This is a keyboard was given to me by a friend. It had just stopped working out of the blue. Seeing as I am dipping my toes into the realm of music production I certainly wanted to get it up and running again.
The unit did not power up when plugged in.
I noticed right away that all connections were soldered. No quick release. I decided I had to take this board out and have a closer look.
This picture would serve as a reminder where all the connections had to go.
Bingo. There is our problem, these capacitors are shot.
Picked up new caps from Tuchi and put the board back in.
Powered er up and everything works!
Here is the keyboard sitting in my little "studio". The other two machines are an audio interface and a drum machine. One more repair for the books.
Music has always been a big part of my life. Up until recently it had always been something that I have passively participated in. Meaning no creation of my own. However after going to a music festival in Croatia called the Garden Festival (now Love International) I was exposed to a whole new world of music. After I returned from Amsterdam that summer I bought two turntables and a mixer and started on my path of actively participating in music. This is a little story about my struggle to keep these turntables alive
I must admit that this section of the story gets a bit embarrassing. Every other electronic device I had ever brought to Europe had a switching power supply. Something I didn't realize until it was too late. I had shipped my turntables from Calgary to Amsterdam. After all the hassle of bringing the turntables over from Canada I hastily slapped a travel converter on the power supply cord, plugged in my turntable and blew it. In disbelief and misunderstanding I plugged my other turntable in and blew that. Good lord. However this bit of misfortune would be the start of a journey that would greatly improve my understanding of electronics and reignite my passion for electrical engineering.
Lesson #1: ALWAYS check what voltage the power supply is rated for.
Lesson #2: A travel converter is not a step down transformer. It is a way to manipulate the physical interface to mains power.
Lesson Learned: Mostly people just want to tell you NO.
I understand these guys had good intentions and I understand that I came off as having virtually zero understanding of electronics but man did this post get frustrating. The attitude with which these guys posted about electronic repair gave me a feeling like it was absolutely inaccessible. That repair was something you could only dream of doing after years and years of work experience.
As I posted more and learned more it got better. The following are all the posts that I made trying to figure out what to do with my turntables.
Here is what the turntable looks like with the bottom cover removed. The advice I had gotten was to trace through the unit thinking, is this unit providing power or is it using power?
This board is where power comes in from mains which is a technical word for what you get from plugging into the wall. The purpose of this particular board is to clean the power coming from, as well as returning to mains. The fuse needed to be replaced not surprisingly.
I was sure that the problem would be on this board. I thought that because it was at the entry point to the turntable. With more experience and understanding now I can say that is not entirely correct way to think because power does not "enter" through the power cable. The power cable hooks the turntable up to a power source which simultaneously energizes all "paths" of the electrons.
Here is what the other side of that board looks like. At one point I thought it might be one of the capacitors that were blown so I tried replacing it but it didn't fix the problem.
The last thing I did to check this board was make sure that I was getting a proper voltage across the terminals that go out to the transformer. I don't have a picture but I remember it gave me something like 117 volts which assured me the problem was not on this board.
The next step was to check the transformer. There are two scenarios that you want to check with a transformer I was instructed.
Firstly, that you are not getting any continuity through the transformer. This would be very, very bad.
Secondly, that you are getting a reasonable output voltage for your application. This is where a service manual is great, if you don't have one though you have to make a decision yourself.
I was actually quite nervous as I had never done something like this and didn't know what to expect. I had also been told more times than I can count how dangerous it was.
It is almost impossible for a non authorized repair shop to get a service manual from Stanton. So I had no idea if whether this was the correct voltage or not but it seems reasonable.
These yellow wires power the "brain" which also sends power to a DSP board.
These blue wires power the motor.
At this point I was quite sure that the transformer was working properly.
That little blue terminal there is where the transformer connects to this motor PCB. Next to it is a rectifier and some smoothing caps. I think the next component is a regulator as it has heat sync which is followed by a transistor.
Checking these components was the next piece of advice that I got. I was really dreading this as some of the spaces are very tight. It is possible to check these devices without mains power while they are still in the circuit but it is certainly not definitive. You would still need to remove them from the PCB and check them.
At this point I was stumped. I had used up all the tips I had gotten from the forum posts. Looking around the internet was not much help either as I just didn't have enough experience to apply other peoples problems and advice to my own situation. Progress was halted until I stumbled across Elektronica Snel Service.
