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2017/07/14 Trance Family SF 7th Anniversary at 1015
π 2017-07-14 00:00 in Clubbing
It was 17 years since the first time I went clubbing in SF, at 1015 no less. Honestly, most of my experiences at 1015 back then were not great: stupid lines, super crowded inside because the venue's main room was too small, and sadly some of my favourite DJs were playing kind of boring sets compared to the great music they made back then.

When Ruby Skye opened, I went and never looked back. But TFSF7 was all about a trip in memory lane and nostalgia, and 1015 was a great place considering it had 4 different rooms were different DJs could battle with their best sets (and they were good). Thankully attendance was just within the venue's capacity (on purpose or not), so it was packed but not crazy crowded.

And the sets were just great. DJ Blur brought back awesome tunes back to back, I could tell he worked on that set before showing up :) and then the other rooms were quite good too, including some hard trance and psytrance which I had never been able to get before. You kind of have to be in the mindset for it, it's not quite melodic trance, but I was in the mindset last night and it was a lot of fun.

Thank you to all the DJs who came to play, and this guy giving great light shows:





nice outfit :)
nice outfit :)







Awesome psytrance
Awesome psytrance





Stay down! :)
Stay down! :)



40mn summary of the night (21:00 to 05:00):

2017/06/22 Droid and Friends, First Thunderhill 5 miles with the F458C
π 2017-06-22 00:00 in Cars
This day wasn't going to be easy. I had just come back from EDC in Vegas 3 day prior with a schedule of 19:00 to 07:00, and had to get up at 06:00, an hour before I was going to bed, just 3 days later.
Once I got there, the temperatures peaked at 115F/46C, and all the cars got way too hot, including the drivers. Then again it was just as hot in Vegas, so I did ok considering but had to short shift to avoid overheating the engine. The tires were also probably more greasy than normal, but on my last lap of the last session I got a 3:20 when my best time ever in the Mclaren was 3:30, so that's not bad :)
(hopefully another time with cooler temps, I should be able to go a few seconds faster still)








I got a sound defusing kit for my car since it was a bit loud :)
I got a sound defusing kit for my car since it was a bit loud :)


2017/06/16 3 more days at EDC 2017, Las Vegas
π 2017-06-16 00:00 in Clubbing
Another year, another EDC. Weather in Vegas was stupid hot (peaks of 115F/46C). I got another chance to try my new Neopixel shirt/pants combo, although getting all the electronics through security in airports, isn't ideal...






Before the first day started, some locations had small markets where you could buy all the rave gear you could need, for those who didn't come prepared :)


and you could spend hours making your bracelets. I shouldn't make fun because I spent even more hours on my LED shirt :)
and you could spend hours making your bracelets. I shouldn't make fun because I spent even more hours on my LED shirt :)

More rave gear on site if you needed it:


Getting to the festival grounds has become an increasing problem, moving almost 150,000 people to and from the racetrack in a 3H window, or so, has become a real challenge, despite huge amount of busses (the busses themselves had 3H-ish lines in some places).

those folks made full use of carpooling :)
those folks made full use of carpooling :)

Most people, including me, took shuttles, which took a reasonable enough 1H to get there and back, but they had stupid lines that could take up to 3H. The picture below is the best possible case scenario I saw one day I got lucky. Some people got close to passing out in the heat, and apparently one person died in line on the way back due to a medical issue that was not addressed timely enough :(
While Insomniac had plenty of busses, the loading was not streamlined enough and included a lot of unnecessary waits, making some lines ridiculously long. One day, I took another line to another hotel just so that I could get back to Vegas and then took a short cab back to my hotel:



Anyway, once arrived at the racetrack, things were good. Pictures of the grounds:

it looks less impresive during the day
it looks less impresive during the day









sunrise coming
sunrise coming












You could even get weddings:


Many carnival rides, but the lines were long at most of them0




And the ball pit was a fun place to relax :)




Pictures of people and signs:

bad ass tatoo
bad ass tatoo



Other people were lit up, like me:


I remember this guy from last year, awesome costume and makeup
I remember this guy from last year, awesome costume and makeup

expensive triple row LED shoes
expensive triple row LED shoes



Fun signs:

damn straight!
damn straight!



haha!
haha!


