MU: Super Mini Modular synth project construction journal.

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Rex Coil 7
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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:03 pm

CENTER STRIP COATED AND ASSEMBLED - QX113 MAIN VCO MIXER WIRING:

Well well well .... so much for the accelerated pace, yea? Shees ... slow as mud, I.

I felt a bit better today, got some stuff done. I've been a little overwhelmed lately. Over the last couple of weeks my father in law died, my mother fell down and had to go to the ER, and she's decided to move house .... again (we just finished moving her into an assisted living complex of HER choice, by her choice .... and now 2 months later she wants to move back in to her house ... which is fine but my wife and I are her "moving company"). My time and energy have been redirected to efforts other than my own interests.

CENTER STRIP and Dual/Dual Ring Mods built and installed: So anyhow, I got ring mods (finally) built and the Center Strip assembled. I began to wire it up when I realized i was becoming very confused and decided I need to draw up a proper wiring diagram that depicts the actual installation of the Ring Mods and all of their associated wiring. I still need to get that done, I'll try today. The wiring diagram posted below is the basic flow, not really the actual diagram needed to route the wires when the Ring Mods are mounted along with their switches.

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QX113 WIRING:

I got started wiring up the Main VCO Mixer (aka QX113), and again discovered that I need to draw up a comprehensive wiring diagram so that I can do a neat job of it. Again, perhaps later today. we'll see how well my brain and body wants to cooperate, perhaps after supper when I'm most alert.

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I'm pretty self-critical when it comes to lead dressing and wiring neatness. My expectations demand I do at least as good as this ......

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To do that, I need a road map. I'm not as talented as many of our more well known DIY champions within our membership, so I require a well worked out diagram so that I may concentrate on just getting the job done in a neat and orderly fashion. I find it nearly impossible to do if I end up having to undo or strip out wiring that didn't work out the way I picture, so it's best if I draw up a nice neat diagram first. I've not done that with the Center Strip or the Main VCO Mixer .. not just yet.

Ok so that's all. Not much to share. Hopefully I'll have better access to my more productive self sooner than later.

Bye Byes.

:tu:
Never Quit, Die Falling Forward
5U PROJECT - (skip pages 4 through 6, boring junk) ... https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... highlight=

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:15 pm

MAIN CAB ASSEMBLY - FPD ORDER - CENTER STRIP and RING MOD STUFF:

Good morning Mr. Phelps ... your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to GET THIS SYNTH BUILT ALREADY!

Started with pre-assembly and mockup of the Main Cab. I had to mockup the lower row first so as to be able to draw up the wiring diagrams for the Ring Mods, the Ring Mod Mixer, and other "I/O".

Starting below, I took the Q118 Instrument Interface and placed one of my seven Dot Com mixer PCBs in piggyback fashion to the PCB of the Q118. This mixer was scavenged from a mixer I bought from one of our members months (and months) ago. That mixer PCB needs to be as close as possible to the Filter Input Mixer as I can get it, so placing the Ring Mod mixer piggybacked on the Q118 was the best option. Now, roughly half of the RM wiring will be pretty danged short (less than 4 inches or so).

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Look up in the corner, you can see half of RING MODULATOR "A1" and "A2" that are themselves piggybacked on to one another. Their wiring looms will thread downwards from the RM boards to the RM Mixer that is also visible piggybacked on to the PCB of the Q118.

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As you can see in the next picture (below) all of the wiring from all 4 Ring Mods (the 2 on the left, and the 2 on the right) must traverse across the main cab, loomed just beneath the mid-line of the cabinet. The RM looms will run across the synth and down under the upper row until they terminate on the Ring Mod Mixer, which is piggybacked on the PCB of the Q118 (lower row, far right).

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Ordered two QX816 dual VCO panels, beginning prep for upper row assembly and wiring:

So I finally ordered the two QX816 Multi-circuit Dual VCO panels that will be mounted in the upper row, with the QX113 Main VCO Mixer sitting right in between them. These two panels are 6 spaces wide each (5U) and the pair cost me $275.00 shipped. I caved in and went with Natural Aluminum Anodized finish with black infilled lettering. The characters were just to danged small with not a whole lot of space between anything, so I was a little leery of doing the infilling and polishing myself.

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Ok, so there's where I am at presently. All that is left to "buy" for the Main Cab is the FPD panel for the filters (the QX420) which houses the Dot Com Q107, Q162, and Q150 as well as a few option toggles, some mixer channel feedback tricks (the Q162 Filter State Mixer), and a few other little nasties! After that, there's no more panels to buy .. YAAAAY! The FPD panel for the filters (QX420) is right around $95.00. Just about there!

The 2 QX816 Dual VCO panels should show up in about three or four days.

's ok ... more stuff-ola getting done-ola! Eatin' That Elephant!

NEXT UP, MOUNTING THE BUS BARS INTO THE MAIN CABINET.

:tu:
Never Quit, Die Falling Forward
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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:17 pm

BEEN BUSY! - MOUNTED THE BUS BARS - MADE ALL NEW NORMALIZING RAILS - FABBED REVERB TANK MOUNT - MOUNTED REVERB TANK - MORE!!!

Ok, there are THIRTEEN photos this time around. Rather than making one long post I'll split this entry up into two posts.

First some yakkity yak about the whatsis and whys of various changes....

New Normalizing Rails: I totally redesigned the single normalizing rail, in fact I added TWO MORE. So the upper module row now sports two Norm Rails, and the lower module row has it's own dedicated normalizing rail. I also shitcanned the Stompbox DC jacks and 1/4" jacks that I was using as terminals for the normalized CV connections. I replaced that whole bad idea with the 8-lane terminal strips that I covered about three or four posts back. Those T-strips are from Lowes, they cost about $7.50 each and work a treat, they even use the same bolts that the Bus Bars use to connect terminals to the bars, so that was a convenient bonus. The idea being to run the CV wiring up from the Interface Panel then connect to the t-strips .... the norm'd modules will then connect to the t-strips, providing a means of easy installation and removal if needed. The "interface panel" is that 20-jack 3.5mm-to-1/4" conversion mult that I ... uhm ... ~converted~ to an interface panel which provides input for various CV signals that will be normalized into the rear of the VCO panels as well as the Dual VCF panel, the Ring Mod Mixer, and the output stage (all of that is in the lower row btw).

Per usual, every bit of hardware is stainless steel. Sources were eBay, Fastener Express (thank you Member *JLR "John L. Rice" for turning me on to that company several years back!) and Lowes. The "struts" that are used to mount the norm rails to the cabinet are 1/4-20 stainless at 6 inches long. The norm rails are 1" x 1" x 1/16" aluminum angle obtained at Lowes, cut to 29" overall length.

BUS BARS MOUNTED:
I finally have felt really good lately, so I dug up the drawings I'd done and got those Bus Bars mounted into the Main Cabinet. The bars are screwed (nuts with bolts) to the wooden "X-Blocks" (means "cross blocks") that run across the width of the cabinet. The X-Blocks are then screwed down to the cabinet itself with stainless wood screws (source = Lowes). The large flat washers you'll see in various places are known as "fender washers", they are stainless (of course), and sourced from Fastener Express. Those oversized flat washers are excellent for dispersing compression loads over wider areas, which ~wood~ really appreciates. The few little crimp on terminals you see in various places are there for context and for me to get some idea of certain clearances.

As you look beneath the bus bars (the "fuhmunduh" shots) near the Ring Mod stacks, you might be able to understand why it is that I waited to wired the RMs up. There are clearance issues (not bad ones) that must be addressed when certain things are wired up in this beasty. It's obvious when looking at the photos that it was prudent to install all of the Bus Bars, the Norm Rails, the Reverb Tank before I could get an actual real-live idea of what is going on inside of the cabinet. More drawings and wiring diagrams are now needed to complete the task.

REVERB TANK: The reverb tank for the Dot Com Q115 spring reverb module is mounted to a sub-mount made of cutoff plywood that came with the Amherst cabinets that I've used for this project. The sub mount is screwed down to 2 blocks that were originally tasked with mounting the Dot Com linear power supply ... way back when. So I made the wooden "adapter" (if you will) to mount the reverb tank to those blocks, using as many predrilled holes in the blocks as possible (actually I used all of the holes in those blocks, but in the pics I only had 2 screws holding down the mounting board ... still need to add 2 more screws when I finish this entry). The wires that run from the Q115 Module itself to the reverb tank are routed roundabout under the mounting board then into the proper I/O jacks on the tank.

