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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

MU: Super Mini Modular synth project construction journal.
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Author MU: Super Mini Modular synth project construction journal.
Rex Coil 7
AUGUST 12th, 2017: NOTICE ..... I am aware that the first two and a half pages of this journal have no images. This is due to PHOTOBUCKET's latest policy which places a $400 per year charge on users that wish to embed photos in to forums (y'know, like what most everyone does). I am terribly sorry, but I am unwilling to be extorted out of $400 each year just for the ability to post images in a forum. Starting about halfway down page 3 of this thread I began using Muffwigglers' photo database instead of PHOTOBUCKET to embed images in to my threads. I am yet uncertain about exactly ~what~ I will do about these first 2.5 pages just now.

(Over time, I may attempt to replace each PB hosted image with the same image that I'll upload ... one at a time ... in to Muffwigglers' image database so that the proper images appear in the proper places .... obviously a long and tedious task so no promises there).

It's a shame since these first few pages had really detailed and informative pictures of the entire design and construction process of the dual Amherst cabinets I've used for this project. Please direct any anger or frustration about this situation to the fine assholes at PHOTOBUCKET for their recent (2017) decision to charge $400 per year to those of us that used PHOTOBUCKET to host images for our forum posts.

PHOTOBUCKET SUXABUCKET .... elitist assholes. I really hope their new policies will end up shitting all over their bottom line and PHOTOBUCKET KIXTHEBUCKET ... going down in the flames of Chapter 11 Bankruptsy ... or worse, having to sell off the company for $0.10 on the dollar. This is one shithead policy, to be sure.

Now, back to the construction journal .....

Thanks ... Brian.
**********************************************************************


The Super Mini Modular Synth Project

PROLOGUE: Hello folks. I'm using this thread as a sortof photo-journal for a modular project I've been working on for about a year. I'm far from wealthy so it has moved slowly, but as experienced wigglers will tell you, slow is best when it comes to setting up one's first modular system. As has been said any number of times in this and other forums, moving slowly sortof forces you to learn the abilities and limits of what you have more intimately. Throwing much thousands of munnay at a first-time modular synth is probably less desirable unless you intend on building a showpiece. Point being is that if you don't have a lot of munnies, don't feel like you can't do this, slow and steady is actually the better way to go about it. Not having cashola kindof forces a certain type of discipline on your progress. Call it an advantage. Along the way your ideas about what is ~good~ will also most likely change. So had you tossed together something ~complete~ by spending a pile of bux you'd most likely end up selling off some of the pieces (at a loss) to buy stuff that appeals to you more as you begin to use the system. Slow-going provides you with time to design the system as you learn to use what you have. So don't be discouraged if you feel like you have to buy this huge thing all at once and cannot afford it. The slow method is better, and having less money is a sortof automatic damper.

I wanted to create a MU system with the main ethos of it's design focused on the same sortof design ideas as the ARP 2600, the Tom Oberheim SEM (original or reissue), or perhaps the Analog Solutions Telemark v2 are designed around. That is to use a sortof hardwired (aka ~normalized~) synth with patch jacks that can override the normalized connections as well as add other modules to the setup or patch.

My own experience has taught me that the well-worn and time proven format of 2-vcos, mixer, vcf, vca, some lfos, 2 EGs, and a ring mod is usually plenty to get most synth sounds done. Like what 95% of most Minimoog patches are written with, or the Lil Phatty has. That said, I began there, using that format as a launch point.

UPPER CAB - The Synth: (refer to the upper half of the picture below).

-- (6sp) 2 Q106 VCOs with Q161 waveform mixers normalized to each one. That provided a single output jack for each of the two VCOs while still allowing selections of any waveform or combinations of waveforms.
-- (0sp) 1 Q116 Ring Modulator. It is what it is. It will actually be transfered to a double-width blank panel as part of a signal routing setup.
-- (2sp) 1 Q132 double-wide blank panel to serve as the housing for the Q116 Ring Modulator as well as some signal routing toggle switches used as part of the normalization system.
-- (1sp) 1 Quad LFO (Model 1250) by Synthetic Sound Labs. This serves as the primary LFO for doing standard LFO duties such as PWM and filter modulations.
-- (2sp) 1 Q150 Ladder VCF. This filter has two signal inputs, each with level attenuators. This serves as a 2-channel mixer and a filter all in one.
-- (2sp) 2 Q109 Envelope Generators.
-- (1sp) 1 Q108 VCA. This VCA receives the output of the Q150.

That totals to 14sp MU. Since I decided to use Amherst Design cabs for this project (14MU spaces per side) that worked out perfectly. 14sp filled one entire Amherst cab. I have not rec'd the Quad LFO yet, nor have I built the Q116 Ring Mod in the blank dbl-panel. So in the picture below imagine the quad lfo being where the ring mod is, and imagine the ring mod being built-in to the dbl blank panel along with some routing toggles.



