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Modular synth madness

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Topic: Modular synth madness
Posted By: Davesax1965
Subject: Modular synth madness
Date Posted: March 18 2018 at 08:45




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Replies:
Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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" rel="nofollow - https://youtu.be/BtDj9nE9xaM


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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: March 18 2018 at 08:49
Back to the soldering. ;-)

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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" rel="nofollow - https://soundcloud.com/brotherhoodofthemachine/tangeroid


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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: verslibre
Date Posted: April 22 2018 at 17:41
Sounds amazing!*














*Can I have one?


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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: April 23 2018 at 02:14
Well, I could always make you one - come back in about three years ? ;-))))))

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: verslibre
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: April 24 2018 at 02:09
Free ? ;-) ;-) ;-)

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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" rel="nofollow - https://brotherhoodofthemachine.bandcamp.com/album/modular-synth-jam-1-free-download

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: May 06 2018 at 10:07
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand then I built another low frequency oscillator. ;-)




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: June 07 2018 at 02:56
Two more CEM based ADSRs and a CV modulated LFO.... "say wha' ? "





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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: verslibre
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: verslibre
Date Posted: June 26 2018 at 14:31
Unfocused imagery is tantamount to the conveyance of Berlin School vibrations.

(said nobody ever, lol)


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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: June 27 2018 at 06:13
:-) 
Very "experimental". ;-)

The problem with building all this junk is that I now find there's no real venues to play it in. Most "electronic music fans" like crappy dance music. Most musicians around here just want to play tedious cover versions, so having to improvise cuts the numbers of competent musicians down. Also, amateur drummers (of which there are many) dislike playing to what is, in effect, a giant click track. Although you can amuse yourself by slightly adjusting the clock now and then and seeing if the drummer notices. ;-)

The local music scene is not really ready for "experimental music". 

Playing it is like flying by the seat of your pants as well. You reach for the filter cutoff and whoopsy, turn the detune down for an oscillator by mistake. Or you accidentally unpatch something and it all goes bull goose loony. However, it's not as bad as playing old modular synths as the timing is a lot more stable. 

You suddenly realise, as well, that if you're playing a modular on stage, you really have to go with some form of light show, or something to distract the audience from the fact that you're not leaping around a lot. ;-) This system is designed to just chug away in the background and have occasional changes made by the ..... operator, really. So other synths and / or lead instruments can be played as well. It's really like a giant Shruthi box. 

Portability is also an issue, the cases I have are built like T-72 tanks and also weigh about the same. And. Well, you sit there and it's like being in an early Tangerine Dream video, which takes some getting used to. ;-)

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: July 01 2018 at 03:48
Just plugged another two oscillators into the modular (with a third to troubleshoot). 

These each output up to five waveforms each - sawtooth, triangle, sine, square and even harmonic. These go through mixers and get incorporated into the general sound. 

Here's the result, this is just the synth burbling away with me switching sequences for each of the two cabinets and occasionally twiddling filter cut offs and phaser depth. 

Bit of soldering here. That's one oscillator. Uses horrible little 1/8W resistors as well. Little pigs to work with. 



https://soundcloud.com/brotherhoodofthemachine/befacomod" rel="nofollow - https://soundcloud.com/brotherhoodofthemachine/befacomod

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: July 01 2018 at 03:51
Did I mention these were horrible to build ? Finished oscillators top row, on the extreme left. 



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Posted By: verslibre
Date Posted: July 01 2018 at 12:47
Can you ship those boxes over here? LOL!

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: July 02 2018 at 06:06
If only I could. 

But I wouldn't. ;-))))

Seriously, Verslibre, if you want to try building your own, I'm happy to give you some starter tips ! ;-)

The Next Big Project has, er, 53 knobs. Lots of LEDs. Better get some new solder. ;-)

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: July 31 2018 at 07:18
Right ! I've really lost it now. 

What I've decided is that the current system is best used merely as an accessory. That just does sequences. So what I really need is a third cabinet set up to do monstrous lead voices.

And I mean monstrous. 

So the idea is - build four Monoblocs by Frequency Central (q,v) - these have six oscillators (based on a Roland System 700) - four filters (Roland and Moog) - four voltage controlled amplifiers, two low frequency oscillators and six envelope generators. 

Here's the first two under construction. 

I then add in another three multiwave oscillators (which I already have built) - that gives another fifteen waveforms - I've got a MIDI to CV interface built, got shed loads of mixers and splitters and multiples, right, that'll connect it all up - build a case - four rows high and extra wide - the result will be totally insane and probably set the grass on fire. 

