Buchla DIY for a first timer

From circuitbending to homebrew stompboxes & synths, keep the DIY spirit alive!

Moderators: Joe., lisa, luketeaford, Kent

Post Reply
Lovekraft
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:23 pm

Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by Lovekraft » Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:40 pm

Hello my friends

long time lurker and very grateful recipient of so much invaluable info, have been trawling for Buchla DIY tips and figure i would see if i can get some more personalised advice.

I have a pretty massive euro setup which i love, but I'm often so tempted by the buchla methodology, but cant afford to get into it.

I have zero experience with building modules, but am very keen to learn and i figure maybe this is where my buchla system might materialise.

any advice on how to get started? i see there is alot of chat about Roman's kits being the best, but from the top of this rabbithole it doesnt look like its easy to jump straight in, I dont even know enough about Buchla to know what modules I would like, im pretty much starting with this post.

I imagine i would start with an oscillator as its the building blocks of everything.

anyway, hope you are all well, and someone can find a minute to point me in the right direction

take it easy

User avatar
Reese P. Dubin
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1330
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:33 pm
Location: Absolute Elsewhere

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by Reese P. Dubin » Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:42 pm

strictly my opinion but I think it would be a terrible place to begin
.a disconnect between PCB and panel suppliers. PCBs are sort of in limbo atm. SAModular seems to be on the way to producing many of the 200s, both panels and PCBs
..acquiring parts from many sources, no single dump out the bag option
...while there is a large community of builders, support is inconsistent
....no schematics. maybe they have become more accessible since i did 200r

probably more that are not jumping to mind just now. many of them require a well rounded bag of tricks to build properly

I dont have rules but if i did the first one is learn to solder well before you even try to build anything

Maybe the current Random Source stuff would be a better jump off point. You are essentially just placing pots and switches to prebuilt PCBs and fixing them to the panels and bananas.

buildafriend
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:51 pm

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by buildafriend » Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:57 pm

I would go straight to CGS..

User avatar
papz
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2985
Joined: Sat May 18, 2013 6:52 pm
Location: in a suitcase
Contact:

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by papz » Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:06 pm

Besides the build which is not easy, the bugged PCBs, the lack of support and schematics, you'll have to source components from various suppliers, to debug yourself, which requests circuits knowledge and understanding, and to calibrate using tools such as an oscilloscope.
Buchla modules are definitely not the best place to start in DIY.
Get some experience and familiarize with easier and simpler projects first.
Finest EMS gear service and Music Easel/208 goodies

I'm not a synths dealer and I'm not aware of an inexpensive Synthi secret market, please don't ask me if I know one for sale.
I don't offer support of any kind to people attempting to build clones of EMS equipment.

User avatar
sanders
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 714
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 4:42 pm

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by sanders » Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:35 pm

I agree with everyone here, except for starting with CGS (which are IMO among the most complicated and obtuse DIY). Coincidentally, they’re also the most sophisticated and exquisite analog gems.

Random Source or Elby Serge eurorack is the best place to start gathering needed soldering experience, being the most DIY friendly modules I’ve encountered; and particularly with the full kits. Plus, you’ll end up with some of the very best modular synths money can buy.

When you’ve earned some soldering confidence I’d recommend the full Buchla kits from Samodular. If you source your own parts for 200r module builds you’re gonna have an additional problem of not knowing for sure if the particular IC’s and transistors you’ve sourced are good or even the right versions for these particular circuits. If you buy a full kit, at least you’ll know the parts themselves are correct. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a 258 VCO kit yet, but I believe the current ElectricMusicStore 258rver 3 has eliminated most or all of the problem components, so it should be pretty safe to source.

The LA67 100 series modules from modular addict are also excellent and very well documented.

User avatar
ndkent
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 3599
Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2008 5:59 am

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by ndkent » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:18 pm

Roman did a really big part of the legwork for cloning 200 series but they are not the least bit beginner DIY projects. Have a SAModular on order did not get one with parts available though I personally wouldn't buy a parts kit unless something exotic and matched is needed. I know Roman tried to use Mouser until it's something they don't stock, there is some confusion especialy for a beginner with earlier Roman BOMs and no longer available parts. Though I've found with DIY experience you learn what parts you can swap. But then again without much doc sometimes some things are tough to know where to buy cheaper or simply available substitutes. There are schematics on the net, the catch I'm sure is Roman's clones have different versions and amounts of liberties that aren't documented. I figure with SAModular you probably get the advantage of various errors being worked out, then again I've not heard lots of feedback from people who have built them so far.

LA67 are far simpler circuits being 100 series. The oscillators were not super easy nor too hard and the saw needed a mod mentioned on muffs but not in the doc, heard mixed things on the difficulties of the sharp cut off filter.

