Tag Archives: Painting

Brad Ormand - early player front

9.26.2016 – Game Character Pre-Pro

A while ago, I created a low-poly game character and used it in a game engine demo to get jobs in software development in Austin and LA (in-game, pictured just below).  That helped my overall portfolio.  But, I thought, “One day I’m going to spend the resources do a real product with this“.  And, when that time came around to do it, I wanted to be ready.  I didn’t want to license a character or the props.  I decided to take the time back then to learn the discipline.

Fast forward to now… I’m not sure why I stopped doing it.  I miss it.  I want to get back to that work.  I have great memories of that time period in LA a few years ago.  I loved making models and texturing and animating them.  I mean, the whole 3D rendering pipeline has always fascinated me.  I build a 3D software wireframe/fill renderer for new platforms whenever I encounter them – browser, standalone, embedded display, in ActionScript, JS, and C/C++, etc. because it’s interesting.  I have a sincere passion for everything about 3D software that just hasn’t died out over time.  It’s persistent, and I kinda have to pay attention to it. 🙂  And now, I want to make a game of my own, all the way through to ship.  So, I decided to revamp that guy as my main character and move on with my former plans.

Brad Ormand - Agent 218

A   F U L L   S A I L   S T O R Y

Ever since I graduated from Full Sail (Recording Arts) for audio engineering stuff, I have had my eye on 3D animation and game design/dev.  I was friends with a lot of Game Design and Game Development program students there, and on the weekends and in the evenings and they showed me the stuff they were doing.  And, although I wanted to do audio stuff primarily, I really, really, looked up to the game creation discipline.  We learned audio concepts, big mixing consoles, and Pro Tools.  They learned game concepts, Maya, Max, Photoshop, ZBrush, etc. – all that kinda stuff.  And, that’s what I have been up to too, lately.  I’m learning Maya end-to-end, trying to get my polygon topology right and stuff like that.

Back in school, us audio guys were playing video games, too, between classes – it was almost a “club” between a certain group of us.  “How far did you get in that game this weekend?“,  “Did you get to the place where you have to…“, “What did you think about the gameplay?“, “Are you using 5.1 surround?“, etc, etc.  It added to my enthusiasm for games.  And, plus, we worked with the game department in the studio all the time – mixing music, making stems, doing foley, and processing voiceovers.  And, I did that in Hollywood, too.  I have kind of been hooked on game dev since back then – the whole, entire process is fascinating to me.

Brad Ormand - early player back

The newly revamped character (above).  I’ll have a few different kinds of hats he can wear.

A   H O L L Y W O O D   S T O R Y

Even when I moved to Hollywood, after a few years of audio/music studio stuff, I dropped out of that career track professionally (basically.  But, I continued to use the skills for my music releases and personal projects) and went back to school for Computer Engineering in LA.  But, my sole purpose, or let’s say, “ulterior motive”, was to go back to engineering school to learn math down solid so that I could develop games!  That’s for real.  I was pumped.  So, it’s been a long time coming for me to decide to build a full game and get it out.  I’m deciding to now.

I went through the entire math track in school from algebra to trigonometry to calculus to physics and vector math.  I’ve been enthused with it for the last 8 years since I got that education.  I have used the knowledge throughout the years in my career, developing lots of 2D games and puzzles and stuff in Flash for my employers.  And, now I have the chops to do a 3D game and not be scared to the enormity of it, with these pieces filled in.  And, like I said, the interest in it never died for me, so…  I gotta create a 3D game in 2016 and 2017.  🙂

B A C K   T O   T H E   G A M E 

So, I got back into Maya last month and got my old game demo character revamped.  I’m guessing to took me about 80 hours or so to get everything right, and it’s still not done – the textures are just in a prototype state still, and it requires rigging and animating.  I have a smoothed version here with a medium poly count, but it will be optimized for the game when I’m through.  When I was considering my options concerning models, the way I really felt was that I didn’t want to be “robbed” of the fun of the creation of the assets.  It would save me time to get them made elsewhere, but didn’t want to trade the experience.  So, I didn’t license or base it off anything, I just started from the first poly and went from there – not even a reference photo.  It’s similar to drawing human faces and carving wood faces like I have been doing, but virtually.  It’s a great tie-in art for me and I’m having fun.

As for the programming part, I have that part under control.  And, I’ve got the music and SFX part down, too.  So, as soon as I get all of the assets, textures, rigging, and animation ready, created and collected, I’m ready to do some programming to tie the “game part” together.

Brad Ormand - early player front

I am really loving creating the models though – tires, rocks, trees, walls, floors, the kits, taking texture photography, and animating the different takes.  My goal is to come out with a real, tested, quality game that can be truly enjoyed by people (and myself), with my own art style.  I will see this project through (while I’m also doing the Hexagon Craftworks stuff and the audio applications, too).  Luckily, I’m a good planner (almost to a fault), when I decide on something..  I can’t do a heavy bench press or fight fire or play basketball or manage teams that well, but I can do computer science as it relates to art pretty well.  My target for this game is XBox One.  Mobile versions might come through, too.  PC might come through.  I don’t know.  I’ll get a good game going first.  Mid-2017?

J U S T   F U L F I L L I N G,  T H O U G H

I’ll report more about the progress here in my project log and meanwhile continue iterating through my various projects.  I’m motivated.  I’m getting better on every front.  That’s all I can ask of myself – just incremental progress every day on my key skills.  Like some of my heroes : Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Edison, Gordon Moore, Bob Noyce, John Carmack, John Romero, Michael Abrash, John von Neumann, Albert Einstein,  Steve Wozniak, James Maxwell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Feynman, Joseph Fourier, etc…  They kept going.  They had passion.  I have it too.  I do appreciate the position that they put themselves in – where they could use their disciplines for fulfillment as well – gotten regularly by busting through barriers, achieving milestones in the fields of study that they loved.  Their time and energy spent was worth it, I’m sure of it.  It’s satisfying to be engaged and actually make good progress in something – even if it’s hard and takes a long time.

Well, time to go.  I’ve been making a new garden.  A big one.  I’ll post about that next time.

 

Hexagon Craftworks Label 3x2 Black

06.04.2016 – Hexagon Craftworks

I’ve started a business!  I’ve been writing about my ideas in this blog for months about it, and the time has finally come.  I took care of all of the logistics and legal stuff, got set up with a great online platform, got some business partners / affiliates, and I did a lot of designing, coding, and talking.  It’s live.  I named it: Hexagon Craftworks, because of my love for geometry and also because of the geometrical usage in my artwork.

All of my in-progress projects will now be part of Hexagon Craftworks R&D, except for the software and music portions.  I’m dead serious about delivering great-quality and dead cool stuff – well, my idea of cool (which I think is very cool, of course 🙂 ).  And, there’s a market out there for that.  I’m serious about making this my full-time career – to put everything into it.  I have a Phase 1 (which we’re in now), a Phase 2 (about 6 months from now), and a Phase 3 (about a year from now) in my business plan, which will each mark new product lines, new buildings / moving / tooling, and revenue numbers to keep us afloat.  Once I get to that Phase 3, I’ll try to keep that rolling for at least 5 years, then reevaluate.

But, anyway, Hexagon Craftworks is an art and wood shop, predominately.  I’m the sole creator and innovator.  The art is formatted and sold at an online storefront as framed prints, on shirts, bags, accessories, and the wood art is also sold, packaged and, shipped.  Wood art is a phase 2 thing to be launched as soon as I develop the business system / procedure down for it.

Anyway, that’s a short writeup on what’s been going on with Hexagon, project-wise.  There are sooo many more projects to come now that this is set up.  And, this project log helped me come to many conclusions about what was possible.  Of course, structuring the business itself is a project on it’s own, but it’s also a formal outlet for the result of my physical projects.  I’m really excited about it and will make it succeed.

Hexagon Craftworks Label 3x2 Black

Hexagon Craftworks

In other news, just to resolve some of the other project threads I’ve had out in the past, since this is my personal blog…  The Audio Granulator has had some progress on it, but took the back seat while I formed this biz.  The Apple WWDC came and went – watched it, loved it…  Can’t wait to get back to it once things have settled down.

And, the guitar practice is staying constant and consistent into June.  I’m a far better player than I ever was.  I can run scales up and down the neck at 100bpm, sixteenth notes, no problem for every major and minor scale, these days – it just took 90 days of practice, though.  Haha.  But, the real marker of success would just be my ability to now improvise in a much better and more smooth fashion – over most keys.  I could already strum and knew chords (of course – listen to my recordings) before I started these 2016 practice sessions, but the goal of 2016 was to be able to solo and make riffs easier so that I could pull out whatever I needed when I needed it – it’s going well.  On to July with that!

