carlfoxmarten: (Default)
I'm mostly just posting this for my own reference, but if it helps you guys, that would be great too.

Big Clive on YouTube dissects a lot of cheap Chinese electronics and posts the results online for others to see and learn from. Granted, it doesn't have to be cheap Chinese crap, as he does work for a large theatre-type company over in England, so sometimes he has to take large and ludicrously expensive theatre lights apart to see what went wrong and try to fix it, which is often as enlightening as his usual content.

Anyway, he once did a series of videos on Chinese "meteor" lights, or the type of icicle lights that actually look light raindrops are falling down the length of each icicle. The sheer complexity the Chinese engineers have been able to squeeze out of such inexpensive components is very impressive.

First, an explanation of how these work:
Everything you didn't want to know about Chinese meteor lights.

Second, how he was able to repair a damaged string:
Fixing a faulty meteor light.

Next, how you can make your own icicle/meteor lights:
Make DIY meteor lights with multiple effects.

And finally, a project he experimented with to get different types of effects out of a string of meteor lights:
Experimental meteor light software.

Why I'm posting this is for an idea I just had for an electronic game timer. Now, one disadvantage of using this technique is that it's only possible to have one LED lit at a time, but the major advantage is that you can control twelve discrete, single-colour LEDs with just three control lines from the microcontroller. This simplifies things a lot on the hardware end, and makes it even cheaper to run a lot of LEDs, but means you have to keep cycling through all the lit LEDs constantly. And because of that, it's not constantly lighting the LEDs, but flicking through them, so it's not going to look constantly lit.

The alternative is to use digitally-controlled LEDs, known also as NeoPixels or the WS2811(B). That would use only a single data pin for the entire string of LEDs, but adds a fair bit to the costs, though not as much if you buy unbranded ones.

The general idea of the shape of the timer is a pillar-shaped bar graph kind of affair, with the lit segments lowering down like sand until it expires. I'll be coming back to this idea later, I just want to get it down somewhere I can refer back to it when I have the time later.

New to DW!

Apr. 14th, 2017 09:39 pm
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Like a ton of other people, I've just migrated to DreamWidth from LJ, and haven't started looking for other friends who have migrated over here just yet, so keep an eye out for me.
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
I'd last done this meme almost three years ago with my fursona, OC Meme: Carl Foxmarten on FA, so I think now's a good time to run these again with my new characters. I'll be posting Meri's later, as I'm currently focused on Sonya.

RULES:
1. Pick one of your OCs.
2. Fill in the interview as if you were your OC.
3. Tag four people to do this meme!
4. Tell people that they been tagged with a link from your journal

Note: I don't advocate forcing people to do this, so I won't be tagging anybody.

OC picked: Sonya Redfoot.

1. What is your name?
Sonya ‘Rusty’ Redfoot.

2. Do you know why you were named that?
My father wanted to call me Sophia, but mother thought it too stuffy and shortened it to just Sonya. My nickname is ‘Rusty’ because my fur is primarily white or gray with some rust red mixed in.

3. Single or taken?
Single. Which means I get to flirt outrageously

4. Have any abilities or powers?
I can use magic, and excel at simple telekinesis.

5. Stop being a Mary Sue!
I used to have a friend called Mary. Very tragic what happened to her. Very glad I wasn't in her shoes.

6. What's your eye colour?
Hazel.

7. How about hair color?
Dark brown, and very long.

8. Have you any family members?
A few. I haven't had any contact with them for a long, long time, though, so I've no idea where they are.

9. Oh? How about pets?
I once had a cat as a pet, but he died and I haven't replaced him. Mostly because no one could replace him. He was a very unique cat.

10. That's cool, I guess. Now tell me something you don't like.
Arrogant assholes.

11. Do you have any activities/hobbies that you like to do?
I love singing and relaxing in hot springs, though not at the same time.

12. Have you ever hurt anyone in any way before?
Yes. Though he was asking for it with an attitude like that.

13. Ever… killed anyone before?
See above. It did not end well for him.

14. What kind of animal are you?
My father was a Russian Arctic Fox and my mother was a Red Fox, so I'm a Red Arctic Fox.

