Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

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Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by Pr0fBi0 » Thu May 20, 2021 4:45 pm

Greetings,

I'm starting to get into Eurorack and I'm a little lost on what modules to get. I know this gets asked often but i'm a little lost.

A little about me so you can kind of get an idea of where I'm coming from and what I'm trying to do.

I've been playing guitar for 25+ years. I own 18+ or so stomp pedals, most built diy because I found it super fun and a cheaper way to try out a ton of pedals I couldn't afford otherwise (king of tone with it's 4+ year wait).

I'm no beginner to synthesis. I own a kork Monologue, Novation circuit, korg volca sample. I have Ableton 11 suite with quite a few add-ons including pigments. so i can play around in synths and make noises. i can usually take a preset and get it to sound how i want but when i play around with modular I find I can make a simple analog synth but get lost when i try to do anything more complicated.

Now what I'm trying to get out of modular is a lot. I want to be able to make some simple playable synths. would love to find a filter that sounds like a moog for funky baselines, I would like to plug my guitar in and use it as a oscillator as well. and i would like to be able to do some randomly generated type soundscapy things. Now i know this seems like a lot but that sums up how i approach everything. A little of everything and not specialize in anything. not sure if that's a bad way to approach modular.

Now the big catch...I would like to go DIY on ALL modules if possible (except power). I really enjoyed soldering up all my DIY pedals so I think this will be super fun and a good money saver. I already bought my first module. Just a Noise Reap Bermuda Oscillator because I found it was a local company to me (I'm in Portland Oregon) i know i'll need a few oscillators anyway so i grabbed this first.

my next plan is to buy the Generative Drum Machine SMD Beginners Supermegabundle from amazingsynth.com. it has branches, ripples, grids and peaks all of which seem to be multi function and all do things that I would like to have in my system.

From there I was looking at AI Synthesis. Specifically the multiple (not sure how i would use it but it seems like i would need it), the stomp box adapter (no brainer with all my guitar gear), Quad Voltage Controlled Mixer VCA, and Looping Envelope Generator. Now i'm not sure i'll need those last two but I've heard the saying that you can't have enough VCAs so a quad one seems like it would be required. and I love playing with envelopes in all my soft synths.

The last one i was looking at is the radio music. as playing samples through the modular sounds super fun.

From here I'm at a loss of what modules to look at getting. and since I don't know that I'm having trouble deciding on what size case and power supply to go with. I'm leaning towards a 6u 84hp or 6u 104hp rack as I don't think I have the space for anything larger. I've also decided to take it slow and just buy a module or two a month to keep my wallet and sanity.

Any suggestions on where to go? I'll probably be building my case myself as I have a table, circular, and jig saw. I just need to decide on the size and order some rails and power.
rack attempt 01.PNG

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Thu May 20, 2021 7:16 pm

Be prepared for some wasted kits and some expensive tools doing SMD. The first time sucks but if you keep practicing you get good at it. You also need a programmer to program those mutable clones. This is another challenge for beginners. You won't save money unless you build the whole 6U. I have 6U 96HP which I think is the perfect size. I could probably use a 3U 104HP if I purchased only assembled modules and I had very specific goals like maybe a metropolis + Atlantis.
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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by Pr0fBi0 » Thu May 20, 2021 10:14 pm

I've done 9 guitar pedals so far and haven't ruined any kits yet. although those were all through hole so far. never done smd, but i have soldered together a few fpv drones before those guitar pedals and i found through hole to be WAY easier than soldering tiny wires to tiny pads on fpv flight controllers. I'm no stranger to having to put in multiple orders to tayda or mouser because I ordered the wrong part. i have 4 guitar pedals still waiting on 1 more part that I messed up ordering.

I'm just happy that the Bermuda VCO I ordered is all through hole. I'm a little afraid of SMD soldering, but watching molten modular do smd I feel like I can easily handle it. it's mostly the smd ICs I'm afraid of.

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Thu May 20, 2021 10:27 pm

I learned by watching a lot of YouTube videos on SMD soldering. Funny thing about SMD is the name is misused. About half of the components are actually SMD but all of them are SMT. It doesn't matter anymore because we can't change the world if they use SMD to talk about surface mount. There is more than one way to solder surface mount for each package footprint. I have a reflow oven but I mostly use the soldering iron.
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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by KSS » Thu May 20, 2021 11:46 pm

Go with 6U,104HP.

