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Creating a Vetinari Clock Using Antique Analog Meters

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Duane Benson
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Very nice!
Duane Benson   8/20/2014 4:09:48 PM
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I love old meters. Now, if you could only include one of these CRT meters. My dad's old HiFi (to all you youngsters - that's what they called "iPods" back then) had a round one that displayed on the end of the tube.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Very nice!
Max The Magnificent   8/20/2014 4:15:23 PM
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@Duane: Now, if you could only include one of these CRT meters...

I have something even better to go on the top -- but I didn't want to give everything away all at once...

 

Duane Benson
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Re: Very nice!
Duane Benson   8/20/2014 6:46:31 PM
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Have a few of these meters, but probably not enough for a clock. I do need to come up with a creative office clock though.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Very nice!
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 2:25:02 PM
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@Duane: Have a few of these meters, but probably not enough for a clock.

I may be able to scrape up one or two for you if you need them LOL

Duane Benson
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Re: Very nice!
Duane Benson   8/21/2014 2:42:07 PM
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My current office clock is a mirror image clock. Partly because it's on the wall behind me and I can read it better reflected in my window, and partly because it throws people off. People are used to it now though, so I need to find some other form of equally confusing time piece.

I have a RTC Pmod that could be the start of some sort of clock. I need to make something that doesn't require a lot of mechanical or woodworking skill though.

Maybe just a simple binary clock would do the trick. Or, maybe something with Neopixels.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Very nice!
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 4:28:46 PM
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@Duane: Or, maybe something with Neopixels.

I wouldn't dream of doing a project without them -- I have a perfectly sized-shaped vacuum tube to sit on the top of thsi clock with NeoPixels underneath it...

David Ashton
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Analog meters
David Ashton   8/20/2014 4:13:06 PM
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@Max, I am a hoarder and I also have a soft spot for analog meters, but you take the cake there!

I'd keep it simple I think.  I love the idea of using a metronome-type meter to tick the seconds.  I was going to suggest a centre-zero meter (I might even have one for you if you want) but really if you're going to drive them with an MCU then you can make them do what you want anyway, and centre zero meters need + and - drive voltages which would make life difficult.

I'd imagine you are going to drive the meters with PWM at a frequency which won't show on the meter ballistics?  I'd stick to a maximum of 12 things on a meter (in this case hours) because otherwise you'll have to get very close to read them easily.  Are you going to make custom scales for them?

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Analog meters
Max The Magnificent   8/20/2014 4:17:11 PM
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@David: I love the idea of using a metronome-type meter to tick the seconds.

Me too -- that will give it some real visual interest

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Analog meters
Max The Magnificent   8/20/2014 4:19:22 PM
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@David: I was going to suggest a centre-zero meter (I might even have one for you if you want)...

That's very kind of you, but I picked a couple up as part of my "stash" -- now I'm trying to worjk out how to use them. The thing is that, using the MCU to drive it, I can make a regulat meter "look" like a center-zero meter...

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Analog meters
Max The Magnificent   8/20/2014 4:21:41 PM
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@David: I'd imagine you are going to drive the meters with PWM at a frequency which won't show on the meter ballistics?

That's right -- PWM is the way to go -- in fact I'll be writing a blog on this in a couple of weeks -- explaining how you work with different meters that were originally intended to display voltage, current, resistance -- and different orders of magnitude -- and so forth...

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Analog meters
Max The Magnificent   8/20/2014 4:23:42 PM
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@David: I'd stick to a maximum of 12 things on a meter (in this case hours) because otherwise you'll have to get very close to read them easily.

This is something I'm going to have to look at -- in the case on minutes and seconds I'll need to go up to sixty -- but I might have major lines on the graticule every 10 units with minor lines betweeen them for every unit.

David Ashton
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Re: Analog meters
David Ashton   8/20/2014 4:28:48 PM
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@Max...seconds...you used to be able to get 270 degree meters which would be nice for that....any of those in your stash?  They were common in car gauges.



Max The Magnificent
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Re: Analog meters
Max The Magnificent   8/20/2014 4:36:58 PM
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@David: ...270 degree meters [...] any of those in your stash?

I think there are a couple, but the ones I'm using for Mins and Secs are a semi-matched pair (same manufacturer and same look and feel - -just one was originally intended for volt sand one for current -- but I'll be replacing the legends on the faceplates anyway).

The ones I have have a 90 degree movement -- and that will be OK for 6 major marks with 10 smaller ones between them.

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Analog meters
Max The Magnificent   8/20/2014 4:25:18 PM
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@David: Are you going to make custom scales for them?

Bet your booty -- it's hard to tell the time when the big dial's faceplate presents values in Ohms and the two medium meters show volts and amps LOL -- watch for my column tomorrow on this...

Rcurl
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Sorry to have missed it
Rcurl   8/20/2014 5:26:09 PM
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I was soooo disappointed to have missed the Hamfest this year- although it sounds like you made off with all of the choice stuff before I could have gotten there anyway.

Next year I wonder if they would let me in if I ride an electric scooter with a small trailer behind!

Rcurl
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Vetinari clock
Rcurl   8/20/2014 5:27:50 PM
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Hmmmmm....is a Vetinari clock one that only animals can read?

David Ashton
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Re: Vetinari clock
David Ashton   8/20/2014 7:14:34 PM
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@Rick...your comment got me thinking, so I googled it:

"In the excellent Discworld series the character Lord Vetinari has a clock in his waiting room which is designed to tick irregularly in order to make his visitor feel ill at ease."

So Max, is yours going to tick irregularly?  

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Vetinari clock
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 2:27:01 PM
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@David: So Max, is yours going to tick irregularly?

