Thursday, August 20, 2020

Channel Update

I’ve decided to do channel update blog posts whenever required, to give some insight on whatever’s going on.
This time it’s about the current topic, film photography. Those of you who have been watching the photography videos will know that I’ve been going through cameras, taking photos and developing colour C41 film.

Link to my photogtaphy playlist here if you haven’t seen them yet.

I have much more films to process and a couple of things to show and review.
I had ordered an Epson V600 negative scanner from FirstCall and the order was delayed unfortunately due to covid, and delayed by over a month, I’ve only just received it and still yet to unbox it. However this means a delay in photography videos as I need to put together footage, edit and so fourth.
So I will be switching to another topic (I’ll leave you to guess he he) and then will switch back to photography again. Good thing I’m interested in more than one thing right? :o))

But I’ve also got something very exciting to show/review in the second topic which I’m so happy about!! Anyway, you’ll get to see it soon :oD
Also do excuse the quiet week last week where I couldn’t post anything, not even the chill out time magazine flip through. As well as enjoying the beautiful sunshine, the heat and this wonderful summer (Hey gotta enjoy something about this horrible year we’ve had) I was rearranging a part of my room, which took a few days to do, thankfully I didn’t have to rewire the retro computing setup nor the hi-fi setup, those have been done already, but i’ve changed a few things around which give me a massive amount of space now, yay! I feel so much more relaxed in a more open space.
Right after that, there was a rush of relatives (to fill the space again lol). Amongst others, my niece and cousin are visiting and of course they love hanging out in my room 90% of the time. It’s a lot of fun, which means movie nights, popcorn and laughter, but it also means I barely have any time to get anything done. I suppose we all need a break and do something different every now and then.
Anyway, that’s the update for now, so do stick around as there’s plenty upcoming :o)

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

What’s My Channel About??

You’ve probably noticed that my channel has taken a swish into film photography and film developing. As I’ve always said my interests are always random and impulsive, therefore my channel naturally ends up going the same way.
Though I can tell whenever I switch subjects/topics/interests on my channel that some get fearful that i’m going to ditch a certain topic for good, which of course is not the case :o) I can understand why some people want my channel to be only about a certain thing and for it to stay that way.
However, there are two major issues with that, firstly,
Person A wants my channel to be Only about Amiga. Person B wants my channel Only to be about vintage audio.
Person C wants my wants my channel to Only be about electronics.
Person D wants me to feck off from the internet altogether, forever, which makes me listen more to person E who loves the randomness, sometimes impulsiveness of my content and appreciates me being there…Thank you :o)
( Just to be clear, nobody has complained to me or sent me nasty comments or anything, but I can sense a bit of discomfort in certain people when I change topics. I’m writing this just to remind that I tend to go back to all topics )
With regards to person A, B and C. Well all three prove that you cannot please everyone. Different people have different interests. There will always be someone who is unhappy with your content, or wish it was leaning towards their personal interests, whatever you choose to do. At the end of the day, it’s me who is putting all the effort into the content creation. And quite an effort it is when you don’t have a team and are doing everything by yourself.
I’m very thankful that I have a variety of interests so I can create videos and content about multiple interests :o)

I’m into many things being the curious soul that I am and if I don’t let my heart flow into my videos, if I have to limit it, well that’s like asking a painter to stop painting, or a musician to stop playing music.

Around four years back I did a talk about this as I got different people trying to pull my interests and content into different directions. Despite the video being four years old from a naive Maddi from the past, the message is still relevant. Enjoy :o)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

What’s in my tea?! And what’s in my comments?!