15. Name your worst habits.
(the character isn't complete enough for me to know what her worst habits are just yet)

16. Do you look up to anyone at all?
My mentor, (whose name I haven't thought up: Carl). He's taught me so much, and not just about magic.

17. Are you gay, straight, or bisexual?
Definitely an equal-opportunity bisexual! I've even taken part in more than my share of three-person ‘couples’.

18. Do you go to school?
Used to, done with my formal education now. By day, I'm receptionist for a small private company, by night, a part-time singer for a local bar.

19. Ever want to marry and have kids one day?
Oh yes! I really do want to be a mother some day!

20. Do you have fangirls/fanboys?
I do have a small group of fans, yes. Mostly because they can't have me.

21. What are you most afraid of?
I'm not about to publicize information like that.

22. What do you usually wear?
My favourite outfit is a midnight blue shift gown. Actually, I have a lot of different shifts of slightly different styles.

23. What's one food that tempts you?
Chocolate anything. The chocolatier the better!

24. Am I annoying you?
Only if you keep asking stupid questions like this one.

25. Well, it's still not over!
Well, get on with it!

26. What class are you (low class, middle class, high class)?
My family was definitely high class. Once I left home, though, I became middle class, wanting to actually work for a living instead of inherited investments. The last I was told, however, there are some investments waiting for me should I wish to rejoin the rest of my family. Not sure if I should or not.

27. How many friends do you have?
Plenty, and that's good enough for me. Quality over quantity, of course.

28. What are your thoughts on pie?
Chocolate mousse or apple cinnamon, either way is fine with me. Though it takes a lot of exercise to keep the pounds off...

30. Favorite drink?
Something tall and fruity with a good kick.

31. What's your favorite place?
My last favourite was a little-known hot spring to the north, but I've met some very good friends and a truly fantastic place. I'll need to explore it more before I change my mind.

32. Are you interested in anyone~?
I've recently reunited with an old girlfriend, and she has a cute boyfriend now, so there's no tell just yet.

33. That was a stupid question.
You really need a better control over your therefore stupid tongue.

34. Would you rather swim in a lake or the ocean?
If I have to choose between the two, a lake, but I'd rather stick with hot springs otherwise.

35. What's your type?
If I knew that, I wouldn't be single.

36. Any fetishes?
That's between me and my lovers.

37. Seme or uke?
They have their place, but I'm far more interested in being a relatively even match for my lovers.

38. Camping or indoors?
I often enjoy camping in the great outdoors, but sometimes indoors can be just as much fun.

39. Tag people
Nope, not doing that.
This was more for my own interest, so I'm not forcing anybody else to do this.

If you want to, feel free to copy, especially if it helps you flex your literary muscles.
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Note that this is my third character, and should post my second character's description first, but I'm having problems developing it so Sonya's going next.

Brief note on my second character before I get to my third. Meri (she still doesn't have a last name yet) was originally one of Steve's creations on the Cross Time Cafe board for a collaborative story a bunch of us were involved with. She's a foxtaur from a world that's far more magic-based than technology-based, so she can use magic and doesn't have much experience or exposure to technology. Her particular focus in magic is healing magics. Once the main conflict of the story was over and things were wrapping up, one of the other authors turned her into Carl's girlfriend, and she's been with him ever since. So Sonya is not Carl's girlfriend, because he already has one.

Anyway, I based Sonya on a nameless character we used in a sequel to the above story, a canine waitress in a coffee shop. Since the CTC is essentially outside the normal continuity, I've made like this second story was a TV series, and that Sonya was merely playing a character in the show. Which would also explain the difference in fur colour for the part, etc.

Sonya Redfoot is an Arctic Fox crossed with a Red Fox. And no, I'm not sure why I seem to be so enamoured with foxes. She stands about five-foot-two, and is slender and graceful, almost like there's a cat somewhere in her ancestry. She has the typical arm and leg colouring for a female Red Fox, but blended lightly into her primarily-white coat, making everything come out slightly copper-coloured, just to varying extents.

She can do a bit of magic, the exact extent of which I haven't determined yet, but for sure she can do minor telekinesis, past that I haven't decided yet.

Suggestions and questions welcome.
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
I may have mentioned that I've been working on building a prop for a local theatre company on here, though not as much as I've talked about it on a forum I frequent. Anyway, progress on that has pretty much stopped due to several factors, mostly stemming from the fact that I don't have a base to work from and have to build the whole thing from scratch.

