Third (maybe fourth?) Time’s the Charm

I’ve recently taken up playing Old Time clawhammer banjo again. I’ve taken several runs at it over the last 10 years or so, but keep giving it up after a month or three, letting it lie dormant for a few years, then pulling it back out and trying again.

This time, in just about 5 weeks, I’ve gotten MUCH, MUCH further in my learning than ever before. Maybe the old stuff stays there and I DO build on it, even after 2 years of not really thinking about it much (other than with regret).

So, this time I’m making more progress and also not trying to so exclusively steep myself in Old Time music to the exclusion of all else (as I’ve done with my last attempts). I AM listening to a lot of Old Time (I DO enjoy it), but not exclusively.

I’ve only worked from tabs I’ve found online along with a number of instructional videos I’ve found online. I’m not really to the point of learning anything by ear from source material just yet, but I can definitely see that on the horizon. In the meantime, I’m enjoying learning some Old Time “standards” and working on my technique.

VU Meter Guitar Strap Project

Our latest electronics project is our first wearable electronics project. The Boy plays bass in a band, and I wanted to make him something cool to wear on stage when they perform. Looking around the web for project ideas, I came across the LED Ampli Tie on the Adafruit Learning System, which is a fantastic resource for all sorts of technology information. The Boy isn’t a tie-wearer, though, so I thought I would adapt it to a strap for his bass. It’s going to require a few small changes, but should be pretty straightforward.

The project is based around Adafruit’s Flora micro controller, which is an Arduino-compatible board designed for use in wearable electronics projects. It takes the input of a small microphone and flashes a series of NeoPixels like a VU meter.

Though the plans call for using conductive thread, the hard nylon material the strap is made out of made it very difficult to tie tight knots in the conductive thread, and I ended up with a semi-working model. So, instead, I used flexible silicone coated hookup wire to make it. Of course, that meant about a bajillion soldered connections, but I eventually got it done.

Here’s the final product: