDE TO THE MATHEMATICS OF MUSIC".

Among the many fascinating topics, author Anthony Ashton  devotes pages to our celebrated Ernst Chladni, as well as Lissajous, a nice description of The Kaleidophone, a new-to-me visual map of Equal Temperament.  The book is done up as a small pamphlet of about 50 pages and published by Wooden Books Ltd., London.

Links about Chladni here.

Lafayette PA-42 Crystal Microphone

Finally, here is the famous, revered, much-coveted Lafayette PA-42 "Crystal Mike" as indicated in the delicately embossed styrene grille surface.  This incredibly colorful and exciting microphone was produced in Japan in the early 60s, and sold by Lafayette.  The PA-42 has two wonderful cloisonne emblems that seem to balance the amazingly rich plastic metallic color of the face perfectly.  The rear of this mint-condition treasure is made of injection-molded styrene in an interesting and unusual flesh color, a portion of which can be seen peeking from the top looking like a little earlobe, but it's actually the front of a long, Mohawk fin that streamlines the bullet shape of the body .  The casual and imprecise, fine details of this microphone are all the more discernible due to its completely unmarked and intact surface finish, which is apparently exactly as it looked in 1962 at the Lafayette store.

Probably the all-time favorite microphone in my extensive collection, made all the more desirable with the Lafayette emblem and brand, known to me as a mark of the highest quality in low-cost communications gear.

In our present age of dressed-down product design, where nearly all the cars are strangled into safe blacks, silvers and maroons, and every microphone save one or two is a colorless black or silver, the PA-42 remains amazingly free.

Click on the image for a close-up.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Blogger is all screwed up

Blogger, the google-owned blog service that we use here, has changed.

It's all screwed up though.  There are new features that prevent a lot of the less obtrusive linking we used to do.

Edd Kalehoff - A composer you know.

Ever watch "The Price is Right"?  OK, how about "Monday Night Football"?  Or perhaps you only tune into PBS and watch "The Nightly Business Report".

Here's Edd on the Moog, composing the latest theme for The Price is Right.

These and other great, iconic themes of the late 20th Century are from the incredibly accomplished production house of Edd Kalehoff LINK

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ray Ceaser and an Ear Trumpet

Canadian Ray Ceaser is among the few contemporary surrealists who have managed to preserve the classic super-realist idea in purely digital form.

His art, like that of Dali, Duchamp, Ernst and many others, is intentionally shocking and/or disturbing, in a selective way, and contrasted with norms of beauty. In music today, we have manneristic surrealism all around, especially in Death Metal, where vile sonic images of crushing doom might be decorated with delicate jazz riffs, for those who are paying attention.

The ear trumpet was an early hearing aid, probably first used thousands of years ago, but we cannot be sure. See Ray Ceaser's interpretation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DIY Rat Clone Distortion Guitar Effect Pedal - The Dead RAT - More DIY How To Projects

Check out this crazy ear! has a very bizarre and slightly disturbing animated flash ear that opens their website. As I recall, when I was a young lad, Mr. Peanut (go here to see further weirdness) scared me in a similar way. Creepy Ears also have this quality.

But seriously, you had better follow Mr. EarBud's advice: We had far too many professional musicians, engineers and producers visit the lab who failed to hear the many sneaky, secret test tones that I have around here. We have had some very young ears in here too, and they failed to hear even a moderately loud 18 KHz tone, so it should be no surprise that none of the adults heard it, and most did not hear the TV horizontal oscillator frequency either. A large few heard very little above 10 KHz.

I think it's a dirty little secret that so many sound pros have significant hearing deficits. It explains to me why certain recordings have cranked up treble beyond reason. Use your ears! (But protect them for later use!)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Heil's new mics colored according to familiar scheme

Not surprising that a successful black and red color scheme would be picked up by other manufacturers.

Here is a link.

I met with Bob Heil at TapeOp, a few years ago, and chatted with him and Lynn Fuston. Lynn's 3D Audio site has a couple of interviews that you can listen to.

Here's a short mp3 but not what you might expect with this post.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Winslow Burhoe's Silent Speakers

Micha Schattner and Herb Singleton, both frequent attendees of the Boston Audio Society, told me about Winslow Burhoe's Silent Speakers. Herb said, "I can't believe how much bass he gets out of them". Herb does not exaggerate.