And, lastly, it’s growing season again – I got more cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, basil, cilantro, ginger, greens, and a lot more going this year.  Can’t wait to see how they do, and even plan more for 2017.

Sheet Music Unfolded

04.07.2016 – Guitar Practice and Crafts

I just spent the month of March on an initiative to improve my music theory and guitar playing skills.  I worked on other projects, too during this time, but haven’t finished anything to show.  The results of the practice are pretty amazing, though.  I’m doing it again for April.  I wanted to be able to take my existing guitar skills and augment them to be able to play all of my Major and Minor scale shapes, plus the Blues scale, clean, in every key, all up and down the neck at 90 BPM, sixteenth notes.  I couldn’t do it March 1st – it was too fast, but by April 1st, I was able to do it!

I’m not primarily a guitar player, but I knew the keyboard and a lot of theory, so I could visualize the intervals and know what each sounds like on the keys, but to use my left hand fingers to do it was hard.  I have been playing guitar at a casual level for a long time, and have come up with the parts and recorded guitar on all of my songs, but wanted the ability to express my ideas with more ease.  And, I’m getting into using the guitar as a MIDI instrument and harmonic EFX generator, too.  So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  I’ve practiced every day for at least 30 minutes for 30 days – getting these left hand fingers and picking hand stronger!  It’s a lot like working out (and speaking of, I have been exercising for 30 days straight, too, but that’s beside the point).  For May 1st, I’m trying for that group of scales and positions, up and down, at 100BPM, sixteenths.  120 in July.

After I get to a good technical point, then I can start creating patterns and phrases and learning the songs I had previously written in a new light and see where I want to take them.  New stuff, old stuff, and stuff yet to be laid down.  And, re-create these ideas in a way that inspires the greatest of good-feeling emotions.  That is the goal for that.

Brad Ormand - Guitar Practice Left Hand

TENDENCIES

My other projects, like the audio granulator, woodcarving, and drum construction, are in a holding pattern.  I notice my tendency to “cycle” through each discipline every few months.  But, actually, I’m fine with that.  I noticed last night when I came across some code for my audio apps while backing up my drive, that I actually held myself back from working on it, as if to say, “No, not now – I’m practicing guitar and I have green paint waiting to be used on the canvas before I can get back to you, audio app“.  And, that’s fine.  Why not?  I think…

I’m inspired more to explore ideas that are just surfacing and “hot” right now so I can “lock them in”, and then get back to them on the next cycle.  But… the downside is that I lose some momentum.  But, I capture the “hot” ideas in the stream of consciousness.  Just an observation.  Evens out, I guess.  And, this project log shows me what I come back to and what I don’t.  Most I cycle back to.  I sure do have a lot of interests, though – that’s for sure.

However, I do think about the different categories of projects I have active every day – and I always have a base level of inspiration for them all that never leaves.  And, it’s more exciting to get back to them after a bit of a break and after a large success in another field.  Rationalization or not, it is what it is right now, and until I get to the point to where I do them as my primary business, I can continue to operate in this way.

THE GOAL

My job takes up most of my time (as does driving to and from it).  I’m okay with it because it funds my projects.  However, I would rather my PROJECTS fund my PROJECTS.  haha – I mean that makes the most sense, right?  I’d be hard at work all day on them if I didn’t have these other responsibilities.  On the flip side – my career is in Software Development right now, I’ve worked hard on it,  and they need me and I need them and it’s a good “handshake”.

So, for now, I’m happy.  But, fueling my choices, somewhat, when I decide how to spend my project time is definitely motivated by what I can come up with that #1) I love to do, and #2) that will provide me a profit to put back into the skills that created it.  The audio app and drum construction ideas are the hottest right now, as far as crafting.  And the idea of making excellent music that does well in the marketplace and licenses well (and that I really like!) is an inspiration for my theory and guitar practice right now – to really bump up my ability to produce well-made songs.  Better than before.

Sheet Music Unfolded

Sometimes, I just want to paint for relaxation and sometimes, I just want to play music for enjoyment, so it’s both – a desire to make worthy “products”, mixed with a desire to enjoy my skills.

Either way, I’m getting better skills in the process.  And, that leads to being better able to express my vision, which would be the ultimate goal – To be able to express myself in the most powerful ways possible.

Nickel Woodcarving 1 Brad Ormand

2016.01.26 – Woodcarving Pieces – Nickel and Horses

I finished two relief woodcarvings over the last month or so – a Nickel coin and two Palomino horses making a heart.  I gifted the horse one to my aunt and I still have the nickel.  I think they look really good.  I’m getting better and better at this as I go along, and as I gain more inspiration.  There are still quirks in my crafting process to be worked out of course, but it’s definitely rolling.  Can’t wait to keep it going and do some other ideas.

Brad Ormand Woodcarving Palomino Horses

Both are hand-carved with knives and chisels, using my homemade hammer (I love that hammer, I’ll be making some more of those soon, as well).  And, I used various grains of sandpaper to smooth it all out.  At the end, I used a Dremel tool to sand the inside of the smaller crevices.  I think I could have gone deeper and made the edges smoother with my chisels, but I will need to form new techniques, and perhaps use more precise tools – or just make the medium bigger.  Keeping the tools sharp was a constant challenge as well, but I kept the stones and oil on hand and sharpened them every day.  The wood is Basswood – usually pretty soft, but these were actually pretty tough cuts – I have had an easier time carving in Cedar and Mahogany.  And, the areas near the pith were really hard to keep smooth.  But, I adapted.

//  P A L O M I N O _ H O R S E S

Brad Ormand Holding Horses Carving

The horses came out of a Thanksgiving conversation with my aunt.  She collects horse-related artwork of different kinds.  I was chatting with her and some people around the dinner table about what I had been doing lately, about my recent carvings (the old man, the lion, the other faces), and she mentioned she liked Palomino horses, and I said that I’d love to try to do some Palomino horses in wood, with that long hair, one of these days.  I thought it would go great on wood.  That night, I sketched something up, got excited about it and decided to do the challenge!  The carving itself took me about 50 hours or so altogether over the holidays.  I gave it to her for Christmas.

//  N I C K E L

Nickel Woodcarving 1 Brad Ormand

I was sitting at my desk at work one day and was about to buy a soda from the machine around the corner.  I noticed an especially shiny nickel from my pocket and was drawn in by the relief of the Monticello.  I had just bought a few wood rounds to experiment with, and right then [pow], I decided to map that nickel out onto the wood round and carve a huge nickel cuz it seemed like a fun idea.

I got a little caliper and measured the fine detail on the nickel coin, and with a little algebra, mapped it onto the wood.  I started with the Monticello, got it placed right, and then filled in the lettering and borders.  After I carved the letters and windows, I burned them in to be dark.  I did some more rounding, detailing, and cut deeper, over 10 or so sessions a few days apart.  I’d guess the whole thing took me about 75 hours of work.  It was a great experience – just ridin’ in the zone and implementing ideas over and over, havin’ fun.

I plan to do more relief carving in those Basswood rounds.  Lots of fun, but also pretty painstaking, so I want to do the “right” ideas – ones that I feel excited about.  I want to do faces, like a dog or a lion, but I’m having a good time with coins and seals.  I’ll be starting on another soon.

 

Hex Light Prototype1 - Brad Ormand

12.15.2015 – Hex Light and Animation Controller

Recently, I have been making a light animation controller.  The prototype is on a breadboard and combined with a separate little 2 x 3 RGB LED matrix module I built last month.  I have the system running on 3.3v with a few test animations programmed in C on a 16-bit Pic24.

I’m excited about this project and I’m continually making it better – both in features and in the kinds of animations I’m writing.  It’s pretty wonderful to see it all come together!

I still need to mount the pieces together and stain them, but it’s taking shape.  I’m also going to carve the pieces with some more detail and perhaps put in some metal inlays – I’m still messin’ with it.  In the end, it’ll all be one piece, but I just have it sitting on the BB for the time being, to get a bearing.

Got some stills here:

Hex Light Prototype - Brad Ormand

Hex Light Prototype - Brad Ormand

I cut and sanded some wood last night and put a cut sheet of coated mylar underneath to let the colors diffuse and shine through a bit.  I thought of this design while falling asleep a few nights ago and got back up to draw it out on the wood.  So, it was nice to see it come to life.

Mainly, my workstation has been my pool table (lol), and it’s a pretty awesome little surface.  I clean it off and play pool in between projects, but yeah, it’s central and in the main room and it’s a great place to work.  Also, I have some of my other in-progress projects in the background there that I brought out to be inspired by 🙂  This captures the scene for the end of 2015, for me to look back on…

Hex Light Circuit - Brad Ormand

Hex Light Breadboard - Brad Ormand

The pins talk to multiplexer-inverter chip pairs that gives each anode and cathode of the matrix a 3-bit address that I take advantage of when I control the sequence in code.  I like this way of doing things – the complexity has been offloaded to the hardware.  I handle the current load by never having two or more LEDs on at the same time – it’s just very fast switching that makes it look “on”.  I have a rotary encoder switching the animations, properly debounced, feels great, and integrated into the user event loop to provide more features.