You betcha -- I said as much in my column (did you read the second page?) -- I bet mine will be more irregular than Lord Vetinari's LOL

David Ashton
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Re: Vetinari clock
David Ashton   8/21/2014 4:08:04 PM
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@Max...I must have read the second page, 'cos I remember the drawings, but I must have skimmed a bit tooo much over that bit.  Sorry....

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Vetinari clock
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 4:14:51 PM
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@David: ...but I must have skimmed a bit tooo much over that bit...

But that was the best bit!

I don't know, I sit here working my fingers to the bone pounding away on a hot keyboard, and you "skim over that bit" (mutter, mutter, moan, groan) LOL

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 9:39:27 AM
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@Rcurl: I was soooo disappointed to have missed the Hamfest this year- although it sounds like you made off with all of the choice stuff before I could have gotten there anyway.

I wish you coudl have been there with me -- both ouf us sporting our Hawaiian shirts (truth to tell, there were actually quite a few folks with Hawaiian shirts there ... but mine was the best LOL). Wait till you see my photos -- there were three vendors selling meters -- more meters than you can possibly believe -- I really only got a relatively small number compared to all the ones that were out there.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 9:42:07 AM
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@Rcurl: Next year I wonder if they would let me in if I ride an electric scooter with a small trailer behind!

One guy had a weird low-down trolly with a high-up pushing handle that was ideal for thsi sort of thing. Wait till you see my pictures (hopefully in a blog tomorrow) -- I want to get me one of those!!!

Hey -- fancy a road trip up to Dayton Ohio next May -- apparently they have a MONSTER Hamfest (I will talk about this in my Hamfest blog also)

Rcurl
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
Rcurl   8/21/2014 11:46:40 AM
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@Max: Hey -- fancy a road trip up to Dayton Ohio next May -- apparently they have a MONSTER Hamfest (I will talk about this in my Hamfest blog also)

ROAD TRIP!..ROAD TRIP!..ROAD TRIP! Sounds like a plan to me.  Where can we get a bigger truck?

antedeluvian
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
antedeluvian   8/21/2014 3:08:20 PM
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Max

fancy a road trip up to Dayton Ohio next May

Looks like Dayton is about 7 hrs from Toronto. Maybe you should organize an EELive Get-Together. Good museum (National Museum of USAF) as well, or so I'm told.

 

mhrackin
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
mhrackin   8/21/2014 3:22:25 PM
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I'll be retired by then and would definitely be up for a road trip.  My friend and former boss Joe used to go every year, and maybe still does.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 4:31:01 PM
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@mhrackin: I'll be retired by then and would definitely be up for a road trip.

Antedeluvian's idea is sound -- we could all make our way there -- have a happy time at the Hamfest, and spend a couple of days all going round the local museums together.

mhrackin
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
mhrackin   8/22/2014 12:17:21 PM
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Talked to my friend Joe; he and his wife are going, and haven't missed ONE in at least 20 years!  They did warn that you need to make hotel reservations NOW as this is one of the major annual events at the convention center!  I made mine today, and there were few rooms left (at this hotel), and rates of course are high.  Anywhere in the airport area works well; if you wait, you may have to stay in Cleveland!

BTW, my wife is THRILLED at the idea!  Looking forward to the USAF museum etc.

Clive
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
Clive "Max" Maxfield   8/22/2014 12:22:21 PM
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I think the IT guys have disabled links in comments due to spaming -- can you post the contact details for the hotel -- also what dates are the Hamfest? I was thinking that we could all drive up on Wed -- go on a museum tour (to be organized by Antedeluvian) on Thur -- and got to the Hamfest on Fri and Sat -- then drive back on Sun

mhrackin
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
mhrackin   8/22/2014 12:30:13 PM
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Hamfest site is hamvention.org.  Dates for 2015 are May 15-17. We are at the Quality Inn Suites. On Maxton Rd,  is a solid mile of hotels and restaurants near the airport and convention center.  Currently reserved for Fri-Sun but could modify easily.  Joe and his wife (same schedule as us for now) likely not interested in the tour as they have been going since before they rename the Hamvention!

antedeluvian
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
antedeluvian   8/22/2014 1:27:00 PM
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mhrackin

 Anywhere in the airport area works well; if you wait, you may have to stay in Cleveland!

OOO Cleveland! Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 4:29:38 PM
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@Antedeluvian: Looks like Dayton is about 7 hrs from Toronto. Maybe you should organize an EELive Get-Together. Good museum (National Museum of USAF) as well, or so I'm told.

Maybe we should at that ... let me think about it...

smpowell
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
smpowell   8/22/2014 2:49:06 PM
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>Good museum (National Museum of USAF) as well, or so I'm told.

It's also huge. Plan on half a day at least.

Dayton also has the (Carillon Historical Park) A legacy of the  days when Dayton was a technological powerhouse in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

EB2
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
EB2   8/26/2014 12:22:42 PM
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I spent a day and a half at the National Museum of the USAF, then went back and spent another two days. If you are going to spend only one day, check their web site first so you don't miss something. Although if you make Dayton an annual event, you can go back to the museum each year also. When I was there, they had just received the Hexagon KH-9 spy satellite, so there is always something arriving.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Sorry to have missed it
Max The Magnificent   8/29/2014 1:01:30 PM
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@EB2: If you are going to spend only one day, check their web site first so you don't miss something.

That's the beauty of putting Antedeluvian in charge of planning this sort of thing -- he will have everything organized 110%

 

Rcurl
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Re: Analog meters
Rcurl   8/20/2014 5:19:10 PM
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@David:  I was going to suggest a centre-zero meter (I might even have one for you if you want) but really if you're going to drive them with an MCU then you can make them do what you want anyway, and centre zero meters need + and - drive voltages which would make life difficult.

I was thinking the same thing.  I don't think it will be difficult at all to drive a zero-center meter from a single power supply, though.  Just put a big electrolytic capacitor in series with the meter movement.