Micha said today, "I think they are incredible" and as we chatted I simply went online here, to Burhoe's site, and pre-ordered them with paypal, my favorite money hose and spigot.

Yes, I bought without hearing, on reputation alone.

Soon, perhaps, we will see (or hear) what these are all about, so expect an update, eventually. Perhaps to hasten the arrival of the speakers all the way from Weston, MA (practically the next town over from where I live) I will let Mr. Burhoe know about the great free advertising on this page.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Aluminum - a new state of matter

Just when you thought that spintronics and quasi-crystalline transistor fields were the new states of matter, along comes another new state of matter - Transparent Aluminum.

But the transparent aluminum, which is made by blasting regular "foils" with soft X-rays, doesn't stick around very long. In fact it only lasts about 40 Femtoseconds, or a little less.

So much for "foils" in this universe. Physics has proven it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Grumman Canoes, UPS Trucks, Jet Fighters, and Lunar Excursion Modules

There's something about the name Grumman that is unusual, and memorable. In the early 90s, Northrop bought Grumman Aerospace, makers of such things as the Lunar Excursion Module, the fifth of which landed on the moon 40 years ago today. This space canoe bears a striking resemblance to the UPS truck and the Grumman canoes that we still see all over North America. Aluminum- lots of it - formed, pressed, pierced, seam welded and riveted into shape - very much the same techniques used to put the LM together. But the Lunar Excursion Modules were primarily made by hand - like all spacecraft. Here is a link to details about How the LEM was made.

You don't hear that much about concerns with the LM or "LEM", probably because it performed nearly perfectly and was generally trouble-free in flight. In the film "Apollo 13" the LEM is pressed into service as a lifeboat after things go very wrong in the command vehicle. It was a piece of hardware designed to support human life and land and take off from a body with 1/6th the gravity of Earth, and dock with another spacecraft in orbit around the moon. There was a lot to doing that, and it had never been done before. The rigid but super light structure of thin aluminum made of chemically-milled aluminum panels and fitted with both descent and ascent engines, the former still sitting on the moon, and capable of maintaining pressure, fuel cells, control systems and life support systems was an incredible engineering and manufacturing feat.

Large companies such as Northrop Grumman and their spawn make use of core competencies in manufacturing; Know-how and techniques built up over decades, and with a culture surrounding the way they do it. A subculture in many technical fields is comprised of the radio hams, and here Grumman is no exception. A shout out to Tom Kelly (d) who headed the LM engineering program and put together this memorable book.

Apparently, Grumman's team didn't think all of NASA's engineers were so great, because there were a lot of technical disputes regarding the LM. Grumman was and perhaps still is known as having a bit of a superior attitude with respect to its aircraft. Even the name "LM" (Grumman's) vs NASA's "LEM", remains unresolved.

When you see that UPS truck, or the US Mail truck today, look very closely, and you will see echoes of the LM.

And on that note, it's break time here at work, If you are a newly arrived employee, chances are you will ask where the rest room is.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

...and do the other things..."

"We choose the moon, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard"

Link to

A particular "Hello" to Ted Sorensen on this anniversary. Follow the action as it occurred in 1969.

This is the 599th post at


I've never heard of Bruno, but here is a link to his album "Microphonium".

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Eggbeater

An interesting radiating form, the eggbeater antenna produces circular polarization at high angles, yet linear polarization at the horizon. Unlike soundwaves, radiowaves have a distinct polarization, with a magnetic field exactly perpendicular to an electric field. This perfect orthogonal relationship is a key feature of the electromagnetic domain, with time being a third orthogonal axis.

Soundwaves have two axes, not three. But soundwaves, being mechanical, and in a springy medium such as air, have other interesting properties that aren't obvious.

The eggbeater is useful for communications with overhead aircraft and satellites.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Microsoft's Bluetooth Mouse

I was shopping for a wireless mouse online, and spotted this artfully sculpted device.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

first played in 1974

Soon the podiums and laptops will be gone too, and eventually the drab four will also self eliminate.

A celebration of automation, nostalgia for urbanization and early congestion. Watch it full screen with your headphones on and let the roots of your technology culture activate remaining emotions.

