Tynan http://tynan.com Life Outside the Box en-us Thu, 05 Mar 2015 02:03:03 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator How to Get 3.5mm Audio-In on the Sony NEX-5 series http://tynan.com/community/nex-5-audio-in Ever since the first NEX-5 came out, I've been trumpeting its strong points. With the notable exception of the amazing new Sony RX1, the NEX-5 series is the smallest camera with an APS-C or bigger sensor. In other words, it's the smallest camera that you can really get ]]>

Ever since the first NEX-5 came out, I've been trumpeting its strong points. With the notable exception of the amazing new Sony RX1, the NEX-5 series is the smallest camera with an APS-C or bigger sensor. In other words, it's the smallest camera that you can really get professional level shots out of. The two big features that I've wanted ever since Sony came out with this camera are in-camera charging so that I don't have to carry around a separate charger, and an audio-in port.

The built in microphone is acceptable, but if there's any amount of wind or background noise, audio quality degrades very quickly. Despite the incredible optical quality of the camera, the audio quality when recording videos has been its Achilles' heel, making many videos unusable. All that Sony would need to do to fix this is put a tiny little microphone jack on the camera. The new NEX-6 and the NEX-7 both have microphone jacks, but getting that jack isn't worth the (admittedly small) increase in camera size.

In a desperate attempt to improve sound quality, I bought Sony's own solution, a microphone that clips to the top of the camera. While it's better than the built-in mic, the microphone was still vulnerable to camera noise as well as background noise. Plus, sometimes you just want to wear a little clip-on lav mic and not worry about outside sounds.

I searched online for some solution, but although there was speculation that it might be possible to hack something together, no one had actually done it. One night, as I drifted off to sleep, my mind circled back around to the microphone issue. I had been recording a video every day for a couple months, and I really wished that I could just plug a microphone in. There had to be a solution. I decided that since the add-on Sony mic wasn't that great anyway, I'd take it apart the next day and see what I could figure out.

Now, it may be worth pausing here to mention that I am not great with electronics. I have the cheapest soldering iron available, and I barely know how to use it. In fact, my method of soldering is so bad that I suspect I'm the only one who does it this way. Other than a childhood penchant for taking things apart (and usually not bothering to put them back together), I have no real experience with this sort of stuff. I mention all this, because I imagine that the following paragraphs are going to a) make me sound like I know what I'm doing and b) possibly scare you away from trying this. The reality is that I'm a complete amateur who's just dedicated and reckless enough to make stuff like this happen, and that the process is actually pretty easy.

So the next morning I woke up and began prying away at the microphone. It was actually pretty fun finding all the hidden screws and detentes holding the thing together. Cut down to its bare components, the Sony ECM-SST1 has a very strange design. It has two very cheap looking microphones, but they're suspended by rubber bands as you'd expect a high-end microphone to be constructed. One faces straight forward and the other faces directly perpendicular to the side. I can't quite wrap my head around how Sony gets good stereo separation from a design like this, but it does. Upon seeing the setup, I actually put the mic back together to test the stereo functionality. My guess is that the front mic is responsible for picking up all the sound and that the sideways mic is responsible for positioning. I mention this not because it's at all relevant to the procedure I'm going to outline, but rather because I figure it may give more experienced people some ideas on how to improve my method.

I found a pinout diagram online of the proprietary (why does everything have to be proprietary, Sony?) connector, which clearly labeled the microphone channels. Of interest is that there are actually THREE channels, plus a ground. Left, right, and center. Also of interest, the microphone doesn't use the center channel. So it's there for some accessory that hasn't yet revealed itself, I guess. I cut the left, right, and microphone ground, and wired them up to a microphone.

It recorded sound, but it was extremely noisy and hard to hear. Far worse than the internal mic. I tried reversing the channels, using just left or just right as mono channels, grounding the ground to other stuff, but nothing would make it sound anywhere approaching decent. Always noisy. This was pretty frustrating, because I was sure that it would work. I was impelled to give up, but the dream of audio-in for the NEX was just too real. There had to be some way to do it.

