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Steiner Microcon Project
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8  Next [all]
Author Steiner Microcon Project

dingebre

Hi Everyone.

To compliment the Steiner Synthasystem resurrection I completed (see here http://www.xmission.com/~dingebre/Synthasystem.html), I'm now undertaking the Steiner Microcon. I'll put up a page with build/calibration notes and will have PCBs for sale. Be aware, it does use two Vactrols which are becoming extinct. They are the VTL5C3/2 variety right now available at Allied Electronics. It also makes use of 5 74C14 Hex Inverters. There are some substitutes which I'll have in the build notes. It also uses a 2n5246 JFET which also recently went away, but it isn't really special and there are substitutes. Everything else should be relatively easy to find.

There are a couple of trimmers on the PCB which will be configured so you can make it a panel pot, like resonance, and sustain level. So, stay tuned.

The Microcon was a standalone synthesizer voice, VCO, LFO, VCF, EG (driving a VCA). It also had a unique way to "fatten" the VCO sound. Below is a photo taken of one Nyle mounted in a custom rack of 8 (or was it 9) Microcons as a special order.



Carry on...


negativspace

That looks like a really interesting little unit, David. Based on the caliber of your Synthasystem work, I'm sure it will sound spectacular as well.

Please let me know if you need any beta-testers. Mr. Green


Reese P. Dubin

Any plans to tackle the EVI?

I play with a friend who has undertaken mastering it. I have to say it is one of the most expressive electronic instruments I have ever heard. Obviously it take some extra skills tho.

I keep meaning to poke around his to see what makes it tick, but have not had the chance. I think the voice is is mostly the same as the microcon, but the controller is the magic part. I think there is a lot to be explored there.


dingebre

Reese P. Dubin wrote:
Any plans to tackle the EVI?

I play with a friend who has undertaken mastering it. I have to say it is one of the most expressive electronic instruments I have ever heard. Obviously it take some extra skills tho.

I keep meaning to poke around his to see what makes it tick, but have not had the chance. I think the voice is is mostly the same as the microcon, but the controller is the magic part. I think there is a lot to be explored there.


No. The EVI is still Nyle's baby. He's working on a new PCB layout already.

David


dingebre

negativspace wrote:
That looks like a really interesting little unit, David. Based on the caliber of your Synthasystem work, I'm sure it will sound spectacular as well.

Please let me know if you need any beta-testers. Mr. Green


Thanks! I will let you know.

David


gwaidan

Ummm...the VTL5C3/2 is still in production at Excelitas? http://www.excelitas.com/ProductPages/Analog_Optoisolators_and_Optocou plers.aspx

Great looking project by the way!


dingebre

gwaidan wrote:
Ummm...the VTL5C3/2 is still in production at Excelitas? http://www.excelitas.com/ProductPages/Analog_Optoisolators_and_Optocou plers.aspx

Great looking project by the way!


Thanks.

Right, the "extinct" was a little dramatic. but I have heard that because of RoHS requirements, Vactrols won't be around in the long term. Have you heard that, too?

David


Isaiah

David, this is fantastic!

I'm still busy working on my Synthasystem, which will hopefully end up being 6U. But this is too tempting to pass up!
I'll hopefully be ordering some VCO A PCBs later in the year, by the way.


I remember in the many, very informative and helpful (on your part! hihi ) emails we've pinged back and forth, you mentioned the Microcon in passing, but sounded as if you weren't so sure about resurrecting it. I'm very glad you decided to, and I know many other people will be too! Thank you!
A Microcon module would be a nice addition to any Eurorack.
Perfect simple voice for use with a sequencer, or maybe even several for a simple polysynth!

Any idea how wide the Microcon panel will be in Eurorack HP?


For anyone who hasn't yet seen David's Synthasystem or dealt with him (and I hope the Microcon will direct and encourage people to do both),
let me say - he is a very helpful, knowledgeable, pleasant (and patient!) guy. His work putting together all the build guides, BOMs, PCBs is top notch, as is the support he gives.

Also, I know I'm on the other side of the pond, but if you want another Beta tester, please let me know! Rockin' Banana!

Cheers,
Alex


Isaiah

I just noticed on your blog the Duo-Phonic keyboard is entering the prototype phase! Guinness ftw!


dingebre

Isaiah wrote:
I just noticed on your blog the Duo-Phonic keyboard is entering the prototype phase! Guinness ftw!


