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Thingamagoop video synth (n00b DIY project)
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Video Synthesis  
Author Thingamagoop video synth (n00b DIY project)
bitSmasher
I'll state straight up I hold a fairly n00bish level of knowledge regarding video electronics... hopefully that'll change soon enough, via this thread.
There doesn't appear to be too much information available for learning about DIY video stuff, most of the projects and hacks I've seen only have a few rough sketches or ideas to go off - which assumes knowledge I definitely don't have hmmm.....

This idea came about when, a few weeks ago, I found I a stash of Thingamakits in my big box of nerd storage. What are they?
Crazy noise machines from www.bleeplabs.com


I bought a HSS3i from Bleep and ordered 2x Thingamagoop Mk2 at the same time, and vaguely recall ordering a couple of Thingamakits in the past... I definitely don't remember why I ordered 3, and have no idea when I half assembled two of them!
Some thought went in to how to box these up creatively, and what I'm going to do with 5 Thingamagoops (3x Mk1, 2xMk2) woah And then I decided to put them away and play with video stuff again.

After spending a lot of time with the HSS3i, and seeing some live LZX A/V performances, inspiration grew. One day I'd like to commit to a full rack based modular setup but until then I'm more interested in exploring the basics of DIY to learn from. Plus I'm drawn to more "alternative", quirky and otherwise interesting methods of acheiving an outcome, even if it's not the most direct or effective.
A concept that always appeals is using audio to directly modulate video, as with the Synchronator and also done within modular systems. Simple, but my brain likes the effect... especially when both the audio and video are mixed with other sources.

So what to do with 3x Thingamas?
Assign them to Red, Green and Blue, mount them together and feed them through an audio to video device, ideally a DIY version of the Synchronator, to make a somewhat odd video synthesiser. To have this create abstract patterns alone the lines of the HSS3i, with hands on modulation and lots of flashy lights, would be an ideal outcome. Definitely want lots of flashy lights 8_)

Whilst it's basic, as mentioned I haven't found much in the way of learning resources for DIY video devices.
Hopefully this thread can be a place for myself, and others, to ask simple questions and also discuss ideas further, for everyone to learn from. I realise this has been done many times before, but it'd be good to have the thoughts and processes documented in the one for reference in the future.

As a starting point I assume I'd want to modify the Thingama's oscillator to produce higher frequency output than it currently, and will also need to make this output usable by whatever device it's feeding.

To make video from audio, hacking VGA converters seems to make sense... I've gathered from previous threads that a composite>VGA converter or signal test device can be used to provide H+V sync signal and then whatever signal you want could be run on the R+G+B lines, which would then be fed in to a VGA>Composite converter.
This will take the most work, where I expect to learn a lot about signals and also destroy a few converters.

Let's see where this idea goes! All contributions are welcome, and I'll keep updating as I progress.
lizlarsen
Yep, if you want to do this DIY, hacking a VGA converter is the most straightforward way to go, although you won't have blanked RGB signals. Otherwise Synchronator or LZX SyncGen+ColorEncoder are options and you can spend your DIY efforts on expanding the basic frameworks laid out by those devices.
bitSmasher
Blanking + Clipping is something mentioned on here a bit in regards to DIY stuff.

What real-world difference does it make, in say the scenario of feeding audio signals in to a scan converter? I'm being lazy by not reading about this myself, but am still curious.
lizlarsen
It will depend on the scan converter or encoder you're using. It's feasible that some of them may be more tolerant than others, or already include some sort of blanking/clipping -- especially in the scan converter case, where the inputs are sampled and digitized anyway.

But in practical terms, blanking and clipping ensure that you will have a valid output that will be able to be displayed and recorded on all devices. Clipping isn't as necessary if you can ensure that your signal inputs are always within the proper voltage range. Blanking is a little more crucial, since unblanked signals could glitch out the sync of the output video.
bitSmasher
I'll probably spend most of this thread talking to myself, but here's an update:

I've assembled all 3 thingamakits, one of which needed a few hours work to remedy some bad soldering and cooked IC.
Conveniently between the three kits I have red, green and blue LED tentacles ("ledacles"), which fits in line with assigning each kit to a colour.
Also found suitably quirky enclosures to mount them in.

Now the next step is to modify the circuits to allow for video-rate output. This should be easily done by changing a few capacitors, and I'll probably use a rotary switch to select a range of values.
The XR2206 chip it's based on can run up to a few MHz which is very useful for this task.
Ideally I'd like each unit to operate as a bleepy noisy audio Thingama individually, but then plug in to a VGA converter and switch to video mode... so any mods have to be reversible.

When I get some spare cash I'll buy a few cheap VGA converters to experiment with, I can predict me cooking at least one in the testing process!
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