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 Forum index » DIY Hardware and Software » Thomas Henry designs
Still just a DREAM ......
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State Machine
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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
like it the pic SM posted.


Copy-Right --- "Magic Smoke Electronics" ...... I got it from their website ....

Very Happy

Bill
[/quote]
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Tim Servo



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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 2:28 pm    Post subject: Still just a DREAM... Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks for the feedback on panels, everybody. Please keep voting and discussing. Here's my philosophy behind the MSE layout - I'm a big fan of the ARP 2500/2600 style layout. This places the CV inputs at the bottom, with the CV attenuator directly above the CV input. In the middle of the module you have settings like Tune and Resonance. In cases where these settings are for CV controlled parameters, you try to keep the pot directly above the CV attenuator (basically, the Tune control sets the center point of the modulation, and the attenuator sets the amount of modulation). Finally, at the top you have processing inputs (to the left) and outputs (to the right). On the inputs, you have attenuators directly below the input, sort of a mirror image to the CV inputs at the bottom. To me, this graphically helps sort things out as the CV ins at the bottom and the I/O at the top both feed into the center 'core' of the module. Electrically, it helps to separate the CVs from the audio.

To me, the Moog / DotCom / MOTM layouts where all the jacks are grouped together and all the pots are grouped together just doesn't make as much sense from a UI design standpoint. These styles work well once you are familiar with the module, but it seems to require more memorization to work quickly. There's the argument that this helps prevent patch cord drape over the controls, but this no longer works as soon as you put in a second row of modules. I'd rather like to suggest a cord rack in between module rows to keep patch cords out of the way (like the 'finger' racks used to arrange loose patch cords in labs).

The Blacet style layout where inputs are on the left and outputs are on the right is okay, but it seems to lead to some inconsistencies. I've tried this style of layout with several different modules (in CAD), and it's more difficult to keep things consistent. It's better than the Moog style, but still not as clear as I'd like it to be. Believe it or not, I've laid out a whole series of modules, testing the modified ARP style layout for consistency and clarity across a wide range of stuff. I'm not saying MSE is planning on producing a range of modules (at least not right away), but I'd like to have a plan in place to assure things look right and stay consistent if we do.

As far as the color scheme, I just think black silkscreen on silver panels is easier to read and looks 'cleaner.' It's also easier to manufacture, and less likely to show scratches. Totally IMHO. Second choice would be white silkscreen on anodized black panels. The black ano gives an additional manufacturing step, and achieving consistency (there's that word again) in the texture and color of black anodize is yet another headache. Not impossible, but it is just one more thing you have to watch. And yes, that sort of stuff is important to me Wink I'm a mechanical designer by trade, and so the construction and layout of this stuff is a primary consideration for me. Of course, it's got to sound good and work reliably, but I've been doing this sort of thing for a couple of decades now (product design) and I'm a big fan of starting with a great UI, and letting that drive the design (basically, working from the outside to the inside).

Anyway, I hope this offers a little insight into what drives the Mankato layout you see. Of course, I could be totaly full of poo, so continue to agree / dissent / discuss because this is all good stuff. Smile Thanks for listening!!

Tim (thanks for reading, actually) Servo
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Coriolis



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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Any ideas on the price of a board?

C
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Randaleem



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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 7:30 am    Post subject: Re: Still just a DREAM...
Subject description: Panel layout thoughts (First post)
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Tim,

I am also a product designer of many years now. And like you; I care a great deal about the look and feel of the thing. Marketing is IMO always part of good design; and should be considered early and often when making look and feel choices.

I agree that a logical UI is more important than trying to keep patch cords from going everywhere. As Roger Arrick says in his Moog based Dotcom layout justification, They are going to be all over the place in any multi-row setup anyways; regardless of layout. I think he's right. Older PAIA modules also gave more thought to user friendliness than patch cord drape over controls. It's a good choice, IMO. Even in systems with clearly defined patch and pot portions; the addition of a module that breaks this rows-of-knobs-and-jacks up enhances the ability to find your way around a large complement of modules. So too can an odd colored module.

I disagree about your panel color and screenprint choices. More than your cost must be considered. A synth system designer can no longer just go it alone if the desire is to sell large numbers of units to people who have invested a large amount of time and/or money in getting the look and feel they are after. (If you're not going to play well with others, just sell bare boards and component kits.) Unless you've got the backing and desire to create new format. Dieter probably did choose natural silver to save on painting! As the first major player in his chosen format; he could set the stage.