Anyway, this year's panto is Beauty and the Beast, and since my boss has started to refuse me Saturdays off, I'm not able to participate in the same way anymore. Apart from that, I'd also noticed that the script mentions a magic mirror. Many movie versions depict the magic mirror as glowing shinily when activated and used, so why not add some LEDs to the prop so it does some cool effects like that?

So I've been given the task, about two weeks ago, and now I'm almost done building the prop! =^.^=

Nearly instrumental was a lady at a higher-end secondhand store around here that helped me find a cheap kid's racquet made of plastic. A layer or two of tape on each side got rid of the annoying bounce sound from the plastic sheet in the middle, and foam board is doing very nicely for fleshing out the back side.

To use the mirror, you're supposed to "polish" it three times, then it flashes and shows you a glistening image of what you want to see.

To provide the lighting effects, I'm using NeoPixels, individually-addressed LEDs with the LED driver chips built right into them. See the article for more info. Anyway, what that allows me to do is to control the RGB colour of each LED independently of each other, but only use a single data line for an entire string, instead of having three separate control lines per LED.

Finally, to provide the brains of the operation and effects, I'm using a Pro Trinket, a tiny microcontroller by the same company as the NeoPixels, that uses the same software development toolkit as the very popular Arduino series of boards. They're very easy to write code for, all the way through to programming the board itself, as well as being fairly cheap to buy, running around $16CDN each.
(compare that to $40 and up for the official Arduino boards)

Power will be supplied by a cheap dollar store USB power bank, which provides a reliable 5V supply, which both the LEDs and control board needs. Plus, it's cheap, around three bucks. Pity I can't find any more for the moment, so as soon as I do, I'll be buying a whole bunch.

So far, I have a semicircle of wire with the LEDs spaced out around it that fits just inside the outer edge of the racquet, and a temporarily wired up microcontroller, with a program that is about 90% of the way to being what I understand we want thus far. Once I have it properly attached to the mirror frame, I'll be bringing it to the next rehearsal for more feedback.
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Last week, one of the artists I watch on FA was having a quick and cheap commission sale, so I pounced and got this lovely picture of me sitting reading a book. I’ve also turned it into an avatar, which I’m using just about everywhere now. =^.^=

I have to say that such a well-drawn avatar is extremely refreshing. The book-on-pedestal picture I’ve been using for ages is something I’d created almost ten years ago, and since I didn’t have very good Blender skills at the time, it reminded me too much of those times. While I am better now, I’m still not as confident in my abilities as I am in others’, so having someone else’s artwork as my avatar, especially when it’s of my character, is easier for me to deal with than if it was my handiwork.

Plus, the art style used just about screams “Good for avatar!”, and it really works well! It’s almost soothing, actually. =^.^=
carlfoxmarten: (default)
Huh. Again, this place is covered with dust! Gotta stop forgetting about it...

Anyways, since I've started to get more involved with microcontrollers, and since I'm out a fair bit of the time at maker meetups while I'm working with them, I'd decided that a new laptop was in order. It also helped that I got a fair bit of Christmas money, as well as several back paycheques.

So, almost nine hundred Canadian dollars later, and I'm now typing on my new Lenovo Thinkpad T450. I'm very happy with how light and solid it feels, as well as the performance they managed to cram into a system that's three-quarters of an inch thick, not counting the screen! For example, it runs Team Fortress 2 better than my desktop computer (which is, admittedly, eight years old, and which I'm also working on replacing). It also runs The Saboteur very well (though with some graphical glitches, so it's not completely smooth sailing).

I am having some problems getting the microcontroller development environments set up properly, but that should just take some time to iron out properly. I suspect this is due to the fact that it's running Windows and not Linux, but I am rather hesitant to install Linux on this thing just yet. Especially with this being my very first new laptop ever.
(the last three, yes three, were all hand-me-downs or refurbished devices)

Did I mention that it was light? Just the laptop itself weighs just under four pounds, which feels much lighter than each of my previous laptops.

I've got other news that I'll be posting here later on, mostly good news, so keep an eye out for that.
carlfoxmarten: (default)
Yes, I was in the hospital yesterday. Once I finally got there, it was a rather pleasant experience, but up until the ambulance arrived, I was a nervous wreck.