LOWER CAB - The Expander: (refer to the lower half of the picture above)

-- (6sp) 3 Q106 VCOs.
-- (1sp) 1 Q112 4 channel mixer.
-- (2sp) 1 Q107 State Variable Filter.
-- (1sp) 1 Q162 Filter Mixer, normalized to the Q107 State Variable VCF.
-- (1sp) 1 Q109 Envelope Generator.
-- (1sp) 1 Q111 Pan/Fade.
-- (1sp) 1 Q128 Switch.
-- (1sp) 1 Q131 Single Width blank module that will be used as the CV/Gate/Other interface module.

That also totals out the 14 MU spaces, filling the lower cab. There is also a Q137 Power Control module located on the rear of the lower cab. The power supply I selected is the QPS1 which provides plenty of power for this system. For power distribution I used the QDH20 "DC Squid" to get started. I plan on refining power distribution somewhat, but to get started the QDH20 worked out just fine.

The picture below was taken before I properly arranged the modules in their present configuration, as shown in the top picture.



The upper cab is the basic synth, the lower cab is the expansion ~module~.

So the entire rig is sortof like having a totally patchable Minimoog sitting on top of a few modular modules used to expand it. Hence the little name I use for the sytem .. The SuperMini modular. The synth is a sortof "Super Minimoog" and the rest is expansion. The name may be thought of as a super mini-modular (a miniature modular synth system that is a bit ~super~ in it's own way) ... OR ... a super-minimoog made of a modular synth. Either way, Super Mini Modular is a fun name for it.

DIMENSIONS:

It dims out at 32 inches wide, 22 inches tall, and 9.5 inches deep. It weighs 34 pounds fully loaded with the PSU and DC squid installed. A nice size for hauling around, and does not take up half of a studio. It easily sits on a standard folding keyboard stand and is easy to carry by a single person due to it's relatively light weight and the carrying handles being sortof built-in to the cab design (the 2"x2" ~notches~ between the upper and lower cabs on the left and right of the whole thing, as seen in the rear-shot of the synth).

PLANNING AHEAD:

The essential plan is to normalize the upper cab's audio, cv, and gate connections. In doing so, most of all the synth sounds I typically use will require no patchcords whatsoever to create. However any of the normalized connections will be easy to override by inserting a patchcord into the normalized jacks. So absolutely none of the patchability features have been sacrificed at all.

The lower cab will remain totally modular with no normalized connections other than the Q107/Q162 relationship. This will provide me with extra modulations, more voices, and just plain old ~more synth~ when I need it.

I also plan on attempting to add some preset capability through the use of some of the MIDI controllable pots and switches available out there these days.

There is also a control interface that goes with this, to be housed in a BOX-11 frame which has been ordered. As well as a parallel-signal processing rack-based setup that is also all MU format that I use for FX.

EPILOGUE: This is just an introduction to the project, which covered a lot of territory (hence the length of the post). In posts ahead I will cover the details about the double-decker cab's construction, the normalizing of the synth module, the customized blank panels, the preset ideas and so on. I'll also provide links to vendors, sources, and suppliers as well. I'm offering up my progress for those of us out there that would like to build up something like this. My thoughts were to keep this system constrained within given structured limits, and to create a disciplined system that still has plenty of processing power. This keeps costs reigned-in, and doesn't overwhelm me with some sort of all-consuming monolithic monster. Large, ever-expanding systems may suit some people (which is just fine) but they are outside of my needs.

Thanks for taking a look. I'll be happy to answer questions or reply to remarks. I'll do my best to provide the answers you need.

Be well. RC7.
Zeitdehner
Quite a honorable effort... lots of thoughts and wisdom in this system !

It is taylor made to suit your own particular needs, and that is respectable...

Don't epilogue on this quite as of yet 8_)
Rex Coil 7
Zeitdehner wrote:
Quite a honorable effort... lots of thoughts and wisdom in this system !

It is taylor made to suit your own particular needs, and that is respectable...

Don't epilogue on this quite as of yet 8_)
Thank you, thank you very much.

Perhaps I used the word "epilogue" incorrectly, I just meant to use it to summariaze and close out the introduction post.

But that post is most certainly not the end of this thread! I will be adding a LOT of information to this thread as time passes. Even if no-one reads it at all, I'll still use this thread to document the build. It helps me to keep focus when I talk it out, like discussing things with friends.