Can that still be done? Is there room for yet another Modular format?
What about a 4U H. Serge/Buchla banana-based that didn't go full-panel-at-a-time, but had narrow singular modules?

As it stands there are about 4 or 5 strongly defined formats. Even Cyndustries has acknowledged this with her offering of the Zeroscillator in various formats. Modcan too, but with a weird twist that to me doesn't make any sense. MOTM is branching into Frac-rac territory. These once very "proprietary" formats recognise that to sell more; they've got to fit in.

The posted Mankato picture seems closest to the Euro-rack promoted by Doepfer and AS. Which should be silver. The frac-rac standard is black panel with light lettering. (Frac-rac gives up a lot of potential panel space because the screw holes are so far into the panel. You'll see fewer pots in a row in most all frac-rac designs compared to Euro-rack panel layouts.)
Rows of pots and jacks can make for easier assembly; with lower cost.

Except for the few who insist on making a statement with their panel colors (Wiard comes to mind), most all frac-rac modules are black. And Euro-rack panels are silver. Making a silver panel in a frac-rac format, or a black panel in the Euro-rack style WILL set you apart. Is that what you want?

Modcan A, Dotcom, Oakley and MOTM are all black panels with light lettering. Big knobs. Big jacks. (Banana's on the modcan A's). Moog, MOTM and Dotcom all live together in a system without too much clash of appearance. Their owners seem to like that consistency. When Paul mentioned recently that the old paint for MOTM panels was no longer going to be used; but that the new paint was "close"; there were a few who really felt put out. Betrayed of their loyalty even.

As a product designer thinking about entering this market, I find it important to notice that the creators who stuck to some non-standard format are now changing to match one of these which are more common. VHS vs. Beta, and CD vs vinyl. The war has been fought; and the winners are clearly evident. If it weren't for the installed base and popularity of Blacet modules; I think Euro would have replaced Frac by now. Except that black panels still evoke moog-ness. Do silver panels make for tinny sound Very Happy

Some still seem to want to make a statement by resisting this increasing consolidation of formats. That probably will work for some buyers. You've got to ask; Will more people buy a module that sticks out in their system; or one that fits in? (Am I trying to just fit into what's already there; or get them to buy all my modules AS a system?)

Modcan seems one such strange bird. The first panels (A series) were almost like the others but at 9"H instead of 8-3/4" (5U), they didn't fit.
Now in order to fit in; they've come up with the B series, but still they want to be different. White instead of black. One only has to read the MOTM groups to see that many MOTM'ers are ditching the white panels ASAP. Or not buying.

It pays to read the various lists of buyers to get a feel for the group dynamic. Do that, and you'd know that many, if not most MOTM guys are in the looks-all-the-same camp. So now the Modcan B's have the right size and the right jacks; but are the wrong color. What does that say to buyers?

I think you can tell which of the original modulars a given designer is beholden to; because you can see it in their initial offerings. Wiard is sized like old Aries or Digisound, but in wild blue with engraved embellishment. They've kept that blue and engraving in their new frac-rac sized modules. And for Grant; that will likely work. His whole approach is to be different. I don't think he's after a bigger market share.

I'm really glad to see TH designs finally escaping their full rack width format. I think that will be a good thing towards increasing their popularity. I hope MSE has a long and prosperous business.

Sorry for the long post; but I've been thinking a LOT about formats recently. Not only from a product designer's point of view. But also as a user; wondering if the size and colors and layout lead to different ways of working with the instrument? I don't mean the mechanicals of this plug or that jack. Or maybe I do? I mean that if you are working with a Serge; does the single large panel and stacking jacks affect the way you end up using the thing? Does the semi-circular cabinet draw you in?
Does the Egg create the chicken, or does the Chicken lay the egg?

Do we hear so many techno beat-y things from Doepfer because they ARE silver and industrial lookiing with stark vertical rows of tiny knobs standing at attention, awaiting the next order from headquarters?
Sound landscapes from Serge and Buchla because they don't have AGO keyboards and no vertical seams between modules? Not to mention the mostly vertical faces of most 3 and 5U setups vs. the flat, tilt, vert of typical Buchla and Serge. Are these only small things in the overall scheme?

Do the small knobs of 3U panels like Blacet lead to a different mindset; and therefore different sounds? Does the larger size of the plugs and panels of the 5U panels make a person stand back a bit more? Do we grasp the knob differently when it has a tactile pointer ridge?

After all; these are instruments. And tools. Any artist or craftsman IS affected by the shape and size and nuances of his or her tools.

