Home Automation

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Openhab

As you may have seen I have the Amazon Echo at home. I liked the potential to make the echo the hub for home automation. The first step is to get something you can control so I set out to find something that works with Alexa natively so there would be no issues with integration. I searched Amazon for the a switchable plug that I could plug my living room light in to. I found the TP-LINK HS100.打印

This is a wifi enabled smart plug. You plug it in and from an Android app set it up on your wi-fi network. Once it’s set up you just ask Alexa to look for new devices and it will find the smart plug. Through the set up you designate a name for the device so now you can say something like “Alexa turn on the living room light” and it will switch it on and say “OK”. This is cool and how I work my living room light today. Of course the light is just one thing you can turn any item on that is plugged in to the smart plug. It is just a simple way to power on and power off. This is the beginning of automating the home of course, the smart plug is about $30 so this could be an expensive way to avoid turning a light switch. I will admit that I got mine a lot cheaper than that, it was on sale and I had a gift card from a survey so I ended up paying about $4 out of pocket.  Since we have had that light operated by Alexa we have wished that we had one for the bedroom light so that it would be on when we go upstairs. Now imagine, instead of saying “Alexa turn off the living room light” at the end of the day we could say “Alexa its bed time” and have her turn off the living room light, turn off the tv and the tuner, turn on the bedroom light, set the alarm, check the garage door is closed, and start the sounds of the sea music. – Well, this is possible if you introduce something like Openhab. What is this you ask, here’s a brief description of Openhab

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Cat Wheel Chair

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I met a sweetheart little cat who had been hit by a car and injured his spine. Regardless of this horrific injury he is a lively and inquisitive little fellow that can move his front legs and scoot around on his bottom. This can cause issues with wear and tear on his rear end. His back legs appear to have some feeling but are not working as they should. He needs a “cat wheel chair” so I thought how can we create something light enough, strong enough and cheap enough that we can make it a reality for him. How about some some plastic plumbing pipe and pair of wheels?

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Here’s the first attempt. The idea is his back legs will sit in the sling and the front of the wheelchair will be attached to a harness.

 

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Here he is trying it on for the first time. It needs some adjusting, it’s a little too tall for him yet. We will get that right and do a final fitting then hopefully, he will be able to move himself around without hurting himself.

Great news! Thanks to the dedication of the folks at Hoof and Paw Vets this little guy is able to walk again…  Just look here.

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The Amazon Echo

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I saw the Amazon Echo online and thought that it looked like a cool device, it’s essentially a smart blue tooth speaker. How is it smart you ask? Well, it can understand some of your spoken questions/commands. Take a look at the Amazon page here Amazon Echo

Or simply search for Echo on Amazon.com – I was intrigued by the capability and wanted to see how hard it was to build an “Alexa” skill so I researched a little and it turns out that you build a skill from a template. Although that sounds simple, it’s anything but simple. There are several parts to the creation and publishing. I decided to create one that could provide some car insurance facts. The template gives you all the code that you need you just need to carefully follow the instructions and replace the key words and facts with the data you want to share. Having done that I was able to successfully publish my first Alexa skill and it is now available from the ever growing skills library on Alexa.

feature-setupYou can ask Alexa things like, “what’s the weather today?” or “give me an update” and it will give you whatever it can. You can also ask it to add things to your shopping list which can see on your phone when you are at the store. It’s very cool that way. Where it really falls down is it’s not linked to a regular search engine so if you ask it something that you think Google can answer you may stump Alexa! It is improving daily, there are more “skills” being added daily. I am very interested to see where this technology goes. I suspect that Amazon is going to integrate Alexa into many other devices.

One of the other cool features of Amazon Echo involves home automation. You can use “Alexa” to automate things at home check out my page on home automation.

Liz’s new acquistion

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Yes, here it is her new guitar.

LizGuitarIt’s an Epiphone Les Paul Special II

What a lovely guitar, should make playing Rocksmith a lot of fun. It’s a little lighter than the Les Paul Standard but plays very much the same.

