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Modular synth madness

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Davesax1965 View Drop Down
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    Posted: March 18 2018 at 08:45


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 18 2018 at 08:48
Middle cabinet almost finished. This is the sequencer section. 

The other cabinets (one more planned) play leads over the Tangerine Dream style sequences.
Video below. 

https://youtu.be/BtDj9nE9xaM
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 18 2018 at 08:49
Back to the soldering. ;-)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2018 at 08:06

And this is what it sounds like. Live. Tangerine Dream / Krautrock time. You select individual sequencers (there are 8) by rotary switch. Six oscillators assigned to the sequencers, three to lead voices. Coming along nicely. 

https://soundcloud.com/brotherhoodofthemachine/tangeroid


Edited by Davesax1965 - April 22 2018 at 08:07
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2018 at 08:09
Two more envelope generators to build, that's two cabinets essentially finished. Possibly one more to go. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2018 at 17:41
Sounds amazing!*














*Can I have one?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2018 at 02:14
Well, I could always make you one - come back in about three years ? ;-))))))
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2018 at 06:43
The problem now comes with jam sessions and gigging - it's just about man portable at the moment. ;-)

I don't drive, so that's fun. Anyway, no real intentions of doing a live gig, too much hassle. But I've got a few jam sessions arranged in principle. The problem you always find is getting a drummer who can keep time to an external rhythm. Drummers like creating a rhythm, not playing along to one. There are very few decent drummers around here. One of the many joys of it all. ;-)))))
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2018 at 17:25
Originally posted by Davesax1965 Davesax1965 wrote:

Well, I could always make you one - come back in about three years ? ;-))))))

Believe me, you've no idea how long I'll wait for free stuff! ;-D
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 24 2018 at 02:09
Free ? ;-) ;-) ;-)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 24 2018 at 02:15
Had a count up last night - about 9,000 individual components, 25,000 solder joints, I think. It's all going to eventually spill over into a third cabinet, which will be full of more complicated stuff, so it's going to be about 14-15,000 components and 40,000 solder joints. 

"Congratulations, Dr Meacham, you've successfully built an Interociter." 

Believe it or not, it's all fairly straightforward to do. Just fiddly (in the extreme) and time consuming. After all, it's 1970's technology, so there's nothing massively complicated in there. Mistakes can be costly, you spend three weekends building something, miss one bad connection or do something slightly wrong, and fzzzzzt, it cooks when you switch the power on. 

The main expense is power supplies and cases, believe it or not (although I'm not building my own DC supplies and working on building cases) - the rest, in kit form, is relatively cheap. I'm now building from bare PCBs and panels. 

If anyone out there is tempted to build one.... drop me a PM. Drop your bank manager and wife a PM, too. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 24 2018 at 02:40
The temptation is to actually build systems for other bands *but* it's pretty cost ineffective, to be honest, unless I want to work for virtually nothing. There's always the option of buying new modules, at least in a lot of cases. The price of a kit plus labour means that profits are actually pretty tight, and, end of the day, people tend to say oooo yes, I simply must have a modular synth and then say ooooo no when it comes to paying for one. 

However. I'm designing a lot of my own modules, so that brings the cost down by a large factor. The problem is that the actual market out there is pretty minimal. 90% of people with modular synths are actually not musicians, but kids with beards making stupid noises and imagining that they're "experimental musicians". They tend to fixate on certain manufacturers and modules (it's all dictated by fashion) and unless you have a name, big fat no chance. I don't think I'll be giving up the day job any time soon, even though I've got enough designs together to make my own normalised analogue synthesizer. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 25 2018 at 05:34
Next on the solder up list, two of these... envelope generators. 

Then work out remaining space and build a low frequency oscillator. Actually, thinking about it, I've got a couple of spare LFO's which need debugging due to them being designed with horrible Soviet era transistors, which I'll replace with Western 2N3904's or 6's. 

Soviet transistors (KT series) are great. They're light and IR sensitive, which is ... interesting... and the pinouts are completely different than Western ones. Oh yes, and they're unreliable. So there's fun.

Envelope generators below - attack, decay, sustain, release. These are easy to build. Actually, I might replace the timing capacitors with tantalum ones - again, old stuff, they're snappier, but if you accidentally reverse the current to them, they quite literally go bang, and they have a definite shelf life. 

Old electrolytic or tantalum capacitors age, they still hold the same amount of charge but the rate at which they fill and discharge changes as they get older. This is why you don't buy an old synth (or any vintage electronics, such as a reel to reel tape recorder) without first thinking "are the electrolytic caps in it going to be shot ? " - as that's (a) money and (b) a risk in desoldering old components and resoldering new ones - you can lift traces and damage PCBs if you do it wrong. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2018 at 03:49
And here we go.

26 minute jam session - my brother and I playing three modular synths, unedited and live. 

In the style of Klaus Schulze "Sequencer". 

Free download. ;-)

https://brotherhoodofthemachine.bandcamp.com/album/modular-synth-jam-1-free-download
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2018 at 10:07
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand then I built another low frequency oscillator. ;-)


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2018 at 07:18
Great horneytoads, crivens etc etc. LFO worked first time. Red light instead of blue smoke. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2018 at 02:56
Two more CEM based ADSRs and a CV modulated LFO.... "say wha' ? "



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2018 at 03:01
I keep getting asked to build modules for people: there really isn't any money in it. It takes a day to solder up a module (or half a day to slap one together) - I don't have many free days. Whilst you're building stuff for other people, you're not building things for yourself, and everyone out there invariably wants you to work for nothing. They're used to cheap electronics, so it comes as a bit of a shock to them that you actually do charge for your time. 

Also, there is a lot of second hand stuff out there, which is cheaper than new builds. Plus, you get the non payers and whiners and people who "don't like the way it sounds", or snap resistors off and claim it was broken in the post because they don't want to pay, etc etc. I really don't need the hassle for a few quid. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2018 at 18:07
Originally posted by Davesax1965 Davesax1965 wrote:

And here we go.

26 minute jam session - my brother and I playing three modular synths, unedited and live. 

In the style of Klaus Schulze "Sequencer".

Very nice, good sir! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 24 2018 at 09:35
Here's the (terribly out of focus) webcam video of the jam.

Me seated, brother inexpertly focusing the camera. ;-)




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