Soundbrigades Modular Project

Disclaimer: There will probably not be a finish to neither this thread nor the modulare synthsesizer I ACCIDENTLY (I have to stress accidently) started to build, either a year or seven years ago - have a pick!

I suffered my first heart arrest in 2006 and the second, that nearly shipped me 8 ft beneath Earth’s surface. Both of them have made bad things to my normal letargy and I have so difficult finishing my projects and that’s much how this one came to be …

So starting from the beginning.
I did find Ray Wilson’s MFOS and got me the Soundlab ver 0.0 (and later Mk 2). However sometime while trying to finish those two projects I ran into the modules from CGS and just had to have the analog shiftregister and the digital noise generator. These modules may have been purchased some 7-8 years ago, I cannot remember really.

Fast forward.

I March 2020 I ended up with a Concertmate MG-1 and tried to copy the PCB, using more available potentiometers and switches, but ran out of energy and instead turned my eyes to different modules that could do the job a bit better (differently) and had in a few weeks time finished Gerber files for some basic modules:
Yusynth’s VCOs with 2SC1583 and LM394
Yusynth’s EMS VCF Clone
Yusynth’s S&H & noise module
Yusynth’s ADSR
Thomas Henry’s VCA
MFOS’ Ring modulator
MFOS’ dual LFO
Scott Barnardi’s Echo module

Adding two modules from Barton - Quantizers and Arpeggiator. The quantizers will work great with sequenzers!
Other modules from CGS - Infinity Melody, PsychLFO and the tube VCA.
And from an earlier purchase I had to add MFOS’ keyboard controller. I stuff this one into the rack so I can use it with a keybard as well as a ribbon.

So this projects lives its very own life or as we say here in Sweden - “Give the devil a finger and he takes your whole arm …”.
Much like the theory for the Big Bang, I have just passed the uncontrollable expansion phase, where I have horded modules rather randomly and haven’t really decided where to go, where to stop, what to do with this machine but I have some ideas …

IDEAS
I am not a musician, though I have several synthesizers and a kit-built Tender Stratovarius, but I love making sounds sooooo … let the electronics do the playing!
The collection of unfinished stuff also contains Ray Wilson’s 32-step sequenzer and I just order PCBs for Thomas Henry’s SuperSeque. One idea is to let several units like the sequencers and the Infinite Melody do a lof of job and use all my modules to tinker with the sounds and successively learn to master a keyboard and a guitar. I have enuff of stuff to do a good job, so if I loose my head and add more (odd) modules, they will just be “the whipped cream on the mashed potatoes” (“icing on the cake” in Swedish).

Before I go and get my laundry, one short construction note.
Finding good hard 2mm aluminium isn’t that easy where I live and as I have unlimited access to alu/zink alloy sheet metal, that is rather thin (got several scars here and there) from my last work place, I use that, hoping that it will be solid enough when screwed into my rack. I picked an odd 7" standard out of some reason (= narrow panels). The panels are drilled and covered with coloured paper with texts and symbols using spray glue and then covered in clear varnish.
I make this synthesizer for ME, myself and I, and I have no objections if it looks a lot like the sounds (and music) it hopefully will produce.

What’s next?
I will try to report how the work proceeds, the problems I run into and maybe cry for help, especially when I cannot come to a decision on certain topics, like powering the modules. They run on +/-12V and +/-15V, some have 12V and 15V regulator ICs installed which means I have to have additional +/-18V raw DC …

Gotta run, and here’s todays shot of how things look like.

One more thing (my laundry will be super dry), I hope I can be of help in here as well as picking up ideas and tips.

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Amazing collection. For panels just use what’s to hand. 2mm aluminum plate is just one of the many materials used. We have a thread here listing many alternatives.
As to making music. Well I’ve always told would be musicians not to worry but simply make some noise. Good music will work itself out. Your sound will appear. JFDI badge for your first sound post.

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Thanks Farabide!
The saying is “Dig where you stand!”.

Ooops! Forgot, I have a Mutable’s CVpal, just in case … And I will add some kind of major clock module that will clock the modules that need external clock signals. A CD4060 and some drivers will do the job.

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Leaving for New Years Eve tomorrow morning and will be on the road (with my relatives) for a week or so, so a short “update”.
I mentioned that I still had to figure out how to power all modules, but til I come up with a good solution, at least I have to be able test the modules one by one or two by two). So this is a simple things-I-found-in-my-boxes-psu. It’s based around MFOS wallwart PSU. If I spot some magic blue smoke I wont miss that POWER OFF button!

A short note on the PCBs. I am really impressed by work done by many DIYers, using stripboard, even for more complex projects. However I haven’t really gotten that patience to go that way. Instead I found it almost like a zen meditation to create a PCB (and gerber files) on my PC and wire them to China to get boards made.
Long time ago I ran into a German program called Sprint-Layout. It’s a simple layout program, missing the schematic part (there’s a Sprint-program for making drawings, but they don’t interact like Eagle or KiCad), but very intuitive and if starting with some good or bad copies from a website, you can use those copies as a model and simply trace the layout.
In this example I have lined up the top side of the PSU to the Polivoks with the underside and I trace the pattern but also try to optimize (make the board smaller).
The program is available from ABACOM and is €48.64. KiCad is free, I know but I am very much accustomed to this program so I stay with it (for the time being).

