Archive for April, 2017

Automotive rear fill “surround sound” with Boss DD-3

Lately I’ve been experimenting with rear fill in my car. Similar to matrix “surround sound”, but not a discrete multichannel system where sounds are meant to originate from the sides or rear; rear fill is intended to improve the front soundstage in a car which is normally pretty poor due to proximity to the left and right speakers as well as cabin reflections. Specifically this is implemented as a delayed, bandwidth limited, mono L-R difference signal for the rear speakers.
There is quite a bit of variance in implementation of this method, such as amount of delay, filter corner frequencies and Q, etc. After spending much time reading and not being confident picking some values, I decided to build a fully variable test setup.

Breadboard and bench test so I don’t burn up my stereo/amps, also verifying proper operation from the DD-3.

To handle bandpass filtering and create a mono L-R difference signal I started with two op-amps to first buffer the left and right signals and then another op-amp follows as a differential amplifier to create the mono difference signal. This signal is then fed to a twin T cell notch filter with constant in-band gain but adjustable Q to provide variable bandwidth around a center frequency I chose, about 925Hz. The bandwidth of the filter is adjusted by feedback through a potentiometer without affecting gain so relative cutoff frequencies can be changed in real time. To turn the notch filter into a bandpass filter the output of the notch filter is compared to the input by a difference amplifier.

Probably the most important part of this is adding a delay. The effect relies on psychoacoustics to trick your brain into thinking you are in a bigger space since all reflections in a car are early reflections. Due to the speed of sound there just isn’t time in a car to produce late reflections which give your brain a sense of “space”. These reflections are different from echoes which the brain interprets as a separate event. The Haas effect (or precedence effect) defines that if a sound and its reflection arrive at the listener within a sufficiently short period of time the listener will perceive them as the same event. The period of time is different for different sounds, but is generally accepted to be between 20 and 30 milliseconds. The goal with rear fill is to add enough delay to simulate a larger room with later reflections but not produce an echo.

I bought a Boss DD-3 digital delay guitar pedal for this because it is perfect for the test. You can isolate just the delay signal, the delay is continuously adjustable, and one of the adjustment ranges is 12.5-50mS. It has defeatable feedback so there will be no echo and it is digital so the signal should be accurately reproduced. It can also be instantly bypassed with the footswitch which is essential in identifying whether a change is better or worse.
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Thursday, April 27th, 2017 Automotive, Electronics No Comments

Spring tester / weight scale

This is another one I finished a couple months ago but haven’t posted. I wanted to test the rate of the springs in the coilover kit on my car, and manufacturers treat this like it’s some kind of trade secret. Except for a few; my kit was from Bilstein who gave me the rates but they weren’t very believable. I knew they were higher than what I was told.

So I built a spring tester. It is basically a weigh scale that can go up to 1000 pounds or so, with a way to safely compress the spring and measure displacement. For the scale I used four load cells with one at each corner of a 1/4″ aluminum plate and another 1/4″ plate to distribute the load to the four load cells and allow fixtures for various springs. The electronics for the load cells are INA103s and some more op-amps for gain. Since load cells are bridge devices a TDK DC-DC converter drives the in-amp rails with +/- 12V. The signal from the in-amps is offset and fed to an ATmega8 which does ADC and puts the values on an LCD. I am displaying the values for each load cell as well as the sum so I can see if any load cells are not being loaded equally which could result in an overload. There is also a button on an interrupt that allows zeroing the summed weight output. › Continue reading

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Monday, April 10th, 2017 Automotive, Electronics 7 Comments

Ducati 749/999 Tail Light

I finished this project a while ago, but never documented it. This is a taillight I made for my 749 before I sold it. I currently have a 999 so maybe I will make another one someday, but the 999 rarely changes out of it’s track/race clothes.

I was doing a lot of street riding when I made this, so I wanted something with better visibility than the (IMO) poor aftermarket replacement taillights. Specifically I was wanting to add a few high brightness pulses when the brake lights were turned on, but with a high enough frequency it would barely be noticeable. It catches your attention but isn’t really that obvious if you weren’t looking right at it. I’ve noticed recently that some fire trucks do this.
I’ve also been interested in a tail light with a light sensor so that the brightness can be ramped up during day time. Motorcycles need all the visibility they can get, but if the tail light gets too bright it will have the opposite effect at night and reduce visibility for people behind you. › Continue reading

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Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 Automotive, Electronics No Comments