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I don’t update these pages anymore. :)

Don’t use iLife music

As usual I have to cut and paste the usual message as one of my videos have received a copyright notice, because I use music from iLife as the license specifies that I can.

I don’t really use that anymore because it is overused, I even recognize it sometimes on TV but mostly because I hate those false copyright notices. So find something else to use, like creative commons.

So I write: 

“Hello.

The video has been recorded by me and the music are from the iLife software package which in the Software License Agreement, chapter 2, paragraph iii, states that “All Sample Content included in iMovie may be used on a royalty-free basis in your own video projects but may not be distributed on a standalone basis.”


Please see this document for more information:

http://www.apple.com/legal/sla/docs/iLife11.pdf

Making time-lapse movies from .jpg’s

GoPro and other cameras can make time-lapse recordings by taking single photos and saving them as a .JPG file. 

You can use different fancy programs to combine them into a movie for further editing. But I always end up just using ffmpeg from the command line. You can find versions for OS X, Windows and Linux. Many programs that can do transcoding, compression etc, often are just a GUI for ffmpeg. A good example are Handbrake.

I usually just run it on the command line.

For example, combining jpg’s into an Apple ProRes movie to use in fx. Final Cut Pro, I do something like this(it seems that a working syntax for ffmpeg changes with different releases, at least under OS X):

./ffmpeg -r 25 -pattern_type glob -i '/Volumes/Documents/Video/05-11-2013/GC\ Gopro/G00*.JPG’ -vcodec prores -profile:v 3  Desktop/testing/GC25fps.mov


Or if I want something in H.264:

./ffmpeg -r 25 -pattern_type glob -i '/Volumes/Documents/Video/05-11-2013/GC\ Gopro/G00*.JPG’ -c:v libx264  Desktop/test/GC25fps.mp4


It might look more difficult in the beginning but if you are going to do it more than once, it’s really the fastest way to go about it. 

Here’s one example:



LED lights

Over time I have been replacing most of my CFL bulbs with LED bulbs. Even though I produce more electricity than I use and I believe in using the power it takes do what I want, I still don’t want to waste energy that could have been put to a better use somewhere else.

I hate CFL’s for all of the usual reasons:

  • They are slow to turn on, which usually gets worse as they get older. 
  • They hate cold weather, which makes them take even longer turn on. 
  • They have a poor CRI value. (So I really have to google numerous consumer group reports when at the supermarket to figure out if they are any good)
  • It seems you almost need a hazmat suit to clean up a broken CFL bulb.
  • They are often oversold so it is rarely equal of a 60w incandescent as the package says but often more 50w, and that gets worse as they get older. (Yes, I know, get used to Lumens already)
IMG_8494

Too big to fit even when I removed the reflector.

IMG_7079

Poor design on this one too, at least it was cheap.

LED bulbs also often suffers from a poor CRI value, but they turn on fast, they like cold weather, they are not a danger to your health and they don’t seem to be oversold in the lumens department. So when you compare LED to a CFL in the supermarket, look at the lumens and don’t believe the Watt comparison written on the CFL bulb. If you need a CFL bulb to match a 60w incandescent, you often need to buy a “75 Watt” instead.


G4 Halogen

I have finally taken the time to find a replacement for the 6 10w G4 Halogen under my cupboards in the kitchen. I had to replace the power supplies because the new LED bulbs does not draw enough power for them to work, and I want them to supply DC to the lights to make sure they don’t flickr.

I have bought different G4 LED replacements to test and most of them were useless. The first I got, had a huge plastic cover on the back to prevent it from shorting out when touching the reflector. But that also meant that it would never fit. See the upper right picture.

The second one I tried recently had a huge capacitor on the back so that you can use it with AC current without flickr. So that also would never fit and they decided to place it at the edge, making it even worse. Further more, I don’t think it will survive long with the heat that the LEDs produce.




Then I finally found some useful substitute.

