Updated busking kit

Using my new bass drum I updated my busking kit for playing on the street.  The requirement is that the hardware and throne have to fit in a rollerboard suitcase and the cymbals have to fit in the bass drum.

  • 10″ splash hats
  • 14″ Paiste fast crash
  • 10″ Pearl M80 snare
  • 16″ Meinl Byzance dark crash


Splash hats keep the volume under control for acoustic settings and 14″ crash is good for bright accents.  The 16″ crash is dry to keep its ride sound dark and under control while also providing a lower crash pitch than the 14″ fast (=very thin) crash.  Then the snare and bass drum can be the stars of the show!

Posted in Music | Leave a comment

Cannondale Synapse

After 5 years without a road bike I decided to invest in some new equipment.  I was lucky enough to get a huge discount on a 2018 Cannondale Synapse.

Carbon frame and fork, Shimano RS505 discs with 105 hardware and RD 2.0 wheels with 700x28c tires.  All in all the best bicycle I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding!


Posted in Bikes | Leave a comment

Trash can bass drum

I’ve been looking for a portable bass drum for busking for month now and I finally have a solution.  I had some spare 18″ bass drum hardware and figured if I went to the hardware store I could find something to act as a drum shell.  Armed with my tape measure I found the perfect candidate – the 32 Gallon 28×22″ BRUTE trash can!

First I measured an 8″ band around the trash can and used a dremel to cut off the top.  Then I mapped out holes for the hoop mounting hardware and legs, cleaned up the edges and installed the drum head.  [Check out the handles!]  The sound is deep and loud and without much sustain because there is no resonant head.  Works great for the streets!



Posted in Home projects, Music | 1 Comment

It’s hailing in San Jose!?

What is going on??? It’s hailing in San Jose!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Custom LED Vanity

The internet has a lot of DIY vanity projects out there but I’ve never found the flexibility I would like with regards to light intensity and color temperature.  Building some LED lighting with a dimmer is not too hard but setting the color temperature is a bit trickier.  Color temperature is how “warm” or “cool” the light is with incandenscent light bulbs generally being more warm and fluorescent lights being more cool.  Here’s an example of color temperatures from 1000K to 10000K.


After working on my design – here are the results!

Posted in Home projects | Leave a comment

Building the Custom LED Vanity

For this build we are making a wall-mounted vanity mirror with about a 2000K to 8000K color temperature range.  White LEDs are available in this range but they typically achieve the color temperature target using special composition and density of phosphor materials.  To build a variable color-temperature we need to use an RGB LED strip and employ calibrated control of each channel.

Here are the components we need:

  • DK Hardware Pivot-N-Vue mirror
  • SparkFun LED strip COM-12021
  • JIRVY Led Aluminum Channel with White Diffuser
  • Arduino Uno

The software on the Arduino Uno takes input intensity and color temperature data from potentiometers and then computes three RGB channel intensities.  Each intensity value maps to a ATmega PWM register that is connected to a MOSFET gate.  The MOSFET FQP30N06L is a perfect complement to the Arduino because it enables the 5V outputs of the ATmega328P to switch up to 60V and 30A (wow!).  In this design the SparkFun LED strip uses a 12V power supply operating around 600 mA and is well within in the limit.

As far as the color temperature formula it came from trial and error as well as user testing.  Here’s the formula I used:

virtual void set_color_temperature(int kelvin) 
    float k = (float)kelvin;
    R = 255;
    G = (k - 1000.) / 9000. * 165. + 75.;
    B = (k - 1000.) / 9000. * 60. + 5.;

Basically we always want the red to be at full blast.  Then we vary the blue and green in about a 1:2 ratio, starting from the lowest temperature where blue is at 2% power and green is at 30% power.  Your mileage may vary!

Posted in Electronics, Home projects, Software | Leave a comment

Cymbal journey…

After a few weeks of exhaustive research and constant product returns I have assembled my new set of cymbals for my drum kit.  I purchased all of these online as used cymbals and let me tell you these guys rock!

  • Zildjian 20″ K ride
  • Zildjian 18″ A medium thin crash
  • Paiste 16″ full crash
  • Paiste 14″ Alpha medium hats

One thing I like about this setup is that the larger cymbals are made from B20 alloy (80% Cu, 20% Sn) with a darker tone and the smaller cymbals use B12 and B8 alloys with a brighter tone.  Using low Sn alloys in the smaller diameter cymbals extends the range of pitches in the group.


Getting to this group took a lot of searching!  I started off looking mostly at the Zildjian lines to replace my 18″ and 20″ Sabian XS20 cymbals.  My first guess of 20/18/16 A Custom were nice but the 20″ was way too lively and the bell volume was just off the charts.  The 16″ also must have been bent or something because it would turn dissonant at higher volumes.  The 20″ K ride swapped in and had the restrained wash and high-pitched bell I was looking for.  Then I realized that I hadn’t properly given the A Series a try and picked up the 16/18.  The 16″ was severely bent and sounded terrible, so I gave up searching and grabbed a Paiste full crash.  The 18″ A Series vs A Custom took some serious soul-searching but in the end the great attack of the A Series won out.

Whew we made it!



Posted in Music | Leave a comment