One sensor too many

I’m both sad (but somewhat relieved) to report that the temperature sensor I’ve been fiddling with, on and off, for the past two months, does not play well with Pure Data, and as such, it won’t work to use it in the installation. The sensor works fine on its own, but whenever the audio is playing, it does not report any data (or at least, it only seems to work sporadically, maybe 1% of the time). It feels unfortunate to leave this part of the project behind; on the other... Read The Rest →

Cables and wire

Before we take a short break for Easter, there is some work to be done with wiring the electronics and (hopefully) getting a temperature sensor to work with the RPi. Bruce Larson will be helping me with item 1, and Steve Smith and I spent about 3 hours on Saturday working on item 2. We’re to the point where we can get the temperature sensor to send a number to a file, which can be read by the music software–that’s good progress. The trick is to find a way to... Read The Rest →

You’d think it would be simple…

The past week has been a mostly frustrating one for this novice linux user. I want to do a very simple thing–have the Raspberry Pi launch the music application PD when it boots up. I’ve found about four different ways to do this, and they all involve either writing a short script or changing an existing script. So far, none of them have panned out. Two excursions into this territory have resulted in the need to re-load the operating system and start from scratch. From what I can tell, this... Read The Rest →

First Public Presentation

Some fantastic publicity in the past week, first via the wonderful regional magazine Inspired, and then a composer’s forum at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where I was a guest composer (alongside the great Jake Romig). Aside from the short clips I’ve posted here, the presentation in Whitewater was the first time I’ve presented this project, verbally, to another group of musicians. It certainly made the project feel more like a pending reality. Kelly has been hard at work, building the first of four structures we’ll use to house the installation.... Read The Rest →

One tripod done!

The remarkable Kelly Ludeking has finished the first of four tripods (trees): He will work on fabricating a metal box on one of the feet that will hold the battery and electronics. I don’t think I mentioned this previously, but in my search for a water-tight, cheap box which can be used to store the electronics, I stumbled upon the ammo can: It’s basically the size of a tackle box, easily secured and supposedly water-tight. Not sure if these things have been used to house small electronics before, but there... Read The Rest →

Seed Savers in Winter

A few milestones reached this week: 1) The software program PD was successfully installed on a Raspberry Pi, and the audio playback seems to work. The major glitch I’m experiencing is a nasty distortion that occurs whenever the mouse or keyboard is used. Fortunately, this might not affect the project, as we won’t be using either of those input devices when the installation is up and running. From what I’ve read, there seems to be a correlation between use of the USB ports and the on-board audio chip. I notice,... Read The Rest →

More music and electricity fun facts

Work continues to progress. Less musical activity this week, but more learning (thanks to Bruce Larson!) about regulated vs. linear power supplies, multimeters, and DC/DC converters. Regulated vs. linear: a linear AC/DC converter (those large “wall warts” that we use to power electronic devices) may be labelled with a particular voltage, like 12V…but in reality, what the converter is actually delivering is 12V or lower, depending on the draw. Often, that doesn’t matter…but when it comes to amplifiers and audio, it’s a deal. So, as I mentioned last week, I... Read The Rest →

And now for some music

After a hiatus in January, I am now working more or less full-time on this project. I had a wonderful interview with Sara Friedl-Putnam, who is writing a piece on “Talking Trees” for an upcoming issue of Inspired magazine, a regional arts monthly. One of her observations was that based on her perusal of this blog, it appeared that this project was all about technology and not so much about music. I’ve been attempting to temper that imbalance, and over the past week, I’ve been working closely with the sound... Read The Rest →


Thus far, I’ve been preoccupied with the technical aspects of this project, and, I suppose, that’s understandable. I tend to be the kind of person who needs to gather a lot of information and spend time digesting it before I can make a decision. While this doesn’t always apply to my creative work (I typically wouldn’t, for example, spend a lot of time researching and listening to clarinet pieces by other composers before I wrote my own), it certainly applies to matters involving technology. But it also occurs to me,... Read The Rest →

Solar Panel, battery, amp hours!

After a very fruitful and useful discussion with Dennis Pottratz, a local solar energy expert, I have a much better idea of how to maximize resources. After determining that our load is 2.5 W + 4 W = 6.5 W for each R-PI and speaker pair, I wondered about simply doubling the number of speakers per R-PI, thus halving the number of total units. My thinking is that each R-PI can produce a stereo audio signal, and each side of the stereo field could feed 2 speakers. This new model... Read The Rest →

« Older Entries Newer Entries »

Back to top