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 Forum index » DIY Hardware and Software » Developers' Corner
Buchla 259 Complex Waveform Generator
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inform3r



Joined: Sep 03, 2006
Posts: 59
Location: nyc

PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:31 pm    Post subject: Buchla 259 Complex Waveform Generator Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I've been a long time admirer of this incredible module. It's probably one of the most impressive oscillator out there. Which begs the question.... why hasn't anyone tried to clone it? I know that there are probably some parts that are either very rare and expensive or possibly unobtanium. But that hasn't stopped a lot of people from cloning other difficult modules!

I've been looking at the 259 schematics in the last few days. I'm an average schematic reader and I have to say that most Buchla schematics scare the heck out of me, especially the 259! I've been trying to figure out if it's possible to build an oscillator that mimics the 259 in a few areas such as; the inclusion of both a Principal and a Modulation Osc, and most of all.... the possibilities of harmonic animation via Timbre Control, Wave Symmetry, and the crossfading of one waveshape into another (Waveshaper).

The 259 seems to me to be the be all and end all of oscillators with not only it's incredible sound and FM capabilities, but most of all because of it's many waveform changing options. It's no wonder that Buchla 200 users weren't feeling the need for a "typical" VCF when they had all these wave shaping controls built into their oscillators.

I guess I'm wondering why hasn't anyone made anything like this since? Surely there must be many people who think this is quite a killer VCO!? More importantly, how can we create something like this now? Is some sort of clone possible? If not part for part, what about making some compromises/changes as long the final goal is reached? It's hard to believe that it's impossible to do it. Even the mighty 261e doesn't quite capture the rich sound of the 259. Maybe someone with more experience and/or technical expertise than me can comment? Thanks.
-John
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cbm



Joined: Oct 25, 2005
Posts: 381
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

There is a clone, of sorts... the Buchla 261e. It has roughly the same basic topology and the same analog timbre section. There are some differences, but they're very similar.
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Chris Muir
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ericcoleridge



Joined: Jan 16, 2007
Posts: 885
Location: NYC

PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Also worth looking at, for fun and inspiration--this diy clone of the 259 from the Deitz Modular website. Pretty ambitious project, as far as clones go. I check from time to time, hopeful for a parts layout...
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inform3r



Joined: Sep 03, 2006
Posts: 59
Location: nyc

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

cbm wrote:
There is a clone, of sorts... the Buchla 261e. It has roughly the same basic topology and the same analog timbre section. There are some differences, but they're very similar.


Chris, yes the 261e seems (and sounds) like a great oscillator. Very similar to the 259 in sound based on the small amount of comparison I've heard. And functionally they seem identical. I think I remember hearing some 200e clips from you, or is my mind playing tricks again? You mention that they have the same analog timbre section.... What other parts of the circuit are analog? I know that the 259e was a mostly digital oscillator, right? I'm actually curious about the percentage of analog/digital in the whole 200e system. All I know is it's a hybrid.

Eric, that website is very interesting! He seems to be the first person to clone the 259 (that I know of). I wonder if he will publish his work eventually. To have an oscillator packed so full of waveshaping capabilities is the stuff that dreams are made of! I would have a go at it myself if I was able to look at a Buchla schematic without going cross-eyed. Even breaking down the waveshaping and timbre sections would be an amazing feat. Speaking of that website, the guy is also cloning a Moog 901.
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cbm



Joined: Oct 25, 2005
Posts: 381
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

inform3r wrote:
cbm wrote:
There is a clone, of sorts... the Buchla 261e. It has roughly the same basic topology and the same analog timbre section. There are some differences, but they're very similar.


Chris, yes the 261e seems (and sounds) like a great oscillator. Very similar to the 259 in sound based on the small amount of comparison I've heard. And functionally they seem identical. I think I remember hearing some 200e clips from you, or is my mind playing tricks again?

The architecture of the 259 and 261e are very similar, but there are a few differences, mostly in the Mod Osc. The 261e Mod Osc has a variable waveshaper that smoothly moves from sine to a rounded square to square to pwm. The 259's Mod Osc has switched waveforms, but one of them is a sawtooth, which is nice.

And yes I have a few 200e clips here.

Quote:
You mention that they have the same analog timbre section.... What other parts of the circuit are analog? I know that the 259e was a mostly digital oscillator, right? I'm actually curious about the percentage of analog/digital in the whole 200e system. All I know is it's a hybrid.

The 261e has digital sine wave cores, but the waveshaping is all analog, as far as I know. I've been told that the timbre section uses the same cascaded, starved supply, opamp trick that the original 259 does. It's a good trick.

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CJ Miller



Joined: Jan 07, 2007
Posts: 371
Location: 127.0.0.1

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Buchla 259 Complex Waveform Generator Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

inform3r wrote:
I've been looking at the 259 schematics in the last few days. I'm an average schematic reader and I have to say that most Buchla schematics scare the heck out of me, especially the 259!


Same here! Buchla designs really do come from another world. Even after years of modding and building, Don's diagrams induce vertigo. This is the case especially with his big multi-PCB projects like the 259, 266, 208, etc. It's hard to commit to building a huge project if one is unsure what engineer meant.

inform3r wrote:
I've been trying to figure out if it's possible to build an oscillator that mimics the 259 in a few areas such as; the inclusion of both a Principal and a Modulation Osc, and most of all.... the possibilities of harmonic animation via Timbre Control, Wave Symmetry, and the crossfading of one waveshape into another (Waveshaper).


It is certainly possible, I'd be surprised if somebody hasn't quietly done it without telling us. Doing an exact clone of the parts would be a challenge to source, but I doubt if it's neccessary for getting the sound. The matched pairs AD811 and AD821 are easily substituted with MAT02 and MAT03. The LF13331 switches are gone, but other analog switches such as DG211 or similar can be made to work, I am sure. CA3160 are a bit obscure, but turn up at times. The biggest setback is that building a sprawling four board VCO is madness. But please don't let that stop you!

Other VCOs like the 259? The only other I know of which I'd say is similar is the 208 VCO - the oscillator from the Music Easel. Aaron Lanterman has called it the missing link between the 258 and 259.

Anybody wants to see me get completely barmy, send me schems of the 248 MARF....
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