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 Forum index » DIY Hardware and Software
VCS 3 / Synthi AKS inspired synth DIY
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Ricko



Joined: Dec 25, 2007
Posts: 154
Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

There are four main kinds of intellectual property. First, trademarks relate (basically) to product names: it is in the public interest that things made by one party not be passed off as being made by another, and trademarks help this. Second, copyright relates (basically) to original expression of ideas: it is in the public interest that authors and creators be able to participate in a market and copyright helps this. Third, industrial design rights relate to the aesthetic characteristics of some product. Fourth, patents relate (basically) to machines and processes: it is in the public interest if creators are encouraged by a temporary monopoly but forced to disclose their secrets, which become public domain on the expiry of the patent. (Or that is the theory.)

So any technology that is a lapsed patent, there is no legal or moral basis to treat it like it is still the property of the original owner. Indeed, the bargain of a patent is the opposite: if they didn't want it to become public domain, they should have tried to keep it a trade secret. Difficult to do, as the T. Cary quote suggests.

IANAL, but in this case there may be some trademark issue if the boards are passed off as EMS. But they clearly are not. There does not seem to be any copyright, design or patent issue either: were the schematics obtained legally? (Obviously, don't republish commercially any EMS material, including schematics.) If anyone is saying it is illegal to clone old gear, under what law do they mean?

Indeed, to claim that there it is somehow illegal or wrong for someone to arrange to repair their property themselves, for example by obtaining a replacement PCB, when there is no other recourse, would be against the public interest. Such not-for-profit repair activity is fair use.

What there may be, if you are a communitarian, is the idea that we should not destroy the livelihood of another, or the political ideal that we should support local businesses. But this goes two ways, the person who thought of some idea does not have more right to exploit that idea than someone else: if I (as a caveman) invented fire, it would be merely an act of bastardry for me to try to prevent you (also a caveman) from taking or using the fire.

The thing is that AFAICS you don't need to ask permission to clone old gear: by contacting the original designer you are in fact giving them the chance to ask *you* not to clone it, if they are continuing production. I don't know any details about Robin Wood, but if orders have been taken for 15 years with almost no production, I'd say claims that he is producing are not credible. I don't see what moral grounds there are for letting what appears to be an untruth (that production is immanent) hold people back from cloning.

The things that a manufacturer can do to prevent competitors are all market-related: they can provide good price, they can provide good service and quality, they can stock up on obsolete components, they can use the goodwill of the brand name, they can refuse to cooperate with potential competitors.

I know what Ian is saying about how bad it is for a designer to feel ripped off. (Indeed, an idea of mine which was made into an ISO International Standard, which I am the editor of, was subsequently patented a couple of times: the US patent system is utterly disfunctional and a laughing stock.) But, really, boo bloody hoo. Our ideas and our work are only ours for as long as it serves the public interest.

I don't see why these replica boards should not be provided for sale: especially if it is not-for-profit and for repair. (The schematics should be redrawn with better layout to prevent copyright infringement in provided documentation, to keep things clear, I'd suggest.) But even if it is for profit and it is for hobbyists or even new clones, I think claims that somehow the guy is doing anything morally wrong are really wrong-headed. These things are 40 years old, and they do not seem to be in serious production.
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radek tymecki



Joined: Mar 22, 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I dont underestand some of You guys...

So... I belive all threads with moog, arp, wasp, ms20, ps3100 vcf's clones should be deleted? etc
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derekrevell



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:30 am    Post subject: Phutney (VCS3 clone)
Subject description: And another thing
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I placed an order with Robin Wood for a VCS3 in 2007, and I even took the time and trouble to go down and see him, I showed him my cloned VCS3 during that visit, at that time is was only a case with the panels and pots and patchbay fitted, as the patchbay was a 20 x 20, Robin was visably drooling over that expanded patchbay. I also had taken down all the rest of my EMS built equipment (Synthi AKS, PVC and DK2) to show him, I remember his comment on seeing the cloned VCS3, "I hope your not going to sell that", but I got the feeling that his general view about clone builders was I know people are buiding their own, and I'm not that bothered.

Robin, feel free to comment on that last statement

In my defence, it was never my intention to "do Robin out of sales" as I assumed that the people who were going to build clones were never likely to make a purchase from Robin, and secretly I hoped that this might galvanize Robin to start making them again.

The circuit boards I was intending to supply are not copies of the originals, they are my own design with nearly 300 hours of my time spent on the layouts, and I was never going to supply any electronic diagrams (which I note are readily available on the internet, if you know where to look) I was only going to supply a BOM so you could source the necessary bits, which are becoming increasingly rarer day by day, and to quote Jurgen Haible, this clone has cost me more than the current price of a Robin Wood supplied VCS3, if that ever becomes a reality.

That said, I fully intend to finish my clone and I will.

Someone soon will start building these synths for real, and I don't believe that will be Ludwig or Robin.