Probably nine month to a year of soldering in there, but it should be absolutely insane when finished. So, six oscillators and eight sequencers in the accessory cabinets, I could add another few FC Device modules to the main cabinet, so that's between 9 and 12 oscillators in that one, result, complete madness. 

Don't wait up, but this should be, er, insanely interesting and probably vomit inducing. 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: July 31 2018 at 07:22
Eek, the knobs alone for the four Monoblocs will be $140. ;-)

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: August 05 2018 at 04:37
Some serious Tangerine Dreamery in progress this morning. Six oscillators, four filters, eight sequencers. 
https://soundcloud.com/brotherhoodofthemachine/sequencer-rack-with-multiple-filters" rel="nofollow -
https://soundcloud.com/brotherhoodofthemachine/sequencer-rack-with-multiple-filters

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: August 05 2018 at 04:42
Initial design for the lead rack. A bit of this is pre-built, there's a lot of work to do and the cabinet will end up 30% wider to incorporate splitters and mixers and various utility modules. 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: August 05 2018 at 04:43
I should reckon I've got about 55% of this nearly soldered up. 

Should be quite astonishing.  

Eventually.


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Posted By: moshkito
Date Posted: August 05 2018 at 11:26
Originally posted by verslibre verslibre wrote:


Unfocused imagery is tantamount to the conveyance of Berlin School vibrations.
(said nobody ever, lol)
 

(...sorry if this is not on the proper thread ...)

I think the point was, to have completely unfocused imagery and to pay attention to the audience's responses, as a way to find ways to go even further.

This was major in theater, with the likes of THE LIVING THEATER, and the experimental stuff that Peter Brook had started in England at the RSC, and then took to Paris, where his experiments were better appreciated, or at least allowed and helped, that even ended up with THE MAHABHARATTA, which featured actors that could not even talk to each other using a language and communication skills that were "visual" to get across the points, not to mention that the setting for it, on stage, was totally out there, and defied the normal conventions of theater.

It was also major in FILM, which had enjoyed folks like Godard, doing absolutely crazy and experimental stuff that made no sense for the most viewers at all, which was one of its greatest criticisms, and then so many others that were doing their own thing, completely different from the "normal" film stuff out there with stars and so forth.

MUSIC, specially in the rock/radio side of things was the only one that was behind, although it was alive on its own for many years, though it had no visible audience per se. BERLIN, in this case, at least after reading the TD book, became a center that intentionally went after this kind of material and this gave us a lot of musicians, that are remembered very fondly today, even if their material is so out there, weird and sometimes defying the definition of "music".

I believe we have this "idea" that it has to mean something, or no one will listen to it, when (for me) it appears the fact is the opposite ... I like to create my own images, and a lot of this stuff helped me elaborate the things I was seeing from the days as a child, when everyone called me silly, and stop seeing things that don't exist. In this sense, I probably would be a good musician, since the exploration side of it would be endless as opposed to "ideas" for creating a piece of music.


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... none of the hits, none of the time ... favoritism is not an artistic merit! www.pedrosena.com


Posted By: The.Crimson.King
Date Posted: August 05 2018 at 14:06
Hey Dave, does your modular have stereo outputs or a single mono?  I was looking at your cabinet and didn't see any obvious way of controlling the stereo field with a panning control, but I could have missed it.  Asking because I just bought an Arturia MatrixBrute monosynth, and the only way to create an interesting stereo output field is running it through the onboard stereo delay.  What it does have, is a CV I/O patchbay that allows connecting a modulation source to an external CV input friendly effects device.

Do you know of any effects processors that accept a monaural input, allow CV input to control LFO's/ENV's/etc that might control panning/volume, and then output the resulting signal in stereo?

Thanks Wink


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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: August 10 2018 at 07:21
Hi Crimson King ! 

At the mo, the modular has one output (mono / stereo) per cabinet, but the new cabinet I'm building will have an extra two. Befaco make some output modules - 



I typically use these - easy kits to build. This takes the 10v range of the modular (bit hot !!! ) and steps it down to line level. The line level outputs go into a four channel Lexicon Omega audio interface. 

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: August 10 2018 at 07:26
As for panning, several ways of doing it. Befaco and Horstronic do (expensive) joystick kits, Doepfer make one (A-174 model) so I could use one of them. 