Build the AI, and add a couple of their mixers too. <--Or somebody else's but have some mixers on hand.

Make sure you've got some sort of bias-offset utilities, or wire DC into the normal of at least one mixer channel per mixer. Wiring -5V into one channel and 5V+ into a second lets you covera lot of territory a mixer and system without these will miss..

Then play with your OSC and pedals in this set, as you go after building the supermega part of your plan.

Using the simple AI modules with your existing pedals and OSC before you finish the supermega set will let you know what you're missing.

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by Pr0fBi0 » Fri May 21, 2021 12:14 am

KSS wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 11:46 pm
Go with 6U,104HP.
glad you said that I just ordered 2 sets of 104hp rails. now to wait for those and build the case.

looking at a 4ms row power setup as i'm too lazy and not really excited about building the power supply. Also because i can buy one now, and then buy a 2nd one when i start to add modules to the 2nd row.
KSS wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 11:46 pm
Using the simple AI modules with your existing pedals and OSC before you finish the supermega set will let you know what you're missing.
so your suggesting building my OSC and then AI modules before the supermega? Thanks, That's the kind of input I'm looking for. i like the idea of doing the AI synth modules first as they seem more run of the mill straight forward modules. easier to understand. I think i'll go that route instead. that way i can add one, learn what it does and add another before complicating things with the mutable instruments style modules as those seem a little more complex and crazy.
KSS wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 11:46 pm
Build the AI, and add a couple of their mixers too. <--Or somebody else's but have some mixers on hand.
i was planning on getting the quad vca mixer, but they also have a audio and cv mixer, as well as a matrix mixer. Which do you recommend, as i only sort of understand what the difference is between the audio and cv mixer and the matrix mixer.

EATyourGUITAR wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 10:27 pm
I Funny thing about SMD is the name is misused.
smd means the surface mount parts and smt is the process of soldering them? do i have that right?

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by KSS » Fri May 21, 2021 3:11 am

Pr0fBi0 wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 12:14 am
looking at a 4ms row power setup as i'm too lazy and not really excited about building the power supply. Also because i can buy one now, and then buy a 2nd one when i start to add modules to the 2nd row.
Seems reasonable. But I'm no good on recommending specific Euro-Based power because I don't use them. Different format.
KSS wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 11:46 pm
Build the AI, and add a couple of their mixers too. <--Or somebody else's but have some mixers on hand.
i was planning on getting the quad vca mixer, but they also have a audio and cv mixer, as well as a matrix mixer. Which do you recommend, as i only sort of understand what the difference is between the audio and cv mixer and the matrix mixer.
You could combine the CV and Audio mixer into one unit. There are two basic differences between Audio and CV mixers. Audio usually use DC blocking caps on the inputs, and they use audio taper pots. CV mixers obviously wouldn't benefit from DC blocking caps, and their pots are most often linear.

To combine them add switches to short the DC blockng caps for CV use. At the same time using the switch's 2nd pole to remove-insert a tapering resistor to a linear pot. When in place it will make the pot behave more like an audio taper. Google pot tapering resistor to learn more. Normally use 1/10 of the pot value. So a 10K taper resistor from wiper to 0V of a typical 100K input pot. If you instead wire its free end to the input side, you create a reverse taper audio pot which you will find in many filter circuits for the resonance. This way you don't have to buy any but linear pots. I'd buy two AI CV mixers and mod them both. Be sure to add the input jack DC Volts normals I wrote about before for DC bias-offset duty.

Then I'd also get their Matrix Mixer. Having more mixers will change the way you can patch. In a good way. I post often about how important mixers are to synthesis. Often the reply is that the modules -like the MI's- already have them on the inputs. This misses the point I'm making. Having plenty of sub-mixing available with offset-bias lets yo do things those simple input mixers already on the modules don't allow. As a guitarist you know how much 'level' matters. A matrix mixer can also benefit from being tailored to CV, audio or both.

