Searching a simple VCA DIY project

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Hales
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Searching a simple VCA DIY project

Post by Hales » Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:52 am

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!
Last edited by Hales on Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

Wartimetapestry
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Post by Wartimetapestry » Wed Nov 27, 2019 8:08 am

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
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Post by Darfiss » Wed Nov 27, 2019 8:17 am

I tried this one:

https://www.lookmumnocomputer.com/proje ... fety-valve

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

StrangeCaptain
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Post by StrangeCaptain » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:14 am

Check out https://aisynthesis.com/

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

I built the Filter and the Matrix Mixer.

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Post by jorg » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:19 am

Darfiss wrote:I tried this one:

https://www.lookmumnocomputer.com/proje ... fety-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
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Post by Hales » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:20 am

looks like ai synthesis doesn't have VCA's

adam
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Post by adam » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:04 am

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
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Post by Hales » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:21 am

amazingsynth looks nice! Veils will be too much difficult?

Hales
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Post by Hales » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:23 am

Is there any building instructions available?

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SyndieBot2000XL
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Post by SyndieBot2000XL » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:25 am

The Barton quad mixer/vca maybe?

http://www.bartonmusicalcircuits.com/vc ... ion3.1.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.
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Post by adam » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:28 am

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. :)
Last edited by adam on Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:30 am, edited 2 times in total.

StrangeCaptain
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Post by StrangeCaptain » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:28 am

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
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Post by StrangeCaptain » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:30 am

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
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Post by Hales » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:45 am

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
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Post by adam » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:57 am

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

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SyndieBot2000XL
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Post by SyndieBot2000XL » Wed Nov 27, 2019 12:03 pm

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.
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Post by adam » Wed Nov 27, 2019 12:09 pm

flashing the firmware is easier than you think - generally I recommend using ST's software for windows and a pre-built binary.

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plushterry
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Post by plushterry » Wed Nov 27, 2019 1:29 pm

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.

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Post by steviet » Wed Nov 27, 2019 2:31 pm

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.
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.
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!
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Post by artieTwelve » Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:17 pm

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
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Post by artieTwelve » Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:20 pm

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/5 ... y-kit.html

Orgia Mode
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Post by Orgia Mode » Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:24 pm

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
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Post by Hales » Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:44 am

Tweezers looks expensive! Anyone have any reference or recomendations?

adam
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Post by adam » Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:36 am

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
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Post by Hales » Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:26 am

Thanks for the links adam! I will look at that!

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