Tag Archives: philosophy

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


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.


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.

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 Circuit Board Panel

01.12.2015 – Philosophy & Hex Light

What a great deal this is.  I mean: The deal of life.  I was just realizing the angle of the heater vent in my bathroom and how it pointed toward the shower.   And, that it warms people up when they get out of the shower.  Maybe it’s because I don’t know anything about housing architecture and that that is the “standard way” that people do it.  But, I gotta say… I am really fortunate to live in such a time that we have automatic hot air blowing towards you when you might be at your coldest.

I mean, it’s really cold outside.  In January.  And, heat when it is cold is like gold for the poor;  sugar for the hungry; a relief of no compare.  It’s just:  In doing all of this engineering and trying to bring something pleasurable to human life in my ventures, sometimes I forget that we already have it pretty damn great right now.  The winter especially spells that out.  We got luxury.  Cars to go far in a quick time, even over ice, the internet gets fast facts, and phones provide quick communication to the peeps we care about, and even emergency services.  Damn.  It’s worth it to reflect on these little details – the depth of it all.  The converse is jadedness or apathy, I guess – Not being able to recognize our disposition as raw, vulnerable human beings.  The flip side, being pretty grateful for it all.

Sure, I have been watching some sci-fi movies of the ridden future and have been experiencing heat in the freezing cold, and maybe I got some perspective on matters recently, and yeah, I have been making some pretty great progress in my projects…  But, wow.  I’m grateful for all of this.  We don’t have hyperdrives to take us to alternate galaxies yet, or have super-ultra clothes to make one temperature all year long, but damn, when we do, will we appreciate that on a daily basis – It’s human nature, I guess.  All good.  It’s just…  I felt really blessed, just now.

I thought of this concept as I was driving to my parking space at work this morning (in the freezing, raining cold).  I park on the roof every day.  I like the sun hitting my face when I get out of the car, and I like looking at the landscape around me – trees, hills, colors….  And, I was thinking:  Why don’t I park on a lower floor where I’d be “covered”?  Well, it’s just that… If I park on a lower floor, I’d be “covered”…

Yeah…. I’d be covered… Covered over.  For better or for worse.  No sun, no landscape views.  Sure, I could park there on rainy days, and not on sunny days, but nah – I have a tendency to park there every day.  And, there’s a great view of downtown from 6 floors up, and I get to see it in it’s various forms..  Habit, I guess.  But, a habit that has benefits, I think.  I can see the way the landscape looks for miles and miles around, not just downtown.  And, on rainy, freezing, cloudy days, it look absolutely awesome, too!  The planet is doing something in this region and it’s doing *this*, what it’s doing now.  Cool!  So yeah, rock on.  I want to see it all from the best vantage point that I can.

But, anyway, to cap this off before I talk about the Hex Light….  It’s just a reminder to me that we have vulnerabilities as humans, as organisms on this planet (like to cold temperatures and to the taste of food / water-like substances), and that most of those things have been solved.  We can relax.  Haha.  I mean, if I (or you) get worked up about other things in life, welll…  Chill.  Go back to the basics and love it!  Right down to it, it’s being grateful for what we have.  Basically, working with whatever we have (even, have *left*) in life to work with and using it well.  It’s an attitude, a perspective…  a centering.  I just felt that today.

And, now…   The Hex Light.  For the Hex Light, I created the circuit layout, printed the transparency, exposed the photoresist to it, etched it, cut it, drilled it, and busted out 25 little circuit boards!  Haha.  I loved it.  It’s done.  Finally.  Now, I can assemble them and set them up on the light.

Brad Ormand Circuit Board Panel

I only needed 16 of them for this project (I amended it from 18), but I’ll use them to fill the light out and wire up the matrix.  I am choosing to wire the matrix part of it on the installation instead of the circuit board itself.  I went through great pains to decide which way I wanted to do it.  But, I think the modular board wins, instead of the installation itself.  Any installation can have alternate wirings, but the board will remain the same.  Plus, you’re talking 16 inputs as opposed to 48.  So, quite a bit of board savings there.  I might change it later, but REV A has it at 16 inputs, and already wired matrix inputs.