To go along with it, maybe synthesize a "tick" when it flicks left and a "tock" when it flicks right.

zeeglen
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Re: Analog meters
zeeglen   8/20/2014 5:42:48 PM
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@Rcurl I don't think it will be difficult at all to drive a zero-center meter from a single power supply, though.

An H-pad would do the job, would take 2 bits to drive it.

David Ashton
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Re: Analog meters
David Ashton   8/20/2014 5:48:24 PM
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@Zeeglen, rick, two good and easy solutions.  I shouldn't make statements like that before I have had my coffee :-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Analog meters
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 9:34:13 AM
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@Rcurl: To go along with it, maybe synthesize a "tick" when it flicks left and a "tock" when it flicks right.

Again, using a microcontroller's PWM output, you can make a regular meter look/behave like a center-zero meter.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Analog meters
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 9:36:45 AM
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@Rcurl: I don't think it will be difficult at all to drive a zero-center meter from a single power supply, though.

Two obvious techniques come to mind.

#1 Start with a PWM output so you can control the magnitude -- then add a dual pole dual throw relay so you can select the polarity to be applied to the meter.

#2 Like #1 but use an H-bridge type arrangement.

bk11
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Re: Analog meters
bk11   8/22/2014 10:11:22 AM
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#3 Drive each meter lead with a seperate PWM.  The meter only cares about the differential.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Analog meters
Max The Magnificent   8/22/2014 10:29:29 AM
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@bk11: Drive each meter lead with a seperate PWM.  The meter only cares about the differential.

Ooooh -- now that is a cunning thought....

zeeglen
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Chimes
zeeglen   8/20/2014 4:18:41 PM
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Interesting idea, will be nice to see the finished project. Maybe you could find an old GC-1195 (Heathkit clock) on ebay and salvage the "Big Ben" chimes synthesizer board as well as the tic toc.  Or build your own Big Ben sound generator.

David Ashton
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Re: Chimes
David Ashton   8/20/2014 4:24:01 PM
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....or get one of those old "ding-dong" doorbells and fire it up on the hour....

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Chimes
Max The Magnificent   8/20/2014 4:27:07 PM
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@David: ....or get one of those old "ding-dong" doorbells and fire it up on the hour....

I'm thinking more like on the hour you hear the sound of creaky clockwork turning, and things sliding and graunching and suchlike -- something that goes on and on -- then cumulates in a soft, sweet "ping"

Steve Manley
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Tick..Tock Sound
Steve Manley   8/20/2014 4:43:03 PM
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@Max: This is an interesting idea:

Personally I'd go with keeping it simple and make it so the dials are easy to read but make the dial look aged.

The sound selection for the tick..tock would depend on the responsiveness of the selected meter. A slow response might work better with the sound of a larger clock while a faster response might work better with that of a smaller clock or watch.  

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Tick..Tock Sound
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 9:28:24 AM
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@Steve: The sound selection for the tick..tock would depend on the responsiveness of the selected meter.

I'm starting to think that I could do a follow-up blog devoted to the various sound effects one might employ... hmmm...

DIDEFIXIT
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I like it
DIDEFIXIT   8/20/2014 6:13:27 PM
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Think retrograde Very cool idea meters they count up and snap back. The sound needs to be like a water clock

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I like it
Max The Magnificent   8/20/2014 6:17:33 PM
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@DIDEFIXIT: Think retrograde Very cool idea meters they count up and snap back. The sound needs to be like a water clock

Oooh -- I like both of these ideas!!!!

Wnderer
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Vintage Time Delay Relay
Wnderer   8/20/2014 8:03:18 PM
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You could make your clock seem more 'authentic' with a vintage time delay relay like this one.



 

They way I understand it you apply 6 volts to the heater and after 60 seconds the relay closes and disconnects the heater which cools down. The heater then reconnects and starts the process all over again. Your time measurement would then be retro too and you'd have a neat vacuum tube to show off. Of course it would only tick every minute instead of every second.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Vintage Time Delay Relay
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 2:29:01 PM
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@wnderer: You could make your clock seem more 'authentic' with a vintage time delay relay like this one...

Funnily enough, I have one of these little rascals sitting on my shelf here in the office ... maybe I can work it into the mix somewhere...

DrFPGA
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Re: Vintage Time Delay Relay
DrFPGA   8/21/2014 6:37:29 PM
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If you pre-heated it to the right temp could you get it to switch every second?

Wnderer
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Re: Vintage Time Delay Relay
Wnderer   8/21/2014 7:34:23 PM
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@DrFPGA If you pre-heated it to the right temp could you get it to switch every second?


Probably not. We're talking about something thermal that probably needs a large piece of hysteresis between the heating turn on and cooling to turn off. If you kept it heated up it would never turn off. You would need to use a higher voltage which might damage the tube or you could control an external heater to increase the rate of heating that shuts off when the relay goes on.

Reading Max's article again, it probably doesn't fit into his Vetinari Clock concept. It just the way my brain segways. I would use the relay to trigger the up/down counter on a 64 tap digital pot like the AD5113 and use a comparator to reset the pot when it hits 60. The comparator would trigger another digital pot that resets at 24 or 12.  An all analog solution with no programming.

DrFPGA
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Re: Vintage Time Delay Relay
DrFPGA   8/21/2014 9:20:32 PM
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Another solution, mechanical this time- built for longevity...

http://longnow.org/clock/ 

GSKrasle
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Re: Vintage Time Delay Relay
GSKrasle   8/22/2014 11:40:57 AM
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Could you build a PLL with the relay cycling as input, and take a multiplied output frequency?

Wnderer
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Re: Vintage Time Delay Relay
Wnderer   8/22/2014 12:47:09 PM
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@ GSKrasle Could you build a PLL with the relay cycling as input, and take a multiplied output frequency?