Now a quick Rocksmith 2014 tip:

To change the headstock representation from a 6 in line to a 3+3 headstock do the following:

Go to the main menu where you can choose “Learn a song” and “Session mode” etc.

Press:

  • Spacebar (tools)
  • Options
  • Play settings
  • Guitar Head
  • 3+3

Cool Guitars

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Going to work on a new project Albatross DIY Guitar it’s a Les Paul style that needs to be built from the kit. I will start out by selecting a finish for the guitar then working on that, once I have the finish I will work on the body. Then, I will decide what the headstock shape should look like. I will fashion the headstock to that shape then finish that too. Once I have completed all the preliminary finishing I will assemble the guitar and put all the pieces together.KitGuitar

So here’s my kit before we get started. There are pictures of everything in the box (note, no instructions whatsoever!)

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This is the box with all the parts in it. I looked at the body and there are definitely some areas that need some filler. I am going to research the best way to fill it. Obviously if I use some filler I can’t use stain to color the body as the filled areas will show up like sore thumb.

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This is the back of it, you can clearly see that we do not have a one piece solid body but, keep in mind you can’t expect a $2,000 guitar. This is a cheap kit and so far looks like a good kit as long as you keep your expectations in check.

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This is a little closer on the body. I like the look of it even though it’s a very thin veneer. I tried a few of the pieces together and they seem to fit reasonably well. I like what they have done so far but on the right hand side where the neck meets the body the binding is sticking up above the body and interfering with the neck. I need to file that down to prevent it from interfering with the neck position.

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Line6 Amplifi FX100

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AMPLIFi FX100

AMPLIFi FX100

Just received a Line6 Amplifi FX100 as a gift, it’s a multi-effects pedal on steroids. – It has man built in AMPs and Cabinets plus all the pedals I could possibly want/need. It is a piece of hardware that has a bluetooth connection to and Android or iOS device.

I am using it with my Nexus7 and setting up the FX100 so I can play Rocksmith songs and use the pedal to play the tones that I need to sound like the song. – I have already created a couple of custom tones based on the Rocksmith tones, they are pretty analogous if you use your judgement to select similar amp, cabinet and pedals. There are some things you need to know to get the FX100 working and the documentation is pretty sparse but once you figure out the basics it’s lots of fun.

I will work on documenting some of it here when I get the time but for now, I think it’s very cool.

One of the ideas I had is to use the FX100 to find a tone for the CDLC I am creating then use that a basis to create a new custom tone for my own CDLC. It should be fun to try. – I just wish I had more time to do that.

I was able to set up a few tones, load them on the hardware and the navigate using the foot switches to the bank (25) that has my tones in it then navigate through the tones using foot switch A through D. It works pretty well, if you have the Nexus on the screen showing that bank, clicking the foot switch will change the current tone on the Nexus, it’s pretty slick. I have already uploaded one tone to the Line 6 tone cloud and expect to get a little more prolific with that.

Screen shots helping to create CDLC for Rocksmith2014

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To create a new song there are many steps to take, the order of  things is important to get a working song:

