circuitry and such

One of the things I dabble with every now and then is electronic circuitry. I’m not nearly to the point of doing fun things with PIC boards and microcontrollers, but I do enjoy wiring up and playing with small circuits. And I’m currently somewhat fascinated with what one can do nowadays with LEDs.

I’ve ordered an MR16 light from SuperBrightLEDs — I got the 3W warm white spotlight bulb. It’s actually quite nice; I have some MR16 track light transformers I’m not using, one of which seems to work OK (no flicker or buzzing) with this bulb. The light given off is remarkably similar in color temperature to a nice halogen bulb, and reasonably bright — you’d need a few of them to come close to a 20W halogen bulb — more than I expected. It’s actually quite good as an accent/spot light. Unfortunately, it’s $35 per bulb, which isn’t cheap.

So I started investigating the parts. They use Philips’ Luxeon LED emitters from LumiLeds, which come in various configs. The ones I’m interested in are warm white (1W max — the 3W bulb uses three), and cool white (3W max). They’re like other LEDs except they’re much brighter, and use correspondingly more current (350mA instead of 20mA like normal LEDs).

I had the idea that I could put together a simple package of an LED and the support circuitry, and with any luck fit it all into a package that would go into a bi-pin Malibu light fixture, so I could purchase some reasonably inexpensive outdoor lighting, and add way more lights to my piddly 120W transformer (that’s already got 50-60W in use with 5 fixtures) for various bits of landscape lighting.

So I ordered 5 of the cool white 3W LEDs, which came out to about $27 for all of them, and have those. I ordered the star package which includes a bit of a heat sink; these things get hot.

For a support circuit, I didn’t want to use the traditional “just use a resistor” circuit to limit the current. I found the LED current controller circuit that uses a couple of resistors and a transistor to achieve the right current through the LED.

I guesstimated some of the values, and ordered five each of the following from Mouser Electronics:

Component Price
Xicon 3W 5% Small Metal Oxide Resistors, 30 ohms $0.39 each
Xicon 3W 5% Small Metal Oxide Resistors, 2.2 ohms $0.39 each
Fairchild Small Signal Transistors TO-92 BC63916 NPN GP AMP $0.14 each
Rectron Rectifiers – Bridge RS-1 1A 200V $0.46 each

The total order comes out to about $7, not including shipping. This is why I’m posting; other than the exotic LEDs, getting components like this can be super cheap. If this works the way I think it should, I’ll have converted malibu halogen lights to LEDs for about $7.50 plus labor; not much more than the cost of the actual replacement bulbs.

If it works out, I’ll post a how-to with pictures. For now, gotta wait till the order comes through.

november car ride mix

So, here’s a concept, though I’m sure I’m not the one who pioneered it. We went on a couple-hour road trip a few days ago, and I made a mix CD for it. But since I can’t post the songs (copyright violation), or stream it (expensive), the only way I can share it with others is to post a table with the song, artist, and album. We’ll call it an open source mix tape. And just to be snarky, it’ll be web-2.0 as well (note hyphenated web-2.0 is similar to but for trademark purposes not identical to Mr. O’Reilly’s copyright) — each album takes you DIRECTLY to the Amazon page for that album, except for one obscure Japanese album. (Full disclosure: each is an Affiliate link.)

Listening to and evaluating the mix is left as an exercise for the reader. My notes are at the end.