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v-un-v
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

radek tymecki wrote:
I dont underestand some of You guys...

So... I belive all threads with moog, arp, wasp, ms20, ps3100 vcf's clones should be deleted? etc


Well this is it isn't it? The million dollar question.

The price of a secondhand analogue synthesiser today, is utterly preposterous.

The same very much goes for the VCS3. I also know a few who have owned them, tell me that they are overrated. They're slow and cumbersome to set up, and once you've got you patch, you can bet that the next day it won't sound the same any more. £3200 for an unpredictable mess?

A positive outcome from this little chapter is to perhaps decide where the design could be taken next. I've often thought that a modern day VCS should have 3 through-zero oscillators, perhaps even a low/high filter. A digital patchbay I think is out of the question- something to do with the impedance of the relays to patch both sound and control signals- but now it's all getting messy.

I always thought that the modern day Synthi, is the Nord Modular G2. Why? Because the G2 is exactly the kind of design Zinovieff would have approved of. Computer controlled, not patchbay (According to a quote from Graham Hinton, Zinovieff hates patch cables- hence the pin matrix), best of all, the G2 has memories.

I think it is best left as a dream, in the same category as a Jag or a Roll'er. We all dreamt of owning one of these bloated cars when we were kids, but when we grew up, we all worked out that these cars were either status symbols or bits of heavy metal owned by the ruling class. I've got nothing against that. If you've got the money, then go get a Jag- or for that matter, a VCS3.

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mono-poly



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

radek tymecki wrote:
I dont underestand some of You guys...

So... I belive all threads with moog, arp, wasp, ms20, ps3100 vcf's clones should be deleted? etc


There is one difference.
These products aren't all being sold anymore.
The EMS Synthi's claim to be.
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forbin



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This has proved to be an interesting thread!

I have recently started doing a Moog 921 VCO PCB. I have done it out of interest as much as anything. As was pointed out there have been quite a few clones or "tributes" to old Moog stuff. I have sent Moog Music an e-mail to ask them if I could post the PCB for press'n'peel. The reply was very nice and that really anything prior to the Mid 90's is all that they are worried about.

I suppose the VCS3 is different in that there is somebody still building them... well sort of as it turns out...
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adambee7



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Instead of making a total clone of the original why not purchase the living vcos jh has designed, add some filters and stuff etc that are near to the original. Job done. A case is a case and if you want to make it look like a putney thats your choice. Very Happy Very Happy
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adhmzaiusz



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi,

Just wondering with all this copyright talk, how is this any different than the x0xb0x? Its a clone where the company who made it is still going. I couldn't find any info about Ladyada having permission from Roland (but correct me if I'm wrong, that doesn't mean there isn't any)

Some may argue that Roland is a bigger company with a bigger product line and has the money, whereas Robin Wood is a one man operation with one product. Well, as long as production is sparse and expensive, then sure let's make some clones. If Robin Wood would actually hire people to build the synths he's responsible for and lower the price then maybe he could still make a decent business out of it. Some say that Robin is more of a business man but clearly there is barely any business going on for us to wait and never have what we all want.

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adambee7



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

adhmzaiusz wrote:
Hi,

Just wondering with all this copyright talk, how is this any different than the x0xb0x? Its a clone where the company who made it is still going. I couldn't find any info about Ladyada having permission from Roland (but correct me if I'm wrong, that doesn't mean there isn't any)

Some may argue that Roland is a bigger company with a bigger product line and has the money, whereas Robin Wood is a one man operation with one product. Well, as long as production is sparse and expensive, then sure let's make some clones. If Robin Wood would actually hire people to build the synths he's responsible for and lower the price then maybe he could still make a decent business out of it. Some say that Robin is more of a business man but clearly there is barely any business going on for us to wait and never have what we all want.


That's a good point. The tb303 clone seems to be very popular and Roland haven't bothered hassling them. If Robin Wood wants people to build vcs3 there plenty of skilled assemblers in this country who need the work, me included. It would be great to know where HE stands on this. He is getting on a bit and maybe has other stuff going on in his life where this is not that important to him. But a simple letter to him to explain what we do here might get results.
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v-un-v
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The same happened for my all-time favourite distortion plugin "Crunch", which sadly was never updated to work on UB. The plug in looked like a Boss fuzz pedal, and Roland soon sent the boys around (even through Crunch didn't sound anything like a Boss pedal- it was 10,000x better! Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil )
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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
The price of a secondhand analogue synthesiser today, is utterly preposterous.


For those of us who are primarily musicians, this is true. For collectors of vintage electronics gear a fair price is whatever someone is willing to pay.

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v-un-v
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

kkissinger wrote:
For collectors of vintage electronics gear a fair price is whatever someone is willing to pay.