Thanks for the very kind words Alex. It's easy to be patient and helpful when you love the things you do.

Yes. i have the Duo-phonic prototype boards. I've purchased a Fatar keybed, some micro reed switches, and some magnets. I think I can remove the Fatar switches and put the reed switches on a PCB in their place, glue the magnets to the keys, and hopefully have a buss keybed ready for the Steiner electronics. maybe in a couple of weeks.


boothnavy

Hawt.


mono-poly

Awesome, i still regret selling mime.


Rod Serling Fan Club

Great, more backlog for me. David is a great guy, buy his stuff!


Isaiah

Do you have an idea when the PCBs will be available or how much they will cost please, David?

How wide will the Eurorack panel be?

Will the construction be the same as the 14HP and 28HP Synthasystem modules, or more like the Sequencer (PCB-mounted pots)?

Cheers!


dingebre

Isaiah wrote:
Do you have an idea when the PCBs will be available or how much they will cost please, David?

How wide will the Eurorack panel be?

Will the construction be the same as the 14HP and 28HP Synthasystem modules, or more like the Sequencer (PCB-mounted pots)?

Cheers!


Thanks again everyone.

RE: Size - I don't know yet since I haven't started to layout the PCB. But, I'm going to do my best to keep it Euro rack size. One of the dilemmas is when Nyle built his PCBs, he opted to make some controls trimmers, like the Resonance. I'm going to build the PCB so those can be either a panel pot, or a trimmer. If you use all panel pots, it will make the module wider. For my part, I think I'll lay out two panels. One will be true to the original with a panel trimmer for the v/oct (although I need to talk to Nyle about how he is doing it. He and I may need to change it a bit), and the other will convert all the relevant trimmers to panel pots in addition to those already available. This will be the "double wide" version smile

Both will be a euro rack size in a multiple of 7HP so if fits with my other panels. I'm going to try to make the PCB fit behind a 14HP panel, but I'll have to see.

RE: Cost - Cost will follow the other pricing on the web site. Probably about $30.00 to $40.00. It depends on exactly how big it ends up.

RE: Timing - The way life is right now, and the other two projects I have, I hope by the end of the year I'll have PCBs ready to offer. At least prototypes built and tested.

David


limpmeat

Are the extinct Technosaurus Microcon at all related to the Steiner?

Looks like similar voice structure.

I used to have a Technosaurus, it's one of my fave synths. I scour ebay for one regularly. I really regret selling it.


dingebre

limpmeat wrote:
Are the extinct Technosaurus Microcon at all related to the Steiner?

Looks like similar voice structure.

I used to have a Technosaurus, it's one of my fave synths. I scour ebay for one regularly. I really regret selling it.


I don't think so. I've never heard that Nyle licensed the design to them.

David


Isaiah

14HP would be ace if at all possible.
Maybe 21HP for the expanded module, or 28HP if there are many more features that could be implemented.

What are the expanded features likely to be?
Variable Resonance, Sustain Level...?

Are any of the components PCB mounted, or are the PCBs parallel-mounted with stand-offs?
Can slide or toggle switches be used?

I wonder if, say, 4 of these would make a decent polysynth a la Oberheim Four Voice.


dingebre

Isaiah wrote:
14HP would be ace if at all possible.
Maybe 21HP for the expanded module, or 28HP if there are many more features that could be implemented.

What are the expanded features likely to be?
Variable Resonance, Sustain Level...?

Are any of the components PCB mounted, or are the PCBs parallel-mounted with stand-offs?
Can slide or toggle switches be used?

I wonder if, say, 4 of these would make a decent polysynth a la Oberheim Four Voice.


Looking at the schematic and PCB, there 5 trimmers:
VC In - the "scale" or V/Oct trimmer. It's visible on the front panel
HF Correction/track
Square wave adjust
Resonance
Sustain Level

I think the Square Wave adjust, Resonance, and Sustain Level could/should be a pot. I like having the V/Oct and maybe the HF Track available on the front panel as a trim pot.

It will also be possible for all of these controls to be trimmers on the PCB.

I don't think I'll use PCB mounted pots/switches since that really limits the form factor for the panel and housing. Since this will be another SDIY venture I want to leave it flexible.