There is more description of my experience in the next gallery. In case you don't visit it however I had come across this repair shop randomly as I was traveling to another shop called Radio Rotor to purchase the step down transformer.
The shop owner, Tuchi needed help running his shop. I needed practical experience. I started working there ASAP and spent a month and half there.
I loved working here. I learned so much and he completely changed my view on what is possible with repair of electronics. To me, it was no longer this sterile environment where everything had to be perfect. Components could be modified to act in situations they were not necessarily designed for. A service manual was great to have but it wasn't essential. All the schooling I had taken started to fit together.
My plan was to get to a point where I had enough experience to do the repair myself. Unfortunately I didn't have time to get to that point as Tuchi could no longer pay me. The problem ended up being these little fuses where the transformer connected to the PCBs. Two fuses were blown on the "brain" PCB, and a third one was blown on the motor PCB.
He is checking around the motor PCB in the picture. That paper is there to stop from shorting the board against anything else in the unit.
After watching him do this I biked home and found similar problems on the other turntable. After replacing all the fuses the units work perfectly.
Here are the turntables sitting in our living room. The little blue lights tell you that they are running.
Never in my life has vinyl sounded so good. It took me about 2 and a half months to get these things back up and running again. I have grown a lot as an electrical engineer from the start to the finish of this project. I have a new confidence for repair that I have never had before.
Elektronica Snel Service
I moved to Amsterdam to be with my fiance. After visiting a festival in Croatia a whole new world of music was opened to me. I picked up two turntables and a mixer. I brought all this with me to Amsterdam and like a bafoon blew out both of my turntables by plugging them into mains. Trying desperately to repair them I found this shop. He was desperate for some help and I some experience with electronics.
This was an audio interface that we were working on. The customer was reluctant to tell us exactly what happened but once we opened the unit it was clear there was a short circuit as there was a HUGE burn mark on the top cover. Additionally the transformer on the power supply was shot.
We did a lot of work on amplifiers. This is a class AB amplifier. Where each set of three transistors drives either the left or right channel.
Class A has high gain but low AC to DC efficiency.
Class B has higher efficiency but can also produce distortion at the output.
I took this picture to remind myself that one day when I am designing equipment to make the design service friendly. These boomboxes were always a nightmare to work on. Everything was so tightly packed together and required multiple levels of unscrewing the unit to get in to do a small fix. We never even had an electrical problem with these units. It was always the belts on the tape player.
I really got some pleasure out of helping repair this unit. First off I had only ever heard of reel to reel players so there was some novelty to see this thing in action.
Secondly the way the switches and nobs controlled mechanical systems which controlled operation of the unit was very interesting.
There is really a lot to learn from watching mechanical systems. Obviously ICs are more cost efficient, reliable and in most cases easier to repair. Though they can be black boxes.
This was a DVD player where he swapped the tray.
Watching Tuchi work really demystified electronics for me. In my family self repair was never something we did very much. Therefor seeing him come at repairs with so much gusto. Modifying parts to make them fit a similar application was just amazing for me. It opened my eyes to what is possible with repair and design. You don't always get the part you exactly want. Either it is too expensive, or will take to much time or any number of reasons. You often need to modify what you have.
This picture might be a little hard to see but what is going on here is we are changing out the audio connection on one of these small little JVC CD players.
The part we replaced was not an exact match. We had pulled it off some other junked amplifier. All you really need is a connection for the +ve and -ve. After that we just needed to modify (breaking in a controlled manner) the plastic that houses the connections and this unit worked like a charm.
After practicing and practicing I was confident to play a party that we threw in the basement of this old house. It was a very cool experience and I learned a lot about DJing.
I am still not great at the technical aspects of DJing but at that time I was REALLY bad. I can say with 100% certainty that I train wrecked every mix I did that night. The party was still good and people were dancing. That's the power of proper selection.
Or alcohol. Who knows.
A few months later my sister had a friend who was throwing a birthday party and needed a DJ and a sound system. Emboldened and driven to perform in front of more people I agreed to play this party.
My dad plays in a rock band so he had a PA system I could borrow for the night. I organized and set up EVERYTHING by myself. I couldn't get anyone to help me that night.
What I learned that day was that people don't pay you to play when you DJ. They pay you to get there and set up. That is where all the work is.
