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Easel Mega Meta Break-Out-Box (Program card mounted) - Video
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next [all]
Author Easel Mega Meta Break-Out-Box (Program card mounted) - Video
Here is my version of the Easel Break-Out-Box, this time the box is mounted on the card itself! It’s really a Mega Meta B.O.B. w00t
This mounting is really convenient as everything is right there without reaching for another box.
I went to town on the options because my testing with the card showed that there were a LOT of extra modulation and switching possibilities available, which I really liked.
I should acknowledge that I studied the excellent Break-out-box and card posts by Papz, Rasko, gddfp and others, as well as Todd’s and Adam’s always excellent tips and videos – Thanks to those guys for inspiring me to do my version.

Here is a full list of the features:

Pulse outs for each Sequencer Stage (with LED) – Banana’s on top and 3.5mm Jacks (mounted on the back)
Seq 2-3-4 switch to gain access to 2 step mode
Seq No. of steps CV control in (with Attenuator)
Seq random No. of steps switch (controllable with the Attenuator)
Seq Advance One step button (useful for tuning the steps CV out and having 5 preset voltage sources). Hold down for ‘glitch’ addressing.

Pulse trigger in’s (via banana and 3.5mm jacks) to:
Envelope Generator,
Random CV generator rate
(All Extremely useful for syncing with external gear)

Attack CV in (with Attenuator) plus Switch to use card random CV source directly
Sustain CV in (with Attenuator) plus Switch to use card random CV source directly
Decay CV in (with Attenuator) plus Switch to use card random CV source directly

Mod Oscillator:
CV in to Wave shape
Switch for Random wave shape
Switch for Random Modulation Mode (FM, AM, none)
Switch for Random Hi/Lo mode – fantastic for creating rubbery random wobbles on baselines

Complex Oscillator:
CV in to Wave shape
Switch for Random Wave shape
CV in to Wave morph (Sine to selected wave shape)
Switch for Random Wave morph

Switch to Randomise LPG 1 Mode (VCA, Combo, LPG)
Switch to Randomise LPG 2 Mode (VCA, Combo, LPG)
(These patches I have not seen elsewhere but are awesome to use on Sequencer patterns to really add life to them)

MIDI clock-in with CV controllable clock divisions - COMING SOON!

And finally, for good measure -and just because I had a bit of space left, I also added a Light Dependent Resister (with Attenuator) for some fun light effected Theremin style action. It works best in lower light but great with an iPhone light waving above it. This is connected to the ‘To Card’ and ‘From Card’ bananas on the 208 front panel (via the card).

Actually because you have ground and power on the card then you can mount anything you want in there (space allowing of course). I thought about adding a simple LFO for additional modulation duties or maybe a filter. You could even use a eurorack module in there if you really wanted to. Later I’ll be mounting one of Tony’s ‘CV Elements’ Tiles inside for convenient Eurorack translation.

The box is from Jaycar electronics (in Aus) and is perfect because the size and screw alignment meant I could screw through the edges of the Easel card itself to hold it tightly in place. I had to cut about 2mm off the end of card to make it fit though!
Jono had the very sensible suggestion of adding rubber feet on the rear to also help secure it vertically. It is a nice tight fit in the slot and the box edges rest on the connector strip so it is quite solid for plugging bananas in and out and using the switches.

This little Beauty adds a LOT of extra functionality to the Easel and really is fun and immediate to play with – especially the switching. All random settings (via the switches) can be used simultaneously and utilise the 2 separate random sources available on the card.
I’m a major fan of using the random CV’s and these mods almost make it feel like you have a 266 Source of Uncertainly built into the BOB. Adding the pulse-in to the random generator allows you to control that randomness (rate of change) from an external source too - or say off any multiple of the Seq stage pulses by patching those in.

With the convenience to switch the random controls in and out it can add a lot of expression to a performance, makes things less ‘mechanical’ and I reckon is kind of in keeping with the Easels philosophy of easy hands on control.

Here is a demo video:

EDIT: Added build notes and pics in the DIY Forum here:

Awesome work! It's peanut butter jelly time! It's peanut butter jelly time!
Such a great concept of the easel, and people building cool stuff for it are really champions! I do hope there will be a chance for non-builders to have something similar one day. Meanwhile let me just applaud you ;-) applause
Holy F*ck! That is awesome we're not worthy
Please make these for sale
Awesome work !!!!

Congratulations, question is, was it to difficult ? are you an advanced diyer ?

again great work ! Rockin' Banana! Dead Banana nanners It's peanut butter jelly time! we're not worthy
Holy shit , awesome , I want the same ! eek! applause
applause applause applause applause applause nanners nanners nanners
good work and nice demonstration.
Hack of the year award!
Concepts for creative interface with the Easel are for me, a huge part of the draw to this instrument.