This year definitely had a nice collection of art cars from burning man:


dancetronauts
dancetronauts

nicely gave me a tour
nicely gave me a tour











Of course, EDC was about lots of great DJs, and lots of great DJs it was:





Armin
Armin





Awesome fireworks:

Day #2:


Ruben de Ronde played an awesome set
Ruben de Ronde played an awesome set







Tiesto was back, not playing Trance :)
Tiesto was back, not playing Trance :)



Another solid set from Above and Beyond
Another solid set from Above and Beyond





Awesome fireworks again:

Day #3 was sadly shorter for me, great lineup, but not enough sleep and I was too tired to enjoy the end:





PvD
PvD

After PvD, I lamed out, went back to the airport and flew back home to get some much needed sleep. I still had a great time despite this.

What insomniac needs to fix for next year: - no VIP lines at many shuttle stops, so basically VIP didn't get you in and out any quicker in many places :( - streamline the bus loading/unloading to improve throughput - Lines like the Village loading in front of Luxor, were 2-3H in the sun. That's totally not ok.

What they did great: - the Trance lineup was solid, even if the stage, Quantum Valley, was a lesser one - the searches were not over the top (I didn't have to empty every single last pocket of everything)

2017/06/16 A Few Hours in Vegas around EDC
π 2017-06-16 00:00 in Trips
A few pictures on the way to LAS:







Like last years, I went to attend EDC, and honestly I didn't have many waking hours that weren't spent there, but here are some pictures of the few of them:

I had a nice kobe beef burger with seared foie gras and black truffle on top. Pricey, but damn good :)


I went to the Luxor to see the Bodies and Titanic exhibitions. Both were good, but no pictures allowed:




Other random pictures:

gondola ride in 115F weather...
gondola ride in 115F weather...









And on the way to/from EDC, we drove through the nearby air force base, a couple of pictures:



On the last day, I did the high roller 30mn loop around sunset:










And that was that for Vegas, nothing much more, due to sheer lack of time.

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2017/06/02 LED Pants and Shirt Programmed With Arduino on ESP8266
π 2017-06-02 00:00 in Arduino, Clubbing, Electronics
So, this all started with some LED shoes I hacked to last 12H instead of 4, and it ended with me learning how to program arduino like microcontrollers to control neopixels (aka WS2811/WS2812/WS2812B) while being able to receive Infrared/IR commands. The latter is actually difficult but you go read that page to learn why

Since I've met plenty of people who complimented for my neopixel shirt and pants combo, and some who asked questions about them, I thought I'd write some quick page to explain how it all works and how you can do similar things, since it's more fun if I'm not the only one lit up at Dreamstate (which has been less of a problem at burning man).

Here is a video summary:

Show me the code!

Sure, it's here: https://github.com/marcmerlin/Neopixel-IR (but go to the end of this page for more details).

So, I have 3 versions of the shirt, let's go through them depending on how complex you'd like to go:

Multi Color LED strip, non controllable



It used a 12V controllable dimmer: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MHKCTLE which can simply change the brightness of the LEDs, which are of a set color. I bought the LED strip in Akihabara Japan, but I'm guessing something similar can be found elsewhere.

Tri Color Controllable LED strip



This version is better in that the LED strip has 3 channels, one for reach of Red, Green, and Blue. I uses a tri color controller like this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01410R4KS or remote controlled: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PBOJNZS
Those controllers can create any color and flash it at any interval, however:

  • they are a flat trip that doesn't really like being bent
  • all the LEDs are in series, so if the chain fails somewhere, nothing lights up beyond the point of failure (which is why I have extra wires soldered on to make redundant paths and get around breakage
  • I have had some sections of 3 LEDs where one color died
  • All of the controllers I tried have a dimming function, but it fails to work when I use the fade dimming patterns, which means they are full bright, suck battery and blind others. I've therefore had to add a 2nd voltage regulator where I can just dim the voltage sufficiently so that the current is then also capped by each color string and therefore the brightness is controlled (you cannot limit the global current fed to the LED controller because you don't know whether it's all fed into a single color, or shared amongst 3).
  • Of course the last thing is that all the LEDs for a color are in series in a single circuit, so you light up all the reds, or all the blues or greens, or none. You can't turn on one LED individuallly. This is where the next solution comes in.
  • ESP8266/Arduino Controlled Neopixels



    To fix the issue of not being able to have custom multi color LED patterns, where each LED/pixel can be controlled separately, the solution is neopixels (aka WS2811/WS2812/WS2812B). Each LED/pixel is controllable separately, which is done by a computer, in this case the ESP8266 can run my own programs to control all the LEDs.
    The ESP8266 is a 3.3V based microcontroller for low power use (good when battery powered) while the neopixels are 5V powered, but thankfully the neopixels can use 3.3V signalling from the ESP8266 while being 5V powered to light up properly. The one thing to keep in mind is that neopixels use some power even if they are not lit. In my case 200 neopixels, take about 120mA when they are off, and 4.5A when they are all lit in white on full brightness.

