Building and learning about electronics remains one of my favorite pastimes. When I can connect it to music, so much the better.
I’m building a new preamp – this one with a microcontroller and a pile of digital hardware to provide remote control and switching. The best place for this kind of project is www.diyaudio.com – a huge set of forums for people involved in building their own equipment. I’ve been involved in the forum for almost ten years, building speakers and amplifiers.
My build thread is here: all the information about what I’m building and why. The goal is both to stimulate discussion (not much yet), and to document the process so others can benefit. And to take some pleasure in explaining myself – always a good thing. (more…)
A new amplifier
I’ve been away from the world of hi-fi and DIY for a long time. Before I went back to school I started building a power amplifier designed by Nelson Pass, but I never finished it. Until now.
I feel as though I finally have my commute worked out, and the work routine under control more or less, and so I pulled out the bits a couple of weekends ago and got it all finished off.
Metalwork (the enclosure and heatsinks) are always the hardest part. In this case I used a mix of plywood and redwood strips, combined with a cheap extrusion and a couple of surplus heatsinks (originally one piece: cut in half on the table saw).
It came together pretty quickly. Self-tapping screws to hold the transistors down, and wood screws or machine screws for much of the rest. The amplifier draws a lot of current, and I was pretty nervous turning it on, but with some great advice from online, and a lightbulb as a current limiter, it all worked out fine.
The sound is great. It’s super-clear, and a pleasure to rediscover a lot of music. It’s also completely quiet: no audible hum or noise at all. If you want to learn more, Nelson provides information on another of his websites: www.firstwatt.com.
How anyone can benefit from religion
This is a great talk from Alain de Botton. It reflects an idea I’ve struggled with for many years: how to make use of and participate in the great religious ideas without subscribing to all the doctrinal mumbo-jumbo.
He insightfully shows the many virtues of religious practice, and suggests that rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we should be learning from the best practices of religion: ritual, symbolism, organization, mutual support and more.
The environment is not great for finding a job, and I was pretty nervous after I graduated. But happily I found a home at Gensler in San Francisco. This is an amazing place, with a mix of architecture, urban planning, interiors, branding, strategy, graphics and more. An incredibly talented group of people, and an enlightened culture that embraces collaboration and social interaction as well as the more traditional forms of work.
I’m working on a large urban project in San Francisco, which has given me the chance to develop my Revit skills for master planning, and do a lot of the basic tasks in architecture: massing, site planning, diagramming, yield calculations, precedent studies, model making and more.
Prior to that I worked on a large project in Bangalore: concept design for a multi-use office park. Rhino, AutoCAD, and a lot of presentation development. Also working out issues around security, circulation, and site organization, and office building core and lobby design.
I’m very grateful to Gensler for the opportunity. It’s not easy, but the rate of learning is high, and the people are great.
A new website for design
As I’m coming to the end of my M.Arch, I’m ready to start doing design work. I’ve created a new website at http://www.tim-barnes.com which describes my design credentials. Because of this, I’ve moved my business / consulting website to http://www.timbarnes.info — same information, new URL.
Blogging and architecture
In my last studio I worked with an architect Glen Small: he has worked mostly in California and Oregon, with some significant projects in Nicaragua. Glen is an uncompromising character, with clear opinions and no fear of expressing them. I found him to be an excellent teacher, because he not only has a passion for architecture, but is very clear about what’s working and what is not.
He’s publishing a blog (for which I’m acting as webmaster, for my sins), that tells the story of his life. It’s worth reading.
One of his most interesting speculative projects was the “biomorphic biosphere”—an organic megastructure that he developed some years ago. These ideas are beginning to re-emerge as architects and planners consider more vertically-oriented approaches to city design.
Spring is done, summer is beginning. We’re actually starting to get some sun. I think it’s been the coldest spring I can remember in California.
My last major design studio is now complete: here’s a picture of my project. It’s an experiential art center: art studios, residential and office space, and a theater that seats 1,000 people.
The next step is my thesis: an opera house for the 21st century. In this project I’ll be trying to understand how best to create a new audience for opera, in an environment where fewer and fewer young people are attending. The output will not only be a building design, but also a theory as to how architecture can contribute to the long-term success of opera.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
I wrote a play some years ago, exploring the relationships and perspectives of three very different people, caught in wartime Afghanistan. At an early stage, my friend Michael Sanie expressed interest in writing an opera based on the play, and after several years of delays and struggles, here it is.
The opera is in three acts, each providing a platform for one of the characters. There is also a fourth character: an Afghan boy. It seems to me that we rarely hear the perspective of the people over whose lands we fight.
It’s been a busy few months in the publishing business: I’ve co-written a technical book with the founder of Runtime Design Automation, Andrea Casotto. This book explains the key issues associated with managing complex sequences of programs, required for software and semiconductor development (among other disciplines).
Modern computational environments require hundreds or thousands of machines, many software licenses, and the ability to schedule jobs in the correct order across all the available resources. The goal is to complete the required tasks, and only the required tasks, in the most cost-effective manner possible.
This book illustrates and compares three approaches: scripting, makefiles, and Runtime Design Automation’s FlowTracer product.
The next step is to get the book into Barnes and Noble and the Amazon bookstore: hopefully you’ll soon be able to order it from there as well.
If you haven’t read it yet, Ollie’s New Beginning is the story of a young boy and his dragon. It explores the challenges of separation and independence in a story that makes great bedtime reading for a young child.
I wrote it with Jeremy’s help: he and I roughed out the story together, and he took a deep interest in the development of the story as it came together.
Now if you buy a copy, I can share the royalties with Jeremy!