This was another learning experience. A few people can totally ruin the vibe of a good party. I played for six hours that night. The first two hours were great. However at one point these two girls showed up and everything went south. Long story short they wanted top40 and would not accept anything else. I could see and feel the energy in the room change as they started to tell other people how the music was impossible to dance to. How they hated these songs. How much the DJ sucked. The other four hours were grueling and long. Filled with a lot of self doubt and embarrassment. I have never been one to give up easily however. For better or for worse I played the rest of the party. Packed up my stuff, went home and crashed hard.
I am not deterred by this experience. It makes me want to play more. It motivates me. I love a challenge.
I spent the summer months of May to August 2015 streaming, coaching and planning my upcoming fourth year project.
In some respects I am disappointed with how the summer panned out. I seemed to fall a little short of every goal I had. I didn't reach the level I wanted to reach in StarCraft. I wasn't quite at the viewer count I wanted to be at and the partnership I had with Filter was falling apart.
On the other hand I got a coaching "contract". I strengthened my position in the StarCraft community by making videos regularly for PiG (a professional player). I volunteered at the DSCL Open in Amsterdam. As well I felt in a good position to move forward with my fourth year project.
I made this promo for the DSCL Open to try and entice people to come down and watch the event live. I think someone had brought up the tournament in my chat. I was hungry to get out into the city and network. When I went to the DSCL site I saw that they were in need of volunteers so that is how I got a hold of Frank VanCaspel who is the event organizer.
He was so busy he gave me a link to were he had some old footage and just told me to have a go at it. One of my favorite ways to work. The idea I came up with was to capture how easy it would be for people to get down there. I strapped my camera around my neck and biked down to the location.
If I would have had more time, people and / or money I would have expanded on the idea to include public transport, cars, walking and probably something else a bit, lets say goofy to be memorable.
DSCL AFTER MOVIE
My job during the event was to capture some complementary footage, like the interview at 1:35 to what was already being shot during the broadcast.
I spent a good amount of time going through all the different sources of media and I think for anyone who was there, and maybe those who weren't can relive the event for a couple of moments.
It was a really great experience to work with these guys. They were really fueled by passion and worked very hard the whole weekend to make it happen.
PiG: SAFE ZONES
I really liked working with PiG. For any StarCraft player and especially for the Zergs he is a wealth of knowledge.
He would stream his coaching sessions which would usually be around an hour and fifteen minutes. He would then transfer over the raw video(s) to me and I would go through them, finding the most useful bits of information.
After that point I would compose the video into a cognitive thought process and if I felt like the visual explanation was lacking, or maybe the part is a little boring. I would design an animation using Photoshop and Adobe Premier Pro. Skip to 0:35 if you would like to see a simple animation.
PiG Raw Video Notes
Sometimes he would talk A LOT. So I started writing END to help myself break the clip up later and make sure I didn't miss anything.
Unless you are interested in improving your SC knowledge you can skip most of this video. Check out the following times though to see the animations that I made in After Effects.
COBERRA STREAM CLIPS
Coberra was my StarCraft alias. I included these clips so that you could get a feel for what it was like to watch my stream. When I was at school I would stream M / W / F for two hours. When I was doing it over the summer it would be the same days but for four hours.
When you are streaming, the most important thing is interaction with people in your chat. That is how you get regulars which is how you get a community.
Sorry for the language, it was a pretty relaxed setting.
This is what is called a build order (BO) in StarCraft. It's kind of like a recipe. It outlines certain key elements of your strategy. What to build and when to build it. Since StarCraft has been played for so many years, at such a high level these build orders are very, very refined.
For low level players, a good build order is usually the difference between a win and a loss. This is one of three guides that I wrote up for my student.
For each guide I also included a checklist that the student could use (and which I used for my own improvement) to give themselves a metric of which to compare their performance.
This was a metric system that I developed to track my own performance as well as my student's. He never filled his sheet out though but here are some sample entries from my play.
Game 1: This is one of the first entries I ever did with this structure. You can tell because of the detail. If you compare the roach speed gap in the first and third game. Roach speed is finishing earlier by the third entry. This might not seem like much but StarCraft is a game of seconds.
Game 2: I can tell this was a quick game that I lost as there are no components completed to the build order. Secondly the opener of my opponent is aggressive. Thirdly I have a note talking about my opponents build order.
Game 3: Details are much more refined and tell me more about what strategy I went for as well as my opponent. This is a huge pain to do manually and was the inspiration for Production Assistant.