Let's move on to TEH PICTURES!!!!!



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(below) ... I see I dropped a lock washer when I installed the screws into the center X-block ... I'll tend to that (good thing I took a picture of that, I may not have caught it!).

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Ok, so there's eight pics, five more to go. That's it for this post ....

CONTINUED NEXT POST --- PLEASE SCROLL DOWN:
Never Quit, Die Falling Forward
5U PROJECT - (skip pages 4 through 6, boring junk) ... https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... highlight=

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:18 pm

CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POSTING (this is Part 2 of a 2 part entry, be sure to scroll up to see the previous post that comes before this one):

So, here we go .... most of these were shot from the front of the cabinet, looking inside of it.

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One more taken from the rear, includes all 4 bus bars and both upper row normalizing rails:

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And lastly, (the expected) gratuitous shot of the name plate on the QX113, including the new upper row dual normalizing rails and the bus bars seen in the background:

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BONUS! You actually got 14 pics instead of "only" 13!

This entire stage of construction took about ten hours to complete, getting to the state of completion you see here. This was a MAJOR step for this project. I had taken a LOT of notes, measurements, and dimensions. Fitment drawings were made (and adhered to). And the design work turned out to be SPOT-FRIGGIN-ON! I'm ultra happy that all of my seemingly endless hours of toiling away at the design and engineering of everything worked out to make everything fit precisely as I'd pictured it in my peanut bucket head. There's plenty of clearance for wire runs, everything fit like it was supposed to, nothing had to be re-done, no ~hackage~ was needed to make anything fit. It all went together just right in the very first fit-up.

Lesson here? You bet there is. Careful planning and design work will result in things going together just as you envision them. I'm glad that I took "geek classes" in High School, back in the 1970s when vocational courses were still a part of public education. Wood shop, Architecture, Mechanical Drawing, ARC and Oxy/Acetylene Welding (1, 2, and advanced), Machine Shop (1, 2), and later I took college courses in MIG and TIG welding. For this project, I've tapped into every bit of that stuff I took in HS. Spending my entire school day smelling like welding shop and machine shop (since those classes were during the first 2 or 3 periods each day) and being made fun of because I avoided school sports pays off every now and then. Most of the skills used were drawing and making to-scale plans. To me, the planning and scale drawings are probably the most helpful, after that it's the ability to read a friggin machinst's ruler and a measuring tape, as well as knowing which end of a hammer to hold. I feel bad for kids these days that aren't given vocational classes in K-12 public schools. Learning how to use one's hands is an indispensable skill that will serve one for their entire life in one way or another.

Now, grammar and spelling (sucks air through his teeth) .... yea ... I kinda fell asleep during those classes! Didn't help that I'm left handed and during the 1960s some left handed kids were forced to have their left thumb tapped to a belt loop on their pants to force the kid to learn how to write right handed. That said, I never really learned how to write properly with either hand! Let alone follow good grammar rules. Nice trade off if you ask me, vocational education vs grammar? Hell yes! I'll take the vocational stuff any day!

Ok, I'm obviously ~high~ on the success of everything fitting up properly without having to bust out the crow bar and the cutting torch. Forgive the lecture and the boasting, I'm just super jazzed about how well all of these custom made pieces (that were made individually and separately) all fit together without any drama. Buzzed like crazy that it all worked out!

The saga of the Super MiniMod is up and rolling again!

Hasta Lasagne, more to come soon.

:tu:
Never Quit, Die Falling Forward
5U PROJECT - (skip pages 4 through 6, boring junk) ... https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... highlight=

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:36 pm

VCO PANELS ARRIVED (note - in case you haven't seen this thread in more than two days, be sure to scroll up and take a look at the two previous new posts, they are new entries as of 3/18/18 that cover the Bus Bar installation):

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I'd like to point out the making those bus bars and the wooden "cross block" mounts took a lot of time. Part of the reason why is that everything needed to fit, taking into consideration the T-Nuts I installed in the cabinet at each module mounting screw hole locations. So everything was designed to cooperate with the locations and dimensions of everything else. The x-blocks actually fit right in between the T-nuts, so those blocks do not interfere at all with module mounting screws or the T-nuts. It was like a "choreograph" of sorts. Everything had to be taken (or designed) into fitup considerations.

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The Terminal Strips that are mounted on the Normalizing Rails are also carefully and strategically located so as to be centered on the centerline of the double columns of CV A/Off/B toggle switches on the VCO panels. This makes for more efficient wiring and fewer hairballs of wire. There are TWENTY toggles switches on each VCO panel, 10 of which are solely for switching various CV signals between three different conditions (CV signal "A" ... Off in the center of the toggle .... and CV Signal "B"). For instance, let's look at Pulse Width Modulation. The PWM toggle is wired up to 2 separate PWM signal sources (A and B). The "Off" center position of each CV toggle is to (obviously) remove any CV signals from specific CV destinations. This falls true with five separate CV destinations for each oscillator (total of 10 on each Dual VCO panel). Those destinations are:

Expo FM 1 ("X1" A and B)
Expo FM 2 ("X2" A and B)
Variable Expo FM ("X3" A and B)
Linear FM ("Lin" A and B)
PWM ("PWM" A and B)

Other per-oscillator toggle functions:

Up/Both
= Hard Sync, determines whether the sync is done on the Upward edge of the master waveform, or both the Upward edge and the Downward edge.

Hard/Soft = Hard Sync - Sync Off (center) - Soft Sync.

mxr/rty
= selects which output is sent to the Main VCO Mixer (the black module in between the two VCO panels). The output either comes from the Q161 Waveform Mixer ("mxr") ... or ... the Q141 Oscillator Aid.

five/ten
= selects what voltage is sent from the "rty" (Q141) out ... either five volts or ten volts.

rty+ = .... Switch UP = positive voltage sent from the Q141 output .... Switch DOWN = negative voltage sent from the Q141 output.

So there's what the ten toggle switches on each VCO are for. Total of twenty toggles per Dual VCO Panel, multiplied by two panels! (40 toggles just on the two Dual VCO panels).

Placing the CV toggles right down the centerline of the module panel made it more efficient to use, as well as more efficient to wire up. Placing the Terminal Strips in alignment with the centerline of the two columns of toggles makes for more efficient and cleaner wiring, with shorter wires as well.

Also note that the VCO panels are arranged in symmetry. They are mirror image setups, meaning if you folded the panels right down the middle, each single control on each side would line up with the same controls on the opposite side of the same panel. I suppose "mirror image" is about the best way to describe the layout. This makes it easier to memorize the placements of various controls, as well as makes it "faster" to use during live performances. I suppose it's just the way my brain works.

So you see there was a shit ton of planning and design that went into the whole upper row. Everything from mechanical fitment to wiring efficiency was taken into deep consideration. That's part of why it took me three months to get it all worked out.


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Another thing that I am super pleased about is that installing those T-Nuts in the wooden cabinet presented some challenges. There are even some well regarded and widely known members among us that insisted I'd "never be able to make them all line up properly with the module mounting holes". Well, not only did I get the alignment dead on, I also placed all of the mounting holes in the new FPE panels to perfectly fit and align with the T-Nuts. I was assured that I'd never be able to make it all work out by ... uhm ... "experts" among us that were as certain as could be I'd fail.

It all fits up so nicely. The module screws spin right in with just my fingers, no forcing or having to push or pull the panels to allow the screws to thread into the T-Nuts. And the T-nuts as well as the stainless 6-32 screws fit beautifully together.

I's Happy! Look at my happy self ..... :yay:

So .... now just one more panel. The Dual VCF Multi Circuit panel is all that's left. That panel is done, I'm finished with all of the work on it, all I need to do is scare up another $125 bucks (price increase at FPE brought it up from $104). I've redesigned that entire panel so as to match the look, feel, lettering style and typeface size, panel color, and lettering color of the twin VCO panels.