Don't understand the CGS reference. They don't do Buchla

Lovekraft
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:23 pm

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by Lovekraft » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:35 am

amazing thanks for the tips!

Samodular looks good but i agree, im probably not ready yet, the most soldering I've done is putting together an electric guitar

have just checked out random source and Elby Designs, elby looks like it sells full kits, RS seems to make it clear the kits arent full
Ive only just learnt of serge recently, is it an entirely different system to buchla?

am i better off trying to build some 3.5mm eurostuff first, or could i build some serge modules and then move onto buchla (SAModular)?

just for investigation sake, anyone got any good recommendations for a starting buchla setup, i havent really familiarised myself with the format much.

jimfowler
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 510
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:13 pm
Location: New York
Contact:

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by jimfowler » Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:54 am

Buchla is a vast and amazing sonic wilderness but I'll agree that this is not where I'd recommend you learn to build. There's a good group of folks here who will help you along the way but it sort of presumes a bit of experience. While you may not be specifically and expressly interested, learning to build eurorack modules is a much better place to start. Cheap if you fuck something up, simpler circuits, easier parts to source, you've already got the case and power supply for testing builds, support in terms of build docs, etc. Pretty much the polar opposite in Buchla world.

For basics (and everybody will have a different recommendation I'm sure), I'd say start with an oscillator (258), function generator (281) and the lo-pass gate (292), and probably a TSNM for making it all make sounds. That's 4u, relatively easy to put together and it'll let you stick your toe in the water. If you're in/near NYC I'd be more than happy to personally lend a hand.

- Jim

Lovekraft
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:23 pm

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by Lovekraft » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:17 pm

jimfowler wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:54 am

For basics (and everybody will have a different recommendation I'm sure), I'd say start with an oscillator (258), function generator (281) and the lo-pass gate (292), and probably a TSNM for making it all make sounds. That's 4u, relatively easy to put together and it'll let you stick your toe in the water. If you're in/near NYC I'd be more than happy to personally lend a hand.
nice one! appreciate the offer, I'm out in the UK but i do head through NYC often enough

I think im going to take a punt on the Elby Serge stuff, gonna buy some in 4mm so that it feels like a standalone unit and the range is much more comprehensive. I'm gonna have to do my research as I know zero about serge but it looks like a cool project.

It may seem like a bit of a stupid question, but what actually is a low pass gate? its something I have come accross but doesnt seem like ive needed one yet. I think I tend to use a ENV-VCF for the same function?

klick
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:07 pm

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by klick » Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:21 pm

Lovekraft wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:35 am
RS seems to make it clear the kits arent full
interestingly, thonk, uk based, have most of the random source stuff (eurorack 3.5 mm), as full kits.

I've built them all except the resonant eq, so a few things :

- many of the kits, contains bcp with smt already soldered. So you only have to follow easy instructions (most of the pdfs from random source are really good, maybe the less documented one is the stereo mixer, so I won't start with it.

Easy stuff : dusg, ssg, nto
more advanced ones : filters (vcfq, variable q), they are mostly trough hole, involving a lot of steps, still doable
special things : ring, absolutely require a scope for calibration (it really change the module), stereo mixer, likely too

look at the pdfs, you'll see what you feel to do ;)

last but not least, a good solder iron, with variable temp, is a great tool to have, leaded solder wire too (not good for environment, but easier to deal with), no need to put more than 40 / 50 euros. WIth that, you can do from trough hole to smt devices. I wasn't able to solder anything one year ago, but with a friend helping, it was changing the game literaly, now I feel confident enough to finish any build, and debug modules too.

you can also find very cheap kits from befaco, very very well documented and easy to do too (stereo mixer, ring mod), that you should be able to sell close to the price you bought the kits !

hope this helps a little bit ;)

User avatar
momo
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 898
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:40 am
Location: London, England

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by momo » Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:42 pm

Whereabouts in the UK are you, fellow Brit? Feel free to drop me a PM. I would suggest some hands on time - not everyone that sits in front of a Buchla system finds it is for them. DIY can be a route to saving some money, but it requires its own dedication and - speaking personally - that can become another hobby. Sometimes I wonder which gives me the most pleasure...

DIY can be expensive on time and to build modules right requires good soldering skills and also an understanding of mechanical (as well as electronic) principles. The related hardware can be expensive. Just some things to think about.

User avatar
misa
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 786
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:18 pm
Location: Cologne, Germany
Contact:

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by misa » Fri Feb 28, 2020 5:06 am

To me building your own is not a way to save money -- if you think of it that way, you don't value your time (time for music making?).