Wooo, no idea with the external effects processor. What I'd be tempted to do is take mono outs from the Matrixbrute to two channels, not sure if it's possible. If you can get two outputs, of course, you're OK, just pass the channels into a stereo effects unit. I've got an old Alesis Quadraverb lying around which I really must get connected up to the modular at some point. 

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: August 10 2018 at 07:28
Back to the endless soldering. 

This is 45% of the latest project. I think I'm going to need a bigger boat.

And that's all the easy stuff done first. 




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Posted By: Quinino
Date Posted: August 10 2018 at 07:44
I can't disagree more: one should always, always begin right away with the most difficult work and save the easy parts for last, not the other way around as you seem to have done - now you will suffer extreme pain to conclude the project, needlessly

(don't forget to follow my advise next time)


Posted By: The.Crimson.King
Date Posted: August 10 2018 at 10:57
Originally posted by Davesax1965 Davesax1965 wrote:

As for panning, several ways of doing it. Befaco and Horstronic do (expensive) joystick kits, Doepfer make one (A-174 model) so I could use one of them. 

Wooo, no idea with the external effects processor. What I'd be tempted to do is take mono outs from the Matrixbrute to two channels, not sure if it's possible. If you can get two outputs, of course, you're OK, just pass the channels into a stereo effects unit. I've got an old Alesis Quadraverb lying around which I really must get connected up to the modular at some point. 

The MatrixBrute does have 2 output channels and a built in analog effects bank...but you can only select 1 effect at a time and it's pretty tame.  I've been posting on MuffWiggler/Gearslutz so we'll see what they recommend.  Thanks and good luck with your build Wink


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Posted By: Mascodagama
Date Posted: August 10 2018 at 11:45
Originally posted by Quinino Quinino wrote:

I can't disagree more: one should always, always begin right away with the most difficult work and save the easy parts for last, not the other way around as you seem to have done - now you will suffer extreme pain to conclude the project, needlessly

(don't forget to follow my advise next time)
Deferring the worst tasks for as long as humanly possible is better. There's always the chance that one may die before getting to them and be spared the travail.



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Posted By: Quinino
Date Posted: August 10 2018 at 14:03
^ You're right hahahhaha - I'll reconsider my whole approach next life and maybe I'll be happier hahahaha


Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: August 11 2018 at 07:46
PS "Eartha Cat", yes..... ;-)

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Posted By: verslibre
Date Posted: August 11 2018 at 17:39
LOL!

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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. 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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/" rel="nofollow - https://www.facebook.com/theallseeingaubergine/


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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: August 14 2018 at 03:51
Soldering so far, two thirds done. 

Yes, I need more solder. ;-)




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: September 10 2018 at 06:51
Brother's modular - 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: flyingveepixie
Date Posted: September 17 2018 at 07:06
Some pretty amazing kit you have there..


Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: September 17 2018 at 07:30
Thanks, it's coming along. ;-)))))

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date 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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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: October 01 2018 at 06:21
Oh yes, forgot. I may build an angled base to stick all this rubbish on. With more modules in, of course. I'm trying to build the complete set. 

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: October 12 2018 at 09:23
Well, here's two thirds of the synth. 

There's another cabinet (same size as the left one) out of shot. The left and right cabinets are part of a multi sequencer section with eight sequencers driving six oscillators. That's all effectively done. These Tangerine Dream away. The central cabinet (work in progress) has eight oscillators and will soon have a master sequencer onboard which clocks the others. Still got to build the case and power supplies for that. 

Coming along. 




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Posted By: verslibre
Date Posted: October 12 2018 at 11:31
^How much would it cost to ship that to my place in the States? LOL!

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: October 15 2018 at 06:37
Oh dear, it's 220v. ;-)))))

Truth be told, I am actually thinking of selling it !! Then I can build another one. ;-)))) This probably explains why I've hardly recorded anything in two years, been too busy with a soldering iron. At some stage, I'll do a gig with it, mainly for my own amusement, to be honest. 

Doing some Eurorack designs at the moment, been messing about with some stuff in Eagle - electronic design software. 

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Posted By: flyingveepixie
Date Posted: October 15 2018 at 07:05
Looks awesome.  You must have an amazing understanding and knowledge of electronics to build this kit.  I have a passing interest but wouldn't know where to begin...


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https://kennymitchell.bandcamp.com/


Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: October 15 2018 at 09:41
Thanks, but !!! No, I'm no expert !!! You should have seen one of my designs from yesterday, if I'd actually not checked it before building it, it'd have caught fire when I switched it on. ;-)))))

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Posted By: flyingveepixie
Date Posted: October 15 2018 at 10:18
LOL.   Still looks bloody amazing though and the kind of thing I'd love to get my hands on for a little play around with...


