How to reduce the life of your print head by a week [Dot matrix]

Posted on 2016-05-21 at 15:33 in Videos.

I was playing around with Windows 98 drivers and found a combination of settings that printed the slowest, loudest, darkest black line I’ve ever seen this dot matrix printer print. And then a second one on top of the first one, just in case it wasn’t dark enough already.

I’d guess that that’s about a week’s worth of wear in 30 seconds.

[Watch in HD]

And now, I’m enjoying random fainter black parts in my prints because that part of the ribbon’s worn much more than the rest, lol.

(Printer is an Epson LQ-300+II)

BaWaMI (revision 131)

Posted on 2016-04-10 at 18:13 in Music, Programs.

This is a small update which fixes OGG file rendering, and a couple of other superficial things.

  • Fixed tabbing order of controls on “Mod shape” tab of the config window.
  • Writing OGG files works again – I accidentally removed a file needed by the OGG encoder in revision 130. Users who extracted revision 130′s folder over revision 129′s would not have experienced the problem.
  • Stopped warning about buggy controls from being displayed on the “MIDI params” tab of the config window, since it’s no longer true.

You can grab the new version from here (7.87 MB)!

BaWaMI (revision 130)

Posted on 2016-03-02 at 21:22 in Music, Programs.

This update lets Bawami write WAV files in paths containing non-ASCII characters (something long-overdue), and fixes a bunch of complicated interwoven bugs related to the handling of “bad” MIDI files and of percussive notes. There’s also a load of other fixes, including for portamento-related bugs, crashing in /translator mode, and visual fixes, and a couple of new instruments.

You can grab the latest version from here (7.81 MB), and see details of the changes below the page break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Random Old Rubbish (Part 2)

Posted on 2016-02-29 at 02:25 in Random, Videos.

The second and much-shorter part, as I clear out some random rubbish in my room. There are a few more old electronic devices, including a ~25-year-old LCD game, plus some paper stuff…

[Watch in HD]

This time, I didn’t throw away or dismantle everything in the video! I did thoroughly rearrange whatever remained afterwards, though.

Server that actually looks (and sounds) like a server

Posted on 2016-02-28 at 00:57 in Videos.

I was recently with a friend who runs a server which is a lot more impressive than mine, so I thought I’d show it off. It also sounds like a jet engine.

[Watch in HD]

For a start, it’s actually in a rack-mount case (2U), with ~17TB total disk capacity and 20GB of RAM (it usually has about 24, but he had to remove some to use in another machine, hence the sticks of RAM lying on top of the case). It’s running a few VMs for people (with Arch Linux as the host), acting as a NAS, and doing a few other things like running some IRC bots, but he shut it down and rebooted it so that I could hear the fans rev up. =D

Random Old Rubbish (Part 1)

Posted on 2016-02-27 at 02:27 in Random, Videos.

I was cleaning out my room and found a load of random stuff (mostly toys), and some of it was interesting, so I decided to record it. Some of it’s around 14 years old. I didn’t intend for 50% of the video to be about Beyblades.

[Watch in HD]

Stress-test Audio CD

Posted on 2016-02-15 at 07:00 in Random, Videos.

Never mind just gapless playback – let’s throw 99 tracks at various CD players (hardware and software) within 40 seconds and see how they handle it!

The music I used is “Nature’s Gasp” by Atmozfears & Devin Wild. Big thanks to Atmozfears for letting me use it on YouTube (now let’s hope that YouTube’s automatic song recognition doesn’t punish me despite that…).

[Watch in HD]

This test just naturally emerged after I played around with splitting tracks in a hardstyle mix for seamlessly playing on a CD. The trick to ensuring no silence between tracks was to split on CDDA frame boundaries (every 2352 bytes, which makes 75 per second for audio CDs). It took me some time before I realised that Audacity can measure position in CDDA frames and that I didn’t have to convert the number of samples into CDDA frames myself every time…

I don’t have a grudge against Foobar or anything – it really did get stuck in a loop of spinning up and down the CD the last time I tried it. Also, this may be my most anticlimactic and rushed ending ever.

Multi-strike, multi-pass, colour correction (WIP: Dot matrix program)

Posted on 2016-02-10 at 20:08 in Programs, Videos.

