September/October Synth-DIY Progress Report

It’s been a while since I’ve done a thorough list of the synth stuff I’m working on. I’ve been busy actually building it, amongst other things. However, I can now proudly state that I own a modular synthesizer. It’s not much yet:

  • Blacet MIDIverter
  • Blacet Miniwave
  • Blacet Dual Filter
  • MFOS VCLFO (which seems to need some work, as it’s always going kind of fast, as in several hundred hertz fast. grrr. Fixed: Transistor was in backwards. WTF?)
  • MFOS ADSR
  • Dual Natural Rhythm Music/Buchla Low Pass Gate
  • CGS Real Ring Modulator (I had actually put this together last year, but didn’t get around to properly housing it until recently – It served as a ‘good enough’ VCA until the LPGs were done.)

I’m using my Sound Lab as a “dual VCO” for the moment, since I don’t have any VCOs in the modular yet. The combination was working well enough to at least mess around with at Recycled Rainbow.

Want to hear what it sounds like? Here’s an example that actually uses every module currently installed (the RRM is removed, since it’s now going in the second row, and will likely get some functionality added…)  – modularex1.mp3 – The Arduino Sequencer is sending MIDI to the MIDIVerter. That sends CV to the Sound Lab, Gate to the ADSR, and for fun, the clock signal to the bank select on the Mini Wave. The Waveform select on the Mini Wave is coming from the VCLFO, and input to the Mini Wave from the Sound Lab. Output is going from the MW to the Dual Filter, and from there into an LPG acting as a VCA, getting its CV from the ADSR. The output from there went into the USB soundcard that seems a little more ‘done’ now after a re-capping.

Projects still to come (things in various states of construction, from most done to least, roughly):

  • Thomas Henry SN-Voice (build completed, but acting *very* weird. As of right now, I can get the LFO to produce output if I short the square/noise output to ground, and that’s about it. Need to try to test some more functionality (like the EG), too…)
  • Rene Schmitz 4069 VCO (completed, but seemingly non-functional. Need to try testing again.)
  • Gristleizer (Gauss Markov PCB. Done, but buggy? Still trying to figure out problems. Still using a cardboard box as enclosure.)
  • Thomas Henry SN76477 Super Controller (board populated, panel drilled and mostly populated.)
  • Thomas Henry Mega Percussive Synthesizer (board populated. Still determining if it’s going in a module or a standalone unit, or something else)
  • Jürgen Haible Phaser/Filter (board done. Need to do enclosure.)
  • Fonitronik Sequential Switch (x2) (boards mostly done)
  • MFOS Quantizer (almost done. Just needs a trimmer and a panel, really)
  • MIDIbox SID (some boards populated. figuring out front panel/enclosure.)
  • Fonitronik PS3100 resonators (About half done. Need to get the Vactrols, maybe other parts.)
  • A Baby 10-ish sequencer (IC sockets populated)
  • Arduinome (some parts/stuff acquired, but no motion yet)

The to-buy/etch(?) list:

  • Some TH XR2206 VCO PCBs – I’ve got 3 or 4 of the chips, but nothing to use them in yet. Two PCBs have been ordered and  will be on their way soon.
  • Some delay-based effects – I’ve got ten PT2399 delay ICs  that are begging to be used.
  • Some other effects.

Things on the drawing board:

  • Some sort of Arduino-based module. Probably kept pretty generic, but with some definite influence from the arduino_synth Yahoo Group.  I’m also really into the idea of the Cantarino speech synthesis project that’s been circulating around the interwebs lately. Imagine it with voltage control!
  • The followup to my Arduino Sequencer. I’ve got a cool enclosure that’s just asking to be a sequencer and/or controller. I’m starting to sketch out how I want it to work, and figuring out how to make that possible. I also need to somehow move away from the current Arduino Sequencer – it’s too darn fragile. I suppose I can use it to get MIDI into my QY10 or MMT8, and then have whichever of those run out to the Midiverter to CV/Gate the MG-1 or Sound Lab. We’ll see…
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