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https://kennymitchell.bandcamp.com/


Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: October 16 2018 at 06:14
Alas, Kenny, it's no longer man portable. ;-) At the moment, it's stuck in a box bedroom in Macclesfield. Being a non driver, it'd be a bit difficult to cart it around the UK. 

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Posted By: flyingveepixie
Date Posted: October 16 2018 at 07:21
Aye that's a shame right enough. It'd be great to see it being used on stage somewhere


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https://kennymitchell.bandcamp.com/


Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: October 17 2018 at 04:59
So would I. Macc is a musical desert, though. ;-)

The problem with doing any electronic music is that people equate it with "electronic dance music". Anyone dances at my gigs, Security can throw them out. ;-)

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Posted By: flyingveepixie
Date Posted: October 17 2018 at 05:07
Originally posted by Davesax1965 Davesax1965 wrote:

So would I. Macc is a musical desert, though. ;-)

The problem with doing any electronic music is that people equate it with "electronic dance music". Anyone dances at my gigs, Security can throw them out. ;-)


Too right - I would chuck 'em out too..!  I've never been to Macclesfield but up here in the North East there are a fair few live venues although I'm not sure what the listening public demand for Berlin School type Electronica would be.  I guess it's probably a specialist niche market. Personally I love it but I don't know of anyone else in my immediate circle who might appreciate it.   My experience of having Joe Average type people listen and comment on my own music is that my tracks are too long, too instrumental etc,  and most peoples attention spans can't handle it.  I suspect the reaction would be the same for hard core Berlin School.....


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https://kennymitchell.bandcamp.com/


Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: October 18 2018 at 06:12
Absolutely, Kenny. I'll have to have a listen to your stuff but I've been known to do 37 minute tracks. ;-)

https://brotherhoodofthemachine.bandcamp.com/track/hin-und-zuruck-3

This is a jam session using two modulars - completely live. 

https://brotherhoodofthemachine.bandcamp.com/album/modular-synth-jam-1-free-download

The problem I've found is that, if you're a mix of Tangerine Dream and Hawkwind, those fans like Tangerine Dream and Hawkwind only (no matter how bad the albums are). There are fans and fanatics and both bands tend to attract fanatics who'll only buy something with the right name on it. Not bothered about making a profit or even some money, but people actually turning up at gigs would be the bare minimum expectation. And it's so risky and logistically difficult that I tend to dismiss the idea as a very long shot. 

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: October 18 2018 at 06:18
Most of the web traffic I get on the Bandcamp site are people looking for free downloads or just using it as a cheap streaming application. There are quite a few people who listen to long tracks all the way through, but of course never buy anything. I actually can't be bothered with releasing music any more, it's not a case of "no money" but more "no respect". So I tend to play for my own amusement or with fellow musicians. 

And that's the way music will go, of course. Too many headaches to play specialist music live, too many headaches from putting up free music.... why bother with either ? 

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Posted By: flyingveepixie
Date Posted: October 18 2018 at 07:15
Yep I can only agree with you on that. I get quite a few listens on Bandcamp and Soundcloud and have a massive 13 followers on youtube..!    but almost never any album sales and while most who have the patience to listen to a track all the way through are quite complimentary, very few are actually willing to splash out the price of a Starbucks Latte and a doughnut for a digital album download plus there's all the pirate sites to contend with who steal the music from the Bandcamp page and either sell it for their own profit or give it away free grrr.....

  I'm kind of getting the same way as you regarding album releases and every one I do I wonder if it'll be the last as I'm fed up of banging my head against a brick wall and getting nothing back for my efforts - although having said that I've got a few new short tunes in the recording pipeline so we'll see...   

Anyway, cheers in advance if you have a listen - I've got elements of lots of different styles in my tunes including some Berlin School style sequenced snippets sprinkled in here and there....  so you might like it and you might not, it's pretty kind of crossover with not many of the crazy signature and tempo changes you get with the purest prog so easy enough on the ear ....  I'll check out your jam sessions..


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https://kennymitchell.bandcamp.com/


Posted By: Meltdowner
Date Posted: October 18 2018 at 08:26
It's a tough genre, I think there's way more supply than demand, not considering the music that already existed, but the number of albums that are released every year. It's hard to keep up with every artist/band and there's not enough time/patience/money to listen/buy everything. 
I was just happy that someone actually listened to my album in its entirety on Bandcamp last week :P


Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: October 21 2018 at 02:50
Aha ! Just found a conversion kit which makes a standard Chinese DSO150 oscilloscope Eurorack compatible. Right, three of these, then. ;-)

Let there be Blinkenlight.