I’ll post the rest tomorrow.  I’ll have a little more room from my philosophy speakings, and the Hex Light will have its own spotlight.  🙂


Brad Ormand Site - Home

12.10.2014 – Job & Site

I guess I’m gonna have to talk about this…  I usually like to talk about my personal projects on this site, but I think this relates.  It’s just that I’m experiencing kind of a heavy load from my job.  It’s not *too* much work, per se.  It’s just that I have it on my mind a lot – things I have to do with the projects there, things I’d do differently, and things I think that have been misunderstood and need clarification, and what’s the best way to communicate it.  It’s all part of a job, I guess.

However, that being the case, it’s kind of taking mental energy away from my projects in my off time, so I’m struggling to get settled enough to dive into some of the things waiting for me at my shop at home.  And, that directly relates to my projects.

So, logging this here is like another citing of what influences a smooth operation at my shop.  Having stuff on the mind that’s not worked out elsewhere comes with me to my projects.  I had a good experience yesterday calming my mind.  I went out in nature and walked around and sat in the sun for a good while just observing birds and the wind and the clouds, and that helps clear things up.  I think lots of times my mind just needs that space and resolves itself once it’s given.  So, I’ll try that again when I feel this way in the future.  I’ll keep that in mind.

Other than that, I’m organizing the assets for the final page of the site build.  I have a demo space on the www while I check it in various browsers, test the gadgetry, and adjust sizes.  I imagine it’ll be a few more days and the site will be ready to go.  It’s looking really hype.  I like the comfortable feeling while browsing through it.  And, I also like that it represents me well.  I mean, it’s just straight the truth of my life and what I care about.  And, that’s the best way it could be.

Brad Ormand Site - Home


Brad Ormand Old Audio Player

11.09.2014 – Friends, Music Player & Songs

I spent the whole day with family and friends.  Oh, I’m whirling with wind, spinning with delight and loving life.  Regenerated.  We shared project details back and forth and just chatted about life and new babies and falling stars.  For hours.  I mean… any person with an active creative process needs this.  Just, interfacing with people who love you, and people you love.  It’s part of the creative process as far as I’m concerned.  It’s fundamental to revealing the underlying reasons why it’s okay (and naturally preferable) to tend towards being happy and enjoying stuff – you discover and re-discover life reality and natural laws by this process.

Relax, it’s okay.  Nothing’s wrong.  Nothing’s on fire right now.  ThAt was the mood.  Just chillin’, watchin’, lookin’ like big cats on the ledge of a den.  It’s Sunday.  Watch squirrels together, talk about mathematics, kick the soccer ball around, help an old lady, hug the kids, look up to the sky and discuss.  There’s just a wonder and intrigue I have about life right now.  It’s compelling.  It contributes to why I even pick up the soldering iron or drumsticks or the grid paper.  I want to express it.

I mixed a hardcore version of “Kitchen” just now.  The kick and bass are so tight and have that low 50Hz touch, just how I have always imagined it.  I tweaked the bus compression a bit to accommodate the sound I wanted overall, at about a 1.8:1 ratio with about 15 db in the thresh, an attack to let the kick transients through, and a high release – tweaked by sound so I don’t remember the numbers.  But, it sounds better than ever.  I loosened it up a bit.  The sound is full and crisp. And, this is all after thousands of little tweaks today with the internal tracks and EQs and automation for about 3 hours.

And, in other news, I really want to learn to play those sextuplets as fast as what I wrote in for “Kitchen” a few days ago on my guitar.  I mean, I’m pretty close!  But, I’lll need practice 🙂  I used the guitar to help me write it with MIDI, but…  well, I just can’t muster it all, live.  So, I’m changing my strings back to 10’s on the Stratocaster and adjusting the neck to be optimum.  I got a new pack of strings waiting on the bench.  I used 13’s to record all of the rest of the guitar parts on “Kitchen”, and now I want to change them out and learn to play that solo live with some light strings.  Actually, I kinda have a stiff road ahead of me.  I can’t even play 16th triplets at 120 with an minor standard scale.  I just will have to work it up..  In fact, the first hurdle to try for might be just that:  Play the different permutations of the minor scale up the neck at 120 in sextuplets.  We’ll see…

I worked on my site music player for 5 or 6 hours.  It’s almost there.  I have it transferred over to the Bradster BlueTech theme WordPress.  Most of the modification was in the CSS, since the JS was very much abstracted as a standalone audio player.  I had it on my old site, as in the photo:

Audio Player

And, so, it’s still in the works.  And, it’s going to be augmented to show the details of each song, to provide a download button, and to re-configure sharing and it’s operation on Androids and iPhones.  I guess the biggest thing is to get the music itself ready!