I clumsily soldered the tiny wires that I had cut back together, insulated them with heat shrink tubing, and stared at the blasted contraption. I cut all of the wires going to the two front microphones and decided to test what would happen if I hooked the front one up to an audio jack. I should mention here that the suspense was excruciating, because for every test I'd have to solder everything together, record a video, and then transfer it to the computer to listen and make sure the audio quality was good. But in this case it paid off-- I was rewarded with crystal clear audio! The first words ever uttered into an NEX-5N via a 3rd party microphone were "Oh god, this had better work."

Giddy with success, I immediately set out to figure out the best way to use my contraption on a long term basis. All of my tests had been done with the guts of the microphone strung along across the top of the camera. Hardly a sustainable solution. My first inclination was to use the now defunct microphone enclosure, adding an audio port to the back. I actually went so far as to drill a hole in the back of it, when I spotted the NEX flash across my desk. Now, I'm not sure if I'm just such a bad photographer that I don't understand how to use the flash, or if this flash is so bad that makes every photo look worse, but I never use it. Maybe, I thought, I could make it into an enclosure for the microphone circuitry. This would allow me to have a much smaller unit and a flat surface on the top to mount a microphone-carrying cold shoe.

Next thing I knew, I was prying apart the flash and had discarded the innards of it, leaving a nice empty shell to play with. A bit of drilling and cajoling later, I had my unit all together. Nonfunctional flash in front, audio processing on the inside, and a nice 3.5mm audio jack on the side. Triumphantly I recorded a video explaining what I had done and swapped it over to my computer to hear how good it sounded. And it did sound good-- in the left channel. It turns out that in my haste to put the flash back together, I had pulled loose one of the extremely delicate wires attached to the connector. The next half hour of my life was spent trying to fix this, and, in the process, breaking most of the other wires and covering the whole hot mess in solder. In short, I completely ruined everything.

I did what any other reasonable person would do next, and I ordered another Sony microphone to gut for parts. It arrived today, and I'm happy to say that using its cable I was able to hook up my original board to make the first ever fully-functional 3.5mm microphone port for a Sony NEX-5. Here's proof:

If you'd like to do the same, here's how (video at the bottom):

1. First, take apart the microphone. I recorded a full video on how to do this below, so I won't get into the particulars here. The short version of it is that you uncover the hidden screws at the bottom to remove the connector, and then very carefully pry everything else apart. Be particularly careful with the cable that runs from the connector to the board, because it's damn near impossible to repair if you break it.

2. From the microphone, all you need is the cable I mentioned in step one, and the squarish logic board. There are five or so wires coming off of the board. If you're a better tinkerer than I am, I bet you can figure out how to use them all to get stereo sound. If you're not that clever, just pull off all of them except for the two closest to the edge, labeled M1 and MicGND. I pulled those off, too, and soldered directly to their pads, but this was pretty tricky and I wouldn't bet in favor of me duplicating the feat. Better to just leave the wires attached and use them.

3. Desolder the switch. To do that, just pinch the switch in a way that pulls it from the board, while applying the soldering iron to the opposite side. Hold it until your fingers burn, take a second to cool down, and try again. You'll make incremental progress, feeling the switch detaching from the board. Just a couple minutes of this will get it off. I blobbed a bunch of solder between the two contacts labeled 90. I'm not sure if it's necessary to do this or not, but it seemed like a solid idea.

4. So now you should have a cable, the square board, and just two leads coming off of it. Now look towards your flash with warring eyes and start taking it apart, too. Just remove the connector part as we did with the microphone, and then remove the plastic sticky panels on the side and hit those four black screws. Whatever you do, do not remove the silver screws that are holding the springs down. It's not necessary, and I'm not sure there's a more frustrating task than trying to put them back in. Pull out all the flash business, keeping only the plastic grey shell and the clear plastic lens. You can also get rid of the big vertical piece of plastic inside the flash and the smaller vertical piece behind the big thumbscrew. Pay special attention to the angle that the clear flash lens sits at-- it's not obvious once you take it apart.

