Velleman LED Rolling Message Kit

To say I was crap at soldering would be a massive understatement.  I’ve not been at it long, and for a guy who burns easily on things like toast and cups of tea, let alone hot soldering irons and solder, I think I’m doing pretty alright.  I’ve pottered about with a couple of different irons, often finding them too big and clunky or hampered by some giant cable.  Help, though, came in the form of my Geek app and some kindly souls in China, selling USB soldering irons.  At a couple of quid a throw I thought I’d give it a shot, and a few agonising weeks later, the iron arrived.  Geek sellers also offer a plethora of electronic kits, as do Maplin, of course, and to the latter I repaired recently in the hope they had something cheap in a bargain bin (or similar) which I could have a go at.  They came up with a rather natty Velleman kit, purporting to be one of those LED matrix signs you can program to write scrolling messages, such as Jeremy Clarkson once used in an episode of Top Gear, to display James May’s phone number to motorists following their slowly moving car and caravan.

IMG_0021

The kit features 35 small red LEDs which form a 7×5 matrix.  For someone with fat fingers and thumbs like me, they were a sod to solder.  In the end, only one needed a bit more solder adding as it didn’t light up when I tested it, but afterwards all was well.  The CPU, a Microchip PIC16C58B, is a powerful (100 nanosecond instruction execution) easy-to-program 33 single-word instruction CMOS OTP-based 8-bit micro controller.  Apparently.  The board is powered by either a 9v PP3 effort, or externally via the power socket thoughtfully solderable to the board.  Other components included about 15 resistors, three or four diodes which I managed to get the right way round this time, a transistor and three capacitors, three microswitches, potentiometer and a nice piece of 70s red perspex to cover the LEDs.  A handy PP3 holder is stuck to the back of the board and held in place with three small screws.

I was infinitely chuffed that it lit up at all when I connected the battery.  I saw straight away that there was a LED out, and a closer inspection revealed my soldering was a little shoddy on one of the legs.  Quick touch-up and she was lighting up nicely.  Inputting the text is a little fiddly a) because the microswitches are, well, micro, and b) you have to go through this complicated routine of using two switches to scroll up and down the character set.  The potentiometer controls the scroll speed, which is a nice touch.

I would have included a video of the thing working, but my iPhone 7 Plus doesn’t ‘do’ LED displays very well, scrolling or otherwise.  If I figure out how to work the video function on my Sony RX-100, I’ll add one at a later stage.

Next project is a surface mount one, which I’m a little hesitant at doing a) because it’s even fiddlier than the Velleman, and b) my fingers are going to be much too close to the soldering iron for my liking.

PET SHOP BOYS – ‘CATALOGUE’ AND 2017 FURTHER LISTENING RELEASES. RE-RELEASED FURTHER LISTENING RELEASES TOO *UPDATED*

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 3.02.13 pm

News of the Pet Shop Boys ‘Further Listening’ releases is here.  Finally.  7 July 2017.  *SEE THE UPDATE AT THE END OF THE TRACKLISTINGS BELOW!*

RELEASE (all tracks 2017 Remasters)

CD1

  1. Home & Dry
  2. I Get Along
  3. Birthday Boy
  4. London
  5. E-Mail
  6. The Samurai in Autumn
  7. Love is a Catastrophe
  8. Here
  9. The Night I Fell In Love
  10. You Choose

CD2

  1. Between Two Islands
  2. Searching For The Face of Jesus
  3. Time On My Hands
  4. Motoring (Demo)
  5. Love Life
  6. Transparent
  7. Sexy Northerner
  8. The Night Is A Time To Explore Who You Are (Demo)
  9. Closer To Heaven (Slow Version)
  10. Run, Girl, Run (Demo)
  11. I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today
  12. Always
  13. Home & Dry (Ambient Mix)
  14. Bright Young Things (Demo)
  15. Kazak (Demo)
  16. A Powerful Friend (BBC Live Session)
  17. If Looks Could Kill (BBC Live Session)

CD3

  1. Try It (I’m In Love With A Married Man)
  2. Here (PSB New Extended Mix)
  3. If Looks Could Kill
  4. A Powerful Friend
  5. Party Song
  6. No Excuse (Demo)
  7. Blue On Blue
  8. Jack & Jill Party (Demo)
  9. Baby (Demo)
  10. Flamboyant (Demo)
  11. Miracles
  12. Flamboyant (7″ Mix)
  13. Numb (Demo)
  14. In Private (featuring Elton John)
  15. Alone Again, Naturally
  16. Reunion (Electro Mix)
  17. Bright Young Things
  18. We’re The Pet Shop Boys
  19. It’s a Sin (Barfly Version)

FUNDAMENTAL (All Tracks 2017 Remasters)

CD1

  1. Psychological
  2. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
  3. I Made My Excuses and Left
  4. Minimal
  5. Numb
  6. God Willing
  7. Luna Park
  8. I’m With Stupid
  9. Casanova in Hell
  10. Twentieth Century
  11. Indefinite Leave to Remain
  12. Integral