Yet to come:
* Modding the Q150 to have four slopes available on a pair of minitoggles.
* Normalizing the upper "synth" cab.
* Designing and building the panel that will house the Ring Modulator and VCO routing switches.
* Designing and building the interface panel that will connect to the BOX-11 control interface setup to the main double-cab.
* Designing and building the BOX-11 housed controller interface. It will have two X-Y joysticks, as well as 2 Kenton Pro Solo Mk2 cv/interfaces, interface/patch panel. It will also house a Q142 Pedal Interface.
* I also have another project going on that involves midi-conversion of a set of vintage Hammond 13-note bass pedals. I have already purchased the conversion PCB (it is the CYGNUS conversion board made especially for converting old organ bass pedals to midi-note pedals). I may do a separate thread about that project by itself and add any updates to this thread.

Components on hand:
Just to show how far along I am moving with these ideas, here's what has been collected so far...

* Eighty+ Switchcraft 112 normally closed switching jacks.
* Over four dozen SPST/SPDT/DPDT minitoggles.
* Roughly 200 feet of shielded video-grade normalizing wire.
* 3 blank single wide module panels, I already stripped the paint from them.
* 3 blank double wide module panels, I already stripped the paint from them.
* Two dozen 5-pin DIN female panel mounted connectors.
* One dozen 5-pin DIN male cable connectors.
* Q142 Pedal Interface for the interface module.
* One Kenton Pro Solo Mk2 midi/cv interface.
* One Cygnus midi encoder conversion PCB, fully built (for the midi-bass pedals).
* One set of Hammond M100 bass pedals with both Normally Open and Normally Closed switch contacts.
* Stainless steel and anodized aluminum hardware/machine screws/aircraft locking nuts.

Paid for and enroute:
* Two spring loaded 10k X-Y joysticks.
* One BOX-11 frame with Dc squid.
* Several midi pot conversion pcbs.
* Several four-pot midi controller pcbs.
* Quad LFO Model 1250 for lfo MU synth panel.
* Several aluminum enclosures for possible use with the bass pedals.
* A really cool 2U rack frame that has five separate screwed on blank panels, for use with the bass pedals.

So, these pieces of my synth project aren't just "vaporous ideas" ... this stuff is happening and there is forward momentum.

I feel that it is important to provide project details for those that have ideas in their heads and want to see how someone else did it. So these project threads I'm posting up are sortof like this bumper sticker I saw on some guy's 4x4 .... "Built Not Bought". I hope my projects will help and inspire some people that wish to see their ideas come to fruition. Maybe one tiny little thing I say or display might provide inspiration or help to someone wanting to Build, Not Buy. I also hope that if someone sees I am heading over a cliff with something they'll post an alternative idea, or share some experience to help me along.
Rex Coil 7
I wonder if I should have posted this in a different subforum? Something more akin to DIYage perhaps?
jmcecil
That's awesome, I have been contemplating normalizing my modular as well. Glad to see it isn't just theoretically possible we're not worthy
whitewulfe
Sounds like quite the project!

...And I totally dig the black cases SlayerBadger!
jmcecil
I have a question on what you plan to use for the normalling circuit?

I was going to do it lofi first by scavenging a patchbay for plugs. The only normal panels I can find are $20 per module (1 set jacks). Which seems pretty steep when you will need somewhere between 10 and 20 of them.

Are you going to build your own normalling panels, pcb and all?
Rex Coil 7
jmcecil wrote:
I have a question on what you plan to use for the normalling circuit?

I was going to do it lofi first by scavenging a patchbay for plugs. The only normal panels I can find are $20 per module (1 set jacks). Which seems pretty steep when you will need somewhere between 10 and 20 of them.

Are you going to build your own normalling panels, pcb and all?
Actually, there's no pcb involved at all. All I'm doing is making a module out of a blank panel. The panel will have the input jacks on it to receive the cv/gate stuff from the Kenton Pro Solo that is to be housed in a BOX11 frame. From that input module (essentially just a mult) the wiring will run to each individual module and connect to switching jacks (Switchcraft #112AX). Then ~daisy chained~ exactly as you would if you were patching things up using patch cords, but doing it behind the panels. The switching jacks allow for instant override of the normalization by simply inserting a patchcord from the front, which opens the normally closed switch thereby breaking the normalized connection.

Easy peasy.

Those Switchcraft switching jacks are only about $2.00 or so each if you locate a good vendor. They are the same exact ones used in the Synthesizers.Com Q146. I have over eighty on hand by now.

So essentially I'm just building a more involved Q146. If you do not wish to go through all of this by yourself, just buy the Q146 and you can do some normalizing of your own without ever plugging in a soldering pen. Well, that is if you have Dot Com modules.