Brad Ormand - Pro Tools Shot

11.05.2014 – ST7565R, Philosophy & Songs

It’s another heavy work week for me folks.  Some uh that early rising stuff again.  But, oh well – keeps me keen.  And, more and more tasks pile up, but that’s ok…  That’s what work *is*.

Also, a quick mention while I’m thinking about it…  I don’t let myself get *too* busy at any one time.  I’m never rushed or have too many things to do – at least in my personal projects / personal life.  It’s like I protect my peace of mind, firstly.  I seem to resist melodrama well.  I’m pretty chill all day.  It might seem like I do a lot, and I do, but it’s all “fun” for me and about the enjoyment of life.  Sometimes, there are mistakes or requests at work that press me pretty hard, but I’m talking about my personal projects.  I’m observing this…

It’s like I have an actively monitored “pressure sensor” in my head.  I can sense when I’m getting in the red, and discover why I feel this way and then focus on bringing the pressure back down – which might be actually doing some work, taking care of some things, talking with people, or backing off of aggressive goals.  I have an operating region where I work best, I have noticed, and staying there is critical to maintaining my “big picture view” and my creativity.

So, yeah, I kind of have a low threshold for getting too stressed.  I have worked stressed for years in my youth, but it’s like I found out that I just don’t have to do it anymore.  And, also because my strength is in letting my interest and creativity flow naturally, and that’s the fuel for the engine.  Other people have other strengths, and I have my weaknesses (believe me 🙂 ), and everybody’s different.  I mean, I don’t go around creating corporations or winning the Olympics or leading men into battle – haha.  Some other method works for those skills, I imagine.   But, it’s just something I have noticed since keeping track of projects – I have resonance when I am allowed to flow, and it’s dampened in proportion to the demand, and unusable beyond some threshold.

I have been writing in the blog directly, recently. Today, I’m remote and have some thoughts, so, I’ll write in Notes on my iPhone and transfer / edit later. My blog is just hosted locally now so there’s no way to use the internet with the WordPress app, etc, but I might consider that for later. I like Notes, anyway..

Mainly, I’m thinking about the display animation and music. First off, I’m having a large amount of fun doing them, and I have more ideas like I mentioned in a previous post. But, I am also craving a system integration and a controller, such as that capacitive touch display that I have in my lab (waiting for me lol). But, I feel like I just want to do one thing at a time. I can port those graphics and animations over easily. Basically, I can just finish the animations I wanna do with the SSD1306 and then maybe make a Time Clock UI with that display later.  I might make room on the breadboard for the ST7565R display and while I’m working on that, I’ll decide on an installation approach for the SSD. I don’t know. Just thoughts for now, but that seems to be the direction for now.

Ok, and I got a list of song tweaks, too:

– “Fine”: raise kick freq overall 1db. This is almost finished. Raise ostinato bell parts about 2db to cut through a bit, or find where they fit in more, freq-wise.

– “Kitchen”: write and record that guitar solo/ synth solo for the pre-bridge. Clean up digital noise on outro. Raise kick attack for all choruses. Experiment. Align square wave synth to position point on up beats in chorus to talking track.

– “Strike”: Kick is better, but still needs more attack and about 150hz.

– “Looking”: Bump 50 at top chorus chords – must match it’s resolution to second chord in volume. More tension! Electrocution, then release. Also, consider making top chorus more interesting with chopped talking bits.

– “Crush”: Cut 3k on main vox in chorus. More rough-sounding, not brittle. Second chorus sounds better than first, Why?? And bump the entire kick up 1db (again).

– “Action”: “Lights, camera, action” vocals need higher, vocoded accompaniment. They seem lonely 🙂 Increase kick attack at 2k-ish. The fundamental is plenty loud and fine.

– “Dive”: Bump kick at about 90Hz. Investigate TB-303 parts to be more prominent?? Chorus melody with more activity behind it? Consider.

Better get started 🙂


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. 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 12.56.54 AM


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.



