Thursday, December 8, 2011

Geekly Music...

Love the retro touches, like the EICO Model 460 'scope.  Passed along by reader Doug S.:

I have a couple personal connections to that video. First, the EICO 460 'scope – today the thing is a museum piece.  Around 1969 or 1970, that exact same 'scope was the centerpiece of my little electronics workshop.  I found one broken somewhere, bought it, fixed it, and then paid a metrology shop in Philadelphia $40 to recalibrate it (back then, $40 was a substantial sum for me!).

Then there's the stepper motor noise that forms the main “instrument” in this video (the stepper motor is what's positioning the scanner imager).  Back in the late '70s and early '80s, I made a little money selling a nifty piece of software to computer manufacturers who were making systems that included floppy disk drives.  Those early floppy disks used stepper motor head positioners that made an annoying grinding/whining noise.  My software changed the way the steppers were used: instead of sending step commands at a constant rate, it smoothly accelerated and decelerated it.  The constant rate steps made the motor move and stop on each step, “shaking” it, and making the objectionable noise.  With my software, the motor never shook like that, and there was then almost no noise.

While I was developing that software, I noted that I could make the stepper motor make nearly whatever noise I wanted it to make.  But it never occurred to me to make music with it!

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