KSM313 looks familiar to me!

What have we here? Very handsome indeed, with the very cool logo which to me looks like some kind of ribbon motif.

Shure Inc. is the first major microphone manufacturer to re-enter the ribbon market. Roswellite is such a durable ribbon material that it passes Shure's incredibly high durability standards.

All in all, a perfect match.

It is indeed very satisfying to see Naked Eye graduate into the global marketplace - sort of like signing with a big label, when that still meant something. Even though "things will never be the same", that's what change and success are made of.

Our world is ever changing. Static, unchanging brands and technologies will always be threatened by the inexorable change that time alone brings upon us. That's why I try to be on the side of making change, rather than reacting to it, and see the completion of one change as simply the beginning of yet another.

Here is a link to the product on Shure's website

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Conversation with Ray

Chat InformationPlease hold as we route your chat to an Adobe Representative.
Chat InformationWelcome to! My name is Ray. May I assist you with your selection today?
Ray: Hello, how can I help you?
Visitor: Hi Ray, I have CS4, find I need 3D rendering now, is there an upgrade path to PS extended?
Ray: Hi. Good Morning. I'll be glad to help you with that information.
Ray: Are you referring to upgrade from Photoshop CS4 to Photoshop CS4 Extended?
Visitor: I have CS4 standard. I am confused by all the upgrade paths. In it is Photoshop CS4 standard. Now I need Extended. What should I do?
Ray: Let me check that for you.
Visitor: Thanks
Ray: Thank you for staying online.
Visitor: I have plenty of time
Ray: I have checked and see that you can upgrade to CS4 Design Premium.
Ray: Creative Suite 4 Design Premium includes: InDesign CS4, Photoshop CS4 Extended, Illustrator CS4, Flash CS4 Professional, Dreamweaver CS4, Fireworks CS4 and Acrobat 9 Pro.
Ray: This suite has Photoshop CS4 Extended in it.
Visitor: Is that my only option? I see that if I had CS3 I could up to PS 4 Extended. How much does this cost?
Ray: Do you have Photoshop CS3?
Visitor: No, I have CS4
Ray: You can upgrade from Photoshop CS, CS2 or CS3 to Photoshop CS4 for US $199.
Ray: You can upgrade from Photoshop CS, CS2 or CS3 to Photoshop CS4 Extended for US $349.
Ray: You can upgrade from Photoshop CS3 Extended to Photoshop CS4 Extended for US $349.
Visitor: I already have CS4, and want to upgrade to CS4 Extended. I need 3D now, business is really slow
Ray: I'm sorry, there is no upgrade path from Photoshop CS4 to Photoshop CS4 Extended.
Ray: You will have to go for the full version of Photoshop CS4 Extended.
Visitor: ...But there is from CS3 - illogical, don't you think?
Ray: Well, this the upgrade path that is defined by Adobe.
Visitor: It makes no sense. If I had an old version, I can, but not the new one
Ray: I understand that, however you can upgrade from Photoshop CS, CS2 or CS3 to Photoshop CS4 for US $199.
Visitor: I already have CS4, and I think perhaps you do not understand what I am asking, as I have said that three times now. Are you sure I cannot up from Photoshop CS4 to Photoshop CS4 extended, but I CAN from Photoshop CS3? It's on your website. I think something is wrong.
Ray: I understand your issue. You can upgrade from Photoshop CS3 to Photoshp CS4 Extended for $349.
Ray: Would you like to place the order for it now?
Visitor: Ha ha surely you are joking. I have Photoshop CS4, no CS3, so I am stuck, right?
Ray: Well, I'm sorry there is no upgrade path from Photoshop CS4 to Photoshop CS4 Extended, however another option would be to upgrade to CS4 Design Premium for $1,399.
Ray: You can also go for the full version of Photoshop CS4 Extended which is priced at $999.
Visitor: Good god Ray, we are running in circles. Thanks for your time, but what you are saying seems to make no sense at all to me. I would have to get a downgrade to CS3 to upgrade to CS4 Extended. I doubt that is correct. Why would you penalize recent customers like that? Once again, thanks for your time!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ordered Array of Elastic Elements

Here in the macro scale, an analog to the nanoscale: Loosely coupled resonant elements in an ordered array, each with a polarization and orentiation, capable of supporting phonon propagation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Last Bikini Logo

I'm certain that I only painted a small portion of the many mics that were built by Des, who assembled and tested every production Crowley and Tripp Ribbon Microphone made.