Mixers are super simple circuits and Doepfer shows some useful schematics on their website in the DIY section. They're also easy to make on a generic pad-per-hole or breadboard style PCB. And you can do things like make a 4 channel with dual concentric pots for level and offset -or level and pan- getting far more utility at much lower cost than trying to find and buy something similar.

I attached an example from my chosen format of the kind of mixer that can really improve your synth's capability. And it's something which could be easily DIY'd. The small filled black circles represent toggle switches. Up adds that channel to the mixup and down to add it to the mixdown. In the middle it's muted. Level on the left -with a PCB jumper to set unity or 2X gain per channel. A bipolar bias-offset is next, followed by a reversible attenuator to notch out part using a signals own inversion. Either sum graphics or small or large LEDs to show actual levels are seen in the variables here, and Different I/O H panels to partner with the main module. The TS jacks on these are normalled so one input cascades to all above it and is cut off from all below it. Toggles allow the same for Banana's. Nothing really special here in each of the parts. It's all common stuff. Now imagine 8 of your pedals patched in? <--You'd change the feedback resistors of the OPAs to get the gain you need.

In this 50SQ format, the White,Gray and Green, Yellow circles at top and bottom lead to jacks or Matrix Switches. Color coded jacks can be good aids to quick patching. Signal goes in white and clean, comes out some sort of grey, and is mixed down toward green grass or up to the yellow Sun. Here the main module is 15HP wide and much too tall for Euro. At 15HP people will cry out that it's only a mixer and it's wasting too mcuh space. Beware of attaching too much value to what others have to say about your choices. <--Including mine. I think mixers matter greatly. But it's up to you. As long as your modules work for you, that's why you DIY!

In a Doepfer-style layout this 1008 could still be 15HP with jacks and 4 channels if you tighten up the layout some, or keep it at five channels and let it grow a little wider. I present this as an example of what DIY lets you do. If you let yourself do it. It's your synth. Do what YOU want and don't be too worried about taking up some space for something others will say uses too much room. All the great classic synths have integral sub-mixers sprinkled throughout.

Three other DIY things I'll keep promoting, and that I really believe should be part of everyone's kit.

Diode patchcords. Put a new end on a patchcord and wire a 1N4148 diode in series. Put its banded cathode end towards the tip of the new plug. The different endshell -from the mfd end- says this is the cathode. If you're making the whole patchcord from scratch, use a different color end shell or some heatshrink tubing on the cathode end. Red is a good choice, as its near universal "stop" meaning applies since this is now a one-way patchcord. And a limiter. And distortion, and an OR.. Different diode types can be used also including LEDs*. This can make several patchcords into a module operate at different levels from their sources. Several can be used to selectively gate EGs
*not trying to get light from the leds, but sometimes you do. It's not really meant to be the goal here though. Make yourself some jacklights for that if you want.

Vtrig-to-Strig patchcords. Use moogs circuit which is easily found online. Again building into one plug's end shell. This is a switch to 0V. What can you do with a patchcord that takes a signal and pulls whatever it's patched into, directly to 'GND' aka 0V? If you can't find a use for these in a patch, you're not trying very hard! ;) A jack with a pushbutton on top that shorts the input to GND-0V is another useful performance DIY item.

Capacitor patchcords. Because sometimes the module doesn't have one and you wish it did! With this in your kit, it can. And it's as simple as grabbing from your stack of special patchcords. Again heatshrink color coding can help.

Okay, here's a 4th. Fixed attenuating patchcords. Two resistors make up a voltage divider. As with all the others above, build it into an endshell in one end. Use colored heatshrink and resistor color code to identify the attenuation. Br-Bk for 10% Gn-Bk for 50%, and so on. If the patchcord is already black, you only need a single band of heatshrink. One good use of these is evening out the audible levels of different WFs coming from OSCs. In polysynth design, this is often done and when people go to modular they may not realize it. With everything in most Euro coming out at 10Vp-p, SIN and TRI are easily lost compared to the significantly louder Ramp, Saw, Square and Pulse. Run them through a fixed level patchcord according to their result on your ears instead of their result on a voltmeter and you may not need the mixer. <--So you can still use it somewhere else in the patch! ;)

^Little things like this are not so little when you fill the box with the same bits as everyone else. Because every module by its design 'tells' you how it wants to be played. When something is missing and has to be patched -or is present but still needs special patching to use in some desired way- then most of the time we won't bother and just go with the easy path.