In any case, normalizing requires no PCB of any type. In my case I'll be using minitoggles to route various signals to various destinations, which is what the larger blank panel is to be used for. The smaller blank panel is to be used as the INPUT module for cv - gate - and some ~other~ stuff going on. Then simply route those signals to a router panel, which will use mini toggles to select destinations of certain things, and to solder the normalizing wires to. Then out to the individual switching jacks that will replace the existing "input" and "output" jacks on various modules.

The wire needed is just simple hook-up wire. The only place I'm putting shielded wire is for audio runs. CV and gate is just plain old pretinned 24ga wire. Use "twisted pairs" to keep any RF out of the way. For audio runs I'm using high quality video-grade wire with a solid copper inner core and double outer shields (one foil shield and one braided shield). Which is pretty much total overkill. Any shielded wire could be used for audio runs.

Since my synth cab is only 32 inches wide, even the longest of runs will be pretty short. So noise issues aren't going to be too much of an issue.

The whole chore is really quite simple. It is more tedious than anything. Keep in mind that I am only normalizing the upper cab, which only involves two VCOs, one VCF, one VCA, and a pair of EGs. The VCOs have mixers already nomalized to their waveform outputs, so each VCO only has one single output jack. The VCF has two input jacks with dedicated input level attenuators (essentially a 2 channel mixer). So running norm-wires from the VCO-outs to the VCF-in is a super-simple issue, the same goes for the VCF-out to the VCA-in ... one wire. The Ring Mod and the panel it is to be mounted in will be part of the audio signal routing setup that I'll use to either engage the Ring Mod or not engage it. There will also be VCO sync and non-sync switching involved. The Quad LFO will have a couple of the LFOs normalized for duties like PWM and such. The lower cab will remain a standard type modular system that can be patched-in however I wish, just like any modular synth.

smile
Rex Coil 7
whitewulfe wrote:
Sounds like quite the project!

...And I totally dig the black cases SlayerBadger!
Thanks!

Spray-on truck bedliner.





I'll be doing a complete journal entry on the cabs here in this thread. It will cover the details of what I did to design, construct, and apply finish to them. I'll be doing that journal entry next, as a matter of fact. smile It will be the first entry of this whole thing.

I figure this thread will be at least ten pages long, with my own entries alone and not including replies.
Rex Coil 7
Should I ask to move this thread to the Music Tech DIY forum? Or is it better to be here in 5U?
Rex Coil 7
CAB DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION: PHASE-1

Here's what I did as far as doing the cabinet is concerned. I wasn't crazy about the cabs I'd seen, some of them were pretty nice (like the red and blue stained racks that some MU/5U users have posted). I went back and forth between rack mount and a dedicated cab. All the normal reasons ... 8sp vs ~more spaces~, how modifiable were they, and so on.

I eventually chose the Amherst Design "LCC" cabs from Muffwigglers member Christopher Winkels. The LCC boasted 14sp of MU and 17sp of 5U per side, that is to say there really isn't a front or a back, both sides are set up to receive modules. They are predrilled for MU but easy enough to redrill for 5U, and each side may accept combinations of MU/5U modules. A lot is left up to the builder, which I found appealing.

The LCC (Low Cost Cabinet) shipped unassembled in a "flat pack" (a la IKEA) from Canada so the shipping was not awful either. Assembly was easy and very straightforward, as the entire cabinet is designed with a "Tab-A to Slot-A" approach, and is completely predrilled.





It is also supplied with square-shank screws. At first I thought the square shank screw thing was going to be a hassle, but I discovered that every one of my racheting magnetic tipped screwdrivers each had the proper square-shank bit in their storage handles! Whooda thunk?



It nearly assembled itself, everything was routed to perfection and assembly was ultra easy. All of the screw holes are predrilled so it just about falls together. I think it took me less than fifteen minutes ....



I stuck a few modules in it (all that I had at the time) to see what it looked like .... very inspiring!



So, after the love-fest, I removed the modules and disassembled it. I then reassembled it using Elmers Wood Glue along with the provided screws. I had decided I was happy with it as it was so "screwing and gluing" to make it a permanent assembly was in order. After I allowed it to cure overnight, I used a little woodfiller to fill in a few minor little dents and such (mostly from my ham-fisted wood working techniques).

I had already done some pretesting with Rustoleum Pickup Truck Bedliner, the spray-on type that comes in rattlecans and is available pretty much anywhere (auto parts houses, Harbor Freight, and so on). I sanded down the cab's edges a little, touched it up here and there, then following the instructions on the can I applied the bedliner. It took two days but I eventually used two cans/two coats. That stuff is magic, it covers multitudes of sins, and sets up hard as the hubs of hell. It flows on very nicely and covers really well. I did three panels at a time, with the flat/horizontal panel getting a super SUPER heavy coat each time. Eventually I ended up with a cab that had a really heavy, very durable coating on it that is very easy to repair or touch up should it ever need it.