  1. Open Editor On Fire (EOF) and click file/new to start a new song.
  2. Rocksmith_63 Dec. 08 12.36It will prompt you to pick your music file (usually an mp3 file) Remember that you can make an mp3 from a YouTube video if you are hunting for a music track.Rocksmith_64 Dec. 08 12.38
  3. There will be a dialog that asks you some music information fill in the appropriate fields.Rocksmith_65 Dec. 08 12.38
  4. Once you have the song loaded you will see this screen. Of course you can’t see your song wave yet because you haven’t switched it on.Rocksmith_66 Dec. 08 12.40
  5. Select song/waveform graph/showRocksmith_67 Dec. 08 12.40
  6. Now add a leading silence to the song before you start modifying anything. You need this so the song doesn’t start too quickly in Rocksmith.Rocksmith_68 Dec. 08 12.41
  7. About 3 seconds will do the trick. The EOF will update the ogg file to add the silence.Rocksmith_69 Dec. 08 12.41
  8. Now under beat update the bpm. If you don’t know the bpm you have to figure it out. This is critical to getting the timing right. If you don’t have the right bpm your song tab won’t line up.Rocksmith_70 Dec. 08 12.41
  9. Now we need to set the track to which track we are creating. You can use part real_guitar for the lead or the rhythm you just have to keep track of what you assign where.  If you don’t select part real_guitar or real_guitar_22 you may not be able to modify Rocksmith specific features. Also, you won’t be able to import the guitar pro tab.Rocksmith_71 Dec. 08 12.42
  10. From the file menu you can import the guitar pro tab (Guitar Pro Import)Rocksmith_72 Dec. 08 12.42
  11. Select your guitar pro tab for the song. If you don’t have the tab you are going to need it or you will be entering all the notes manually. You can edit and create guitar pro 5 tab in Tux Guitar. It will allow you to play the tune and hear how the tab will sound. Remember that all of the component parts are very important. If your song doesn’t play the exact tab you have selected then you will have to modify to make it work in Rocksmith2014.Rocksmith_73 Dec. 08 12.48
  12. When you import the guitar pro file it will ask you if you want to use the time signature and other setting from the guitar pro file, it is up to you. Do what is best for the final outcome.Rocksmith_74 Dec. 08 12.49
  13. When you import you may have multiple tracks in the file. You can import the one that you want for this track, you can always import the others later. (The one in the picture only has one track “Guitar” so that’s what was imported).Rocksmith_75 Dec. 08 12.49
  14. Once you have imported it, you will see the notes from the tab and the wave form together. It’s obvious from this that the notes start too early in the file. To change that you can drag the beat marker to the beginning of the wave form.Rocksmith_76 Dec. 08 12.49
  15. Once you do this, if (a big if) all the notes line up with the music in the wave form, you are in great shape. Chances are they won’t and you will have to do lots of manual manipulation to the file in EOF. Take your time here as the final outcome will only be as good as your EOF file and its timing, song to notes and how they play. You can review the notes in EOF an see how they line up whilst you listen to the music in the wave form.Rocksmith_77 Dec. 08 12.49
  16. As you advance the music, you will see the notes in the 3D view lining up with the timing markers. You can check to see if the notes are going to be presented at the exact time that you they should be played. Remember in EOF you can fine tune the tab by adding, removing and adjusting individual notes and chords.Rocksmith_78 Dec. 08 12.50
  17. Once you have lined everything up you can import your lyric file, this will display the lyrics in time with the music. If you don’t have an lrc file you will need to make one. It’s quite time consuming to line up the words with their timing markers but it will make a much better final product if you do it. You can use UltraStar Creator to create a lrc file that will work with EOF.Rocksmith_79 Dec. 08 12.50
  18. Now you have your file set up, you can add sections to break it up in Rocksmith and allow the dynamic difficulty to be added later. Just try to break the song into sections that make sense. Intro, Verse, Chorus, Outro etc. These are going to be important for riff repeater use too.
  19. Finally, save the file and open up wwise so you can make the ogg vorbis files and the wem that you will need to create the usable psarc file.Rocksmith_80 Dec. 08 12.51
  20. Click on new to start a new project in Wwise. Once you have filled in all the required boxes you will have created some project files in it’s own Wwise folder.Rocksmith_82 Dec. 08 13.18
  21. Right click on the Default work unit and select Import Audio Files….Rocksmith_83 Dec. 08 13.19
  22. Select the happy birthday files from EOF then click on source setting on the right hand side of the screen.Rocksmith_84 Dec. 08 13.20
    Click on Override parent then select Factory Conversion Settings/Vorbis/Vorbis High Qualtity. Then select Edit…Rocksmith_85 Dec. 08 13.20
  23. Make sure you have selected stereo then click Edit… here.Rocksmith_86 Dec. 08 13.21
  24. Change the seek table granularity to 16384 and click OKRocksmith_87 Dec. 08 13.21
  25. Click convert and it will create the Ogg Vorbis file that you need. Do this same process for the song preview that you created in EOF. That will give you the files that you need to make the psarc with the Rocksmith Creator Toolkit.Rocksmith_88 Dec. 08 13.21 Rocksmith_89 Dec. 08 13.21
  26. In the creator you are going to create your Dynamic Difficulty first, this will create new xml files that you need. Select the DDC tab and click Add.Rocksmith_90 Dec. 08 13.49
  27. Add your guitar part xml file. This is the xml file you created in EOF.Rocksmith_91 Dec. 08 13.50
  28. Now select ddc_8_max_levels under options. Set the phrase length to 4 and click Generate DD. This will make a new XML file that DD in the name. It contains the information required for Rocksmith to use dynamic difficulty.Rocksmith_92 Dec. 08 13.51
  29. Now in Platform make sure you have only selected the platforms you want to create. In my case just PC. Then fill out the information for the song you are creating. Select a song in the drop down box that you already own the DLC for. It can be any song as long as you own it already.Rocksmith_98 Dec. 08 13.55Rocksmith_93 Dec. 08 13.51
  30. Under files select the wem button to choose your wem file that you created with Wwise.Rocksmith_94 Dec. 08 13.52
  31. You can select the file you want then when you create the song it will ask you about the preview file too.Rocksmith_95 Dec. 08 13.53
  32. Select the album art that you have for your song. If you don’t have something, you can go on google and under images select something that has exact size 512×512. This will give you the best result.Rocksmith_97 Dec. 08 13.54
  33. Double check you have everything filled in correctly and that your game version is RS2014Rocksmith_96 Dec. 08 13.53
  34. Under the arrangements click add. In the pop up box you can select the XML file for the arrangement you are adding.Rocksmith_100 Dec. 08 14.14
  35. Select the DDC_Part which is the XML with the dynamic difficulty in it.Rocksmith_101 Dec. 08 14.14
  36. Here is where you can select Lead or Rhythm as the arrangement. You can also select the appropriate tones. If you have your own or you just want to use one from another song. Rocksmith_102 Dec. 08 14.22
  37. Do the same thing for the vocals then, click generate. It will ask you where you want to save the psarc file. Once you have the psarc file (for the appropriate platform) you can copy it to your Rocksmith DLC folder. It is in c:\windows\Program Files(x86)\Steam\Steamapps\Rocksmith2014\dlc folder.
  38. Rocksmith_103 Dec. 08 14.36Start Rocksmith and your new song should appear in the appropriate area (Lead, Rhythm etc). You should be able to play the song, see the dynamic difficult and enjoy!

