History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by rich_de » Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:58 am

Rob Kam wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 4:31 pm
rich_de wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 3:40 pm
Also from Germany, a rather advanced endeavour, the "c't Klangcomputer" from c't magazine. ....
Between what dates?
Looking through the articles, I see references to early 1985. I would have dated it a few months earlier, because there are no DX-7 references, plus there were much longer lead times back then. My science project submission was later in 1985.

Funny bit: They use the CEM3340 and CEM3391 and in the voice RAM article prepare the reader for their high prices, and suggest that they can be bought through a certain "Fa. D. Doepfer, Merianstr. 25, 8000 München 19".

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by KSS » Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:47 pm

rich_de wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:58 am
Funny bit: They use the CEM3340 and CEM3391 and in the voice RAM article prepare the reader for their high prices, and suggest that they can be bought through a certain "Fa. D. Doepfer, Merianstr. 25, 8000 München 19".
It wasn't considered funny at the time. Dieter was harvesting the chips from -at the time 'worthless' vintage synths. Was quite a stink for awhile. I suppose his part in the rebirth of the CEM3340G is partial penitence for all the vintage synths rendered void by his prior harvesting. I wonder if they were kept or thrown in the dumpster? The old reports suggest they were.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by KSS » Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:06 pm

The Peasant wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 5:05 pm
You may want to mention and celebrate all of the wonderful people who created personal websites at the dawn of the internet, freely sharing their designs and information.

and a whole bunch of others that I'm sure that I have missed.
^Yes! Very good point.
The ones in English are easy. Many now gone as are their former owners. RIP.
Of those remaining, Yves Usson's Yusynth site would need to be included.
Osama Houshuama is another important member of this group.
How many of us were able to buy Takeda's Inexpensive Akaneohm tempcos and other hard to find bits and pieces?

The rise of synth forums all over the world needs to be on the wall. Besides the American Muffs/ModW, there's French Anafrog, Sweden's 99Musik, and those in Japan, Netherlands, and many other countries.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by jorg » Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:00 pm

KSS wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:47 pm
Dieter was harvesting the chips from -at the time 'worthless' vintage synths. Was quite a stink for awhile. I suppose his part in the rebirth of the CEM3340G is partial penitence for all the vintage synths rendered void by his prior harvesting. I wonder if they were kept or thrown in the dumpster? The old reports suggest they were.
Kept? Thrown in the dumpster?

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by KSS » Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:27 pm

Sure. We forget just how useless and out of style old synths were at some points in time. And also how new teachers and staff at university's had no clue to the past they were destroying by doing it. I don't know what DDoepfer did, it's why I'm asking. My recollection is that the chips were worth something and the synths they were in weren't, so I wouldn't be surprised they were binned.

The same thing is going on today with 'cheap' guitar pedals stripped of their BBDs or other 'valuable' rare Roland Yamaha chips to be used in new modules.
The 'higher' new use more important than the lowly pedal.

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:06 pm

Reed gazala, serge, Stanley lunneta, don buchla. Pioneers of the industry. Later years I would highlight experimentalists anonymous, caustic machines, getlofi, and music from outer space. Maybe include free information society.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by Rob Kam » Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:55 pm

Just listing notable people, events, resources, etc. without dates does not help to create a timeline.

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by ndkent » Fri Jun 11, 2021 12:14 am

jorg wrote:
Tue Jun 08, 2021 5:31 pm
Bob Moog and before him, Raymond Scott both developed modular synths basically as DIY. In fact, they collaborated. See this:
https://www.raymondscott.net/em-article-2001/

I think Paia really created the modular DIY market; at least that was my experience of it, back in the early 1970s.
I heard Bob say (in person) that the idea of a modular synth was "in the air" at the time. Current consensus is Harald Bode built the system that inspired Moog, he had voltage controlled modules, his was a sound processing rather than a VCO based system that was one-off but documented for the music engineering community.