Imagine how many hours that would take to lock. You have a VCO generating about a 1sec output that gets knocked down to 1 minute pulses to be compared to the signal from the relay. The phase error is then used to adjust the VCO frequency until the error is really small. You'd need lots of 1 minute pulses for the loop to do it's thing and sync the VCO to the relay.

GSKrasle
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Re: Vintage Time Delay Relay
GSKrasle   8/22/2014 1:45:59 PM
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And a Victorian-Size loop-filter!

larussell
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Re: Vintage Time Delay Relay
larussell   8/22/2014 5:17:49 PM
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How about doing the whole thing analog? Each meter can be driven from a timebase like an oscilloscope or analog computer. You can sync between them the same way the horizontal and vertical waveforms are synced in an analog TV, but with more stages. And then sync the whole thing to 50/60 Hz line frequency to keep accurate time.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Vintage Time Delay Relay
Max The Magnificent   8/24/2014 12:28:01 PM
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@larussell: How about doing the whole thing analog?

Do I look like the sort of man who would soil his hands with analog when digital is so much more "shiny" and "tasty"?

HeyJoe0
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Timeofdayometer
HeyJoe0   8/20/2014 10:02:39 PM
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I built an analog timeofdayometer. See picture below. Accuracy was a bigger issue than I originally imagined due to the following. I was using a long-throw movement, which have a not so constant-force springs. I tried to copy the non-linear scale of the original faceplate but that was a challange to layout (I used AutoCAD) and I never really got it right. On my next iteration Im going to use a linear scale and apply a nonlinear correction factor on my output value. Another issue was that, although I used a 32.768KHz xtal timebase, my time would drift. I used buttons in the back to set the time but next time I'm just going to throw in a GPS to get the time and forgo buttons and solve the drift problem at the same time. I tried the flicker thing and it looks cool. I only flickered the needle every 15s so it wasn't annoying.

Timeometer3

 

 

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Timeofdayometer
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 4:19:14 PM
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@HeyJoe: ...On my next iteration Im going to use a linear scale and apply a nonlinear correction factor on my output value.

That's something I might be doing -- alternatively, for some ptojects I might want a non-linear scale that doesn;t match the non-linerarity of the meter. In thsi case I might use a look-up table approach and then interpolate between table values.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Timeofdayometer
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 4:22:27 PM
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@HeyJoe: I built an analog timeofdayometer...

I like your siolution of displaying hours 1-6 and then 7-12 with minutes inbetween.

Another solution might be to have a "rest" position on the left and then hours 1-12 and minutes 1-60 shown as concentric scales. The needle could start off in the "rest" position -- then move to indicate the hour -- then move to indicate the minute -- then return to the rest position...

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Timeofdayometer
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 4:23:46 PM
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@HeyJoe0: Another issue was that, although I used a 32.768KHz xtal timebase, my time would drift.

I'm planning on using a real-time clock module in mine -- that makes life much easier :-)

GSKrasle
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32.768kHz crystals
GSKrasle   8/22/2014 11:29:42 AM
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32768's are a peeve of mine, and their history is illuminating. The value was chosen (1970s?) for its obvious ease in converting to integral seconds, but it is difficult to get that value in the type of 'cut' that gets the best thermal stability ('A-T'), so a less-stable (and very small) one was used ('Tuning-Fork'). And hey! the thermal drift didn't even matter! if you have a reasonable-quality watch, look at the back. It's metal, isn't it? The front has an air-gap, and is therefore thermally-insulated. What is the temperature of the workings while the watch is securely strapped to your wrist? Pretty close to 37°, eh? Now take that tried-and-true ol' reliable crystal and put it in a desk clock, and thermal drift might surprize you.

mhrackin
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Re: 32.768kHz crystals
mhrackin   8/22/2014 12:23:09 PM
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Another interesting property of the 32K tuning forks: their frequency vs. temperature curve is a parabols, with the peak right at 37C!  Your wrist is the oven..... also explains why a (properly trimmed) watch will lose time when off your wrist.

GSKrasle
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Re: 32.768kHz crystals
GSKrasle   8/22/2014 1:50:09 PM
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Yeah, parabolic. A-T is third-order. For both, cut angles can select the curve parms, making the field wonderfully complicated. I used to have a booklet from Fox with some details, but can't find it; things like using crystals in series to get compensation, DC bias effects, good stuff.

Crusty1
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What no Sun Dial
Crusty1   8/21/2014 5:24:02 AM
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Hi Max, My first boss at London Underground Research Labaoratory made a clock with meters for telling the time. I think it was all run with TTL 74 series IC's on veroboard.

However I think you are missing one dial which of course has to be a sun dial.

How cool to have a sun dial that works at night. Not sure how it would be achieved obviously the gnomon and dial are easy, but casting the shadow would require a led light source and stepper motor? Or would you use a fixed light source and turn the dial?

I think this might just end up on my whacky to do list.

Great article and look forward to further updates.

 

 

Ariella
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Re: What no Sun Dial
Ariella   8/21/2014 12:24:32 PM
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@Crusty1  a sundial for daylight hour and a moondial for the night

Max The Magnificent
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Re: What no Sun Dial
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 4:25:46 PM
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@Crusty: ...I think this might just end up on my whacky to do list...

Hi Crusty -- this is actually a really nice little project -- simple in some respects, not-so-simple in others, and the final result can look really fantastic if you do the case right.

David Ashton
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Re: What no Sun Dial
David Ashton   8/21/2014 4:56:46 PM
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@Crusty...GREAT idea.  You could have a curved line of RGB LEDs some distance above the sundial to simulate the sun, clear ones that have a narrow beam. and illuminate them one at a time, changing every 10 minutes or so (this implies 72 LEDs for 12 hours) and use one colour for day and another for night.  Wouldn't need any motors, just some electronics to drive the LEDS.  Since your LEDs would be fixed you wouldn't need to compensate for the seasons either...

