Celebrating Delia’s 80th Birthday

Morocco Dave

On the 5th of May, electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire would have been 80 years old. Alongside Coventry’s celebrations of the event (Delia hailing from Coventry) I appeared on local BBC Radio, performed some live pieces at the Coventry Music Museum and did a day of hands-on, public-engagement, messing-about-with-synths at The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery.

I had an absolutely brilliant, if hectic couple of days – radio with Vic Minett on Friday morning, set-up at The Herbert in the afternoon (this took a lot longer than expected thanks to the extremely enthusiastic parties of schoolchildren who just wanted to get their hands on the gear straight away – wonderful!) , public engagement Saturday morning, race across town for my live set at the Music Museum at lunchtime, more public engagement back at The Herbert in the afternoon and then a final live set using patches and sequencer…

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DIY Modular Synth: Making Module Panels

Morocco Dave

As you’ll have seen from some of my recent posts, I’ve recently taken to making my modular panels out of aluminium. This post describes the process that I go through to make each one.

Finding the best approach

By far the best approach to making good-looking, durable and accurate panels for your DIY modular is to get someone else with good precision engineering skills to do it for you. However, this method will come with drawbacks:

  • You may well have to pay for the work, and you won’t have control of the cost
  • If you don’t have to pay for it, you may have to wait for results, effectively putting your build schedule into someone else’s control
  • You’ll probably have to develop a whole bunch of extra skills around CAD drawing; effectively, you’re trading acquiring one set of skills (making) for another (describing what you want to make)
  • Where’s the…

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DIY Modular Synth: MiniMoog Filter Clone

Morocco Dave

This was the first synth module I built. It’s been a long road; it’s been on a “temporary” panel in a “temporary” case since I first got it working. Today, I mounted the parts onto an aluminium panel; it’s finished.

IMG_6735The module itself is one of Yves Usson’s awesome designs. For those of you familiar with the superb Arturia MiniBrute analog synth – Yves is the man who co-created it with Arturia. It really does have a warmth and depth that is surprisingly close to the original MiniMoog VCF. As this was my first module, I bought a kit and a ready-made PCB in order to get me going. I learnt a lot building this module, all of which gave me the confidence to tackle further projects with my own strip-board layouts and sourcing components straight from a bill-of-materials.

IMG_6757The kit came from Soundtronics, who are just a…

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DIY Modular Synth: MIDI Distribution

Morocco Dave

Let me put this out there at the very beginning of this post, just so that we’re all clear:

I’m not an analog purist. I quite like digital noises, too.

There, I’ve said it. Still with me? Good.

I fully intend for my DIY modular system to contain both analog and digital elements; if it sounds good and/or it’s easy to work with and especially if it’s a cheap build, it’s in. As a result, I have a plan to produce a couple of very quick-and-lo-fi synth voice and drum modules based on Arduino. They take MIDI rather than CV as their main control (although I will be adding CV mod inputs to them). So, I need a sensible way of getting MIDI around my case, preferably without having tons of MIDI sockets all over the place.

To solve this, I turned to a project I’ve already built – a simple…

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DIY Modular Synth Case: Power Distribution

Morocco Dave

So, I’m building a case for my home-made modular synth. Not this case, which I made just a couple of months ago when I was first dabbling in DIY electronics. Oh no, I’ve outgrown that one already. I’ll be keeping it, though, as a test frame for the workbench.

No, I’m talking about this case:

13U x 2 row modular case

2 rows of modules, each row 13U wide. So, potentially, 26 x 1U modules.

Believe it or not, I’ve already got 17U in the build process… so this one’s probably going to fill up pretty fast, too.

At the moment I’m waiting on parts in order to get this build moving – I’m having a whole bunch of blank aluminium module panels laser-cut , and until they arrive I can’t see the tolerances in the cutting process. Which means I can’t finalise dimensions for the frame they’ll mount into. Which means I can’t finalise dimensions…

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Arduino Nano ISP Programmer

Morocco Dave

If you follow me on Twitter or pay any kind of attention to this blog, you’ll know that I’ve recently been building a variety of DIY music tech gadgets. At the heart of a whole bunch of these is the Arduino programmable microcontroller.

nano

I currently have four or five projects on the go that make use of one of these brilliant Nano boards in one way or another. However, I’d much rather use the Arduino Nano as a bread-boarding and development tool, and transfer the finished code to an ATMega328P chip for the finished piece of work.

Conveniently, you can use a Nano as a programmer for burning a bootloader and your code onto a virgin ATMega. I found this excellent blog post by Martyn Currey that lays out how to go about this really clearly and concisely.

But… I’m lazy and I get bored easily. I got thoroughly dissatisfied…

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