Though I realize I'm sort of paraphrasing the official Scott archive, Raymond Scott hired young Bob Moog to subcontract building his designs for personal use. He wasn't focused on a modular per se, he did get the by then famous Bob Moog to go on record saying Scott had the first sequencer he saw. It does open the loophole that Bob did not see the RCA Synthesizer which ought to qualify as having a sequencer in that it realized programmed music rather than a musician performs using it. Scott did use Moog modules and built a huge lab of equipment though not so much modular per se.

Bob of course began by reading and building a DIY Theremin article then began his business by writing his own DIY Theremin article and selling kits

I think there was 2 waves of DIY, in the early 70s there was a desire for lower cost alternatives - you had Paia, Serge, others. Then a different wave came with SSM and CEM chips though Paia went with it

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by KSS » Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:10 am

Don Buchla was also aware of and inspired by Bode's modular voltage controlled processor. <--Buchla DIY now is a big thing but wasn't for most of the time covered in the thread.

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by wackelpeter » Fri Jun 11, 2021 1:38 pm

Maybe a bit too far off the road, but i think Filters, especially VCF's, had a huge impact on the DIY community. I have no exact numbers and really no clue, but i can imagine that they were in many, many cases the entry drug into DIY synths. Like, oh i love that Moog, Steiner, Roland, EMS filter so much, it sounds so cool, i must build my own. So i think a lot of us started with a filter instead of an VCO or any other sound source (if you don't count the self-oscillating filter as that).

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by cbm » Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:44 pm

KSS wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:10 am
Don Buchla was also aware of and inspired by Bode's modular voltage controlled processor. <--Buchla DIY now is a big thing but wasn't for most of the time covered in the thread.
Generally true, but there was a burst of it, right after his infamous garage sale, when he sold off boards & parts from the 200 series, because he wasn't going to make those modules anymore.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by Luka » Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:35 am

Midibox is another sdiy bubble. The sid machines and sequencers were amazing.

Also Scott Stites and electro-music forum should get a mention. They were ubiquitous during my early days.

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by whoop_john » Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:59 pm

MikeDB wrote:
Tue Jun 08, 2021 7:39 pm
From a British point of view, Synth DIY was helped along considerably by these three series of articles :
Practical Electronics : http://www.timstinchcombe.co.uk/index.p ... emini#pess
Wireless World : http://yusynth.net/archives/WirelessWor ... esizer.pdf
ETI : https://encyclotronic.com/synthesizers/ ... 600-r1429/

Maplin (UK version of Radio Shack) supplied kits for the ETI design which helped make it the most popular of the three.

All three show various degrees of being based on the VCS-3, notably that all included spring reverb units and ring modulators which other designs of the time often omitted.

There were also numerous separate designs in all of these magazines for the individual parts of synths, including an ultra-stable VCO in Wireless World that I've never managed to find again but at the time was a revelation in not ever needing retuning.

There was also the PEAC - Practical Electronics Analogue Computer - published in January 1968 which used discrete opamps to create many sections recognisable in modern modular synths.
Well OK, but if you are talking about UK Modular, which does not include ANY of the above projects, as they were essentially pre-configured synths, then I must put forward the Dewtron modules, which were advertised widely in UK electronic magazines, although I don't recall any magazine reviewing them or writing articles around them.

Dewtron was the brainchild of Brian Baily. The company name comes from Design Engineering Wokingham, although Brian moved to Ferndown in Dorset shortly after.

In an attempt to keep his designs proprietary, Brian potted all his modules in brown resin and gave out no schematics, thus making any repairs impossible. The system was, however, fully modular. I built a system and so did my good friend Max Norman, who went on to produce albums for Ozzie Osbourne and Megadeth, among other very metal bands. We sweated blood together over Dewtron's designs. Max was roadying at the time for Manfred Mann and had their Arp 2600 in his bedroom, which Manfred had already given up on. We sweated blood trying to get something good out of that pile o' crap also.

One great idea Brian Baily had was a thing called 'Modumatrix'. This was a set of flip switches he'd had manufactured which could be stacked together in rows and columns, according to what modules you bought. No interwiring necessary. What a great idea, I hear you say. Yes, but if you got a sticky switch somewhere in the middle, which was not uncommon, then the whole mess had to be disassembled to get at it, making you wish you'd never heard of Dewtron in the first place.