As I go along this month, I’ll be closer to deciding on an arrangement for a reproducible product.  I’m currently investigating putting in an OLED or Chip-on-Glass display to show the current animation and battery state, etc.  Some smaller products won’t have this, but I want other, larger ones, to have that visual piece in there.

All-in-all, I have been busy with software engineering at my day job, but when I have the time, I like to work most on this project – it’s an offshoot, or simplification, of the honeycomb light I worked on earlier this year.

I have been doing a little painting lately using a “crackle” technique, and I have been drawing and carving more human faces, too – gettin’ better with both.  One day, I’ll integrate all of them into my professional projects as well.  The practice in those other disciplines, though, also helps me come up with designs like this to do this project:

Hex Light Prototype1 - Brad Ormand

And, the next step on this Hex Light project is to design the SMD boards and get those etched and tested.  Once they work and I have the kinks worked out, I’ll send off for some properly solder-masked, dark green and gold boards (fancy), and drop my logo on it for a real nice-looking internal product.  And, yeah, I’m going to make the board a hex shape, too. 🙂   Until next time…

Brad Ormand Wood Snub Dodecahedron

08.05.2015 – Wood Snub Dodecahedron

I have been making and painting a wood snub dodecahedron – a geometrical shape made out of wood.  These things are so much fun when they are built!  I mean just holding them is interesting.  And, it adds a rustic feel with a modern twist to a room.

Of course, I built it from math and angles and defined the pieces myself out of birch wood – that’s the fun part – I wouldn’t *not* do that part.  Not made from internet plans or anything like that.  Haha.  Just saying…  I made it similar to how I made the Truncated Icosahedron and Regular Dodecahedron.

First, I calc’d the size of each piece and marked them on the flat wood.  It’s made from 12 pentagons and 80 equilateral triangles.  I cut 80, but for the final product, I left some select ones out so it’d be see-through.  Then, I sanded the parts, glued them together at specific angles and started forming the structure.

Snub Dodecahedron Parts

Snub Dodecahedron In Progress - Brad Ormand

There’s such nice grain in this birch wood – I use it for a lot of projects.  But…  it’s kind of expensive.

So, after I had a little bit put together, I’d assess where I was at and just try to correct for the upcoming pieces.  Closing the final piece wasn’t that bad because I took care of angles along the way, but it still was a pretty delicate matter.  And, I still had to paint the inside, so I couldn’t weld it shut just yet…

I chose colors based on another woodburning piece I did when I was a kid.  I made a sign with my name burned on to it.  First, I stained the wood a nice “pecan” color.  Then, I mixed the colors, did a test segment, adjusted, and painted the whole thing, highlighting the seams to be the “burnt” ends.  It was kind of painstaking work.  But, the end result came out looking fantastic.  I already have a few more in the works.

Wood Snub Dodecahedron by Brad Ormand

Brad Ormand Wood Snub Dodecahedron

Also, during that time, I made a pretty cool necklace out of leather, beads, and that cedar wood from my tree in the shape of teeth.  I’m wearing it in this pic. I had the materials, and I just felt like doing it.  I used to be a rock climber and it started by me tying double fisherman’s knots in leather string while watching a movie with a friend.  Came out pretty good, too.  Fun, as well.  If I do more of those, I’ll log some of that, too.

Brad Ormand's Etsy Shop

06.25.2015 – Etsy Store is Live!

***Update!! …  I have my own storefront now called Hexagon Craftworks .  My Etsy store is closed.  But, a lot of the same artwork is at my new store as prints and shirts and bags, etc!  I also stopped selling original paintings….

 

I’ve gone ahead and launched an Etsy shop with 12 of my paintings!  They are various sizes and go for various prices.  All originals on canvas – original paint and canvas texture and all.  I even got favorited, too.  Awesome.  I’m glad.  I had been wanting to launch a shop for a while now.

I have made drums and woodcarvings and hexagon lights that haven’t had a chance to mature to make an appearance up there, but, in time, more and more items will make their way to the storefront.  Lots of stuff to appeal to decorators and collectors alike.  The shop is still young.

The style, predominately, is geometric shapes, put together in a stylized fashion.  That’s where my heart is at right now.  Maybe one day I’ll do humans and dogs and lizards, but for now, I’m vibing off of the chained primitive shapes.  It’s a thing of it’s own.  Kinda like modern architecture – mostly straight lines and non-traditional.

Brad Ormand's Etsy Shop

Pick something out, and I’ll ship it to you.

That’s about all I had for now, but I’m working on some woodcarvings and plan to get the drums looking and sounding better.  So far, it’s still an adventure as I’m just going through living my life, enjoying it, getting inspired, and making things as I go.

Shade Tree by Brad Ormand's Workshop

05.25.2015 – Austin Storm & Woodworking

It has been a combination of exciting, hectic, and sad during these last few days…  In our area of Southwest Austin, we had major floods and a tornado roll through here.  Hectic, because we were met with Nature’s strength which did damage that we are cleaning up, and exciting because of the awe-factor, the witnessing of what weather is capable of…  And, of course sad, because people lost property and were injured and a few died because of it…   I mean, I have never seen winds this forceful before, in person.  I was shaken out of my comfort zone and headed to cover in my “safe place” in my house.  Like, I started hearing trees fall over and structures blow away!  For real.

But, yeah…  I lost a good shade tree out back and the neighboring property lost a carport ( it did a 180 flip and moved 100 feet), and another tree, 50 feet from my shade tree, actually got uprooted and laid down on the ground!  The forces were incredible.  My primal system kicked in when it came through!

Uprooted Tree by Brad Ormand's Workshop

Shade Tree by Brad Ormand's Workshop

I was really sad to see that tree go.  I spent half the day today cutting it down / out.  I only got one third of the way through before another storm rolled in.  It became so dark at 3pm that the street lights switched on!  Lots of lightning, and lots of rain…  Again.   Anyway…

Although I was sad to see it go, I am going to build something with the wood.  Something nice to remember it by,  to commemorate this cedar tree’s time on the Earth and role in my life…  I sat under that tree with coffee, tea, girlfriends, the guitar, my phone, exercised under it, my Dad and I cut grass around it, and had many chill times there.  Today is Memorial Day after all…

I’ll make some lumber stock with it, and I want to do a nice workbench with it that accepts a vise.  Also, I want to build a few drums and a guitar out of it.  I have experience building workbenches and drums, but I have never tried a guitar.  My main workbench right now used to be a climbing wall I built that [ironically] got knocked down in another storm a while back.  I recycled it.

Anyway,  I took a photo and posted it here on my project log a while back.  Here’s a comparison with that photo… (The top photo shows the tree that fell (when it was still standing), but not pictured is another tree to the left of it.  That nearby tree is still standing, as pictured in the [bottom] photo of the fallen tree, from a similar angle)… [whew]

Mowed Grass at the Studio - Brad Ormand

Fell Shade Tree Outside Brad's Workshop

So, that’ll be another set of projects that I can get excited about.  Turning change into opportunity.  I think I like having more projects than I can do at one time because it gives me a selection of things to work on when I get the time to work on one.  I can cycle through the ones that are active and see which ones I feel most like doing at the time.  It’s a blessing and a curse because fewer projects get to completion that way.  This project log is helping me see that.  And, I’m adjusting accordingly.  I have several things to choose from, though, right now, and that’s still kind of exciting.

And..  a few more photos showing the force of the storm…

– The fence post by the fallen tree…  I was amazed to see the metal had bent like that!

Fence Post Storm Damage - Brad Ormand

– And, down the street, the bridge flooded over!  I thought this pic made a statement in itself for why to watch for water on the road. 🙂

Water on Road - Brad Ormand

Now, it’s time to clean up, help neighbors, and move on with what we’ve got.  I was fortunate, but others not too far away were not.  My thoughts go out to them.

Brad Ormand Holding Truncated Icosahedron

04.11.2015 – Truncated Icosahedron Model!

This week, I spent a few days on a detour project.  It was something that I had been wanting to do for a reeeeally long time, but didn’t think I had the chops or resources for.  But, I just went into it, and it turned out that it was possible!