IMG_7023

2 Watt

IMG_7022

1,6 Watt

Serious cooling

IMG_7032

It actually fits

They have the right dimensions, they claim to have a CRI > 90,  a neat heat sink on their back and they seem to work with AC current also(but I am still going for DC).

I made a few temperature measurements. The ambient temperature was around 24c-25c. I made each measurement after having kept the bulbs running for 7 hours.

Halogen bulbs runs HOT and I measured on the wood shelf inside the cupboard, a temperature hot spot of about 45c from a 10w bulb. That dropped to 28c-29c with the 1,6w LED installed.

As any other electronics, LEDs likes it cool so I tried to remove the reflector to leave more room for cooling the LED. It might have had some effect but not something I could measure. The temperature inside the cupboard may have gone up to 30c but I could not measure any difference on the LED’s.

In my final test I ran them with the glass cover on and removed. With the glass cover removed, I saw temperatures on the LED around 75c. With the glass cover on, it went all the way up to 105c, ouch. According to wikipedia, the optimal operating temperature to ensure a long lifespan of the LED’s, their temperature should be kept below 120c, and the SMD mounted capacitor should be able to take it as well(if they have used the right type), so it should be good but not a lot of headroom, but I wonder what would happen if I installed a 2 watt, that might get to close for comfort. 



Time will tell if they are any good in the long run, but so far I am happy.

10w Halogen to the left and 1,6W LED to the right(there’s socket for a bulb in the middle). This picture is not as accurate as I had hoped. The LED is 50% more bright and the Halogen looks more yellow(but perhaps that is just because of the less light emitted).


These 2 pictures below shows better the difference between the two as I perceive them.


IMG_5573

1,6 Watt LED

IMG_5571

10 Watt halogen



I have begun testing the 2W bulbs and will update this with more information later on.







They are not talking

During the previous winters, I noticed that my natural gas boiler would start heating and stop after a few seconds for no apparent reason. It was something I noticed because I had not been using any hot water and the room temperature were very high in all rooms.

There are 3 reasons for it to start heating water. 1 the circulating water in the floor for heating are getting too cold and needs to be warmed up. 2 the hot water for the taps need to be heated. 3 the legionella protection (also called anti-legionella function) kicks in and heats the water when the temperature for tap water has not been above 60°c for a week. 

The heating system for the house are entirely based on the heating pipes in the floor, one loop for (almost) each room. (with my surplus electricity from my solar power installation, I also have a aircon / heat pump I can use, but that is secondary heating source). The thermostat in each room measures the temperature and the controller shuts off water when it isn’t needed in a room. So when all rooms are shut off, there are no need for heating and pumping the water. 

The problem is that the boiler does not know that no warm water is needed for heating, so it keeps pumping and trying to keep the temperature of the water at 25°- 35°c (depending on the temperature outside) even when all valves are closed. 

So late one evening last fall, I dug out the manuals for the boiler and the control system for the floor heating. I had glanced over them a few times before and I got the impression that it should be possible to tell the boiler not to heat or pump water 24/7 but only when it was needed.

IMG 6922
IMG 5595

The box controlling the floor heating


The paper I found inside the controller unit of the heating system, shows a relay that should be able to switch power on and off to a pump. It is not a control current but a relay for 220v.

Paper found inside along with another paper explaining that some sort of test had been done on the entire system after installation and they had also been nice enough to leave a paper explaining which color wire went to which room. Thank you.


So the first thing I did was to see if it worked as advertised and I checked it with my multimeter. Tried to turn up and down the heat, but it didn’t seem to work. Then I found a flashlight and took a look at the relay and discovered that I had been looking at the socket for the relay. Stupid me.

IMG 5601

Inside the box


Googling for this controller revealed that it had gone out of production and the relay was an optional extra which was impossible to find except one webshop in the UK which may or may not have had it in their inventory and if they did, it was way too expensive. But the socket for the relay seemed fairly standard so I looked for the data sheet for the socket to get the right dimensions for the relay. If I remember correctly, there are two types of relays with almost identical space between the connectors except for a millimeter or two.