Now I have to get busy and begin to scratch out some rough wiring diagrams. Since nearly everything is now in place, I have a far better idea about where and how the wiring of things needs to be done. Some of it will be easy, some of it will not.

One little piece of trivia ... I've added THIRTY NINE toggle switches to my little synth. In the end, it may even come out to more than that.

Good stuff, Maynard!

:tu:
Never Quit, Die Falling Forward
5U PROJECT - (skip pages 4 through 6, boring junk) ... https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... highlight=

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:11 pm

Rex Coil 7 wrote:Image
:woah: That's a mighty fine lookin' subway rail system yer buildin'! Is it in New York or London? :hihi: :hail:

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Post by coyoteous » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:57 am

Fantastic, really... I'd be afraid of dropping a tool on the rails, but suppose it should be off when fiddling, etc.

Can't count on that here, even though I do have some semi-exposed AC at times with four MOTM (and one euro) Power One linears... also exposed DC on unused buss board positions, etc. (one of the things I actually like about Roger's harnesses that I use in two of my cabinets).

I would never do all that with the panels and the like... super-glad you are, though (cue My Way...).

You should make a duplicate unit and sell it to David Lynch (that's a compliment).

This Bud's for you! (water, actually... raised, nonetheless)
Shark, jumped.

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:54 pm

QX816 CLARITY - GAS TIGHT PASTE:

Member *coyoteous
, well, to each his druthers I guess. Good thing these modulars are as flexible as they are, since that flexibility allows for customization to suit each person's idea of "good". Potato .. potahto. :lol: :tu:

QX816 selectable outputs:

Here's pretty much what the dual VCO panels appear like when assembled. I'm waiting on some more DPDT On/Off/On toggles to arrive to complete the needed parts list. I put this together as a mock up to obtain a more clear view of what is going on with these QX816 panels. The larger holes along the bottom of the panel that have no parts in them are all for jacks. The smaller holes arranged in two columns in the center of the panel are all for the DPDT On/Off/On minitoggles that control the CV signals sent to the labelled destinations.

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Q141 output controls:

When the mini toggle labeled "mxr/rty" is DOWN, the signal that is sent from the VCO to the Main VCO Mixer (the 6 channel mixer located in between the two QX816 panels in the middle of the upper row) through the built-in dot Com Q141 Oscillator Aid. The "rty" abbreviation stands for the word "Rotary", which refers to the Q141's rotary switch. "rty" was smaller and easier to place on the somewhat crowded panel, so I went with that to indicate Q141 controls. The Q141 rotary switch is what selects the output waveform. I know which waveform is selected by using the names of the output jacks along the lower left output jacks' names to remind me which position of the rotary will provide which waveform. Starting fully counter clockwise, the rotary switch's selections are ....

Sine - Tri - Ramp - Saw - Pulse - Square. Easy peasy.

The rotary switch for the VCO on the other side of the panel is configured the same way.

Here's a simple break down of the controls when the "mxr/rty" toggle is in the DOWN position (rty) and the VCO's output to the Main VCO Mixer is controlled by the Q141. The Q141 controls are all nicely grouped together.

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Q161 Waveform Mixer Controls:

When the "mxr/rty" mini toggle is in the UP position, the VCO's output is routed through the Q161 Waveform Mixer and sent out to the Main VCO Mixer. When in the "mxr" (Mixer) position, any mix of waves created with the Q161 is sent out. This provides a means of carefully mixing various waveforms (along with overdriving either/both of the two output busses) and instantly sending that mix out to the Main VCO Mixer at the flip of a switch.

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As one can see, the "mxr/rty" toggle is a very useful and quite powerful little switch. Completely different waveform configurations that have been created with the Q141 and the Q161 can be instantly switched between. Each of the two output routings (141 or 161) can have their output levels controlled as well, right at the VCO's controls. The Q141 has it's own dedicated output level control ("rty lvl" knob). The Q161 doesn't necessarily have a single dedicated output level knob, but that's easy to get around by using the individual waveform level controls to create an overall volume level for the Q161 output. The Q161 also has the added advantage of having adjustable overdrive (aka feedback) levels for each of the two Q161 output busses. This is another very powerful feature, since completely different drive levels may be configured for the two separate output busses, allowing for finely tuned harmonic content.

Add to all of this, the ability of the QX113 Main VCO Mixer's ability to also assign different feedback levels of it's own to each of the two busses ... VCO's 1 and 2 assigned to Bus A (with it's own overdrive level) and VCO's 3 and 4 assigned to Bus B (with it's own overdrive level).

Ok, this was just a bit of clarity provided to make what I've created here a bit more easily understood. With the amount of waveform mixing and redirecting and routing, all totally reconfigurable with the flick of a switch or two, it creates a very useful means of setting up different sounds that may be switched between quickly.

Keep in mind that none of this affects the Ring Modulator's use or which waveforms are routed into the Ring Mods. The same goes for pre-VCF mixes of waveforms, ring modulated sounds, and external instrument signals. All of which are handled by a set of additional mixers, feedback controls, and routing options. But that's all in the LOWER ROW of modules and is an entirely new topic all together.

Hopefully I've provided a bit of understanding about how all of this works. My goals have always been to produce ways of instantly switching between very different sounds and tones, along with different gain levels associated with different sounds. Versatility and speed ...

:tu:

Gas Tight Paste:

Gas tight paste is stuff that I'm using to keep oxidation from forming between certain conductive surfaces. For instance, when mounting jacks to the module's panel, the barrel of the jacks (aka "sleeve") requires a reliable electrical connection to insure that any faults are routed directly to "ground( aka "Earth Ground" ... or ... "chassis"). Even if you abrade the aluminum panel with (let's say) emery cloth or sand paper before you install the jack, a layer of one molecule thick oxidation forms within a few milliseconds. One method of combating this is to use gas tight paste on the lock washer, so when the jack's nut is torqued down and the teeth of thelock washer produce a fresh cut into the surface of the aluminum panel, the paste prevents oxygen from producing oxidation on the panel and preventing a reliable electrical low resistance connection.

Gas tight paste also contains zinc particles. If you place a tiny dab of the paste between two fingers and rub those fingers together, "grit" is felt in the paste. That "grit" is zinc particulates that are suspended in a paste substrate. The zinc is crystaline ... and it helps to cut into the aluminum and the jack's sleeve which assists in creating an electrical connection between the two surfaces which will remain in tact since the greasy substrate helps to keep oxygen from making problems.

So, a little bit of this paste placed on the lock washer (both sides), then tightening the jack nut down to spec, you've done just about all one can be expected to do in the manner of producing a reliable and consistent low resistance electrical connection between the module's aluminum panel and the jack's sleeve. This is all in an effort to create the best way available to keep zero volt and chassis grounding issues properly addressed. It's also a way to offer some peace of mind when it comes to operator safety should the worst occur. By this I mean should there be a fault, we want the wayward voltage to have a pathway to Earth/chassis/ground that does not include our fragile bodies.

Another reason why I am going to such lengths is we need to keep in mind that since I'm doing as much normalizing as I am, there will be far fewer patch cables used. This means the ground/chassis efforts must be ramped up since there will be far fewer pathways for module-to-module grounding to occur (since there are fewer "sleeve" or "shield" pathways in the works due to less patch cable usage). So I felt the need to uprate the individual chassis grounding efforts to make certain everything is happy and working well.

In the pictures, you can see the zinc particles suspended in the substrate ... they sparkle a little. I'll post more useful pictures and details on the use of this stuff in upcoming entries, since it will be used on jacks, as well as module power cable connections on the main bus bars when it comes time for that part of this project.

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I have a feeling that my explanations here are a bit confused. My head isn't as clear today as it should be, family issues kept my wife and I up until 5am this morning (my aging mother requiring attention ... which has made me a grumpy-ass piss-n-moaner around here the last week or so). So my brainz is hurting. Hell, my HAIR hurts after all that went on last night. So please hang in there with me if I've said a few things about this stuff that don't seem to make sense. I can haz nap!

More to come .... pace is good, enthusiasm is high, and will-to-win is driving me right along. I figure each of the two VCO panels will most likely take roughly two weeks to complete the wiring. My guess is that I'll get one "done", and whatever I learned wiring up the first one will be applied to the second one ... which will produce ways to redo the first one. HaaHaa!