You see, I had chest pains for several hours yesterday. Here in BC (I don't know about the other provinces), we have a Nurse's Hotline, where you can describe your symptoms and they can give you an idea of what you've got, and whether you should see your doctor or go to Emergency.

Well, with chest pains, you always have to go to Emergency, as they have to actually check you out physically in order to tell what the problem is. So it's kind of no wonder that they sort of frighten you into actually doing something about it.

Yes, I had been at work yesterday, and to make matters slightly worse, I was working at one of our other stores, by myself. So when I had to leave, I had to shut the store down. Not sure I did that properly, but oh well, health comes first.

Had a bit of a fumble with the ambulance, I'd first said that I was going to stand out front, but then the dispatcher said that I should sit comfortably, so it took a bit of time for them to find me, especially since I'd put a "closed" sign on the door. After that, it was pretty straight sailing, and with every check they did, it seemed less and less likely that I'd suffered a heart attack, so I was put at ease pretty early on.

Originally, since the store I was working in is a few cities north of where I live, I was originally supposed to head to the hospital in that area, but since I lived further south, and the ambulance was actually based out of there, we went to one much closer to home.

To boil three hours at the hospital down a bit, my dad arrived about half an hour after I did, so we sat together while I waited to be called for each test. In the end, it turned out to be a bruised rib. No, I didn't get a prescription for drugs, but the doctor said to take some extra-strength Advil for the pain, so I picked some up on the way home.

If we hadn't moved, it would have been only about sixteen blocks to home, a distance I'd have been well able to walk under normal circumstances. Fortunately, the pain had subsided significantly since that morning, so I decided to walk the twenty-three blocks it is now, stopping off to get some more potato chips and the aforementioned Advil. I sat for a while, then napped for a few hours. This was probably a bad idea, as I was unable to go to sleep until almost three in the morning after that.

Anyway, yes, it was my first trip to the hospital (as a patient), and all things considered it was actually a pretty pleasant experience. Hopefully I won't have to repeat it anytime soon...
(last time I was at the hospital was several years ago with my grandmother, when she was diagnosed with some breathing problem I can't remember the name of right now)
carlfoxmarten: (default)
Ah, technology. Why do you suck sometimes... =>.<=

So, the last magic wand the theatre company used emitted a brilliant flash, and would glow white when it was ready to go. It did this by using the xenon flash unit from an old film camera, with a white LED replacing the tiny, green one that originally signaled that it was ready. The next wand will be able to the colour of the glow change to match the fairy's outfit, and will have an extra option (triggered, well... somehow...) to make the glow LED “throb” or brighten and dim on a cycle.

For this new wand, I've decided to again use the flash unit from a film camera to produce the bright flash, but use a microcontroller to control the LED and the flash module. Unfortunately, this brings some major challenges, as the flash unit takes a major amount of current when it's charging the flash capacitor back up, especially at the beginning, when the capacitor is empty. The large inrush of current is exactly why they make charge-controller chips for cell phones, and at some point I will be looking into the idea, but right now they just confuse me, more than anything else, so I'll hold off on that for the moment.

Anyway, this great big gulp of power actually causes the microcontroller to reboot, something you want to completely avoid, if at all possible, even engineering around it when it becomes an issue.

One of the many options suggested as I've been working on this problem, along with sticking a current-limiting resistor in line with the flash unit, is to employ a decoupling capacitor to provide the microcontroller with its own backup power reserve for those two or three seconds when the flash is sucking so much power that, without it, the microcontroller would get rebooted. To ensure that the flash unit doesn't suck power from the capacitor, I've employed a diode to ensure the power only goes one way.

The only problem with this is the fact that I'd actually been using the wrong version of the microcontroller. My original intent was to power the wand off one of those 5V, tube-shaped, USB-charging batteries you can find for ten- to fifteen-dollars. That way, it would be very easy to tell when the battery's low (the wand doesn't work), and very easy to charge them back up again. Because of this, I'd chosen to use the 5V variant of the microcontroller (an Adafruit Pro Trinket, for those interested). Well, it turns out that, with the flash unit plugged straight into the USB battery, the battery gets drained completely in less than a second when the flash unit tries to charge itself. So, I decided to switch back to using three AA batteries instead, at least they can take that sort of current drain. So, a 5V microcontroller can run off 4.5V. But not through a capacitor and a diode, it seems. So I have to switch to the 3.3V version, which meant yet another trip to my friendly, not-so-in-the-neighbourhood electronics shop.

