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What makes the ultimate ribbon controller?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author What makes the ultimate ribbon controller?
zerosum
A friend of mine is working on a kickass ribbon controller.
Help him out and let him know what you would like to see in the most ideal ribbon controller.
wetterberg
first of all, have him read this entire thread:
http://electro-music.com/forum/post-219586.html
(hint, it'll take a couple of hours, but ends in videos and such)


Basically, Scott Stites of Electro-music and Klee Sequencer design fame has designed the most awesome ribbon controller circuit in the world, and it's currently being prorotyped. The PCB and kits should be in DIY domain some time next year.
Reese P. Dubin
Yeh I think there will be little room for improvement or advancement on the appendage. Scott is in a league of his own as far as designing circuits goes, as well as being an allaround swell guy.

But lets see what your friend can do as well, never too many great things in this world.
Moog$FooL$
does anyone have any opinion/experience with that diy ribbon controller project on the PAIA site???
elemental
Some v cool videos in that thread.
LorinP
I am Brian's friend refining the ribbon controller.

I've looked over Scott's efforts & triumphs, which I must say are impressive (and which I was unaware of) -- so thank you for that referral.

My ribbon is intended to be simple (hopefully in the elegant way) and affordable. I don't think I could, or would compete with Scott for features. It is strange, though, that Scott, Doepfer and myself have been working with ribbons and we all settled on the specrasymbol soft-pot. It works really well.

Anyway - my approach is to have the features you need and the most musical and intuitive ways to play it:

Electrically speaking:

- 0-10V CV
- Gate (reg and inverted)
- Trigger (reg and inverted)
- Range knob on the ribbon (from 1V to 10V per 50cm)
- Regular mode (returns to zero when you let go)
- Memory Mode or Hold Mode (stays where you last touched it when you let go)
- An expression pedal input on the ribbon (so you can plug in a standard pedal and have a trautonium, etc... gives another CV without another cable to your synth)

The other huge factor was ergonomics, comfort, etc. I've settled on thick wood and soft saddle leather for the ribbon. I like the rustic look, yes, but leather also gives great durability and feel.

It would be a +-12 or +-15 module with a bunch of jacks & the ribbon & pedal connected by one multi-conductor cable. The range (scale) knob and mode switches are all on the ribbon assembly, not the synth panel.

It works well now, I'm just revising the circuit board & testing testing testing. I'll try and take pics and videos as soon as I have it together in a somewhat nice looking format.

However, is there anything you would or wouldn't want as players?

Regards,

Lorin

P.S. I did get the Paia dual touch to work -- it does work. However, it's not as intuitive as I'd like. I prefer a single touch for maximum expression when controlling pitch (which is where you need the least tweakiness). The Paia idea would be well suited to many control applications, though, and some refining.
Dragonslair
Welcome Lorin.
I would leave it as is, it has all the basic functions you need on a ribbon controller, if someone wants more, they can always build one of Scott's appendages.
I picked up a dozen of the 500mm softpots about a year ago, with the intention of designing my own ribbon controller, but I have to many other projects in the que, so I just haven't had time yet, I did manage to get the midi version done, but not the CV version.
Are you going to sell the PCB's or just complete units? if your selling PCB's, I may not bother designing my own.
LorinP
I'll be unrolling complete modules, most likely followed by PCBs. Even if I don't offer the PCBs right away on the website I am happy to offer PCBs per request.

There will be more to come on the website, when I get a moment to document.

http://www.electricwestern.com/

Lorin
LorinP
I must add that board layout for this one is really a pain in the ass. The combo of large pulses for gate, trigger, CMOS logic and sample and hold with delicate op amps and all the traces making little antennas is making it rough. However it all works.

At the moment, though, it is on three separate PCBs (CMOS, transistors and analog). I'll get the ground / power planes situated, smooth out the interference and put it on one main board soon. I may choose to use some SMD components to reduce some of the parasitic inductance, etc. I'd prefer to have a more DIY friendly through hole board, though.

Trying to have cake and eat it and do everything else at once,

Lorin
A Dingleberry Monstrosity
Ive been lusting after a doepfer R2M

I have the doepfer A198? ribbon controller but I want to upgrade like a bitch.
JohnLRice
You guys have seen the Walking Stick ribbon with the pressure sensitive option, right? $249

Moog$FooL$
applause
is it just me or is $249 just super cheap for that???
JohnLRice
Moog$FooL$ wrote:
applause
is it just me or is $249 just super cheap for that???


I think so! w00t The 20" one without the pressure sensitivity is only $179 but, I think having that pressure sens makes it much more usefull.
chromium
JohnLRice wrote:
Moog$FooL$ wrote:
applause
is it just me or is $249 just super cheap for that???


I think so! w00t The 20" one without the pressure sensitivity is only $179 but, I think having that pressure sens makes it much more usefull.