I'll be ordering the remaining toggle switches probably next week or so, and the final FPE panel (the Dual VCF panel) will also be ordered within about another week or so. Between the toggles and the VCF panel, I need to scare up about another $175.00 or so. Munnies is all that's holding up the ordering of these things.

Bla bla ... enough already. Signing off. And ..... thanks for the support that many of you goodfolk have offered. It is greatly appreciated. My end-goal with the posting of this project is to inspire others and show that even simple and less costly methods can be applied to create the synthesizer of your dreams. People with basic DIY skills and a few decent tools can achieve a lot, especially if sufficiently inspired and motivated.

Let not your heart be troubled.

:yay:
Never Quit, Die Falling Forward
5U PROJECT - (skip pages 4 through 6, boring junk) ... https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... highlight=

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Post by cornutt » Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:27 pm

This, sir, is obsessive. And I mean that in a good way. :hihi:
Sequence 15 -- sequence15.blogspot.com

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:31 pm

LITTLE STUFF - GOT STARTED WITH WIRING THE VCO PANEL - PCBS INSTALLED - JACKS INSTALLED - KNOBS - ANNND MORE LITTLE STUFF - (plus one big pain in the neck!):

Thanks, Member *cornutt ... I get the meaning! Thanks for the compliment. 8-)

Quick bit of whining here. Three days ago I was at the VA clinic to have my eyes checked out, and to be fitted with glasses. I'd never had a fully blown eye exam, well, at least since I was accepted in to a special heavily armed and well trained unit in the military that was responsible for providing armed security for our nuclear weapons systems. But that was 37+ years ago! Anyhow, they used that fluid to dilate my pupils, which made it difficult to see for about ten+ hours after the exam. So we get home, I'm fiddle dickin' around with the synth, and I end up totally busting my ass between the computer desk and the wall. I fell, hard. The fall really FUDD .... UPP the inoperable neck injury that messes with my life every day. The pain was ... well ... let's just say I had a boo boo. The next two days were pretty much a total loss. So, not a whole lot to present as far as progress is concerned for this entry. By the way, I'm doing a little better today, at least well enough to sit at the computer and post this. It will get better, I will live, the Sun will continue to rise each morning, and the Earth will continue to spin. I'll be alright and back to my ornery blabber mouthed self by the end of Easter weekend. At least I think so.

Movin' on here ......

I decided to go with the same knobs all around on the VCO panels. The only oddball is the large chickenhead which is for each VCO's fine frequency control. I know it must look very odd to some folks, but that type of knob is good for making very accurate settings. It's also excellent for really fast full-range sweeps. Using one finger (as if you were trying to "flip" the propeller of a model airplane) it's easy to rotate the knob from stop to stop, very quickly, in both directions. One finger, very accurate settings are also facilitated with that type of knob as well.

PREVIOUS KNOBS:


Image


CURRENT KNOB CONFIGURATION: I also installed all of the jacks, so it's beginning to appear more finished. Lower row of jacks = Tip/Sleeve, just for audio signal outputs. Upper row of jacks = CV inputs only, and are all Normally Closed Tip/Sleeve Switching jacks. Still short eight On/Off/On DPDT minitoggles as well. "No", the panel is not bent at the top, that curve is created by my camera when I use the macro setting.


Image

I tested out those knobs on another Dot Com module with a rotary switch, and they work really well. So ... all knobs are those 3/4" type with the only exceptions being the fine freq knobs for both VCOs. So the knobs at the very uppermost location are the VCO Coarse Range controls (a rotary switch), and the knobs that are in between the two lower toggle switches are WAVEFORM SELECT rotary switch knobs for the Q141s that are built in.


LUCKY LUCKY LUCKY!!!:


Take a look ... those large chickenheads point right at the VCO pcb screws when the pots are adjusted to full clockwise and full counter clockwise. Just one of those lucky things that just sorta happen from time to time. It doesn't affect the use or performance of the synth, but it's just kinda neato.

Image

Image



WOOPSY!! GOTTA SWAP THE ROTARY SWITCHES (TOP to BOTTOM):

:doh: :hmm: :despair:

DOH!!! I need to remove the rotary switches and swap their positions. The "Wave Select" rotaries for the two Q141s that I've built in to the QX816 are supposed to be on the bottom. The "Range Select" rotaries for the Q106 VCO is supposed to be on the top. Dash!!!!

Image

VCO PCBS MOUNTED:

Got the PCBs put in. This is going to be how I wire up the panels, now I can determine how long I need to make certain connection wires. Most of the connection wires that go from jacks/pots/switches to the PCB headers are long enough to reach, but some need to be made longer. When I designed these panels, I didn't take into account placing controls in locations where the wires would be long enough. I didn't care about that. I was far more concerned about useful ergonomics and useful placements of various controls, wire lengths be damned. That said, now I have some wiring to do! The 16mm pots beneath the VCO pcbs actually connect to the MIXER pcbs, and they have no wires on them to begin with. I have a LOT of extra stock 24mm pots left over, so the plan is to rob the wiring pigtails from unused pots and jacks to wire up the 16mm pots and the Normally Closed switching jacks that are used for all of the CV inputs. Some of those pigtails will need to be lengthened as well. With the PCBs installed, I can make up lists and diagrams to help me get everything properly wired up.

The power connectors are purposely placed at the top of the panels, so that there will be more clearance between the module power cables and the bus bars. Had I put the connectors at the bottoms of the PCBs, the power cables would create a crowding issue, especially near the jacks. You can see in this image that while there isn't an urgent clearance issue between the jacks and the bus bars, there's no need to CREATE a clearance issue by having the power cable connectors so close to the bus bars. This image depicts the QX113 Main VCO Mixer that sits in between the two VCO panels, but the point is made.


Image


I was going to go all *mister neat wiring* on wiring up these panels, but I think I'm just going to go with a little bit of organizing, but pretty much sticking with the Dot Com "box of hair" wiring method for the most part. Since the pcbs float on 1.25" standoffs, much of the wiring lives between the circuit boards and the panel anyhow. Who knows ... maybe the chaotic wiring will reduce or prevent any cross talk between signal carriers?

(Great excuse for not going with neatly loomed wiring). :roll:

Here's the PCB Burritos I stored them in while they waited to be installed. Each board is labelled with it's test date and inspector's initials. This information is annotated in the binder that I've created that is essentially a build log and operation manual all in one.


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And here they are installed on the panel. I used standoff extensions on each corner to provide "stands" for when the panel is placed on the workbench, so as not to scratch up anything on the front side of the panels. I also added standoff extensions to the wiring side for the same reason, so the circuit boards won't be resting on the workbench when I'm working on the front side of the panels.


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LONG HAIRED LARRY!!! Holy Crap ... looks terrifying! I'll get through it .. one wire at a time.



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I have to say .... all of the mounting holes for everything are working out perfectly. The PCBs fit perfectly on their standoffs, because the standoffs fit perfectly on the panel. The module mounting holes used to mount the module to the cabinet are also perfectly aligned. The component holes for things such as jacks, pots (both 16mm and 24mm), toggle switches (both barrel sizes - Mountain uses 0.235" holes and Taiway uses 0.245" holes) ... all of it is this wonderfully excellent fitup. It's almost as if I knew WTF I was doing!!! The several weeks, and several versions of these panels that I worked so long and hard with was worth every second of effort.

The lesson? Be patient. Take solid measurements, then measure them once more, then once again just for good measure! My fall back protocols when it comes to hole sizes is I measure the component, then add 0.005" (five thousandths of an inch) to the components' thread diameter. It comes out JUST RIGHTY!!!!

Happy. :trampoline:

Ok, as I said at the top, not much to share here. More progress will be made by the next entry of this project.

Be well, take care, share the love. Live this life like it's the only shot you get (cuz it is!).

Gots ta roll ... the neck is starting to bitch at me again.

:tu:
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Post by notmiserlouagain » Sat Mar 31, 2018 5:19 am

Following this with interest and adoration :mygod:
He who eats with most pleasure is he who least requires sauce.
Xenophon

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:06 am

(THIS IS ANOTHER TWO POST ENTRY - BE SURE TO SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE SECOND POST AFTER FINISHING WITH THIS ONE)
notmiserlouagain wrote:Following this with interest and adoration :mygod:
Thanks! It's ~different~ if nothing else!