Cutting The Hex Parts - Brad Ormand

I created a wood model of a Truncated Icosahedron.  It’s a geometric shape that has 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons forming it’s faces, in the shape of a ball.  The soccer ball is based of of this model.  Icosahedrons are made of all triangles, and Truncated Icosahedrons are the shape left over after the points of the triangle are shaved off by a certain amount.  It’s very interesting how these shapes form and interlock together as even-sided 5 and 6 edge shapes.  I had built paper and 3D computer models of it before, but never something that you could hold that’s rigid and big.  It was a lot of fun.  To me, it’s the most interesting shape there is, on account of it’s pleasing aesthetics.

Brad Ormand Sanding The Hex Parts

Hex Parts Assembly - Brad Ormand

Right now, I left the pentagons out as space, as I’m considering wiring the thing up to make it into a nice light!  Ha. That’s gonna be really fun.  I’ll paint it.  For this one, I’ll use acrylic paint, but in the future I can see a really nice dark stain going on it.  Animated RGB, or just white light…  Many, many options…

I love geometry.  I love seeing shapes in nature.  I like how the mathematics reveal certain commonalities in things, like the golden ratio.  It’s intriguing to me.

Brad Ormand Holding Truncated Icosahedron

 

BradOrmand_WoodPiecesAfterStain

03.18.2015 – Honeycomb Light Wood Stain

I have changed the name of the “Hex Light” to the “Honeycomb Light” because I am making single hexagon lights as well, and I wanna call *them* the Hex Lights, instead.  Ha – So, the animated light with the integrated 16 hexagons on them will become the “Honeycomb Light”…  cuz the name fits a little better.

Speaking of the Hex Light (errr…)  Honeycomb Light!…. (my bad)…  I stained a whole bunch of different birch wood panels using 4 different stains this weekend.  I had never stained wood before (that I can remember).  It was a pretty cool experience – except for the dangers of the exothermic reaction / spontaneous combustion taking place with the oily rags after you’re finished.  The care and maintenance during the cleanup and after-care was a bit of a pain.  The guy at the Home Depot skooled me in the basics when I bought the gear.  But, nothing caught fire, though.  And, it was fun.

TriLight-CoffeeWoodStain

Anyways, I tried water-based and oil-based stains, along with a clear coat, to treat the new cutouts of my light frames.  They’re lookin’ good!  It’s another step toward making the case holding the electronics look super good!  Or, in other words, it’s starting to finally look like art augmented by electronics 🙂

I have already cut another set of wood panels for a second Honeycomb Light.  This one features a deep, dark stain on the backing panel and front hexes with their edges sanded down.  It’s kind of a nice effect.  I’m also making this one look and act much better than the first one I built.  The backing wires are now nice, clean ribbon cable, the switching mechanism is a rotary encoder with a massively good feel to it – that “clicking” action when you turn it.  And, the individual hexes are cut with much more precision this time.  That’s the thing I had hoped would happen – I’d learn each time I did a revision and make the next ones consistently better.  It requires a lot of thinking and planning – especially for the electronics, but it’s fun, and worth it.  I’m having fun with this. 😉

Brad Ormand - HexLightWoodStain

I’m working on a few circuit boards for the whole bunch – the Arrow Light, the Hex Lights (the single ones [micro, mini, and macro]), the Tri-Wing Light, and the Honeycomb Light.  I want them to be able to share modules and components as much as possible.  I’m talking about matrix combiner boards, RGB LED driver boards, main MCU boards with optional modules, electronic components, common C libraries, bulk part orders, etc – I’m ramping up to build like 20 of each.  Plus it’s a chance for me to write and design the stuff as I come up with it.    As I get the PCBs ready, I’ll assemble the lights and see if any other improvements can be made and try to get some good stock, and to get in a “rhythm” with the refined process so that it’s easy and fun.

BradOrmand_WoodPiecesAfterStain

It’s exciting.  Soon enough, I’ll have the experience required to get even more creative with them, and to practice up for more involved projects as well.

JP8000 V8 Fender Bass Brad Ormand

02.04.2015 – Job, Painting & Songs

It has been a heavy week at work – plenty of ups and downs, and plus, there’s a lot of code to write, as well.  So, I’m a little consumed by it.  Thinking about it.  Planning for it.  Etc.  Even off-hours.

Yeah, it’s almost like painting and songwriting are like the perfect compliment to code development.  That’s what I do when dev levels get too high.  Then, when the “logic levels” get too low, I crave shifting bits and pushing pixels.  And, sometimes, the balance is half-and-half.  And, like I said before, mental noise from sources that I’m not inspired by dampens my ability for creativity, but it also dampens my programming ability.  Most of the enjoyment of my work comes from inspired times when I’m mostly peaceful.  However. there *are* other times when good work gets done, just..  I guess I don’t enjoy it as much.  I anticipate that enjoyment factor, and that motivates me.  It is what it is.  Just speaking freely.

So, I haven’t gone forward on my hex light hardware like I was going to do.  But, I did manage to mix another version of “Doing Fine”.  I think it’s the best version so far.  And, I’m in pre-production for an animated video for it.  Already drew out the prime character in my sketchbook.  As for the song, I put the best stuff right at the top, and made the chorus hit soon after.  Hard.  I’m excited about it.  My focus is on getting usable material for people – for my listeners, for film sync, for songwriting integrity, for replay’s sake, for emotional and memory recall – all of that.

JP8000 V8 Fender Bass Brad Ormand

And, having it “usable” means that it’s valued for some reason or another and listened to or used fairly frequently because of those attributes.  So, it’s kind of like how a businessman would add value to a product.  I do what I feel, yes.  But, I also have a vested interest in making the song “solid”, and not letting it go until it is that – mostly because then I don’t have to keep working and thinking and working on it… cuz, it would be… Done.  In the case of “Doing Fine”, I think the value added is the chopped, pitched vocals arranged in such a way that provides for a unique, pleasurable chorus, and the way that the lyrics and synths seem happy, then sad, then happy again, and so forth – kind of a pushing-pulling effect, over lyrics like “Drowning in my mind”  and then “But, I’m really doing fine”, etc.  There’s much more to it, but that’s all that I can write in words right now.

I have one more thing to do, though.  When I messed with the compression ratios on the drum sub and master bus, I made the mix breathe better, but somehow reduced the overall power of the kick.  So, damn, well – I’ll see what frequencies of it are hitting, by analysis, and which are not.  I’ll increase some choice freqs and give it power without damaging the mix, or having it pump and breathe.  It’s delicate at this point, cuz the mix is so right, I feel.  It’s the game.  It’s the balancing act.

So, I’m really glad about that mix.  I’m also pretty satisfied with how the new painting is going.  It’s not finished, of course – there are plenty of highlights and shadows and details to add, but, it’s on the way. 24 x 30.  A work in progress that I’ll keep around for whenever I get inspired to tap on it again.

Brad Ormand - Painting 34

The premise came from my moon painting and how the ridges create shadows.  And, also from some clouds in another classic painting I saw recently.  I want to try my hand with that kind of stuff – see how it goes.  I like clouds.  I look at them.  Stare at them.  Marvel in them.  Just, it seems like they’re a challenging thing to try to paint, but really fulfilling if I can get ’em okay.

Hexagon Light - Early Stages - Brad Ormand

01.02.2015 – New Year & Hexagon Light

Well, it’s the New Year, and I have had time to spend with friends and family, and enjoy the fireworks and winter weather.  It’s an awesome time of year.  And, well, yeah – I have also had some more time off to do projects! (yesss)

Last Wednesday (or so), I woke up just after dreaming about some hexagon patterns and reflecting backlights.   And, also I have traditionally always loved hexagons in art.  My favorite shape has got to be the truncated icosahedron (maybe I’ll do one of those next 😉 )… But, I remember, that day was a day I had completely off and so I started trying to chase the idea.  It was inspired by the Tri-Wing light I did a few weeks ago (and will still implement more of).  But, this time, I wanted a modern hexagon design that had several of those under-lit standoffs on it.  I went around with the ruler and triangle and drew a pattern down and started working out the details of how I’d implement it.  I went to the Home Depot for parts and put in an order to Jameco.

Brad Ormand - Hexagon Light - Early Stages

It was going well.  So, the next couple of days, I started measuring and cutting and planning and making this thing happen.  I plan to make a animated light that hangs on the wall or sits up on a desk.  Each hex will have an RGB LED implanted in it’s center and a cover, stained and painted, on top, shielding direct view.  My hope is that it will glow gladly and gracefully underneath, illuminating the back of the board onto the painting finish I give it.  Also, I’m wanting to see the mix of colors that occur when one mixes with the next.  That’ll be when I decide on the final animations.  Lots of programming and matriX logistiX to figure out, coming up, but it’s actually the fun part – as long as you don’t try to hurry through it and just enjoy the process.