Brian Baily eventually flipped out on messages he'd had from outer space, which I tried hard to help him decipher through a mutual friend, Nigel Woodfine. Interesting, yet perplexing. Brian was straight as a die, never touched drugs I hasten to add. One message from an alien was very specific, about shining light of a specific wavelength through a diamond, 'cleaved in the quadrant mode' such that it struck the main axis of the diamond at a certain angle. Well as luck had it my Father was a PhD geologist and an expert in crystallography. He couldn't help, but tried. I later shlepped around the diamond merchants in London's Hatton Garden jewellery district and had no luck there either. I gave up. Of course here on MuffMods we have experts on absolutely everything, so I leave it up to them to sort it all out once and for all.

Brian's ads claimed he'd built an awesome setup for Led Zeppelin and he showed pictures of it in his ads, but I am not sure LZ ever used it.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by MikeDB » Sat Jun 12, 2021 5:43 pm

whoop_john wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:59 pm
Well OK, but if you are talking about UK Modular, which does not include ANY of the above projects, as they were essentially pre-configured synths,
Read the OP again. "We want to use it to create a synth-DIY 'timeline' of sorts." No mention of having to be modular, and indeed most DIY synths in the UK have never been modular, for example all the stuff the New Wave bands often built themselves in late 70s/early 80s.

But all three designs were scaleable up or down. I actually mixed and matched bits from all of them, and the Roy Gwinn VCF and the Wireless World VCO I still can't find, this all being linked into a VCS3 until I gave up on analogue synths in 1984.

As for Dewtron I remember them being advertised but the only product of theirs I ever saw in action was the Mister Bassman pedal.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by whoop_john » Sat Jun 12, 2021 6:30 pm

MikeDB wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 5:43 pm
whoop_john wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:59 pm
Well OK, but if you are talking about UK Modular, which does not include ANY of the above projects, as they were essentially pre-configured synths,
Read the OP again. "We want to use it to create a synth-DIY 'timeline' of sorts." No mention of having to be modular, and indeed most DIY synths in the UK have never been modular, for example all the stuff the New Wave bands often built themselves in late 70s/early 80s.

But all three designs were scaleable up or down. I actually mixed and matched bits from all of them, and the Roy Gwinn VCF and the Wireless World VCO I still can't find, this all being linked into a VCS3 until I gave up on analogue synths in 1984.

As for Dewtron I remember them being advertised but the only product of theirs I ever saw in action was the Mister Bassman pedal.
Mea culpa. I built an ETI 4600 and an ETI5600S, plus some additions and mods.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Sat Jun 12, 2021 10:07 pm

1957 heath kit code practice oscillator kit
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by onurkalaycioglu » Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:25 pm

theres no doubt that bernie hutchins should have a prominent part on your wall (and other important contributors to electronotes, like dave rossum, terry mikulic, and ian fritz(i know im leaving some out)). it would make most sense to interview/talk to these people to get a more concise overview of the earlier SDIY history. or maybe mr hutchins or mr fritz will chime in at some point.

for more contemporary, definitely thomas henry, mfos, ken stone, cgs, aaron lanterman and especially nic collins have all been important to the propagation/history of sdiy, i think.

also scott bernardi, scott stites, tim stinchcombe, tim servo, barry klein, and douglas self deserve a mention. as well as the wealth of knowledge here on muffs and electro-music forum.

hes not mentioned much in this thread. and i guess im biased since i studied with him, but nic collins deserves a spot on the wall. since the early 2000s his book on handmade electronic music, and subsequent teaching at SAIC, has influenced a generation of artists/musicians to circuit bend, breadboard/solder diy circuits, and learn electronics in a hands on and fun way. some will argue his book doesnt dive deep into modular synths or voltage control but he came up with/adapted/documented(which i know was influenced by lancaster, amongst other things) some novel and easy ways of using CMOS chips to make oscillators, sequencers, envelope followers, distortion, preamps, mixers, etc.

