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Modular Heaven... aka, my solder fume addiction.

For the last three months I have been eschewing many of my regularly scheduled activities in favor of building a modular synth, and a few DIY controllers.

Having made up my mind, I procured a very nice Weller variable temp soldering rig, a Panavise, a 3x magnifier light, and various tools and implements.

Given that I'm a dead-ass noob at electronics, I started with the Blacet 2100 Voltage Controlled Oscillator kit: http://blacet.com/VCO.html

Easy to build, sounds FUCKING AMAZING. One of the richest oscillators I've ever used - and that's saying a lot.

I then bought and build a Blacet mult kit, basically a simple mixer:
http://blacet.com/multi.html

I then moved on to another kit, the MIDIsense from LadyAda:
http://www.ladyada.net/make/midisense/index.html
Basically, I made a multi-input Dbeam controller:
http://www.roland.com/products/en/exp/D_BEAM.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D-Beam
Software programmable, each of 6 inputs is fed by a proximity/distance detector with a range of between 10 and 80cm, which then sends MIDI continuous controller (CC) messages out the Out port of the unit.
Imagine a 6 pole theremin that spits out MIDI CC in realtime.. yeah.
Anything that understands MIDI, I can controll with this. =]

Armed with the knowledge gleaned from building these, I decided to move ahead and start building from Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), instructions, and parts lists. Hardly schematics, self printed boards, etc, but a step beyond kits as you must source out the parts listed on your own and the build instructions are much less informative.. but on average going this route costs about $50 per module, give or take.


Best resource I found has been http://electro-music.com/forum/index.php?f=112 . Excellent community, very helpful even for beginners, tons of PCB group buys and such, schematics, etc.


Compare and contrast this to simply buying premade modules. The average module runs between $200 and 300, but some are as cheap as $50 or as expensive as a grand apiece. Clearly, DIY is the way. =]

Buying resistors, sockets, capacitors, pots, etc in bulk drops the cost per unit dramatically, with the majority of cost going into the PCB itself, the faceplate (nice professionally made ones cost on average about $50, but you can make your own for as little as $5..), the pots and jacks, the knobs, the occasional rare chip..

I did, however, break down and buy one premade module so far, a voltage controlled bitcrusher by Harvestman, called the Malgorithm:
http://www.theharvestman.org/2012.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMxmxuA4LZg
Mother. Fuck. This thing is so badass. Watch the vid.
Genius.

Anyway, so I've been soldering away, and have built the following PCBs:

CGS/ Ken Stone
http://www.cgs.synth.net
CGS23 >CV Mega Mixer
CGS30 >Band pass filter
CGS65 >Tube VCA
CGS21 >Super Psycho Modulation source.
CGS29 >Wave Multiplier
CGS57 >Bi-N-Tic Filter
CGS01 >Sub oscillator
CGS48 >VCO.
CGS36 >Pulse Divider

Music From Outer Space (MFOS)
http://www.musicfromouterspace.com
Noise Cornucopia
Dual Lin/Log VCA
ADSR
Sound Lab (complete monosynth on a single PCB)

Polivoks VCF Clone
http://m.bareille.free.fr/modular1/vcf_polivoks/vcf_polivoks.htm

#3 Standard Wogglebug
http://diy.czmok.de/Group-Buys.66.0.html
http://www.pugix.com/wogglebug.htm

Thomas Henry
- Mankato Filter
http://www.magsmoke.com/synthmodules.asp
- SuperController
http://electro-music.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17529
- SN Voice
http://mypeoplepc.com/members/scottnoanh/birthofasynth/id22.html

Fonik
- SSM VCF (low pass)
http://www.modular.fonik.de/Page27.html

Three boards from Ian Fritz (wierd chaos math..) have yet to be built, and I have a Klee uber-sequencer board on the way.

I'm currently in the process of finishing the Mankato, ie adding the pots and jacks and switches to the faceplate and praying that it works.

Of course, there have been casualties.. I am a noob, after all:
- The SSM filters smoked when I plugged them in, so clearly I fucked something up, a short somewhere, mothballed til I can figure it out.
- The BPF makes an ugly hum, mothballed til I figure it out.

For faceplates, I have 1/8 inch clear lexan and 1/16 inch raw aluminum. The lexan scratches easily, but looks pretty fly and is easy to work. I just got my aluminum, but it shouldnt be to hard to work. For cutting both I use a jigsaw with a fine blade, for the holes I use templates and a drill or a dremmel as needed. Labeling will be done with a plain old label maker for now.

But yeah.. this is my new obsession.
And it's gonna sound BURLY.
=]

More as it happens..
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  • This thing on?

    Wow, does anyone still use this thing? Been a long time since I checked in.

  • (no subject)

    Livejournal should just rename themselves ONTD and get it over with.

  • Interzone Lives! 8-3-12

    Your presence is hereby mandated under authority of the Emergency Fun Act of 2012 at the following point in spacetime. Failure to comply will carry…