Custom Hardware

tone generators, pedals, circuits and fun noise manipulation devices

Marchand Electronics

Marchand Electronics manufactures and sells hand built and custom designed audio equipment. Phil Marchand produces active, passive, solid state and tube crossovers, power amps for audio or laboratory usage, tube and solid state pre-amps, bass eq, discrete op amps, and many more items.
It’s worth noting he has three free

software tools for the audio enthusiast.   The coolest is simple component calculator for capacitor and resistor values for a variety of crossover models with crossover frequency and slope variables. I know this can probably be accomplished easily in excel these days but I’m personally a fan of dedicated tools that do one thing well.

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Roman Sowa’s Synthpages

I’ve referenced Roman Sowa previously in the AD633 Ring modulator post however I’ve never posted about his past work. To start with, Roman has incredibly detailed build pages on his DIY analog synth projects here. If you dig in and check out the details on his modular build he includes photos, schematics, and technical details that are more than sufficient to guide you in your own build but not overly verbose and distracting. Take a look at his extraordinary hand-made modular.
Roman Sowa Modular

Sound Lab Ultimate Notes and Photos

I’ve finally completed the MFOS Sound Lab Ultimate and despite the scattered moments of irritation over the past 8 months all-in-all I think it’s come out great. I’ll assume folks reading this are familiar with DIY projects so I skip the detailed build notes and move directly to some key points that I think will help anyone who is considering building this project.

1. Read all the instructions before you start. This is a classic ‘rule-of-thumb’ and no matter how many times I ignore it, I am always reminded through costly errors that I should have followed it. For example, after spending many hours putting together my own parts list in Mouser for this project and bitching to myself that Ray Wilson should have a parts list link on his site I finally discovered that he in-fact does. Putting together a project parts list is easy when you only need 20 parts, but given the size of this project you don’t want to go through the painstaking process of doing it yourself.

2. If money permits, buy all 1% tolerance resistors. The design calls for some which are 1%, and some which do not need to be 1% but some of these are the same valued resistors. You don’t want to realize that you just soldered twenty 10k 5% resistors down which should have been the 10k 1% resistors. It’s an easy mistake to make. And I made it. Speaking of mistakes, double check your work before plugging in. notice anything peculiar in the photo below? I’m glad i spotted that error before plugging in the power supply.

3. Also, if money permits, spend some coin on good knobs. It makes a huge difference in the look and feel of the finished project. If you do use the knobs suggested in the project plans purchase extra. Many of mine arrived missing the mounting screw rendering them useless.

4. Also double check the shaft type of the knobs in the parts list. After receiving my order and setting up the control panel I realized half of them were D shaft and half were full round shaft. Mounting regular knobs on d-shaft pots makes the knobs rotate in an elliptical fashion and, although not critical, it’s a detail that just frustrates the hell out of me.

5. I struggled with what to do about an enclosure but I found this gem at hobby-lobby. It’s a painter’s box or rather “a wooden artist’s case”. Either way, it was 19.99 and I had a 40% off coupon so it was a score. The MFOS SLU fits perfectly into it with only slight modifications. The one pictured on the website looks way nicer than the one I picked up but I’m not sad. Hobby Lobby saved the day again with cheap pre-fabricated boxes for any project.

6. On the wiring side it’s a toss-up. On the one hand, solid core saves you a ton of time when tinning the ends of your wire and it’s easy to bend into shape. But when you have to run approximately 120 hook-up wires stranded may be the way to go for flexibilities sake. Your call. I’m happy w/ the solid core.

7. If you’re willing to risk it, I think it might be possible to forego the process of hand matching your transistors. I originally hand matched a couple dozen xxxx transistors and they needed it. However, I matched another handful of xxxxx and they were all within .002mV as per the specs. Perhaps it was a fluke, but building the circuit, and then actually testing the transistors took all night one evening.

Sneak-Thief’s DIY Experiments

Sneak-Thief’s DIY Experiments.

According to Sneak Thiefs website the following work in progress is,

…a mankato quadrature filter, 2 wogglebug #3’s, tellun neural agonizer (dual spring reverb), korg triple-resonator and a fonitronic 5-channel mixer.

Awesome.

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An impressive array of modular gear @ Gingerbread Studios

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http://sneak-thief.com/modular/

Richard Scott Modular Synths & Compositions

Richard Scott is a composer, free improvising musician, prior administrator at the London Musician’s Collective, holds a Phd from his thesis on free improvisation, resident at STEIM in Amsterdam, designer of the WiGi infra red controller, and holds more distinctions than most artists working in this arena.

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Modular Synthesizer | Richard Scott.

Andrea Ciuffoli: Hi-End Phono Preamplifier

Andrea Ciuffoli over at audiodesignguide has a great DIY post on a tube driven phono-preamp with a near perfect RIAA curve.  What makes this design especially nice is its simplicity (only 13 components per channel).

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RH84 Amp Rebuild

Awesome before and after rebuild of an RH84 Amp on this DIYAudio post.

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YM2149 MIDI Synthesizer on ZPUino Soft Processor

The YM2149 MIDI Synthesizer on ZPUino Soft Processor

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Quoting the author of this post on gadgetfactory.net

By using the Open Source VHDL files for popular audio chips from places like FPGAArcade.com and Opencores.com we could eliminate all the wires, soldering, and wasted GPIO pins. Integrating popular audio chips like the C64 SIDAtari POKEY, and YM2149 into the ZPUino would put them under control of Arduino sketches. Effectively opening up all the Arduino libraries to control the audio chips.

In layman’s terms… awesome.  Use Arduino to easily control vintage audio chips.

Pass B1 Buffer Preamp sale DIY Audio

An great looking DIY pre-amp for sale via DIY Audio in this post.

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Pass B1 Buffer Preamp sale. – diyAudio.

Pinky and Friends – SDIY.ORG

SDIY.org has a number of great posters but by far the my favorite posts are by “Pinky & Friends“.  These are some the most unusual and creative DIY synths I’ve come across.  despite the simplicity of the site the most of the projects are well described and some have clear schematics.  Others however are just confusing.  Some of my favorites:

Turntable 110 (TT-110):  A DR-110 drum machine, $3 record player, and some ingenuity created a hardware based trigger for the drum machine.

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Muffwiggler CGS Modules

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A mannequin named Pinky.

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Tube-based syth modeled after metasonix modules:

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