Destiny - In-game Box animation

10.31.2014 – Job, Destiny & Browsers

I spent the entire night, well, until about 2am, finishing up the demo site for work. I’m happy, they’re happy. Feels good to have the content and framework done. Now, it’s just testing… I had an atrocious encounter with IE going into compatibility mode, when on an intranet  *after* I delivered it – dammit. Scrambled the site real good then spit it out – IE7-style.  Ugh. Halloween scare. Ha. It didn’t like addEventListener, to start with, and of course classList won’t work, and forget about querySelectorAll … So, had to explicitly disable compatibility mode with that meta tag. For real, though, ugh – why is that mode still around??? But, I fixed that up. It displayed nicely. And, it’s back to business.

I feel a high sense of accomplishment and kind of a pride feeling today, because I made myself complete the tasks required to finish the project on time, despite my tendency to float over to my other projects. Working on work stuff after job hours never bothered me, as long as it’s not too frequent.  And, it was of my own volition.  And, well, like I said, it feels good to have made the deadline. All these new *good* feelings, compared to the anxiety accompanying the lead up to the finish made it worth it, though, I learned – as long as you can stay on track, throughout. That’s the main takeaway for me, I think.  If you have stuff to do, just do it, like Nike.  And, it’s part of the reason I write in this log – so that I can look back on my experiences and learn (and re-learn lol) lessons like this. To find the harmony and balance in development so that it can be as enjoyable as possible. 🙂  And, that’s super-important, in my opinion, because it’s what allows the max amount of creativity to surface.


And, this is a pic I took of Destiny, in-game.  This made me think of the SSD1306 and my next animation.  It’s got that blue, OLED flavor-ade to it.  haha.  I figure the next one I’ll do will be something like this with stroke-squares/no fill.  I’d like to have them “drawing” themselves, but that’ll take more time.  I’ll do it if my initial idea pans out.  But, I’ll definitely have them floating about, bouncing off of the side or running patterns.

I can turn pixels off and on with this device, but not with 50% opacity or the like, so, I’ll not be able to do the glow or the background / mid layers, but I can totally do something like this – maybe with 3 different sizes with a few static and a few animating about.  I’ll just start one day and see how it goes.  Great inspiration!

Brad Ormand with MSL Curiosity Replica on NASA/JPL Campus - 2008

10.29.2014 – Fault-Tolerance, Moon Painting & Mac Pro

About 7 years ago, I did an internship at NASA/JPL. It was in La Canada Flintridge, California – near (and managed by) Caltech. I wrote a PoC software application for spacecraft data.  It was during the MSL (Mars Science Laboratory) development period (now called “Curiosity”). I had the opportunity to have access to their (book) library, and one day, I picked up a book on fault-tolerance and mission-critical systems.  I had a thought today about those times and reading that book.

Since then, I have always wanted to have the understanding and capability of making embedded applications fault-tolerant, like the mission-critical robots and spacecraft I was up close with while there. Plus, the idea of doing *everything* possible to avert mission failure and keep going without human intervention is fascinating to me, and I wanna know the principles, at least. I also got another book from Amazon about 2 years ago covering safety- and mission-critical systems that rekindled my interest, but I just never pulled the trigger, implementation-wise.  I’m a long way off right now, but it’s something that I’ll be keeping an eye on in the future when opportunities arise.


Also, I grew up having access to my father’s auto-recycling business that dismantled automobiles and salvaged and re-used good parts – including the “brain”, or ECM of auto computer systems, airbag controllers, and so much other instrumentation and control systems. My father would let me take the damaged ones apart when I was little, on the weekends, and I would just sit there studying, wondering how the hell any of this all worked together. Those experiences are what I attribute the fascination that I have today back to, initially, with embedded systems.

My overall point in writing this is that I have the taste for learning about and designing that kind of tightly integrated stuff, now. Before – even 5 years ago, I thought it would just be a lot of work and trouble to get good at – plus, I’m primarily a software and audio engineer, and maybe I should just stick with that… But, now, I don’t think anything is going to stop me from going forward with getting good skills at this. Even if I just stick with audio and audio test applications, and animation, and nothing electro-mechanical (aside from transducers – mics and speaks), I just favor the idea of failover, fault-tolerance, and rugged design.

I am aware of the higher cost ($ and speed) of developing for parts for going “mission-critical”, but I might just use my next few projects to practice the principles – Just step by step – a little at a time – I’m not going to have my next digital Audio Tool run a nuclear reactor or go up in space, haha – I don’t need to attain a safety rating level or have it constantly testing itself, but with each project completed, I want to have a bit more knowledge of what it takes to coordinate systems to account for, and adjust to, unknowns.

