Digisound 80 refurbishment

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snufkin
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Post by snufkin » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:45 am

cool project but I kinda love the original digisound design
WTB: any Digisound80 / Digisound 80 faceplates/pcbs/kits.

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Post by cretaceousear » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:30 am

snufkin wrote:cool project but I kinda love the original digisound design
yeah - the digisound panel design is very clean and gives that feel of precision

but I had to save money somewhere and it meant I could do anything I wanted ..

so I
1) combined an LFO from a Maplin synth on the same panel as utility functions
2) combined a VCLFO with noise & S/H module
3) combined external input with ring mod
4) combined a pan module with a headphone amp

so squeezed in 16 modules in a 12 module space

@ Snufkin : How's the Harmonica playing going ? ;)

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snufkin
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Post by snufkin » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:02 am

that's pretty impressive, it would be cool to extend it even more with some of the newer diy kits but built in that style

harmonica playing is going well, but I have just got a hurdy gurdy :3 for the drones
WTB: any Digisound80 / Digisound 80 faceplates/pcbs/kits.

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Post by bennelong.bicyclist » Tue Nov 04, 2014 10:25 pm

Just a heads-up for Digisound fans and collectors: there are 6 modules for sale at the current VEMIA auction: http://www.spheremusic.com/Bargaindtl.asp?Item=13136

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Post by bennelong.bicyclist » Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:33 pm

Spotted at the 'Uddersfield Yooni Synf Meet:

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Post by cretaceousear » Mon May 04, 2015 9:13 am

Since this is the Digisound 80 appreciation thread .. here's a link to nice system on sale on ebay uk at £2k

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Rare-Digisoun ... 1734919125
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Post by MarkosDee » Sat Jun 11, 2016 2:32 pm

Here's (a crappy photo of) mine:
Image
Am very fond of it, but will have to invest a bit of time to replace most, if not all, of the potmeters (loads of crackling). Am mostly working around the problematic areas though. Mainly Digisound plus some unmarked (mystery) modules.
Here's a little blog from it's previous owner:
http://boterbloemmodular.blogspot.nl/20 ... chive.html
The modules in my photo are pretty much what's left of the original system as a whole. I was told some parts had 'died' plus some bits had been sold seperately.
One bit that i'm curious about was some type of patchmemory panel. You can see it in the blog photo's. I was told that it got damaged beyond repair

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Post by craigyb » Tue Dec 13, 2016 5:16 pm

I'm about to start building a DIGISOUND 80 synth from scratch, I built the Elektor Formant Synth in my teenage years and I miss the power it had.

Having repaired synths from the age of 16 to 30 I'm fairly familiar with analogue and have a good collection of CEM and SSM chips in my collection, so the CEM based 80 is a good place to start as opposed to the Formant which was discrete chips.

I was wondering if anyone had any bits and pieces, front panels etc, unwanted modules they wanted to part with. I would be interested in purchasing them to kick start my modular experience.

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Post by snufkin » Sat Aug 17, 2019 2:30 pm

Hey guys I am building up some original digisound panels at the moment and I also have a few PCBs without front panels.

I have a some questions.

1) The original panels look like thin steel with a plastic sticker on the front, anyone know a comparable technique for producing front panels around the same thickness look?

2) does any one have case measurements or advice, I am thinking of doing a 2 rows of six in a simple square cabinet does that sound sensible?

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Post by nerdware » Sun Aug 18, 2019 6:45 am

The original panels sold by Digisound Ltd were proper professuionally made metal panels, no stickers or other DIY features. They were, however, somewhat thinner than the kind of 3U and 5U panels available today. You won't notice this in normal use, of course. Very smooth surfaces and sharp labelling. They look stunning.

Image

Yes, that's a proper vintage Digisound 80 module built in the mid 80s. Not by me, I hasten to add! That was Roger Massey's excellent work.

Anyway, that's for reference. You can make panels any way you like. I loved to the original Aries-style panels, but I only have photos of them. I don't even know if they were sold, but I know some people have made their own Aries panels for later DIY modules, so why not Digisound? It's your choice. You can have any format you like now. Just find someone who made make them or make them yourself, that's also your choice. Isn't that the whole point of SDIY?