For the electronics, I have already started designing and building the tiny 2 cm^2 circuit boards that will be wired behind each.  18 boards for the lights and drivers, one for the matrix wiring, one for the  MCU, and one for the menu display (or I might combine the last 3, we’ll see, depending on how modular and reusable I wanna get…).  At this moment, I am testing resistor values for even brightness, testing bypass cap values, and deciding on manageable harnesses and connectors.

I’m not yet set up to easily manage an SMD project, in-house – no oven, old school iron, my printers are being tweaked, and I haven’t done an SMD run with the fiberglass, copper, photo-developer, and etchant, yet. But, all of that is getting set up as we go.  I’m making an SMD run of this board (once I finalize it) pretty soon (with a SMD RGB LED, too).  So… it’s all through-hole design, right now.  I’m comfortable with it, and I have all of the parts in stock.

This schematic and board aren’t my final design.  I’m still setting values and designing the system, but I drew some basic stuff up and made a few prototypes of the driver mechanism.

LED PNP Driver Schematic and Layout - Brad Ormand

RGB LED PNP Driver Prototype - Brad Ormand

Then, I started cutting out the overlays, sanding them, and tacking them on.  That birch has excellent grain!  I tried bolts and glue and aluminum standoffs and wood standoffs and just really tried to see what looked and felt best.  I painted the inside a flat white just to see the design more clearly, but the final painting will hopefully be “art” instead of a “guide”.

Hexagon Light - Early Stages - Brad Ormand

All-in-all, I am really enjoying this!  It’s something I feel I have to do.  I have quite a number of projects going right now, and that’s okay.  It’s just how it is.  Everything will get done.  I’m trying to get a batch of the Tri-Wing light, the Arrow light, and this Hexagon light all ready for about March 1st to do some shows and put up for sale.  I think I’ll have 10 of the first two and maybe 5 of the Hex Light going, plus about 20 additional single hex lights.  But, right now, I am firmly in R&D mode, and just making them happen, learning by failing and iterating again and again.

I did, however, work on the synth project over the holidays, and came up with some pretty awesome outcomes.  I’ll have to write another post on that once I solidify some circuitry and take some media.  But, the entire project is going to be secondary until I complete a first batch of these animated lights, for the reasons that #1) it’s much more complex, and #2) I need some knowledge from the success/failure of these light projects to see what I’m going to go into production with for the synths.  But, it will hopefully be a spectacular project!   Happy New YEar. 🙂

Brad Ormand - Synth UI

12.29.2014 – UI Art Design & Songs

I had a few ideas, recently that I wanted to draw up as real interfaces.  This one, I wanted to do as an interface for controlling a synth module with your fingers, lighted up, of course to the beat or ambient sound.  I also liked the “bird-ness” of the last one I did – kind of like an eagle or a falcon drawing from New Mexico or the ancient Aztecs.  So, I was kind of in that “vibe” when I drew this.

I drew a place for an LCD or OLED matrix display where you can program the machine to do several things, like assign pads to voices or control timbre or routing.  Now, my synth, the “guts” of it, at least are wAy down the road to being able to do this kind of stuff, but…   Well, now I know what Im going to want it to do. 🙂  So, it’s like that synergy between concept and design, and iterating back and forth, I guess.

Brad Ormand - Synth UI

So, going forward, I’d like to cut this one out, route it, drill it, paint it and try to attach the touch sensors I’m building to it, and then combine my synth module (currently on my biggest breadboard) with it.  So, this will be my first synth integration with pads and digital control.  I have built various synths and compressors and EQs and noisemakers in the past, but they were very “project-style”, not really a presentable product.  They sounded awesome (I think – and my friends thought), but I would stuff a proto board into a plastic cup I found in my kitchen and take it around with me, before.  And, shit like that.  haha.  I want a real product prototype that is presentable and that flows with fascination.  Actually, I want that for me.  But, I hope others will like it as well.  We’ll see how it goes as we go along.

Brad Ormand - Synth UI Creation

And, as for my music….  I went ahead an put some clinical bass into “Looking For” straight from the signal generator!  Pure sine at 58 Hz, and more in different places.  But, I listened back, and well, I think I need a few more harmonics – at least one, an octave above.  I want the chorus on this song to pound with bass, but not be just put in there loudly, willy nilly.  Nah – I’m going to need some of those harmonics.

And, for “Kitchen”, I finally got the kick to be so super tight that I don’t want to touch it anymore.  It’s tight with a subsonic release, too.  I just like it.  I mixed more parts in and out, too.  This one is on deck and pretty much ready.

As for the rest, I think I’ll just continue to take it easy with no deadlines, no pressure, just going out of pure interest and motivation to let them “fall in” where they may.  Each one gets better and better and better.  I can afford to take the time.  I have arranged it that way.  And, plus, it’s going to be better, in my opinion, to get something GrEAt, instead of just putting out songs, just to put out songs.

K that’s it for today.

 

Touch Sensors 1

12.27.2014 – Touch Sensors & Moon Painting

Alrighty…  I’ve decided that the Moon Painting is done.  Just as it is.  Unlit. Through my many experiments with light over the last month, I have developed a new technique for getting light into art, and I have many more, better ideas that I’ll have to build in to the construction from the start.

So, as I was looking at it today, I just was struck by it as it was, under a good overhead light.  It produces great shadows.  It looks pretty realistic and it creates a distinct mood.  I’d like to do several more of these, and some with lighting built in 😉 .  Acrylic on plaster and canvas.

Brad Ormand Moon Painting

The experiments with light animations and 3D art techniques, starting, initially, with this moon painting have led to many more surprises which have lead to what I’m doing now.

Speaking of which, I have been trying to develop touch sensors in my lab for some of the UI art that I have been starting on.  Eventually, I want to have a method for predictable capacitance (within a certain threshold) that comes out of the sensors I make.  I have done 3 or 4 different designs, with metal foil top and bottom layers (both staggered and whole), different dielectrics and different top cover material (mainly plexiglass).  Some of them work great, and some of them just completely failed.  I imagine I’ll be able to pick up about 10 or 20 millivolts of change over a quick charge or release time.  And, I’m still tasked with distinguishing proximity from real touches, because they start reacting before you actually touch them 🙂 .  Later, I want to get the leads coming from the bottom, too.  That’s yet to come.  But, here are two of them that worked okay.  They have a plexiglass top.

Touch Sensors 1

I’m making these to put into my UI animation projects.  For now, they’ll be kind of like what production designers do for movies sets.  They just pretty much sit there and animate according to the humans’ interaction with them.   And, if I get good results with that over the next few months, I’ll integrate them into my synth projects that I have been putting more work into, recently, as well.

Brad Ormand - Touch Sensor Test

So, there it is.  It’s been really exciting choosing the materials and trying to get these sensors together – working with materials and physics – wild, wondrous world.  The work is fun and it’s going towards a much bigger sphere of production.  Can’t wait to get something stable so that I can start putting them into real systems.

Brad Ormand UI Painting

12.23.2014 – UI Painting & Home Depot

Well, I had an idea that I sketched out earlier this week with pencil on wood and I went ahead and fleshed it out and painted it.  I want to eventually make these things into real user interfaces that control the animations built in to them.  Maybe not this one, but ones just like it.  It’s in  Brad Ormand Research & Development right now…

This particular painting is on a sheet of nice birch plywood with only about 16 inches of width and 8 inches of height.  Which means that it was tight as hell in there painting the thinnest lines.  I tried to stay within a millimeter of precision with the brush (meaning I wanted my “outside the lines” brush error to be no more than a millimeter).  I used a 5mm flat brush for most of it, crooking it up on the edges, longways, for the precision bits.  It challenged me quite a bit!  But, it was fun.  And, I can use the skills I learned from this to do other ones in the future.  It took about 14 hours over two days to produce, all-in-all.

Brad Ormand UI Painting

I routed out the wood in several places before painting it to provide a natural depth from shadows, and it feels pretty cool to run your fingers over it, too.  I still need a little more practice with the router.  It’s a tricky thing to get it to depth without it burning out the wood or slipping under pressure.  You can see I slipped in a critical manner at the top left under the main mast where I was digging in and the bit caught – whooop.. Zzzzshh – outside the parallel lines I drew.  Haha.  But, no big deal.  It’s a good story and part of the process of getting good at doing this.