Despite having the right version in my stash now (since yesterday), I haven't actually tried using it yet. For one thing, I haven't been able to find the code I'd used previously, and since I have to program the new one before I can use it, that's a pretty big stumbling block. For another, I'm currently trying to write the code that will run either this incarnation of the prototype or a good step towards the final code that will run the wand, and those two are hard to tell apart sometimes.

The physical part of the wand will probably give me the worst problems, as I already know how to combine electronics together to get what I want, and how to write code to run it, but assembling raw materials into something isn't anything I've done before, so I definitely have a learning curve ahead of me. Thus far, I have two sizes of PVC pipe to use for the wand's handle, as well as both a battery tray and container for the electronic guts. In addition, I have a piece of aluminum curtain rail that will work very nicely for the shaft of the wand, as well as a bunch of plumbing connectors to make things disconnect relatively easily.

I'm pretty sure, given time, I'll get it done. I just don't know if it'll be done right, or well, but it'll be done...
carlfoxmarten: (podium)
In case people wonder, yes, I'm still alive, and yes, I'm still doing things.

Unfortunately, LJ has become a huge pain in the ass to deal with, so I've been limiting my involvement on here significantly. They've decide to make things "easier" for people who don't know what they're doing, and have made it harder for those of us who do actually have a clue. Which also translates to "moved stuff around and now nobody can find anything easily"... =>.<=

Anyway, I'm still employed servicing sewing machines, and yes, I'm still having fun at it. We're building up an online presence so we can sell parts online, to get a much broader market-share. Since I have that balance of busyness, technically-savvy, and knowledgeable on the parts we sell, I'm the primary force behind populating the online store with pictures and product info. It's definitely an interesting challenge.

I'm still working on building a new magic wand for the theatre company I'm with, and it's quite the trial-and-error endeavour, which isn't helping me any. I'll likely post a more detailed entry on this topic when I have more time later.

I've discovered that there's a MakerSpace within range, and they have a meetup on Friday nights, starting an hour after I get off work, so I have barely enough time to dash over, grab dinner, then make my way to the library the meetup's hosted at. It's been a lot of fun for me, as most times they have some sort of interesting workshop going on, and you can bring your projects in to ask for advice, or just show it off. When I brought in one of my blinking LED projects in, I managed to get everyone's attention for several minutes as they were mesmerized by the shiny LEDs... =^.~=

Anyway, if I so choose, I can subscribe to the MakerSpace for $25 a month and use the space (and most of the tools) for my projects. Though, as it's a relatively recent space, they're still building up their arsenal of tools. No woodworking tools as yet, though I suspect they won't be a priority for quite a while yet, given how small their subscription base is as yet.

Not much more to say, which is, I guess, one of the other reasons I haven't done much on here as of late.
carlfoxmarten: (default)
So, yeah, despite having moved only about twenty-five blocks away from my last place, we did actually move across a border between cities. The difference is quite noticeable, in both visible and not-so-visible aspects.

Visibly, there's far more trees where we are now, which is great for shade, cooler temperatures, and aesthetics, as well as most of the houses looking a bit more upscale and nicer than the near-dumps we were living near before.

On the not-so-visible side, it feels more relaxed, less fast-paced. I haven't made a lot of time to just wander around yet, but I do think I like it.

Other things include the city actually being on a hill sloping down to the Fraser River, which gives some rather nice photographic opportunities with the other side spread out for panoramic shots, if you can manage to find a space between the trees... Sunset pictures are great to capture, though I still need to figure out how to work the new camera to adequately capture them.

The hill also counts as a negative when I'm walking to work, as it's a moderately steep seven blocks up the hill to the road my work is on, then it's thirteen blocks that have a shallow enough slope that you don't notice. Fortunately (very happy about this) I can bus almost the whole twenty-blocks to and from work, so I can decide to catch the bus if I'm feeling too tired, or just walk if I'd rather have the exercise.
(currently, biking to work is strictly off the cards until I figure out just how tough it'll be otherwise)

Camera!