CD2

  1. Fugitive (Richard X Extended Mix)
  2. Ring Road (Demo)
  3. The Performance of my Life (Demo)
  4. One-Way Street (Demo)
  5. Girls Don’t Cry
  6. The Resurrectionist
  7. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show (Original Demo)
  8. Dancing in the Dusk (Demo)
  9. After The Event
  10. The Former Enfant Terrible
  11. No Time For Tears (Orchestral Mix)
  12. God Willing (Original Full-Length Mix)
  13. I’m With Stupid (PSB Maxi Mix)
  14. Answer The Phone (Ringtone)
  15. Where Are You? (Ringtone)
  16. Water (Ringtone)
  17. Numb (Single Edit)
  18. One Night
  19. A Certain ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’
  20. Transfer
  21. Integral (PSB Perfect Immaculate 7″ Mix)
  22. Integral (PSB Perfect Immaculate Mix)

NIGHTLIFE (All tracks 2017 Remasters)

CD1

  1. For Your Own Good
  2. Closer to Heaven
  3. I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Any More
  4. Happiness Is An Option
  5. You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk
  6. Vampires
  7. Radiophonic
  8. The Only One
  9. Boy Strange
  10. In Denial (featuring Kylie Minogue)
  11. New York City Boy
  12. Footsteps

CD2

  1. Vampires (Demo)
  2. For All Of Us (Demo)
  3. Call Me Old-Fashioned (Demo)
  4. Friendly Fire
  5. Believe / Song For Guy (featuring Elton John)
  6. Sail Away
  7. It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas (Fan Club Mix)
  8. Nightlife
  9. Playing in the Streets
  10. Tall Thin Men
  11. Radiophonic (Demo)

CD3

  1. Somebody Else’s Business
  2. Silver Age
  3. Screaming
  4. For All Of Us
  5. The Ghost of Myself
  6. Casting a Shadow
  7. I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Anymore (The PSB Extension)
  8. Was It Worth It? (Live)
  9. Lies
  10. Paris City Boy (Full French)
  11. Postive Role Model
  12. Somebody Else’s Business (Extended Mix)

*UPDATE!*

Pet Shop Boys announce ‘Catalogue: 1985-2012’ – a landmark series of reissues of their Parlophone studio albums.  This definitive edition will feature each album from the duo’s Parlophone discography, remastered and accompanied by ‘Further Listening’ albums of master quality bonus tracks and demos created in the same time period as each album, as well as Pet Shop Boys own remixes of their tracks.  Many tracks are being released for the first time.

The first three of the ‘Catalogue’ albums are listed above, and are released on 27 July.  All are available for pre-order now.  ‘For All Of Us’ is available now when you pre-order the digital version of Nightlife / Further Listening.

The remastered original single albums will also be issued on 180gm heavyweight vinyl and made available on streaming services on 28 July.

‘Catalogue’ reissues will continue over the next year until all PSB Parlophone albums have been released with ‘Further Listening’ albums.  The reissues of ‘Please’, ‘Actually’, ‘Intospective’, ‘Behaviour’, ‘Very’ and ‘Bilingual’ which were originally released with ‘Further Listening’ albums in 2001 are being newly remastered with their original track listings for this project.

Yes / Further Listening – 2008-2010
Elysium / Further Listening – 2011-2012
Please / Further Listening – 1984-1986
Actually / Further Listening – 1987-1988
Introspective / Further Listening – 1988-1989
Behaviour / Further Listening – 1990-1991
Very / Further Listening – 1992-1994
Bilingual / Further Listening – 1995-1997

All designs are by Farrow.  Of course.  *Rolls eyes*.

John Noakes, 1934-2017

p01hgcys

Terrible news today in that we’ve heard of the sad passing of television presenter John Noakes.  John started on Blue Peter in 1965 and stayed until 1972, which saw the breakup of the triumverate of John, Peter Purves and Valerie Singleton.  John’s constant companion was his Border Collie, Shep, who was given to John in 1971.  Shep joined John in his series Go With Noakes in 1976, travelling the country and taking part in activities such as rowing, painting and motor racing, among many other things.  The programme finished in 1980.

John had been living with Alzheimers for some years, and went missing for a time from his home in Spain.  He was found the same day, having taken a fall.

An absolute star.

Boot Fair Find: Yamaha DD-10 Digital MIDI Drum Machine

Released in 1988, the Yamaha DD-10 was aimed at those who wished to annoy the hell out of their neighbours at 2am.  The machine featured 8-bit sounds, with some sounds reused at a different pitch, two-level velocity sensing pads and 26 drum, percussion and sound effect samples.  MIDI In also features, so you can trigger drum sounds with an external device.

Found this recently at a local boot fair.  Fiver.  Contained my excitement so the seller didn’t put the price up.  Boxed with polys and foamy wrapper.  No manual, strap or foot pedals sadly, but hey – what do you want for a fiver?

Another dream item for circuit-bending, as digital delay, resonant filters and other such larky modifications can be added if you know what you’re doing.  Inputs and outputs include External Power Source, Aux Out (L&R/L), Aux Out R, Headphones, Foot Pedal Jack and MIDI In.

98 Auto Rhythms, Power Switch, Volume, Tempo, MIDI Mode, Metronome, Roll, Restart, Stop, Intro/Fill, Manual Tempo.  A small keypad is used to enter numerical data for drum patterns, which is displayed on a 2-digit large LED display.