Enough for now,

Randal


Tim Servo wrote:
Thanks for the feedback on panels, everybody. Please keep voting and discussing. Here's my philosophy behind the MSE layout - I'm a big fan of the ARP 2500/2600 style layout. This places the CV inputs at the bottom, with the CV attenuator directly above the CV input. In the middle of the module you have settings like Tune and Resonance. In cases where these settings are for CV controlled parameters, you try to keep the pot directly above the CV attenuator (basically, the Tune control sets the center point of the modulation, and the attenuator sets the amount of modulation). Finally, at the top you have processing inputs (to the left) and outputs (to the right). On the inputs, you have attenuators directly below the input, sort of a mirror image to the CV inputs at the bottom. To me, this graphically helps sort things out as the CV ins at the bottom and the I/O at the top both feed into the center 'core' of the module. Electrically, it helps to separate the CVs from the audio.

To me, the Moog / DotCom / MOTM layouts where all the jacks are grouped together and all the pots are grouped together just doesn't make as much sense from a UI design standpoint. These styles work well once you are familiar with the module, but it seems to require more memorization to work quickly. There's the argument that this helps prevent patch cord drape over the controls, but this no longer works as soon as you put in a second row of modules. I'd rather like to suggest a cord rack in between module rows to keep patch cords out of the way (like the 'finger' racks used to arrange loose patch cords in labs).

The Blacet style layout where inputs are on the left and outputs are on the right is okay, but it seems to lead to some inconsistencies. I've tried this style of layout with several different modules (in CAD), and it's more difficult to keep things consistent. It's better than the Moog style, but still not as clear as I'd like it to be. Believe it or not, I've laid out a whole series of modules, testing the modified ARP style layout for consistency and clarity across a wide range of stuff. I'm not saying MSE is planning on producing a range of modules (at least not right away), but I'd like to have a plan in place to assure things look right and stay consistent if we do.

As far as the color scheme, I just think black silkscreen on silver panels is easier to read and looks 'cleaner.' It's also easier to manufacture, and less likely to show scratches. Totally IMHO. Second choice would be white silkscreen on anodized black panels. The black ano gives an additional manufacturing step, and achieving consistency (there's that word again) in the texture and color of black anodize is yet another headache. Not impossible, but it is just one more thing you have to watch. And yes, that sort of stuff is important to me Wink I'm a mechanical designer by trade, and so the construction and layout of this stuff is a primary consideration for me. Of course, it's got to sound good and work reliably, but I've been doing this sort of thing for a couple of decades now (product design) and I'm a big fan of starting with a great UI, and letting that drive the design (basically, working from the outside to the inside).

Anyway, I hope this offers a little insight into what drives the Mankato layout you see. Of course, I could be totaly full of poo, so continue to agree / dissent / discuss because this is all good stuff. Smile Thanks for listening!!

Tim (thanks for reading, actually) Servo

Last edited by Randaleem on Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Randal,

welcome

and thank you for a very informative, well-thought-out post! You brought up a lot of things that have never even occurred to me.

Cheers,
Scott
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I agree with randalem.
we had a disscussion in a German Forum about the optics of Modularsynths.
I think that for many People the optics is a very important thing.
To be honest: i'm shocked how much optics counts for many people.


I also would never go for silver panels in frac rac format.
And as the module needs +-15V, it's the question how much eurorack users will get one.
I'm one of the very few who runs also +-15V in his eurorack System ( but i prefer DIY faceplates )

Tim: go for black !



another Thing:
I would rearrange the module layout and would put the in and out section down.
this would be much more common.
Especially the outs must be on the bottom, imo.


exactly:
just put the upper part down,
and put the input jacks under the pots, or maybe : rotate the Iputsection 90° to the left (---> Jacks beside the inputs . thats how i'm doin it)


And hey, i'm looking forward to get 1or 2 of those boards.
To get the Partslist would be very fine Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Funky40 wrote:

we had a disscussion in a German Forum about the optics of Modularsynths.
I think that for many People the optics is a very important thing.
To be honest: i'm shocked how much optics counts for many people.


Of course optics are important. Watching (someone on) a modular synth is very boring- unless it lights up like a christmas tree! If you look at Tombugs' new sequencer, you'll see what I mean. Not his design of course, but your eye will always want to look at the flashing lights- especially when they pulse with the sound. Who said disco's dead? Wink

As a matter of fact, I'm a product designer too (well I pretend to be one anyway- because that's the degree I'm studying for right now). However I find most commercial designs pretty dull- I don't like black panels for eg. I prefer clear Perspex, so one can see the insides. The basic modular format hasn't changed for years either.