Anyway I found the nearest online electronics store and purchased 2 relays. One for each size. There are different types for different usage and amps but it doesn’t matter for this use, I just need it for a control current. So nothing to do than go to bed continue when the relay arrives. 


A few days later the relays arrived and I could continue my test.


IMG 5605

The relay



The manual for the boiler shows 3 separate rows of connectors and on one of them it should be able to connect a relay or a switch or thermostat to tell it if I should run the pump and heat water for keeping the house warm.

When I opened up the boiler it only had 2 rows of connectors, but fortunately one of them had the desired function and there was a sticker explaining it. 

Some of the text on the sticker reads: “To fit a room thermostat connect it to terminals 1-2 after removal of the link between them” and “DO NOT FIT A ROOM THERMOSTAT EQUIPPED WITH A RESISTANCE RELEASING IN ADVANCE”.   

So it seems is exactly what I was looking for. I have a relay in the control box that behaves like an on/off thermostat and not resistance based.

IMG 5592

One of the connectors in the boilers.

I connected the relay to connector 1 and 2 and it worked perfectly together.

When all the thermostats shuts off, the controller tells the boiler it doesn’t need more heat so if it is running it stops heating.  2 minutes after the boiler has bee running last time, it shuts off the pump, so if it hasn’t been heating for some time, it shuts of the pump at once. after 3-4 minutes(I think) the controller shuts off the valve(s). 

Now it has been running last winter in this configuration and from my casual observation it seems that the pump now only runs 1/3 of the time and I have no more of those false startups where it wastes gas heating for nothing.

I wish they had made that connection when they installed it. It was very cheap in parts and it has paid for itself in a year in electricity savings alone. The boiler uses slightly less natural gas now and less wear because it does not start so often.



All lights are not created equal

I bought a few LED bulbs from pinball center because I wanted to check out if they could replace the old incandescent bulbs. I have already replace bulbs in the backboard and the bulbs under the playfield, but those are all in locations where the bulbs can’t be seen directly. The frosted ones are actually kind of close to original bulbs but I think they are perhaps a bit to dim.

There are a lot of good reasons for replacing them with LEDs, they run cooler, use less power, less strain on aging electronics, wiring, connecters and when they get old, they do not create insane amount of heat like incandescent bulbs that will warp plastic. The bulbs I replaced with LEDs under the playfield, match the colors of the windows they light up so the colors are even brighter. It is also necessary because a “white” LED though a orange window seems to produce a greenish color.

So do they work as general illumination? The answer is yes and no. The do work but they all have cooler colors than an old incandescent bulb and they do not get the light onto the playfield in some areas(see movie below). So if you still want to keep some of that old school look, you have to keep the old bulbs and keep an eye on them.

Here’s what they look like. They overall brightness of the playfield was better than on this video but it didn’t show the difference in brightness and color between the bulbs very well so I adjusted the camera so I matched the colors better and it was easier to see the difference.


New ROM

Got a package with different pinball related stuff. New speakers, some LED lights I want to test and finally a new ROM with the version 9.4H to replace the old version. Here’s an article from Ted Estes who wrote the software.

IMG 6909







Money saved

The last year has been a good year in terms of money saved for heating. I just checked my  natural gas meter and I only used 480 m3. On a cold winter I have been using up to 740 m3. So my heating bill this year will only be around 4000kr (730$?). 

The house has a good insulation so otherwise the numbers would have been double or triple that as others have with even lower temperature inside. I manage to keep 23°c.

There are 3 reasons I have used so little natural gas this year, the 2 major are that it was a mild winter and I have also been using the heat pump for 3 months because I had extra electricity from my solar panels. The final reason is that I managed to optimize the configuration of the gas boiler and the floor heating circuit so it can tell the boiler when it needs warm water, but more on that later.

