The road to a simple DIY Pedal, pt 7

After essentially hitting the wall and running out of ideas yesterday, my good friend Nicklas pointed out that I had a suspicious solder joint in the lower left side of this photo:

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And of course he was right. If ever there was a cold joint :). A quick resolder took care of that, now the signal is at least stable.

Lesson learned: Always check, check and check your solder joints again. A bad solder won’t always come loose right away, but can let go while you are fiddling around with your contraption.

Rechecking all the other joints revealed nothing out of the ordinary…

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Hanging Acoustic Foam without messing up the walls

After moving into our new apartment I realised the acoustics in the room designated as the home office space were just horrible. Actually it was so bad that late night meetings were almost impossible due to the echoing and booming.

The solution? Auralex Acoustic Foam of course!

I picked up a bass trap and 3 wedge panels, all 2″ versions to begin with but soon ran into the problem of how to attach them to the walls.

Three of the eight (don’t ask) walls in the room are concrete, and drilling massive holes felt like a really bad idea, so instead I started looking for a non-destructive solution.

Here’s what I came up with:

1. Silicon, transparent, (almost) 100%

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I bought this stuff at Bauhaus here in Sweden, but you should be able to get it at any DIY or home center. Make sure it’s as pure as possible otherwise it might eat through the foam.

The best thing about this stuff is you can just peal it off the wall once you want to take the panels down, and similarly from the back of the foam.

2. Testing

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I started out by testing a small chunk of silicon in a corner of the room, just to make sure it wouldn’t leave any marks. After 48 hours I was able to simply drag it of the wall with no artefacts. Similarly I put s small piece on the back of a panel, with the same result.

3. Application and hanging

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Finally I put a good, solid amount on the back of the panels (like an X in a square) and simply pushed them up against the wall. They stuck really firmly and I was able to let go almost immediately.

So there you have it. Cheap, simple and non-destructive. Silicon FTW!

The road to a simple DIY Pedal, pt 5

Less DIY’ing over the coming days… right…

So I dug into the soldering of the components for the pedal, but couldn’t find any errors in the placement or polarity. Then Nicklas give me the suggestion to look for shorts between the copper rails on the board itself, and low and behold:

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That’s a full .5mm of solder right their poking over on the neighbouring rail. And from the +V nonetheless! A quick check with the multimeter confirmed that there was indeed a connection.

Fortunately it was easily fixed:

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And with this the circuit now seems ok from a mechanical perspective.

I’ll check the functionality again tomorrow when I don’t risk waking up the whole building…

How to cycle between open windows in Cubase (on a Mac)

I’ve seen a lot of people asking in forums and on other sites how to cycle focus between your open windows in Cubase. Since Cubase will process your keyboard shortcuts in the window that currently has focus, keeping track of where you are in the DAW becomes essential for a fast and smooth workflow.

On a PC you can step through an applications open windows using Alt+Tab, but on Mac its not that simple. So, here’s how I solved it for my setup.

First open up the Keyboard settings.

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Next witch to the Shortcuts tab at the top of the settings window.

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Next find the group called Keyboard, and the setting called ‘Move focus to the next window’.

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I  have it set to Command+=, which at least in my english installation of Yosemite does not collide with any other setting.

Voila! Your all set cycle through your open windows using the keyboard. One less annoyance to slow down your workflow.

5 Tips for a faster Cubase workflow. Spoiler: its all about the keyboard!

Recently I switched from Logic Pro X to Cubase Pro 8, and immediately saw my productivity cut in half. The reason? The loss of familiar keyboard shortcuts.

After working with Live and Logic for a few years I had gotten really comfortable not using the mouse to click around the UI, but after switching to Cubase suddenly all that convenience was gone.

Here’a a list of 5 immediate shortcut tips that will speed up your workflow if you find yourself in the same situation.

1. Find the key commands for zooming in and out in the project window

In Cubase this means G and H for zooming in and out horizontally and Shift+G, Shift+H for vertical zoom. Also, try Shift+F for setting the zoom to show the entire project. The same shortcuts also work in the MIDI piano roll.

2. Switch editing tools via the keyboard and not through the UI

By default, Cubase Pro 8.5 has the Select, Draw, Erase and so on set to keys 1-8. Only problem is they are not mapped in the order the Tools are shown int he UI toolbar. Using the Key Commands editor in the file menu you can change this to map to the UI.

Another useful tip is that you can hold down the Option key in the MIDI piano roll to momentarily switch to the Draw tool, making it faster to switch between drawing in notes and editing them.

3. Learn the shortcuts for transport commands

IMG_448732073Cubase has play start/stop mapped to the space bar, but there are a ton of other shortcuts to speed up your flow. Some of my favourites include Num1 to set the loop range to the current selection, Num/ to enable or disable loop playback and Num.  to return to 1.1.1.0.

As you can see the transport controls are usually mapped to the Numeric keyboard, so I got a USB 10 key from Goldtouch hooked up as a poor man’s DAW control surface. Highly recommended.

4. Learn to show / hide and switch between windows

In Live you have the Session vs. Arrangement view, in Logic the Mixer and Project windows, but Cubase probably has the most flexible windows management of all the DAWs I’ve tried.

The Media Bay (F5), Mixer (F3) and Transport panel (F2) are all mapped to the function keys, but you should also consider mapping the Key Editor to one of the F Keys.

5. Add, remove and toggle track configurations

You can use the arrow keys to navigate up, down and across the events and tracks in your project. When a track has focus, M and S will mute and solo respectively. Combine with the loop transport controls for easy playback focus and control.

You should also configure shortcuts for adding and deleting tracks, as well as hiding and showing them again. I have + mapped to insert a new Instrument track, and Numeric Clear mapped to removing the selected track.

Hopefully these tips will speed up your workflow and let you navigate Cubase faster. Do you have any other shortcuts that you can’t live without? Share them in the comments!