Mystery Modular / WTF did I just buy?

Anything modular synth related that is not format specific.

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Biff
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Mystery Modular / WTF did I just buy?

Post by Biff » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:19 pm

I just got this from a guy wearing a tie-dyed Star Wars T-shirt at a flea market. He also sold me a Garfield MiniDoc for dirt cheap and seemed to know quite a few things.
Basically, what he said was it was build in 1976, there were 3 made and they were done my an engineer named Ramen (last name starts with an N), who fled the US to NZ. Obviously, I'm not good at retelling stories. :doh:
But has anyone ever seen one like this? Probably just a home-made, but does look like it has sonic potential once I get the PSU working again, which I'm deathly afraid at this point to work on. It did come with paper notes for every module explaining the knobs, ins/outs, etc, since obviously it leaves little to the imagination. Any help with ID would be greatly appreciated.

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This will match my Neptune quite well:
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Johnisfaster
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Post by Johnisfaster » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:25 pm

How much did you pay?

It looks like someones art project, just visually I mean it looks like it's not actually a modular but meant to look like a modular.

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Bricks
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Post by Bricks » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:28 pm

:woah:

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Post by ignatius » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:33 pm

i think Ramen is an alias for Peter. :razz:

so, it didn't some with a manual?

looks 100% diy. i'm curious how much it cost as well. regardless though.. you're brave.

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swiv
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Post by swiv » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:40 pm

you have to get it working! That sequencer looks intense.

All the misaligned jacks and knobs make me think it will sound very organic

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Biff
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Post by Biff » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:41 pm

Johnisfaster wrote:How much did you pay?

It looks like someones art project, just visually I mean it looks like it's not actually a modular but meant to look like a modular.
It was $700, risky investment, yes, but for the specs, assuming it can work it might be a really cool pay off. It does look like an odd art project, but definitely has the goods inside. The cool thing is it's about between 3 & 4 inches thick because all the circuit boards run parallel to the panels, which was more of a rarity during that era. Here are some of the the spec's based on the cards and observations:

12v PSU
Phaser VCF
4 VCO's "Rainbow Oscillators" (think that just refers to the variety of tone)
Preamp
Attenuators
4 VCA's
VCO Counter (dunno this one)
VCO Bank
Shift Register (Cannot remember what that one is either)
Manual Gate
Sample & Hold
2 (?) Envelop Generattors (Attack and release only)
Trigger
Mixer
Pulse-Width Module
Sequencer

and it came with a 40lb bag of wires that have a musky 1970's electronic smell crossed with bong smell (which was it's next door neighbor in the cabinet it was stored in). Definitely a hippy modular since all the panels have an ohm symbol on them.
Last edited by Biff on Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:46 pm

OMG! That is the most dense sequencer I've ever seen! :jawdrop:

How the hell do you turn a knob that has plugs in the jacks around it??? :lol:

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whitewulfe
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Post by whitewulfe » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:08 pm

JohnLRice wrote:OMG! That is the most dense sequencer I've ever seen! :jawdrop:

How the hell do you turn a knob that has plugs in the jacks around it??? :lol:

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Well, it came from a guy wearing a Star Wars shirt, so clearly the force is required to operate said sequencer :twisted:

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Post by emdot_ambient » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:14 pm

Definitely DIY. And when I saw that sequencer, my exact words were: "That's just nuts." 3x16 steps is sweet, but the jacks so close to the knobs? Insanely unusable.

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Post by emdot_ambient » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:15 pm

Oh....and I'd forget about rebuilding the PSU. Just buy a real one. Plenty available on ebay for cheap enough.

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Post by paults » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:27 pm

Take lots of good (not with your cell phone) photos of the pc boards. Look for the date codes on the ICs (4-digit number, like 7721). This will tell you the age (date codes are year/week). It might be a re-racked PAiA (single-sided pc boards, no solder mask or silkscreen).

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Biff
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Post by Biff » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:33 pm

Yeah I'm thinking of hitting up the electronic store for a new psu. I will also upload better photos this evening when I get home. The sequencer is a definite rainbow-colored cluster-fuck.