    Neopixels are almost infinitely versatile, instead of having them in single line strips like on my shirt and pants, you can also make display matrices out of them:


    I've then written code that receive the IR commands from the remote and execute different code that creates different light patterns, which is explained in more details and available on this page and you can get the code from github.

    Here is a video that shows all 3 modes, jump to 3:50 for the neopixel bit:

    2017/05/27 2017 Dreamstate in San Francisco
    π 2017-05-27 00:00 in Clubbing
    Last year, Dreamstate was in January, which was a bit cold and rainy when we got out. To be honest, it was much nicer in May, even if it was a bit close to EDC as a result. It was a great lineup, a nice 16 hours of trance with 16 DJs

    This was the perfect excuse to go try my new shirt + pants with neopixels I had worked on (including new light effect code I wrote and battery saving patch to run up to 12H on a single battery). I found a few other people who were lit up, but compared to burning man where you'd get "oh, 200 neopixels, so cute, I have 1000 Watts' worth on my art car, they can be seen 2 miles away", there weren't too many people lit up. I found 5 or 6 of them though:



    After some questions, I wrote a separate page on my lit up shirt and pants.

    Day #1: Video summary:

    Ruben de Ronde
    Ruben de Ronde



    Menno de Jong
    Menno de Jong


    Ben Nicky
    Ben Nicky








    Pure Nrg did a great set playing drums on top of that
    Pure Nrg did a great set playing drums on top of that





    Liquid Soul
    Liquid Soul





    Good to see Paul Oakenfold again, it's been 16 years since I first saw him
    Good to see Paul Oakenfold again, it's been 16 years since I first saw him


    hard to get Oakey smiling nowadays, he doesn't seem that happy the rest of the time
    hard to get Oakey smiling nowadays, he doesn't seem that happy the rest of the time




    Markus Schulz
    Markus Schulz





    Paul Van Dyk
    Paul Van Dyk





    After a bit of rest, it was Day #2: Video summary:

    Binary Finary
    Binary Finary

    Fleming & Lawrence
    Fleming & Lawrence





    Bryan Kearney
    Bryan Kearney



    Vini Vici
    Vini Vici












    Astrix
    Astrix


    John O' Callaghan
    John O' Callaghan




    Ferry Corsten
    Ferry Corsten





    Gareth Emery
    Gareth Emery

    Cool audio gear:

    this is for work
    this is for work

    but you can even play tetris on it
    but you can even play tetris on it



    Some crowd shots:










    Sadly, not enough people with lighting:



    Some people shots:









    See more images for 2017 Dreamstate in San Francisco
    2017/05/26 Jean Michel Jarre @ Berkeley Greek Theatre
    π 2017-05-26 00:00 in Clubbing
    I've been a fan of Jean Michel Jarre since the 1980's when I was a teenager. Along with Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre is one of the founders of Electronic Music. The two of them were popular before anyone else was even around doing any EDM.

    Sadly, I never managed to go see him perform way back then, so it was super cool to see that he did a US tour and that I'd finally be able to see him. Better late than never...

    Here's a video summary:



    JMJ did a tune with Snowden
    JMJ did a tune with Snowden




    JMJ is most well known for his laser musical harp
    JMJ is most well known for his laser musical harp










    Thanks to my friend Arnaud, we got invited to the after party for the crew:





    2017/05/24 KitTea Cat Cafe
    π 2017-05-24 00:00 in Cats
    Jennifer and I finally were in San Francisco on a day other than Tuesday when KitTea Cafe is closed, so we went to check it out:











    Jennifer made a good friend there:






    See more images for KitTea Cat Cafe
    2017/05/24 Dinner at Quince, the Latest 3 Star Michelin Rated Restaurant in SF
    π 2017-05-24 00:00 in Dining
    Since we were in SF to go see a Hamilton matinée (great show by the way), we used the opportunity to have dinner at Quince. Funny thing is that it's on the other side of the wall from Coi, with 2 stars.

    I guess they are Saison's competitor and honestly Saison was totally overpriced without being better. Quince is definitely a better deal, and had more courses (not that more is always better, but in this case it was).

    Some pictures:





















    Definitely a good dinner and Jennifer enjoyed the wine course (good pairings).

    2017/05/20 Verso Kyau n Albert
    π 2017-05-20 00:00 in Clubbing


    DJ Blurr
    DJ Blurr


    Kyay and_Albert then took over
    Kyay and_Albert then took over



    See more images for Verso Kyau n Albert

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