After it dried for a full day, I loaded it up ...





YAY!!!! nanners

Ok, so there it was. My first modular synth cab. The master plan was to use that as a sortof modulator/expander "module" which was to be paired up with a Tom Oberheim SEM reissue which would be the sortof ~main synth~ with this modular acting as the modulator/expander unit. This modulator was also to be used with any number of other signal sources (including bass guitar, Hammond organ, guitar, as well as VST synths and so on.)

That idea was appealing for a while. Time has a funny way of changing things though ....

I didn't have the big chunk of $1,000 bucks it took to get into an SEM patchpanel model, so I had to save up for that part. During the saving period I'd read, study, use what little bit of synth I had on hand. As time went by, I began to toy with using other stuff instead of the SEM with what I had already collected. More time, more thinking, more studying. Tick tock. Finally I made the decision to go full-on modular rather than use an SEM as the main synth. Many reasons, but mainly it was a choice of practicality.

After listening to a lot of You Tube videos of MU systems and other audio demos and tracks on the web, I decided that building a full-on modular using mostly Synthesizers.Com components just seemed to make more sense. It was easier to purchase (pieces at a time) and I got to chose exactly ~what~ would comprise my synth as far as filter types, VCOs and so on.

So ... the design phase of the next cab for the next bit of synth modules needed to build-up a SEM-type synth structure went into motion. I kept thinking it all through. Many configurations were considered, but in the end I decided to simply make what I had larger.

(continued ....)
Rex Coil 7
CAB DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION: PHASE-2

So, with the first cab built, and having decided to add a second one, I ordered another cab from Amherst Design and awaited it's arrival. I took the time to really work out how I wanted to do this setup, so I played around with many different ideas.

I decided that I would actually make the two cabs into one structure that was melded together into a single construct to create one single "double-decker" cabinet. I designed a gap between them to serve as a space to be used for mounting a 2 inch wide aluminum strip to cover the gap. Then the strip could be drilled and used to mount jacks and toggle switches, like a 32 inch long 2 inch wide multi-function "mult" panel. This idea really appealed to me greatly! As I worked with that notion more I began to realize that I could use that setup to facilitate some serious normalizing efforts. Jacks and switches could serve to route various signals to various places without using a single module space in the process.

So I designed a setup that allowed me to repeatedly remove and install that aluminum strip at will without putting a lot of wear and tear on wooden ~threads~. So I came up with a way to mount the strip that used L-brackets and machine screws rather than using too many wood screws. I figured out how to incorporate the wooden spacer blocks that I was using to space the two cabs apart to also be used to mount the strip, at least partially so. I also used that opportunity to create carrying handles that were actually a part of the cab's design.

Ok, so enough yakkity yak ... here it is ....

I planned out two "through-holes" that would be cut into both cabs so that power distribution wiring, and other cabling could be shared by both cabs. So I started by cutting the top of CAB-1. Once that was done, I cut 2x2 pieces of pine to length, predrilled the top of CAB-1 for screws, and then screwed-n-glued the 2x2 spacer blocks to the top of CAB-1.

I also made L-Brackets out of 1.5 x 1.5 inch aluminum angle material which I predrilled to accept wood screws to anchor them to the top of CAB-1 and to accept machine screws w/nuts on the front face to secure the 32 inch aluminum strip.



Here's a close-up of the L-Brackets, that is "Liquid Nails" that's been gooped around the L-bracket to reenforce it and keep it from getting masaligned. I purposely used flat washers on the woodscrews to allow the L-bracket to be manipulated to be as flush with the Cabs' edge face as possible. Keeping those L-brackets in near perfect alignment was very important so that the aluminum strip would not look warped or bent. As reflective as polished aluminum is, any waves or curves (ever so slight) would be visible so that strip have to be as flat as possible. I also wanted it to be dead-flush against the facing edges of the two cabs.

2x2 pine is actually 1.5 x 1.5 inches. So that meant that if the 2 inch aluminum strip was centered on the 2x2s it would have about 1/4 inch of "overlap" that would set against the facing edge of each cabinet. You can see what I mean in the pictures, the 2 inch strip extends past the L-bracket a little bit (same amount on top and on bottom) so it actually sat against the facing edge of the cabs and left no chance of a gap that light could come through and betray misfitting or a misaligned edge. It also provided a bit of a "facia" to cover up the fact that the two cab's edges were not precisely straight. When sitting right next to one another so the eye could compare them it would be all to obvious that the cabs' edges were a little bit curved. So I wanted the aluminum strip to cover those edges to improve the look.