DIY designs are always the best because it's always a thrill to see what constructors come up with. Its very inspiring.

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bitmonkey



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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 7:31 pm    Post subject: Perspex-tive Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
I prefer clear Perspex, so one can see the insides.


Aren't there shielding issues with Perspex/Plexiglas/acrylic? As in a lack thereof?

Anyway, I'm enjoying this exchange of ideas.

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

There shouldn't be a problem if everything like interconnections are screened properly using decent screened wire etc. And the PSU is properly housed and screened too. If you're really paranoid, then use metal by all means.
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IST NICHT FÜR GEWERKEN BEI DUMMKOPFEN. DER RUBBERNECKEN SIGHTSEEREN KEEPEN DAS COTTONPICKEN HÄNDER IN DAS POCKETS MUSS.
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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
I prefer clear Perspex, so one can see the insides

i am sure you don't want to see the guts of my modular, especially the first modules i built! Laughing
at least i won't let you take a look at it - it's really a mess. Embarassed

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hah! Rat's consider the KS-01 the slum district......
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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 11:19 pm    Post subject: Still just a Dream... Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Coriolis wrote:
Any ideas on the price of a board?

C


It's gonna be about $25, and they look a little like this...
(see attached pic)


Tim (and look past messy workbench) Servo


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Last edited by Tim Servo on Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
It's gonna be about $25, and they look a little like this...
(see attached pic)


Looks real nice ..... great job ! Love the blue .... Cool

Bill
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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I am just itching for this to become available, can't wait..
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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 3:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Still just a Dream... Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Tim Servo wrote:

It's gonna be about $25, and they look a little like this...


does the $25 include any components? Or is that just for the bare board?

PS- yes the blue colour is gorgeous Cool

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DAS KOMPUTERMASCHINE IST NICHT FÜR DER GEFINGERPOKEN UND MITTENGRABEN! ODERWISE IST EASY TO SCHNAPPEN DER SPRINGENWERK, BLOWENFUSEN UND POPPENCORKEN MIT SPITZENSPARKSEN.
IST NICHT FÜR GEWERKEN BEI DUMMKOPFEN. DER RUBBERNECKEN SIGHTSEEREN KEEPEN DAS COTTONPICKEN HÄNDER IN DAS POCKETS MUSS.
ZO RELAXEN UND WATSCHEN DER BLINKENLICHTEN.
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 5:33 pm    Post subject:
Subject description: BOM sneak preview
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Is there any chance of posting the mankato filter parts list?
I'm close to putting in a *big* parts order and it would be nice to include it
Wink
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Lol black like the early moog modulars and blacet to!
Are about the ugliest modular colors there are imho.
Wiard / Serge / Modcan and Buchla got the best layouts, colors etc imho.
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 12:52 pm    Post subject: Still just a DREAM... Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, Mankato #0001 is alive and kicking! I've been testing it, and while there are a few last tweaks it needs, it DO sound good! I need to move the connectors a bit so that the output and audio inputs have a little more room. They're okay, but it would make them easier to wire up with a little more space. Also, there are differences in the output levels, and these need to be equalized a little better. This is not quite so critical when using the Mankato as a VCF, but it does make a BIG difference when using it as a VCLFO. Still, the basic design and layout are okay, so it's just a few tweaks to make it all better.

The price we're listing is for the bare PCB. We're double checking with our supplier to see what price we'll charge for production units.

While testing, I've been listening to the outputs I haven't had before on my first prototype (the 6dB and 18dB outs). I was especially impressed by the 6dB out - it has that squishy "squelchy" electronic sound that just screams. I liked it so much, I recorded some 6dB demo settings and sliced and diced them together in Audity. I'm using another Mankato as a VCLFO to modulate the Mankato VCF, and a standard LFO to modulate the VCLFO. There is an incredible range in the VCLFO, and you'll hear what sounds like a splatty "distortion" in several spots. This is not distortion, but the VCLFO going up through the audio range (and above) and then back down. Let me all know what you think, and we'll keep tweaking the Mankato layout. We're ALMOST there!!!

BTW, I'll post a PRELIMINARY parts list tonight. Be aware that a few components on this will likely change (resistors for setting gain values).

Tim (proud owner of two Mankati) Servo


Mankato_Test_05-30_10.mp3
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Mankato 6dB output. Recorded in six different takes and diced together using Audity. Generally, if a change in the sound is slow, it's a modulation or control tweaking - but if the change is abrupt, it's an edit... but not always. Enjoy!