This post is inspired by a kind and encouraging comment, on my last blog entry on the SIDBox Situation, asking about my tea.Thanks Lauren :o)
Yes I do indeed read and acknowledge comments, whether they’re here on my blog, on my youtube channel or twitter or facebook. But sometimes it’s not humanly possible to reply to all of them as I’d want to, as much as I try :o)
Anyway I do get many comments asking about my tea, some think it’s wine or whiskey, others think its drugs..Knowing some crazy commenters I’ve read, they probably think it’s absinthe.. Hey the only sinthes I dabble with are SID, FM or Yamaha synths or…….*hides her own face in shame and cringe of the bad “dad” joke developing as she types*
By the way, weren’t these called “Christmas cracker jokes” not too long ago? Lol
Anyway….It’s tea… the nuttiness is just pure Maddi ;o)
Hey why have external intoxicants, when you’re born loopy like me!
My tea is Arabic style mint tea
Basically add some loose tea, mostly green, but sometimes I use Turkish black ‘Mevlana’ branded tea as it’s my all time favourite..
Add a spoon of honey…(Manuka honey is delicious but freakin expensive, so it’s a rare treat)
Then add some fresh spearmint leaves. (Or peppermint if you prefer)
I love the sweetness of spearmint in my tea, it makes it so refreshing! And I’m most probably addicted to this concoction of tea, way more than some of you love alcohol or whatever else.
I’ve also been known to add a little extra into my tea, sometimes Jasmine flowers (specifically from the Arabian Jasmine plant) and even Iranian Saffron, oh what beautiful aroma <3
Being a tea freak, i’ve tried so many different types of tea, Japanese, Chinese, British, south Asian/Indian chai, both milk and water variants, thanks to my south Asian friends back at college/uni :o) All absolutely delicious I must say!
But my personal favourite is my Arabic shay with mint and honey <3
Yes indeed we also say ‘Shay’ for tea, just like the south Asians say ’chai’. Its also ‘chay’ for the Persians as well as ‘Çay’ for the Turkish..Even Chai in Greek I believe, I’m so glad that tea lovers all around share a profound understanding ;o)
Anyway I have already done a chill out video on tea a couple of years ago so feel free to make one up for yourself and relax with it :o)
Speaking of beverages, In some of my videos you will see me having something called ‘Mate’…No it’s not Australian :op’s pronounced “Matey”…oh wait… that doesn’t help either.. hmmmm. Okay repeat after me…”Ma…Tay”.. Anyway, you’ll hear me say it in the video!
It’s not a type of tea, nor a type of coffee, it’s its own beverage of the same category. Originally from South America but also common in parts of the Middle East such as Syria. Actually that’s where I first heard about it.
And part 2

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The SIDBox Situation

You may have noticed that we’re redoing the SIDBox now and I’d like to shed some light on the whole situation, fill in the missing blanks and spaces, especially since its a lovely warm day today and I can sit here and enjoy the sunshine and the breeze along with my fluffy little son <3


We were working on the SIDBox 4.3 (The reason why its up to SIDBox 4.3 already is because Wayne (Electronscape) has already created the first three as personal projects. I’ve got the SIDBox one and even though its basic compared to the SIDBox I’m used to, its very special and I’m so glad Wayne decided to keep it safe, it will be a relic.


The SIDBox 4.3 we were going to put it onto kickstarter a few times and things went wrong each time.. So I thought it’s time to stop, reflect and listen. I noticed Wayne frustrated with Microchip and being so dependent on them, sometimes there would be an update which would change something resulting in him having to spend a day or two fixing something or finding a work around. When times got a bit tough last year and a few unfortunate things happened, Wayne had to move cities and start over from scratch, he couldn’t afford the monthly payments to Microchip to use their compiler, which I think is ridiculous to begin with that he should have to pay. The only one off payment option is a USB stick with their full software which you can buy for £1000 around about.. literally £1k for a usb stick of software?? The SIDBox progress was halted and It was really getting us both down.
In retrospect, the kickstarters not happening for the SIDBox 4.3 were a blessing in disguise. We attempted to set up the kickstarter three times now, once so everyone gets a SIDBox for Christmas 2019 and another the previous year and one time before this, but all three times something came up and stopped everything. I’m now glad they didn’t work out, because each time the kickstarter was hindered, there was a great improvement afterwards, every single time.
So with regards to this Microchip dilemma, and on top of that, Wayne had lost his job just before this Coronavirus hit and then there was lockdown, I couldn’t sit there and let the SIDbox and both our efforts on it just wither away. There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no sign of an opportunity to improve the SIDBox situation at this moment in time.
So I pushed us both as a team to search for a new CPU, to break the shackles of Microchip, go out in the wild and be independent. Wayne understandably protested at first because it would mean we’d have to start from the ground up. It was a situation where one of us was willing to take a chance, take a risk and the other wasn’t. We ended up searching, It felt pointless at first as we couldn’t find anything suitable but the thought of going back to Microchip was depressing, until we found the STM32 chip. We then searched high and low for a dev board, once found, I snapped it up and ordered it, again taking such a risk as it wasn’t particularly cheap, but f**k it, i’m invested in this team and in the SIDBox, there are times we need to take stupid risks, even in hard times such as lock downs where everyone else is panic buying 15 sacks of rice and store rooms full of toilet paper.


