Homemade Modular Synthesiser

An ongoing project, which will be properly documented at some point. This page is almost always out of date...

12th September 2019: Just moved some older stuff to an archive page, including some early photos.

14th November 2018: More modules complete, including NLC Bindubba 3 polydirectional sequencer, 8 Bit Cipher, Delay No More dual PT2399 audio mangler, and Jurgen Haible Schulte phasers. Also complete overhaul of the main sequencer, with new MFOS control added to the old CGS gate/CV sequencer.

Clouds and Elements by Mutable Instruments build details here.

19th September 2018: Woodwork now complete on third set of cabinets, and panels done for 20 no. Thomas Henry X-4046 VCOs. About 10 of the VCOs still need wiring, and all of them need calibrating, which is going to take ages.

26th September 2019: Simple 24 channel mixer, based on Ken Stone's CGS04

24 mono inputs, or switch to 12 inputs on the left channel and 12 on the right. This gives 12 stereo channels, with panning possible by adjusting the levels.

Input signal levels are indicated by the brightness of the LEDs in the latching mute buttons.

Schematic here.

14th December 2018: Acid knob twiddling

13th December 2018: Charlie called round to continue some tests on an audio project we're working on, and we also had some fun plugging theremin CV outputs into the synth...

5th January 2017: Geiger counter module complete. Produces random voltages by comparing the time between clicks. Initially counts three clicks, then takes the time between 1 and 3 as the overall range mapped to 5V, and click 2 as the voltage level. It then waits for the next click to replace click 3, and re-assigns the previous 2 and 3 to the new 1 and 2, if that makes sense.

The 5V is converted into a control voltage signal, with adjustable range and offset, adapted from Ken Stone's joystick schematic. Glide has also been borrowed from a CGS module. Also produces a trigger output every time the geiger counter is activated.

Dedicated to the memory of Ray Wilson, whose amazing designs and friendly advice were so crucial to this project.

Useful links

Nonlinear Circuits: Currently my favourite supplier of very unique and imaginative PCBs

Amazing Synth: Source of surface mount PCBs originally designed by Mutable Instruments

Jurgen Haible: JH PCBs now sold by Random Source, including the fantastic Schulte phaser

Thonk: PCBs &c.

PAiA: Good source of classic synth PCBs, also a very good vocoder and theremin

CGS: Ken Stone's site, now archived. PCBs still available via Elby Designs

Music From Outer Space: MFOS PCBs are now sold by others, e.g. SynthCube or SoundTronics

Synthcube: Huge range of great PCBs, although they have messed up literally my last 4 or so orders. Good if you're not in a hurry.

Soundtronics: UK supplier of MFOS PCBs, expensive

Synthesizers.com: Very high quality pre-assembled modules. Good source of technical information and +/- 15V power supplies.

Project 9090: PCB clone of the legendary Roland TR-909

Jasper: EDP Wasp clone

TTSH: Arp 2600 clone

Derek Revell's Phutney: VCS3 clone

Eric Archer: Inspirational site with schematics and perfboard layouts, including some of the TR-808 drums

Music PCB: High quality PCBs, including Throbbing Gristle's Gristleizer

Papareille Synth Labs: Some interesting stuff, including Coron DS8 drum clones, although PCB quality not amazing

I have only listed sites that I have dealt with directly - there are plenty more. MFOS and CGS are the ones I got started with.

Components: I am based in the UK, and so use RS, Rapid, Farnell / CPC, & eBay of course. Rapid used to be better, but now seem to run out of stock for months at a time. Buying stuff in bulk from Ali Baba is also good.

Chia Shin Knobs Co Ltd: Fantastic source of knobs, direct from the factory in Taiwan. Minimum order tends to be 500 or 1000, but with vast savings.

SL Hardwoods Ltd: Timber for cabinets. I don't know if they're necessarily the cheapest.

A look at Daphne Oram's Oramics machine...

A look at Oskar Sala's trautonium...

Archive synth page

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