Showing off a couple more things not possible with the Epson driver: multi-strike printing and “quiet” (not really) mode, along with CMYK colour correction which is nearly invisible to my camcorder, so that part was a waste of video…

This is a program I’m casually working on every now and then to print images on any 24-pin ESC/P2 dot matrix printer (ESC/P2 is Epson’s control language for their dot matrix printers). It directly controls the printer by sending raw commands to it; you just need to tell Windows that it’s a “Generic / Text Only” printer on Windows, not using the official Epson driver, and Windows will pass the commands straight on to the printer without trying to translate them.

[Watch in HD]

This is a standalone program for printing image files, not a driver for printing from any program. I’ve not yet released it, but I intend to some time. Compared to the driver, it currently allows:

  • Printing in (lower) resolutions for high speed (down to 60 DPI).
  • Detailed control over colour dithering/thresholding.
  • Very tall print-outs not restricted to a paper length (e.g. for continuous paper).
  • Printing only individual component colour(s) of an image.
  • * Faster colour printing by doing large blocks of each colour at once.
  • * Multi-strike printing (optionally offsetting each one to fill in the gaps between the earlier ones’ dots).
  • * “Quiet” (multi-pass) printing (unfortunately, I can’t control the actual speed).

*The last three are somewhat “hacks”, abusing commands to try to force unofficial behaviour, and as such, they rarely work properly in combination with each other. In particular, the last two often don’t work when printing colour.

By the way, printing in blocks of colour is no longer done by relying on sending commands with the correct timing (as it did in the previous video), which means it’s now much more reliable and doesn’t get messed-up by pausing the printer, image content, etc.

Solar Panel Microphone (Experiment)

Posted on 2016-01-31 at 18:41 in Random, Videos.

Here, I conneced a solar panel (via a transformer) to a sound interface as if it’s a microphone, to reveal the subtle pulsing and filckering of various light sources. If you don’t like 50 Hz, this video isn’t for you.

[Watch in HD]

Thankfully, the infrared light from my camcorder is apparently very clean (not pulsing), so I can use that to see things in the dark without affecting the sound.

The transformer is just designed to convert 230V AC to 12V DC, so its audio properties are not very good (it muffles things a lot). Ideally, I’d be using an audio transformer that’s designed to sound good, but this is all I had available. I am using it to remove the DC current that the solar panel makes, because I don’t fancy putting 17.5V into my Quad-Capture (sound interface)’s mic input. I originally tried to make a high-pass filter to remove the DC, using a capacitor and resistor, but it only worked until the capacitor became fully-charged, at which point the sound faded. It was much clearer-sounding than the transformer, but there was also a huge amount of background noise.

I want to revisit this idea in the future, especially to take it for a drive at night, listening to the street lights and car lights (since modern cars use PWM to dim the tail lights).

BaWaMI (revision 129)

Posted on 2016-01-17 at 11:14 in Music, Programs.

This is a nice big bunch of fixes – mostly related to /console-mode, but a couple of more serious things (which affect more people) are fixed, too.

You can grab this latest version from here (7.87 MB), and see details of all the changes below.

General bug fixes

  • Fixed bug where button to browse for a new MIDI file remained disabled after opening a MIDI by dropping it onto the main window.
  • Now recognises when a filename is passed on the command line without speech marks (and without any command line parameters). This fixes the problem of Bawami not opening a path+file containing no spaces if such a file was dragged onto its icon (or if Bawami is associated with .MID files), because Windows does not automatically surround such a path+file with speech marks when passing it to the program.

Fixes for when using /console

  • No longer crashes if you’re redirecting Bawami’s output to a file or other program.
  • When using “/infolevel 2“, log file text is now sent to StdOut instead of (accidentally) to StdErr.
  • “Finished.” is now (always) displayed when shutting down.
  • Key prompts for answers to questions are now sent to StdErr instead of StdOut (as was already being done for the question’s title and message), so that they’re visible on the console even if you’re redirecting Bawami’s StdOut to a file.

Visual-related fixes

  • Green “settings” button’s tooltip is now loaded in the chosen language (instead of having no tooltip) (broken in revision 128).
  • Corrected Z-order of several controls on the config window so that the dotted border that indicates a control that has focus isn’t having one of its horizontal edges cut off unnecessarily.
  • Corrected a reference to how green “settings” button appears in info.txt.

Logging (also affects text shown when using /console /infolevel >=1)

  • No longer shows “Closing MIDI input port” when shutting down, if MIDI-in wasn’t in use.
  • No longer shows “Decoding absolute timings” a few lines after the last track has finished being decoded.