These pics were taken before I did the actual fitting of the strip, which required filing of the L-brackets' mounting faces as well as filing/sanding of the 2x2 spacer/mounting blocks. I purposely made everything a bit too long so that I had some meat to remove to get them all aligned as perfectly as possible to keep that strip as straight as possible and as flush as possible. It had to be "fitted" to the cabs by filing and sanding the L-brackets and 2x2 spacers. After I was done that little visible gap between the strip and the cab was completely gone. The entire front of the two cabs, the spacer blocks, and the L-brackets were essentially milled completely flat by hand, so when the strip was installed it remained as straight and flush as possible.



I then did the hole layout on the strip, center punched it and drilled it. The holes are within 0.5mm alignment, all done with a framing square, a Sharpie, a scratch awl, a center punch and a drill press. The piece was held in the drill press by hand without a vise. Proper layout and patience can produce great results even without hyper-trick equipment.



As you can see, the screws align beautifully and the strip is as dead-straight with no waves or curves as absolutely possible. The time spent and patient work paid off.





I used all stainless steel hardware to mount the strip to the cab. It was very difficult to locate wood screws that looked identical to the machine screws that I used with the L-brackets. There are 3 positions that use machine screws, and 2 positions that use wood screws. I wanted five mounting locations so the strip would not flex when patchcords were inserted or removed in any jacks that might be installed in the strip later on. But after a lot of searching all over our local Lowes we located what I needed to get the look and quality I was after. Actually what I used for wood screws ended up being sheet metal screws. But they worked fine screwed into the endgrain of the 2x2 spacer blocks. And everything matched up just great, the heads of the sheet metal screws look close enough to the heads of the machine screws to satisfy me, and they both fit great in the dress washers I wanted to use. Everything is stainless steel too, nuts, lockwashers, flat washers, dress washers, machine screws, sheet metal screws .. all stainless.







Next, I constructed CAB-2, and cut a matching set of pass-through holes in it to align with the pass-though holes in CAB-1. I then predrilled the mounting holes, then screwed-n-glued CAB-2 to CAB-1 using the spacer blocks as mounting risers. Once the glue set up, the two cabs were literally one single part. Every single joint was screwed together and glued. I could not take this thing apart if I wanted too.

I also made and mounted two short riser blocks out of short sections of 2x2 to mount the PSU to. This allowed me to screw-n-glue the PSU mounting blocks to the bottom of CAB-2 with provided a super solid and nicely thick base to mount the PSU on. It also made a convenient gap beneathe the PSU to allow for power distribution cabling to be routed, to provide more internal space for other wiring without being crowded by the DC squid.





It was actually beginning to look like a synth cab. I was thrilled about how well the center strip looked and how well that whole issue turned out.



You can see here how the gap between the cabs and the positioning of the 2x2s on either end created a countersunk ~carrying handle~ on each side of the cabinet. It made for a clean no-crap-hanging-off-of-it look that didn't require handles that stuck out of the sides, or those rattling-noisey metal folding "chest handles". With deep bass notes or a heavy kick drum going on those folding chest handles will drive you nuts. This setup bypassed any of those problems.





It was time to do some bits of woodfiller work, a little sanding, and then shoot this sucker with bedliner. I used five cans and put five heavily applied coats of the stuff all over it. It took five days to do the spraying, one coat per day. Big part of the reason was each coat I would put an ultra-thick layer on the flat-horizontal surface of the cab to apply it super thick as possible. Each day I would rotate the cab so that a different flat surface was facing up. That made it possible to fill-in around all of the screws and make them nearly disappear. When completed and dried (two days in the 120f degree Desert heat) the finish was armor-plate hard, tough, and ready to go. I had to use a little bit of green 3M pad to sortof buff the surface free of a little bit of dusting particles from the rough surface, which also helped to smooth out the rather abrasive finish as well. It was like carrying a large block made of sandpaper before I buffed off that rough stuff! Like a rough stone.

I think it came out just great!







I then mounted the PSU and ran the DC Squid. You can see how the pass-through holes worked out. I used the Dot Com QDH20 DC Squid for now. I plan on designing a more sophisticated DC power distribution setup and installing it when I do the upper cab's normalizing. All of that will have to be done together to make sure it all lives in harmony within the cab and doesn't look like an afterthought.









You can see here how the gap between the upper and lower housings creates an easily accessed space for any jacks or switches thay may end up being mounted on the aluminum center strip. There is access from the top and bottom of it via the pass-through holes, as well as from the back. The strip is also completely removable with relative ease to access anything that may be installed on it.



So, there we have it. I now have a synth cab that is made within the set of limits that I wanted to stay inside of, and is easy to refinish if I do end up damaging or modifying it, is lightweight, easy to carry and move around. With the PSU located where it is the center of gravity is such that the carrying handles are super easy to use. It's narrow enough to easily carry through doorways by turning my body slightly, and isn't awkward to carry alone. Since the Amherst LCC cabs are designed to deal with modules on front or back, making rear cover panels for this will be a snap. I also have mounted a Q137 on the rear for power considerations without taking up any front spaces.