Here's a shot of my ready, steady hand and a pointy brush trying to stay within the lines. Each Soundstage Image, Studio Vocalist, Proscenium, and el Diablo microphone was individually hand-painted by one of us. The Mercenary Edition el Diablo with the red and yellow inpainting was the most labor-intensive, taking about two hours total to complete the job.

The bikini logo was developed by Shane Estock and refined by Philip Lampe, then incorporated via laser etch or by cliosonne emblem on every mic we made. Chris Regan often did artwork layouts and proofs, Hugh Tripp got the proofs to the engraver and supervised the work, and Desiree would often fix the mistakes that the laser engraver would make, if possible. I painted a few and developed the idea of having a round negative space adjacent to the generally triangular, usually red logo. Rare green logos were hand painted to designate a few of the Roswellite versions of the stainless steel models such as SSI, PRC or SV, and I think I have one more unpainted body, which perhaps might get a blue bikini, or some other color for the Summer, which is fast approaching.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wireless Mic Antennas

Sennheiser's vertically polarized log periodic antenna, AKA "flounder paddle" shown atop a mic stand, with the RG174 cable dangling down.

Antennas of this type have the advantage of very broad bandwidth and low VSWR, but at the expense of gain. You could of course orient the antenna horizontally if you like, which would then match the "flounder" description a little more closely, and it could hold a beer bottle or an ashtray that way, but it might not look as cool.

Expect to see a lot more wireless gear in the future and even into the studio as film and TV broadcast production techniques integrate more wireless and remote devices over time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Curtain Society

Roger Lavallee's Tremolo Lounge looks like a very interesting studio indeed. Roger visited us a while back and made some kind remarks about what we were up to, and for some reason I did not catch that Roger also was part of The Curtain Society. I was delighted by it and will order it tomorrow.

In the meantime, click on the image to be transported to The Curtain Society's very smooth online player complete with fade ins. Put on your headphones. For a second I was in a Bruce Brown film, then Charlie Brown walked in as I enjoyed the - yikes, it's gone! But hear their own theme song, here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jill Cunniff - City Beach

This is playing in the lab right now. Jill Cunniff is known for her music in Luscious Jackson who are now disbanded.

City Beach still has the NY/indie/hip hop eclecticism that I found so interesting in LJ, but now with a more laid back, contemplative approach.

Here it is on amazon, in case you want to check it out.
An old GAP commercial with LJ.

Reflecting Surfaces

Of course you probably already know that glare screens such as the one you see are becoming the norm, despite many cries in favor of antireflective screens.

Why? you ask.

It is more expensive to apply a durable antireflective screen. That extra $11.09 is important to the manufacturers.

Sounds reflect too and that's why people can put a lot of effort into room treatments for their studios. Carpets, furniture, and bass traps. Bass traps are interesting because they can fix resonances caused by too-low ceilings, for instance, and reduce unwanted boomy effects that ruin the definition and balance at the low end.

Optical antireflective coatings, and acoustic antireflective surfaces, both often use impedance matching schemes to reduce resonances. Camera lenses have a colorful surface that is a very thin optical impedance matching coating. Uncoated lenses went out before WWII.

So why are we getting glare screens on our macs? Is it a way to improve touch typing, or maybe to keep an eye on that person behind you at Starbucks?


From a distance she looks like Diana Rigg, ready to blast Patrick MCNee with several hundred Watts of Kasino Power.

Just surfing around and found which was very entertaining. The entire site is in Frames, which is one of the earliest html formats. You have to click around a lot in Frames. Maybe AOL should go back to it so they can get their impressions up.

As I recall, blog reader BloozMan has a Kustom.and a red painted strat.

When was the last time you saw The Nauga???


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lifeboat Foundation

Some of you know about my loose association with the Lifeboat Foundation which is involved in the discussion of lots of "next generation" things such as nanotech, life extension, existential risk mitigation, and more.

Here is a link to a blog on some nano ink applications that seems to have some connection to Lifeboat Foundation.