5. Next you drill a 1/4" hole in the side of the flash for the audio jack to go through. You'll have to do a bit of positioning and measuring to find the right spot for it. Only once you've drilled that hole should you solder the leads of the audio jack to the leads coming off of your audio board.

6. I covered the whole board in masking tape just to make sure it didn't accidentally bump up against the audio jack contacts and short something.

7. There will probably be only one way that the board will fit in at this point, so go ahead and put it in. Hopefully you tested this before positioning your audio jack.

8. Now just close the whole thing up. The two front black screws won't have anything to bite into anymore, but put them in anyway. The adhesive plastic will hold them in place and together they'll prevent the top from becoming separated. Use the connector cladding pieces that you took from the microphone. The ones that came with the flash won't connect correctly without some modification.

And that's it! If it comes out anything like mine, it will be just a little bit janky looking, but will function like a champ. Here's a video of the procedure:

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Thu, 27 Sep 2012 07:21:52 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/nex-5-audio-in
Sett SEO? http://tynan.com/community/1142466 Hey guys, I'm curious about if theres anything I need to do to optimize SEO for my site powered by Sett. Apparently google can't find the robots.txt and I'm not sure if I need a sitemap like other wordpress sites.

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Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:10:40 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1142466
New SETT Blogs http://tynan.com/community/42181 Hey guys, I'd like to stop by your site and connect with all the new SETT bloggers getting started since the launch.   Post your URLs!


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Sat, 26 Jan 2013 15:30:09 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/42181
Bitcoin is so cheap now, thoughts? http://tynan.com/community/1139829 Last time i checked on coinbase a bitcoin only costs $220 and I've seen prices at $180. The trend seems that bitcoin is dropping, what do you guys think of this? Is it a good time to buy? If ~$200 is market value, what do you guys think actual value is (of course "actual" is speculative)

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Fri, 23 Jan 2015 01:34:57 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1139829
Rialta remodel http://tynan.com/community/11323 I bought a 1996 Winnebago Rialta to live in starting when the lease on my house is done at the end of May. Obviously Tynan was an inspiration in the sense that I would never have considered an RV if not for him, but long before he and I reconnected I'd always taken the stance that I would live in the smallest living space possible as long as I had a great kitchen.

So, when I was looking around at apartments in Seattle's Capitol Hill recently and dreading moving into a lousy studio in some nice building's basement with an electric stove and a crummy refrigerator, I thought, wait a minute, Tynan's got a great kitchen in his RV. Time to put my money where my mouth is.

I've done a fair amount of work on it. The Community section of tynan.com is a perfect place to log this stuff. I'll post some status here in a minute.

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Sun, 25 Mar 2012 03:33:55 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/11323
Question about computer being faster and able to run programs faster http://tynan.com/community/1136288 My question is for those computer guys. I have 3 computers in my house. I have 2 Acers and 1 Dell laptop. I bought them at Wal-Mart, so they are the basic computers. I have Verizon FIOS internet service, which I believe to be a pretty fast connection service.

Lately, all of the computers have a pop up on bottom right of screen that says "High Disk Usage" and another pop up in the middle/top of screen that asks "Do you want to kill page or wait". This just started happening about a month ago. Sometimes it takes 30 seconds or more to load a new web page.

I do a "disk cleanup" and it helps a little. There isn't much to clean up if you do that several times a day.

One of the computers has a tendency now to just lose the internet connection when this "kill or wait" occurs. If I turn the computer off and back on, it works.

Any suggestions on what to do to end this problem?


