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Searching a simple VCA DIY project
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next [all]
Author Searching a simple VCA DIY project
Hales
Hi there,

I'm looking for a VCA DIY project. I'm beginner solderer and never solder SMD, I'm not again to try SMD parts but not for too dense projects for the first time. I would like to order PCB+panel set with BOM. I was looking to Antumbra DVCA but I don't know if it's too complex for me with all these SMD parts…
So if you have some example of projects that look easy for a beginner. Thanks!
Wartimetapestry
Hey,

I had good luck with the Dual VCA from Zlob. It's a pretty tight build but the documentation is good. It was my third project and it was easy enough at that level -
https://zlobmodular.com/product/dual-vca/


This also looks pretty good -
https://www.skullandcircuits.com/vca-1/
Darfiss
I tried this one:

https://www.lookmumnocomputer.com/projects/#/the-safety-valve

but i couldnt get it working.
Could be that my tube is blown, maybe it will work for you?
StrangeCaptain
Check out https://aisynthesis.com/

fantastic service and Support (he's on here actually).

I built the Filter and the Matrix Mixer.
jorg
Darfiss wrote:
I tried this one:

https://www.lookmumnocomputer.com/projects/#/the-safety-valve

but i couldnt get it working.
Could be that my tube is blown, maybe it will work for you?


I would never recommend a vacuum tube project for a beginner. The high voltages and currents make it difficult and risky to work on if you don't know what you're doing.
Hales
looks like ai synthesis doesn't have VCA's
adam
ripples has a vca, and a 4 pole vcf thrown in for good measure, this is also an smd project but the parts are more generously spaced than a smaller board, and the IC's are SOIC which is fairly friendly for an smd beginner:

https://www.amazingsynth.com/ripples-pcb
Hales
amazingsynth looks nice! Veils will be too much difficult?
Hales
Is there any building instructions available?
SyndieBot2000XL
The Barton quad mixer/vca maybe?

http://www.bartonmusicalcircuits.com/vcamix/documentation3.1.pdf

Pretty straightforward in terms of build and functionality.

You can order direct from him - he sells very inexpensive unfinished aluminum panels - these can be a tad janky in terms of fit and finish so caveat emptor. I know Synthcube sells finished aluminum panels for this project - Modular Addict may or may not have low cost black pcb panels for this one...

I’m not sure what cost shipping/tax/customs would add for you, but Barton pcbs are one of the best value propositions in music hardware that I know of.
adam
Hales wrote:
amazingsynth looks nice! Veils will be too much difficult?


You could build veils with a stencil and solder paste easily, then you reflow with a hot air gun or a hotplate, some relative beginners have built the most difficult 0402 modules like this, much easier than soldering by hand.

build guide is here:

https://www.amazingsynth.com/pcb-info/

If you have a hackspace nearby they are good places to use reflow equipment if you don't have your own. smile
StrangeCaptain
Hales wrote:
looks like ai synthesis doesn't have VCA's


oops, no they don't yet.
sorry about that.

They just released a VCO that I'm buying right now...
StrangeCaptain
Hales wrote:
amazingsynth looks nice! Veils will be too much difficult?


that's surface mount.
I started with many through hole before moving to a surface nount, the surface mount I did still does not work.
all my through hole stuff works.

google Surface Mount vs Through hole
Hales
I know the difference between SMD and through hole. According to you SMD is too difficult? Well I don't want SMD if it's too risky and especially if it requires me to invest in hardware like hot air gun, etc. I already have a good soldering iron…
adam
you can build some stuff with an iron, down to 0603 size passives if you use a desktop magnifier and a loupe to inspect your soldering - like I say, if you join a hackspace you can use their soldering gear.

the key with these builds is to start with an easier one and work your way up towards the others, I've guided hundreds of people through the process of building these modules
SyndieBot2000XL
Hales wrote:
Well I don't want SMD if it's too risky and especially if it requires me to invest in hardware like hot air gun, etc. I already have a good soldering iron…


Hand soldering SMD, even 402 parts (which are almost unbelievably small) is entirely doable but you need some special tools - esd-safe tweezers, a decent pcb vise, very fine solder, liquid flux, and a halfway decent magnifying solution.

I wouldn’t want to try it without any one of these things. Other people may be comfortable halfassing their tool setup, but my opinion is that it is not a worthwhile place to cut corners. The cost in frustration and shitty results isn’t worth the comparative pittance you save money-wise.

At least with Veils you don’t have to do any firmware flashing, which is the thing I find seriously intimidating about building Mutable-type modules.
adam
flashing the firmware is easier than you think - generally I recommend using ST's software for windows and a pre-built binary.
plushterry
Don't be scared of SMD. The only people who will try and talk you out of it are generally people who haven't tried it or old boys who's eyes are going. It's both quicker and easier than through hole IMHO. You definitely need some decent tweezers and a flux pen though. Also magnification if your near field vision isn't great.

If you're a bit nervous,there are sets on eBay to practice with for just a few quid.
steviet
plushterry wrote:
Don't be scared of SMD. The only people who will try and talk you out of it are generally people who haven't tried it or old boys who's eyes are going.


For sure, SMD is much easier once you've done it a few times, just like through hole.

Quote:
It's both quicker and easier than through hole IMHO. You definitely need some decent tweezers and a flux pen though.


I agree, I tend to have more trouble with through hole jobs than SMD. Although I did start with through-hole.

Quote:
If you're a bit nervous,there are sets on eBay to practice with for just a few quid.


This^^^^. I bought about 5 SMD practice PCBS and did those over and over until I felt comfortable. My first SMD project was this NoBot double buff. Easy to get together and worked first time around. Still using it to this day!
artieTwelve
The Befaco Even VCO was one of my first kits. The surface mount parts are pre-soldered and they even provide a "happy ending" service for troubleshooting/fixing mistakes. This was one of the first modules I built.

https://shop.befaco.org/eurorack-kits/70-even-vco.html
artieTwelve
artieTwelve wrote:
The Befaco Even VCO was one of my first kits. The surface mount parts are pre-soldered and they even provide a "happy ending" service for troubleshooting/fixing mistakes. This was one of the first modules I built.

https://shop.befaco.org/eurorack-kits/70-even-vco.html


Sorry, my mistake, I thought you were looking for a VCO. There is another kit for a VCA.

https://shop.befaco.org/eurorack-kits/531-hex-mix-vca-diy-kit.html
Orgia Mode
StrangeCaptain wrote:
Hales wrote:
amazingsynth looks nice! Veils will be too much difficult?


that's surface mount.
I started with many through hole before moving to a surface nount, the surface mount I did still does not work.
all my through hole stuff works.

google Surface Mount vs Through hole


Make a new thread with some close up photos and we'll help you troubleshoot your SMD board.
SO-8 and up can be really easy with a fine tip soldering iron and a little bit of solder wick braid. IN fact, I prefer it since I go through so much solder doing THT soldering.
Hales
Tweezers looks expensive! Anyone have any reference or recomendations?
adam
sparkfun make some cheap tweezers - honestly, if you don't want to buy new equipment, join a hackspace

https://hackstub.netlib.re/landpage/

https://wiki.hackerspaces.org/France
Hales
Thanks for the links adam! I will look at that!
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