It Finally arrived!! At first getting that going was a pain as Wayne was unfamiliar with it and there wasn’t much documentation.


..Well I mean… it’s the same colour as toilet paper? So money well spent….*ahem* anyway. Wayne was getting frustrated and kept talking about going back to the SIDBox 4.3.. despite understanding this very well, I still pushed on ahead, we ended up having a big fight over discord video which resulted in me slamming my laptop lid shut and throwing it to one side….After a couple of hours, opening up my laptop and replacing the couple of keys that popped out of the keyboard, we agreed to give it another go. He had been researching and I had started to also. Wayne himself discovered a lot from tinkering and is documenting his findings down for anyone else who struggles. We’ve never come across a chip so badly documented!
I knew all this would set progress back quite a bit but I decided to take that risk and push for the STM. Now Wayne can progress with the coding and doesn’t have to pay for the compiler and progress is being made!! Sure there were a few adjustments, but also so many advantages, not to mention better chip, we have even got RGB out on this thing now.


…Not to mention more memory for longer Amiga samples, games too now and of course formats like XM have more of a chance to work. XM is weighty and even an Vampire Amiga can just about handle some. S3m was possible with the SIDBox 4.3 but it didn’t like 16bit samples and struggled with more than 8 channels. Now on the SIDBox 5 there is a chance it will be flawless. The SID engine sounds much better, we get this feeling the DAC on the STM is better.


My room became very busy and still is to this day, MsMadLemon’s humble lair became also the SIDBox headquarters ;o)
This new chip has opened new doors and even though the developing for it will take some doing and maybe delay the SIDBox 5 getting out there, but firstly it’s better than standing still and stagnant. This time around we’re working properly as team Wayne can concentrate on the coding while I concentrate on the GUI designs and functionality. I’ve found I had to redesign how certain things worked like the playlist system and the menu system. So I’ve decided to redesign the interface and make it more efficient than the SIDBox 4.3. I will also be designing the case itself using CAD software once the time comes.


With the SIDBox 4.3, I started off as a tester, but eventually I did some basic amendments for the menu system and playlist systems, thought up of the idea of a tracker window as I’ve always wanted one. I did some research on file formats and inputted some ideas in general.
This time around with SIDBox 5 I’m much more involved, the entire GUI I’ll be designing, as well as menu functionality from the ground up and the outer case which I’ve already got designs for, but that’s secret for now as I wish to keep that a surprise until its done… I will also be designing and building an add-on for the SIDBox 5 too which will expand it further. I REALLY cannot wait for that.


Oh did I mention that this new SIDBox 5 will be having a bigger and higher resolution screen? Oh yeah, 4 inch instead of 3inch :o)


So with both of us working on and focusing on different aspects of it, I’m finding we’re going to be getting the SIDBox 5 done more efficiently, quicker than how we were working before and have a nicer SIDBox released.
What about the SIDBox 4.3? Well we still love it dearly, I designed an entire Boombox with it I love it that much, the SIDBoomBox was the most intense project I’ve ever done and it took half a year to do and it all really was based on the SIDBox 4.3 as its really special to me, It will be honoured as a stepping stone to this new one. However, had I not pushed for the new chip and to redo this thing from ground up again, we would have still been stuck in that rut no doubt and still would have made very little progress with it having to rely on external situations improving.

