07 July 2015

Waiting on a Habit

My Arduino-based synth is effectively bricked for the time being. It's not because of technical difficulties beyond the makers of a toggle switch not wiring their own product properly, but because if I'm going to do this, it's got to be done right. Plain project enclosures are fine for starting out or maybe if you wanted to sell your electronic creations. However, instruments should be unique, even if it's all cosmetic customization.
After looking around at some lacquer Bento boxes, which hold promise, pretty much all DIY synth tutorials and enthusiasts led back to the same resource: cigar boxes.
Specifically, the kind I'm looking for is from a company called Cohiba. I like them because the boxes are black (I'll save the wood grain for more Atari Punk Consoles) and, most importantly, their name looks and sounds an awful lot like Toshiba. The first time I saw their name, I did a double-take; even the font is vaguely similar. It's too good a piece of irony to pass up. Of course, eBay is a good resource for empty cigar boxes, but there's a small tendency for markups. Cigars are meant to be savored, so there's not much turnaround. Cohiba in particular seems to be quite popular with collectors (I wonder how many of them are making synths as well), so I thought I'd be clever and try to find some cigar boxes locally. I went to a nearby grocery store to scout out the selection and see who I had to sweet talk into selling me one. Smoke shops have this down to an art form, as I understand it.
When I got there, I discovered something that would have never occurred to me would be a genuine thing people do.

There's a waiting list.

Some boxes have Post-It notes on them with names and numbers, plainly visible. Seriously, the fits people throw over privacy agreements on Facebook and Playstation Network, and here's someone's name and number in a glass case by the checkout lanes at a grocery store. If I want a cigar box from a grocery store, I have to wait until that particular brand is sold out before I get a call, during which time my name and number will be on display. I somehow doubt even the greenest cigar aficionado thinks of the place they buy beer and steaks as their go-to spot for cigars, so I'd be waiting on that call for months on end.

So, eBay it is, then. Harumph.

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