I think these make great single voices for a polyphonic synthesizer. I mentioned in the original post Nyle had put 8 or 9 of these in a rack for some guy just for that purpose.

When all the data gets posted, you'll also see Nyle used a different filter structure than his classic design; a pretty basic active low pass filter.

David


fluxmonkey

would it be possible to design this with jumpers between the different submodules, so DIYers would have the option of bringing additional patch points out to the front panel as well?

actually, i'm pretty sure that's possible... shd ask would you be willing?


mono-poly

fluxmonkey love your suggestion applause


Dego

mono-poly wrote:
fluxmonkey love your suggestion applause


+1

Great idea flux monkey!


dingebre

fluxmonkey wrote:
would it be possible to design this with jumpers between the different submodules, so DIYers would have the option of bringing additional patch points out to the front panel as well?

actually, i'm pretty sure that's possible... shd ask would you be willing?


NO! NEVER! ABSOLUTELY NOT! HOW DARE YOU DEFILE A DESIGN BY SUGGESTING SUCH A RADICAL IDEA!!!!!!! Do It Yourself, really, humph....

Seriously, excellent idea. I could certainly add the ability to "modularize" the unit. Easy to do it now rather than later. There is already a VC input to the VCF and VCO and triggers for the EG. I know you don't have the schematic in front of you, but what were you thinking in general terms?

The VCA is nothing more really than a Vactrol if I have the signal flow right.

Thanks for the idea!

David


sanders

Just one person's opinion, but I think it would be much cooler (and probably much more popular) to make this project super easy with PCB mount hardware in a pattern just like the original (but with the option to panel mount the trimmers you mentioned if one wants).

There are already so many projects (including your own Syntha-System to an extent) that are open ended and allow the builder to do whatever he/she pleases.

It would be really great and very unusual(and I think true to the original design and concept) to make this thing as simple and easy as it can possibly be. If someone wants to expand a project, it's always possible. If someone is looking to make something with all kinds of bells and whistles, they should build a syntha-system.

It's kind of funny when a project like this is proposed and everyone has an idea about something to add to it-- all good ideas-- but by the time you're finished adding all these good ideas, it totally defeats the original intent and purpose of the design-- which is just to be a little one VCO add on guy-- and it was the only thing that made this little synth interesting and special-- it's simplicity and economy.

dingebre wrote:
Isaiah wrote:
14HP would be ace if at all possible.
Maybe 21HP for the expanded module, or 28HP if there are many more features that could be implemented.

What are the expanded features likely to be?
Variable Resonance, Sustain Level...?

Are any of the components PCB mounted, or are the PCBs parallel-mounted with stand-offs?
Can slide or toggle switches be used?

I wonder if, say, 4 of these would make a decent polysynth a la Oberheim Four Voice.


Looking at the schematic and PCB, there 5 trimmers:
VC In - the "scale" or V/Oct trimmer. It's visible on the front panel
HF Correction/track
Square wave adjust
Resonance
Sustain Level

I think the Square Wave adjust, Resonance, and Sustain Level could/should be a pot. I like having the V/Oct and maybe the HF Track available on the front panel as a trim pot.

It will also be possible for all of these controls to be trimmers on the PCB.

I don't think I'll use PCB mounted pots/switches since that really limits the form factor for the panel and housing. Since this will be another SDIY venture I want to leave it flexible.

I think these make great single voices for a polyphonic synthesizer. I mentioned in the original post Nyle had put 8 or 9 of these in a rack for some guy just for that purpose.

When all the data gets posted, you'll also see Nyle used a different filter structure than his classic design; a pretty basic active low pass filter.

David



Isaiah

dingebre wrote:

I think the Square Wave adjust, Resonance, and Sustain Level could/should be a pot. I like having the V/Oct and maybe the HF Track available on the front panel as a trim pot.


That sounds good to me!

I think it's great you keep the PCB designs open-ended so they're able to be assembled in most any fashion.


Quote:
I think these make great single voices for a polyphonic synthesizer. I mentioned in the original post Nyle had put 8 or 9 of these in a rack for some guy just for that purpose.


So tempting...
The problem is polyphonic MIDI to CV conversion. Hmmm...


Ideas for patch points:
*Waveform outputs
*Square Shape CV input
*LFO output
*EG output
*External Audio input

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