Yes, I know, and these are precisely the group of people I'd have against the wall when the revolution (eventually) came! Evil or Very Mad Laughing

I once had a run in with this collector from Essex (who was an ex-merchant banker), who was offering his entire record collection for sale. But actually he wasn't. He was simply offering to copy his records onto CD/R, so actually you weren't going to get any real copy at all. Some of you here may know who I am talking about. The same bloke appeared a couple of times in SOS magazine, where he was offering his collection up for a 'sample bank', during the early 1990's. Made me wanna puke!!! Twisted Evil

The whole Synthi myth thing too hasn't helped either. All the Synthi is comprised of, is a rather basic and rudimentary modular. It's nothing like the wonderful designs of God himself, Don Buchla. I think where the VCS's strength lies is in how each sound source can be added in varying amounts, to the patch matrix. I think all the crosstalk that the matrix threw up, added to the synthi's unique charms. I also love the joystick and trigger- great for mental samples (listen to Atom Heart some time! Track; "Machines are OK"; [http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/brown/id129722329] is wild VCS3 nonsense! Very Happy )

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adambee7



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm a guitarist aswell as an electronic music nut and i've seen lespauls from 1960 vintage go as much as $500,000 US dollars. Makes you puke as these instruments will end up in a bank vault and will never be played and loved. Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad
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ian-s



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
The whole Synthi myth thing too hasn't helped either. All the Synthi is comprised of, is a rather basic and rudimentary modular.


I have been enjoying playing with Cynthia (VSTi) over the last couple of days. I am getting used to the matrix but I think it is one of those things that seems like a better idea than it is, in practice.

I am also missing vc wave shape, sample and hold etc. Sad

The Synthi looks very cool, or at least it did when I was a kid. Mind you I thought the E-Type Jag looked cool when I was a kid. Embarassed
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abstraktor



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
kkissinger wrote:
For collectors of vintage electronics gear a fair price is whatever someone is willing to pay.

I once had a run in with this collector from Essex (who was an ex-merchant banker), who was offering his entire record collection for sale. But actually he wasn't. He was simply offering to copy his records onto CD/R, so actually you weren't going to get any real copy at all. Some of you here may know who I am talking about.


I'm intrigued - just what merchant Wink are you talking about?
I also hate collectors who collect for the sake of it and see musical instruments or music as investments - they have definitely driven up the prices of vintage gear Evil or Very Mad
VC3? Bah! Rolling Eyes
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SynthBaron



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I hope you're all happy now.
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v-un-v
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

SynthBaron wrote:
I hope you're all happy now.


Very happy thanks. Very Happy

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suitandtieguy



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.
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v-un-v
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yup! Laughing Laughing

(although the association with Mr Bush, gives me the willies! Shocked Laughing )

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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
the association with Mr Bush, gives me the willies!


Me, too. Makes me want to throw up.

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suitandtieguy



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

it should. the amount of negative energy thrown towards this guy across several message boards is obscene.
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abstraktor



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

yeah i agree -there was no need to wade in to derek who, after all, was only trying to help fellow synth geeks out. Sad
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adambee7



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

abstraktor wrote:
yeah i agree -there was no need to wade in to derek who, after all, was only trying to help fellow synth geeks out. Sad


i agree Very Happy Very Happy
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LektroiD



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

kkissinger wrote:
v-un-v wrote:
The price of a secondhand analogue synthesiser today, is utterly preposterous.


For those of us who are primarily musicians, this is true. For collectors of vintage electronics gear a fair price is whatever someone is willing to pay.


This day and age has seen the end to bargain hunting, I still remember turning down a Korg MS20 at the end of the '80s, because the guy wanted £50 for it, at the time I thought I'd wait until I could afford one (I still can't, and certainly wouldn't justify it if I could). The ebay culture is mainly responsible for this. As soon as the word "vintage" is mentioned, you can guarantee an outrageous price tag. Nobody seems to take into consideration that old gear has dying perishable components such as worn capacitors, unstable carbon resistors, and obsolete chips. Why bother when there is new analogue hardware out there which is ultimately more stable.

As an analogy when it comes to ridiculous price tags, the same happens in the music industry with record collectors. Even some of the music I released back in the early '90s is fetching £100+ for a single vinyl. I don't see a penny of it in royalties, and likewise; neither do the manufacturers of the vintage synths sold second-hand, with a prohibitive price tag. I personally urge people to share mp3s of all my deleted releases since I have nothing to gain or lose from them. I'm certain the vintage synth companies feel the same way about their designs which are long obsolete.

The situation would be different if these boards were being manufactured by a huge corporation with the expectation to make millions, but as a small bunch of hobbyists, there is very little profit to be made.

It's a shame we'll never see these boards.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

LektroiD wrote:

It's a shame we'll never see these boards.


Yes, that might be true, but it is also a wonderful thing that with a little luck, we also may see EMS pop back up again, with their VCS3. I really hope so. Nothing seems to be sacred any more, therefore, I'm kind of pleased EMS are still going, despite that they appear to have some troubles right now.

(getting out of Truro for one, would certainly help).

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