Finally I'd say any synth without at least one or two comparators set up for general use is lacking an important thing. I'd add those to your short list.
smd means the surface mount parts and smt is the process of soldering them? do i have that right?
Yes. Surface Mount Devices and Surface Mount Technology. <--Or Techniques.
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Last edited by KSS on Fri May 21, 2021 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Fri May 21, 2021 6:59 am

I guess I was wrong. I went to find the thing about the definition of SMD but all I could find is that SMD is all surface mounted devices. I found a really nice PDF that explains all the terminology.



https://www.topline.tv/SMT_Nomenclature.pdf
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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by abelovesfun » Fri May 21, 2021 5:14 pm

Thanks for putting me in your rack, let me know if you have any questions!
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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by Pr0fBi0 » Sat May 22, 2021 2:01 am

Wow kss there's a lot of good info in that post. I really like the modded patch cable ideas. Not too sure I'm down for breadboarding my own mixers. by diy I mostly meant buying kits and soldering them together. I can only sort of read a schematic. I had to learn a little so I could trouble shoot some bad parts on a build. I've tried modding a build by swapping resistor and capacitor values but it almost never changes the circuit in the way I intended.
abelovesfun wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 5:14 pm
Thanks for putting me in your rack, let me know if you have any questions!
Well I haven't bought anything yet, but most of the modules you sell look like versions of things I want. Probably going to start with those to get an idea of what I want to expand with and learn smd soldering

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by KSS » Sat May 22, 2021 2:20 am

Pr0fBi0 wrote:
Sat May 22, 2021 2:01 am
Not too sure I'm down for breadboarding my own mixers. by diy I mostly meant buying kits and soldering them together. I can only sort of read a schematic. I had to learn a little so I could trouble shoot some bad parts on a build. I've tried modding a build by swapping resistor and capacitor values but it almost never changes the circuit in the way I intended.
Don't sell yourself short. We *all* could only sort of read a schematic at some point! Some are for sure harder to read than others. Check out the Doepfer dIY section. Even if you're still only planning to solder kits. The schematics and ideas there are well explained, simple and I'd bet you *can* sort of work your way through them. And if you do run into problems, we're here to help!

When swapping parts that didn't work like you expected, you still learned what it did not do. That's useful too. :goo:

AI is a good place to start, as Abe made those modules as a learning sequence.
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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by 60hz » Mon May 24, 2021 12:37 pm

Since you mentioned a Moogish filter, this project may be of interest (PCBs are now sold by synthCube):
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=244412

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by Pr0fBi0 » Tue May 25, 2021 8:49 pm

Ok, so I think this journey is starting faster than I originally planned. and I've been surprisingly happy to mostly be supporting local Portland companies (I live in Milwaukie just a few minutes south of Portland.)

So far I've got my Noise Reap Bermuda VCO mostly built. waiting on some parts from tayda and a potentiometer from small bear because everyone else seems to be out of stock on them right now.

I picked up the 4ms passive mult and some patch cables from control voltage (local synth store)

I got the 4ms row power 35 which I opted for over the AI synthesis power supply because I'm not sure if I'll need 5volt but I didn't want to instantly rule myself out of having it off the bat.

I ordered some rails from Synthrotek which while not exactly local they are only one state over in Idaho so the rails should be here in a day or two. I also have some plywood sitting around because i was going to build a new pedalboard but never got around to it. was planning on building a case similar to this shape: https://www.etsy.com/listing/969407733/ ... ck=1&frs=1

Lastly I just ordered the audio/cv mixer, envelope generator, quad vca, filter and stomp box modules from AI Synthesis which is also based in Portland. Although I had to order the filter as a pcb and plate because I kept getting an error when checking out with it as a kit. not a big deal as I'm used to sourcing parts for pedals as most come pcb only and you have to source the parts and drill the enclosure too. I'm finding it surprising how many of the big modular companies are based here and how many single man operations there are too.