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Johnisfaster
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Post by Johnisfaster » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:36 pm

Just a guess, but maybe the inputs next to the knobs on the sequencer simply bypass the knob and inserts cv? That would make sense as to why you can't hardly get to the knob when there are cables inserted.

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Post by Cheradenine » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:37 pm

wow
I'm curious to see the back of that sequencer...must be really dense

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Post by daverj » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:49 pm

An aum (or Om) and an ohm symbol both etched on the boards. Very cool.

Don't know who made it but it's a great looking piece.

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Post by Limey » Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:48 pm

MadMax was rideing around in his interceptor asking people about an old ghettomodular the other day. With the shootgun and all i take it he was pretty pissed and wants it back badly
.[video][/video]
great find! cant wait to hear what that thing sounds like :banana:

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Post by laserpalace » Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:53 pm

:lol: I was just thinking how Mad Max this thing looks. Great find!

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Post by Soy Sos » Sat Apr 02, 2011 5:08 pm

Looks crazy as hell! I'll be interested in keeping updated
on what you find out about that thing. Do keep us posted!

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Biff
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Post by Biff » Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:20 pm

Lol, this thing definitely looks like a Mad-Max era modular. I was originally thinking like what one would look like if Fred Flintstone had one. The thing is obviously not too good looking, I was thinking of putting a new stain on the wood, it's ugly, but has potential. Also, I was thinking of relabeling it better, since I just got a label maker. There are tags on them that appeared to have numbers to match the notes that explain the ins/outs/pots, which need to be replaced. This is definitely going to be an ongoing project.

Anyway, I was testing the psu yesterday and the thing definitely seems dead, the guy I bought it from said it needed new DC batteries, I'm not too well educated on the psu front, but I might take it to and electronics store. Does anyone know a place to get a psu for 12v? I was thinking of getting an MW, but was hoping to find something cheaper.

Also I'll post better pictures once I find my digital camera charger!

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Post by vav » Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:53 pm

emdot_ambient wrote:Definitely DIY. And when I saw that sequencer, my exact words were: "That's just nuts." 3x16 steps is sweet, but the jacks so close to the knobs? Insanely unusable.
You're right, it DOES look like Euro format!
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Post by haima » Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:57 pm

I'd be careful to find out for sure what power supply the unit requires, and double check the polarity etc - if the power supply is reversed or too high voltage things might be damaged... :deadbanana:

I'm sure if you post higher res pictures of the circuit boards (both in the synth and the old power supply) and how power is supplied around the cabinet we should be able to figure out what you need.

If that PCB photo above is the power supply, it looks like it might be a bipolar supply (i.e. +12v & -12v rather than just 12v). But we'd need more photos to know for sure.

Take it slow - if in doubt, ask here or find someone who knows what they are doing!

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Post by visible cow » Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:24 pm

Actually it looks to me like a prop from a Michel Gondry movie. Cool!

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A Dingleberry Monstrosity
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Post by A Dingleberry Monstrosity » Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:36 pm

...that doesnt look at all like a fire hazard.

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Petur
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Post by Petur » Sun Apr 03, 2011 2:29 pm

Looks cool! Kinda like a gingerbread house! =)

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Post by sduck » Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:24 pm

I know that serge sold modules in kit form in the 70's - maybe this is some sort of spinoff of that? I seem to recall seeing that style of pcb somewhere else. Not Paia. Probably not home etched. The module complement suggest serge.

You're definitely in for a lot of work on this one if you want to restore it correctly. Each module should come out and be thoroughly cleaned up and checked for electrical integrity. Probably a lot of the capacitors need replacing. It kind of sounds like you don't know much about the psu, and therefore I'd advise taking it to someone who does and getting a definitive suggestion on a replacement; instead of just going to an electronics store. They won't know either. I wouldn't be plugging any of those modules into a new psu until you know exactly what they're expecting to see. And after getting the psu sorted out, you'll want to go over each module individually and plug it into the new psu by itself and watch for magic smoke.
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