And, who knows, I might just develop the taste for designing vehicle applications as well – since I feel a connection to those applications almost as strongly as with audio and animation. Who knows, man… I’m just riding the waves of my whims, enjoying the possibilities and following them and exploring the places it takes me.  But, I am wanting to venture there at some time in the future.

Whew – and in other news… I have to finish this site for work, pronto. I’m not behind, per se, but I gotta race to completion because I gotta leave plenty of time for testing, later this week. Once I get to an acceptable level today, I’m going to…. Paint! Yes, I’m going to paint the base layer of my “moonscape”. Love that thing. So much fun!! Maybe, I’ll put on a movie (sci-fi, of course [with moon rocks maybe]), brew some tea or coffee, and set up in the living room.


Whew, I have a lot to say today!.. But, it’s because a lot is going on. I got the RAM in for my Mac Pro. I set the sticks in the slots, and it booted up, first time (I was a little nervous about the new ones being rotten as well). I am glad that’s over, the problem is fixed, and now my computer has twice as much RAM. Sick. Next thing: mix those songs.
So, almost immediately afterwards, I fired up Pro Tools and started going through my list of fixes. Fixed “Fine”, “Kitchen”, “Strike”, and “Looking For”. Also, I wrote a melody part and accompaniment to “Kitchen”, and a nice harp and tweaked subsonics to “Looking For”. Tested them in the truck on the way to work. Everything’s better.

Brad Ormand - 8x6 Font Set

10.13.2014 – Font Set, Time Clock & Philosphy

Ahh, so many advances are happening at the same time! First off, I’m still listening to my free association vocals from yesterday, and I’m loving that shit…  I remember my brother and my compadre S.B. busting out hardcore in the past in recording sessions and blowing my mind – when back then I had trouble forming a single noun on the fly, sticking to the beat-writing and mic placement, and I’m glad to come from there to here, at least.  And, going from a fully written style to busting out on the fly is, like, pretty new to me (and awesome!), since I’m a “studio guy” and not a major performer – I guess that could be a defense mechanism, idk, but whatever…  I took stage acting / improv classes recently, and that definitely helped my awareness / relaxed level.  Still..  loving where it’s all going.

And, today I drew a really cool-looking tiny 8×6 font set for my project, with pencil. I think it came out pretty awesome. 🙂 I have started to digitize / translate them, but I am a long-ass way off right now. 128 characters to write data for and stuff it into EEPROM and then test using it… Whew, but it’s all part of the process.



As for the code, I was glad to have spent some time in advance to be able to access each letter definition like:


Inside the main ascii collection C struct / typedef, the letters and icons have their own structs with names like “a” and “G”, and “leftCurlyBrace”, etc. was glad to have done that as opposed to charDefs[ 114 ][ 3 ] , etc. ugh

Next up, yesterday, I tweaked my timing functions off the main instruction clock prescaler to be the basis for what I think will be the most accurate time of day clock possible with this CPU’s internal timing (without using a crystal oscillator).

The math works out, but I haven’t checked it out in practice. But, consider an 8MHz hardware osc prescaled by 256 to yield 125k, and then my program takes over by integer counting inside that interrupt to yield a 25k audio sample rate (enough for this embedded system – up to 12k harmonics will be sufficient for my Nyquist freq). And then, I scale out to have a 25Hz user input / button debounce and display refresh, leading to a 1 second tick-off, by counting up to and resetting every 25 iterations, leaving 1000 milliseconds. Before, I was getting a result like 0.997 seconds per second accuracy. Instead, this time of day clock should have the same error specs (0.00001%) of the original instruction clock (in theory) Whew! I’m going to replace my waking alarm clock if this works with that accuracy! P.S. Why do we put up with an annoying wake alarm when it could be something satisfying or soothing (but, I guess some of you have already figured that out 🙂 );

On the music front, there are a few things to report. I got “Kitchen” to finally sound right! I mean – it’s really close to completion. The kick is sounding pretty great with that high ~120Hz bass guitar. On Friday, I actually thought I was going to have to replace that kick.. But, I totally flattened the EQ curves and re-mixed the signals, and completely turned off the D-112 track on that 18×22 kick, because it was not needed. It was fighting. In the end, I got something that I am quite happy with!

I had to wake up at 5-something for work again, but it’s okay. Gotta wake up early again tomorrow, but then.. It’s back to normal 🙂 I’ll have a new HTML5 / Javascript / CSS project to start on. Designers did a great job, I think! It should be a fun ride to dope it out.

