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.




Modular Synthesizer | Richard Scott.

I Dream of Wires: Made in Canada – Modcan & Intellijel on Vimeo



I Dream of Wires: Made in Canada – Modcan & Intellijel from MUTEK on Vimeo

via I Dream of Wires: Made in Canada – Modcan & Intellijel on Vimeo.

Vinnui’s DIY Modulation Bus

Vinnui has a concise site detailing the build of his modular.  He has put together some sharp looking modules and although he comments his wiring is a mess I think it looks exactly the way it should… made by hand, at home, with a soldering iron and a lot of patience.

Vinnui - YuSynth Dual VCO

It looks like it mostly consists of YuSynth modules though he also has a pretty cool idea for his own variation on the Moog Voyager’s modulation bus.  His expansion on the idea of a modulation bus is comprehensive and has about as many patching options as you could fit before it gets confusing or inconvenient compared to more traditional patch cables.  I could see something like this being very useful when you need to quickly dial something up without a handful of patch cables.

Vinnui - Modulation Bus

The layout consists of two buses, each sporting 12 possible sources, 12 destinations, and 12 shapers.  That’s a total of 1,728 patching combinations, per bus, with only the quick turn of three dials.  Purists may not like the rotary switch patching of modulators but I think its a brilliantly simple way to manage a large number of patching capabilities in an easy to remember/recall format.

ATXMega32D4 microcontroller and the BassBoy

This is the first time I’m posting on a product. But a monophonic bass synth based on the Atmel ATXMega32D4 microcontroller a for only $29 bucks is a pretty good deal if you ask me. What I really like though is the inclusion of a full schematic, something of a rarity these days in consumer electronic products. Available via MikroElektonika.

From the manual:

BassBoy is a monophonic digital MIDI controlled bass synthesizer. Device receives all information via MIDI input (connector).Sampling frequency is 31.25KHz which generates audio range up to 15.625Khz. Although it’s based on 8-bit processor, the signal processing inside the unit is 16-bit. The unit consists of oscillator which generates SAW & SQUARE WAVE using 16-bit band-limited wavetables, thus making the number of harmonics limited. After that, the signal itself goes through a simple implementation of MOOG filter, whose frequency range is chosen by MIDI commands and which is affected by the level of the envelope. The filtered signal then comes to the controlled amplifier, which creates the signal shape, and in the end through DAC (WM8762) and pre-amp circuit goes to the audio jack 6.35mm. The unit is mono, and 6.35mm jack is also used as carrier for the circuit board itself.

RF’s DIY Modular Synth Pages

This is from another user named ‘RF’. ‘RF’ [Nick] has built a monster DIY analog synth built mostly from MFOS kits from Ray Wilson. RF’s site gives a great deal of information on where he got started when looking to explore DIY synthesis. One of these days I’m going to take off 5 years and photograph all of these synths and publish it in a luxurious hard cover volume with nothing but gear-porn quality photos.

RF’s DIY Modular Synth Pages.

MFOS – Weird Sound Generator

Sometimes you don’t want to have to spend hours researching designs and finding parts to build a project… sometimes you just want to buy everything you need at once, solder it up, and have fun without the worry of troubleshooting your design. At those times a kit is perfect and in this case that’s just what I did.

I’ve posted about MFOS before. They manufacture a number of kits from entry level to advanced synthesis kits. I decided to go with the ‘WSG’… or Weird Sound Generator. Ray Wilson has some excellent designs that are really fun to put together. I managed to get this up and running in a weekend without any hassles and it sounds great. It’s basically two squarewave generators with LFOs and a resonance filter. If your just starting out this is perfect… and even though I’ve been doing this for a while it was still a ton of fun. Ray’s taken all the hard work out of the process and made DIY synthesis simple, straight forward, and well documented.

He provides all the documentation you could need including wiring diagrams, pcb templates, schematics, block diagrams, and parts lists so I won’t duplicate that here. I’ll just add some comments on the build and a video of the finished project at the end of the post…

Here we have the parts list laid out…

Most of the components have been soldered to the PCB at this point. All the parts are included in the kit and none were missing.

The finished PCB sans ICs.

I used a aluminum enclosure from an old broken gemeni turntable mixer I bought off of ebay. I’ve had great luck finding things like this for 10 bucks or less sometimes and they’re perfect when you need spare knobs, op amps, or enclosures. I just flipped it upside down and took of the rubber feet. Holes were drilled using a step bit (these are a must have for drilling good holes in aluminum enclosures).

Here is everything wired up.

This is the PCB finally wired up. One complaint about this is that the holes on the PCB for all the wiring are placed all over the PCB which makes for really messy wiring. I found that extra care was required to make sure the wiring didn’t bend too much and come detached from the PCB. It seems like using headers would be a much easier way to go about this the next time around.

When I put this together I first soldered the hookup-wire to the board, then to the components on the panel which makes it really difficult to keep things neat and tidy. Next time I will wire up the panel first, then complete the board, then make my connections to allow for a cleaner layout.

Just a tip for beginners… don’t shrink the heat shrink tubing until you’ve tested your work and are certain it works. It’s a major irritation to have to remove heat shrink tubing after you’ve already… well, shrunk it.

Living VCO

I don’t know much about this one except what is written on Matrixsynth

Living VCO

This one in via John L. Rice. It’s a Living VCO made by Peter:

“I’m not a MOTMer & I make my own panels, so I don’t have much to add to this debate. I did however finish wiring my Living VCO module today. Its still on the bench being checked over and is not integrated into my system yet but is looking and sounding good so far.

I managed a FRAC format panel design that has all the stock features and fits pretty comfortably (for me) on a 5U frac panel.

Here’s a pic of the module taken some time ago before beginning wiring.

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