DrFPGA
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Re: What no Sun Dial
DrFPGA   8/21/2014 6:35:20 PM
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and it works in the dark too!

Crusty1
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Re: What no Sun Dial
Crusty1   8/22/2014 7:49:47 AM
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Hi David, i like the way you are thinking, would this make a Kickstarter project?

I suspect I am the only idiot that would think of this as a saleable product, but you do see so much similar tat in these home buying magazines.

I suppose I should try and make it as green as possible and get it sun powered? or wind or water?

Lots to think about on this one.

mhrackin
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Magic Eye Tube?
mhrackin   8/21/2014 2:25:33 PM
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Is that your "secret ingredient" to go up top center?  It's the very first thing I thought of.  I actually used one in a circuit back in the '50s; possibly entombed in my basement still!  If I'm right, sorry to spoil the surprise; if not, think about adding one!  Think 6E5.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Magic Eye Tube?
Max The Magnificent   8/21/2014 4:27:05 PM
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@mhrackin: Is that your "secret ingredient" to go up top center?

Actually, I have something else in mind, but I might have to add one of these also...

zeeglen
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Re: Magic Eye Tube?
zeeglen   9/10/2014 7:10:53 PM
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@mhrackin I actually used one in a circuit back in the '50s; possibly entombed in my basement still!  ...  Think 6E5.

Just a few days ago after watching Star Wars Episode IV for the umpteenth time I suddenly realized that one of the props was a highly-magnified magic eye tube of the 6E5 type, poised to resemble a radar screen.

I won't spoil it just yet, so if you have the DVD can you spot it? First to report back gets an attoperson award, which is equivalent to 1000e-6 persons.

Hint so you won't have to watch the whole thing:  It is somewhere on Uncle Owen's Farm.

mhrackin
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Re: Magic Eye Tube?
mhrackin   9/11/2014 10:47:50 AM
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If you're really into ancient uses of ancient technology in TV, check out the opening credits for "The Twilight Zone." I vaguely recall some oscilloscope traces of audio... along with some Theremin music.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Magic Eye Tube?
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 11:25:04 AM
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@mhrackin: ...check out the opening credits for "The Twilight Zone."

I have old episodes of "The Outer Limits" and "The Twilight Zone" playing in an endless loop on a 1970s Jetson-like mini TV

zeeglen
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Re: Magic Eye Tube?
zeeglen   9/16/2014 2:16:16 PM
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Star Wars Episode IV ... one of the props was a highly-magnified magic eye tube of the 6E5 type

Almost a week and no takers, so here it is.  When Luke returns to the garage after dinner, at the top of the console to his right there is what looks to be the business end of a very large 6E5 magic eye tube.  It even has a few animated flashes of blue floating across it.

mhrackin
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Re: Magic Eye Tube?
mhrackin   9/16/2014 5:23:12 PM
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The magic eye sees all, knows all.

mhrackin
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Re: Magic Eye Tube?
mhrackin   9/22/2014 10:35:12 AM
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@max: have you found a) a Magic Eye tube or two, and b) found a home for it in one of your new projects?

 

zeeglen
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Re: Magic Eye Tube?
zeeglen   10/2/2014 8:13:25 PM
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@mhrackin The magic eye sees all, knows all.

The Shadow knows ... hee-hee-hee

ClarkeMonroe
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Driving the Meters
ClarkeMonroe   8/24/2014 12:12:56 AM
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Neat project!  I've lived more in the digital realm than the analog, so I'm curious how you're planning to drive these meters.  Do you have the voltage and current specs for each?  I imagine they'll require more power than a microcontroller output could provide so I'll have to stay tuned for the next report to learn how you plan to do that.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Driving the Meters
Max The Magnificent   8/24/2014 12:29:40 PM
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@Clarke: ...I'm curious how you're planning to drive these meters...

I'll be using the MCU's PWM outputs -- Ill be writing a blog about this in the next week or two (as soon as I get some time LOL)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Driving the Meters
Max The Magnificent   8/24/2014 12:34:46 PM
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@Clarke: ...Do you have the voltage and current specs for each?  I imagine they'll require more power than a microcontroller output could provide...

That's one of the problems in that you usually can't find any documentation for the meters. Also you often end up modifying them by removing shunt or series resistors. Also you have to be careful measuring the internal resistance -- in some cases you can "blow up" the meter using (trying to use) a multimeter to determine the resistance.

In some cases like a meter that's geared to to measuring say 10mA max, you could drive this directly from the MCU output -- but you also have to remember that the meter itself can generate negative voltages due to reverse/back EMF. Personally, I prefer to use the MCU output to drive a transistorm and have the transistor drive the meter -- all of this will be covered in my forthcoming blog.

hamster_nz
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This is going to be awesome.
hamster_nz   8/24/2014 5:01:58 AM
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Max, this is going to be an awesome project - one where I think everybody will get the juxtaposition of old and new tech.

I still think that making it "dead on" accurate using a GPS time source would be pretty cool - "I'll just sync my pocket watch with atomic clocks orbiting the earth, using my steam-punk analogue meter clock".

Maybe make the seconds tick inconsistently, but have it bang-on when the seconds hand goes from full scale back to zero.

You could almost sell these :-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: This is going to be awesome.
Max The Magnificent   8/24/2014 12:36:09 PM
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@Hamster: Max, this is going to be an awesome project - one where I think everybody will get the juxtaposition of old and new tech.

