Eddie from Australia wrote me recently to tell me about his success using a serial-to-bluetooth adapter to connect his Digital Setting Circles board to his laptop (avoiding the serial cable which is an obvious tripping hazard, especially in the dark during an observing session). Eddie is using the SENA Parani-SD 200 serial-to-bluetooth adapter connected to the DSC board, and the SENA Parani UD100 USB-to-bluetooth adapter with his laptop.

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A question from a builder of my Digital Setting Circles project caused me to notice a plastic enclosure that another builder had used to contain the circuit board for that project. Oscar’s web page gives a nice narrative on how he built my project, and this page shows a nice enclosure with a clear plastic top he used for the project. The box came from Jameco, and it appears to be part no. 141832. Make no mistake–you’ll have to cut holes in the sides for the serial connector, encoder connectors, and battery connector, but at least the box is about the right size and looks to be easy to work with. I’m sure there are other suitable enclosures out there, as well.

If you’ve used another enclosure and liked the results, leave a comment below and tell me about it.

Update (8 May 2009): Wow–this method of stringing really works great! I finally got to the point where it was time to put new strings on my Martin, and I copied the method shown in the video below (‘cept I don’t have a fancy motor winder–yet…). The strings wrapped around the tuning pegs as neat as can be, with just the right number of wraps. Waaaaay better than any of my previous restringing jobs…

Buddy sent me a link to this cool video (below) from Taylor Guitars on how to restring your guitar. Heaven knows I could use some guidance in that area. I’ve restrung my guitars several times but by the time I need to do my next restringing, I’ve forgotten all the things I’d learned the last time I did it.

It’s not that there’s a shortage of resources that tell you how to do it, and to my own credit, I’ve never had a problem with one of my restringing jobs, but it never looks quite as neat as I’d like, either.

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I’ve been a guitar owner since about 2003. I’ve been a guitar player since, well, about now.

When I first bought my guitar, I was convinced that I could teach myself to play it. After all, I could already read music. It was just a matter of finding a suitable instruction book and putting in the practice time. I bought the Hal Leonard Guitar Method book and began working my way through. Generally, that book was decent, and I learned the notes on the strings, some chords, and was able to begin playing a few songs. It taught my left hand (the chord-fingering hand) how to play the guitar. But it didn’t really teach my right hand (the strumming and plucking hand) what to do.

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Like practically everyone else on the planet, I have a wireless network at home. I use a wireless router to share my broadband connection with all six (or seven or eight, depending on whether either of my kids happens to be visiting) PCs in the house. And, like practically everyone else on the planet, I’m not always happy with the connectivity I achieve.

You see, my wireless router resides in the furnace room in the basement. The furnace room is also kinda like the server room, because all the cabling for phone, cable TV, and wired LAN converge there in a junction box. My wireless router also has four wired LAN ports, so it makes sense for it to be located in the furnace room, too. Unfortunately, that’s probably not the most ideal location for getting a wireless signal to all other parts of the house–especially considering that my house has three floors.

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I’ve been taking lessons from Charlie now for over six months, and it’s really been paying off. Charlie introduces me to new concepts and skills at a good pace and provides me with interesting music to learn. All that provides ample motivation to practice my guitar playing every day. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not ready for the coffee house circuit yet, but there’s no question I’ve made significant progress since I began.

My enjoyment of guitar playing has grown right along with my skills–so much so that I’m beginning to seek out more music to play. Not that Charlie doesn’t give me plenty to work on between lessons, but playing for the sheer fun of it is important, too. It’s challenging, though to find guitar music that (a) I’d be able to play (with some practice), and (b) I’d like to play.

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Never one to pass up an opportunity to marry one of my hobbies with another, I thought it might be interesting to try recording my guitar-playing using my computer. The easy way, of course, would have been to simply buy a microphone, plug it into my sound card, and get on with it. Of course, that’s not nearly complicated enough for my tastes. Besides, I was playing (if you can call it that) my electric guitar at the time, and it seemed like an interesting idea to find a way to plug it directly into my sound card.

Unfortunately, the signal level coming out of an electric guitar is generally too low to get good recordings by running it directly into the sound card, so a little preamplification is needed. Another issue is that, well, the output from an electric guitar pickup is pretty boring unless you run it through an amp to add some effects.

Enter the TonePort UX1 by Line 6.

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Two lessons ago, Charlie gave me an arrangement of Amazing Grace to practice. To be more precise, I only needed to work on the first half of the arrangement. It wasn’t terribly challenging to get the mechanics down, and by the time I returned for my most recent lesson, I could play Amazing Grace like, well, a mechanic. Charlie gently pointed out that I could stand to work on making the melody stand out over the harmony, which was a good point. I needed to work on playing it like a musician.

Along with some other stuff, Charlie assigned the remainder of Amazing Grace for me to work on for my next lesson. The second half of the arrangement uses a barre chord (F played as a barred E) in a couple of places.

I hate barre chords.

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Charlie’s had me working on Deep River Blues for a few lessons now. It’s a fun song to play–definitely more challenging for me than a straight Travis pattern or arpeggio picking pattern with standard chords like what I’ve been playing up to this point. (If you want to hear me play it, there’s a link to an mp3 at the end of this post.)

The Delmore Brothers wrote and recorded this song as Big River Blues,  and Doc Watson played this version (from YouTube):

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Apparently, guitar players are a lot like golfers.

First, there’s the whole equipment thing. Golfers need golf clubs, balls, tees, shoes, ball markers, towels–the list of things you can buy for your golfing habit is nearly endless.

Guitar players need guitars, straps, picks, music, humidifiers, tuners, metronomes–the list of things you can buy for your guitar-playing habit is also nearly endless.

Second, guitar players and golfers are both quick to believe that better equipment will make them better players. As a budding guitar player and occasional golfer, I know this to be true. Despite the fact that I golf only once or twice a year, I will admit to buying an oversized driver in hopes that it’d help my game. And, to a degree, it did.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

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