So, beforehand, I visited Home Depot to buy some XMas gifts and the wood and necessary supplies I’d need for my upcoming projects.  I reached for one of the buckets they had in the store – those orange buckets so that I could carry all of my loose bolts, nuts, washers, and tape and stuff, all together.  I wasn’t gonna buy it, really, but it turned out that it was cheap and it had this bad-ass saying on it:  “Let’s DO This.”!  Whaaat!?  I mean, shit, I can’t turn that down, that’s awesome.  So, I got it, brought it all home in the bucket and went to work on the painting, the measuring, the cutting, the drilling, etc., for several different projects.  Here it is in the pic:

Working After a Home Depot run

So, I am working on this tri-wing light fixture that will animate RGB light, spilling over the edges and onto the wall it’s hanging on as well, hopefully.  Still working on the circuit prototype.  I transitioned over from that other LED-9-Matrix prototype when I realized that I had to have a high-voltage programmer to use all 6 ports of the ATTiny.  Redirect… But, anywaeeys…  Here we are.  Next best thing.  Creativity comes, and I fo||ow.  It’s all working towards the same thing, and I only have so much time, so I have to pick what’s inspiring me most.  This one will trump anything I was working on before anyway 🙂

Brad Ormand - Light Painting

12.20.2014 – Light Painting & Wood UI

Yesterday and today, I have been working on two particular projects – my LED matrix demo painting and a wood/plexiglass/aluminum UI project.

I wired a 3×3 LED martrix “snake” onto a quick painting I did as a proof-of-concept for what I was thinking of doing with the moon painting.  I’m using a little ATTiny MCU to drive it.  As it was the first time I had actually implemented this on a painting, I just started running wire to the Philips Lumileds that I had set out on to the painting, I didn’t really have a plan.  Once I got ’em all in place and tested them, I glued them down and started the hub PCB for it all.  Red for anode, white for cathode.

The Lumiled lights are SMT devices and are very, very brittle!  I mean, just a  very minor shear/twist force on the two small 24AWG wires soldered to the leads will crack and split them.  I must have broken 6 of them before actually getting a good batch installed onto the art!  One even broke while I was gluing it down.  Had to do some surgery – ha.  …But, I made do.  However, they are sooooper bright for being just ~1mm x 3mm!  Incredible technology.  I’m considering about 5 or 10k of resistance per row of 3 just to keep it to where you can actually look at them and not hurt your eyes!  They pack a punch.

It’s things like this – actually testing, or proving the concept, and having the experience of working with things that lead to deciding what I’ll do for production.  Maybe they’re too much for this install?  Also, maybe SMT parts are useless if it’s gonna have wires all over the place?  I don’t know.  Finding out…

Brad Ormand - Painting Proof-of-Concept

Later in the week, once I get the system up and running and the MCU programmed, I’ll plaster over the wires and just make it a part of history – and a pretty cool, usable part of art!  However, once I decide to do these for production, a few things will have to be worked out, such as the repairability / maintenance of the LEDs and harness, the brittle SMD stuff that I’m using in weird ways, a way to test them (for instance, battery life, LED heat/hazards, and drop/shock/shipping testing), and where to mount all of this control stuff.  I plan to offer a warranty and repair for this stuff if they break down.  And, the best repair is no repair at all 😉 – both for my customers and for me, as well.  Furthermore, I plan on making the board as small as possible for mounting on the back (using 0805 parts, minimum – I don’t wanna have to mess with anything smaller than that right now, I already have to use tweezers for those – lol).

======

And, in other news, I bought some sheet aluminum, some birch plywood, and a routing tool at the Home Depot today for a project that I thought of while doing the Light Painting – taking into consideration the things I learned there.  This one is a different art idea entirely, but the electronic concepts are basically the same, and I think I can solve those with this.

Anyway, the idea is to use a wood substrate, and backlight it somehow for certain parts, using transparent light filters, and route out different heights for additional lighting.  It’ll be an art piece, but where the animations can be controlled by the user touching and interacting with the painting.

I just started, so more details and pics and video will follow, I’m sure 🙂

Brad Ormand - UI Drawing on Wood

Brad Ormand - Dog Portrait (initial sketch) of Mickey

12.05.2014 – Host, Job & Painting

Well, I’m much better today after recovering from the Thanksgiving bug.  Whew!  Still have a little bit of a sniffle, but I’m pretty much back to normal.  I have been doing work for my job pretty much every day except that one hardcore sickday, but I’ve been taking it a little slow all week.  Today, things needed to be wrapped up and since I was doing better, I have been busy at work all day with stuff – helping to get ready for a new phase of research and development over there.

On my end, I got a temp site up and running with the host, I repaired a chair, and I did more drawing and painting the last few days while I wasn’t feeling well, during the high points.

I remember I broke this chair (I guess it’s really kind of a stool) when I stood on it to change a light bulb a while a go.  It was a piece of the top seat that cracked off – not the legs or anything.  I have been using it cracked for a while now, until, ironically…  I needed to change another light bulb yesterday and reached for my stool, and yup – that’s what spurred me on to fix it.

Fixing a broken stool - Brad Ormand

So, I reinforced the underside with two steel plates and attached the original steel plate on top.  I fixed it on my rugged pool table – I use it as a workbench sometimes, yeah.  Oh well.  I want to keep this particular one, since my Mom gave it to me when I left for college a long time ago, out of state.  It has a huge carving of Texas in the wood, where I’m from.  I love this thing.  And, I love living in Texas, so it’s kind of a symbol of pride for me…  Later, I think I’ll take it apart and try to “heal” the crack a little better or glue it, but for now, it’s stable, and I got the bulb changed. 🙂

Texas Stool

And, I ended up drawing a dog by hand on a small canvas that I am considering using as a template to paint over.  It was a quick sketch lasting a few minutes, and I drew it a little far down on the canvas (can’t really see it here), so I’m not sure where I’ll go with it yet.  I might erase it and draw it higher up, but I was liking how it came out so far.

Brad Ormand - Dog Portrait (initial sketch) of Mickey

Later on, I want to come up with a dog portrait that I can reproduce on many different canvas pieces about this size.  I’m going to do the same thing to that that I am doing with my moon painting.   I’m going to light ’em up with LEDs!  That’s right.  I was thinking about doing the collar and maybe some stars or something and then give them as gifts or sell them.  Also, I’d like to do some Halloween ones like Jack-O-Lanterns and skulls.  And, of course, if it goes well, I want to do musical instruments, too.

And, as well, I did some experimental stuff where I painted, let it dry halfway and etched thin lines with the end of one of the LED leads.  Not my best work, but it was a fun experiment.

Brad Ormand - Paint Etching Experiment

Brad Ormand - Moon Painting - Plaster Phase

11.23.2014 – Blog, UNIX, & Painting

I went ahead and painted over those ridges on the Moon Painting.  This one seems to be taking a little longer than usual, but I think it’s because of the 3D part.  It is, because I adjusted the brightness of the colors and the “sand grain” texture on the paint to be brighter and deeper so that it would show deeper shadows under an overhead light.  That’s what I didn’t like about the older version..  it was just too dark.  It looks really cool close up, but it was too dark.

And, now, I have a base layer painted, plus a few off-shades on top of it and the crater shades in there.  I think I’ll run the same technique as last time to get in the painted texture, which is to drip paint with a certain water concentration on top of it in a particular tightness pattern and then there’s this way I spread the “drips” out with my fingers.  And, then I load the brush and blend.  So, I’ll do that later on.

Brad Ormand - Moon Painting - Plaster Phase

Brad Ormand - Moon Painting - Painted Over

And, in other news, I took an online UNIX course.   It was about a 7-hour course. I commonly use the UNIX command line both at work and at home for editing host files, setting permissions, moving stuff around on a remote server, and adding to the PATH, but I wanted to go a little deeper into the hole.  I’m glad I took the course!  There’s a lot you can do with grep and xargs and piping, and there are other shells that I haven’t ever even used.  And, I got to know the UNIX kernel a bit more.  And, plus, I’m going to be better at writing shell scripts now with this training.

That was actually kind of part of my vacation, lol.  I basically spent Saturday (yesterday) doing that course and painting.  I just finished up the course and practicing the lessons today.  I’m on vacation until next Monday (not tomorrow, Monday..  the *next* Monday) Niiice!

 

Brad Ormand - 4 x 4 LED Matrix Snake

11.19.2014 – Moon Painting & LEDs

I drew up a temporary wiring diagram for the LED matrix to go into the moon painting installation.  It was a good exercise to do – to put a matrix layout onto a strip.  I have seen it done, and then have always wanted to do one.  So, here’s my chance.

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I had to use colored pens so I wouldn’t confuse myself.  The lines accumulate at the end of the strip, and it’s gets to be a little hard to follow.  I’ll use different colored wires when I wrap ’em all up for the install.  The pattern will make it so I can cascade the turn-on delay from the top left, zig-zagging towards the bottom left.  You can see the ridges pattern in the “schematic”, as I was trying to plan out the spacing.  It’s 4×4, but the sequence will share 3 groups of 3, 9, and 6, in order.  So…. It’s coming along, little by little.  Nice and relaxed and as I have time. 🙂

 

Brad Ormand - Moon Painting First Coat

11.18.2014 – Painting & Chip Fault

I realized that the breakdown of my 8-bit chip might not have come from my ADC overvoltage (and negligence 😉 ).  In fact, it turns out, the chip might not be faulty at all!  Instead, my chip programming tool is dead.  It won’t turn on, even.  And, the last time it programmed, it probably only got a few bits in and that’s why the chip doesn’t turn on.  So… I’m going to bet that’s what it is.  Don’t now for sure, but it’s very plausible.