And, wHEw! One last thing… (It’s no wonder that I have a hard time scheduling – My time is always booked to the maxx! Ha [but, I like it – wouldn’t wanna do anything else with my time :). I’m voluntarily doing all of this out of pure interest])… Yesterday, I designed / re-purposed a scoreboard UI for my brother’s live billiards broadcast screen. It looks pretty dope! It’s just a starting concept, and we may not use it… But, I was inspired by “Destiny”, the Bungie game for the HUD layout. It’s got a fair bit of gradient on it though, not exactly “flat design” like I see in that HUD. I’m happy with the result, tho. We might do a V2 on Wednesday if this one is a bit too “modern” or “right field”. I love that type of work, though.

This is a really exciting life! I’m going to speak freely, now: All of that training and sharpening and education and focus I did in my 20’s really is paying off. I feel like I can do anything within my interest field, off the cuff, and on demand. I have built up the skills and put them in my metaphorical development toolbox. Other things, I suck at (like basketball or first aid or server networking)… But, my strengths are definitely here, and I’m feeling like I am highly capable in UI dev and design, musical audio engineering, producing music, and, recently, display programming.

As far as life goes as a whole, I am really in the zone there as well. I don’t write in this log about my personal life very much, like my spirituality, dating / romance, exercise, or what my nutrition plan looks like, etc. (sometimes, I write about philosophy, though). I do that primarily because I started these log pages to be kind of like a “standup” or project management update log… But, I just wanted to mention this aspect of life-balance because a balance there equals a balance here when it’s time to put on the thinking cap (or creativity cap, in those situations), and because it wasn’t always this way for me, and partially to serve as a reminder to myself, in this log, that it is important. That base layer is important. Knowing my deeper motivations and cutting through the mental and external noise, etc.

Brad Ormand - Audio Tool - First UI

10.08.2014 – Job, Songs & Animation

Damn – life is exciting right now! In addition to my personal projects, I have to be at work at 6 every day for the next week.  Yeah… in the morning. It’s 1/2 exciting and adventurous, and 1/2 kind of uncomfortable. But, overall, it’s fine.  It’s something new. I saw a shooting star on the way to work, for instance.. Right now, it’s 6:30 and still dark, about to get coffee and start the day.. I actually feel wonderful! Got plenty of adjusted sleep last night and feel a sort of excitement of the adventure of it all and, of course, from the buzz of my Audio Tool.


Speaking of… I spent several hours on the case for the tool – hooked up 3, 1/4 inch jack units, the power switch, the speaker terminals, and started the Mic/Line switch, etc. I mounted the board in the case, mounted the battery holder (with a nice hot glue pad for stability), and marked the top cover for all of the rest of the switches to go on there. Of course, I always try to spend the extra time to get everything symmetrical and evenly spaced – like CSS for the real world UI lol.. It’s looking great, and it’s a great next level in my advancement. Growing and learning through doing actual implementations and getting actual experience. That’s the ticket.

And now.. Back to music… “Fine” needs a 3db boost to it’s kick at about 125Hz, and perhaps a 1db boost, overall. “Kitchen” is gonna need a little cosmetic surgery to it’s kick – it’s a bit more severe. ..(I’m really focusing on kicks right now).. It needs more body, but not at it’s fundamental, way down at like 50, because it’s just too low for the song. I need a bump more like at 70 or 90. I even considered this morning to swap out the kick type altogether if I can get it to work.. I don’t know, tho.. I’m going to keep fixing it until the song gets what it needs and deserves.  Might switch it out.

And, in other news, I’m preparing to write a driver for a 16 x 32 RGB LED matrix so that I can produce a few animations – some int physics and some Bresenham drawing to the display as an entertainment installation. It’ll end up being mostly a two-button input animation switching interface that just sits there and looks awesome. The only problem I see is that the datasheet says it writes two pixels, together, at a time, per clock cycle, and for (single-point) particle physics, I hope I’ll be able to write one of them to “off”. Ha.  We’ll see.
For animations, I’m thinking: #1) 10 to 20 random-tinted particles with gravity bounded by the box (display wid & hgt)… #2) a random vertical spectrum analyzer-looking thing, and #3) horizontal single-pixel rays of varying length shooting by at random speeds and colors, left-to-right.