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Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:21 am
by TheKeytarist
I have been considering options for a new synth lately, and have come to the conclusion that I might be I treated in building my own. I did some research and found couple websites that deal in cem chips( I.e. o sequential circuits type stuff). Keep in mind that I have absolutely no experience with electronics. One sit kit that I took notice of was the paia fatman. The only flaw I found with that was that it could produce a saw waveform, but not a square or a triangle. If any one has any thoughts, reply would ya?

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:26 am
by tallowwaters
TheKeytarist wrote:Keep in mind that I have absolutely no experience with electronics.
Then start by building something aimed at novices. Start with a cheap toy circuit bend or just find an old board and practice soldering and desoldering. Reading about said subject is advised as well.

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:46 am
by smoothcriminal
are the Shruthis beginner-oriented? (asking for myself as well)

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:26 am
by TheKeytarist
Thanks for the advice :)

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:43 am
by hyphen nation
maybe try a build your own clone effects pedal?

http://www.buildyourownclone.com/

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:59 am
by EmptySet
Since you have no experience, I'd recommend what the others here are saying… start small. Maybe a pedal (although even some of then can get a tad hairy). You need to get some soldering (and desoldering) skills. It would also help a lot if you could read a schematic at least at a very basic level. And you need to go through the pains of knowing when certain parts need to be put in a certain way (i.e. polarized)… and how to figure that out (from the part itself, a schematic, spec sheet, etc). Those are the fundamentals to building anything. After you feel comfortable with that, I'd go for a kit that is slightly larger (but not yet a full blown synth like you're thinking)… for example, a x0xb0x, which does in fact include an analog synth in it. It's not a simple project, but it's simpler than a full synth. And it will give you a taste for some of the ickier aspects (dealing with tons of parts, doing a "large" project, handling a bunch of chips/sockets, etc). Unless you're a veteran, building a full synth from scratch (even from a kit) is a big job and one that can go wrong in myriad ways. I wouldn't want you to lose out on a lot of money (also an issue) by screwing up something because of inexperience. Practice, practice, practice! And then take the plunge. Another way to learn is like others have said: circuit bending. Or, even better (in my eyes), synth repair. You'll see how all kinds of equipment works under the hood, what to expect when you open these things up, your desoldering skills will improve, and they're usually smallish projects. Best of luck!

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:11 pm
by meatballfulton
The Fatman is actually a good novice synth kit. pAiA has been doing kits for 40 years and it's pretty foolproof if you just follow the directions. Once you get it built, there are many mods posted to the netz that you can do if you like.

Image

If you have never done any electronics assembly, you'll need a few tools: needle nose and diagonal cut (dike) pliers, some small screwdrivers, soldering iron, desoldering pump...

There's folks here (like rhino and machinegeist) who can probably help you out with the real basic stuff.

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:09 pm
by theglyph
http://www.musicfromouterspace.com/mfosweb/home.action

The above link is a great place to start. Click on the Synth-DIY tab when you get there to find plenty of great resources. The Fatman is also a wonderful little box for beginners.

Also:

http://www.cgs.synth.net/

http://www.synthdiy.com/

http://www.electro-music.com/forum/forum-112.html

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:00 pm
by tallowwaters
If you don't even know how to solder, something free and useless is your best first choice, not a 200 dollar piece of kit.

Once you have soldering and desoldering down, then a DIY kit is an okay choice.

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:31 am
by pricklyrobot
+1 for http://www.buildyourownclone.com Their phaser kit was the first thing I ever built, and it worked on the first try. They're very high quality kits, with excellent documentation. Be sure to check out the forum there to, lots of good stickied tutorials there, and knowledgeable people to help you out if you get stuck.

Here's a cheap one you might start with: http://www.buildyourownclone.com/confidence.html

A couple other places that sell cool pedal kits:
http://www.generalguitargadgets.com/
http://www.4mspedals.com/

This site has a lot of good beginner DIY info (check the Tech page particularly):
http://www.beavisaudio.com/
It's mainly pedal-oriented, but has some other projects as well.

Another option for working on your soldering chops is to make your own instrument cables (if you screw up, just snip a bit off the end and get back to work on a slightly shorter cable ;) ). An excellent source for bulk cable and plugs:
http://www.redco.com/

Once you've worked your way up to a synth kit, from what I can see, the Shruthi does look like a good choice. It seems very similar to the Sammich SID I built last year. The Sammich was time-consuming, but pretty simple technically speaking, in that it had no wiring (you'll learn pretty quickly that wiring up pots, jacks, switches, et cetera is frequently the biggest b***h of DIY).

I think the Sammich SID kits are all over with now, but I'd definitely go for a Shruthi over an x0xb0x (my next project, by the way) if I was looking to take the next step after successfully putting together a few pedals.

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:49 pm
by TheKeytarist
Thanks fir all those great replies.

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:05 pm
by tim_m
If you want to stay in the synth realm, but not difficult builds, try starting with the 'Atari Punk Console', which is a simple noise-synth. Another good one is Tim Escobedo's MS-20 filter clone, which can run from a 9V battery.

A lot of the Music From Outer Space kits aren't too hard once you get used to soldering and sourcing your own components.

If you are at all interested in DIY pedals, diystompboxes.com has a great forum with multitudes of information.

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:51 pm
by Synthacon
It is surprising how many people are getting in to building kit again. E&MM and Maplin back in the late 70's early 80's used to carry kits and schematics of stuff on a regular basis.

I have had a Powertran Transcendent 2000 and an E&MM Spectrum synth in my time, I bought both assembled but both were not well built and as Tallow has hinted at I think many people jump in to this with out knowing very little about electronics at all.

Small and basic steps and lots of reading is the way to go, plus investing in some quality gear too, will help you along the road to what can be a very very fun and worthy thing to do.

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:32 pm
by tim_m
In Brooklyn at least, I see old Casios thrown out on the curb all of the time. Some even have Midi. Some have ok keyboards. There are some CV controller projects on Music From Outer Space that you can adapt some of these Casios to do.

Re: Does anyone know about building analog synths?

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:57 pm
by Psy_Free
tim_m wrote:In Brooklyn at least, I see old Casios thrown out on the curb all of the time
So the streets of Brooklyn are lined with Casios :lol:

Sorry, couldn't resist, I'll get my coat.