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Modular synth madness

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Davesax1965 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 11 2018 at 07:41
I think you might !! ;-)

No, well, the total amount of pain is the same for the project, it depends how you spread it. ;-)

I need some special (expensive) chips for the oscillators and some 0.1% precision resistors. One of our cats has been ill, big vets bill (she's OK now) but I think I'll spread the cost of the oscillators until next month !!! 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 11 2018 at 07:46
Always "pets first". Eartha and Cleo, sisters, both rescued, very adored cats.

1500 bill for Eartha, insurance refused to pay on a technicality. Which really didn't exist. But you'll never win with insurers. ;-)



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 11 2018 at 07:46
PS "Eartha Cat", yes..... ;-)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 11 2018 at 17:39
LOL!
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Davesax1965 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 12 2018 at 07:04
Anyway, made a start on the VCOs. Three below. Just some resistors and diodes on at the moment - they cost about a penny each - unless you go for expensive precision resistors, which are ridiculously priced. 

The costliest single components for synth DIY are usually potentiometers (about $1.50 each for decent ones - knobs ($1) and chips, rare ones being quite expensive. ($6 up). One rare chip (CA3046) below, that's a transistor array, the other 4 chips are common TL072 operational amplifiers. One voltage regulator (78L09, +9v) - some 6mm trimmers to tune everything up and a few transistors (NPN / PNP ones) - few capacitors, mainly to smooth the power and to act as buffers for the chips. One 2x5 header strip per board to get the power in as well. 

It's a really simple design, no fancy stuff, all based around early to mid 1970's designs (actually based on the Roland System 100M VCO) - and they sound fabulous. Sometimes less is more with electronics. Should take about 7 hours to build the boards and wire them up - and then calibrate them, which is the fun bit. You just have to be meticulous when building these as they don't tolerate any form of error. 




Edited by Davesax1965 - August 12 2018 at 07:47

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Davesax1965 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 12 2018 at 07:19
For those of you who want a deeper dive, or are just interested in synth DIY, have a look at my Facebook page - likes are especially welcomed. ;-)

https://www.facebook.com/theallseeingaubergine/

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Davesax1965 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 14 2018 at 03:51
Soldering so far, two thirds done. 

Yes, I need more solder. ;-)



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2018 at 08:33
And here's what the new bits sound like. 

https://soundcloud.com/brotherhoodofthemachine/monobloc-01-done

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 27 2018 at 09:42
Slightly detuned oscillators, but this is what a Sunday morning around here sounds like. ;-)



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 27 2018 at 09:45
The sync is slightly out, but that's all live. A small demo of what the system can do, and that's only about a third of it wired up, and without the new stuff being used. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 10 2018 at 06:42
New synth cabinet beginning to take shape. 

So far, this is 6U - two 3U 19" rack mounts. It'll expand (gradually) to 15 or 18U - 5 or six rows. 

At the moment, there are three oscillators, three filters, four envelope generators, a phaser, three LFO's and mixers and splitters galore. The final design will have 9 or 12 oscillators, sequencers and God knows what else in. Lots more soldering to do. 

This will be combined with the other two cabinets (18U) which will form the main sequencer section - with 8 sequencers, 6 oscillators and God knows what else. 




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 10 2018 at 06:46
The whole thing gets built into an oversized case - I've got all the power supplies and distribution ready. It gets covered in Tolex and ends up looking like some bizarre Marshall. Necessary as you'll pay 1000 for a case and power supplies alone, and I have no intention of shelling out a grand for something I can make myself for far less. 

It's probably going to be worth about 8-10k when finished, I'll have spent MUCH less on that, having built it myself at component level. Combined with the other two cabinets, you're probably looking at a retail price of about 16-18k. For that money, I could have bought a very basic Moog style system with less than a quarter of the functionality. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 10 2018 at 06:51
Brother's modular - 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2018 at 06:54
So here's the big idea for the new cabinet. 

Using a design tool (Modular Grid) the racks above look like this. I build three more oscillators and I'm at this stage - the blank space is going to be used for mixers and waveslicers, mainly. 


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Davesax1965 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2018 at 06:55
This isn't quite enough for a system, so an angled base is put on it containing a sequencer. Two options, (a) just buy Doepfer stuff off the shelf - 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2018 at 07:00
Option 2, standard Doepfer modulation wheels, joystick and build a Klee sequencer, which is probably the route I'm taking. 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2018 at 07:02
Then build a case. This all sits in 19" rack frames, so !! Plywood, Tolex, case accessories and some fancy 1U case lighting. 

As a HINT, this system actually might be for sale. It just won't be very cheap. ;-)))) Yes, not an advert here but I'm thinking of going commercial. Just in case anyone wants a 9 oscillator modular synth. ;-)))

And this is just about half of my current modular setup. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote flyingveepixie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2018 at 07:06
Some pretty amazing kit you have there..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2018 at 07:30
Thanks, it's coming along. ;-)))))

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 01 2018 at 06:07
Subframe built (the bottom two rows are "as is", the other three are "example modules only). 

Third row is 50% done, fourth row is "to be started" but will be quite quick to build, fifth row will be a sequencer and will take some time. Coming along nicely. 

Next step: using 19mm (3/4") timber, build a case. Ply back. Cover the case in Tolex, fix the subassemblies in - the subframe, two power supplies, AEC inlet, distribution strips. Rubber feet, edge protectors (it'll look like an amplifier or cab when finished) - done. I've got some minor oscilloscope work to do, calibrating everything to get the best sound out of it. 




When finished, this sits inbetween two sequencer cabinets. And there will be no worlds left to conquer. The finished synth will have eight sequencers and fourteen oscillators. Which is like "end of the world" time. Six months away, I reckon. This is all done in my very limited spare time. 



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