The Creative Science
The Angmering School Recording Studio - more details
DIARY: building and using the recording studio October 1997
Angmering School Recording Studio Project:
Sixth form students -
Peter Akhurst, Philip Machin, Sam Denny, Samantha Woodward,
Jonathan Talbot-Weiss, Tom Billinghurst, Luke Woodham
22-10-97 Intro. Talk
Gadgets and Gizmos:
A run through the world of electronics and things I have made. Idea to
inspire the students into making and getting involved in the project. Talked
about toys (flashing juggling balls), instruments (Magnetometer) as well as
my altimeter and trip to Geneva. Went OK but was harder than I thought.
Difficult to introduce a possible long term project when they have had no
previous experience etc..
31-10-97 Workshop I
Building a simple circuit:
The students designed and built a simple LM3909 flashing circuit. Some had
problems with the reversing of the copper tracks plan necessary for correct
PCB manufacture. Seemed to really enjoy making the project. Went very well I
04-11-97 Workshop II
Intro. to mixer design and building some microphones:
Tried to introduce them to the idea of the mixer. Talked about variable
resistors (sliders and rotary's) and the theory of the potentiometer. Talk
fell flat a little on the demo and explanation of the problems of the two
pot unbuffered mixer. However W/S really picked up when one of the students
asked if we could make a microphone. So I set them to all make a FET mic,
wire it and test it. Really enjoyed this - disaster diverted !
Motto - get them to make as much as they can and leave explanation of the
'theory' to their own questioning.
received some 'comments' from the Angmering lot about the W/S. nice
25-11-97 Workshop III
Building TDA2030 10 Watt amps:
Workshop went well (must make sure FeCl3 bath is concentrated to speed up
all the amps worked. Main problems due to: i) bad soldering, ii) not
soldering the odd connection, iii) not soldering connection pins or
forgetting to put in components. Trouble sometimes with amp instability due
to fly lead pickup on i/p's. The 1R + 0.1microF filter on Amp output found
to be very important for stability / quality of sound. As usual 'boys' seem
to be happier at getting stuck-in to making things and seem to need less
help / reassuring. Realised that I didn't quite know how to help or give the
right help at the right time.
Overall went well though.
16-12-97 Talk / Workshop at Angmering
What we've done so far and what's next:
Went over some of the skills learnt over the last few months. Talked about
thinking about, designing and making pcb's. Gave them a soldering demo and
talked about chemistry of the flux etc. Talked about capacitors and let them
wire some up to store electricity to light a LED for a few seconds. Gave
them an introduction to op-amps and how it will lead us on to the design of
the mixer circuitry. Gave out four handouts on above. They were in good
spirits what with Xmas, seemed to take in all I told them + came up with
some good questions as usual.
A nice W/S to have before Xmas.
15-01-98 Workshop IV
Building the mixer pcb's:
The first WS of the new year went very well. Discussed the need for a gain
and pan control on each input, talked through the circuit design and got
them to wire up the pots (one single and one double gang pot). This was
wired into a stereo amp which showed the pan(oramic) effect very nicely.
Talked them through the op-amp theory again, leading on to the summing amp
and then naturally onto the mixer design. They each built a mixer pcb,
Philip used his own design. Drew up, etched and drilled the pcb's ready for
the nest WS. Talked to Jan about the design of the case, which I hope they
can start drilling ready for soldering / wiring all the pots (also in the
27-02-98 Workshop V
Starting the internal wiring of the mixer case:
All the team were here today except Sam who has changed courses, she still
wants to be involved in the project but could not make today. Got the
students to fit, wire and solder the slider pots, phono sockets, switches,
resistors and LED's. Tested the LED's and all switches worked well.
Experimented with the log slider wiring and using a combination of digital
multimeter measurements and walkman audio link found the correct connections
to the sliders. Got a long way with the wiring today. I think everyone got a
go (or two) at wiring, mounting components or soldering. The usual banter
continues between Philip and Peter !
06-03-98 Workshop VI
Building the mixer:
A full day workshop wiring up the faders, pots and L and R mixer pcb's. All
went very well one channel didn't work at first but tracked down the problem
to a few patches that needed re-soldering. Team work throughout the day was
very good. Usually a pair of students would undertake any one task. Coped
really well with wiring the pan-pots which I thought would be the most
difficult part. Tested out four of the inputs with two stereo walkmans,
could easily make L and R output a waklman each or mix them up completely,
excellent. The first phase of the project has now been accomplished really
well and with a lot of fun.
27-03-98 Workshop VII
Continuing wiring up mixer:
Added the master fader to the mixer as well as wiring up the o/p of the L
and R mixer boards to the phonos. The joystick control has been fitted but
not wired. Got Philip and Peter to make up the VU meter pcb's and test them,
worked very well (first time !). The rest of the crew made up some more
microphones. Had a relatively relaxed afternoon session, I think we were all
a bit tired or in a Friday afternoon mood but despite this still managed to
get quite a lot dome.