POWER DISTRIBUTION HOWS WHYS WHATFORS AND MORE EXAMPLES OF MY BAD MATH:

I'm taking a bit of a break from wiring up the Q816 VCO Panels and the Ring Mods, and focusing on running the module power. I've fried a number of brain cells with far too many late night pencil sketches and pages full of calculations and resistance/impedance/reactance notes. I've pestered the HELL out of many members of this forum, and about driven Graham Hinton into a catatonic state with ceaseless emails and PMs bugging him silly with overly basic questions about overly basic issues in overly simplistic ways using overly simplistic language. Part of my communication breakdown with a number of these educated members is I have trouble decoding the grammar differences between British English and US English. But that's not their problem, it's mine. And I get that.

Anyhow, what I'll attempt to display and depict in this entry is what I've come up with to create a method of power distribution. Since I have decided to go with bus bars, there's some very interesting issues that have come into play. I (personally) feel that bus bars are the "apex predator" of power distribution when it comes to modular synths.

Yes, they are bulky, moreso than most of the systems used in most synths by most manufacturers.

Yes, they are very (VERY) labor intensive to fabricate.

Yes, they are quite cost effective.

Yes, they will most likely outlive the rest of the synthesizer. And probably it's owner!

No, a bus bar power distribution system is not difficult to make or to figure out the whats and whys of how it should be made.

Onward .......

To prove to myself that I wasn't taking on something that wasn't worth my time and effort, I had to make diagrams and compare basic resistance figures to the stock Dot Com power squid and cab-to-cab interfacing gear. When I began adding things up, it was pretty striking! What follows are a few diagrams and pictures to help you .. the reader .. make sense of my ramblings, and to also make sense of pictures of my system and my choices.

I'll begin with the stock Dot Com rigging, but first, a few "standards" that will be referred to along the way:


Here's my synth cab setup as viewed from the rear. On the left, is what I call the "Main Cab", it's the cabinet that houses the main modules (eg; VCO panels, mixers, VCF panel, and outout VCA modules) ... the "12U Cab" is the 12U rack that is bolted to the Main Cab. It houses the PSU as well as modulation and controller modules that are NOT normalized to anything to preserve their versatility and immediate re-patchability (another word I made up).

Image

The better part of 99% of this thread entry will be addressing what is going on in the 12U Cabinet.

So here's how the Dot Com setup distributes power, from one cab to another. The wire lengths and gauges are very important, and will be referred to a number of times. This is the QDH20, it has 20 module power cables all soldered together at one end (in "nodes") and module multi-connectors at the other ends. 10 of the cables are 24 inches long, and ten of the cables are 36 inches long. There is a 16 gauge set of wires that connects the "squid" to the Power Supply using a MOLEX connector. The 16 gauge wires are 12 inches long. The PSU is also fitted with a set of 16 gauge wires that are soldered to the PSU's output "turrets", that set of 16 gauge wires are also 12 inches long. Connected together, this 16 gauge bundle is 24 inches long, total, with a "termination" (MOLEX connector) in the middle.

Image

So, you plug the MOLEX connector on the "squid" to the MOLEX connector on the PSU to put it all together. Then you plug each module power cable to each module. Done.

This "squid" uses a soldered connection of all 20 module power cables and the 16 gauge wires that run to the MOLEX connector using what I call a "solder wad". The "wad" is the main distribution "node" that divides up power from the power supply to each individual module power cable. Here's the "wads" unmasked with the wire nuts removed.

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Now moving forward, if one chooses to add a 2nd cabinet, what Dot Com offers to get that done is an "Interconnecting Cable" called the "QIC" which comes in several lengths from 12 inches up to 48 inches in length. It is made with 24 gauge wires. What is also needed are 2 Q103 DC connection modules. These modules connect to the "squid" by using one of the 24 gauge module power cables plugged in to the Q103 in back, which provides the DIN connectors on the front of the Q103 with DC power. The pair look like this ....

Image

Then, the QIC Interconnecting Cable is plugged into the front of the Q103 in the DIN connector of Cabinet 1, routed as needed and plugged into the Q103/DIN connector mounted in Cabinet 2. Lastly, the Q103 in Cab2 is connected to the "squid" inside of Cab2 by using one of it's 24 gauge module power cables (essentially a copy of what was done in Cab1).

Image

Then the remaining module power cables of the "squid" used in Cab2 are plugged into the modules of Cab2.

WHEW!!!!

HERE'S WHAT THAT ALL LOOKS LIKE IN A DIAGRAM:

Take note of the number of connection points (which create resistance and can be potential failure points), as well as the sheer lengths of the wires involved. I erroneously labeled the MOLEX connector as an "AMP" connector, but you get the idea. Everything on the LEFT of the thick maroon line is "CAB1" and RIGHT of the maroon line is "CAB2".

Image

At best, the wire lengths of 16 gauge and 24 gauge are:


24 inches of 16 gauge wire (split in half by the MOLEX connector).

8 FEET of 24 gauge wire spread out between squid and inter-cab connection cables.

At worst, the wire lengths of 16 gauge and 24 gauge are:

24 inches of 16 gauge wire (split in half by the MOLEX connector).

13 FEET (!!!) of 24 gauge wire spread out between squid and inter-cab connection cables.

So, at worst, the module farthest from the PSU has to have it's power come through 2 feet of 16 gauge wire, and 13 feet of 24 gauge wire. At best, the module farthest from the PSU has it's power travel through 2 feet of 16 gauge wire and 8 feet of 24 gauge wire.

Damn.

MOVING ON TO THE BUS BAR SETUP:

It starts in the 12U Cab by running the 16 gauge wires that are soldered to the PSU output turrets to studs mounted in wooden "X-Blocks" (cross blocks), which are also used to attach the bus bars to the cabinet. These 16 gauge wires are 4 (four) inches long each. They are connected to the bus bars using crimped on eyelets on each wire which are then bolted to the bus bars. Current then flows though the 12 inch long bus bars to large and heavy aluminum "lugs". Class K 1/0 welding cable is connected to the bus bars using those aluminum lugs. The cables are routed through "pass through holes" in both cabinets and connected to aluminum lugs on bus bars in the Main Cab. Module power cables are then connected to all of the bus bars using #8 eyelets on the cables and #8 stainless steel screws, backed with lock washers and nuts, which are both also stainless steel. The power cables are simply cannibalized Dot Com power cables taken from a disassembled (~cut apart~) Dot Com "squid".

Using a diagram, here's what it all looks like. Again, pay attention to the lengths and gauges of the wires used, as well as the number of connections and "type" of connections.

Image

Here's another diagram that depicts what this will all look like (to provide context, I've put the picture of the back of this synth beneath the diagram to make it easier to make sense of what you're looking at)....

Image

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So what does all of this work out to be? Well, I've learned from others in this forum that the wires that run from the PSU turrets to the distribution system (aka bus bars) need to be as SHORT as absolutely possible. In the system I cooked up with the bus bars being vertical instead of horizontal, those 16 gauge wires are only FOUR INCHES LONG. By comparison, the stock Dot Com distribution setup the 16 gauge wires are TWO FEET LONG with a MOLEX connector in the middle! 4 inches vs 2 feet, I'd say that's a massive improvement.

Also, current sent to the module farthest from the PSU in the stock Dot Com setup must travel through as much as 13 FEET of 24 gauge wire and 2 FEET of 16 gauge wire, with several connections/terminations along the way. With my bus bar rig, current sent to any of the modules farthest from the PSU travel though 4 INCHES of 16 gauge wire, and an average of 4 feet of really large, really heavy aluminum bus bars and copper cable (that cable weighs nearly a half pound per foot, by the way). All of the 24 gauge module power cables are no longer than 12 inches. And since those cables are at the module, their resistance is less "bad" (ugh ... my vocabulary ... geez!).

Here's some figures taken from internet tables.

24 gauge wire has 25.67 mOhms per foot.
16 gauge wire has 4.016 mOhms per foot.

The Dot Com system:
13 feet of 24 gauge = 333.71 mOhms.
2 Feet of 16 gauge = 8.032 mOhms.
Totalling 341.742 mOhms.