I hope to run the heat pump again this year, and I am considering replacing it  with a better more silent and efficient pump. But the old one still works so perhaps I will just keep it a bit longer

mmm sugar

This is a bit silly. :) 

Every time I order spare parts from an online pinball shop I get some candy. So lets see if I can remember to catalog them when I order new stuff.


Ministry of Pinball





IMG_7100

Can’t remember, possibly Pinball Center. Have ordered from them many times.



IMG_7104

Pinball  Center

IMG_7102

Can’t remember







I have gotten plenty more than this, but it has been eaten. :)

Audyssey Tips

Audyssey

Notice

Audyssey tips. 

Saved here as a backup to when I forget it or if the original disappears.

The full thread can be found on avsforum.


(original date 23/03/2009)

Here is a list of tips based on several discussion in this and other forums about MultEQ. I will add to it from time to time as new questions come up. Some additional information can also be found on the Audyssey website.


Best regards,

Chris

CTO, Audyssey Laboratories



Microphone Placement


• The microphone has been calibrated for grazing incidence and so it must point to the ceiling during calibration. Any other orientation will produce incorrect results.


• The microphone response has been calibrated to match (on average) the response of an industry-standard ¼” instrumentation microphone. It is critical to use the microphone that came with the receiver and not one from another model that may have a different calibration curve.


• It is also important to place the microphone on a tripod or other stand so that it is at ear height. We strongly recommend against holding the microphone in your hand because this can give rise to low frequency handling noise that will cause the MultEQ filters to compensate by cutting those frequencies. Furthermore, it is not recommended to place the microphone on the back of the couch or recliner. If a tripod is used, care must be taken to ensure that the microphone is placed at a height just above the seat back so that reflections from the seat do not cause problems at higher frequencies.


• The first microphone position is used to calculate the distances to each loudspeaker and subwoofer and set the delays. It is also used to measure and set the trims. So, it is important to place the microphone in the main listening seat for the first measurement.


• MultEQ measures the background noise level in the room before playing the test signal from each speaker. For the measurements to be valid, the signal to noise ratio must be above a certain threshold. If it is not, the test signal from that speaker will repeat at a higher level. If the noise in the room happens to be higher during some of the speaker measurements, then the test signals from those speakers will sound louder than the test signals from the other speakers. This does not affect the calculation of trim levels. If the room noise is too high even after the test signals increase in level, then an error message will be displayed warning the user that measurements can not be completed.


• After the first position is measured, MultEQ measures other positions in the room around the listening area. These do not necessarily have to be in each individual seat. The idea is to capture as many points around the listening area as possible so that the acoustical problems that affect the quality of sound within that area are minimized.


• For example, we recommend taking 3 positions on the couch facing the TV and then 3 more positions about 3 feet in front of the couch and parallel to the first three. Measurements up against the back or side walls should be avoided.


• Some loudspeakers have rather problematic responses when measured off-axis (i.e. more than 15° away from the imaginary straight line that points to the listening position). In these systems, measurements taken too far away from the center line will show a reduced high-frequency response that may result in overcorrection and thus overly bright sound. Although it is difficult to predict which type of loudspeaker will have these off-axis problems we have most often observed them in poorly-designed multiple-driver arrays that exhibit very high off-axis lobing. In these situations we recommend a tighter calibration pattern centered around the main listening position and making sure that the mic is not placed in extreme locations and certainly not outside the plane of the front main speakers.


Checking the Results


• Once MultEQ calibration is complete the results are stored in the receiver memory.


• It is important to activate MultEQ by selecting one of the target curves. This is not performed by default after the calibration is finished and must be selected by the user. In a THX system we recommend using the “Flat” setting that allows the re-equalization to work as intended. In other systems, we recommend “Audyssey” for movie playback and “Flat” for music playback. Unfortunately, the music industry does not have any mixing standards like the movie industry so some music program material may sound better with the “Audyssey” setting. “Front Align” also uses the Audyssey process, but it does not apply the filters to the two front loudspeakers. “Manual” is not an Audyssey setting and does not use MultEQ filters. It is a simple parametric equalizer and will be subject to all the limitations that come with parametric EQ.