Nevermind the knobs. :lol:
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Post by StateVariable » Sun Aug 18, 2019 9:54 am

I'm replacing my Digisound panels at the moment. Back when I made my original modules in the early 80s I loved the "original" black panels in the ETI articles, which looking back were very similar to Aries (I always wondered if that's why they changed to white for the commercial ones). So mine were black sticky-black vinyl on aluminium. I'm going the same route now but inkjet printing the vinyl then spraying with satin varnish. I'm experimenting with the varnish to get the best finish but I think they look OK. Not perfect, obviously, if you take close up pics...

Image

I need to get a sharpie on that place I scraped with the pliers doing up a jack...
That's black printing on white vinyl. If you want the black-on-white look that would be just as easy and much cheaper on ink :hihi:. Probably would look sharper too, white lines come out slightly thinner because the ink bleeds a little. I use Inkscape for the graphics.

I got aluminium from these people: https://www.aluminiumwarehouse.co.uk/3- ... m-flat-bar. They do 3" wide bar and will cut it to 9" lengths, it works out pretty cheap, the catch is it's 3mm thick which is more than I wanted, but actually it works out pretty well and it's really rigid. My originals were much thinner and way too flexible.

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Post by tardishead » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:05 am

wow jealous of your 184 keyboard
A friend bought a digidesign modular that some guy had DIYed on stripboard
He also got a 8 voice polyphonic keyboard that some guy had strip boarded too. Its a true spaghetti junction affair. But works great.Nobody can work out where the design came from - maybe the guy designed it himself.
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Post by nerdware » Sun Aug 18, 2019 3:29 pm

Yeah, I love that case. I have a 3-unit system, like you see in the catalogue: keyboard unit and 2 12-module cabinets, but that single-unit case looks really nice. Those black panels with modern 5U-style knobs also look tasty.
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Post by StateVariable » Sun Aug 18, 2019 4:46 pm

Those black panels with modern 5U-style knobs also look tasty.
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Post by snufkin » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:38 am

Nerdware, I have three original panels here all from different sources and they look the same as the one pictured (and all consistent) however one has the surface delaminating very slightly (and it's not paper and has the same look and feel as the others) which makes me think that at least some of the pro panels were produced using a sort of plasticised white (with text) coating over metal.




nerdware wrote:The original panels sold by Digisound Ltd were proper professuionally made metal panels, no stickers or other DIY features. They were, however, somewhat thinner than the kind of 3U and 5U panels available today. You won't notice this in normal use, of course. Very smooth surfaces and sharp labelling. They look stunning.

Image

Yes, that's a proper vintage Digisound 80 module built in the mid 80s. Not by me, I hasten to add! That was Roger Massey's excellent work.

Anyway, that's for reference. You can make panels any way you like. I loved to the original Aries-style panels, but I only have photos of them. I don't even know if they were sold, but I know some people have made their own Aries panels for later DIY modules, so why not Digisound? It's your choice. You can have any format you like now. Just find someone who made make them or make them yourself, that's also your choice. Isn't that the whole point of SDIY?

Nevermind the knobs. :lol:
WTB: any Digisound80 / Digisound 80 faceplates/pcbs/kits.

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Post by StateVariable » Mon Aug 19, 2019 5:00 am

2) does any one have case measurements or advice, I am thinking of doing a 2 rows of six in a simple square cabinet does that sound sensible?
FWIW, I had 12 modules in a pair of cases for a while and I tried both side-by-side (12x1) and one on top of the other (6x2). I found 12x1 worked much better for me, if you use the Digisound format panels they have all the jacks at the bottom which is intended to keep leads clear of knobs, which is actually quite nice if you keep them in a line.

I have a 14x1 case now but I've just filled it with a few more DIY modules and the plan is to make a second case and start stacking. We'll see how that works out. The original modules are quite deep but at least that makes the case good & stable for stacking. General consensus here is that your case (& PSU) will be too small no matter what you decide :wink: - I've come back to my system in the last couple of years and I made myself a rule that I'd build no new modules until the existing ones were all refurbished. Half way through the refurb and I have 6 new modules, I see where this is heading!

