DIY Synthesizers

This is a page of links to sites concerned with do-it-yourself synthesizers.

These entries relate specifically to building a Eurorack case.

Here's the logic.

Jump to: Dec 09 - Jan 10 - Feb 10 - Jul 10 - Aug 10 - Jan 11 - Jun12 -

the holes the battns power below
This snap about 2nd December showing the holes drilled for cabling
9th December - Battens in the top compartment to hold the power rails
9th December - First power supply in the lower compartment
power above power above test module test
11th December - First power distribution boards installed. At last, 7 weeks after getting the Cupboard, rather than a large old wooden box with extra holes in it, it looks like something in which electronic events might happen.
14th December - and wired up
14th December - one module tested

Now the mounting rails. I'm hoping to attach these to aluminium bars which in turn attach to the Cupboard sides (if that doesn't work, I'll use more wooden battens). This will be done in two sections, two rows below and four above - otherwise the structure would not fit through the hole. Cutting and drilling metal is not something I have done since metalwork lessons for one year in the second form at St Julian's High School, that would be 1966.

As reported in the blog, it will be five weeks (end of January) before the other power supplies arrive. That's a disappointment, but there's quite a lot of work to get on with in the meantime and I hope to have the first to rows installed in the next few days - before christmas would be good.

My first attempts in metalwork have been reasonably successful, picture below.

metalwork detailed design document the first two rails installed
17th December - Modest sucess in cutting and drilling the aluminium uprights.
Incidentally, here's the detailed design document for the cupboard conversion
21st December - The first two rows are ready, but I have to build the other four before I can load up the modules.

(22nd December) All going pretty well with the first two rails installed, but I will not manage the target of getting a noise out of the cupboard before Christmas as I am working an extra day on sorting christmas parcels for Royal Mail. Work will resume on 27th and I have to complete the second frame of four rails before mounting any modules - that's about half done.

(28th December) Six rails now in place. Next to get as far as I can with the wiring in anticipation of the remaining power kits. Then start work on the connections to the interface. And at some point get some modules installed and making noises. Off to Nottingham for a few days again tomorrow, so that will delay progress.

[later that day] and a noise has been had (see pic 2 below) but then I hit a snag. I arbitrarily planned the spacing of the power boards evenly along the battens, ignoring the fact that the power leads are attached at the bottom of the modules and so when I tried to fit some on the lower rail, the leads were not long enough. I could learn how to make longer leads and one day will do so, but for now I'll relocate the power boards. So it goes: at least I found the problem before installing all four.

[29th December] The move was fiddly but successful. I will set up the rest of the wiring with appropriate adjustments. I brought the 16-16 jack cable with me to Nottingham for testing and will wire up the connections to the interface when I get back.

all the rails installed first noise emerges detail of rail design
28th December - All the rails now in place.
28th December - Sound at last
5th January 2010 - close-up of rail

[1st January 2010] A happy new year. And the first day brings the first snag. Having completed the power wiring ready for the additional kits to arrive, I turned to the signal wiring between the modules and the interface. The plan was to use (handily pre-cut and pre-drilled) Doepfer blanking panels fitted with 3.5mm jacks and soldered up to the 16-16 ¼in jack loom acquired as studio surplus. Unfortunately, the thread on the 3.5 jacks I bought from Maplin is too short for the 4mm Doepfer panels. So it's either new jacks or new, thinner panels. Probably the latter.

[4th January] I have obtained an offcut of thinnish aluminium and will play with it tomorrow. As a backup, I have contacted an ebay aluminium vendor who offers a cut-to-order service.

filling up cutting a module fascia plate interface modules
5th January - filling up, the initial broken waltz patch
5th January - cutting a plate
7th January - interface panels ready to be wired

[5th January] Three snaps added today:

[7th January] The interface modules have been made. I need to find some varnish which will work on metal to protect the lettering. I'll make a start on the wiring today.

[8th January] I'm not one to complain, but I think the least you can expect of a soldering iron is that it is capable of melting solder. Mine doesn't and so there will be a delay in sorting out the wiring which I will spend getting the Mac to communicate with the MOTU.

panel wired let there be light power boards in
15th January - panel wiring completed
7th February - lights
26th February - power boards installed

[15th January] The difference between a good and a bad soldering iron is extraordinary. I chose a Weller WHS40, after a random sample of web comments, and it is a joy to work with. The panels should be ready today or tomorrow. The connector arrived but the MOTU is failing to respond at the moment - perhaps an old model on ebay was a mistake - no matter, the worst that can happen is that I'll have to buy a newer and better one. It's only money.
[later] Wiring complete and the panels are in place. It is clear that 4mm aluminium panels are preferable in that they are more rigid - mine 'flex' when inserting a plug, but they work. I might replace them at some point in the future, but for now they will do fine.

[7th February] Let there be light. My cheap (£10 each) B&Q led lights are in place, though I have not wired them in neatly yet.

[18th February] As noted in the blog, the DIY power kits are due in Bristol tomorrow (Friday) and should get here early next week.

[26th February] It took somewhat longer than predicted but they are here at last. Now on with the job... and the distribution boards are in today, but not wired yet.

power boards wired all there reorganisation
3rd March - power boards wired and tested
12th March - all modules installed and working
2nd July - reorganisation

[3rd March] All the power rails are now wired up and tested, just the audio wiring and lighting to complete. As noted in the blog, The Cupboard has been designated a PMC6.

[5th March] As stated in the blog, I picked up my first modules from EMIS on 11th April last year. It would pleasant to complete the PMC6 including the recording interface for the anniversary.

[10th March] Power sorted (after a small panic), lighting done, most of the modules installed, interface arriving tomorrow. The PMC6 is nearly done.

[12th March] All modules installed and running. The interface has arrived and will be the next step.

[3rd July] There's been a bit of a delay while my eyes have been fixed and I can now see the modules again. I am currently reorganising them as the original plan of functional sound blocks was not as sensible and easy to work with as I had thought - more often than not I wanted to patch across my blocks and so the fundamental concept was rather pointless. So I am reverting to a standard layout, as noted in the main blog,

and this is gradually being implemented. My recording medium for the moment is an Olympus LS11. I can highly recommend the device, but the market for small recorders is constantly changing as it seems to be a growth area at the moment. I will eventually manage the multitrack to and from the Mac.

reorganisation before after
22nd Aug 2010 - reorganisation
11th Jan 2011 - before
11th Jan - after

[22nd August] The current layout.

[23rd January 2011] The cupboard was full and so a new plan and some Resolutions were needed. The resolutions, as noted in the blog, are shown below. The above illustrations show before and after and the panel below begins with the position a couple of weeks later (23rd Jan) and with a new camera.

19th Jan desc desc
23rd Jan 2011 - reorganisation continues
17th June 2012 - lights
date - text

Not much of the above todo list has been achieved, but the Cupboard still burbles away merrily. The reason for this post is to report that a lighting solution has at last been found and implemented - the Ikea dioder - four strips of LEDs, mounted two each side.

blog - main page

page started 30th July 2009, forgotten about, then reinvigorated in September 09 and again in December
pics 300 max