• Small vs. Large speakers. This is the most commonly discussed topic by MultEQ users. The first thing to understand is that it is not a personal insult to your system if your speakers were detected as “Small”. It simply means, that in the room they were measured the – 3 dB point was detected at 80 Hz or above. This may happen even if the manufacturer’s spec shows that the speaker is capable of playing lower. In fact, there are several benefits at crossing the speakers over at 80 Hz that have to do with power handling and headroom in the bass region that will be handled by the subwoofer amplifier.


• The second most common question also relates to Small vs. Large. In the Denon receivers, MultEQ will designate as “Large” any speaker that has a –3 dB point below 80 Hz. For non-THX speaker systems this is an arbitrary definition that often causes confusion. All it means is that the speaker will not be bass managed unless the user tells it to be. Because Audyssey is not in charge of bass management, we have to abide by the manufacturers’ rules and simply report the information found by the measurements to the bass management system.


• In situations where the speakers do not play significantly below 80 Hz, an additional step must be taken to make sure that there is no loss of bass information. The user must set the speaker to Small manually so that bass management is performed properly.


• Polarity: MultEQ checks the absolute polarity of each loudspeaker and reports it to the user. This is simply a report and does not affect the subsequent calculations in any way. It just asks you to check the wiring to make sure it is connected properly to each speaker. Sometimes we get false alarms. This is usually because the speaker has a driver (usually the mid-range driver) wired out-of-phase intentionally to make up for some problems at the crossover region. If a phase warning is shown, it is not a cause of alarm. Simply check the cables and hit “Skip” if everything is fine. Again, this does not have any effect on the EQ results.


• Subwoofer distance: in many active subwoofers it is not possible to defeat the low-pass filtering. That means that the pre-pro bass management filters will be on top of the low-pass filters inside the subwoofer. The built-in low-filters introduce a delay to the signal coming in (because they have poles). This delay is seen by MultEQ as acoustical delay and is reported in the results. That is why sometimes the subwoofer distance is reported to be longer than the physical measured distance. The setting should not be changed because the blend between the sub and the satellites has been designed based on this time delay.


• The design constraints for MultEQ were that it (1) must fit within a small portion of the DSP so that other processes can also run and (2) it must use FIR filters because of the well-known artifacts that IIR filters cause particularly in the time domain response. As it turns out, these two requirements are contradicting. In order for FIR filters to be effective and capable of correcting to low frequencies, they must consist of several thousand coefficients (taps). The problem is that the CPU power required increases with the number of taps, hence the dilemma. What we did at Audyssey was to come up with a different way to partition the frequency axis so that we can use fewer taps and yet not completely give up on low frequency resolution (and therefore low frequency correction). This allows us to take a 512 tap filter that would normally have a resolution of 94 Hz (meaning that any peak or dip narrower than 94 Hz would be missed) and significantly improve its resolving power. The resolution of the filter actually varies continuously with frequency and starts at around 10 Hz. Does this mean that MultEQ can correct an arbitrarily narrow peak or dip at 30 Hz? Of course not. The reality is that in the MultEQ XT version found in receivers, we can correct broader features below 100 Hz better than narrow ones. For example, a lump that is half an octave wide at 50 Hz can be fixed. A narrow dip or peak that is 1/3 or 1/6 octaves wide and centered at 30 Hz will be improved, but not eliminated.


• The on-screen display in the receiver has very limited graphics. Therefore it is not possible to really show what the MultEQ correction filter is doing at all frequencies. It appears to only be operating on 9 bands like a parametric equalizer, but this is not the case. What is shown is a very crude approximation to the MultEQ correction and it should not be used to read exact values of cut or boost at the 9 frequencies shown.


• Furthermore, there is no display for the subwoofer filter. This doesn’t mean that there is no subwoofer correction. It was not added to the display because of interface and memory considerations.


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