As usual workshop was no hassle at all.
14-05-98 Progress Meeting with Jan Meering
Jan came over to the University to chat about the future plans of the
project, latest photo's and student involvement etc. Booked up some W/S so
that we can complete all the equipment so that the studio can be assembled.
Look toward finishing all the 'nuts and bolts' of the project by the summer
and Autumn as the test runs and recording sessions at the school.
27-05-98 Workshop VIII
Building an active extension lead, mics and boxed VU meter electronics:
An all day workshop with all the group. Most were busy wiring the microphone
inserts, fitting clip, heatshrinking and wiring onto the phono plug. Tom and
Sam made the extension lead box's. The first dicast box consisted of wiring
for 8 phono sockets, load resistors, battery, switch and LED all cabled up
to the heavy duty 8 way coax. Roughly 10 m of coax then fed into the other
box were decoupling capacitors allowed signal take off for the mixer. This
'active' extension lead allowed the 8 mic's to be powered by one battery and
feed to the mixer via a heavy duty lead. John and Luke made the box for the
VU meters and Luke did most of the soldering to the pcbs and internal other
Quite a long day overall, but very productive.
18-06-98 Workshop IX (Angmering)
Finished wiring up the VU meters (Peter wired LED while Tom and Jonathan
tested a number of op-amps to find the ones with the lowest offset's).
Adjusted both VU meters for equal deflection for same signal. Jonathan and
Tom wired up the dc socket for the Mixer. Tested the whole thing out and
tried our first proper recording test run.
mics to extension lead to mixer to VU meters to recorder
(all cabled with screened phono leads)
Worked really well, good quality. Mixed together three mics and two
stereo's. When we played back mix, we were surprised by the result. Sounded
as if Paul Weller was jamming in the background to the chatter of the
students - really funny ! (got this on video) Confused at the start because
the mic's were coming through on both o/p channels. Thought that we were
getting cross modulation via the power supply - then we remembered the pan
Used Luke's guitar amp as a monitor.
02-07-98 Workshop X (Angmering)
Jan came over with the school van and we took some 'recording studio'
furniture over to the school. Wired up the equipment and spent some time
playing around with it all. Philip and Tom are keen to wire things up, but
sometimes theres not much for others to do. Will need to really focus in on
the recording projects and design them so that everyone gets things to do.
12-07-98 headphone amp
Built Tom and Philips 10 Watt amps into a box to make the headphone driver.
Can feed 4 stereo headphones also has i/p, o/p phonos, volume control, power
sockets and a transparent lid so that their pcb work can be seen. Very good.
15-07-98 First Test Runs at Angmering
Nearing the end of term now and we all want to use the equipment we have
made for a real recording demo before the summer holidays. Made three
recordings and learnt a lot about pan, gain and mic sensitivity.
recording of UTOPIA was much better.
· James Mcgreathman and Stephen Snell, reading H. G. Wells, War of the
· local school band UTOPIA:
Russell Thorne (lead guitar and vocals) (recorded twice)
Ian Midgely (bass)
Chris Ladbrook (drums)
09-10-98 Summary and test run
Discussed all aspects of the Rec. Stud. and went through everything we had
made and designed. Tracked down a fault to a problem in one of the phono
leads. Set up equipment and tested everything. Used the labelling machine -
set-up looks very professional now.
13-10-98 Recordings and press day
Tried to do systematic recordings to see the change on recorded sound when
changing the pan positions. First run with all pan settings all half way L-R
(i.e. recording in mono) then next recording was made with specific
separation on each type of sound source (i.e. vocals - centre, drums and
percussion - partly left, bass and guitar - partly right). Latter recording
sounded much sharper and better tone.
Press popped in throughout the afternoon (Evening Argus and Littlehampton
Gazette). Need to get everyone to write down what we are doing, how and what
changes, as they do them.
Mocks and final exams over this period mean not too much activity with the
recording studio but despite this they did do a number of recording sessions
with local bands, Utopia and Widesream. Still experimenting with pan and
gain pot settings and microphone positions to get best sounds. The reel to
reel tape player is not as good quality as the Sony Professional Walkman and
so we must get one of these for the studio.
25-06-99 1st Workshop with new crew
Met the new lot of seven Y8 pupils that will take over from the sixth form :
talked about microphones converting sound into electricity (generators
etc.). Also discussed the difference between Mono and Stereo and the fact
that we have two ears (speed of sound etc.). Introduced the mixing desk and
the pan and gain pots. Talked through and demonstrated building a FET
microphone and they each then spent the rest of the time making one up. They
then tested their own microphones on the mixing desk and amplifier - playing
with the gain and pan pots and listening to their voices through headphones.
Page last update: 28th. June 1999
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THE CREATIVE SCIENCE CENTRE
Dr Jonathan Hare, The University of Sussex
Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 9QJ
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