I stumbled on to this: https://westonaudio.com/ad110.html which looks like a sick drum synth also from a local company. And I really dig the black/yellow/silver color scheme. but it doesn't look like it's out yet. How do you guys keep up on something like this that isn't released yet and from what I can see it doesn't look like their stuff is run in large batches? their distributers only seem to have a few of their new kits available and none of the old ones.

so it looks like I'll at least have enough to have a mono synth in about a week. just need something to play it with. I'll either need to get a midi to cv module or buy a keystep. is it worth the extra cost to get a keystep pro? I know I want one eventually but at like 4 times the cost of a normal keystep it doesn't seem like the cost to value is there. Should I look at getting a sequencer module? some seem to be more expensive than the

the other modules I've ordered I sadly couldn't find from a local company that wasn't super expensive(some of those 4ms kits cost a pretty penny). I did order an LFO module kit and an output module kit with a headphone jack.

I also researched hot air reflow for SMD soldering. is it worth it or should I just stick to traditional soldering? I'm mainly wondering about it for the mutable instruments clone diy kits. Programming the chip on those doesn't scare me. it seems like you just buy the right tool, download the right bootloader and firmware and flash it. Nothing scary about that as I've been building PCs and flashing firmware for 15 years or so.
60hz wrote:
Mon May 24, 2021 12:37 pm
Since you mentioned a Moogish filter, this project may be of interest (PCBs are now sold by synthCube):
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=244412
ooooohhh, just listened to that video...will have to order that soon it's exactly what I wanted and I think will compliment the AI Synthesis filter as I love that one too.

super excited as i have a 4 day weekend, coming up to start putting all this together. Just sad that my mom wants to get together this weekend too. ANY OTHER WEEKEND MOM! I'M GEEKING OUT ON SYNTH PARTS!

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by KSS » Tue May 25, 2021 9:32 pm

Head to the DIY section of MW and you'll find the owner-builder of Weston is very active. There's a thread there on that drum synth. And one for most of his other projects too.

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by Pr0fBi0 » Tue May 25, 2021 11:40 pm

Nice! I didn't think of searching this forum for that. The modular synth community seems to be way more tight knit than other communities online.

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by Pr0fBi0 » Sat May 29, 2021 12:17 am

got my case made. it's very janky. I obviously failed at measuring things correctly. i'll have to fill the gap at the bottom and top with something. i'm thinking some kind of weather stripping. debating if i want to sticker bomb it or leave it natural.
PXL_20210529_044425454.jpg
Got all of the AI Syntheses Got the envelope, filter, and stomp box adapter built. really surprised with the quality of these kits. the Aluminum faceplates are super nice, each value of capacitor and resistor comes in it's own little bag, each labeled correctly. i was really surprised that all the values of each resistor and cap was listed on the board as well. none of the pedal builds i did had that. The fuzz face i built just threw all the resistors and caps in a bag and you had to check the color codes to figure out which one was which. That was rough for my first build. I wouldn't hesitate to suggest one of these as a first build.

I'm still waiting on a shipment from tayda to finish my VCO, so i've only been able to test the modules by plugging my guitar in. got some weird wah by going straight into the filter in high pass, and hooking the envelop on loop mode to the cv of the filter.

Still have the mixer which looks super easy. Then there's the quad vca mixer to build. that one scares me.

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by abelovesfun » Sat May 29, 2021 1:48 pm

Pr0fBi0 wrote:
Sat May 29, 2021 12:17 am
got my case made. it's very janky. I obviously failed at measuring things correctly. i'll have to fill the gap at the bottom and top with something. i'm thinking some kind of weather stripping. debating if i want to sticker bomb it or leave it natural.

PXL_20210529_044425454.jpg

Got all of the AI Syntheses Got the envelope, filter, and stomp box adapter built. really surprised with the quality of these kits. the Aluminum faceplates are super nice, each value of capacitor and resistor comes in it's own little bag, each labeled correctly. i was really surprised that all the values of each resistor and cap was listed on the board as well. none of the pedal builds i did had that. The fuzz face i built just threw all the resistors and caps in a bag and you had to check the color codes to figure out which one was which. That was rough for my first build. I wouldn't hesitate to suggest one of these as a first build.

