I think I`m building a synthesizer.

From circuitbending to homebrew stompboxes & synths, keep the DIY spirit alive!

Moderators: Kent, luketeaford, Joe.

User avatar
Katherine Alicia
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:00 am
Location: England
Contact:

I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by Katherine Alicia » Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:47 am

I just pulled the trigger on 9u x 114hp rails and 300x M3 square nuts to go in the rails, and it only cost me £80 for everything! it just seemed too good a deal to pass up, and I need a new case to finish building my modular because I ran out of room with my `GO` case (280hp wasn`t enough).

I`m pretty sure I can do the Power electronics for inside the case, and I have tons of really long Veroboard strips and 16 way female PCB mount connectors, I also have 10 and 16 way IDC conectors and 5 meters of 16 way ribbon cable on the way too.
I just need to buy some nice wood really, I have a drill, some glue, plenty of screws, a jigsaw that works when you hook it up to a car battery, and I think I have some sandpaper somewhere too :)

To be honest I don`t really know how it happened? and I don`t really have a clue what I`m doing with regards woodwork, I`m just hoping to get the materials in front of me and see what they have to say. I can partly picture it in my head;

I want the base board to come out a little ways so that I can mount my ribbon controller to it if 114hp is wide enough? if not I`ll leave It loose.
I definitely want a sloped front too, not too much, just not 100% vertical, maybe 80% vertical would be nice.
I want a single IEC (kettle lead) to power it, with external switch.
I think I want a handle on the top as well like on my Marshall amp, or maybe one on either side (not decided yet).
It`ll have a metal backplate with the fused power strips along it and a connector to the -12 +12 and +5 PSUs that will be mounted to the base of the case, I might have one of the side panels from a desktop PC that I can cut a suitable backplate out of.

I`m really excited by the idea of doing this and also a bit nervous too, it`s something I`v always wanted to do, but never thought I`d actually get around to doing.



So... it looks like I`m building a synthesizer! :hmm: LOL
*Peace, Love, Unity, Respect*
https://www.youtube.com/KatherineAlicia

User avatar
bf
12 Bit Wiggler
Posts: 1082
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:48 pm

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by bf » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:04 am

Hi Katherine. I did something like this a number of years ago. I had no woodworking experience outside of framing (walls, not pictures), only a handful of tools (some borrowed and some I made), and used simple butt joints. I’d recommend sketching out what you want, complete with measurements. Then building a mock-up in sturdy cardboard to test layout, ergonomics, and to give you an idea of the size of wood you will need to get your needed cabinet pieces.

This was the build in MOTM format if it offers any inspiration. viewtopic.php?t=6764&highlight=cabinet

User avatar
pugix
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 3869
Joined: Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:23 am
Location: Asheville, NC
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by pugix » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:05 am

It's fun to build cases, but hard to decide about power and distribution. Rather than build your own distribution board, you might consider ACL EVE-1 or Genusmodu LIBB, which are great at minimizing resistance in the distro board itself. A bit more cost, yes, but they are ready to go with whatever power supplies you choose.

https://pugix.com/synth/diy-eurorack-case/
Richard
https://www.pugix.com

"Everything in our world is actually always modulated by everything else." - Peter B

User avatar
EATyourGUITAR
has no life
Posts: 6844
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:24 am
Location: Providence, RI, USA

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:06 am

You will get %50 of people encouraging you to DIY the mains wiring of your power supply. The other %50 telling you you should not touch mains wiring because it is not %100 guaranteed that it will be done correctly with safety in mind. My opinion is somewhere in the middle. You are an adult. If you have experience with mains wiring, you have it checked by experts, and you accept the risk as your own responsibility then I think that is your decision. I understand the concerns the experts have but I don't think it is impossible to wire mains earth like an expert. All you need is the same information the experts have.

As for the wood work, if this is your first time, go cheap but don't make it so flimsy it will fall apart. This is a big deal if your case falls apart and the mains gets ripped apart or exposed.
WWW.EATYOURGUITAR.COM <---- MY DIY STUFF

User avatar
bf
12 Bit Wiggler
Posts: 1082
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:48 pm

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by bf » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:14 am

Yeah, while the mains wiring isn’t something necessarily to be afraid of, it is certainly something you must show a respect for. As Katherine has previously noted being an electronics designer (if my memory isn’t failing me) I may have erroneously expected this would be an area she was both familiar and comfortable with. That said, you are dealing with potentially lethal voltages at that point, and all of the associated warnings should be observed.

User avatar
joncharliefeathers
Common Wiggler
Posts: 127
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:40 pm
Location: Uk
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by joncharliefeathers » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:18 am

If you can't find any scratch paper let me know and I could send some to you.