Well, of course it's an awesome project -- you suggested it LOL

 

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Re: This is going to be awesome.
Max The Magnificent   8/24/2014 12:37:48 PM
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@Hamster: Maybe make the seconds tick inconsistently, but have it bang-on when the seconds hand goes from full scale back to zero.

Sometimes it's almost like you are reading my mind -- in fact I'm planning on writing a follow-up column about possible operating modes and associated sound effects.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: This is going to be awesome.
Max The Magnificent   8/24/2014 12:39:15 PM
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@Hamster: You could almost sell these :-)

Unfortunately, I only ever make one of anything, then I get attracted to the next "shiny thing" LOL

PS Did you see the email I sent you?

GSKrasle
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Yes, you could probably sell this....
GSKrasle   8/25/2014 11:50:35 AM
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It would be perfectly reasonable to sell these, or kits, or partial kits. You could even sell the design/code, either to DIYers or to somebody like 'Spirit of St. Louis' (Look them up: linkage is disableized here). I have several of their things, and they're cool, except a little flimsy (the paper scale on the pop-up dial for the alarm-clock peels, and the bank of mechanically-linked switches [and the antenna] is broken on the CD Boom Box). But the 'Field Telephone' is the only reason I still have a land-line.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Yes, you could probably sell this....
Max The Magnificent   8/25/2014 5:47:31 PM
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@GSKrasle: Just use something like a tack hammer and record the sound.  I suspect some of the other (eerie) effects can be found on the internet in appropriate formats.

I'll be more than happy to make any plans and any code freely available. I'm already planning a blog on how to control the meters from the MCU (in general terms) -- then later blogs can have the code I use for the clock.

One thing you have made me think about is that the code should be written in such a way as to facilitate swapping one meter for another (this might be trickier than you think if the meters have a non-linear resoponse ... hmm, food for thought :-)

Tloose
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tick-tock sound
Tloose   8/25/2014 9:42:54 AM
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Use a solenoid to strike the inside of the wooden box to make an authentic sound...

Max The Magnificent
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Re: tick-tock sound
Max The Magnificent   8/25/2014 10:15:21 AM
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@Tloose: Use a solenoid to strike the inside of the wooden box to make an authentic sound...

That's not a bad idea -- but I also want to have other sounds, like on the hour the sound of (rusty) clockwork graunching and straining and then letting loose with a release sound as the hour meter flips over to the next hour...

mhrackin
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Re: tick-tock sound
mhrackin   8/25/2014 11:47:57 AM
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Well, if you're going to use an audio format (mp3 etc) you could STILL use the box.  Just use something like a tack hammer and record the sound.  I suspect some of the other (eerie) effects can be found on the internet in appropriate formats.  Some folks use these for ring tones!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: tick-tock sound
Max The Magnificent   8/25/2014 5:43:28 PM
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@mhrackin: Just use something like a tack hammer and record the sound.  I suspect some of the other (eerie) effects can be found on the internet in appropriate formats.

There are a wealth of free soundclips that you can download in MP3 format -- and, as you say, I coudl record my own.

I've been thinking about this a lot -- maybe when I grt back from Brazil I'll write another blog with my thoughts on the effects I could use along side various operating modes...

mhrackin
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Re: tick-tock sound
mhrackin   8/25/2014 5:47:30 PM
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Are you on your way to dinner in Brazil?  Churrascaria?  They may have a different kind of bacon. you know!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: tick-tock sound
Max The Magnificent   8/25/2014 5:50:27 PM
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@mhrackin: Are you on your way to dinner in Brazil?

I'm literally poised to walk out of the door -- I'm going out with a couple of the conference organizers to a Brazilian Steakhouse called Fogo de Chao – I looked it up on the web (it might be a chain) and the food sounds fantastic (www-DOT-fogodechao-DOT-com-DOT-br)

mhrackin
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Re: tick-tock sound
mhrackin   8/25/2014 5:52:33 PM
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It IS a chain with units all over the US in major cities; I guess Huntsville isn't one!  They're about the top of the food chain price-wise but excellent food.  Hope you're REALLY hungry!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: tick-tock sound
Max The Magnificent   8/25/2014 6:09:38 PM
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@mhrackin: They're about the top of the food chain price-wise but excellent food.  Hope you're REALLY hungry!

I am REALLY hungry ... now (armed with your info), I'm hoping that someone else picks up the bill LOL

PS I've been looking at their online menu -- I'm drooling over my keyboad -- I hope you can get smaller portions of multiple types of meat, because I'm soooo tempted by the picahna, cordeiro, and linguica (to name but a few)!

mhrackin
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Re: tick-tock sound
mhrackin   8/25/2014 7:43:41 PM
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As I'm sure that you know from personal experience by now, you can have as much or as little as you wish of EVERYTHING.  The philosophy of churrascaria is no concept of too much.  YOU control the serving by means of a disc with RED on one side, GREEN on the other.  Green means feed me, red means no more (for now; you can flip back to green anytime.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: tick-tock sound
Max The Magnificent   8/29/2014 1:00:02 PM
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@mhrackin: Green means feed me, red means no more (for now; you can flip back to green anytime.

It was an AMAZING meal -- one that will live on in my memory until I shrug off this mortal coil...

Max The Magnificent
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Re: tick-tock sound
Max The Magnificent   9/4/2014 3:57:40 PM
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@mhrackin: The philosophy of churrascaria is no concept of too much.

The Latin version of "Everything to Excess" would be my family motto ... if only I knew Latin

mhrackin
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Re: tick-tock sound
mhrackin   9/4/2014 4:01:46 PM
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That is precisely why Google Translate was invented! 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: tick-tock sound
Max The Magnificent   9/4/2014 4:04:55 PM
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@mhrackin: That is precisely why Google Translate was invented!