And that does not include any of the connections/terminations.

The bus bar system:
4 inches of 16 gauge = 1.0 mOhm.
12 inches per module of 24 gauge = 25.67mOhms (which is less important since the module itself has far more resistance).
Totalling 26.67 mOhms.

26.67 mOhms vs 341.742 mOhms. I don't know what that works out to in decibels of noise, cross talk, and other evils ..... but ... it certainly works out to less voltage drop.

I wasn't able to locate a resistance calculator on line that could show the resistance of 12inches of 1/0 cable, or the bus bars. Best I kept coming up with was quite a bit less than 1 mOhm per FOOT (it may even be less than 1mohm per INCH!!). Essentially, the two bus bar groups along with the welding cable and the heavy aluminum lugs work out to be "one long bus bar" rather than a sortof daisy chained set of two bus bar sets. I say that because for my purposes, the combination of 6101 T61 1/4" x 1.0" aluminum bus bar and 1/0 cable provides low enough resistance to "consider it to be one long bus bar".

I'm certain as I can be that there are people within this membership that could work out the resistance figures in a sharp second, but I'm not one of them. To be very candid, I honestly don't think I possess the raw IQ required to comprehend such things. I certainly don't have the education required, that's for sure!

At the very least, even if there could be better ways of doing what I'm doing, it's a damned sight better than the stock rigging! I mean, 24 inches of 16 gauge and 13 feet of 24 gauge (plus connections) is beat to hell by 4 inches of 16 gauge, 4 feet of bus bar, and 12 inches of 24 gauge power cables! NO. DOUBT. ABOUT. IT.

Just to give this subject one last jab (and provide a bit of visual impact), here's picture of 1/0 welding cable, 16 gauge stranded wire, and 24 gauge stranded wire. The two small stranded wires are both cutoffs from the Dot Com squid.

Image

Next post has some more details and pics of how I've optimized the aluminum lugs, so continue to the next posting please, this entry is two posts long.
Last edited by Rex Coil 7 on Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:07 am

Continued from the post above, this is PART 2 of a two post project entry. If you clicked on this thread and came straight to this post, be certain to scroll up one post to get your eyes on everything that was put up that is connected to this entry.

Now I'll discuss how I've tried to optimize a few things and how I've gone about fabricating some stuff, as well as provide a few pictures of fit-up and installation.

Just to sleep easy, I wanted to be absolutely certain that a spacer wouldn't be needed between the aluminum lugs and the bus bars. The screws used to mount the bus bars to the wooden cross blocks have heads that stick up a bit. Once I installed the bus bars, I became nervous about whether or not the welding cable would clear the screw heads, if so I'd need to fabricate 0.250" thick spacers out of pieces of bus bars to lift the aluminum lugs high enough so the cable would clear the screw heads. Thank goodness it all worked out ....

Image

Next, after looking over these Burndy aluminum lugs a bit, I didn't like how rough the contact surface of the lugs was. It's actually as rough as 120 grit sandpaper. This is a problem. It hinders contact with the smoothly sanded finish of the bus bars, quite a bit actually. The rough cast aluminum finish of the lugs makes far less electrical contact with the bus bars because only a portion of the lugs is actually touching the bars. Only the highest spots of the lugs touch the bars.

So I set about putting a much smoother surface on all eight lugs I need to run the interconnecting cables between the two cabinets. The finish I put on the lugs is SO much better, and so smooth, that when they were set down on the kitchen counter top (which had a very small amount of wetness from a damp cloth) the lugs actually "sucked down" on to the counter top, so much so it was easily felt by my hands as I lifted each one off the counter. I was unable to see ANY Sunlight between two refinished lugs when placed bottom to bottom and put up in the window with the Sun shining in. No light between them at all. But the unfinished ones had at least 1mm of space between them and Sunlight was seen between them when put together.

I retrieved my handy dandy stompbox that I'd repurposed long ago into a sanding block, and stretched a piece of used emery cloth as tightly as possible on it. I set the block on the sink and worked each lug back and forth on the block. It took roughly 200 strokes to achieve the surface finish I wanted.

The rough ones are pretty obvious. The discoloration in the middle of each block was caused by different cooling rates when the part was cast from molten aluminum at the foundry.

Here's the "before" ......

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The "middle" ... look carefully and you'll see that not only were these lugs rough, but they were also not flat! This pic was shot after about 50 strokes, you can clearly see that the ends were smoothing out but the middle was nearly untouched by the emery cloth just yet. That means the part isn't flat. So this process is really helping out!

Image

FIN!! Far better.....


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They actually feel a LOT better than they look ... the macro lens of the camera catches every little flaw, so they may appear a little rough yet ... but they're not! Very smooth, and FAR more flat. They'll now work a lot better when combined with the zinc bearing gas tight paste that will be put between the lugs and the bus bars when it's all properly assembled. Remember this stuff? ....

Image

BACKSIDE CLEARANCE:

A little infos on the progress with the Q816 VCO panels. As I work through wiring them up, and making power cables for them, I wanted to see how much clearance there is between all of the jacks and stuffage and the bus bars. So while I had one of the Q816s mounted up to figure out the power cable routings, I was able to see exactly how much space there is between the modules and the bus bars inside of the Main Cabinet.

Image

I was able to get a shot through the big pass through hole where the welding cables pass between the 12U cab and the Main cab. As can be plainly seen, there's PLENTY of clearance between the module, the bus bars, and the normalizing rails as well. This was an uplifting discovery. Sure, all of my measurements and diagrams tell a story, but there's nothing like actually seeing something to ease the mind.

Lastly, I got the wiring diagram done up for the two QX816 VCO panels (it's a composite of several scratched out diagrams that were very messy with lots of erasures and changes). I placed the picture of the QX816 beneath to provide an easy reference. This diagram covers FIVE separate sections of the QX816 ...

** CV Inputs from the terminal strips on the normalizing rails.

** Q141 outputs and polarity switches.

** Q161 outputs and routings.

** Hard/Soft Sync wiring.

** Ring Modulator connections.

Image

Image

Ok, so that's it for this entry. Long and detailed, but sometimes these little details are what make all of the difference between doing something half-assed and well done.

Thanks for sticking with me through this meandering journey of synth design and construction. I'm still WAY diggin it! As I get things worked out ... little by little it's all coming together.

This is gonna be one Certified Bad Ass Synth!

Image

(sorry, I couldn't resist!)

:nana:
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Post by josaka » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:44 am

the lack of level/position markings would drive me mental.. just for recall alone.. :)

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Post by Eric the Red » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:45 am

Rexy,

You either have weird tiny baby hands, or some magical tool to make your bus bars easy to assemble...

It doesn’t look like yu have much space underneath to attach the nuts to your screws for each cable... how do you plan on doing that?

Last Thursday I was able to finally get mine all finished and mounted to where I want it - on a slab of wood that I assembled on my living room floor... I’ll be mounting it in the cabinet during the week once I have power again.

Everything is looking awesome so far my friend.

-Eric
Abandon all hope, ye who wiggle.

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:09 pm

Eric the Red wrote:Rexy,

You either have weird tiny baby hands, or some magical tool to make your bus bars easy to assemble...

It doesn’t look like yu have much space underneath to attach the nuts to your screws for each cable... how do you plan on doing that?
It looks like he has access underneath?
Image

Agreed, awesome work . . and his documentation of the project should be published into a coffee table book when he is done! :sb:

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:55 pm

josaka wrote:the lack of level/position markings would drive me mental.. just for recall alone.. :)
That's actually a very fair statement. When I "record" patch settings, I use the analog clock analogy. A diagram of the panels with clock "times" written into the little circles that represent any given pot/knob ... 9:30 ... 2 ... 12 etc ..

Switch positions are marked with dot indicating the bat is either up or down.

It's not difficult at all. I tend to recall things as visual images, instead of numeric values. So recalling settings (while perhaps also referring to diagrams) is more a matter of how things appear rather than their actual numeric values depicted with markings or levels. In my case, reproducing a patch is more about what it sounds like rather than repeating the same exact numeric values on the panel. This is, after all, analog modular.
Eric the Red wrote:Rexy,

You either have weird tiny baby hands, or some magical tool to make your bus bars easy to assemble...

