Controlling the 200e + Cabinet Questions

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prototek
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Controlling the 200e + Cabinet Questions

Post by prototek » Fri Jul 24, 2009 2:36 pm

Hey guys.
I have some questions. But first I'd just like to say a big hello to everyone here as I'm quite a new member.

I'm excited to say that pretty soon I will be putting in an order for a bunch of 200e modules. That's right. I'll probably be getting the modules from Buchla and the cabinet from somewhere else. Which is what brings me to all of these questions I have....

Without the cabinet it seems that I will lose the internal MIDI bus (I don't know exactly what that entails but I have an idea). Does that mean that even with a 225e I still can't control it via MIDI? I also know that firmware is somehow involved with the 200e. Does that involve the cabinet too? So, my first question; what does the cabinet offer and what do I lose by not using it? I have a couple of old 200 modules and I know most of them are fine in 200e cabs but like I said, I might opt for a non-Buchla cabinet solution.

Secondly, (and this kind of ties in with the previous issue).... I was amazed by the MOTU Volta video I saw where it was controlling a 200e. I got so psyched when I saw that because I already own a 2408 MKII. But my bubble burst when I went to MOTU's website and read that "Buchla modules only respond to positive voltage ranges. For this reason it is recommended to use interfaces with extended voltage range like the MOTU 896 and 896HD to achieve a usable tracking range". It goes on to say that mod sources also need to be positive only, so bi-polar Volta sources such as LFOs can not be used with Buchla modules currently. Due to the 0/+5/+10V triggering spec the 200e Series uses Volta cannot open up all modules fully without additional processing via a module like the 256e.

So, between those two issues (not using Buchla cabs + MIDI Control) I'm a bit confused. Has anyone managed to use an interface with a Mac that can fully control the 200e? What should a new user like me do?

Thanks,
John

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Post by science » Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:13 pm

How do you plan on powering the modules?

Of course you can control it via MIDI with the 225e, that's the whole purpose of the 225e. It's a MIDI->CV module (plus preset capabilities). It sounds like you should do a bit more research :hmm:

Also, out of curiosity, why aren't you using the Buchla cabinet? Cost? Design?

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Post by momo » Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:07 pm

Hi John

First up congratulations at your impending order :-)

I shouldn't really be contributing to your thread because I don't know enough to muster an elegant answer but there are so many knowledgeable members here I'm sure you'll get one soon enough. I wanted to write to say two things, firstly that my initial (2005) naivety concerning the Buchla cabinet passed with the discovery that there are quite a lot of electronics going on with the cab itself. I understand that the Cincon DC - DC convertors don't come cheap. I have also come to realise the cabinet is an exceptional display of engineering. Ok three things and sorry if you know this already, I hear B&A will sell the power boards only so I guess you could make your own enclosure.

Good luck! momo

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Post by xpander » Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:26 pm

science wrote:Of course you can control it via MIDI with the 225e, that's the whole purpose of the 225e. It's a MIDI->CV module (plus preset capabilities). It sounds like you should do a bit more research
i think his concern stems from the fact that it can control modules like the 261e via internal buss.

i'm curious to hook up Volta, i still have to make cables from 896-to-200e due to it's bananaocity.

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Post by ndkent » Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:04 pm

I wouldn't be powering such expensive modules from a makeshift or other system's power as it sounds like you are intending. My apologies if I misunderstood or you have a vintage 200 series power setup from somewhere.

What sounds to me like a good idea is to buy a powered bus from Buchla. You are able to purchase one without the case if you plan to make or buy your own case.

At least to me, the 200e is the absolute last modular I'd want to try to use a DYI bus on and I am using DYI cases and power on some of my Euro modules

As for Volta, while maybe not a directly out of the box plug and play solution you could take a mixer that handles DC and offset the negative range into the positive range. The reason why MOTU is suggesting their 896 etc. is that you can effectively write off the negative output out of the box and still be left with a enough of a positive range to do something with
Last edited by ndkent on Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Controlling the 200e + Cabinet Questions

Post by Randaleem » Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:05 pm

prototek wrote:So, my first question; what does the cabinet offer and what do I lose by not using it?
Hi prototek, Welcome to Muff's! The best synth site on the internet! As for your first question?