I've seen two many things translated into ?English? from other languages to trust this for my family motto

 

mhrackin
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Re: tick-tock sound
mhrackin   9/4/2014 4:10:44 PM
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I know what you mean.  I sometimes use it to translate into German just to give my Teutonic friends a good chuckle!  It realy doesn't do well with idioms in either direction.  But for short simple things like your 3-word motto it'll be close

GSKrasle
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graunching and straining
GSKrasle   8/25/2014 2:55:42 PM
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Tardis.

anon3887601
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Huntsville
anon3887601   8/27/2014 1:22:22 AM
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Max

I had a table in Huntsville.  Pity I didn't recognize you in person or you didn't introduce yourself.

I would have been easy to find, I guarantee I was the only VE3 callsign there.

Cheers, Wayne

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Huntsville
Max The Magnificent   8/29/2014 1:03:07 PM
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@anon: I had a table in Huntsville.  Pity I didn't recognize you in person or you didn't introduce yourself.

I'll be there next year -- there were a few folks in Hawaiian shirts -- I was the one in the AWESOME Hawaiian shirt LOL

Stargzer
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Ancient TV
Stargzer   9/11/2014 11:07:19 AM
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Speaking of ancient TV, at the opening of one episode of the Ernie Kovacs Show he kicks over a can of white paint which spills into a line at the edge of the stage. I'm not sure of the exact sequence, but the white line turns into an oscilloscpe trace of an audio tone, and he then puts his hands at each end of the trace and moves his hands together and back apart, changing the frequence of the tone as he does so. The man was genius!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ancient TV
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 11:26:31 AM
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@Stargzr: ...at the opening of one episode of the Ernie Kovacs Show he kicks over a can of white paint which spills into a line at the edge of the stage...

Never saw it -- sounds really clever -- if you find it anywhere like YouTube please let me know.

Wnderer
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Re: Ancient TV
Wnderer   9/11/2014 11:59:07 AM
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If youw want to see an example of old technology in old TV shows, in the 1954 BBC version of 1984 at 1:37:30, there is one of those wire recorders.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYBbvj8NKx8

mhrackin
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Re: Ancient TV
mhrackin   9/11/2014 12:05:03 PM
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Sidelight on wire recorders:  those were standard-issue for the CIA (and their competition) WELL into the 1970s because they were 1) much more rugged and impervious to damage and 2) non-editable unlike the "new-fangled" tape ones!  All Uhers.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ancient TV
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 12:06:16 PM
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@Wnderer: ...in the 1954 BBC version of 1984 at 1:37:30, there is one of those wire recorders.

Nice wire recorder -- scary book and film

 

Stargzer
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
Stargzer   9/11/2014 1:03:22 PM
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Max, you have better luck than the Irish!  I searched YouTube for Ernie Kovacs Show and this one came up first.  It's bits from several shows, with a great 1812 Overture.  The Oscilloscope trace comes in at about 6:03 minutes. 

Hmm; OK, let's try another way to skin this cat.  I wonder if Pig Latin will get by the URL-ay Ilter-fay?

ww-way ot-day outube-ya ot-day om-cay orward-fay lash-shay

watch?v=4_5lSrAYNU8

 If that fails search for "The Best of Ernie Kovacs - Vol. 1 Pt. 1" on that tubular You site.

 



Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 1:28:21 PM
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@Stargzer: Max, you have better luck than the Irish!

Who deserves it more than I (to be sure, to be sure)?

Very interesting -- also I like the part at 7:12 when the young lady says "He's the trickiest bunter in the business" ... you don't get to hear something like that very often :-)

mhrackin
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
mhrackin   9/11/2014 2:25:16 PM
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As one who remembers watching ALL his shows when they were "first run" (and on a 12-inch round-screen Zenith TV with rabbit ears at that, B&W of course), Kovacs was a true master at getting around the very strict TV censorship of the '50s.  Most of the time, they didn't even realize what he had done!  He was the primary force that eventually led to the overthrow of the "Hays Commission" that set up the censorship rules  Lenny Bruce and later George Carlin finished the job.  BTW, I think the beauty who had the "bunter" line was his wife, Edie Adams!  Kovacs' untimely death in 1962 deprived us all of one of the greatest comedic talents ever.

PS: a few years after we got that Zenith, it got to the point where (at age 10 or so) I couldn't keep it running with tube changes; I salvaged most of the parts (including a huge multi-voltage output power supply separate from the main chassis) and it served as the source of my first basement "junk box" parts inventory.  The PSU was used to power several different tube designs for audio, ham gear, etc.

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 2:38:29 PM
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@mhrackin: Kovacs' untimely death in 1962 deprived us all of one of the greatest comedic talents ever.

Fear not -- I'm still here to carry on the torch! :-)

mhrackin
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
mhrackin   9/11/2014 2:43:18 PM
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However, you WILL have to grow a moustache.  That would "cover" you for both Kovacs and Groucho Marx!

Stargzer
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
Stargzer   9/11/2014 2:54:07 PM
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@mhrackin: However, you WILL have to grow a moustache.  That would "cover" you for both Kovacs and Groucho Marx!

Don't forget the cigar, even if (or especsially since!) it's becoming Politically Incorrect. 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 3:13:14 PM
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@Stargzer: Don't forget the cigar, even if (or especsially since!) it's becoming Politically Incorrect.

How about a chocolate cigar -- would that suffice?

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 3:10:15 PM
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@mhrackin: However, you WILL have to grow a moustache.

Would my "travelling moustache on a stick" count?

mhrackin
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
mhrackin   9/11/2014 3:12:15 PM
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Well, you better get that torch (and the cigar per Stargzer) under cover.  I was jsut checking out the ATL weather radar, and I see a nasty thunderstorm drawing a bead on Huntsville.... coming from the west-northwest.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 3:14:53 PM
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@mhrackin: I was jsut checking out the ATL weather radar, and I see a nasty thunderstorm drawing a bead on Huntsville.... coming from the west-northwest.

