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Going full DIY Buchla
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge  
Author Going full DIY Buchla
hermbot
I have a fairly small Eurorack rig. (By Euro standards, anyway: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/582718) I find myself not wanting a huge rack, or anything radically different from what I have now. What I do find myself GASing after, however is a similar modest Buchla system. Buying all the modules listed below outright is out of my range, but I'm thinking of starting the long process of DIYing the following rack:
https://www.modulargrid.net/u/racks/view/608363

281r
257r
292c
266r
259r

Ideally, I would be able to build things that would marry with my Eurorack so I can use them along the way while I build the system up. I think this combination, which admittedly resembles my Eurorack setup, would give me quite a bit to play with. Most of those builds seem eminently doable given what I've done in the past, though I have to admit I'm intimidated by the 259 build.

The reason I like these models (and by models I mean PCBs/Panels) is that they are all available via Roman's shop but - more importantly - they are all supported by the exceptional documentation on davebr's site.

Has anyone else gone fully along with Roman's modules, and what did you think?

Are there other options for 200 series DIY?

The other option, I suppose is to go with the Euro-ized versions of some of these. Specifically, the Thomas White LPG module which is supposed to be the same circuit as the 292, I think (with resonance added) and the Two59 oscillator set from Feedback. Perhaps adding another format is making life more difficult than I need to. But... I kinda just want to start a Buchla system.

(Also, are you supposed to list them all as r modules if they are Roman's? I'm not interested in the 200 e series, so do I just say "200 series" for modules with the pre-e format? I've been reading a ton but still have a lot to learn.)
pbanken
Hi there!
Roughly a year ago, I found myself in pretty much the same position as you. Heavy GAS for the Buchla, but 200e was simply out of my range. Personally, I was a bit frustrated with my Euro set up, and after a looooong time thinking about an Easel, I tried to purchase one. It never happend via the official reissue, since no one in Europe could deliver (the massive price increase around that time drove me NUTS, but that's another story).

Long story short, I got in contact with very talented builders, got an Easel clone in a bigger boat, and slowly but surely I've been expanding ever since. BUT ... I sold off my entire Euro set up for this.

Personally, if it's just the sound you're after, stay in Euroland. It is far less expensive, the choices you have are more varied, and it intergrates easier with other pieces of an ordinary studio set up. I had, for example, the Furtherrr Generator, a very Buchla-esque osc, and loved it (I still miss it sometimes). I would argue that there is no sound created with Buchla that you couldn't re-create with Euro.

Myself, I never ever regretted the decision to leave Euro behind. My modular set up is a lot more limited now (an Easel clone + a few more clones and 3rd party modules), but it's much more fun for me personally. But that's because the design philosophy of the 200 modules speaks more to me than a lot of the Euro modules. The patching "feels" better, it's more fun, I love the tactile feeling of the bigger knobs, the colors, the 'nanas, everything.

Before my ramblings go completely of the rail, this: Are you a talented solderer, who knows his way around a soldering iron, electricity and Mouser BOMs? If so, go the DIY route. If not, be aware of the costs (although clones still cost a lot less than 200e modules). If you think that sound-wise, it'll open the horizon, mmh ... better take a test drive with a system nearby (there are probably a few to be found in Wisconsin!).

Puuh ... it's getting late here, I hope that this post makes sense and doesn't give you headaches.

I'm pretty sure others will chip in, for me personally a long quest ended when I received my Easel.

Hope this was a bit of help.

Cheers, P.

P.S.: And yes, there are other DIY modules offered for Buchla by 3rd parties, it's not just Roman.
auxren
Here is my 100% DIY Buchla rig: https://www.modulargrid.net/u/racks/view/369974

If I would do it again, I think I'd skip the 208 and go for individual modules. The only reason I don't get rid of my 208 is because it took so much effort building it and calibrating it and getting it to be 100%.
askthedust
Started with a cloned Easel that I sold to get 100% 200 diy. Along the way I’ve added a few e : 227e, 267e, 291e and à couple Verbos. But never looked back and most importantly : it cured me from the euro gas.
Peake
Of the modules you've listed, the 259 clones require a couple of selected components; go through the related build page in the DIY forum to see what others have done...
sempervirent
I noticed that the Euro setup you posted a photo of recently is very Buchla-inspired, but sometimes you want the real thing...

hermbot wrote:
Has anyone else gone fully along with Roman's modules, and what did you think?

All 200r clones here, no 200e. No complaints. Some of the builds are certainly more of a challenge than others. Dave Brown's website is a godsend. Also check out www.emcloned.com (Roman's original 200r forum) which has build threads for most everything.

hermbot wrote:
Are there other options for 200 series DIY?

If you're after the vintage modules, no. Roman's project (which, just FYI, is now managed by another entity) is a pretty epic undertaking. You could try fitting projects from other formats behind 4U panels.

hermbot wrote:
The other option, I suppose is to go with the Euro-ized versions of some of these.

As @pbanken writes, there's not going to be a huge difference in sound. IMO the difference is in ergonomics, patching philosophy, workflow, the deliberate design choices that Don made. Yes, there are quite a few gaps when you compare with a modern modular system (which is one reason why I'm designing new Buchla-format modules) but the limitations can be welcome. There are nearly 6,000 Eurorack modules listed on ModularGrid right now. The entire 200r/200e/other ecosystem is probably less than 100 modules.

hermbot wrote:
Perhaps adding another format is making life more difficult than I need to. But... I kinda just want to start a Buchla system.