So the progress continues :o)

Check out my SIDBoomBox Project here: … zKdC_FBpol2Apz8zsoMi
Also for more updates on the SIDBox please join the facebook group here: https://www.facebook … om/groups/TheSidBox/

Monday, May 4, 2020

Me and Audio Amplifiers

May the 4th be with you….Now I got that out of my system, i’ll just swiftly start my entry, as a non Star Wars fan like me should do..Another thing I have a history with is amplifiers, if you’ve read my post about VU meters here, then you will know that I had some fun in my childhood and teen years trying to discover how to build an LED VU meter, bear in mind my age at the time and it being a non internet era, the only thing I had was my trusty bucket of random components.
One thing I always wanted to do was amplify sound, transistors remained a mystery to me and I didn’t quite grasp what it was they did at the time, even in my teens. When you’re first learning electronics, whether it be a long history of it throughout childhood or you’re taking classes, or from books, there’s going to be a while where you build circuits but don’t really know what each component does in them, it makes it very difficult to troubleshoot so guidance is needed for sure. But this kind of knowledge doesn’t magically appear, it needs to be practiced.
I’ve had a long academic life after high school, and that’s the other end of the scale, you get a lot of theory and a little practical assignment to tie it up, but as with everything, there needs to be practice alongside of that, a lot of practical for it to stick and expand with it, for it to turn into a life experience rather than just having text book knowledge (or sticking with the times ‘wikipedia knowledge’ ) which is akin to an empty abandoned shell at the beach, sure it may look pretty and impressive on the outside but inside it’s hollow, there is no life in it.

You can read my ‘Education and Society’ entry here


Anyway back to the amplifiers, I started learning a bit more about electronics after constantly pinching my brother’s text book. He doesn’t do electronics now, but it was a part of his school studies at the time. Now i’m the one building projects :o)

This textbook taught me the basics about electronics symbols and reading/drawing schematics. This book from 1988:

This takes me back, actually it’s the very book from my childhood, I guess my brother didn’t need to return it, or for whatever reason it was just laying abandoned around the house, so I kept taking it and looking through it, at first like any other kid I just looked through it to look at the pictures and illustrations, I don’t know there was something a little homely about this book. Eventually, I’m not sure what motivated me, but I started drawing the symbols of the components in some random notebook. Don’t forget i’m not book smart, as much as I love the idea of reading, I have dyslexia and it is more difficult, this is why I have an alternate way of learning. With any difficulty you find a way around it if you really want.

You can see in the photographs i took of the book, the components and symbols next to them.


Look at the pages below in the book, something about it just feels kinda homely and warm, at least to me. And now that it’s three decades ago, it’s that homely feeling mixed with the nostalgia now.




My other brother, the older one who i used to hang out with most of the time, was the one who was into electronics a bit more, he did study telecoms for a while so thankfully he had some electronics books. When I was around 13 or 14 years old, he saw that I loved audio electronics and gave me this book.

‘Electronic projects in Audio’ by R.A.Penfold


no, not him…

For sure this book being outdated, even back then, it was published in 1979. Despite that, I must admit i learned a lot from that book because of the way it’s structured.

You can see here how Penfold goes through each component on that circuit diagram and explains what it does and how it links to other components around it. The way everything is written for some reason is just comprehend-able to me.


Anyway, the first amplifier I ever attempted to build was out of this book. I actually had fun building it, I was at highschool still, but used the college facilities.