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Post by snufkin » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:30 am

StateVariable wrote:
2) does any one have case measurements or advice, I am thinking of doing a 2 rows of six in a simple square cabinet does that sound sensible?
FWIW, I had 12 modules in a pair of cases for a while and I tried both side-by-side (12x1) and one on top of the other (6x2). I found 12x1 worked much better for me, if you use the Digisound format panels they have all the jacks at the bottom which is intended to keep leads clear of knobs, which is actually quite nice if you keep them in a line.

I have a 14x1 case now but I've just filled it with a few more DIY modules and the plan is to make a second case and start stacking. We'll see how that works out. The original modules are quite deep but at least that makes the case good & stable for stacking. General consensus here is that your case (& PSU) will be too small no matter what you decide :wink: - I've come back to my system in the last couple of years and I made myself a rule that I'd build no new modules until the existing ones were all refurbished. Half way through the refurb and I have 6 new modules, I see where this is heading!


Hmmm thank you food for thought.
WTB: any Digisound80 / Digisound 80 faceplates/pcbs/kits.

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Post by diophantine » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:26 pm

I love looking at the pics here, and have always been intrigued by the Digisound. Hoping to build my own system at some point in the not-too-distant future. (Already doing some work for the boards.)

What's the verdict on the different filters? I only saw a little bit of commentary on the Dual Resonant, but how about the SVF & the four different flavors of the the 80-6?

I notice that a number of systems here have a lot of Processors, is this because a lot are needed, or because they were more affordable to build back in the day?

Anyone have info on what font was used originally? I was thinking of just going with the FPD files on digidound80.co.uk, but might consider trying to make them look closer to the originals.

And finally, what sort of right-angle PCB standoffs were used on the originals? I've never seen any quite like them...

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Post by nerdware » Sat Aug 24, 2019 4:42 pm

If you have the chip and the switch already, you could consider the SVF. However, see below. It's easily my fav Digisound filter, altho I admit I don't have them all. Just a pair of SVFs (so good, I added a second), a VCL-L and a VCF-P. I regret now not getting the other filters, plus some other modules, but then I would've needed a third cabinet. Also, I had to stop somewhere and I felt like two cabs was enough for me. The VCF-L has never impressed me, but at least it can resonate. It's alright. I've always loved the VCF-P. It's not the strongest phaser you can find, but it has enough to add more interest to any patch. I still love a subtle notch filter, in any format. The SVF notch setting feels weak to me, but it's a welcome extra.

You can see the SVF in the pic I posted above. Please note the 7-way 2-pole rotary switch! When I last checked, sometime in the last 10 years, I couldn't find a source for one of these. I concluded that this makes it the one panel component in my Digisound that I'd have great difficulty replacing. I have 16 spare knobs, some spare chibi connectors and even a few spare Curtis chips. (No, I will not sell them! They're spares for some of my existing modules.) I have no spare switches, so if/when the switches in my two SVFs fail, I'll have no way of fixing those modules. So, two chips and two switches could deplete my set of working Digisound modules by one or two.

Also be warned: the switch can put out a terrifying spike. Watch your speakers! I once blue-smoked an amp with that. Fortunately, it was just the aux input board (most of it was covered with a large burn mark) and was easily replaced. However, the engineer who serviced it called me to ask what I'd done. He didn't think it was possible to blew an input on that amp. Luckily I described my setup starting with the speakers, and once I said "Quad Electrostatic", he didn't need to know any more. I could hear the tension in his voice disappear. Order in the universe had been restored! I never needed to mention the Digisound SVF and the mode switch.
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Post by diophantine » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:23 pm

Thanks for that info - I'm surprised & disappointed to hear that the VCF-L sounds disappointing compared to the SVF, since they both employ the same CEM chip.

Good to know the phaser filter is solid, though; the Digisound article doesn't seem very positive about it.

While I don't have a CEM3335, I've created (but not yet tested) an adapter board to use a CEM3330 instead.