I'm still waiting on a shipment from tayda to finish my VCO, so i've only been able to test the modules by plugging my guitar in. got some weird wah by going straight into the filter in high pass, and hooking the envelop on loop mode to the cv of the filter.

Still have the mixer which looks super easy. Then there's the quad vca mixer to build. that one scares me.
Thanks for the kind words and for letting me be a part of your journey. The quad VCA mixer is a lot of parts but if you take your time and don't use extra flux you'll be fine. The most common error are solder bridges on the ICs - but those are almost never power shortages so it's easily fixable. Also you can always reach out to me at /contact for support :) Looking great!
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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by Pr0fBi0 » Sat May 29, 2021 5:15 pm

abelovesfun wrote:
Sat May 29, 2021 1:48 pm
The most common error are solder bridges on the ICs - but those are almost never power shortages so it's easily fixable.
good to know. i got my ICs soldered on last night. had to take my glasses off and get really close to see that there weren't any bridges. but it took quite a while and i felt exhausted after getting them all on. had to stop and put it away to do the smd resistors later. I'm mostly worried about shooting resistors off into the never never land of my carpet.

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by devinw1 » Sat May 29, 2021 8:26 pm

Pr0fBi0 wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 8:49 pm

I stumbled on to this: https://westonaudio.com/ad110.html which looks like a sick drum synth also from a local company. And I really dig the black/yellow/silver color scheme. but it doesn't look like it's out yet. How do you guys keep up on something like this that isn't released yet and from what I can see it doesn't look like their stuff is run in large batches? their distributers only seem to have a few of their new kits available and none of the old ones.
Howdy! AD110 panel/pcb/knob sets will be live on Thonk very soon. I just sent them a shipment 1.5 weeks ago. I am also working on getting a webshop going on my site so i can sell stuff like this in the US easily. :tu:

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by Pr0fBi0 » Sat May 29, 2021 11:41 pm

devinw1 wrote:
Sat May 29, 2021 8:26 pm
Howdy! AD110 panel/pcb/knob sets will be live on Thonk very soon. I just sent them a shipment 1.5 weeks ago. I am also working on getting a webshop going on my site so i can sell stuff like this in the US easily. :tu:
Awesome! I'd love to buy directly from your webshop once you have it up. You get more money and I don't have to wait for something to ship from overseas. I'll keep my eyes open for it.

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Sun May 30, 2021 8:50 pm

Don't worry about what the case looks like. It is your first case. Years from now there will be more. Racks grow. Cases keep getting built. These things have a pattern.
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ricko
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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by ricko » Mon May 31, 2021 12:54 am

I (re-)started off with that 100% DIY attitude, and it really held me back. Everyone is different, of course.

The problem was that it took so long to get a sound out, and there always seemed to be something missing or not done: do I do the midi converter before the vco? Do I do the VCA before I have an ADSR?

To some extent, this was a bootstrapping problem: it would have been great to have started off with some all in one microsynth, such as a Steiner Microcon, knowing that it would be relegated: really just a minimal 8 HP unit with a saw vco, VCA, and an AR would have been good enough, and useful in a test rig.

What I do now is that if there is a commercial module that is cheaper than a comparable DIY board (or sometimes kit), I go for the commercial module. So VCOs and VCFs I will build DIY, but the commercial modules that implement multiple functions are often cheaper than buying the 4 or 5 individual modules.

For example, I am a fan of the Behringer delayed LFO (the delay is absolutely essential)/ring modulator/noise/ S&H module. And their EQ/ mixer/ headphones/tuning note module. (And the 172, but the rest of those 100 series seem like things that I can buips more interesting versions of for not much more.) I am not going to spend a couple of hours building a precision 440Hz tuning module and design a panel when there are much more fun things to build!

Which means I tend to build DIY modules that are so jellybean that they are cheap because of scale, or which have some special function that is not really available in commercial products.

Many people who do performance don't actually use modular in the same way: they often buy commercial modules that can provide a whole voice, and buy additional modules to get additional voices. This a modular studio rather than a modular synthesizer (TONTO rather than Wendy Carlos), no disrespect to either approach.