The Ground Floor
A weekly coaching / information show every Sunday. We would pull a lesser SC2 player from chat and help them improve at their game. In addition to this I would run my own live stream M / W / Th.
THE GROUND FLOOR
Halfway through my university I got really into a video game called StarCraft II. For those who don't know StarCraft II is the grandfather of modern e-Sports. Pro players are paid a salary to practice many hours a day and the game requires immense dedication and skill.
A friend of a friend used to make very popular StarCraft tutorials on YouTube (200,000+ views). Seeing how I was now interested in this game and had the equipment and experience it was a natural fit to do our own show. The promotion says 3 to 6pm but we quickly switched from 2 to 6pm as it gained popularity. We even had 2000 viewers one time!
The concept was to pull a viewer at random and give them some 1 on 1 coaching. We would stream the coaching session and anyone watching would hopefully also learn.
In the beginning my role was to facilitate everything. The location, the graphics, make a connection with people so we could easily switch over between guests and be active in chat to build a community.
That led me to make this little promo to help promote our show.
TGF PiG ZVT
This was an awesome experience. As we started to grow in popularity my partner caught a lucky break and managed to make a connection with a pro player from the Australian scene. We did just over 4 hours of coaching that day and I made these videos for his channel as a thank you.
The amount of work that went into these was immense. Mostly sifting through mounds of information to try and find the really nice nuggets and display them in an interesting way.
TGF PiG ZVZ
Another video from the same day.
Having PiG (pro) gave us the confidence to reach out to other figures in the community. Here is a well known caster / streamer from America named Gretorp. Same four hour format as last time.
Everything went well but not without one hiccup. After our session with Gretorp I had watched his stream was not super pleased with the way he presented information. Foolishly I stated this on one of our streams.
Everything is recorded when you stream and word got around to him and soured our relationship. I put a huge amount of time into making a Thank You video as I did for PiG and he didn't care at all. Lesson learned. That was wasted time, effort and reputation. Moving forward I will remember to keep my mouth shut.
Stands for: Sort it Out
A summer company my cousin and I cofounded. This was one of the best times of my life and I have many proud moments.
Part 1/3 from our Automaxx series. Our client was very happy with these videos and I feel this one has the most straight marketing feel.
We shot with a POV rig that attached a DSLR to a motor cycle helmet. It was a bit tricky to use at first but lots of fun.
SitO POV CAM
2/3 for Automaxx
3/3 for Automaxx
HATS FOR HEARTS
This was one of our first contracts. The idea was to have an educational evening learning about heart and stroke. The heavy subject matter would be offset by a fashion show and opportunity to don a fancy hat.
We were to capture the fun atmosphere and use it as a promotional tool for the next year.
MISSION FITNESS: TRAIN THE TRAINER
We managed to score a small contract doing some promo work for a gym. They held a Heart And Stroke Foundation charity event where clients got to turn the pain back onto the trainers for once.
This was a part time job I worked while going through school. I had many responsibilities here but the majority of them were focused on using media as a promotional tool.
Maison Mazel Promotional Video
This was one of my biggest projects at Maison Mazel. The company needed a professional looking video for the sales team on their upcoming trip to China. We worked with a production team to get all the details right. All the pictures throughout the video were shot by myself as well as a few of the machine shots.
This was one of the first videos that I made at Maison Mazel. I spoke with one of the technicians and we found a way to keep the door open while the machine was running so that I could get some cool shots. I also made the music. It's pretty cheesy and looking back not necessarily the best for an office setting but I am still proud of it.
These videos would play in our waiting room lobby as a bit of entertainment for anyone awaiting a meeting.
The idea behind this video is the same as the other. Something to play in the lobby. We couldn't keep the door open on this machine however so I ended up borrowing my little brother's GoPro and attached it to the stationary part of the spindle.
This was a super fun series that I would do with my friends on the weekend. The projects would have a strict timeline of four hours. First hour was planning the story we wanted to tell. The next two hours would be shooting. The last hour would be editing. What ever we had at the end was what we had. I never knew who was going to show up or what we were going to do. We did everything on the fly just trying to keep it light and fun.
We did a bunch more but most of them are just WAY too bad to post here.
NO REST FOR THE WICKED
I got the inspiration for this from a jekyll and hyde film we had watched in a detective fiction class. This day I think only two or three people showed up so we had to keep it pretty minimal and easy. Makeup, camera and actor.