Grayhill makes some 2P7T switches, and also some 2P12T switches where you can change the number of throws. (Look for 2 decks w/ 1 pole per deck.) They're not cheap... for the adjustable ones you're looking at around $50 for a 1/4" shaft and $20 for an 1/8" shaft (for which you could probably buy an adapter for a few bucks more). There's also some cheap Chinese ones you can find for around $6.

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Post by snufkin » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:50 am

diophantine wrote: Anyone have info on what font was used originally? I was thinking of just going with the FPD files on digidound80.co.uk, but might consider trying to make them look closer to the originals.

And finally, what sort of right-angle PCB standoffs were used on the originals? I've never seen any quite like them...
I think the correct font and sizes is specified in some of the articles via letraset sheet references I'll try and dig them out.

right-angle PCB standoffs are indeed a bit odd I have a few on modules here, I think they could be really easily produced DIY with minimal tooling and some steel or alu strip.

Interested to hear about your system :)
WTB: any Digisound80 / Digisound 80 faceplates/pcbs/kits.

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Post by cretaceousear » Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:26 am

Panel font is (mega boring) Helvetica. There's also a short discussion on the SVF in another thread here, if you can find it!
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Post by nerdware » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:31 am

diophantine wrote:Thanks for that info - I'm surprised & disappointed to hear that the VCF-L sounds disappointing compared to the SVF, since they both employ the same CEM chip.
Well, this may be just a personal preference of mine. Some people have commented critically on the sound of the VCF-L compared to the Pro-One filter, but I don't know how that comparison can be meaningful. I described it as "alright", but I'm disappointed that isn't better. My personal judgement of this filter was shaped early on - I got a SVF before the VCF-L - so maybe that's a part of it. The VCF-L didn't sound like the SVF's LP 24db/oct mode, which I really loved. When I got my second SVF, I found I could some stronger slopes by stacking them in series, often with different cuttoff/res/eg settings. Yes, 2+ filters and 3+ envelope generators FTW. So I quickly became bored with single-filter patches and the VCF-L didn't seem to me to fit so well with the SVF in many combos. They really didn't sound the same to me. I found I could get some super-nasty sounds when I got it right. E.g. passing cutoffs with high res and feedback while patching the second output back into the second input on one or more filters for extra feedback. As I said earlier, I now wish I also had the other filters.
Good to know the phaser filter is solid, though; the Digisound article doesn't seem very positive about it.
Really? Well, not everyone appreciates subtle phasers. Also, patch the output back into an input. I learned that trick from Roger Massey.
While I don't have a CEM3335, I've created (but not yet tested) an adapter board to use a CEM3330 instead.
Neat.
Grayhill makes some 2P7T switches, and also some 2P12T switches where you can change the number of throws. (Look for 2 decks w/ 1 pole per deck.) They're not cheap... for the adjustable ones you're looking at around $50 for a 1/4" shaft and $20 for an 1/8" shaft (for which you could probably buy an adapter for a few bucks more). There's also some cheap Chinese ones you can find for around $6.
That's good to know. Thanks. :tu:
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Post by StateVariable » Mon Aug 26, 2019 9:02 am

I have the 80-6A low-pass and the 80-7A SVF. My SVF is still out of action waiting for the switch to get cleaned up, but I remember the 4-pole LPF mode sounding the same as the 80-6A to my ears. I used to have them patched on two voices and they sounded comparable to me. I never liked the 2-pole modes on the SVF and never used anything but the the LP-4 setting, but my tastes have changed a bit since it was last powered 25-30 years ago so I'll have to try it again and see.

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Post by snufkin » Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:56 am

StateVariable wrote:I have the 80-6A low-pass and the 80-7A SVF. My SVF is still out of action waiting for the switch to get cleaned up, but I remember the 4-pole LPF mode sounding the same as the 80-6A to my ears. I used to have them patched on two voices and they sounded comparable to me. I never liked the 2-pole modes on the SVF and never used anything but the the LP-4 setting, but my tastes have changed a bit since it was last powered 25-30 years ago so I'll have to try it again and see.
What modules did you add whilst restoring StateVariable ?

Seems there are quite a few systems being resurrected here

would love to hear more about module selection :)
WTB: any Digisound80 / Digisound 80 faceplates/pcbs/kits.

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