I actually have another 8-bit AVR programmer, the MKII, but it died a few years ago, actually (I don’t know why I keep it around – maybe because the lights still come on and it looks pretty and I have some hope for repair).  It doesn’t sense any chip when other programmers do.  I’ve been around the block trying to figure it out with no luck – days of work on it with no result over the years.  And, that was the case with it today – no result, even with a fresh chip. I’m not going to pop the cover and debug it.  I’ll toggle off of programming until I get the Cortex-M4’s in next week (Niice!)  I can’t wait.

And, in other news, I got some more plaster and made the ridges in my moon painting even deeper.  It’s going to be really awesome!  I sculpted it so that when placed under a light source, the top ridges cast a shadow over the lit groove (lighting not yet implemented) and since it’s slightly larger at different points along the ridge, the light will shine out non-uniformly, and I imagine different bumps and features will light and cast as well.  Should be pretty cool!

 

Brad Ormand Painting Signatures

11.07.2014 – Painting, Blog & Fourier

I’m still working on putting together my WordPress theme.  I have the twenty-fourteen theme modified to fit my purposes.  There are little things everywhere that I’m tweaking and it just takes time to get each thing to a suitable level.  For instance, I don’t want a sidebar, opting for a more dynamic way of showing other posts.  I haven’t decided exactly what I’ll do, but I know that I’m going to have to write some kind of modification to set up an API that my JavaScript can call.  It’s going to be kind of like a dashboard, instead.  So, still tweaking all of that stuff…

Wordpress Coding

And, I signed all of my paintings that didn’t have a signature so that I could take pictures of them to put in the image gallery I’m building for the site.  Then, I took all of the pics in halfway good lighting and good focus and now I’m cropping out the background for each one.  This might carry over to tomorrow.

Brad Ormand Painting Signatures

And, in other news, I had no idea that there were different forms of mathematical Integration – i.e. Riemann integration, L2 integration from Lebesgue, and others, etc.  I passed through those waters on my way towards attempting to understand Fourier Transforms and Series, and it’s fascinating. If I relax and take my time, I find math very enjoyable.

Fourier Series and Transforms are fascinating, themselves, but I gotta tell ya, it’s some thick-ass reading! Especially when stuff is proven out, like when they take one single “n” out of the summation, call it “m”, and prove that one “m” case as opposed to the other n’s and then end up with a few integrals and a few inverse exponentials with complex numbers where that entire mess stretching the entire drawing surface just equates to a big fat Zero after all that work.

But, it’s pretty thick if you aren’t refreshed with your calculus, trigonometric identities and derivatives and exponent algebra. Every time I attempt to understand a more involved concept like this, I have to go work some more basic problems to get caught up to being able to intuitively understand the underlying meaning and relationships, which is what I’m after. But, it’s like warming up for the “big game”. I have to get in the right mindset and mode. The payoff is, however, every time I study a concept just above my limit and can “get it”, I can add that to my implementation toolbox, which is the ultimate goal in studying it in the first place 🙂 .

Brad Ormand - Moon Painting Outside

11.03.2014 – Moon Painting, Future Projects & Songs

I went ahead and put those ridges onto the painting with plaster and painted them up.  Also, I applied some granular spray paint with some kind of fiber or rubber or something in it that makes the surface rough.  I left 4mm grooves in the center of each to run the light pipes.  I haven’t put the pipes in yet, but while working on them at the bench, I had a bit of trouble making the light uniform through the light pipe with a one-ended LED (even with a superbright, at max current).  So.. I got sand paper and roughed up the outside of the light pipe and tried that.  There was more light coming through the length of it, and it looks super cool, but it’s too defined – it looks like “light scratches” when illuminated, it doesn’t diffuse it, and it’s non-uniform – looks cool, however…..  nah, I don’t think it’s going to work for this installation.  At this point, I think I’ll just go ahead and cut the pipes into about 4 cm chunks and put LEDs on each end and make a “snake” out of it wrapped in some kind of wax-like paper to get a soft glow, running the wires inside the whole burrito. 🙂

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In other news, there are other projects in the pipeline as I move forward.  I have 160 green LEDs on the way for a 16×9 custom display/matrix.  They’re about 3.8mm each and should pack pretty tightly without being overly tiny to handle and solder, through-hole, not SMT.  I’ll arrange them in a little case and try to diffuse them a bit, and light ’em up in different patterns and animations.  It’s in preparation for some other art projects I am thinking about down the line that will require these skills.  I have an initial schematic that I drew up with a few shift registers (already in stock) and I want to get a feel for myself how far I can take it – both from a processor speed/memory perspective and a volts/current perspective.  About 10 to 20 of them will be used for my current Moon Painting, and the rest will go to the 144 that I need for the display.

Also, I have a new display coming in as well.  I have wanted one of these since they surfaced up on the scene.  It’s a chip-on-glass reflective dot matrix LCD.  128×32.  It’s super dope.  It’s the ST7565R (controller name).  (The entire part name is NHD-C12832A1Z-FSW-FBW-3V3, and I’d rather not call it that 😉 ).  It paints grey pixels on a white backlight, and I can’t wait to dig into that, for sure.

As for the SSD1306, I have had some other ideas that I’d like to see implemented.  I’m still in the R&D phase for that.  For instance, I can set up some basic 3D and draw wireframes, I’m sure.  But, I think I’ll probably have to turn down the frame rate or write it in assembly.  Even the 3 sine wave scrolling animation missed frames, and it was visually slow, so I doubt it can handle polygons.  However, as a precursor, I’ll at least make a “star blaster”, like where the stars come at you in 3D.  That’ll be less expensive.  And, I can animate the camera left and right so that the z-axis is offset back and forth.  That might be all I can do, but we’ll see.  And, I still have that box and grid thing I wanna do…

I might go ahead and start on the triangle wave conversion for that VCO while I’m at a good stopping point with the painting and SSD1306.  And, I want to see what kind of adjustable filtering I want to do as well.  I know I want it voltage-controlled as well, but like I said in a previous post, I want to select my values very carefully and put some real time into it. And, maybe I’ll try to digitally control the VCO and VCA while I’m at it.  Might put up a rotary encoder to an ATTiny and have it spit predefined levels out so I can get like a sweep of the notes or some sinusoidal patterns for the low-pass.  I’ll be getting into this world soon enough.

I have a list again for music updates, too.  The “Strike” kick needs some punch – I overdid the sub before.  I want to write a square wave synth solo for “Kitchen” going into the bridge that sounds kind of like a guitar had done it, bluesy/funky.  And, there are little vocal tweaks that I want to do to “Fine” and “Crush”.  Also, “Feeling” could use a bit less synth bass and more kick, <1db, micro change.  And just a few more as I wrap these songs up to go out.

This is how I like things.  Having plenty of projects that I care about, going through each one, making progress, toggling back, growing my toolkit, relaxing, no deadlines, expressing myself.  Multi-discipline, using all areas of the brain, trying to fulfill my potential, but doing so in a gentle, chilled style.  There’s no goal, just seeing what comes out if I follow my interest.  Nothing contrived.  Everything enjoyed.

 

 

Brad Ormand in Austin, TX

11.01.2014 – Moon Painting, SSD1306 & AX-450

Holy Smokes, there’s a lot going on.  Well, it’s just that I updated my moon painting (it looks a zillion times better), I tore down the Brother machine, found a few surprises inside, and I compiled a video of all of the SSD1306 animations I have done to date.

First, I painted the moon landscape over, after I receiving some insight about the texture of limestone, which is plentiful here in Austin (I brought a big rock in from the yard).  It was kind of a shame to paint over the previous work, but…  That’s how it goes – incremental progress – better techniques replace what came before them.  And, well, it looks a million times more realistic as a base.

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This time, I only used a tiny bit of blue and green, and made it almost totally desaturated.  The craters look fantastic as a base and I haven’t yet decided what to do next.  I’ll sleep on it and wait for the next inspiration to surface.  What I end up doing might be different that what I thought of in the beginning..  Or..  It might be the original idea, squared.  Let’s find out…

And, here’s my halloween costume..  Uh yeah, regular dress for me this year.  I was tired from the late night of the 30th and the project delivery on Halloween, so I just stayed around with a few close friends and chatted.  I rarely talk about personal stuff in the log, but..  since this Halloween pic was taken, and it’s a holiday..  what the hell:  I was going to go to a costume party as a warewolf wearing those neon orange sunglasses and some gold bling.  I was really looking forward to it back in September, but circumstances changed and time went quickly and well…  It never came together.  The moon was eerily plump and the breeze cool. I was looking forward to howling at that moon. 🙂  It seems to be the first day that really feels like fall this year.