User avatar
Katherine Alicia
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:00 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by Katherine Alicia » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:26 am

bf wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:04 am
Hi Katherine. I did something like this a number of years ago. I had no woodworking experience outside of framing (walls, not pictures), only a handful of tools (some borrowed and some I made), and used simple butt joints. I’d recommend sketching out what you want, complete with measurements. Then building a mock-up in sturdy cardboard to test layout, ergonomics, and to give you an idea of the size of wood you will need to get your needed cabinet pieces.

This was the build in MOTM format if it offers any inspiration. viewtopic.php?t=6764&highlight=cabinet
Wow! that`s a gorgeous job, Mine will be eurorack sized, and probably a simpler design (rectangular box with sloped front) after clearing the height needed by the Power supply at the base. at the moment I think I`ll need a plank of wood roughly 8 foot by about 14 inches, and maybe 2cm thick, but that`s just a quick back-of-a-beermat calculation, I need to see what 114hp actually looks like when there`s 3 of them.
pugix wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:05 am
It's fun to build cases, but hard to decide about power and distribution. Rather than build your own distribution board, you might consider ACL EVE-1 or Genusmodu LIBB, which are great at minimizing resistance in the distro board itself. A bit more cost, yes, but they are ready to go with whatever power supplies you choose.

https://pugix.com/synth/diy-eurorack-case/
I`ll try my reinforced Veroboard (stripboard) idea first because I have piles of the stuff, if it doesn`t work out then it`s a fairly trivial job to retrofit one of those ;)

EATyourGUITAR wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:06 am
You will get %50 of people encouraging you to DIY the mains wiring of your power supply. The other %50 telling you you should not touch mains wiring because it is not %100 guaranteed that it will be done correctly with safety in mind. My opinion is somewhere in the middle. You are an adult. If you have experience with mains wiring, you have it checked by experts, and you accept the risk as your own responsibility then I think that is your decision. I understand the concerns the experts have but I don't think it is impossible to wire mains earth like an expert. All you need is the same information the experts have.

As for the wood work, if this is your first time, go cheap but don't make it so flimsy it will fall apart. This is a big deal if your case falls apart and the mains gets ripped apart or exposed.
I did PAT testing and repair of white goods for many years as well as built Many PSUs over the years (mostly for CB/HAM radio), it`s about the only part I am confident in at the moment! LOL
*Peace, Love, Unity, Respect*
https://www.youtube.com/KatherineAlicia

User avatar
MikeDB
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 777
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:28 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by MikeDB » Mon Jun 07, 2021 11:57 am

Katherine Alicia wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:47 am
and I don`t really have a clue what I`m doing with regards woodwork,
Just remember first rule of wood (and any other material) work. "Measure (at least) twice to cut once"

Consider making a mockup with cheap chipboard first which you can sand and even adjust by adding bits with glue, then make it properly with something like Sapele.
Always interested in innovative audio startups needing help and investment, just PM me.

User avatar
Katherine Alicia
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:00 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by Katherine Alicia » Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:07 pm

Thanks, what wood would be best to take a Wax polish? I`d rather not go the stain and varnish route if I can avoid it, but Wax polish appeals to me more, I was thinking of getting some Hardwax oil for it.
*Peace, Love, Unity, Respect*
https://www.youtube.com/KatherineAlicia

User avatar
EATyourGUITAR
has no life
Posts: 6844
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:24 am
Location: Providence, RI, USA

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:08 pm

You can use the chipboard design if you do fiberglass reinforced resin inside and outside. You can paint it with automotive paints. You can use threaded brass inserts common in furniture making to overcome the problems with chip board. Is it worth it? I don't know. I like to use good expensive plywood or reclaimed hardwood. You can glue 3 inch by 1 inch boards together to make sheet of hardwood. Then you can run that through a planar to get the surface flat. You could also use a hand plane or an orbital sander. Watch some tutorials on clamping wood scraps.

I like dowels for the joints. I have a wolfrcraft dowel jig that comes from the UK. I use 6mm dowels. Another way is with a biscuit joiner but dowels are cheaper.
WWW.EATYOURGUITAR.COM <---- MY DIY STUFF

User avatar
EATyourGUITAR
has no life
Posts: 6844
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:24 am
Location: Providence, RI, USA

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:12 pm

Katherine Alicia wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:07 pm
Thanks, what wood would be best to take a Wax polish? I`d rather not go the stain and varnish route if I can avoid it, but Wax polish appeals to me more, I was thinking of getting some Hardwax oil for it.
A lot of these products are mixtures of oil and wax. It is unavoidable. Pure wax goes over the top of finished wood. There are a lot of options for wood finishing. Hardwood is different from plywood. For a simple durable oil based plastic coating, I use varathane polyurethane spar varnish. If you can't do it outside then select a water based varnish. There is a lot more to say about staining so I won't say it here. You can find good information on the internet.
WWW.EATYOURGUITAR.COM <---- MY DIY STUFF

User avatar
Wavtekt
Common Wiggler
Posts: 115
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2021 12:33 am
Location: Canada West Coast
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by Wavtekt » Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:12 pm

Good to hear that :)

Usually Walnut or Mahogany with Watco Lacquer mixed 50% gloss, 50% satin.