That is wild! Great work @Cobramatic. This is fun! This is fun! This is fun! SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger!
we're not worthy
Beautiful, inspiring work! applause we're not worthy SlayerBadger!
Cheers, Thanks for the Love everyone! Guinness ftw!
This project kind of grew a life of its own once I started testing options on the card itself. I probably read the Allen Strange manual about 20 times before the penny started to drop. I didn't touch an Easel card until about a month ago.
Then I watched all the great tips and videos here and I thought - that's awesome - I can do that!
My DIY experience is limited so I reckon anybody with a soldering iron and some basic knowledge can do this.

I'll post some built tips and pics by tomorrow.
amnesia wrote:
Please make these for sale

Yes Paul please do!!!

Ross, I saw Paul's (AKA Cobramatic) Easel break out box on the weekend
and it's great. he inspired me to put together some easel patch cards of my own.

These are very easy to do. I'm using a 208r so the card is slightly different to Paul's box which uses a BEMI's card.

The second attempt uses standard headers rather than IC sockets to build the upper breadboard.

The patch cables have embedded resistors (like the EMS Synthi) and if you wish to expand the existing breadboard you can by plugging in a second one. I'm really bowled over with how wonderful the patch card idea is. Don really is a genius for thinking of this back in the 1970s.

Thanks to Todd, Adam, and everyone else who has contributed to this forum. So many great ideas feeding off one another.
Wow- adds a ton of new functionality. Much more than the new BEMI expander,,,,,, w00t
T of J
amnesia wrote:
Please make these for sale

Yes that. Great work! Having all the card options available at a touch! Wow!
Very impressive. Congratulations. applause Guinness ftw!
I'd like to have build instructions please because I will use 208r cards.
I have never soldered in my life and will not have the time to get into it in the future... so if anybody is going to build some of these and sell them, I'm going to buy one.
I think this will be useful for anybody who wants to experiment with the card or make a similar Break-Out-Box. Its my planning diagram for the Mega Meta B.O.B.
Please note - these are only my suggestions based on the tests I made but please do your own tests and substitute connections and resistor values to suit yourself. Read The Allen Strange Easel manual - the chapter on Meta-Programming has all the answers.

Go ahead and add CV's and switches for other things that might float your boat- For example a nice one is to use the EG CV out on the card to be switched to the Osc Waveshape Morph CV in on the card. (I might just add that switch myself!). This is always available once you place a CV banana-in on that point but switches can be a cool performance option for some.
I can see a B.O.B. which is just a full matrix of switches offering all the best instant connections.

I'll start a thread in the DIY Forum about the build for those that are interested.
I'll come back and reference the thread once I get it going.

that is super cool Rockin' Banana! Rockin' Banana!
didn't know that all this is possible.
great great work! It's peanut butter jelly time!
olesandström wrote:
I have never soldered in my life and will not have the time to get into it in the future... so if anybody is going to build some of these and sell them, I'm going to buy one.

really great. Thank you very much for making and sharing this!!! this is an uplifting post to start the week! wink
As most of you know, I've designed my twin-Easel breakout expander almost two years ago... Besides the usual CV/Trigger suspects, it also featured dual comparators and vc-panners.
Interfacing happens via custom-designed Program Cards and flat cables over IDC connectors.

This system now has seen a serious amount of studio use, as well as some live performance abuses... This then quickly exposed its merits and its flaws. Which got me thinking about developing a new version (for one Easel only), and making that available to the public. More specifically to those Easel owners whom are not so much into DIY, and just want to expand the possibilities of their instrument.

So, earlier this year (actually almost a year ago), I've designed a new Program Card Interface (using the same-but-bigger IDC/Flat cable interface), which connects directly to an X-Pander Interface PCB on which all necessary components are pre-soldered. This allows the user to simply hook up any jack/pot/switch configuration in a very safe & reliable way, without having to worry about resistor codes et all.... All possible Program Card connections are brought out (over 50 pins), so any-or-all CV/Trig/Switch IO's are possible, depending on how much you want to expand the Easel.
It also adds a Sequencer All-steps Pulse out module (regardless of the selection switches), though I'm not sure yet if I'm going to keep this in.

In addition I have also developed an X-Pander PCB, which plugs into the X-Pander Interface. This is optional, but it does really expand the Easel's possibilities, by offering a full-blown VC-LFO, a high-end VC-Panning module, a VC-Slew module and two Comparator modules.

This project has been finished since many months, but I halted it due to unforseen circumstances. Also, it's a relatively expensive project to prototype, and I wasn't sure yet on how to offer it: either as strictly DIY, or as a semi-DIY project where the user only has to hook up jacks & pots & switches (which is really easy), or possibly also as a fully-finished expander box.

If enough Easel owners would be interested in this professional expander box thingy, I might take it out of its hybernation, and start offering it [in various configurations]... Please let me know.

cheers <and sorry to hijack this thread for a bit>,
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