Rocksmith DLC

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Update: It appears that the folks at customsforge have come up with something that really works, it’s called the Customs Forge Song Manager (CFSM) it will go through your DLC and catalog it by name and artist. It can also export the list to a spreadsheet. – I have downloaded it and it works pretty well.

 

I am looking for a good way to catalogue 📇 the songs I have, so far, there appears to be no good way to do that. This may be a good project for the future. I wonder if you can find the artist and track name from the song file itself. That might be worth investigation.

Custom Tones for Rocksmith 2014

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I have done a lot of searching and so far, there is no easily accessible repository for custom tones. I will keep searching but if I can’t find one, I will have to start building my own library. I want to use the custom tones in custom songs that I make for Rocksmith 2o14 see this page Custom Songs for Rocksmith 2014

I just found this information about adding the tones;

In EOF:

  • Scroll to the position you want to have the switch at: idealy not exactly on the first note with the new tone, but a little bit before. Otherwise the note might get chopped of or something and in reality you would hit your pedal right before you play the next note as well.
  • Go to Track->Rocksmith->Tone Change->Add
  • Give it a name. Careful: The name must be one from the Tone Name dropdown menu you find in the Toolkit under Edit Tone. The same names will be associated to another.
  • Repeat for all tone changes
  • Under Track->Rocksmith->Tone Change->Names you can (and maybe must) define the default tone.
  • Your default tone should be added @ position 0 seconds

In the Toolkit

  • Make sure the tone names are the same as used in EOF
  • Under edit arrangement select the tones (base should be the default tone, I think)
  • I had to check the box “disable tone slot changes…”, otherwise my CDLC wouldn’t start