I'd call Don and ask him. No better source exists for the answer? He's selling 200e's in less than full cabinets, so there might be some details only he would know about the best way to grow your system or to migrate power/bus portions to another enclosure? (I'd sure ask him or Ezra before powering that big an investment with anything other than the OEM goods! FWIW, Ezra answers questions at the Buchla200e yahoo group)
Secondly, (and this kind of ties in with the previous issue).... I was amazed by the MOTU Volta video I saw where it was controlling a 200e.
Sorry to answer with a question; but I've seen this set of comments made a couple times now and I hope you don't mind my asking within your comments: Couldn't a simple multi-channel (8 or 16) scale/offset CV processor handle these issues? Or does that somehow interfere with the assumptions Volta makes?
I'm not too familiar with Volta, but reading about its calibration suggests that if you had such a cv processor between say, the pitch cv from your 2408 to scale and offset whatever it puts out to something the oscillator can use...
That Volta would simply read the resulting pitch and make its adjustments so everything would work? In other areas the scale and offset would seem to work too? After all, we do this throughout modules and the patched system anyways? Seems also that this could mostly be a set-once and-forget-it kind of device? With perhaps a few channels with knobs for fun and unusual patches?

A set of scale/offset CV processors is a pretty simple circuit which could be easily DIY'd or made available if the interest is there? Would this work?

Oh, and there's a Volta specific thread here headed by Stretta who seems to be point man for the Volta, having written it! Might be a good place to get detailed info?

Kind regards, Randal

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Post by prototek » Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:35 pm

science wrote:How do you plan on powering the modules?
With a power supply.
science wrote: It sounds like you should do a bit more research :hmm:
I don't think that would be possible, short of inspecting a system in my own hands. Also, since when are inquisitive questions not considered research? You actually missed the point. Xpander hit the nail on the head though. If I read that the cabinet has an internal MIDI bus, it's only natural (intelligent) to wonder if the 225e will retain it's full functions once it's not connected to the bus, no? I've never used said cabinet or module, so if there are any resources that can give me a better understanding please go ahead, be proactive and point me to 'em! :tu:
science wrote: Also, out of curiosity, why aren't you using the Buchla cabinet? Cost? Design?
I'd say a little bit of both. I've seen a few alternatives and I like them. Besides, I still might buy the 200e cabinet. Just weighing my options.

To all you other guys that welcomed me and gave informative responses, thanks!! I wasn't aware that Buchla will sell you the bus. That opens up a lot of opportunities. Don't get me wrong, I think the 200e cabinets are attractive but I don't see why I should be limited (unless there are no other choices)!

So from what I'm reading, Volta + a module that handles offsetting voltages can pretty much get the job done right, correct? Seems like the 256e could work for that. The 255 too, right? I know they're both different in a few ways though. Has anyone been in a position to choose between the two of them? Which module did you choose? Why?

-John

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Post by Randaleem » Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:16 pm

prototek wrote:So from what I'm reading, Volta + a module that handles offsetting voltages can pretty much get the job done right, correct?
Hi John,

Quick reply. I don't know if my offset scale CV processor idea is a good one or not... I put it out here for others with Volta experience to comment upon. Because that might let you (and others) use your current 2408 interface as opposed to needing a new one. With the new one, my idea is unnecesary, I think.

Kind regards, Randal
(Working across the bay FROM Buchla, but with no 200e modules! and no Volta. Yet. :hyper: )

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Post by prscrptn » Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:17 pm

Hi John, welcome to the group!

The Buchla cases are available in 2, 4, & 6 space cases. They are very nice and you can purchase them with or without the power supply. You can also buy the buss boards from Buchla.

The 256e is really great for CV logic, (inverting, mixing, splicing, scaling, etc). This is a very useful module.

