the wondrous tales of a software guy in hardwareland

Internet, Meet monotrino. monotrino, Meet Internet

It’s been a long, long time since my last post. It’s also been a quiet month for my DIY hobby, I didn’t even touch an Arduino. But, as always, some things have been happening in a background thread :-)

First of all, I spent a lot of money. Oh yeah, a lot. In total 88€, divided as follows:

  • ~57€ for a big order at Reichelt. Since they charge 10€ for postage, I had to make it really big to make it convenient. But I got tons of nice stuff, and most importantly I now really have the feeling that my electronics set is complete.
  • ~17€ at the metalab. This was kind of unnecessary, I actually really needed some buttons. But I couldn’t resist :-)
  • 14€ for my very first surplus electronics purchase. Again, not really necessary, but I had to do this experience as well. More about it later.

Total expense so far: ~280€. Time to get an appointment with a psychiatrist to talk about my obsessive-compulsive disorders? :-)

Second thing, unfortunately I was kind of abandoned by my son. It’s not that he wouldn’t like to hack with me, but he had a lot of other things to do. And lately, he seems to prefer chemistry over electronics anyway. Oh well, life must go on :-)

On the positive side, he is currently spending the Summer in Italy (our homeland), so this means I have copious free time to push my projects further.

Third thing, as you can read from the post title, I’m finally ready to disclose the name of my project in all its glory:


There are several distinct layers of “pun” in this name. I really love it :-)

On the other hand, the name is more or less the only thing my project has at the moment. That, and a quick drawing I did in Fritzing:

Except that the “piano” buttons are going to be 12x12mm, and Fritzing doesn’t have the stencils for them. Bad Fritzing! No cookie! The repository for the (yet to be written) code is also already set up on github: Stay tuned for more!

Fourth thing, yesterday I actually hacked my monotron, yay!

Man, that was hard. Took me ~2 hours – mostly fighting around with the case to fit the cables. And fighting with some stupid wires which are apparently allergic to soldering (either that, or I’m not able to solder them).

Basically, I wanted to use some very tiny wires from my son’s electronic toy kit (hush, hush, don’t tell him that I’m stealing his wires!). Turned out to be a no-go. Those wires are single core and made of lead (or whatever it is, I have no idea; I only know that it’s not copper). And I had a very hard time trying to solder them. Before risking to melt down the monotron, I gave up and decided to use normal copper wires instead. Some good people on the #arduino IRC channel suggested that I may need some flux, or a different solder… No one suggested that I should take up knitting instead, which I suppose is a good sign after all :-)

Anyway, back to our copper wires. Soldering was OK, but since those are a little thicker, I had to chisel out some plastic from the monotron case to fit them in the eyelet (or lug-mount, or pendant slot, or charm holder, whatever is the English word for it) on the back of the monotron:

And presto, the hack was done:

Closing the monotron was another big challenge :-) I had to very carefully let the wires flow on the right of the PCB and, after some struggle, I managed to pack everything back in good shape:

The little thing is still alive and kicking! I could really breathe again at that point :-) This is a rear view that shows the cables coming out:

So far, so good. Next step will be to hook up a connector to the cables and see if the Arduino can talk to the monotron the way I intend it to do.

Lastly, my surplus delivery, landed just this morning from the ebayverse:

A venerable Fostex X-26 four-track cassette recorder! This thing must have been a real beauty back in its days. I almost feel uncomfortable slaughtering it up for the parts. But hey, it’s broken. And I’m going to get 7 faders, 20 knobs, 8 audio jacks (plus a lot of RCA jacks, but I don’t really need them much) and some buttons out of it. Worth it, no? :-)


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