My brother and his friend went to college when they did the telecoms course and snuck me into the technology and electronics department. The technician in the room gave me the components from the list in the book, He did smirk because he knew I wasn’t a student and did mention it to my brother in jest that he has noticed.
This is a picture of the electronics lab we were working in, It was such a laugh there, I had a lot of fun, it was literally just the three of us in this electronics lab and I fell in love with the place! It has such character and great vibes. Little did I know that after school i’ll ended up going to college in that very department and spending most of the time in this very room which I loved, yes the technician smirked at me once I finally went there to study properly. That is a place I wish I ended up working at, unfortunately I was only there a short time, so life took me to other places.
Anyway, back to the day I was snuck in, I had finished building the circuit it just didn’t work whatsoever and I didn’t have a clue, I ended up abandoning it. Though recently, i’m talking 3 weeks ago, I found this book again and took one look at the very circuit I was building and knew instantly where I had gone wrong. One of the issues was that it required a dual rail power supply *face palm*. back then to me negative was negative and positive was positive, none of this 0v or GND nonsense, though I used to think GND was Earth, that hair comb you see in circuit diagrams.
Then in the early 2000s unfortunately came the long break from electronics, where what people said to me really got to me. “Women are not into things like this”, “I would suggest another career path”, “sell your computers they are useless”.. “i’m not convinced that you’re truly into all this”.. and they went on and on… I was young, naive and intimidated by it all, it got the better of me so I sold my Amigas, packed my electronics up into the attic, not to be touched again forever….


…….come 2012, almost an entire decade of not touching electronics at all, I met a friend online from Egypt, who was into electronics himself and hesitatingly told him that I used to be and we talked about our stories the entire night. Before I knew it, all my electronics, well what was left of it all, was out again, I had organized it all, and I started building circuits again… The weirdest thing had happened though, despite 10 whole years not touching a component nor thinking about electronics, I somehow understood and knew things at more depth, stuff that I struggled with before the decade, finally clicked and made sense. I have no idea what happened or how?…the VU Meters I had already built my Audio Visualization Unit prior to starting my youtube channel, back in 2012, that was a huge project I didn’t think I would finish, I remember the times when I took this photograph, It was Ramadan 2012 and I had stayed up all night until the morning feast doing this project, I was practically living and breathing electronics..Indeed this project was huge, well at least it felt huge at the time!


2015 I started my youtube channel and the first thing I do is fix my Marantz amplifier in my videos, then what I decide to do next? Build that freakin amplifier which I had always wanted to build! started off with just a headphone amplifier, finding a simple circuit, you know starting small, even though that audio visualization circuit was anything but small.There we have it, here was my first successful attempt at building an amplifier from scratch without using an IC, I was over the moon to be honest. What I decided to do straight after is then create another amplifier which started out as a headphone amp initially, but as the project went on, it just expanded to the point of being a power amplifier. Even though I got it working, it was extremely crude, very noisy and looks like something from the flintstones. I will let you find it amongst my early videos (Hint…playlists) but I am a little shy about it, even though my friend loves it. Heck this thing even had that automatic fan that would turn on if the amp got too hot, yikes. But you know, despite all it’s flaws, it worked and I learned a massive amount from it.


Now before I knew it, I was doing stuff like this, which would scare the freak outa me back in 2012

Now then, last summer (2019) I started the biggest project i’ve ever done, again it pushed boundaries to the point of me being in disbelief of the features I put on there, that’s right, the SIDBoomBox, and talk about impulsive, firstly Dolby C… I didnt even dream that i’ll have Dolby on this thing? I just thought, okay, lets order a dolby chip, that was when I had almost designed. Now this something about myself, I can never plan an entire project out and then go through with it exactly how I planned it from start to end, somewhere along the middle it freakin changes, sometimes a LOT, I can be quite impulsive like that, all of a sudden say “Lets add this?!? eeeeee” its because I get inspired by what i’m doing, for me, theory is just not real enough, sure it helps, there is no denying, but when i’m actually doing something practical and tangible like when I start building, that’s when my mind comes to life and ideas start flowing…However a part of me does wonder, if there wasn’t that unfortunate huge decade gap, where would my knowledge of electronics have been now? Almost feels like in terms of electronics ability, I awoke from a 10 year coma.. I do feel 10 years behind sadly.

I will finish off this entry with a link to the SIDBoomBox, the finale video, so that you can enjoy, not to mention the links to the SidBoomBox playlist are included in the video description on youtube.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Education and society

Some ramblings of mine here about education and my experience of it.

