On Friday, I wrote about how I wasn't quite ready to attempt the DIY rem pod build, but then I ended up doing it anyway. More on that below!
Like I mentioned last week, I want to use Mondays to talk about things I've been learning, researching, and making. I might also include links to articles and other things that I've been consuming over the last week, though sometimes, like today, I'm mostly going to leave that out. The post was getting a little bit long with everything included. (I have an inkling that I might start doing a weekly roundup type post. We'll see.)
As a reminder, the biggest buckets of skills I'm learning, research I'm doing, and personal projects I'm working on are (in no particular order):
- paranormal research for my podcast
- building up skills (soldering, building electrical circuits, basic coding) to make DIY projects, including some ghosthunting gadgets I want to make
- incorporating my art into paranormal investigation
- getting a novel into publication- or submission-ready shape.
I don't expect to necessarily make progress on all of these things every week, but I do like the idea of having a check-in. Process is important. In creative work, people see is the final product, and not all the many stumbles and invisible work that it takes to get there. I always love seeing things about people's projects and progress!
So here's what I've got into this week:
After taking a bit over a month off, I'll be dropping a new episode of the podcast this week. I hate to have taken so much time off, but things have just been incredibly hectic lately. (Though some of that was due to a cool, currently secret upcoming project!)
Anyway, for the next episode, I got to do some fun research about airships, which you'll see crop up in both the episode this week and a blog post.
DIY REM pod project
Last week, after writing so extensively about how I wasn't quite ready to undertake the DIY REM pod build, I ended up being too excited about it and going for it anyway. I'm happy to report that it was easier than I thought it was going to be. There didn't seem to be any faulty components in the kit that I got. It worked despite my shoddy soldering skills.
I'll do a better writeup of this project once I've actually finished it off with a new antenna and housing. But here's a quick rundown of how it went.
It took me about an hour and a half to do the assembly and soldering. I still want to upgrade the antenna and put the device into some sort of housing. But for this initial attempt, I just did the build exactly according to the instructions, so right now, I've got a little circuit board with a wobbly antenna and a row of LEDs (as shown in today's drawing).
I found the directions simple to follow. It was a single page of drawings showing where in the circuit board each component went. It also included some helpful reminders about which components are polarized. Honestly, minimal instructions are ideal for me—my eyes glaze over anything too complex—so I was pretty pleased.
The tricky part for me was just the soldering, because I'm not great at it. I especially struggled with soldering the chip sockets, because the prongs were close together and I kept accidentally bridging the solder. (Also, my left hand is very shaky, which kept throwing me off. I have a ways to go to improve my soldering technique.)
I had to reheat and fix the bridging a few times, which ended up adding some time to the build. But still, for my second attempt at soldering, I'm happy with the amount of time it took me.
Some of the reviewers said that the circuit board was really sensitive to heat and that it was easy to burn the circuit board. That might be the case, but I guess I managed to avoid it. I cranked up my soldering iron to about 560 degrees Fahrenheit and it seemed to be fine. I'm not sure what the ideal temperature would be for this project, or what temperature might be too much for the board. (On the package, my solder says it melts at 430 F, but at that temperature, it just wasn't melting right—probably because it's unleaded. I don't feel comfortable using leaded solder, but I do know that means that it's a little more frustrating to work with.)
In terms of operation, so far I'm noticing that the REM pod is a little finicky. Aside from the antenna issue that I mentioned, in general, a lot of the time when I initially plug it in, it goes haywire. Then it either settles down and acts normally, or it keeps going off. In the latter case, I just unplug the battery, plug it back in again, and then it seems like it works fine.
It was also immediately obvious that the antenna needs to be replaced. The existing antenna is extremely wobbly and flimsy, and it seemed to be setting itself off at first. But once I straightened it out, it worked okay. (But not great.)
I posted a video of me testing it out on instagram, if you want to see it in action.
All in all, I'm very happy with this as an initial foray!
Art and paranormal investigation
I haven't done a ton of automatic drawing, but in my most successful foray to date, I put an electronic track on repeat, blindfolded myself, and then drew. The results were pretty interesting, so that's something I want to continue to play around with.
Last Friday, I stumbled across an album that might serve as an interesting soundtrack to automatic drawing: Satie - Fragments, a compilation of electronic remixes of Eric Satie's work.
Satie was a composer and pianist who lived in the late 19th and early 20th century. I hadn't been familiar with his work, but when I listened to the album, I recognized some of his stuff immediately. (I'm not knowledgeable when it comes to classical music, but one of my favorite YouTubers used Satie's Gnossienne No. 1 as background music to a video a few years ago. And I am a very attentive viewer of YouTube.)
Interestingly, Satie seems to have had some occult connections. For a time, he even did some composing for a the Rosicrucian group he belonged to. I haven't done a ton of research about him, but I really want to dive deeper into his work and his life. Seems like he was a weird dude.
At any rate, I found these electronic remixes of his work completely enchanting and haunting. They seem perfect for setting a trancelike mood for an automatic drawing session. So that's something I'm putting a pin in for later.
Back in December, I wrote the first draft of a queer solarpunk fantasy romance novel very loosely inspired on the story of beauty and the beast. I started editing it in January, but then I had to pause when things got hectic. I finally had a chance to get back into the editing process this week.
I'd done an initial edit of the first 80% or so of the book, and this week I edited maybe another 5-10% of it. The finale needs an enormous amount of work and basically just has to be rewritten, so it's been slow going. This is very obviously going to be the second of many drafts (as it should be).
I'm a speedy writer (it took me about 34 hours to write the ~50,000-word first draft). But I'm a slower editor, in particular because I write fairly rough rough drafts. Also, in the case of this book, I made some pretty major changes to the main antagonist very late in the process of drafting it, and I still haven't quite worked out all of that character's new motivations and backstory, so I definitely have my work cut out for me there.
This week it was really nice to get back into the flow of editing it. As often happens when I walk away from a project and then return to it, I like it more now than I did when I left it. It's easy to get frustrated looking at your own work, and it's easier to see the good and bad after a little bit of time away from it.