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Athena Synth
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> AMSynths Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next [all]
Author Athena Synth
The Athena Synthesizer is a complete analog synthesizer inspired by the ARP Odyssey. Two VCO's with ring modulation drive a 4075 style 4-pole Low Pass Filter, which is connected to a final VCA with ADSR and AR envelopes. Noise, S&H and a LFO complete the configuration. The synthesizer is analog with CV inputs for keyboard CV, velocity and after touch, as well as gate and pitch bend - there is no MIDI but you can use an external MIDI to CV converter. The Athena is based on one large single PCB which contains the analog circuits and all the sliders and switches. It mounts to a powder coated and silk screened steel front panel designed by AMSynths.

More details are here:

Would be killer with all components offered as part of the kit.
This is cool but why not make it as a Euro synth like Macbeth Micromac?
You would have more people get it.
Triple filter option would be awesome..
Nice! I've put my name on the list. Looking forward to this one. The Odyssey will forever be my favourite monosynth.
Interested, please add me to your list. ;-)
Athena UpdateThe first set of individual prototype boards are being manufactured, the VCO and ADSR/AR/VCA. We should have these tested and working by end of December, enabling a full size single PCB to be manufactured and tested in January.

The Athena will be sold as a unpopulated PCB and high quality panel. An optional steel case will be available as well. A complete ready built synth in a case may also be available later in 2014.

We will work with kit suppliers to provide a kit of hard to find parts along with a Mouser BOM. AMSynths are having the slide potentiometers manufactured.

The web page will detail progress with pictures and specifications, here:
Athena Update 22/12/13
The 6U Front Panel has been designed with all the switch and potentiometer locations finalised. A prototype aluminium panel will be made in January.

Picture of the panel mockup is below.

The VCO prototypes are being built and tested over Xmas, and the potentiometer samples should arrive in early January.
Nice panel Rob! Hopefully the project will be running smoothly and the price reasonable.

Happy christmas
love from Athena, would love to get one of these! Looks stunning! thumbs up
The first stage of the project is to build and test a number of prototypes of each section of the Athena, starting with the "must get perfect" VCO. This is based on the original 1971 design but with a number of changes to improve performance; precision 10V power rails, 2x high spec transistor arrays replace the old CA3046 and unmatched transistors, and low tolerance resistors with low temperature drift. The reason for these changes is to get a VCO that does not drift in frequency over time, essential to making the Athena playable and inspiring.

The VCO went together quickly with no problems and uses Lumina 45mm slide potentiometers, prior to getting non-LED versions manufactured in China for the production models. The waveforms are stable and accurate, although they do deteriorate at 18kHz plus in terms of wave shape accuracy (as per the real Odyssey). The Coarse slider range is set to 16Hz to 16kHzx, as this is more usable than the 20Hz - 20kHZ, as we do like bass frequencies and few people can hear above 16kHz anyway. The VCO is now undergoing tests to check how stable the frequency is over time and to measure the warm up time, data will be posted on the main Athena page.

Next steps are to test out the ADSR/AR/VCA board with a new high performance VCA, and then the VCF board with a re-designed 4075 filter circuit. Objective for February is to complete the single board PCB design and have one manufactured.

I am considering whether to have 3x main PCB's available, one for each filter type (4023, 4035, 4075), each in a different colour (yellow, green, blue). razz

I will hope that's more possible to get a Athena Synth than one of your modules! ;-)
cool project. could become a more affordable ttsh alternative.

how about adding an audio input, though?
Just checking: there is no keyboard, right? Analog CV/gate is fine by me.
kuxaan-sum wrote:

Would be killer with all components offered as part of the kit.

The Mouser BOM is helpful
I suppose you could mount this in a 6U cabinet like the Doepfer style cabinets and mount one of the eurorack PSU's in it.
Athena Update 19/01/2014
Lots of progress this weekend with the prototype VCF (4075) working well along with the new VCA (LM13700), and the original ADSR and AR all working like a dream. I can now join the 3 PCB's together and record some demo sounds! The VCF can use high quality matched transistor pairs or single transistors with no matching, customers choice. The S&H, LFO and Noise PCB has been ordered and that's the last PCB for this phase of prototyping, which is on schedule. The second phase is the single big PCB to be tested by end of February.

There are now 100 people on the mailing list and it is continuing to grow every day. To answer a few questions:

There are no plans to build an integrated keyboard, but if the kits go well I should be able to do a run of completed Athena's with a steel case later in 2014. I will be launching both the 1613 Sequencer as a 3U rack and a keyboard kit to turn a humble 4 octave Fatar keyboard into an ARP 3620 keyboard replica (uses a microcontroller - no MIDI hihi ).

The panel design has been finalised and quotation obtained for the powder coating steel, which will be screen printed in white. Pricing is yet to be set but it will be affordable. An initial run of 50x PCB's and Panels is expected to be done at Easter. The panel is 6U x 84HP and fits in a standard 19" rack and requires 15V power not 12V Doepfer.

Future versions of the PCB will have the 4023 or 4035 VCF instead of the 4075, so you can chose which Athena you wish to have. All filters are modified and upgraded for the best sound possible.

Customers using MIDI will want to use a MIDI to CV converter that has gate and trigger outs at 10V, like the Kenton Pro.

That's it for now, more news towards the end of February. hihi

Excellent! Very excited for this project
This is relevant to my interests.
emuarc wrote:
Athena Update 19/01/2014

The panel design has been finalised and quotation obtained for the powder coating steel, which will be screen printed in white.

So... white for the lettering will there be a different color for any graphics?

Looking forward to ordering

emuarc wrote:
The VCO went together quickly with no problems and uses Lumina 45mm slide potentiometers, prior to getting non-LED versions manufactured in China for the production models.

Btw. I hope that you're able to stress / quality test the sliders somehow or there will be an option to use some kind of off the shelf sliders. My experience with various Chinese manufactured no-name Odyssey replacement slider quality has been awful - more than one or two either arrived DOA or needed swift replacement to an old cleaned up slider because it was performing much better.
The Athena will be available with 2 slider options. The Bourns LED version (Lumina) and a nonLED version that we are having manufactured. This isn't a quality option, but to enable customers to choose LED v. ARP style cap, and so customers can buy sliders from Mouser or AMSynths. They will be the same price.

The sliders samples have arrived from our manufacturer and they are of a high quality with smooth response and a dust cover, we will be conducting further tests. We have used over 2000 sliders from our Chinese manufacturing company in our modules and had no problems at all, and no DOA.

The sliders are NOT reproductions of the original ARP versions, they are modern "off the shelf" Bourns style 45mm sliders, with the same life span as Bourns (10,000 cycles).

The panel silk screen is white, for lettering and arrows and boxes. Same as the Odyssey Mark 1, but different panel colour.

There will be a beta programme where a small number of customers will build the kit and comment on quality, snags, etc., before we do the main shipments.

Please keep the questions coming, and I will put up a FAQ soon.
Athena Update 02/02/14
Prototype VCA/ADSR/AR board has tested successfully, with a new VCA based on the LM13700, much quieter!! And this weekend the LFO board has been populated and works well, just waiting to get some 10m resistors and then the S&H will be finished. So that completes the individual tests and I can now layout a single main board and get this tested by end of February. I also started the panel and PCB design of the 1613 sequencer..I will post some pictures and rig up the 4 Athena boards so I can play some sounds and put them online..
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