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Aaaand, in other news, I made a video of my collection of SSD1306 animations.  I got really involved over the last 2 weeks, blittin’ frames, just coming up with new ways to bang that screen up, and put them all together in a tidy format.  I’m sure when I look back on it in a few years, I’ll get inspired and want to re-create or extend these.    It’s a good supplement to the stuff going on right now.

The song I chose to go with the vid was a song I started in 2006 called “Afterburn”.  It made it over to some music libraries, but it wasn’t ever sync’d to anything (or anything prominent) like “In Tha Den” was from the same group I sent over (sync’d to a prime time Veronica Mars episode).  But, I still luv it – it’s got lots of energy and good synths and kick, However, it was made with my old mixing style, so I have it on the block to be polished for release soon.  It’s not out there as of now.  But, got nostalgia feelings working with it again 🙂  Anywaeeees…

The animations in the vid are of varied kinds – particle animations, bar graphs, sinusoidal wave explorations, and math graphing.  I still have some sci-fi / free-form things that I still want to do like I mentioned in a previous post.  However, this is a good collection for now.  I got what I came for.

And, wow – I did more…  I tore down the Brother AX-450 Electronic Typewriter (from ’89) to look at some stuff, and I found a cool surprise inside.  There’s a tape mechanism that transfers the ink to the paper that also “records” the previous keystrokes, and it was just cool to see what the previous owner had written about – haha.  There was mention of “Monday Night Football” and “Adventure” and “Party Machine”.  haha.  Didn’t mean to be snoopy, and there was nothing juicy in there, I assume just a fellow writing some shit like I’m writing right now – my intention anyway was to to see how the power supply worked, the display, and the keyboard unit (nice spring-loaded feel), and I was just pleasantly surprised with this extra finding.

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And, also, I feel like I struck gold with the display – it has a “real” HD44780 QFP chip – the board was actually *from* Hitachi, with the “HD44780” QFP chip branded on back – not like these days when I mostly see just a chip-on-board black gunk-dot on the back – who knows what those are.  I know the HD44780 is super-prevalent, but this is cool to see in it’s ’89 form 🙂 .  I get excited about these things.  It’s kind of cool to look back into history and see this type of stuff. Fun.

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I traced out the power supply circuit and tried to see how it was managing the electro-mechanical stuff, and also found a pretty cool “font-set wheel” in there – it’s like each letter has a position ratio (n/numSpokes)*(PI*2) in the spectrum, and when you push a key that corresponds, the MCU looks up that keystroke and the motor turns that wheel to that ratio in the table and waits for it to be “whacked” on it’s back to smudge the ink (through the ink rubber) to the paper.  I don’t know – something like that, I assume…  Just guessing.  It was cool to look at.  Nice.

 

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I mean, there’s a lot I got out of breaking it down. Justified time spent, for sure – as it was with the LG bluetooth-audio subwoofer unit and the Casio keyboard that I jacked open in September (before I started keeping log).  And, that reminds me – it’s that actual jacked sub that I’m using in my truck to provide the boom-booms right now.  Forgot about that…  Anyway… So, yeah – I always get a lot out of these investigations.  I have been doing this type of stuff since I was about 10 at my dad’s shop.  And, I’m still as fascinated as I was then. 🙂

Brad Ormand Early Moon Painting Work-Up

10.30.2014 – Songs, Job & Moon Painting

I mixed down “Fine” again this morning before going to work. I added the beater side kick track back in. The kick is full and plenty. It might just work as-is, really. “Strike” is sounding excellent since I boosted the metal guitar synth around 2k – it’s almost surreal when the chorus hits. I think it’s a good balance and I hesitate to do any more work to it at all.

On the job front, I am nearing the end of my site project. Honestly, I have been a little anxious about it. I procrastinated some, just due to the sheer amount of work I had to do in order to get it right, plus animation. It had been up and down, my emotional level – nothing severe, just like a feeling of “this has to get done soon” feeling. The opposite of what I feel with my personal projects, which have no deadlines and no pressure (that’s becoming a theme). But, anyway, I’ll say this though: I love the people I am working with and am fortunate to be working in this field at this company doing what I do.

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I painted up a storm last night. My clothes and hands got all “painty” and I even got some paint on the pool table felt. Oh well… It’s a comfortable place to paint, and it has good lighting. Lol.. But, yeah, I originally intended a moonscape, and mixed the color to start that, however once I began, I started to get more and more ideas, and well, I modified my direction vector a bit. It’s a little more: abstract, with natural aspects to it 🙂  I think I’ll try to rough it up with some kind of texture next, and I’m still thinking abut those ridges, too. It’ll take days and days to finally finish it, but it’s going in a pretty good direction! Especially displayed under overhead lighting.

Brad Ormand Moon Painting Base with Plaster

10.28.2014 – SSD1306 & Moon Painting

Last night, I fixed a few more flaws with my SSD1306 driver. Before, the setPixel function found the active bit in the page row and just used SPI to write that single updated byte straight to the front buffer. Welllll.. As I suspected, before, I’d have to make my back buffer more active for that functionality when things got more complex, because I did get major flicker at 30fps, even just updating about 1/3 of the screen that way. It was sending data as fast as possible (~10kHz?), and it was just the wrong way – the system struggled. So… I just worked the back buffer in, in whole, and took the approach of throwing the display RAM the whole frame, but in slower intervals – 30 Hz. That worked so well – the system sings like that. Sooo nice. …That display is nice.

I found a critical RAM page-updating bug in my buffer code as well. It took me a million years to find it. But, by testing and actually using the display itself for debug info (awesome, that’s one of the reasons I’m developing on it, aside from animation), I found a pointer that was setting it’s contents and decrementing like:
*ptr- – = x;
when it shoulda have been decrementing first like:
*- -ptr = x;
Those are hard to find, and I can see how it could be an easy thing to misconfigure.

Sooo, after a few bug fixes and improvements, I wrote all kinds of animations! Finally! I enjoyed it. That’s what my first goal was with the display. I made it rain, bounced particles off the display bounds, made a snake trail – ahhh – I finally feel like a specific project has been started.

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Another difficulty: I pushed the ATMega328 to the limits several times. A few times, I overflowed the stack, or I assume so, since the whole system and peripherals went haywire LOL. I was trying to do particle animations with as many particles as possible, and I maxed at 128 (as opposed to the next step, 256, which crashed it).  Went back to something lower, and it would perform fine again. Each particle has an associated struct of pretty good size for an MCU, with signed ints and a float or 2 (each), for physics calculations, updating every frame.

And, there’s only 2k of SRAM to work with.  I don’t want to store all that in ProgMem, really. I wanna store it in SRAM – wahh, waah for me, cry, cry, I’m crying facetiously… Ha. I do want the “luxury” of 8k of RAM, though, at least – haha.  I like generating certain data by algorithm at runtime instead storing it in tables, and I like 16-bit ints and floats, but it’s a luxury for this type of stuff, I guess… Oh well. If I were really concerned and had to tighten up, I’d make it lean and make it work, get hardcore and just make it happen. But, actually… I’m just going to get an MCU with a bit more RAM and speed for my future animation and audio projects. I’m looking at the TI MSP430 (especially the MSP430 F6659), and a few more that I have had my eye on, like the ARM Cortex M4’s @ 60MHz+ and plenty RAM, and I researched the AD Blackfin (yummy, but overkill for now).

I have that color TFT and another RGB display that will need a lot more power/speed/Mem to drive as well – plus I gotta have CPU cycles and room for the DSP audio stuff, as well for those projects. And, plus, I wanted to implement some 3D stuff too – at least with wireframe or flat shading.  Gosh, and I kind of wanna stick with one toolchain for a while… So, I’m investigating… However, I’ll use what I have been using for a while, as well, until I have some other drivers written and have taken care of the current projects.

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In other news, I got that moon crater painting started! It looks dope! Right now, it’s just plaster and canvas, and after it dries and when I have some time and inspiration, I’ll start painting it up. I have no idea what I’m going to do. A lot of it is just improv – I’m just making it up as I grab more plaster, and putting it down and molding it. And, I’ll do the same with the paint. All I know now is that I want desaturated grey/blue/green, and that I’m gonna highlight with bright green or blue – and that I want to mold or paint some ridges in there between the craters. Fun stuff. No deadlines, no pressure, just inspiration, action, more inspiration comes… The engine goes.