After such an epic journey, it was going to have to be a pretty impressive 8bit, lo-fi, noisy, multi-mode digital audio FX unit and signal generator we'd be building. And with such a description, how could it not be? Impressive, that is.
It couldn't not be, that's the answer to that rhetorical question - and as promised way back in part I (or part one, for non-romans) - Here be a track demonstrating some of the effects capable from WävRüta:[audio:http://mrspeaker.net/tracks/wooter.mp3]
Yes, Aras Vaichas has certainly created a monster; a dirty, freaked-out, no-good, beautiful monster. And thanks to the excellence that is Electrofringe, it was now it was time for them to multiply...
Surface mounted 'lectronics
With custom-made (and very pretty) circuit boards in hand, we were instructed in the dark art of "surface mount soldering". At first you might believe such a task impossible: I mean, have a look at those components - they are really really little! A resistor could be carried by a single (reasonably strong) ant! In my state I had trouble enough seeing large items, like the soldering iron - let alone things that were getting carried away by ants. And I was never that good at getting big things to stick to circuit boards. So this was going to be a challenge.
But under the excellent tutelage of Aras, Nick Wishart and Pia van Gelder - it was all plain sailing. The trick is, you see, to apply a small amount of solder to one side of where each component will sit. Once this is done, the component is placed with one leg in the solder-pit you created - a small amount heat is applied to the leg, and hey presto! The component is half held in place. All that's left to do is solder on the other leg (an easy task, as the components will happily sit still, now that you have grounded them). All-in-all, surface-mount stuff seems waaaaay easier than the old-school way. I hate those shiny volcanos now.
Inside the WävRüta
The guts of the WävRüta is the ATtiny85 microcontroller - it's part of the AVR series of 8 bit microcontrollers made by Atmel. Aras has painstaikingly filled it with audio-munging DSP algorithms that will make you smile, and make you cry.
He has managed to squish 16 demented effects on to the chip: Feedback, DTMF, VCO, Speed, Crush, Wibble, Warp, Chorus, Phayz, Phlanj, Randgate, FM, AM, Square, Shape, Noise. They are all better than they sound (except perhaps DTMF which is exactly as good as it sounds). There is also a "signal mode" which is capable of generating a digital oscillator: Sine Wave, Square Wave, Sawtooth Wave, Triangle Wave, Sine Wave LFO, Square Wave LFO, Sawtooth Wave LFO, Triangle Wave LFO.
It has 2 channels, and either channel can be in "effects mode" or in "signal mode" - which is pretty damn cool. The input can be modulated with the oscillators, and the output can also be fed back into the input via a jumper, for extra spazmotic entertainment.
I don't know if it was intentional, or just a recommendation by Nick Wishart, but WävRüta is also very susceptible to a good dose of circuit-bending, which helps take the madness to an insane zen state.
And we're done
Well, it certainly was a wild ride - from the dizzying mids, to the character-building lower-mids, it had it all; bicycles - camping - electronics - jogging - you name it! After the heartache and terror involved in acquiring and building the WävRüta, one thing is for certain: Next year I'll be back for Aras' latest installment - and this time I'm getting up an hour earlier.