Got this recipe from Sequential synth forum.

User avatar
MikeDB
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 777
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:28 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by MikeDB » Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:30 pm

Katherine Alicia wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:07 pm
Thanks, what wood would be best to take a Wax polish? I`d rather not go the stain and varnish route if I can avoid it, but Wax polish appeals to me more, I was thinking of getting some Hardwax oil for it.
Not sure I'm afraid, as I've just made a whole house's worth of windows with stain and varnish on sapele. But it's a very good wood so if anything will take a polish, it probably will. But avoid meranti as it goes all furry when you polish it.

I wouldn't recommend plywood - it's great for bass bins but the edges always seem to scuff no matter how you try to protect them - but if you do look for the stuff with a decorative hardwood outer layer rather than the marine or basic stuff.
Always interested in innovative audio startups needing help and investment, just PM me.

User avatar
oldenjon
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1104
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:28 am
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by oldenjon » Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:46 pm

I actually (and respectfully) would recommend plywood. It's cheap, flat and usually cut pretty square so it's easy to work with. It is usually intended to take stain well too, but most importantly it is good for a first project. If you mess up, it will not break the bank to build another and you won't be wasting a beautiful piece of solid wood. You can always build a second case from solid wood after working on your technique. You might even decide that you want to use different plans after having it for a while.
Last edited by oldenjon on Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"We all dance by ourselves, that's why we only play electronic music"

http://synthscalledbeasts.tumblr.com/

User avatar
BananaPlug
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2799
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:37 pm
Location: PHL USA

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by BananaPlug » Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:46 pm

Finishing chip board can be fun. I used tung oil and two different stains. Different amounts, order, rubbing all give different results. Experiment on some scrap. The crazy grain orientation makes it much wilder than plywood.
:nana:

User avatar
Katherine Alicia
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:00 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by Katherine Alicia » Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:48 pm

MikeDB wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:30 pm
I wouldn't recommend plywood - it's great for bass bins but the edges always seem to scuff no matter how you try to protect them - but if you do look for the stuff with a decorative hardwood outer layer rather than the marine or basic stuff.
100%! I`d rather make it all out of metal than use plywood, I don`t like the stuff, I want it to be a nice wood that I can take care of, I think that`s half the beauty with some instruments.
*Peace, Love, Unity, Respect*
https://www.youtube.com/KatherineAlicia

User avatar
oldenjon
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1104
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:28 am
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by oldenjon » Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:52 pm

Katherine Alicia wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:48 pm
100%! I`d rather make it all out of metal than use plywood, I don`t like the stuff, I want it to be a nice wood that I can take care of, I think that`s half the beauty with some instruments.
If you do decide to go straight to using a nice solid wood, I recommend doing a mockup out of a cheap material and practicing technique on smaller projects first, preferably with the same type of wood. You will end up with a better finished product.
"We all dance by ourselves, that's why we only play electronic music"

http://synthscalledbeasts.tumblr.com/

User avatar
SkyWriter
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 853
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 6:18 pm
Location: Absolute Elsewhere
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by SkyWriter » Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:23 pm

I prefer tools that won't take my finger off when I'm not looking. However, I have an old 8inch delta bandsaw, I use for everything. I manage to cut straight without a fence - it broke long ago. Everything comes out a bit rustic looking as I sand it down a lot in the end.

Don't underestimate the utility of a simple handsaw. I have a small hand saw I love to use when I'm not in a hurry and want a nice cut.

I like to use pine mostly. It takes a while to find a good piece at out local yard. But a softwood is much easier to work than hardwoods. Check your stock for cupping, warping, twisting, cracking, knots, splits, gouges, knocks and scratches before you buy! I tried to make a guitar body from purple heart wood. Wow, was that a mistake. 1/2 the screws broke off trying to attach the hardware.
say it with NROFF.

User avatar
Katherine Alicia
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:00 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by Katherine Alicia » Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:35 pm

I`ll probably end up with pine actually, I don`t think my local hardware store has much choice in woods, It`s ironic really, my Dad was a carpenter all his life and I never paid any attention at all, it was just "Guy" stuff (not that making elecronic sounds with "Science fair" kits from Radio Shack was particularly girly! LOL) it just held no interest for me, I`m kinda wishing I`d paid at least a Bit of attention now, if only just to know where he sourced all the nice wood from!
*Peace, Love, Unity, Respect*
https://www.youtube.com/KatherineAlicia

User avatar
SkyWriter
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 853
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 6:18 pm
Location: Absolute Elsewhere
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by SkyWriter » Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:50 pm

Katherine Alicia wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:35 pm
not that making elecronic sounds with "Science fair" kits from Radio Shack was particularly girly! LOL
I loved those things.