# Song Artist Album
1 Thunderball Tom Jones 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection – The Best Of Tom Jones
2 The Way You Look Tonight Bryan Ferry As Time Goes By
3 Right Here, Right Now Fatboy Slim As Seen on TV: Songs from Commercials
4 Lust For Life Iggy Pop As Seen on TV: Songs from Commercials
5 Tigerbeat Ursula 1000 Kinda Kinky
6 Renaissance Hooverphonic Blue Wonder Power Milk
7 Ultra Samba Bossacucanova Café Samba, Vol. 2: A Brazilian Lounge Experience
8 3ZOZO12 Fabio Nobile Featuring Lorraine Bowen & Guido Pistocchi Café Roma, Vol. 2
9 Samba Tranquila Thievery Corporation Café Samba, Vol. 2: A Brazilian Lounge Experience
10 Elf’s Lament Barenaked Ladies Feat. Micheal Buble Barenaked for the Holidays
11 Short Skirt/Long Jacket Cake Comfort Eagle
12 Sweet Love (Marques Wyatt’s Deep Love Mix) Kaskade Destination Lounge: Bali
13 She’s A Lady Tom Jones 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection – The Best Of Tom Jones
14 Break-A-Dawn Richard Les Crees Destination Lounge: Bali
15 Party Happenin’ People Deee-Lite Dewdrops in the Garden
16 Pink Panther Theme Laurence Juber Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar
17 Commissioning A Symphony In C Cake Comfort Eagle
18 Jackie Go! Ursula 1000 Kinda Kinky
19 Sultans Of Swing Dire Straits Money for Nothing
20 Ballroom Blitz Tia Carrere Wayne’s World: Music from the Motion Picture
21 Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee Canibus With Biz Markie Office Space: The Motion Picture Soundtrack
22 Peter Gunn Pat Donohue Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar
23 Do You Know The Way To San Jose? Seks Bomba Operation B.O.M.B.A.
24 The Girl From Ipanema Pizzicato Five Pink Panther’s Penthouse Party
25 A Shot In The Dark Doug Smith & Mark Hanson Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar
26 Mucho Tequila Ursula 1000 Kinda Kinky
27 Money For Nothing Dire Straits Money for Nothing
28 Bachelor Pad Fantastic Plastic Machine Pink Panther’s Penthouse Party
29 Shot In The Dark/Peter Gunn (Under The Gunn Mix) Chris Mancini & Lennart Pink Panther’s Penthouse Party
30 GIMME SOME LOVIN’~inochi haterumade~ Southern All Stars Sakura
31 Kodachrome–Maybellene Simon and Garfunkel The Concert in Central Park
32 Mais Que Nada (Ma-sh Kay Nada) Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66: Greatest Hits
33 99 Barbara Feldon Hal Lifson’s Sex and the 60s
34 A Day In The Life The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
35 Casino Royale Seks Bomba Somewhere in This Town
36 The Pink Panther Theme (Malibu Remix) Henry Mancini Pink Panther’s Penthouse Party
37 Gambit Ursula 1000 The Now Sound of Ursula 1000
38 With A Little Help From My Friends Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66: Greatest Hits
39 The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Teddy Randazzo Hal Lifson’s Sex and the 60s
40 Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard Simon and Garfunkel The Concert in Central Park
41 Mrs. Robinson The Lemonheads The Best of the Lemonheads: The Atlantic Years
42 Mambo 1000 Ursula 1000 The Now Sound of Ursula 1000
43 A Hazy Shade Of Winter Simon & Garfunkel The Essential Simon and Garfunkel
44 Pleasure Unit Ursula 1000 The Now Sound of Ursula 1000
45 シークレット エージェント マン(Secret Agent Man) RCサクセション The Rc Succession – Covers
46 Boom Boom John Lee Hooker The Very Best of John Lee Hooker
47 Think Aretha Franklin Blues Brothers: The Definitive Collection
48 The Mad Scientwist Kaiser George Twist Party with Los Straitjackets
49 Gettin’ In The Mood The Brian Setzer Orchestra VaVoom
50 Let It Be Aretha Franklin Soul Tribute to the Beatles

So obviously, I’m greatly influenced by a few things — techno lounge music and Soma FM’s Secret Agent music stream. I am amused by cheese, but do require a certain quality to the music I listen to. I can’t do techno that’s either just noise (is that “industrial?”) or only has a beat; I need something at least slightly melodic. Some of the Ursula-1000 style sampler artists do it for me. And well, I’m entertained by goofy music and energized by things approaching punk (but again, not noise punk).

Most of the music more or less flows; some of it could stand to be mixed together because a few have strange intros and such, but for the most part there aren’t any jarring transitions. (I used to help out a DJ a long time ago, who tried to teach me some of the finer points of choosing music.) Some songs are fun to listen to; Secret Agent Man is done by a Japanese band (RC Succession) that released an album of song covers where all the lyrics are literal translations into Japanese, including Summertime Blues and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Others just have a good driving beat (“Take This Job and Shove It”, “Ballroom Blitz”).

Still others are peppy covers of older good songs (various Henry Mancini/Pink Panther tunes, Seks Bomba songs, the Lemonheads’ Mrs. Robinson). And later on it goes into some good funky soul (Aretha could sing Hot Cross Buns and it’d still be good). For good measure (only 41 more shopping days) there’s a Barenaked Ladies’ Christmas song thrown in as well.

Anyway, use the links to check out song previews, buy some new albums if you’re feeling like it, and enjoy the open source mix tape.