Funny you shoudl mention that -- I can hear the thunder outside my office window (I hope it doesn't blow the test piece for my current brass aging experiment off the roof...)

Stargzer
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
Stargzer   9/11/2014 2:50:48 PM
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@Max: "He's the trickiest bunter in the business" ... you don't get to hear something like that very often :-)

Is that Billy Bunter, or is there a more scatalogical meaning that we've missed on this side of the Pond?

 

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 3:11:22 PM
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@Stargzer: Is that Billy Bunter, or is there a more scatalogical meaning that we've missed on this side of the Pond?

I used to love reading the Billy Bunter books as a kid -- in fact they may still be a couple on the bookshelves in my office...

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ernie Kovacs
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 3:12:17 PM
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@Stargzer: Is that Billy Bunter...

a.k.a. "The fat owl"

betajet
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Re: Ancient TV
betajet   9/11/2014 2:08:30 PM
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Stargazr wrote: [Ernie Kovacs] was a genius!

He'd also thump the floor with his hand, creating a nice random audio pattern on the 'scope trace.  Brilliant!  This was an early "blue screen" effect, except it was B&W so you had to key on intensity level instead of color.  Kovacs sometimes superposed himself in clips from movies, wearing a white coat and white cap so his black hair wouldn't be transparent.

Here's my favorite Ernie Kovacs TV story:  In the old Dumont Network days, the studio was on top of a hill with a great view of the city (don't know which one).  Kovacs and his buddies liked to play a little game during the late night movie.  While it was playing, they'd lower the master volume at the station.  Everyone watching the movie in TV Land would then turn up the volume on their sets.  Kovacs would do it again, slowly lowering the master volume over half an hour or so until everybody in TV Land had their volume cranked up all the way.  Then they'd raise the master volume back to full strength and run to the windows.  Lights would come on all over town as people were awakened by suddenly-blaring TVs.

You could get away with that sort of thing back then because TV was so unreliable that people didn't suspect it was deliberate.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ancient TV
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 2:37:07 PM
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@betajet: You could get away with that sort of thing back then because TV was so unreliable that people didn't suspect it was deliberate.

I love hearing stories like this -- thanks for sharing.

Stargzer
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Re: Ancient TV
Stargzer   9/11/2014 3:30:22 PM
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@betajet:  Here's my favorite Ernie Kovacs TV story:

In one of the retrospectives I saw Kovacs played a magician whose assistant brought out a double-shot for him to drink between each trick.  That narrator of the special said that in rehearsal it was a double-shot of tea, but in live broadcast the stage crew substituted real booze.  As the narrator said, you can see his eyes light up when he realizes that the first one was real, and then trying to count how many he had to go through before the sketch was over. 

Again, probably something you might not get away with today, Andy Kaufman notwithstanding.

I think the original white line 'scope trace sketch went on longer that in the link.  And did you see the two light bulbs and the empty lamp at the beginning of this one?

But the worst of all was the Network, who ran out of video tape and started recording over some of Kovacs' material after he died.  His widow had to buy as many of the tapes that were left to preserve them as she could afford to.

 

betajet
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Re: Ancient TV
betajet   9/11/2014 3:52:08 PM
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Stargzer wrote: ... in live broadcast the stage crew substituted real booze.

I love live television.  This sounds like the time Kovacs was playing "Percy Dovetonsils, Poet Laureate" and the crew put a goldfish in his prop martini.  Percy wore joke eyeglasses, so he couldn't see anything and didn't notice until he started drinking: "Thomeone theems to have put a fishie in my martini."  You can hear the crew cracking up.  Kovacs never went out of character -- what a pro.

Wikipedia has a good article with other Percy amusements: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Dovetonsils

That's awful about the network recyling his tapes.  Just awful.

Sheepdoll
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Re: Ancient TV
Sheepdoll   9/11/2014 4:35:14 PM
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>betajet  love live television.



Used to work standby for the  Old PBS pledge breaks. Close as llive as one could get in the modern times. (apart from this was 20 years ago. so I guess it is still Ancient.)  The station manager would say that sports and pledge breaks were the only place where something unexpected could happen. The news being scripted.

Did get a bomb threat on the live phone once. Caller said there is a Bomb under your desk, then hung up.  I had the composure to remain calm.  During the show the managers did a cursory look under the stage.   Usually things were much more mundane.  Red Dwarf and Doctor Who were popular at the time.  So our costumes would spout things from the show. Like us all wearing Holographic H on our foreheads.

It always surprised me that people really did call in and give credit information over the phone. This sort of ended when Cable expanded and fewer people used Over the air antenna. 

Now we get live web webfeeds from things like the Iceland #Bardarbubga volcano.  Can not seem to stop watching it.

 

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Ancient TV
Max The Magnificent   10/2/2014 10:40:38 AM
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@Stargzer: ...But the worst of all was the Network, who ran out of video tape and started recording over some of Kovacs' material after he died...

It's amazing isn;t it -- it was they way they thought back then -- the BBC did the samething in England -- countless priceless episodes of stuff gone forever...

Stargzer
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Wire Recorder
Stargzer   9/11/2014 12:38:41 PM
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Whenever wire recorder is mentioned I always remember a very old Letter to the Editor in Popular Electronics where someone asked if it was possible to convert a wire recorder to tape.  The answer was, "Short of being brutal about it ... " followed by a cartoon of a guy at an anvil hammering wire flat.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Wire Recorder
Max The Magnificent   9/11/2014 12:51:20 PM
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@Stargzer: ...someone asked if it was possible to convert a wire recorder to tape.  The answer was, "Short of being brutal about it ... " followed by a cartoon of a guy at an anvil hammering wire flat.

ROFLOL

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