Cross-patching between the two is not a big functional challenge. Common ground, some modulation level adjustments, occasional incompatibilities with triggers/gates (a CVGT1 module helps a lot). The main thing is that it's just awkward (IMO). It's like switching between two computers with different operating systems.

hermbot wrote:
(Also, are you supposed to list them all as r modules if they are Roman's? I'm not interested in the 200 e series, so do I just say "200 series" for modules with the pre-e format? I've been reading a ton but still have a lot to learn.)

That seems to be the convention around here, and it makes sense.
cygmu
I have built the modules you are considering over the last 12 months (apart from the 266) and I am very happy with them, but there are a few things to consider before you jump in. First of all, sourcing the right parts -- especially vactrols and obsolete transistors -- is a painstaking business and as Peake says above, for best performance some of them need to be carefully selected based on measurements of individual parts. The information on this is strewn around various build threads and sites and not super easy to pull together -- but it can be done.

Right now things are in transition at electricmusicstore so, for example, there are no 281 boards available, and actually there has been a very bumpy history with 281s. As you will see on Dave Brown's pages, the version 3 boards had some bugs that needed fixing, and Dave reports that it was hard to get the "currently available" (though sold out) version to work too. Not an easy ride. With the shop under new ownership it is not clear when or if new boards will become available. Communication has so far been scant. The store is still apparently selling boards for the 248, for which no parts list has ever been made available, so you can pay $549 for some unbuildable PCBs if you want to.

So, approach with care.

All that said, with appropriate research, parts sourcing and careful building, and in my case very minimal construction skills, I was able put together a 259, 292, 281, 257 (and 2OC) and everything worked at first power up. Somehow, thanks to Roman, Dave Brown and the community here, I have a Buchla! My problem is that I want more modules to make a more complete system but the situation with the store is getting in the way.
hermbot
Awesome, lots of good info here. Thank you so much! That's why I came to you awesome folks.

pbanken - all valid points. I think you're right that the sound is probably there, but like sempervirent said: sometimes you just want the real thing. I've done plenty of soldering and wiring, both for myself and at work, so that's not too much of a concern. Part of the reason I picked the modules I did is that they seemed well within my skill range. Again, the 259 is a beast but eminently doable. (Keeping in mind the advice about matched / selected parts.)

I've thought about the 208 and have had Easel Envy for quite a while, but at this point feel like going the individual module route.

cygmu Your points on the status of electricmusicstore make a lot of sense. I've done a lot of reading and it seems that Roman just doesn't like to sit still for too long. From the Buchla boards (no longer supported) to Sputnik in Euro (no longer supported) to the Easel stuff (kind of supported?) to the CS80 clone and now an all-new synth... he just doesn't like to get bored, I guess. I can't say I blame him, especially on the DIY front. Hopefully whoever takes over for him picks up the slack.

I think I'm definitely going to get started on fabricating a boat and looking into power supplies and such. This will be a long-term project and I'm not in any hurry, but those are the kinds of projects I like. And, in the background, I'll still make music with my almost-Buchla Eurorack. smile
misa
auxren wrote:
Here is my 100% DIY Buchla rig: https://www.modulargrid.net/u/racks/view/369974

If I would do it again, I think I'd skip the 208 and go for individual modules. The only reason I don't get rid of my 208 is because it took so much effort building it and calibrating it and getting it to be 100%.


that's *a lot* of oscillators! what kind of music do you create?
auxren
misa wrote:
auxren wrote:
Here is my 100% DIY Buchla rig: https://www.modulargrid.net/u/racks/view/369974

If I would do it again, I think I'd skip the 208 and go for individual modules. The only reason I don't get rid of my 208 is because it took so much effort building it and calibrating it and getting it to be 100%.


that's *a lot* of oscillators! what kind of music do you create?


I have no clue. haha
misa
cygmu wrote:

Right now things are in transition at electricmusicstore so, (...)

So, approach with care.

All that said, (...)


I just got an e-mail from electric music store. I wrote just after reading your commend, so Shawn Cleary replied swiftly, saying:

"Updated BOMs and new software for 248 are coming over the next 3 weeks. Roman is working on them starting today. I am handling emails and order fulfillment now. So let me know if you have any other questions regarding orders/shipping. If its technical questions about already available products please use the EMCloned forum."

Of course after Roman's track record, this might mean anything, but I take it as a good sign (but I'd take the 3-week-timeframe with a few grains of sand - hoping to be surprised!)
hermbot
Is Shawn Cleary the Analogue Haven guy? He's the new owner of EMS?
cygmu
hermbot wrote:
Is Shawn Cleary the Analogue Haven guy? He's the new owner of EMS?


Yes and yes.
djs
Any chance Shawn will lower the prices on pcbs? I haven't bought anything from EMS, cos I don't have the cash to pay for their circuit boards.
DomMorley
auxren wrote:
misa wrote:
auxren wrote:
Here is my 100% DIY Buchla rig: https://www.modulargrid.net/u/racks/view/369974

If I would do it again, I think I'd skip the 208 and go for individual modules. The only reason I don't get rid of my 208 is because it took so much effort building it and calibrating it and getting it to be 100%.


that's *a lot* of oscillators! what kind of music do you create?


I have no clue. haha


Best. Answer. Ever. SlayerBadger!
misa
djs wrote:
Any chance Shawn will lower the prices on pcbs? I haven't bought anything from EMS, cos I don't have the cash to pay for their circuit boards.


well the 248 SMT was about 1000 USD, the new thru-hole version is 550 USD -- I have no idea what causes this (there can't be 450 EUR worth of parts preinstalled on the earlier version!=), so maybe there is a way to get prices to more affordable levels?
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