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: October 21 2018 at 04:21
Scope thus. This is someone elses' rig. 





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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: November 13 2018 at 04:08
I think we're nearing completion. Well. "Nearing" being "complete by Spring 2019". 

I say "nearing" as the main case is reaching ludicrous proportions.  For example, this is 8% of the synth internals. (Bit complicated). One and a half rows here. 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: November 13 2018 at 04:10
This is the oscillator section for the main cabinet. I might add another three oscillators. In the middle of the two rows here, there'll be a selection of 1U utility modules - mixers, multiple switches, attenuators etc. There are two of these 1U rows planned - the main rows are 3U in height. 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: November 13 2018 at 04:20
At the moment, the two side cabinets are 9U in height and contain the eight sequencers, and 6 oscillators and filters, amps and output modules between them. So that's 18U. These are automated - there's a clock signal out from the main cabinet sequencer, this drives the others (at variable speeds using clock dividers and multipliers). Everything stays in sequence. So that's the automated bit of the setup. 

The main cabinet contains, at the moment, six oscillators and there will be another three going in. I also might build another one. So. 9-10 oscillators in the master cabinet. There are "god knows" how many filters. There's a master sequencer going in there which runs in the background. This can be switched on and off (flick of a switch) which means you can solo away and then switch the master sequencer to live. 

The key to building a workable modular synth is to have as many utility modules as possible, which allow you to massively change the sound. This is really complicated to plan out (there are websites which let you design modulars, such as Modulargrid) and to get a workable version is the result of much fiddling and experimentation. So it'll organically change. 

Got a 20U flight case design ready to order from a local company - I have to add power supplies and bus boards (which I might build myself) - then there's internal case wiring and testing, the modules go in in racks, everything still has to be calibrated but..... the end of the tunnel is in sight !! 

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: November 13 2018 at 04:31
To give you an idea of the complexity of the system - the Moog 3P, as used by Tangerine Dream, typically had 3-10 oscillators. Mine has 18 multi voice ones. I can output 48 simultaneous waveforms. The Moog could do 3-10.

One of the Moog oscillators could be switched into low mode to act as a low frequency oscillator. I've got about 8 LFO's in the system.

You'd have one or two filters in a Moog. I have something like 12. 

There were usually a couple of envelope generators in the Moog, I've got about 12 as well, plus slew limiters. 

A sequencer was an expensive optional extra in a Moog modular. I have 8 secondary ones, two master ones and two two channel backups. 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: November 13 2018 at 04:53
Let's also factor in my brother's 18U of modular synth - this gives us 56U of modular synthesizers to jam with. There are also about ten analogue synths we can use and two modern string synthesizers. 

We're multi instrumentalists, so we also have an entire music shop full of guitars, basses, saxes, flutes and percussion. No drums, though. 

The idea is to do podcasts - basically set up live somewhere, just jam along (possibly with some local musicians, if we can find any) and then release the jam sessions on either CD or as a free download on Bandcamp. All planned for 2019, watch this outer space. 




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Posted By: moshkito
Date Posted: November 20 2018 at 22:37
Hi,

Dave ... I got mad!

It's not yours!

"Moog Modular" t-shirt is a reprint. Of all my TD-tees, it's the one that I wear most often.


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... none of the hits, none of the time ... favoritism is not an artistic merit! www.pedrosena.com


Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: November 21 2018 at 06:38
Good stuff, Mosh. ;-) 

I must get something like that. Otherwise people might not think I'm serious about old synthesizers. ;-)

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Posted By: moshkito
Date Posted: November 22 2018 at 07:08
Originally posted by Davesax1965 Davesax1965 wrote:

Good stuff, Mosh. ;-) 

I must get something like that. Otherwise people might not think I'm serious about old synthesizers. ;-)

I'm wanting to say that if anyone can appreciate your dedication, it would have to be Chris Franke ... but it seems that he has opted out of the world of music, sadly enough. After reading TD/EF's book, I can now see him fixing something or other in his own equipment in all those early days ... that early part of the book is sad in many ways about that culminating in their freezing show in Poland (no heat!) and power failures.

And the show took place, and guess what ... it even made it to a double album! 