Firstly, a bit about my background, I went to college, studied electronics firstly. Then at university, I studied computing, getting the best grades in the group for computer hardware, I got the worst grades in the group for computer programming and systems analysis, (thank you dear brain!)…It was just the matter of my brain being wired differently, Each one of us has a specialty, the way our brain is wired, and no two brains are wired the same, its what makes us unique despite the idiotic nature of people competing to try and be the same. kinda reminds me of this:


Human existence seems to be a bit of a paradox.
After computing I was about to change my major to psychology, even studying things like cognition and other topics to prepare. But I ended up going into photography, Hey, sometimes it takes time to find yourself in life, some people don’t even when they’re 80, the oldest student at our university was 92 years old. I find that quite fascinating, I wish I could have met him actually.

The competition in knowledge, the “I know more than her” or “I know more than him” or “they know nothing compared to me, see I’ll prove it” mentality is when one’s ego gets hold of it, it becomes less about the knowledge or the topic and more about being an authority in knowledge. I find it ridiculous personally.
I’m not trying to put people off going to university, it has its benefits for sure, I’m just trying to make a point, it is my opinion based on my experiences…Even after completing education to university level myself, I learned that it’s possible for someone who doesn’t have a degree nor a phd, who hasn’t even attended university, for whatever reason, to be intelligent and intellectual, actually I know some very intelligent people who’ve not been to uni. Also not everyone can attend, hey it’s not cheap and the shackles of the student loan isn’t fun fairground ride either…
I’ve also learned that someone who has a degree or phd, can be surprisingly narrow minded or black & white thinkers, self righteous, judgemental and arrogant, possibly the unconditional praise and admiration of family, friends, community and society contributing to these traits. These negative traits often get in the way of true learning beyond text book knowledge, they get in the way of growth of character and blossoming of a person.
It does depend on the nature of a person, i’ve met someone working towards a phd who is gentle and kind, open to knowledge. I think humility and the ability to truly listen leads to an open mind and a blossoming soul.
Arrogance feeds the ego, but suffocates the soul.


One thing which many fail to understand and become aware of, is that knowledge isn’t one dimensional, it’s multi dimensional.
Not all who have intelligence are wise.

University can help you learn a heck of a lot and you can benefit so much, not to mention that piece of paper at the end. However it can be very one dimensional, it can make you book smart, even end up as an outright nerd having immense knowledge, which is very useful when applied, sure, but that doesn’t mean every dimension of knowledge is gained, I did learn a lot in my life which I didn’t learn at School, college nor university.. All the things that I know in life, education taught me some of it, but experience taught me the brunt of it, I still feel like i’m self taught.


I have been thinking about this for a while, I’ve met many different types of people, formally educated and self educated of different backgrounds, ethnicities, mentalities. I’m fascinated by people. I know I would have enjoyed psychology because of this, however, there’s one vital thing that made me wonder if it’s a good idea or not. My ability to relate and put myself in the shoes of genuine people who are genuinely suffering (yes I can tell the difference), I know I would have to get into that sort of work and it would affect me a bit too much in life I think. I cannot just switch off from such things at the end of the day. This empathetic and compassionate trait of mine is a double edge sword, both a good and bad thing, overall, i’m grateful that I have it.


After all, lets face it, we’re on earth only for a limited amount of time, spending it competing, fighting, backstabbing and manipulating, or combatting others to establish ones superiority is futile and quite a huge shameful waste of existence.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on quite a bit, I had better leave it here.

Stay safe dear reader if you have reached this far :o)


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Me and VU Meters

I’ve been obsessed with VU meters since childhood since we had a portable cassette recorder with LED VUs..It was the bush 7070, this ghettoblaster/boombox is so freakin rare that google images only comes up with a single image of it, and here it is:
Just to slightly “zoom in” on the quirky V shaped VU Meters
Anyway, somewhere along the line, my father sold it and I have to say that I really missed it once it was gone, by the way, it’s the reason why I bought señor smiley (My Marantz PM350 amplifier) For some reason it has the same V shaped LEDs which I just find unique and quirky.