And here is a link to a page on Lifeboat discussing the redirection or attenuation of cellphones.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Shure Acquires Crowley and Tripp Ribbon Microphones


Niles, IL, and Ashland, MA, April 6, 2009 – Shure Incorporated, the venerable manufacturer of microphone legends like the SM57 and SM58®, today announced the acquisition of Crowley and Tripp Ribbon Microphones from Soundwave Research Laboratories of Ashland, Massachusetts. Under a definitive agreement, Shure now owns all intellectual property, microphone process equipment, product designs, and other important assets related to the Crowley and Tripp line. Shure will manufacture ribbon microphones in its Wheeling, Illinois, facility using the revolutionary Roswellite™ shape-memory acoustic ribbon material developed by Soundwave Research.

“Ribbon microphones have always been prized for their warm sound quality, but older designs are delicate, which has limited their applications,” said Scott Sullivan, Shure’s Senior Director of Global Product Management. “With the acquisition of the Crowley and Tripp product line and their Roswellite ribbon technology, Shure is extending the use of ribbon microphones to the stage in addition to their use in the studio.”

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the leading manufacturer of microphones to further the development and commercialization of improved ribbon microphones,” said Soundwave Research President Robert J. Crowley.

“Bringing new technologies like Roswellite into the marketplace is an important goal for our company,” added Sandy LaMantia, Shure’s President and CEO. “Our customers expect continuous improvement. For more than 84 years, Shure has been dedicated to manufacturing the finest microphones in the world and developing innovative audio technologies for our customers.”

“This new ribbon technology enables us to combine the characteristic ribbon sound with the durability for which Shure products are famous,” said Chad Wiggins, Shure’s Wired Microphone Products Category Manager. “Our customers know they can use their Shure microphones in every conceivable scenario, from the most subtle vocal performance to high-SPL instruments, like a kick drum. Now they can take advantage of the unique sound signature of a ribbon microphone no matter what their application is.”

Shure will manufacture ribbon microphones exclusively in the U.S. Shure will also assume responsibility for ongoing service and support for existing owners of Crowley and Tripp ribbon microphone products.

About Shure Incorporated

Founded in 1925, Shure Incorporated ( is widely acknowledged as the world’s leading manufacturer of microphones and audio electronics. Over the years, the Company has designed and produced many high-quality professional and consumer audio products that have become legendary for performance, reliability, and value. Shure’s diverse product line includes world-class wired microphones and wireless microphone systems for performers and presenters, award-winning earphones and headsets for MP3 players and smartphones, and top-rated phonograph cartridges for professional DJs. Today, Shure products are the first choice whenever audio performance is a top priority.

Shure Incorporated corporate headquarters is located in Niles, Illinois, in the United States. The Company has additional manufacturing facilities and regional sales offices in China, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, The United Kingdom, and the United States.

About Soundwave Research Laboratories

Soundwave Research Laboratories, Inc. is a leading innovator and manufacturer of high quality ribbon microphones and of transducers used in industry, music recording, and medicine. The company maintains an R&D facility and manufacturing unit in Ashland, Massachusetts, and is the maker of the Naked Eye ribbon microphone, which has achieved a cult status among users, and of Proscenium, Soundstage Image, Studio Vocalist, Recordist Ensemble, and El Diablo professional recording microphones.

Soundwave Medical is a division of Soundwave Research Laboratories, Inc., a developer and manufacturer of innovative acoustic devices, transducers, sensors, and precision microphones used in a variety of health, entertainment, industrial, and scientific fields.


Mike Lohman

Shure Incorporated


Greg DeTogne

Gregory A. DeTogne Public Relations


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

That Cat

The weird cat with the semi-human face and multiple Crowley and Tripp fur bikini logos escaped from the lab at 4:36 pm. Anyone who spots this sphinx-like speckled creature should regard it carefully and maintain a comfortable distance.

During The Great Flood, the Cat held its position, surrounded by pools of flowing, dripping water, but not a drop ever reached its papier mache hide. Very strange, we thought. Since that time, we have had a somewhat mixed reaction to the sight of the Cat, and even kept him hidden in a cupboard - out of view - for a few months. He wil be missed, but not very much.