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KSS
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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by KSS » Mon May 31, 2021 2:37 am

:agree:

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by the_laconic » Mon May 31, 2021 8:35 am

I also researched hot air reflow for SMD soldering. is it worth it or should I just stick to traditional soldering?


Hot air is much, much easier, for me anyway. It has its own challenges, though. And you will still need to solder by hand on occasion, so get a practice kit.
I'm mainly wondering about it for the mutable instruments clone diy kits. Programming the chip on those doesn't scare me. it seems like you just buy the right tool, download the right bootloader and firmware and flash it. Nothing scary about that as I've been building PCs and flashing firmware for 15 years or so.
When you “just” do all the right things, it’s a cakewalk. If you don’t do just the right things, it’s hours of frustration. But if you have that much experience, you’re miles ahead of the game.

That pack from amazingsynths is a good collection of modules and some of the easier ones to build. Order your controllers from AliExpress now, because nobody has any in stock.

My two cents about what to stick in there.... the Bermuda was a good start (I’m going to make one for the heck of it, it looks like an easy build and a lot of fun). For through-hole builds, check out Frequency Central and Befaco. Some of the Erica Synths DIY is worthwhile, but could be frustrating; go look at the thread on these. There are so many makers though. For SMD builds, also check out NLC and Plum Audio. Oh, and Antumbra and ST Modular and basically anything Pusherman carries. And make an Ornament and Crime (SMD or through-hole), and a Temps Utile.

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Re: Recommendations for a complete DIY rack

Post by Pr0fBi0 » Mon May 31, 2021 12:14 pm

ricko wrote:
Mon May 31, 2021 12:54 am
I (re-)started off with that 100% DIY attitude, and it really held me back. Everyone is different, of course.

The problem was that it took so long to get a sound out, and there always seemed to be something missing or not done: do I do the midi converter before the vco? Do I do the VCA before I have an ADSR?
Yeah, I'm already starting to feal that. I'm still waiting on parts from tayda to get vco finished. It's been 11 days since I ordered which is the longest I've had to wait for them so far.

To some extent, this was a bootstrapping problem: it would have been great to have started off with some all in one microsynth, such as a Steiner Microcon, knowing that it would be relegated: really just a minimal 8 HP unit with a saw vco, VCA, and an AR would have been good enough, and useful in a test rig.

Yeah, I was hoping to go slow so I could really learn the intricacies of each module before building a new one. But I think I failed to realize how many modules you need just to make a sound. I probably should have just started with a mother 32 since I do love the Moog sound. I watched a few YouTubers who started that way and quickly removed the Moog. I just decided I would skip it because I hate selling gear. (Not afraid to get rid of it, but the actual act of selling online or in person)


What I do now is that if there is a commercial module that is cheaper than a comparable DIY board (or sometimes kit), I go for the commercial module. So VCOs and VCFs I will build DIY, but the commercial modules that implement multiple functions are often cheaper than buying the 4 or 5 individual modules.

For example, I am a fan of the Behringer delayed LFO (the delay is absolutely essential)/ring modulator/noise/ S&H module. And their EQ/ mixer/ headphones/tuning note module. (And the 172, but the rest of those 100 series seem like things that I can buips more interesting versions of for not much more.) I am not going to spend a couple of hours building a precision 440Hz tuning module and design a panel when there are much more fun things to build!

Which means I tend to build DIY modules that are so jellybean that they are cheap because of scale, or which have some special function that is not really available in commercial products.

This is probably how I will end up. But having a two voice synth and drums setup that's entirely built by me just seems more rewarding to start. But I also want like 5 music thing modular modules that don't seem to have a prebuilt equivalent.


Many people who do performance don't actually use modular in the same way: they often buy commercial modules that can provide a whole voice, and buy additional modules to get additional voices. This a modular studio rather than a modular synthesizer (TONTO rather than Wendy Carlos), no disrespect to either approach.
Not sure what you mean by that. I'll have to look up those artists.

I did run into my first snag building the quad vca module. Channels 1 and 2 worked great. 3 and 4 seemed to have weird behavior. Was able to email Abe from ai synthesis and track down which ics run each channel and I got channel 3 working. Still struggling with channel 4.

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