But til next time - A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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Love your approach. Do stick with what you know.
I particularly love breadboard power supply.
I have yet to put too many modules together but I am aware that if you plan to use this to run any significant number I would suggest using point to point (or star) layout rather than a rail bus. Some modules you have may starve or react with others.
Are the caps in the supply 470 or 4700? Again, for a single supply I’d consider the 4700 or larger to prevent ripple.

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:roll_eyes: Have to swap the little transformer shown above. Happened to release the electronic smoke inside it …

The GREAT thing with breadboard PSUs is that you can beef up the thin copper strips by wires, I use tinned CU-wires, 1mm.
When finding suitable capacitors I try to find a good compromise - size and … size. Higher capacitance = bigger size. But often 1000uF … 4700uF are acceptable for single units. But for a the whole shabong, I’d love to go to 10.000uF (x2).
In the MFOS supply each cap is 3300uF/25V.
One other thing about caps - Ericsson Telecom standard is to NEVER go higher that 85 or maybe 90% ov the rated max voltage. Due to the precis production and risks of mains fluctuation, using, say a 50V cap for a 50V application is not a good idea.

Gotta have my tea and a documentary before going to bed. G’nite!

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So what are you going to chop those unions on now?

:slight_smile:

Ooops! Never thought about that. :roll_eyes:

Staying with sis a few days and then off to my bro and two of my kids, so I don’t have to care about unions right now.

But I say, the magical electronic smoke is a bigger problem. How to catch it and get it back into the transformer?!
(To be honest, I hooked it up backwards … :rage: )

Modified to MFOS PSU board to be able to use a 12-0-12V transformer.

And are testing my modules one by one (or at least see if they run). Here’s the MFOS Dual LFO hooked up the a Crave controlling the resonance of the VCF.

From the photo above, there are a zillion of modules that has to be wired and tried out. Next in turn are a VCO, and ADSR and hopefully I can check a VCA or a VCF.

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My rack had gotten a third “shelf”, but it will be very tight anyway. Still I struggle with an ADSR that doesn’t behave like it should and I really need more of that kind of module - maybe buy PCB/panel kits?!

Now I work hard to get the 16-step sequenzer working (solder all the 128+ wires between panel and PCB :unamused:). But still a lot of other things to deal with.

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What does the ‘infinite melody’ module do?

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yeah getting the modules working can be frustrating …
but its looking good so far and most things work out eventually .

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Nice job, and yes we often hear that we never have enough VCA, but in fact we quickly realize that we also need several Env, VCF VCO …
the more we have the more possibilities its crazy.

Well, I think I have enuff of VCOs (5), three LFOs (MFOS 2xLFO and a 4xLFO). What intrigues me most are things that live their own lives like sequenzers, thuring machines (I got CGS’s Infinite Melody) but also modules that “messes” with the signals like ring modulators, echoes etc.
And I think I have a desperate need for some envelope shapers.

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About the Infinite Music Module:

It’s much like the thuring machine. Here’s the short description:

The name of the CGS32 module is a play on its function. Put simply, it generates a series of semi-random or themed stepped control voltages, or if you prefer, white and pink control voltages. The pink function is probably better known as 1/f.
And here’s the long description: Cat Girl Synth Infinite Melody

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Things have come to an almost haaaaaaaaaaaalt. Lost a lot of inspiration and trying to get out of the letargy that haunts from time to time.
Some short news from the curved horizon:
A bunch of people came to visit me to get som crazy stuff for a paper for the tenants in our town. What impressed them was my tinfoil hat ( :upside_down_face:), my corsets (that I have sewn) AND my synthesizers :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:. We had some great time talking and taking weid photos. When the paper comes out (named Door Post) I will share it with you.

I got PCBs for the ADSR (Yusynth) and a VCA (Thomas Henry) and will just start checking what components I already have and what must be ordered. Gotta cut/bend/drill new panels btw.
Someone reacted on a comment stating that you can never have too mixers (audio as well as CV), so I will make use of a big bag of 100K log potentiometers. I am slowly running out of 2x100K lin potentiometers. Mixers are very simple so I will build them on perforated boards.

The last thing, and I may have mentioned this before, is the idea of building a trig-sequenzer. I have no clue if this is a useful unit. I plan to use a 4017 and 8 OPs to an 8-by-4 grid with 32 switches (dioded) switching the 4017’s signals to 4 outputs. These trigger signals could be used for … I dunno what - ADSRs??? A drum machine like in the PE magazine?? Or be able to switch the oscillator frequency to very hig frequencies and be able to clock digital noise generators and random stuff (Turing machinery).

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Can you demonstrate the infinite melody module? Or is there a video / some audio we can listen to?

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Found some examples on YT:
Infinite Melody Music (w/ patch notes)

infinite melody demo

Check out the Turing Machine.

I think the idea of making more or less random sounds is really cool.

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A small step for me … waiting for a stereo 3.5mm socket, but else my MFOS keyboard decoder is finished.
This one will be fitted to my rack, but first there’s an adjustment that has to be made and I have a 5-digit panelmeter somewhere, bought especially for this one.


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NOOOOO!!! NOOOO!!!
I just ordered the last bits and pieces for my T2000 projects, but on the list of “must order” was a 3-pin DIN connector. As I couldn’t really get it where that one would go, I dropped in the very last minute.

I see clearly now what it was aimed for :roll_eyes:

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