Berlin School Dream Machine

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Berlin School Dream Machine

Post by terjewinther » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:47 pm

As many others; I started out building modules from many manufacturers, but soon found out that Oakley modules were the best; good PCBs, great docs, and fantastic support, but most of all superb modules that are useful, stable and continue to work day after day, even in demanding situations like outdoor concert in various venues.

Originally I started building with a mixture of 5U and 3U size, using small jacks (1/8). After some time I wished I could start over with only Oakley modules, but that would be too expensive, so I slowly changed my main modular into only 5U size front panels and only 1/4 jacks.

The change is now complete, and I have build my own «Berlin school dream machine»:




The modules are these:

Top row, from left:
Oakley Noise/Filter iss. 1 - in a non-standard silk-screened front panel.
Custom/DIY Multiple, dual - one 5-way and one 4-way. Non-standard width to close up space
Oakley VCO - Slim-VCO version A iss. 1.1
Oakley VCO/LFO - Slim-VCO version B iss. 1.1 - with green and amber LEDs and jack PCB
Oakley VCO/LFO - Slim-VCO version B iss. 1.1 - with only red LEDs and no jack PCB
Oakley Ring-Modulator iss. 3
Oakley/DIY Mixer - modified with extra inputs, inverted output, output volume pot, plus multiple
Oakley VCF - Superladder, original demo version, with large green knob for cutoff
Oakley Overdrive iss. 1 - including overdrive and distorsion
Tellun VCF - State variable filter TLN-428 Rev. 1.0 - based on the CEM3320 IC
Oakley ADSR/VCA iss. 4 - looping envelope with integrated VCA
Custom/DIY ADSR - envelope with normal and inverted outputs and option for really long times
Formant/DIY ADSR - envelope generator with modifications (only survivor from first generation!)
Oakley LFOs - 3 x Oakley Little LFO iss. 2 in one panel. I could not decide if I wanted switches for times or LED indicators in the available space, so I installed switches with dual LEDs in the switch. Very useful, but really expensive parts.

Middle row, from left:
Custom Blank panel with WintherStormer name. Very narrow, to fill up the remaining space
MOTM VCO - in a nonstandard silk-screened front panel
Oakley VCO - the «one-of-three» fullblown VCO iss.4
Oakley VCO - the «one-of-three» fullblown VCO iss.4
Oakley VCO - the «one-of-three» fullblown VCO iss.4
Oakley VRG iss. 2 - Versatile Ramp Generator, with red knobs to seperate them
Oakley VRG iss. 2 - Versatile Ramp Generator, with red knobs to seperate them
Oakley Sample/Slew iss. 1 - sample & hold combined with slew generator
Buchla VCF and/or VCA - Resonant Lopass gate based on Peter Grenader´s work
Buchla VCF and/or VCA - Resonant Lopass gate based on Peter Grenader´s work
Custom/DIY LFOs - four simple LFOs with various wave outputs in one panel
Oakley VC-ADSR iss. 2 - Voltage controlled envelope generator with integrated VCA
Oakley/DIY VCA - three old Basic VCAs iss. 1 in one panel. I only had two originals, so the third one is made on veroboard.

Bottom row, the narrow one - from left:
Oakley MIDI-Dac iss. 3 - MIDI-to-CV converter in custom made front panel
Custom/DIY Buffers/distributors - two sets of buffers, mainly for pitch and gates. Internally patched from the MIDI-Dac. Uses high-quality precision opamps and multiturn trimmers for precision.
Custom/DIY CV-switches, one with an on/off switch and one momentary switch. Gives off a positive voltage, mostly used for manual gates

A total of 33 modules. Some modules have multiple functions, so I can be pressed to find:
9 VCOs
6 VCFs
7 VCAs
11 LFOs (I love LFOs!)
9 Envelopes
4 Effect modules (noise, ringmod, overdrive, S&H)
4 Utilities modules (MIDI, multiple, buffers, manual switches)

All front panels are aluminium metal, from various sources and different generations. There are various types of knobs, as you can see, although mostly «moog-like» knobs. The different sizes doesn´t bother me, but I might change some knobs in the future.

All in all - a perfect and complete «Berlin school dream machine» to go. I even have a custom-made large wooden flightcase for it that has been with me for years now.

But what does I use this for? I am sooo glad you asked :-)

I perform improvised sequencerbased Berlin school music both in the studio and live, and have done so for 20 years now - both as a solo artist and in the band WintherStormer. This beast have been to many concerts (both indoors and outdoors) and can be heard on many records - in fact the band have a new CD out:

Here are two long demos I slapped together to show off some sounds and possibilities. Normally I don´t combine like this: most of the time this modular is used for sequencer-lines only, and maybe some effect sound, while other instruments do other tasks. However; I wanted to give it a go to see if I could make complete songs on this modular only. Everything is recorded direct to disk without any edits and with only this modular and a step-sequencer - all sounds are from this modular (reverb and delay added externally) - the sequencer delivers CV and gate, while an external MIDI-keyboard drives the MIDI-CV interface for the solo line. I think I used all modules for these demos:

If there are any questions, I´d be happy to answer.

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Post by Synthbuilder » Fri Feb 01, 2019 6:45 am


Nice work there Terje. And almost a history of Oakley Modular in one box.

Maybe time for another row... :deadbanana:

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Post by Pav » Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:51 pm

Cool case. Cool recordings.
I now feel my Oakley system deserves a single red knob knowing I am not alone. I was talked out of it. It was to be my homage to Spielberg film Schindlers List and the little girl in red.
rgds Pav

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