The 225e is perfect for controling the 200e via MIDI. The internal busses are your first 4 MID channels (A-D). These are internally routed to trigger the corresponding channel of the 281e and the velocity on the 292e. I am not certain if you could use these routings without having the internal buss system...

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Post by science » Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:27 pm

prototek wrote:
science wrote:How do you plan on powering the modules?
With a power supply.
I know that's intended to be a smartass response, but your original post didn't really give much more info than that.
I don't think that would be possible, short of inspecting a system in my own hands. Also, since when are inquisitive questions not considered research? You actually missed the point. Xpander hit the nail on the head though. If I read that the cabinet has an internal MIDI bus, it's only natural (intelligent) to wonder if the 225e will retain it's full functions once it's not connected to the bus, no? I've never used said cabinet or module, so if there are any resources that can give me a better understanding please go ahead, be proactive and point me to 'em! :tu:

-John
Then I did misunderstand you, and you weren't exactly clear with your question, which made it sound like you almost didn't know the purpose of the 225e. As far as I know, you'll need the Buchla bus boards to have any MIDI or preset functionality over the internal bus.

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Post by alt-mode » Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:49 pm

That was my 200e in the Volta video. Stretta spent a good bit of time working out how to make everything work in Volta and the challenge is the unique voltages required by the Buchla gear - both the positive-only CVs and the higher gate voltages.

I confess that I have slimmed down my Buchla 200e system partially because it was going to be more hassle than I wanted to go through to use it with Volta. I've decided that I will mostly drive it via MIDI for standard pitch. The fact that there is only one banana CV input on the oscillators also made doing complex CVs into the oscillators a pain unless you used the 210e signal router or other CV mixer.

I suggest getting a 225e too. It is useful for the MIDI input and the preset storage. I also agree that you should get a chassis and power distribution system from Buchla. This is the proper way to power 200e systems.

If you want to use Volta, you should track down an 896 or 896 HD interface and make the right cables. It is just too frustrating to try making do with other interfaces.

Good luck building your system.

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Post by ndkent » Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:21 pm

prscrptn wrote: The 256e is really great for CV logic, (inverting, mixing, splicing, scaling, etc). This is a very useful module.

The 225e is perfect for controling the 200e via MIDI. The internal busses are your first 4 MID channels (A-D). These are internally routed to trigger the corresponding channel of the 281e and the velocity on the 292e. I am not certain if you could use these routings without having the internal buss system...
While I don't have a 256e yet, as I understand it the inverting has a built in +10v offset so it won't flip a voltage the way you might expect, the value stays positive. I've not heard if it can or can't process negative voltage inputs, I kind of suspect it doesn't, so while it does many useful things I don't think fixing a lot of volta issues is one of them.

As for the velocity, the 292e does have velocity ins so one could send velocity info as an external voltage signal from say Volta or a MIDI to CV converter.

The internal routing basically means you can do channels of MIDI to oscillator control without patchcords. If you don't like it you can disable it, though there might be an argument that CV is a bit buggier and harder to use than MIDI when it comes to the 200e and oscillator control.

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Post by xpander » Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:26 am

one Volta interface-to-200e thing to be aware of in your non-standard power supply scenario is that you would otherwise connect XLR pins 1 & 3 (of every output used on your audio interface) to the ground input on the rear of the 201e cabinet. i would assume a similar common ground scheme would need to created on your own cabinet.

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Re: Controlling the 200e + Cabinet Questions

Post by cbm » Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:26 am

prototek wrote:Without the cabinet it seems that I will lose the internal MIDI bus (I don't know exactly what that entails but I have an idea). Does that mean that even with a 225e I still can't control it via MIDI? I also know that firmware is somehow involved with the 200e. Does that involve the cabinet too? So, my first question; what does the cabinet offer and what do I lose by not using it? I have a couple of old 200 modules and I know most of them are fine in 200e cabs but like I said, I might opt for a non-Buchla cabinet solution.
The Buchla Electric Music Box distributes its power and the internal bus on long skinny boards mounted to the back of each "boat." Each module has a dangling connector that plugs into this power board. You will need to come up with some source of boards that provide this function in any cabinet you use. There are switching power supplies hidden under the power distribution board in middle boat. It's a really slick system, IMO. You can see these distribution boards in this picture from the Buchla site:
Image