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Mon, 19 Jan 2015 15:47:39 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1136288
Thoughts on My Habit Building Process? http://tynan.com/community/1123193 I've been playing around with different ideas and techniques for habit building over the years, and this is my most recent take on it (well, the short version):

Each month, I publish a list of the habits I’m currently trying to establish in my life on my blog (like “only do one cheat meal per week”) and document my day-to-day successes and failures via Google Docs. And then I punish myself for the latter ones… $10 for every single time I didn’t stick to a habit.

If you want to read about my process in more detail:


Since habit building is one of the main things Tynan talks about (that's why I started reading his blog in the first place) and since I imagine his readers to be pretty experienced with habit building strategies as well, I would be very interested in your feedback, to further optimize my process! Specifically:

  • Do you use self-punishment as well and if yes, what types of self-punishment?
  • Do you also use incentives to get yourself to do certain things? (not part of my process at all yet...). If yes, what kind of incentives?
  • What types of habits are you primarily working on? Which ones do you struggle the most with?

I would be super interested to hear your ideas!



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Sun, 11 Jan 2015 21:48:03 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1123193
Review of The Profit: Marc Lemonis http://tynan.com/community/1103465 I like business ideas. I started watching the show "The Profit" with Marc Lemonis last year. It came on after Sharktank, which I also like that show. This guy, Marc Lemonis, is a pretty sharp character. I believe his main business is CampingWorld, or he has a majority interest. He was integral in getting that company to sponsor the NASCAR "CampingWorld" Truck Series.

Marc strolls into a financially struggling business and looks for a way to write a check to get the business the money it needs to get on the right track. He also takes a big share of ownership and takes 100% control of the People, Process and Products. It is usually a very humiliating time for the owner of the struggling business as Marc points out every little flaw about the person and their business. I admit, some of the owners needed a kick in the butt to get their head back into the game. There are other people that are so busy trying to keep their heads above water financially that they were unable to make any big changes.

I have read the book "The Magic of Thinking Big". Marc Lemonis has the thinking big in every situation. He has an episode with a woman that has a popcorn stand at an amusement park, and he immediately jumps into producing bags of popcorn to ship to stores across the USA. He does the same with a little candy shop that has been operating in a residential area.

It will be interesting to see how his partnerships materialize. This is only the 3rd year of the show, so the businesses Marc has invested in are still in the infancy of his changes. I would recommend the show to entrepreneurs. The show has a lot of good moments about business ideas, personal relationships in business, and budget/expense forecasting. The episodes are real people in real businesses.

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Sun, 04 Jan 2015 23:51:56 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1103465
Forgive and Live http://tynan.com/community/1085982 I have never been able to hold a grudge or ill will towards others. I was always taught to forgive and release the anger from my heart. When things are happening bad to you, it is somewhat a reaction to want to invoke some type of revenge on the other party. If you over react, and do something harmful to the other person, you may face more trouble and/or continue the bad situation.

There is a saying "What comes around, goes around". And that statement has come true for me many times. You may hold the upper hand today, but you may not in the future. So, use your power cautiously.

One incident that greatly affected me occurred when I was 12 years old. I was pretty good at sports (not great, but not bad). I loved playing baseball, and practiced every moment I could. I was good enough to make the All Star team for my little league. I was so proud and excited when I made that team.

The coaches of that team were a few young guys (mid 20's) that had grown up playing in the little league. They were given their first chance to take over the All Star team, which was an honor for them since usually the coaches were the long time organizers of the little league. They were now given the reins and responsibility. I was only 12 years old, but I could see that these guys were big kids rather than mature adults. At first, I was kind of happy because I thought these guys wouldn't be so strict like the older coaches.

These young coaches started out very serious, but that didn't last long. We practiced everyday, and with each day they digressed into saying smart aleck, sarcastic comments all practice. They tried to get kids to start doing the same thing to other kids on the team to gang up on a particular kid. They were just a bunch of clowns that didn't know how to supervise kids. As you can imagine, the wise cracking got around to me as the victim at some point, and the fun of playing baseball abruptly ended for me. I quit the team because I wasn't going to allow them to harass me. This ended my friendships with several of my teammates permanently as they continued to talk about me after I quit. It was quite devastating at the time, as I was very upset and isolated. The further frustrating part was that my parents, nor any other people at the little league put a stop to this ridiculous behavior.