I'm very pleased with my little SuperMini Modular.

End of Cab Construction entry.

LINKS:

SYNTHESIZERS.COM -- http://www.synthesizers.com/

RUSTOLEUM BEDLINER -- http://www.rustoleum.com/CBGProduct.asp?pid=367

AMHERST DESIGN -- http://amherstdesign.wordpress.com/#
whitewulfe
Okay, that spray on bedliner is absolutely sexy!

And lovely build log too SlayerBadger!
sduck
You know, your posts would be a lot more interesting if you included some pictures of what you're talking about. hmmm.....

Great stuff, btw!
Rex Coil 7
sduck wrote:
You know, your posts would be a lot more interesting if you included some pictures of what you're talking about. hmmm.....

Great stuff, btw!
Yea, I know. I figure pictures are too much of a hassle, so I just don't bother with posting any.

8_)

(thanks! btw smile)
Rex Coil 7
whitewulfe wrote:
Okay, that spray on bedliner is absolutely sexy!

And lovely build log too SlayerBadger!
Thank you! smile The bedliner will make it's way on to a number of things as I complete them. It's been a great discovery.

I have a set of organ bass pedals that I am converting to MIDI (As well as using them for several other functions). The conversion PCB is called a CYGNUS and is made by MidiPedals.Com. It is very easy to implement and has a few little options ("hold mode" for instance that keeps a note triggered until you trigger another note). The completely built PCB is only $70 dollars, coupled with a $25 set of vintage organ bass pedals and some DIY time, you got yourself a great synth trigger than may be built to do other things as well, if you're clever about the design.

Point? I plan on using the bedliner on that project. I also plan on using it on certain parts of a shredder guitar that I am converting to slide-use-only. I have a number of DIY FX and processors that make great synthy sounds from guitars, as well as interfacing it through the modular synth ... add a slide and things get downright Emersonian. That slide axe will have soft-touch momentary switches that will activate various bypass relays to engage various ring mods, BPFs, and other little trinkets. The slide axe is to be mounted on a stand that the bass pedals are integrated into that is all part of an processing rack. So bass pedals on the bottom, some rack stuff in the middle, and the slide axe at the proper playing level. That whole ~thing~ sits 90-degrees from my controller keyboard and this modular synth.

Bedliner will be used extensively throughout all of these constructs.

Thanks for the encouragement on the build jounal. I'll keep moving through it as I progress with each step. Like I've said, I'm not doing this with the hope of getting attention, it's more of just a published journal to share what I've done, and perhaps a few suggestions and tips or ideas may be thrown my way as I move along. Maybe some other people that are unsure of what they wish to do on their own synth build-ups may find inspiration within these pages as well. If so, all the better I say.

Thanks again. smile
jmcecil
Absolutely beautiful! It's so funny that you basically are implementing things that are churning around in my head as I build out my first modular. First with the normaling in the background and then using a strip divider for "ports". I was thinking of putting a couple of multiple strips in between. And maybe a couple of switches for modulation destination. I know almost nothing about electronics at this point. Hoping to change that during this process. Your build is a great motivation!
AnalogBastard
Nice build your working on there ! That truck bed liner is neat stuff thumbs up After staining my cwinkels cabinets, I wasn't very happy with the outcome and decided to spray them with "liquid tolex".. truck bed liner, so glad I did !
Rex Coil 7
jmcecil wrote:
Absolutely beautiful! It's so funny that you basically are implementing things that are churning around in my head as I build out my first modular. First with the normaling in the background and then using a strip divider for "ports". I was thinking of putting a couple of multiple strips in between. And maybe a couple of switches for modulation destination. I know almost nothing about electronics at this point. Hoping to change that during this process. Your build is a great motivation!
Thanks so much! I am hoping to do precisely what you have commented on here, which is to help push a few folks along and provide some food for thought. There are a ton of pics of high-end big-bucks cabs and setups here in this forum that involve more buying than building. Sometimes I have to wonder about what motivates some of those system build ups. In the end it really doesn't matter, those systems aren't mine, they belong to someone else and they are completely free to do what they want.

What matters is that it is easy to become discouraged by some of the things that seem to be conveyed, and those include that feeling of near hopelessness that you'll never really be able to afford to build up a simple yet highly capable system. I mean, just a simple walnut cab that will hold over 22 spaces is going to set you back nearly $900 after crating and shipping costs are included (no fault of the vendors, that's just what great quality wooden gear costs, end of sentence).

