New Instruments!!

Erk! I haven’t blogged anything in ages!! Woops!

Well I have been busy, lots of DIY projects have been coming together, here are some snippets of two today:

Benjolin

I made the Benjolin in Manchester a few months ago, and added the mods at home – today I converted the patch points to banana jacks as I have a couple of other banana based systems in the works. The Benjolin is a unique simplex 2 oscillator analogue synthesizer designed by Rob Hordijk. It’s main feature for me is a chaotic circuit designed by Rob a couple of decades ago called the Rungler – I’m going to write more about this on a page I am developing on Chaos Theory and music, so stay tuned! The synth also features a very tasty features and mods allow for some interesting outputs.

2014-07-08 21.41.51

Above is a rendition of the Ciat-Lonbarde Rollz 5, PCB realised by Meng Qi. It is a drum machine of sorts, but a pretty twisted one. The pic shows it in its current state, waiting to go into a clear acrylic case once the mounting hardware I need arrives in the post. The Rollz 5 designs by Peter Blasser feature 4 circuits that have many variables down to the component level. The Meng Qi features 4 of each of the voice circuits, and 8 of the Rollz circuits which define the rhythms of the instrument, so there is plenty to play with. My favorite circuit is the “Ultrasound Filter” which converts ultrasonic pulses coming from the Rollz section into quite a variety of sonics, sometimes sounding like cosmic radio interference, other times sounding like digital formant vocalisations. Richard Brewster has dissected the Rollz 5 circuitry and provided detailed schematics along with modifications on his blog which you can find here: Rollz 5 Schematics

Today I started some experiments patching the two instruments together and got this:

ART Synthesizer Store and Swashbuckler

So the Swashbuckler is mere millimeters away, I am just sorting out the final bits now. Planned launch is… let’s see, ummmm… TOMORROW!!! So I have set up a Big Cartel page and you can buy a kit from there using Paypal. The URL is here: http://artsynthesizer.bigcartel.com/ – for the record, first round of postage will be on Monday the 3rd of March.

I have been busy / lazy and I haven’t managed to put together a demo of the Swashbuckler yet, which is a bit rubbish – so I guess I should stop typing and maybe put a little something together tonight? I can say that the few people to have had the Swashbuckler experience have been transformed into instant noise junkies!! Here is Kim playing with her build: (001!!)

Play

Swashbuckler nearly here!

***Update: I am planning on releasing the complete assembly kit on the 1st of March, more details to come soon***

You may or may not have caught the recent post on my Swashbuckler project, (look down a bit) I am now happy to announce that the boards have arrived from fabrication and I have built the first working Swashbuckler project!

The Swashbuckler is a pocket sized instrument based on the CMOS 4093 chip. Here is a list of features:

  • 4 square(oid) wave oscillators, stacked so that 2 modulate the other 2
  • Two light sensitive frequency controls
  • Touch sensitive modulator
  • Knob for modulation
  • Starve control knob for chaos
  • An optional passive low pass filter for more tame squaroids
  • Volume control knob
  • Power Switch
  • Red LED
  • Packed full of swashbuckling goodness

The project will be available as a complete set of parts with a PCB or a fully assembled instrument ready for action. You will need a soldering iron, solder and some wire snippers to build the project. You don’t need any experience to build this project and it doesn’t require any wiring.

Kits will be around the £20 mark

I am in the process of gathering the components to make a number of kits, watch this blog for updates and demos coming soon! For now, here is a pic:

Swashbuckler

End of 2013

I have had a great year, mainly down to all the amazing people I have met at various happenings. Thanks to all and happy new year!!

If you have been following my SDIY Experimenter page, things slowed down for Christmas, I was working on a couple of mods for the oscillators but eventually decided to keep the project in its vanilla state. I just have to get the faceplate finished, the cabinet from Matt Harris, and then I will need to do a couple of hours of wiring – but so far so good, planned to be complete by mid-January 2014

I am already drawing up plans for 2014. Some people know that from time to time I run electronic music workshops exploring instrument design and composition. Over the next year I want to focus on this even more, so I have been brushing up my skills in Cadsoft’s Eagle software to make a new project PCB. This is going to be a fun mini project that will demonstrate some of the ways we can build interactive electronics circuits, and will build a cool little noise maker:

Swash

The kit is based on the CMOS 4093 quad dual input nand gate. The motivation behind this project was to provide a more holistic workshop experience. In the past I had participants taking part in intensive workshops that went from testing a design on the breadboard to soldering it up on hellish VEROBOARD and then housing it in a container. This was time consuming and challenging, particularly at the veroboard stage which required careful planning and precise soldering skills. I want to make sure that everybody goes home having had a good learning experience AND with a completed project so with this kit, everything is labelled, it is very easy to solder and all components including the 9V battery mount directly to the board without any wiring necessary.

The kits will be available at a special “Swashbuckler” workshop and also as a mail order pack from my Big Cartel store. (no link yet as it is empty!!)

Exciting times!

I also have a secret major project in the works that I plan to be developing for most of 2014…

Bones Delay Update

The boards have been fabricated and I had them delivered to a friends house as I am still living in temporary chaos. Hopefully I will have them tested by the end of next week. I am thinking of setting up an account with big cartel or etzi to make the kits available. Stay tuned for updates!

Bones Delay Kit in Motion

Hopefully within a couple of weeks the first of a number of planned electronics kits will be available to purchase from this site. I Just placed an order for PCB fabrication for my simple low-parts delay design the “Bones Delay”. This circuit is a delay based on the PT2399 echo chip and is similar to the example circuit from the PT2399 datasheet. This design features a number of improvements that I have made over the years I have worked with the chip including a better signal to noise and dry/wet signal ratio. The circuit also has features that push the chip beyond its standard operation such as pushing delay times to over 200ms, longer delay times result in increased noise but it is still very useable around about 1000ms in a lo-fi kinda way.

Once the boards have arrived and have been tested, I will post up a list of specs and ordering details

Bones Delay

 

My low-pass filter design has been put on temporary hold as I discovered some problems with the circuit when passing different signals through, once these problems have been ironed out I will be going ahead with the LPF kits as well!