Sunday, May 30, 2010

Synth work kind of stalled for a bit because I renovated a house and then moved into it. But now that things are settled down I've had time to build/break/fix a few things for my modular (which I should probably name at some point).

Things built:
  • 4040 divider: This is based off of a schematic which can be found in Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking, by Nicolas Collins. I built this awhile ago, but fried it with the soldering iron (oops). Then fixed it by putting in an IC socket and a new IC. Then it had some problems with diodes and I had to reconfigure the divider as well as my LFOs/Clocks and my oscillators. It seemed to work, but not quite in the fashion I imagined it would (the frequency division was wonky and kind of choppy at certain clock speeds. I finally got around to re-examining it and I realized that I forgot to solder one of the power wires! Now it works great and has the added bonus of acting all weird and choppy when the power is off (which, in my opinion, often sounds more interesting.
  • Pulse Width Divider: This had been troubling me for some time. I was happy with my LFOs/Clocks, but they had no PWD option and thus there was no way for me to get short pulses with large intervals between them. I had tried to build the PWD Pete Edwards has in his schematics for the Drone Lab but I could never get it to work. After a bit of reading, thinking, and breadboarding, I figured out that if I wanted the output of the PWD to modulate the oscillators, I would have to amplify the signal. I fail at transistors, so I used a 4049 as an amplifier (as seen in Handmade Electronic Music). The final design consists of one clock input, three amplified PWDs, and three outputs. It is not the easiest thing in the world to get the hang out (it can take a bit of work to find the sweet spots), but creates a lot of possibilities.

Here is a short little sample of what things are sounding like. In this I'm using one LFO/clock to drive the the PWD. The three outputs are modulating three oscillators. Two of the oscillators are going directly to the mixer, while one is going into my Barbie Echo and then through the Passive Tone Control before getting to the mixer. Note: The beginning and the end are just power starve noise. I love power starve.
Memorial Weekend Synth by RA Isle

Upcoming Modules:
  • Delayed Pulser by Ian Fritz
  • Sequencer
  • CV inputs for the oscillators
  • CV inputs for the MFOS VCF
  • More oscillators (triangle and ramp, for starters)
Future Modules:
  • Mangled Speech Sound Source (circuit bent)
  • Noise source
  • CV inputs on EVERYTHING (not really)
  • Bigger mixer
  • Vactrol filters
  • More dividers

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