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:02 am    Post subject: Still just a DREAM...
Subject description: BOM sneak preview
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Photon wrote:
Is there any chance of posting the mankato filter parts list?
I'm close to putting in a *big* parts order and it would be nice to include it
Wink


Here you go! Please note that this is preliminary. However, I have made some recent changes to some resistor values to get the outputs all at the same level, and these changes are reflected in this BOM. Basically, I think this is pretty close, and if anything else changes it will likely just be a few resistors. Based on my work tonight though, I'm pretty happy with the performance! When oscillating, all the outputs are within .5V (or less) of each other. This is fine for VCF use, and when used as an LFO you should be able to easily adjust the attenuators at the destination to make all the modulation levels the same. Yell out if you have any questions!

Tim (2AM here, I go night-night now) Servo


TH-201 VCF BOM--06-01-07--PRELIMINARY.pdf
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks Tim! Very Happy
Very appreciated.

Peter
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Coriolis



Joined: Apr 11, 2005
Posts: 616
Location: Stilling, Denmark

PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ah, so that's what I'm saving those 2164 vca's for!
FYI: Those can be had as s.a.m.p.l.e.s from AD FOR F.R.E.E!

C
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Tim Servo



Joined: Jul 16, 2006
Posts: 924
Location: Silicon Valley
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:00 pm    Post subject: Still just a DREAM...
Subject description: BOM sneak preview
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Photon wrote:
Thanks Tim! Very Happy
Very appreciated.

Peter


You're welcome! A couple of notes:

Change R35 to 18K (any value from 18K to 20 will be alright). This makes the max resonance level (and sine distortion) a little easier to trim.

The IC sockets are optional. I have all mine in sockets only because this is a test bed and so I may play around with different op amps. I would recommend putting the 2164 in a socket (16 pin) only because it's an expensive chip. Use good quality machine pin sockets - don't cheap out on this item.

The .100" 2 pin and 3 pin connectors are optional. If you don't want to use those, then feel free to use whatever fits, or even just wire directly to the pads if you like. These connectors are the same style used by Synth Dot Com and others, and it makes it possible to replace a pot or jack just by plugging a new one in. More work initially, but the results are nice.

The DC Input connector can be a 4 pin .156" MTA (Blacet/MOTM style) or a 6 pin .100" MTA (Synth Dot Com style). Use either one but not both. You can also wire directly to the pads if you want, but this makes it a PITA to remove/move later on if you need to. I would only wire directly to the pads if I were putting this PCB in a non-modular setup.

The pot and jack counts are based on a full blown module with 3 audio inputs (with attenuators), 4 CV inputs (3 with attenuators, 1 set to 1v/oct so no attenuator), Fine Tune, Coarse Tune and Resonance controls, and EIGHT outputs. You may choose a reduced setup, depending on your format of choice and how much panel space you want to devote.

PT1 and PT2 are optional. They will go to a VERY high resistance if they get hot. The object here is to protect the circuit if there is a short circuit. They work in conjunction with D1 and D2 (reverse polarity protection). You can leave off PT1 and PT2 (replace with a jumper or a 22 to 50 ohm resistor), but it is cheap protection when you consider the cost of the rest of the circuit. No circuit is 100% bullet-proof, but this scheme covers a lot of contingencies (this is similar to what Blacet talks about on their tech pages).

And yes, the 2164 is a great chip. Definitely a big factor in the wide range of the TH-201 Mankato. Thomas also uses the 2164 to create a state-variable VCF and the VCA in "An Analog Synthesizer for the 21st Century." By the way, I'm supposed to post a parts list for that project too. So many synths, so little time. If I could only finish my Flux Capacitor project...
Wink

Tim (looking more like Doc Brown every day) Servo
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Tim Servo



Joined: Jul 16, 2006
Posts: 924
Location: Silicon Valley
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 1:33 am    Post subject: Rev02 Boards coming soon
Subject description: Mankato Rev02 PCBs...
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I've posted this info elsewhere, but I thought it should be repeated here: Rev02 Mankato PCBs will be ordered this week and we should have them in 2 - 3 weeks. They'll be $21 + shipping, and they'll be blue. Wink

Shout out if you're interested in one so we can get a rough idea of how many to order. Also, I can post the parts list again if people want to know what parts to look for (includes Mouser part numbers, so you can figure a price pretty easily).


Tim (my cat gets excited every time a box arrives from Mouser) Servo
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Photon



Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 363
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Very Happy Interested! Very Happy
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Danno Gee Ray



Joined: Sep 25, 2005
Posts: 1343
Location: Telford, PA USA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 6:45 am    Post subject:
Subject description: Me too
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I'll be in for one as well.
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