The pressurized version is a blast, and its also SoftPot-based - so it sounds like it could potentially work with that interface that Lorin is building too. I just started down the path of building a modular w00t, so I should have more options available to demo it with in the near future.

BTW Just saw the clip on Electric Western - that controller looks and sounds sweet!
Moog$FooL$
chromium wrote:
JohnLRice wrote:
Moog$FooL$ wrote:
applause
is it just me or is $249 just super cheap for that???


I think so! w00t The 20" one without the pressure sensitivity is only $179 but, I think having that pressure sens makes it much more usefull.


The pressurized version is a blast, and its also SoftPot-based - so it sounds like it could potentially work with that interface that Lorin is building too. I just started down the path of building a modular w00t, so I should have more options available to demo it with in the near future.

BTW Just saw the clip on Electric Western - that controller looks and sounds sweet!


oh!
chromium, are you the builder/ribboncontroller.com guy of these?

if so, is it possible to get these in kit form??
rezzn8r
nice. i have a regular 20" from Joe - great for pitch transposition. this pressure sensitive one looks sweet. might be lookin' for one of those soon...
chromium
Moog$FooL$ wrote:
oh!
chromium, are you the builder/ribboncontroller.com guy of these?

if so, is it possible to get these in kit form??


You know- I hadn’t really thought about producing kits before. I just set out to offer an ultra-simplistic ready-made solution for the folks that didn't need the added features and expense of a Doepfer or ExpressionMate. The problem is that if I did do kits, I’d want to be able to give people exceptional support in the DIY build process, and right now I don't feel like I'm in a good position to do that. The work/family/school/bands/ribbon-controller balance is delicate, and proper equilibrium must be achieved Coffee Addiction FTW
Moog$FooL$
chromium wrote:
Moog$FooL$ wrote:
oh!
chromium, are you the builder/ribboncontroller.com guy of these?

if so, is it possible to get these in kit form??


You know- I hadn’t really thought about producing kits before. I just set out to offer an ultra-simplistic ready-made solution for the folks that didn't need the added features and expense of a Doepfer or ExpressionMate. The problem is that if I did do kits, I’d want to be able to give people exceptional support in the DIY build process, and right now I don't feel like I'm in a good position to do that. The work/family/school/bands/ribbon-controller balance is delicate, and proper equilibrium must be achieved Coffee Addiction FTW


i hear u loud & clear!!
your product is still super cheap anyways, i just thought it might be fun to make one.
LorinP
The issues have been solved, and the new circuit board now works:

CV Potentiometer mode
CV Track and hold mode (the hard part)
Gate (both neg and positive)
Trigger
Integrated Expression Pedal

Just need to pretty up the place and make a video.

As far as costs and such, go -- these are not the easiest instruments to make / design and a lot of the cost for small guys like me and walking stick (I'm assuming) is making every single thing from the wood to the metal to the circuit (usually using a board house for the PCB). Then you have to consider power supply and extra features (wood working, etc). I'd say between $100 and $200 is a deal.

If you just want a ribbon potentiometer, though, the 20" (500mm) softpots are $25-$30. In my first experiments I just used a 9v battery and a cable and it works quite well. It's the final 10% that's a real pain. Just be sure not to melt the softpot - heatsink the pins or use solderpaste.

I'll try and make a demo tomorrow. I'll aim for getting the ribbon out by mid March.

Lorin
zerosum
Quote:
The issues have been solved, and the new circuit board now works:

CV Potentiometer mode
CV Track and hold mode (the hard part)
Gate (both neg and positive)
Trigger
Integrated Expression Pedal


Great News! 8) applause

Quote:
I'd say between $100 and $200 is a deal.

I agree! 8)
rezzn8r
Quote:
CV Potentiometer mode
CV Track and hold mode (the hard part)
Gate (both neg and positive)
Trigger
Integrated Expression Pedal


i'd hit that
LorinP
So,

I've done a lot of testing, messing around and so forth with the ribbon controller. And, I've decided to ditch the track and hold.

The reason is simple -- although it works, it does not PERFORM. For instance, a fluorescent light has enough ESD to change the output voltage! Also, when using it to control pitch, it is not as musical as or as fast and responsive as it is without the track and hold...
I did ground planes to block ESD, used every known capacitor and still, it's just not as sensitive or reliable. I don't want to have to play it in a Faraday cage...

So, I strengthened the Gates and Triggers so they're super cool. Tweaked the range adjustment and have the expression pedal working real well.

I figure that I would be happier using it with gates and triggers and employing a dedicated sample and hold module to freeze the CV should I need it.

I also lost track of my inspiration for this one, which is the Trautonium. So I turned off the sampling ccircuits, plugged into my tube synths, and --- wailing away, I feel like I'm communing with Oskar Sala's Ghost. So, I'm going to leave well enough alone.

Let me know if the loss of track and hold upsets you too much.

I'm going to get a video going now to share the point...

Lorin
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