May. 17th, 2015 01:37 am
carlfoxmarten: (default)
Huh. Apparently I have not actually mentioned on here that I have a new (to me) digital camera. It's sort of on the old side, but it's definitely serviceable.

It's a Pentax *istD, so only around 6 megapixels, but it takes professional lenses, and great pictures. I've already been experimenting with it, and after some initial hiccups with whoever had used it last changing some settings to weird values, it seems to be working just fine.

The lens it came with is a pretty general-purpose one, ranging from 18mm to 80mm, and can even do some minor macro photos to boot. Though the zoom isn't quite as far-ranging as I'd like, and the macro focus doesn't quite get as close as I'd like, so I've been looking into buying a new lens or two.

I might have found something particularly useful, and for a reasonable price for a new unit, but I have to make sure it'll actually work with my camera first. That's my task for Sunday, zipping back over with my camera and testing it out. I'm somewhat concerned that, when the clerk tested it, the auto focus system didn't work, but we'll see when I get there. And if that doesn't work on my camera, but the rest of the lens does, there's still several other locations of the same chain of stores that I can investigate.
carlfoxmarten: (default)
After losing the lease on our house two and a half months ago, we've finally found another one to move into! Yay! =^.^=

Known features include:
  • A dead-end street, so no through-traffic.
  • Two floors, no attic rooms, so no more sloped ceilings for me! =^.^=
  • The street it's on is sloped a bit (or so I'm told, I haven't actually seen the place myself yet), so the backyard at least is terraced.
  • A wood fireplace on each floor, similar to what we have now.
  • A landlady who actually listens, which is a great advantage over our last landlady. (well, her husband technically)
Overall, it sounds like a lovely place to spend our next fifteen years.

We get the keys on Wednesday, the 15th, and the plan is to do a walk-through that day, planning where things will go, then move the majority of things in on the Saturday after, leaving me in the current place as an extra security measure.
Then, the Saturday after that, we move everything else over.

That should give us extra time to deal with putting things in place, acclimatizing pets to the new place, all that sort of stuff.
carlfoxmarten: (default)
It's past 1am right now, so this is going to be brief.

Likely due to the major lack of sleep I'd managed to get during the run of The Mousetrap, I got a pretty major cold right afterwards.
It lasted for about a week, but now I'm still feeling the effects of it more than a week after that.
Mostly stuff in my throat and a bunch of coughing.

At least I'm not required to sing until about June, when auditions for the next panto will be.

I'm still coming up with a list of songs I'm considering for my audition.
Due to issues I've been having with my phone, however, the list keeps getting deleted and I have to start it over again.

Right now, I'm looking for a song about three minutes in length, with no long instrumental introduction (not like the early days of band music, where the singer got second billing – if at all – to the band, and had to come in for the second chorus), preferably no instrumental sections, and preferably with just one singer.

My plan for future auditions is to choose a different artist whose work I enjoy each year, to see just how versatile I can be.
My first audition was with Fred Astaire's The Piccolino, which I'd sung for several years before, so I knew how the song went very well.
The second audition was with Matt Dusk's The Theme from the Loaded Gun, song that has great drive in places, and I managed to improvise a sort of dance routine to go along with it. Got a round of applause for that one, too, so I must have done something right. =^.~=

We have just three weeks left in the month, and it doesn't sound like we've found another place to life just yet, though it sounds like there's one that might possibly work.
I'll have to wait until mom and dad make their decision, though I should probably make sure I start to pack up my stuff too...
carlfoxmarten: (default)
Well, that was quite fun! =^.^=
While it lasted, anyway...

The Mousetrap is now over, and I won't have anything directly theatre-related until June or July when the panto auditions are scheduled.
(I still have the magic wand to build, but that's not quite the same as working with theatre people on a regular basis)

Three weeks before the show began its run, the stage manager brought in another young guy and announced that he was the assistant stage manager.
Since the director had told me that she would encourage the SM to use me as the ASM, I was quite disappointed, until the SM corrected herself and said that was in addition to myself.
So, two ASMs, kinda relieved that it did happen.