Sugar pine and poplar are fine woods.
say it with NROFF.

User avatar
MikeDB
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 777
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:28 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by MikeDB » Mon Jun 07, 2021 4:08 pm

Katherine Alicia wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:35 pm
I`ll probably end up with pine actually, I don`t think my local hardware store has much choice in woods, It`s ironic really, my Dad was a carpenter all his life and I never paid any attention at all, it was just "Guy" stuff (not that making elecronic sounds with "Science fair" kits from Radio Shack was particularly girly! LOL) it just held no interest for me, I`m kinda wishing I`d paid at least a Bit of attention now, if only just to know where he sourced all the nice wood from!
I'll bet your father didn't go to hardware stores for his wood ! Look around your area and there will be a specialist wood supplier who will supply you with everything you need, including advice on the best wood for your project. If you give them the sizes they'll even cut it for you far better than you'll manage. Indeed making a prototype from cheap chipboard first to give them as a sample will get the real one perfect.

These are the two I always use, which will be probably be no use to you, but gives an idea on what to look for.
https://www.ladybarntimber.co.uk/
https://www.tomlinsonparbans.co.uk/timb ... hants.html

And I think Isabella Summers proved many years ago that making electronic sounds definitely isn't just a 'guy' thing :-) Or of course Delia Derbyshire long long before her.
Last edited by MikeDB on Tue Jun 08, 2021 4:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
Always interested in innovative audio startups needing help and investment, just PM me.

lickspittle
Common Wiggler
Posts: 63
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2020 5:40 pm

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by lickspittle » Mon Jun 07, 2021 4:24 pm

Katherine Alicia wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:07 pm
Thanks, what wood would be best to take a Wax polish? I`d rather not go the stain and varnish route if I can avoid it, but Wax polish appeals to me more, I was thinking of getting some Hardwax oil for it.
Katherine, if you get some nice wood, treat yourself to some Ren Wax ... https://www.preservationequipment.com/C ... ssance-Wax

It gives a wonderful finish to wood (and anything else really). The British Museum slather it over everything.

User avatar
bf
12 Bit Wiggler
Posts: 1082
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:48 pm

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by bf » Mon Jun 07, 2021 5:35 pm

A suggestion, once you have plans finished and a mock-up under your belt to know what size pieces you will need for your project, you may see that the pieces needed may come from “scrap” or cutoff pieces from a wood supplier. I’ve also made some perfectly serviceable furniture from pallet wood that I cleaned up with a hand plane. You may want to look beyond the offerings of your local hardware if for nothing else just to see what you might find.

User avatar
MikeDB
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 777
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:28 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by MikeDB » Tue Jun 08, 2021 4:36 am

oops wrong place. Where's the delete button ?
Always interested in innovative audio startups needing help and investment, just PM me.

DubplateDerek
Common Wiggler
Posts: 184
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:06 am
Location: Amsterdam, NL

Re: I think I`m building a synthesizer.

Post by DubplateDerek » Tue Jun 08, 2021 4:59 am

Katherine Alicia wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:35 pm
I`ll probably end up with pine actually, I don`t think my local hardware store has much choice in woods, It`s ironic really, my Dad was a carpenter all his life and I never paid any attention at all, it was just "Guy" stuff (not that making elecronic sounds with "Science fair" kits from Radio Shack was particularly girly! LOL) it just held no interest for me, I`m kinda wishing I`d paid at least a Bit of attention now, if only just to know where he sourced all the nice wood from!
If you plan to use hardwood, go to a proper wood merchant and get them to plane it for you. It will cost more, but it means you'll be working with flat boards. I cannot stress enough how much difference this will make to the end result. They'll probably even cut the boards to size for you too if you like.

The issue with pine from a B&Q type place is that it won't be flat - again it'll need to be planed. You can *perhaps* get away with choosing the straightest bits from the rack and then cracking on and hoping for the best, but again using warped wood means a fight to get everything square, flush and neat and ultimately that means a result you might not be happy with.

Since you stated explicitly that you don't want to use plywood, I will not try to persuade you otherwise for your final case. But a lot of the problems which I've outlined are completely removed when you use manmade boards - as long as your cuts are square, your case will be square. It's worth at least getting some plywood or MDF and trying some joints, practising screwing, gluing and clamping and so on so that you don't attempt all this for the first time on shaft you hope will be your 'finished product'.
Cases and side panels for all sorts of modular and other stuff :

www.gouldcaseworks.nl

www.instagram.com/gould_case_works

Post Reply

Return to “Music Tech DIY”