October 10th, 2010

Some proper recordings!

I am ignoring the fact that this website needs a substantial update now that the midi-octopus is no longer in beta. For now I wanted to bring you news of my interview and live midi-octopus recordings for the wonderful Phantom Circuit.

In the run up to the British Science Festival workshop and performance I put a shout out on Twitter to see whether anyone would help me out by recording the show and maybe shooting some video. Kevin of Phantom Circuit fame raised a virtual hand and offered to interview me too, as he does. I am really pleased with the results. I think the interview and the live recording do a great job of summing up what the midi-octopus is about!

Many thanks to Kevin and his ever supportive helper (sorry, name, gone!). Your support is a part of what keeps me doing stuff like this. Big ups!

Go on, have a listen!

Photo: Kevin, Phantom Circuit

September 12th, 2010

Hello world!

Yesssss!! I have finally finished building my midi-octopus! I have also made some custom instruments for it and I’ve even written a tune or two. It has been such a lot of effort but I am really pleased with the results. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities for expansion and refinement but essentially I am ready for my debut gig next Sunday and I think it’s actually making some half decent noise.

Now I am at this point with it this site is in dire need of an update, but for now I hope you enjoy this video:

Sorry for slightly dodgy audio! Also I don’t why I uploaded this as HD but you can change it between HD & non-HD as you please.

August 24th, 2010

What am I doing at The British Science Festival?

It’s getting close to The British Science Festival and It’s a Geek’s World now, so I wanted to tell you a bit about what I am going to be doing there.

During the day I will be running a workshop for people wanting to build a Beat Box:

It’s a really fun and flexible project, so I hope you can join me to build one.

If you like the look of it and want to register to attend, please go to the It’s a Geek’s World website, click the register link at the top and register, and then select to come on the event. Payment of £20 to cover the kit cost will be taken on the day, before the workshop commences. If you experience any problems with this (admittedly slightly arduous) process please email me and I will try to help. Once registered on the site you can also select other workshops and events to attend.

Speaking of other events, as the festival finale I will be delivering my debut midi-octopus performance. I can’t deny that there is still plenty left to sort but I really like the results I am getting so far. I will post any images and videos I can to whet your appetite, in due course.

Hope to see you there!

July 12th, 2010

Progress update

It’s been a while since I had chance to concentrate my efforts on my midi-octopus and it has resulted in some serious progress.

First and foremost my solenoid problem has been solved. Thanks to fellow shed-dweller and all-round nice bloke Chris, who shares my passion for midi-mechanisation, I found the source of all the solenoids I could need. He came across two pallets of solenoids (as you do) on sale in America and decided to buy them all! That makes him both very cool and slightly bonkers. He sells them at about 10% of the usual UK price, if not cheaper, which has allowed me to purchase plenty for my midi-octopus. I can’t tell you what a relief this is as it was starting to look like my midi-octopus was going to the British Science Festival without the feet it deserves.

Here is a picture of Chris in front of one of his fantastic midi-pipe organs (video to follow):

Chris has a shedload (literally) of bargain solenoids still for sale and he might even make it to the British Science Festival with one of his organs! Check out his site for more information and solenoid specs >> www.smallpipeorgans.com

For anyone interested, here is a picture of one of the real whopper solenoids I got hold of through Chris:

Next up is the midi-octopus head, which Ben Waddington is kindly painting, for me to pick up on Friday. As soon as I have it I will pop a photo up. I know it’s going to look pucker!

Then we have the base / outputs. I have been working hard to sort this and finally it’s about there. First up I went to the fantastic D3 Manufacturing, formerly GP Plastics, on a Friday afternoon at about 2:30pm to try to get some Perspex cut. As their trade counter shuts at 2pm I was fully expecting them to tell me to bog off. Instead they asked me when I’d like it for and when I said “now?” they sorted me out with two circles of Perspex, within 10 minutes!

I have since cut and drilled it and installed the outputs. Looking schweeet:

Finally, I’d just like to say that I owe many thanks to Kate at the British Science Festival for pretty much always saying YES, an attitude I try to adopt myself. Also thanks to Richard, who is helping out with the geek side of things as part of the British Science Festival team. He is a proper geek and a most pleasant chap to boot.

Still lots and lots to do. Onwards!

March 29th, 2010

Machine Music in Capsule Zine

Just a quick note to mention that my Machine Music article in the latest Capsule zine can be read here

It’ll give you some insight into why I am making my midi-octopus. You should find hard copies in good pubs and the like around Brum. I will post the article here once the zine has done the rounds.

March 16th, 2010

Midi-octopus at Maker Faire

A little photo blog of my time at Maker Faire 2010. Lots of interest in the midi-octopus, 23 mailing list sign-ups, lots of leads to follow up, lots of inspiring people / discussions / moments (!), and even £8 and two solenoids donated.

Also, I was given a couple of books and invited to perform with my midi-octopus at Maker Faire 2011, by O’Reilly. WIN!

Midi-octopus donation bin


Dorkbot’s bike wheel sequencer

Drunken robots

Um, a BBC Micro with Ethernet

Child with booze

The mighty Brain Machine

Mitch and guests

A robot that can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 15 seconds!!

The delightful people from Sugru

Hacking gingerbread

The lovely Harry, reading his paper

March 8th, 2010

Me and fizzPOP

Yesterday I popped along to The Edge (Friction Arts space) to the fizzPOP workshop with Mitch Altman and friends – more on the session here. I got down there to catch the end of the making, followed by some banter and a meal at Café Soya.

I’ve been aware of Nikki from fizzPOP for a while and I got in touch with her a few weeks back to find out more about what she and Antonio do at fizzPOP. Through this initial contact I am now helping out with organising a few bits, such as the forthcoming “Theremin Day”. Until yesterday, I had only ever read about hackerspaces, despite briefly contemplating starting one in Worcester, but the reality was even more vibrant and inspiring than I had expected. Having met and spent time with Mitch Altman and Jimmy Rogers, at the 2009 Make Faire, I knew they were going to be inspirational, despite the jetlag, but what was even more inspiring was the diversity and enthusiasm of the people who attended the event. Yes, I love geeky conversations, and I had a few good ones, but things went much deeper than that. The chap making stuff with his two kids was ace, the sink-side discussion with the Sandra from Friction Arts was great, the chats about music and technology were inspiring, the view from the roof of Friction Arts was mad, and the offer to programme an evening event to end the British Science Festival was just amazing!

It’s a shame more people who could help keep fizzPOP going didn’t make it down. The event was a great advert for what they get up to and why it’s important, not to mention for the commitment and enthusiasm of Nikki & Antonio. Big ups!

That is why there is a “Me and fizzPOP”. Long may it last…

February 26th, 2010

Maker Faire 2010

I have been invited along to the 2010 Maker Faire, on the 13th and 14th of March. They have kindly allowed me to put a donation bin there and I will be talking about the midi-octopus with as many people as I can.

Come and donate some solenoids or motors, discuss sponsorship, or just say hello! I’ll be next to the “hardware hacker” stand.

Read about my time at Maker Faire 2009 here.

As seen at Futuresonic. Other guises: Mr.Underwood / Glatze / sAMsKi
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