It doesn’t look like yu have much space underneath to attach the nuts to your screws for each cable... how do you plan on doing that?
JohnLRice wrote: It looks like he has access underneath?
Image
Spot on, John. It took me quite a while to make everything work together ... those cutout holes in the cabinet that permit "fum unduh" access were already there from the initial fabrication of the cabs. So I had to work out how to make the bus bars all fit, make the holes align with the cut outs, and still provide access to the Ring Mod PCBs and switches. It was quite a task, lots of measuring, remeasuring, diagrams, more measuring, and a lot of mental imaging to get it all to fit .... first shot! Nothing had to be recut or redone. It all went together one two three. It even required a lot of thinking to order the properly sized aluminum so that I wouldn't have to tap/thread the holes. Of course that also meant working out screw dimensions/lengths to make it all work as well. The underside access also permits putting power cable eyelets on top and on the bottom, doubled up in a single hole without resorting to stacking eyelets. This provides the option of connecting power cables for the lower row of modules on the underside of the bus bars, should it be needed.

Eric the Red wrote:Last Thursday I was able to finally get mine all finished and mounted to where I want it - on a slab of wood that I assembled on my living room floor... I’ll be mounting it in the cabinet during the week once I have power again.
This is excellent news! Glad to hear things are moving forward with your own project, Eric! I am fully aware of how much time this sortof stuff takes ... especially if I were planning a family or something of that nature (*wink) as well as managing a career (** wink wink). That thing is going to be one killa synth!!!
Eric the Red wrote:Everything is looking awesome so far my friend.

-Eric
JohnLRice wrote:Agreed, awesome work . . and his documentation of the project should be published into a coffee table book when he is done! :sb:
Haahaa! ~chuckle~ ... thanks John! And you as well Eric ...

I've actually begun to copy a lot of this into a construction journal and operation manual. Y'know, on that stuff called ~paper~ ... in a thing called ~a book~. Using "clear sheet protectors" for each page.

Even though I built this thing, I'll still need some references to remember how the heck to work it! It will also help should I ever need to troubleshoot an issue or replace something. So written records of part numbers, sources, and operational details is a must. So are accurate wiring diagrams (y'know ... those child-like scribblings I post photos of from time to time).

After all, with the amount of sweat equity invested, I want this thing to last.

Thanks again, josaka, Eric, and John. Be well ... B.
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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:55 am

GOT SOME OF THE QX816 DUAL VCO PANEL (#1) WIRING GOING - MADE JUMPERS:

Short entry this time. I think I'm going to do shorter entries and more of them (perhaps once per week rather that once every two weeks). They'll be easier to read, and easier to draft as well! Those big huge ones take me several hours.

Ok, hoppin' to it here ... I was inspired by a family member to get in a short nap before I got to work ..... (Coo Coo is her name ... check out the white dot on her tail ... that's her "tail light"!) :lol:

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Silly stuff aside ....

I got the mixers mostly wired in. I was very careful to make sure I properly wired the Dot Com pigtails to the 16mm Alpha pots. First, I had to harvest thirty eight of those pigtails so I had enough to complete both QX816 Dual VCO panels as well as the QX420 Dual VCF panel (which is ready to be ordered from Front Panel Express, the design work is FINALLY finished ... now I just need to round up $100 bucks to buy it). So I set about desoldering pigtails from 39 24mm Dot Com pots (Alphas) .... lightly clamped in a drill press vise I use on my bench for various tasks. No matter how I tried, I still got 750f degree solder flicked on my skin ... fekkin hell that hurts! Fortunately I'm a big boy, so it didn't hurt TOO much (I only cried for a few minutes).

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I also harvested a number of two conductor pigtails from Tip/Sleeve jacks that were removed from various modules that have become part of the project. They are needed for making "jumpers" that are needed to create the feedback loops on the SEVEN mixers used in the VCOs, the VCF, the Main VCO mixer, and the Ring Modulator mixer. Note that some are six inch pigtails, and a few others are twelve inch pigtails. There are two conductor (Tip/Sleeve jacks) and three conductor (24mm Alpha pots) ones there.

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I used 28 (twenty eight!) 2 conductor pigtails to make enough feedback loop jumpers for all of the mixers that will use that function. Each four inch jumper requires two pigtails, and each mixer requires two jumpers. Remember there are seven mixers used!

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Care had to be taken to make sure that the connectors were wired tip-to-tip and sleeve-to-sleeve. It can get tricky if you're not paying attention! I used doubled up heat shrink tubing to cover the solder splice ... just to be sure.

Then I used twelve of the 3 conductor pigtails to wire in the 16mm Alpha pots (B100K Linear) to each of the 4 mixer channel control connections on both mixers of the dual VCO panel. You can also see the feedback jumpers.

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The feedback jumpers connect the Bus Outputs to the unused input channel of each bus, that way the unused channel control becomes the Feedback Level control for each mixer bus. The mixer's "MAIN OUT" is what is routed to the Q141/Q161 selector toggle, which then sends the VCO's output to the normalized input connection on the Main VCO Mixer located in the middle of the two QX816 panels (that mixer with the nameplate).

After I wired up all of the pots, and installed the feedback jumpers, I installed the rotary switches in the PROPER locations this time. I also finally received a Small Bear order that took me weeks to save up the munnay for, so I installed the remaining On/Off/On DPDT toggles that select normalized CV signals for five separate destinations on each VCO.

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It looks a mess. I'm doing this is layers, so I'll set to doing the Q161 and Q141 outputs next, then I'll install the Q106 VCO PCBs and begin wiring all of that up. The Freq control, PW, PWM Depth, Expo FM depth, Linear FM depth, and Soft Sync Level pots will just plug right in to the VCO boards, easy enough. But the waveform output jacks need to have mult'd wires soldered to them to connect the waveform outputs to the Q161 inputs. The CV input jacks will also need to be soldered to the CV toggles, then to the VCO PCBs. Additionally the Hard/Soft sync wiring must also be done. So there is a good deal of wiring to go yet. Probably just about the time I work out a good system of doing all of this, I'll be nearly finished with the second QX816!

Then it's on to the Dual filter (QX420) ... here's a screenshot of the "FINAL" file of Version 4. I'm doing this panel in black anodize with milled lettering. I'll get to a full explanation of how this one is set up when I'm done with the VCOs. The entirety of both lower rows of holes are jacks. Along with the jacks, there's fourteen pots, the rest are all toggles. Like the VCO panels, this one is done in ~mirror image~ for the most part. Main input is the jack labeled "QX420 In" and the main output jack is labeled "QX420 Out".

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It seems as though each "QX" panel is going to take me about three days per panel. That's actually not too bad! If I can maintain this pace, I hope to have the whole thing operational by about June or July. Keeping in mind I need to make up about 30+ module power cables (I'm going to cheat ... I've cut up the ~squid~ from a Dot Com power distribution setup, so all I really need to do is cut them to length and add #8 eyelets to each of the four wires in each cable ... 4 eyelets per module .. so they'll mount to the bus bars).

That's it for this entry. Later folks!

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Rex Coil 7
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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:11 pm

AIRCRAFT WIRE:

I did some more of the wiring on the first QX816 Dual VCO panel. This time I tackled the first bunch of interconnections that involve the use of 20 gauge 19 strand Teflon insulated fiberglass reinforced Mil-Spec aircraft wire (man ... now there's a mouthful!). That stuff is tough to strip. I made a small modification to my wire strippers to make stripping that stuff a bit simpler. It is not only Teflon insulated, but it also uses fiberglass reinforcement within the Teflon. So stripping it neatly and without cutting into the actual 19 strand conductor is a challenge. Since there are 19 strands, each strand is pretty small and easily nicked or cut unintentionally. But, I got it done.

Forty wires cut to length and stripped ... these are the wires that connect between the 10 CV A/Off/B toggles on the panel and the normalizing terminal strips that are mounted on the norm-rails that hang inside of the cabinet behind the VCO panels.

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Same 40 wires, with the #8 crimp on eyelets installed, with clear heat shrink (the type that has that insulating ~goop~ inside of it).