Anyway, I was stationed stage-right (left side of the stage, audience-wise, for those not in the know), so I monitored almost everything backstage before and during each performance.
I was equipped with a "ClearCom" unit, which is a one-ear headset with a mic that allows most backstage staff to communicate, so I was able to let the SM know when we had all the actors ready to go, relay questions between actors and the SM, as well as the usual duty of making sure the actors had their props when they needed them.

My side of the stage also had the backstage PA mic, so I was tasked with letting the actors know how much time they had before the next Act, calling “Places”, etc.

The other ASM had a bit more work to do, which included moving to the back of the set to run the snow “machine” (really a grate full of a snow-like powder that dropped the “snow” when shaken), assist a couple of the actors with a quick-change between Day 1 and Day 2 of the play, and, I'm sure, several other tasks that I'm still unaware of.

It was a fun show, but being a drama, it was almost impossible to tell how much the audience liked it.
What little laughter there had been was related only to the very minor comedic moments, and even then not all of them, so the only person who was able to know first-hand how well the show went over with the audience is the people doing front-of-house.

The first act was where most of the behind-the-scenes action took place, making sure actors had their props and didn't have to walk the thirty or forty feet to get them before walking back onstage, but the second act was almost completely dead, owing to the fact that the first act was set-up and the second contained all the drama.
This meant that I could play around on my phone during the second act without needing to pay much if any attention to the play, aside from having one ear cocked to the dialogue to make sure I didn't miss the ending.
(it was too dark backstage to try doing any book reading or paper-based Sudoku or crosswords)

I'd definitely do something like this again should the opportunity arise.

Busy!...

Mar. 1st, 2015 01:46 am
carlfoxmarten: (default)
Final countdown to The Mousetrap in mid-March, so rehearsals are going into overdrive.
I'm still not entirely sure what I'll be doing, aside from "helping out" backstage.

The treasurer for the theatre company was in one day to watch a run-through, and I had been introduced by the director as the ASM (assistant stage manager), though I don't remember being asked just yet.
I'd been told that it's the stage manager's duty to select an ASM, but haven't heard anything officially since.

The set is about halfway done, it needs to be fully assembled where it is now so rehearsing can happen on it, then disassembled, moved and reassembled at the theatre, as well as any final painting that needs to be done.
All the props and costumes are (to my knowledge) complete, even down to the wristwatch that had been picked up for five dollars to go on Molly's wrist, whose band had been too large and had been shortened by our stage manager.
(she's apparently very skilled at many things, so I hope we don't lose her anytime soon!)

I'm still shaking my head at how much the actors were scrambling for lines, though.
We have two more weekends of rehearsals to go, and it looks like I will be helping the actors run lines when they're not needed during a run-through.

The last non-panto rehearsal I've seen was for the last run of The Hound of the Baskervilles, and that was basically the final rehearsal before it was moved into the theatre, so I wasn't privy to all the foibles of the actors as they initially stumbled through their lines, and was largely unfamiliar with any weak points before the show ran and I saw it for a whole week of evenings in a row.
carlfoxmarten: (default)
The same theatre company that I was with for the pantos is currently in rehearsals for Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, in preparation for a mid-March run.

No, I didn't get a role, but I am helping out in a useful way.
Our stage manager is currently busy (with classes and other shows), so I've been filling in to a small degree.
Thus far, and probably as far as it'll be, is being "on-book", which means I keep the actors from forgetting lines and prompt them when they ask.

It was a rather important task last week, when we had several actors trying to be "off-book" (not carrying their scripts with them) and really shouldn't have been.
Yesterday it wasn't such a big deal, as we were working on much smaller scenes in the script to get the overtones of nuance right, so they were able to remember their lines well enough through the sheer repetition we went through.

We'll see what happens in future rehearsals, as we get our stage manager back next Saturday, then she's away for the Sunday after that, and after that she's fully available.



Aside from all that, the production team is really big on "real" effects for shows like this.

For example, they wired up a classic doorbell in the style of what they'd have used back then, with the bell that's constantly rung while the button is pressed, and it'll be screwed to the back of the set where the front door is apparently set.
It even has a bit of a glow on the button so the actors can find it in the dark.

The telephone will also be somewhat remotely controlled, ringing its own bell when triggered, and getting cut off when the handset is lifted.

They also hope that they can wire the radio for sound, so the radio broadcasts will seem to come from it as well.