He does not discuss a whole lot the 24 MacIntoshes they had for many years travelling with them. Apparently they were all networked ... I bet that even Jobs and Wozniak were ... kind of amazed about that, if not there themselves doing it. In many ways, I think that this, in a subtle sort of way, is like giving Chris a lot more appreciation than is clear at all. Regardless of what happened, Chris ended up getting the equipment to work!


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... none of the hits, none of the time ... favoritism is not an artistic merit! www.pedrosena.com


Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: November 22 2018 at 09:47
Cheers, Mosh. ;-)

As a bit of a shock, I think I'm going to use it for a year and then probably sell it. 

And build another. ;-)

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: November 26 2018 at 02:07
Less than a quarter of the synth. 

It's a pity that spaghetti isn't conductive, I'm going to need a lot of patch leads. 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: December 04 2018 at 06:27
The main cabinet is getting near completion - just got to build a powered case...




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: December 04 2018 at 06:28
"I wonder what this knob does ? " 

"He builds synthesizers" ;-)




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Posted By: verslibre
Date Posted: December 04 2018 at 12:24
Dave, did you pick up a copy of Suzanne Ciani's co-authored book, Patch and Tweak?

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: December 05 2018 at 06:25
I didn't - am I missing something ? ;-)

(apart from any sense of proportion and logic, that is. ;-) ) 

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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: December 27 2018 at 04:03
One massive reorganisation of the cases to do - this is the synth in it's entirety so far. The middle rack is waiting to have a powered case built. The two side cases are the sequencers and sequencer voices. 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: December 27 2018 at 04:05
Sequencers, all wired up to receive common clocks (so they all run in sync)




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: December 27 2018 at 04:07
Sequencer voices - the sequencers push out two channels of quantised voltages which go into this cabinet. Essentially, it's six oscillators, in two banks of three with various filters and modulators. There are two outputs from this case which go into a mixer.





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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: December 27 2018 at 04:12
And this is where they live. Some reorganisation required to get the other case in. 

The sequencers produce the background rhythms automatically. There are two banks, the sequencers can be selected by rotary switch so you have a total of 8 patterns, selectable to run individually or in tandem.

In the interim, the other rack (which is being finished off) has a total of 8 oscillators in and produces the main lead voices. It'll be run (via MIDI) from the Arturia Minibrute in the foreground. There will also be an internal sequencer in the main case which provides master clock out to the sequencer case, keeping everything synchronised. 

The next step is to get the main 18U case built. I've got to add a back plate containing two power supplies and six distribution strips, then get the whole thing powered up. There will be another two or so output modules in the big case giving yet more outs to a mixer. 

Coming along !! 






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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: December 28 2018 at 08:10
Let there be Blinkenlight.






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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: December 29 2018 at 03:08
Thus. And that's about half the setup. 


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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: January 01 2019 at 09:10
A tiny example of just the sequencer section at work. This is not even scratching the surface of the sequencer boxes. 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: January 11 2019 at 06:10
Right, next step: build an 18U custom case. Or rather, get a custom flight case made for me. 

This is the zen of modular synth power. 

You've got frames, which the modules screw into. These are 19" rackmount jobbies, but there are standard non- rackmount frames available. Under the frames here are two "cheesegrater" power supplies which kick out 2.8 amps each, 12v DC. The feeds out are +12, -12, +5 and GND. 

You have an AC power inlet (IEC) which connects up to the power supplies (not shown). The power supplies kick out DC to the green PCBs, which are power distribution strips. (No wiring on here yet). The distribution strips - "bus boards" - have headers on them to connect the power to the modules via ribbon cables, again, not shown. 

All of this sits on a back board. I've got a bit of ply here, but the working board will be 2mm mild steel. The back board is insulated from the case (and AC in) by sitting it on square section aluminium. So, lots of cutting and drilling to do, which will result in lots of sailor language. After that, you switch the power on (hoping that you've not made any mistakes) - test the voltages and then plug the modules in with the right polarity, as reversing the +12 and -12v feeds has all kinds of nasty and expensive consequences. 

Job done after that. I'll have a couple of blank rows spare "for expansion purposes" - the real pain in the backside is calibrating all the oscillators, amps and filters in the synth. This can take AGES to set them up correctly. They're all tested and working, but getting them to sound right takes quite some considerable time and effort. 

Should be just insane when finished, though. 




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Posted By: Davesax1965
Date Posted: January 11 2019 at 06:11
I have no idea why I deliberately make my life this complicated. ;-)

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