It's a great pleasure to play a system that you built yourself, even if you didn't do it alone, I can say that from experience. I just feel much more connected to my DIY Easel.

Having said that, building Buchla is a daunting task. I know how to solder, have solved quite a few minor bugs in other projects, but gave up on my Easel and got help to finish it.

If you have never soldered before, I suggest getting a few kits from Thonk or Musikding.de (mainly pedals). They are fun and you can finish them in about one evening, giving you good feedback on how you did..;) Get 5 kits and build them. Try to learn why the parts are there and which parts can be replaced to alter the sound of your project.

Also try to get a hold of the book "Handmade electronic Music" (2nd edition, preferably) by Nicholas Collins. It teaches you to build from scratch and it is the best resource next to "MAKE: Analog Synthesizers" by Ray Wilson.

These books teach you about all the tools you'll need (and which quality of the tools are good for Synth DIY.

it's a lot of fun, very time consuming (I built my 808 clone "Yocto" in about 40 hours -- if you value your time at 60EUR/h plus the cost of the kit (about 400EUR) I would have been smarter to get a used TR-808. But like I said. Once you start playing out with a machine that you actually built yourself (or even before: when I connected an Arduino and triggered the 808 kickdrum and heard my clone's heart beat for the first time) you get a feeling of euphoria...! ;)

build and learn. And don't be afraid of mistakes. Just try to make cheap mistakes and fixable ones..;)
OUT NOW: GRAT - CHAOSMAGIC. on CD (digifile) and download, three dark ambient tracks rooted in Magic Realism. CHECK IT OUT HERE

Buy it now: "Heart Murmur" 10" vinyl on Bandcamp (solo Buchla 200e, no overdubs, recorded live in Berlin) out now everywhere!

Lovekraft
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:23 pm

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by Lovekraft » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:48 pm

Hey guys a little update, some really inspiring and amazing reading thanks to everyone for your comments

I'm actually coming back to this post after starting my journey and ready through all this advice again not only makes more sense but has filled me with a sense of excitement only hobbies deliver

I have had a few failed attempts and each time correcting my mistakes, just finished a turing machine and it works a treat! Calibrating it was really fun as I didnt realise I could adjust how it responds too

Also just finished up a 4ms rcd which was simple but a tool I've need in my rack!

Upon recommendation I decided upon a euroserge system from elby as a next level project, it all just arrive old and I started building it today, only got a few models but have a boat that i would like to eventually fill and have a little portable Serge box.

All is going well and it's very exciting stuff, i had one question if anyone sees this pop up

In my current build my resistors seem to be getting really hot and i just had the ceramic coating chip off. Got my iron at 430c as its recommended around there for lead free solder?

A bit worried about the chipped resistor and google doesnt bring much up about it, what do you guys think?

Much love

Lk

User avatar
Peake
I'm in ur DIY. Filling cases with Buchla
Posts: 6474
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:00 pm
Location: Loss Angeles

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by Peake » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:53 pm

Sounds like you're heating the area too long, if it's damaging what you're soldering; doesn't hurt to get some tips:

This is not the place I'd imagined it to be.

Lovekraft
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:23 pm

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by Lovekraft » Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:39 pm

Ace I'll watch that for sure, never hurts!

I'm a bit concerned if the casing coming off means the part (and board) is compromised

Or it it's mainly cosmetic

nrrrd
Common Wiggler
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed May 23, 2018 2:47 pm
Location: Oxford

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by nrrrd » Thu Mar 26, 2020 2:28 pm

430c seems very hot. What type of solder do you use? I use sac 305, 0.8mm, at 360c and standard copper / tin solder, 1mm at 400c. Sometimes I can get away with 340 and 380c, depending on the board.

Turn your iron down and see how you go.

User avatar
emmaker
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 504
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:07 pm
Location: PDX

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by emmaker » Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:41 pm

Yes the temp for your iron seems way to hot. Look up the data sheet for the solder you use.

Looked up Kester 245 no-clean flux and 331 water soluble flux 315-345C/600-650F.

Jay S

Lovekraft
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:23 pm

Re: Buchla DIY for a first timer

Post by Lovekraft » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:16 pm

nrrrd wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 2:28 pm
430c seems very hot. What type of solder do you use? I use sac 305, 0.8mm, at 360c and standard copper / tin solder, 1mm at 400c. Sometimes I can get away with 340 and 380c, depending on the board.

Turn your iron down and see how you go.
yeah weird, i have no idea where i picked up that information, just googled and my solder says it melts at 227!

damn, thanks for the pointer.

any way i can fix the resistors if they still work ok? some way of recovering them with something

Post Reply

Return to “Music Tech DIY”