Cool tech

Jan. 22nd, 2015 07:52 pm
carlfoxmarten: (default)
I keep finding all sorts of cool stuff, but I never remember to post about it.

So here's a list:

Intel’s Compute Stick: (reviews: MakeUseOf, Engadget)
It's a computer in a stick slightly larger than a thumbdrive. It plugs into the HDMI port on modern TVs, and you can either plug in a USB keyboard and mouse, or use Bluetooth versions. Its primary purpose is for travellers to be able to carry their computers with them, and mostly for web browsing and cloud-based tools.
Estimated cost: $149USD.

The Mouse Box: (Gizmodo, Business Insider)
A low-end, portable computer inside what looks like a relatively ordinary mouse. With a similar, but slightly less, shall we say, honest, goal than the last one, this computer-in-a-mouse allows you to take your computer to wherever you want, and use it under circumstances where you can't run your software or do your personal browsing on their (whoever "they" are) hardware.
Estimated cost: N/A, still in development.

Onewheel: (Digital Trends, Daily Mail, SlashGear)
The Onewheel (yes, that's all one word) is an electric device that defies the most popular categories of personal mobility. It has been likened to a one-wheeled electric skateboard, or the ground-based equivalent of surfing or snowboarding. A brushless DC motor sits in the hub of a Go-Kart wheel, with two foot-sized pads on either side of it, allowing you to literally lean in the direction you want to go.
Apparently, it is now relatively easy to learn to ride, and they now have an iPhone app that allows you to control the board's performance. No news on an Android app as yet.
Cost: $1,499USD.

I know there's supposed to be more than this, but this is all I can remember at the moment.
Guess I'll be doing these more often, and more likely when I find them, instead of saving them up and forgetting about them.
carlfoxmarten: (default)
Warning: Gets very technical, so beware!

So, the very first magic wand the theatre company I'm involved with had caused some electrical burns to its original operator due to malpractices by the original creator.
I think it might be fortunate that he's dead now, though I think it was more due to age than an accident with his contraptions.

The second version (that I'm aware of) was the one that our current fairy queen broke this year taking last year's decorations off it, so the third version was the one I fixed up and improved.

The fourth version, which this post is about, is one I've been asked to build to replace our old one.
The fifth version, and there will be one, will have even more features than V4, so we'll either be able to choose which features to enable, or which wand to use for each year after, depending on what features we want to use that year.

Very technical details are here... )
carlfoxmarten: (default)
So, my room is somewhat small, and rather frustrating due to the sloped ceilings, but also very cluttered.
This means that any projects I work on are either on my computer, or worked upon on my bed, which is very much not a desirable thing.

A somewhat more thorough examination of the furniture in my room yielded a kneehole-type writing desk, built by my grandfather to excellent standards of quality, but quite impractical for me to use as a workbench.
Also, due to age and current excellent condition, it's not something I'd ever consider modifying.
I was almost horrified when the clerk I was talking to at a local contractor supply store suggested I start with its table top and work from there... =0.o=

Fortunately, I've been watching numerous videos dealing with woodworking, and the variety of wood available is very wide, so ideas were starting to come together in my mind quite readily.
It was also a good idea that this first trip was merely a scouting trip, as I was nowhere near having a solid decision for the exact design, dimensions, and wood selection.

Since it's primarily going to be a workbench for doing electronics work on, pine is a good enough choice, especially as it won't be for hammering and other such heavy work.

I'd also like to have some interesting electrical work on it, including two desk lamps, one on each side, with LED bulbs in them for focused light, two pairs of switched outlets, one on each side, so I can leave my soldering iron plugged in, but turned off, a strip of diffused LED lights under a strip of wood on the top of the bench's back.

I did pick up a book on electrical wiring to help when the time comes, as well as had a good long look at the various outlets, switches, etc, that are currently available, so I have a pretty good idea of how I want things when I finally get that far.

Fortunately, I'm not planning on anything terribly difficult, but I'm still feeling rather tentative about the whole thing, which is probably a good sign.
Actual dimensions will depend on several factors, including how high I want the benchtop, how much extra space I can squeeze out of the other furniture, how wide and/or tall each piece of wood will be, and stuff like that.

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Carl Foxmarten

August 2017

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