I continued to be dismayed about the unfairness through my college years, because I was still around many of the former teammates that still talked about that team. I remember being bitter because these fools had been given a responsibility and had damaged friendships. And they had gotten away with it with no repercussions.

I took that experience and decided that if I was ever given an opportunity to be in charge, that I would make sure that every kid (or person) was respected. I want everyone to feel as they are apart of the team, whether they are the star player or the least gifted. I vowed that I would build confidence in people, and trust, and camaraderie of all the participants.

Many years later, I had several golden opportunities to get revenge on the former knucklehead coaches. I got into law enforcement, and they were on the other side of the law (lol). I will never forget the first time I saw the "head coach" come into the jail. He looked like he had been on drugs and hadn't sleep in days. He looked pathetic. I immediately thought to myself, wow, how the tables get turned.

Instead of getting revenge, because I wasn't upset at him anymore. I decided to show him what a real person is supposed to do in treating people. I talked to him. I asked him what was going on in his life. What problems and issues is he dealing with in life. His story was that he was addicted to drugs, had lost his job, and now about to lose his marriage and kids. He was about as low on feelings as a person could be. I told him that I could get him enrolled into an excellent drug rehab program. I told him that it is a self help program, and he has to put in the work to get through the program, and that it could change his life. He agreed to do that program. I then got his wife on the phone, and gave him a chance to talk to her in a sober state. He told her that he wanted to change his life.

I assisted him to get into the drug program. I checked on him every so often to encourage him to keep going and stay positive. I never mentioned anything about the incident at the little league. I just kept my conversations on what was important...getting him help. He graduated from the drug program. He got back with his wife and kids. And, I never saw him again, so I assume he is living okay. That was about 8 years ago.

I have only told this story one time. I told a person about it right after the guy graduated the drug program. The person told me they would have slammed him with more charges and made sure he got prison time. They said, "You're a bigger person than I am". I later had problems with that person, and they were hell to deal with for years.

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Sun, 28 Dec 2014 17:49:06 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1085982
Why is it that businesses fail? http://tynan.com/community/1069983 There are various reasons for small businesses not succeeding. The first reason I would say is that they lack having a system oriented approach...like franchises. The small business usually doesn't have a policy manual to follow. They make decisions based on reacting to what is happening at the time. They don't have a training manual or procedure to keep focus on what everyone's responsibilities are.

1. Budgeting: There is rarely a money or budget system in place to manage expenses or plan out purchases. If money is available, they buy what they think will get them more money in the short term.

2. Disagreements and decision making: There are usually disagreements or fallouts among the business owners, managers and employees. When the business starts, no one wants to think of how to deal with disagreements because everyone is positive. When disagreements start, there is no format to follow for who has the power to make the final decision. And, there are some people that don't want to be the person blamed for making a bad decision, so they stay quiet, and wait for the opportunity to blame someone else.

3. Competition: There is always competition popping up. I once worked for a restaurant that was the first delivery Chinese food in our city. As soon as we got super busy, and the word got around, there was 7 new Chinese delivery restaurants within 2 miles of our establishment. Of course, most all of the restaurants failed because of over saturation of the market.

4. Changes in customer habits: There have been multitudes of businesses that failed due to customers changing their routines. When Wal-Mart came to town, they knocked out a lot of Mom and Pop stores who couldn't challenge Wal-Mart on price. We hardly have an independent grocery store in town. Only in the low income areas that other stores wouldn't locate a chain store in the neighborhood because of crime and poverty.

There are more reasons that things don't work out. I laid out what I think are the fundamental reasons.

What is your opinion and/or experiences?

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Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:33:25 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1069983