The green wires will be soldered to the "A" side of each of the CV toggle switches, the red wires will be connected to the "B" side of each toggle switch. Just to provide a little bit of assistance for visually tracing wire runs. The eyelets connect to the terminal strips, and the bare ends will be stripped and soldered to switch terminals.

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Those wires will connect the CV toggles to these terminals strips .... wires running from ~interface panels~ mounted on the back of the synth cabinet will connect to the other side of each terminal strip. The interface panels will permit connection of outboard modulators (envelopes and LFOs etc..), who's signals will enter the synth through the interface panels, then on to the terminals strips, then to the CV "A/B" toggles on the VCO panels. Those signals also include all of the 1v/oct signals, as well as modulations.

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If making those wasn't hard enough on my hands (all of that wire cutting, insulation stripping, crimping, and cutting heat shrink to length! ... lots of ~squeazing~ of hand tools!!) ... I also got some of the 20 gauge 19 strand Teflon insulated fiberglass reinforced Mil-Spec aircraft wire (sorry, couldn't resist) soldered in that connects the CV toggles to the CV input jacks. The CV input jacks are normally closed switching jacks, and all of this is set up so when a plug with CV signal is inserted into a given CV jack, the normalized connections between the toggles and the terminal strips are defeated and whatever signals are coming in via the plug(s) takes over.

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Those red and green wires will be soldered to the A/B ~throws~ of the CV toggle switches. I'll install the wires on the switches after I do some more wiring, just to keep things from becoming too congested in the work area.

This was my first experience using this exact gauge/type of Teflon insulated wire. All said and done, it is really nice to work with. Being 19 strand and Teflon insulated, it's actually smaller in O.D. than 7 strand PVC insulated wire. That fact makes using 20 gauge viable, normally 24 gauge PVC hookup wire is used for such tasks.

Onward .... Upward .... Forward!!!!! .... (one screw, one component, one solder joint at a time!)

:tu:
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Post by hsosdrum » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:01 am

Looking pretty damn awesome there, Rex! Very nice wiring indeed.

Can't wait to see and hear it when it's done.

:hail:

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:43 am

hsosdrum wrote:Looking pretty damn awesome there, Rex! Very nice wiring indeed.

Can't wait to see and hear it when it's done.

:hail:
Thank you very much, good sir. I'm another step closer to the end......

FIRST VCO IS ON LINE AND OPERATING!:

Nearly have one entire dual VCO QX816 operating. One VCO is totally operational and WORKING GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just a few more wires to complete the second VCO in that panel and the first of two QX816s are completed. Maybe two more days on the second VCO in this panel and it's 100% done ..... then one more dual VCO panel to go.

:trampoline: :spin: :domodance:

(below) Testing the individual outputs .....

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(below) I made up a quick adapter cable to be able to check out how well the VCO Channel Output works (the feed from the MXR/RTY toggle thet will feed the Main VCO mixer). So this test was to sortof pretend the VCO was connected (normalized) to the channel input of the Main VCO Mixer. This test was very important because it checked out all of the routing toggles that determine if the signal is coming out of the Q141 (both pos and neg, via toggle) as well as the Q161 Waveform Mixer. It worked BEAUTIFULLY!

I am able to switch between the Q141 output, and the Q161 output with a single switch. The Q161 "overdrive" setup also works exactly as expected. I'm fairly convinced this setup ... the whole VCO setup ... will produce 900 series R. A. Moog sound without even breaking out into a sweat. As the red "Drive" controls are turned up, the entire sound changes .... LOADS of low end come in to play. Set properly, and it just sounds so bloody MOOGY.

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The little black patch cable that's inserted into the jack marked .X. (Expo FM 1) is the primary 1v/oct input, and in this picture it's taking 1v/Oct feed from the Beatstep sequencer. Notice there are no other patch cables in the QX816, and yet the Q108 VCA obviously has something plugged into the input. That's the cable I adapted to connect to the VCO Mixer Output (which will be normalized to the proper input channel of the Main VCO Mixer). With a single toggle marked "MXR/RTY" ... for "Mixer" and "Rotary" which refers to the Q141 rotary switch I can instantly swap between sending the Main VCO Mixer the Q141 out or the Q161 out. I can haz super waveform mix all preset and ready to go, then just switch from Q141 to the preset mix of the Q161.

And it all worked! I used the Beatstep to test all of the CV inputs, as well as their respective CV level knobs .... everything is GO. The lighter blue knobs are CV input levels, the darkest blue knob sets the static Pulse width, the black knob marked "Soft Level" is the soft sync input level, the two black knobs without lettering are (top) course range and (bottom) Q141 waveform select. And of course the giant ravenhead knob is the VCO's fine frequency. The LED is not nearly as bright as the photo makes it appear. Oh, and the small black knob way down in the lower corner is the Q141 output level. And it all works wonderfully. The only ~glitch~ is the VCO fine freq B100K Linear pot is a teensy bit scratchy when set to almost totally 100% sharp. So, I'll swap that one out. Other than that, zero issues.

Jazzed ..... just totally jazzed. Rockin' Bone Equipped ... indeed so.

That's all for this one. Until the next entry, where I plan on having the entire Dual VCO setup on line. Since I took notes on wire lengths and the best order of assembly, the next VCO should go far quicker. Which will complete the first QX816. Then, one more QX816 to go!!

Bye Byes. :tu:
Never Quit, Die Falling Forward
5U PROJECT - (skip pages 4 through 6, boring junk) ... https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... highlight=

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:01 am

Rex Coil 7 wrote:FIRST VCO IS ON LINE AND OPERATING!:
Congrats! :tu: :party: :goo: :yay:

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Post by Flareless » Mon Apr 30, 2018 4:32 am

RC7, your work is astounding! Thanks for sharing in such detail :sb: :tu:
Rich

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What can this strange device be? When I touch it, it gives forth a sound - Neil Peart

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Post by Eric the Red » Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:50 am

YES!! Lookin good Rex!
Abandon all hope, ye who wiggle.

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:51 pm

JohnLRice - Flairless - Eric .... thanks fellers! It's really great to have something that is making sound at this point. It's easy to become a little discouraged after working on something for months and all I had to show for it was a bunch of parts, a few panels, some wiring, and the bus bars.

I'm already finding things I may change (but nothing involving a soldering pen). I may change some of the knobs ... but the nice thing about ~knobs~ is they can be changed very easily, and testing different types is a small issue. Kinda like changing hair styles (well .... sorta).

I wasn't totally certain about the rotary switches having no markings around them, but that concern turned out to be a big fat ~nuthin'~ ... I adapted to the settings very quickly and the way I have the waveform output jacks is exactly how the Q141 Waveform selection rotary is set up in the same waveform order as the jacks. So if I forget which ~click~ on the Q141 waveform rotary selects which waveform, one look at the wave-out jacks provides the ~key~ for which click to use when choosing a waveform. Not only that, my ears can hear which waveform is selected by now.

One neat thing about the "drive" knobs on the Q161 is that it's all too easy to boost the triangle and sine waves to match any waveform level. That is super-cool! so I can have the Q141 set on (let's say) SAWTOOTH, and the Q141 set on Triangle with some drive boost added. When switching between the Q141 out and the Q161 out, their volume levels are the same!

The drive boost also makes the sine or the triangle produce some really nice sounding harmonics on the top end. It's probably just squaring off those waves, but nonetheless they have their own very unique (and quite audible) different sound than just a square wave. This is where the drive boost shines .... adding driven SINE to undriven SAW makes for a killer sound. It's saw, but with a very unique low end ... A. LOT. OF. LOW. END.

So, I am super thrilled. I can only imagine what FOUR of these beasties is going to sound like, especially with the instant-on HARD or SOFT sync.

That said, I gots ta git back ta werk! I'm taking a detour from VCO wiring today and getting that Main VCO Mixer on line. Timing is perfect, since I have one VCO all mounted up in the 12U cab, I can normalize it to the mixer and test out what can be done with the ~drive~ control on the Main VCO Mixer along with the talents of the VCO setup. All it takes to connect the VCO out to the Mixer in is a single screw. One #6 screw, that's it! That is to say, once I finish wiring up that mixer.

Ok, back to the bench ..... to zeh lumber yard! (a "Young Frankenstein" reference ... funniest movie ever!).

:bananallama:
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