If your cabinet did not provide the internal bus wiring, you would loose the ability for modules to talk to each other, which means no presets, and you lose internal control over MIDI. You could still use the 225e's front panel jacks for MIDI data. It's also worth noting that the 225e has a little auxiliary board that sits on the back of a boat that has the actual MIDI plugs on it.
So, between those two issues (not using Buchla cabs + MIDI Control) I'm a bit confused. Has anyone managed to use an interface with a Mac that can fully control the 200e? What should a new user like me do?
I'd start with the 225e, personally, and augment with Volta later, if you feel so inspired. The 225e provides the equivalent of 36 channels of data (pitch, velo & trig for 8 note busses, plus 12 outputs on controller busses). That's a lot of audio interfaces worth of data.
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Post by cbm » Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:30 am

ndkent wrote:While I don't have a 256e yet, as I understand it the inverting has a built in +10v offset so it won't flip a voltage the way you might expect, the value stays positive. I've not heard if it can or can't process negative voltage inputs, I kind of suspect it doesn't, so while it does many useful things I don't think fixing a lot of volta issues is one of them.
I have a simple page that describes the way the 256e works available here:
http://xfade.com/Buchla/256/

I also doubt that it would do anything too useful with negative inputs voltages.
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Post by dougcl » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:02 am

cbm wrote: I have a simple page that describes the way the 256e works available here:
http://xfade.com/Buchla/256/
This is great. Question though on creating and removing breakpoints. Is there a cursor that you position with the x (in val) and y (out val) knobs and then hit the gray button to create the breakpoint? Then do you delete by positioning the cursor over an existing breakpoint and press again the gray button?

Ah... or maybe you just get one breakpoint?

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Post by cbm » Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:14 pm

dougcl wrote:or maybe you just get one breakpoint?
Yeah, just one breakpoint. You can daisy-chain sections to get more breakpoints, but it is not the same as one section with multiple breakpoints would be.
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Post by ndkent » Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:08 pm

> If I read that the cabinet has an internal MIDI bus

There no internal MIDI bus. There is an internal (digital) bus that is proprietary and amongst a number of other things can send note info coupled with trig & gate info on 4 mono channels. You don't have to use it but you are paying a substantial price for it with the "e" modules.

It is pretty cool that it uses an off the shelf $39 laptop switching power supply to deliver decent amperage. But it's not directly powering the modules. There is a custom regulator per system in the busboard (or one of them in a multiboat system, making expansion boats obviously cheaper)

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Post by 2012 » Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:24 pm

ndkent wrote: There is a custom regulator per system in the busboard (or one of them in a multiboat system, making expansion boats obviously cheaper)
so the 201e - 6u 6-panel Unpowered Boat @ $300 consist of the metal case + power distrubution PCB inside then but without swiching suplies under that pcb?

so u can hook it up to a 700$ boat?

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Post by don h » Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:47 pm

yes

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Post by ndkent » Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:03 pm

Yes, to the best of my knowledge the switching supply is an external laptop type power adaptor which connects with a standard adaptor jack to a boat, then there are further regulators in the "powered" boats. The supply and regulator circuitry appear to be enough to power a 18 module cabinet. (a 6 space powered boat connected to two "unpowered" boats)

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Post by 2012 » Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:17 pm

Thanks all ,very helpfull information

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Post by 2012 » Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:37 am

sorry,another question: how is the heat from the regulators disipated in the middle boat? via the case?

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Post by ndkent » Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:14 am

2012 wrote:sorry,another question: how is the heat from the regulators disipated in the middle boat? via the case?
I would assume so. It doesn't get very warm. I assume it's not demanding that much and you have a comparatively big metal case with nothing too close together. The modules certainly don't get hot. But that's just my observation. I've not tried to figure out what it's doing engineering wise.

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Post by 2012 » Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:35 am

Thanks kent,i did ask this because with the intention to fit boats in an attache case.

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