But some of us just need a functional cab set up to house the danged modules! Rack is an alternative, but it can also begin to cost more than a bit. My rig has 28sp of MU (just in the front, there's another 28sp in the rear as well!). A 24sp rack involves at least a 16U rack, 3 rack adaptors. That is going to run you roughly $250-$350 by the time it's all said and done. This 28sp setup initially cost me $160, add the five cans of bedliner and we're at $195. And I prefer the "width" of this system over the "height" of a rack system. Spreading the moduless out a bit left-to-right is preferable to me.

You'll learn the wiring setups of normalizing soon enough. I'll be posting VERY detailed pics as well as easy to read wiring diagrams (not "schematics") so it will be a simple matter of copying the pictures for you when you begin to normalize. The concept is very simple, and requires no PCBs. You will need to buy switching jacks though. I'll cover all of those details (including links to vendors) when I get to that chapter.

I may do an introduction to normalizing next just to get the blood flowing into that section of the brain and spur imaginations a bit. It's a very simple concept, and I would guess that normalizing the audio path would be the easiest one to begin with (within the context of this thread).

Hang in there, it will come to you. Learning to solder will be the most important skill you'll need to learn first. Synthesizers.Com has a normalizing module (the Q146) that provides some normalizing ability without soldering a thing. However if you wish to use it without any soldering it must be used with other Dot Com modules. I started out with one of those, and once I saw how simply it was designed the light totally came on.

As the divider strip goes, if I had to design it all over again I would probably opt for using a 2.5" wide strip so that the ~slot~ it covers could be made wide enough to allow rack-sized stuff to be installed between the two cabs. As it is, I got lazy/impatient and went with using 2x2s as spacers/mounting blocks. Which, as I posted, creates a 1.5 inch gap. Rack gear is based on 1.75" standards, so that gap is 0.250 (1/4 inch) too narrow for a rack device to be mounted between the cabs. It's really just a refinement of the setup I went with, but there it is, nonetheless. Come to think of it, designing it to accept rack gear would mean having fewer suports/mounting blocks between the cabs .. hmmm ... not sure I like that to be honest.

The widest strip I could locate at my local Lowes was 2". And that is 1/8th thick as well (so it's nice and stout). However it is easy enough to order wider material, so obtaining a 2.5" x 36" piece wouldn't be hard to do. I just wanted to get started immediately, so I wasn't willing to order and wait. The 2" is fine in the end.

I actually bought a 2nd strip to use as the prototype. I plan on cutting it into two halves, which will be easier to manipulate and modify. That way, if I end up redrilling different holes because I want to change something I tried but ended up refining, I won't have a center strip full of mis-drills. After I am done prototyping then I'll transfer what worked to the full-length strip and call it good.
Rex Coil 7
AnalogBastard wrote:
Nice build your working on there ! That truck bed liner is neat stuff thumbs up After staining my cwinkels cabinets, I wasn't very happy with the outcome and decided to spray them with "liquid tolex".. truck bed liner, so glad I did !
Wow, I've used that same metaphore to describe bedliner spray before!

Small world.

Thanks for the compliments, too! smile There is MUCH more to come, I suspect my own contributions to this thread will amount to several pages.
jmcecil
I appreciate you sharing the knowledge that's for sure (and anyone else on this site sharing their knowledge).
Rex Coil 7
jmcecil wrote:
I appreciate you sharing the knowledge that's for sure (and anyone else on this site sharing their knowledge).
No problem mangs.

This place is FULL of people willing to help. smile
JohnLRice
Excellent documentation and beautiful pictures! screaming goo yo SlayerBadger! love we're not worthy Thanks for sharing!
EMwhite
Four words: You're not screwing around!

One of the things I like most about MU is that every facet of it is open for DIY; whether you're into wood working, can assemble components of a power supply & wiring, drill and make your own modules with panels large enough for generous layout; bravo on all fronts. Very nice work.
Rex Coil 7
JohnLRice wrote:
Excellent documentation and beautiful pictures! screaming goo yo SlayerBadger! love we're not worthy Thanks for sharing!


Thank you for the compliments, John. And you're quite welcome. smile

EMwhite wrote:
Four words: You're not screwing around!

One of the things I like most about MU is that every facet of it is open for DIY; whether you're into wood working, can assemble components of a power supply & wiring, drill and make your own modules with panels large enough for generous layout; bravo on all fronts. Very nice work.


Agreed, I feel the MU is the DIYers choice for all the reasons you've cited. It's easily the "Chevy 350" of the modular synth universe (although Mr. Arrick might take offense to that analogy seeing as he's a classic Mustang fan!). So let me take another swing at that ... the MU format is the Hot Rodder's choice within the modular synth universe.

Thank you for the encouraging compliments. smile It's good to know what I am doing here is being well rec'd.
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