One of the things I was lacking throughout certain years of my childhood were VU meters, the other cassette recorders we got later, just simply didn’t have any at all. One of them was this Fergusson 3T32 dual cassette:

This was our first ever dual cassette, my brother wanted that for, you know, borrowing spectrum games permanently onto cassettes from, other cassettes, Oh yes yes, backups, thats a better word.. Anyway, a little later another was a JVC DR-E51lbk Hi-fi system which my brother bought. Do excuse the images, I could only find these piddly ones when searching.


It was a great hi-fi and I recorded my first Amiga tapes with it, but it had no VU. I think VU meters were fading in the 90s as the silvery hardy systems of the 80s were going out and the more “modern” plasticy stereos and boomboxes were coming in (Though this JVC of the early 90s was far form plastic, it was pretty hardy actually!)

Anyway, any excuse to show you hi-fi systems and boomboxes :o)
The point is, it all left me with a want, borderline Need for VU Meters. When tinkering with my electronics, I just had an idea to stick a 3v bulb onto the headphone output, on my personal stereo it didn’t do much at all. So I went for the most powerful system on the house and that was my brother’s JVC Hi-fi system. I put it onto max thinking, it’s not going to do much… Freakin bright flashing light to my surprise, sort of startled and excited me at the same time!

Next thing I do, freakin build a little device, all it is, a light bulb paralleled with a loudspeaker, the JVC on full blast, the crappy speaker just throwing out music into the air along with a light going dim and bright to the music. On retrospect it was ridiculous! But the excitement of seeing a light “dance to music” you won’t believe how many cassettes I listened to in one go while gazing at that freakin bulb, and completely in the dark too.

I look back almost in awe of the things I did with my electronics parts to try and get an LED vu meter working after that. My thinking was, the LEDs relate to one another, One goes on after the other, after the other etc.. So brainiac here decides to create an array of LEDs in parallel to the audio source, each with a resistor value higher than the one previous to it.

The result was…interesting nonetheless, but it was no VU meter. It was just a cascade of freakin LEDs pulsating, each dimmer than the one before it.


But I have to admit, I look back and it was kinda cute. A learning process which I can look back and chuckle at.
I asked my brother and his friend, how an LED VU is done, the answer I got was that there’s a capacitor in between the LEDs (“they think” ). So out came my bucket of components once again, I hated cleaning up after that, It was like a lego set or something (I loved playing with Legos btw, probably explains why I’m so much into Minecraft). Anyway let me just tell you that an array of LEDs with capacitors in between them, is very underwhelming.

I left the idea for a while and continued trying to get the LEDs/lights to be brighter so that I didn’t need to put the volume stupidly high. Bearing in mind I was in my final year at primary school and the only knowledge of electronics I had was tinkering around with components from that bucket of mine.
So I decided to put a 1.5v AA battery in series with an LED and the headphone output of a standard boombox (Yeah I know, I cringed too remembering it) But the funny thing is, the LED was pulsing brighter to the music with the battery in series. I’m glad I didn’t go any further with this, it must have been some miraculous inner knowledge that said to me if I stick 12v in series with a boombox, it really would freakin boom.

One problem I had was the sound, sure I made lights pulsate but I couldn’t hear anything, and with an LED in series with a speaker, yeah you can imagine what that sounds like, a semi rectified audio signal.

I asked my brother what I need and he said an amplifier. Thats when audio amplifiers became something I desperately wanted to build in my childhood but had no freakin idea how! They used those 3 legged spiders which I had no clue how to connect at the time. You’d know what I thought of them if you’ve read the ‘About Ms Mad Lemon’ section of my website already.

The thing is though, even though I wasn’t immediately successful in getting anything working how I wanted it, bear in mind I had never read any electronics book nor been taught at all. I still tried, I made mistakes and did things wrong but I believe that is one of the reasons why kids learn things faster, they’re not afraid of making mistakes, whether its electronics or language learning, or learning a musical instrument, it can apply to anything at all. Think we as adults need to drop the fear and pride as it does hinder learning.
Anyway enough pondering. Next I will write about my efforts with trying to build audio amplifiers, albeit much later in my life, but I did it eventually. And in quite a big way. I got some VU meters working very well also ;o)