not like his contributions are on par bernie hutchins or other names above. but one name i see left out is david tudor which wasnt exactly doing sdiy as we know it, but an early pioneer in a different way with diy electronics for music/art.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Sun Jun 13, 2021 1:10 pm

If you include nic Collins you need to include Aaron lanterman. They are teachers.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by neil.johnson » Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:37 pm

Also add John Becker who wrote a series of sound processing modules in Everyday Electronics from June 1988 onwards. Enough modules to build a fairly comprehensive modular synth (VCOs, VCA, VCFs, mixers, ring modulator), and together with some circuits from Tim Orr you could build your own analogue modular synth.

Also add Robert Penfold, who wrote quite a few books for Babani, as well as hobby electronics magazines of the 70s, 80s and 90s.

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by pugix » Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:14 pm

No mention of John Blacet? I bought many of his kits and converted to MOTM format.

https://blacet.com/cart/
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by MikeDB » Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:48 pm

Lots of names being mentioned. But I'd like to ask a fundamental question - has there been any actual original advancements in analogue synths in recent decades ? Or was most of the original work done in the 60s and 70s and everything since then has just been improving on that work ? I accept it would take a few years for professional practices to move into the DIY realm, but has there been anything truly new in the past few decades ? If not then the timeline really needs to stop at whenever the last significent invention was introduced to the DIY realm. Just repackaging an old idea in a new format shouldn't really qualify as being influential.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by pugix » Sun Jun 13, 2021 7:09 pm

Peter Blasser calls his Ciat-Lonbarde site, "Home of post-70s electronic music." Some of his designs are very innovative and I would say original. His paper circuits idea has a lot of DIY followers.

Paper circuits:
https://www.ciat-lonbarde.net/paper/index.html

So far as I know, Peter is the only designer to put bounds modulation into his oscillators. I describe it a bit here:
https://pugix.com/synth/large-patchable-tetrazzi/

The oscillator schematic:
https://pugix.com/synth/tetrazzi-large-pcb/
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by oudplayer » Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:12 pm

In the UK, John Richards did quite a bit to spread the love of making and performing DIY synthesizers thru his Dirty Electronics project. I know it was happening in 2007, not sure if he started it before that, tho.

For the early 2000s (and onwards), +1 on Nic Collins and Peter Blasser, both (but in different ways) helped get a lot of people involved in synth DIY.

I'm not sure if anyone mentioned Douglas Self, whose writings have been pretty influential too.
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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by Rob_C » Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:48 pm

Website with examples about creating visual timelines:
16 Creative Timeline Examples

I like the simplicity of the first example, "a visual table of contents," the sequential hexagons with text callouts. Select which events to include, choose visuals and dates/labels, and sequence them in timeline order. That may be sufficient information density for a visual presentation in a stairway.
Image

Categorizing events into "synth eras" may break the timeline order and add complexity, but there are information designers who are good at creating such things. The hardest job may not be the artist or the information designer, but the editor, as the editor must choose what to include and what to exclude in this timeline. Perhaps synthcube could supplement the stairwell timeline with a written handout that provides additional detail.

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Re: History of Synth DIY: Opinions requested

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:06 pm

pugix wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 7:09 pm
So far as I know, Peter is the only designer to put bounds modulation into his oscillators.
you can patch this with other modules. VC linear slew is the DUSG or the buchla 281. a sequential switch to two reference voltages will do the rest. if you patch your modulation instead of reference voltages then you have that. what else? do you need comparators maybe?

Peter B is a genius. he definitely invented something. all I am saying is that this could be patched on a much older machine before it was invented. Peter B cooked it down into a ready made module Fourses. this is what all the manufacturers have been doing for the past 20 years. mostly just wiring complex patches up into smaller packages.

the past 10 years or maybe 20 years has also been about porting VST plugins to eurorack or getting the user involved with programmable micro controllers. ardcore was open source DIY. qubit started with a module that was 3 arduino's + raspberry pi stacked on multiple PCB's!
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