Motorized potentiometer for FLOSS remote control

Top view of Volume-AlpsRK16814MG PCB

Bottom view of Volume-AlpsRK16814MG PCB

As part of my Open source audio remote control initiative, I’ve just published Volume-AlpsRK16814MG, an open source hardware design that integrates a high-quality Alps motorized quad potentiometer  with an H bridge. The design lets you control the motor’s direction using two logic-level signals: VOL_UP and VOL_DOWN. The fact that it’s a quad pot means you can use it to control regular stereo volume by ignoring one of the dual gangs or a differential stereo signal.

Here’s the schematic* to give you an idea what it’s doing. Gerbers and PCBs are available at OSH Park.

I’ve also modified the remote control receiver to better support motorized pots. There is now a compile-time option that lets you latch and unlatch the VOL_UP and VOL_DOWN signals rather than produce repeated VOL_UP and VOL_DOWN pulses—which makes control of motorized pots more fluid.

*Subject to change!

Open source audio remote control

audio-remote

I’ve started a FLOSS remote control receiver project for DIY audio preamplifiers. I think it’s just about good enough to make public.

Remote control is one of the more challenging things for an audio DIY person to implement, so I thought having an open source hardware and software platform for doing this would be useful. It uses our good friend Arduino for brains and works with the Philips RC-5 protocol. I like RC-5 because its the closest thing I know of to a universal, well-documented, brand- and model-agnostic protocol.

The IR command decoding is done using Guy Carpenter’s excellent RC5 library. I also considered using Ken Shirriff’s multi-protocol IR library. Ken’s library works with a large number of protocols, but I thought its larger memory footprint might preclude porting this thing to tiny AVRs.

Details on the project are available in my RC5-Preamp GitHub or GitLab repository.

KiCad workaround for mounting hole too close to pad

KiCad-mounting-pin-violation-workaround-crop

Here’s a workaround I used in a KiCad layout that involved a DRC error with a module’s (non-conducting) mounting pin. The mounting pin is physically close enough to an electrical pin that it makes the DRC clearance test fail. The proximity isn’t actually a problem because the offending pin is just so much mounting foo for the part, but KiCad doesn’t know the difference.

The workaround is to edit the pad for the mounting pin and assign it the same pad number as the pad the DRC thinks it’s too close to. (See the two pads numbered 3 in the above image). Kludgey, but it silences the (not really an) error. I made this change in the PCB layout rather than in the library module as it won’t be a problem on boards with smaller copper clearance.

BTW, the module is for a Keystone 970 RCA jack and is available in my Bitbucket repo.

Engineer meets Bugera V22 reverb – Part 1

The Bugera V22 guitar amp is just too good to leave alone. Yes, it’s had its share of teething problems—the worst of which I believe have been sorted. Yes, it’s made in China. Yes the tube quality seems to be a crapshoot. But the build quality is better than what I’d expect at the price, and the sound is unique and just lovely. It’s a great buy.

One thing I’m not super jazzed about though is the amp’s reverb. I begin documenting my gripes below and start off in search of a solution.