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 Forum index » Artists » Howard Moscovitz
Original Buchla circuit
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mosc
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:30 pm    Post subject:  Original Buchla circuit
Subject description: The Buchla Machine
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Here is something special that I've been meaning to post for about 10 years, but I never got around to it. This is the first circuit that Don Buchla ever made. Here's the story:

Way back in 1972 I got a job with Don Buchla as an electronics tech. This was in the very early days of the infamous Electric Symphony Orchestra project. One day in the early summer, he took me, and all three of the other employees, to help him clean up his old place, because he had just moved. His old place was fabulous. He had an entire WW-II temporary building at the Oakland, California airport. It was a wooden, barracks-like building - very cool. For those who would know, it was very near the old Mike Quinn Surplus store, and it was the same type of structure. There were many stories circulating at the time of fantastic parties there in the sixties, some with The Greatfull Dead and other now-famous people. I don't know much about that, but the place was just perfect for parties in the sixties. This was the coolest pad I'd ever seen.

Anyway, the work we did was mostly carrying stuff out of the building to either a garbage can, or to Don's car. (I can't remember what kind of car). I didn't like doing this it because it was physical work, and it was very dusty.

At the end of the day, we were standing around talking before getting into our cars to leave. I just happened to glance into a trash barrel and saw this little box labeled, "The Buchla Machine". I asked Don, "What's this?".

He replied,"Oh, that's the first circuit I ever built. It has the first available commercial transistor in there." He told me the number which I can't remember, but it wasn't a 2N number. Subsequent research tells me that it must have been in the mid 1950s.

"What does it do?", I asked. (My father was a journalist, so I know how to ask the right questions.)

"It's a distortion circuit.", he said.

I asked if he knew it was in the garbage. He said he didn't care. I said, "Can I have it?"

Don said, looking at me with disappointed amazement, "Why on Earth would anybody want this?"

I said, "I dunno, I would like to have it though."

He said, "Sure, you can have it, and any of the other garbage too." He pointed to plastic bags full of kitchen and bathroom trash.

Well, I've kept it as a treasure for all the last 41 or so years. As you can see, it's a mess. The batteries that were in it leaked and may of the wires and parts are disconnected. There's even a clip lead in there, and a resistor just jammed into the chassis; probably something that happened in the garbage can. Obviously this was an an experimental project. I have refrained from doing anything to it, not even blowing out the dust. I thought of taking it apart to look for a transistor number, but I have resisted. Wink

Anyhow, at least I know from the horse's mouth that it is the oldest Buchla box in existence, and so, to me at least, it's quite groovy. I think it belongs in a museum, but, like Don would say, "What museum on Earth would want this?" The Chez Mosc Museum, of course. Cool

Here are some pics I just took. I hope you enjoy them. If you ever come to Chez Mosc, you'll get to see it, and even touch it! It's not an autographed first edition of the Bible, but it's not a piece of garbage either...

The harmonica is in the pic for size reference. If you click on a picture, it will take you to a full res image.

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

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Last edited by mosc on Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:01 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Cynosure
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Wow! That is really cool. Thanks for sharing the pics, and for saving it out of the trash.

I'm no Buchla, but I would never throw out my first completed build (my C-MOnSter synth).
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Paradigm X



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

That is fascinating, thanks for posting Smile
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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Enjoyed reading about this. Great story! Thanks for posting.
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Paradigm X



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Have you tried/thought about reverse engineering it?


Smile
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cebec



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Very cool! Thanks for sharing the story and pictures. Cool
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PHOBoS



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Paradigm X wrote:
Have you tried/thought about reverse engineering it?
Smile

That was the first thing that came to my mind, I want to see a schematic of it Laughing . great that you kept it howard, and a nice story to go with it.

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Minimoog56



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Looks like a germanium fuzz box!
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mosc
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

MiniMoog56 wrote:
Looks like a germanium fuzz box

Probably something like that.

Reverse engineering this is possible, but the time and energy I'd put into that would, in my opinion, be best spent on my own experiments. Besides, it would necessitate removing some of the sacred sixty's dust. That's similar to magic smoke, but even more so.

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drumsofd00m



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
some of the sacred sixty's dust. That's similar to magic smoke, but even more so.


I'm sure you *would* get a good high from smoking it. Wink
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mosc
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

welcome drumsofd00m to electro-music.com
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drumsofd00m



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks. I'm more active on Muffwiggler, but have been lurking here for a while. The oldest Buchla box I ever touched was said to have belonged to Stockhausen's workshop at WDR earlier, but it had no dust or other residue from exotic smokes on it. Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Great story! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Picturing The Don soldering away on a distortion box is what really made me smile... Thanks, and you have a way of telling, mosc! I wish it would go on and on Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

That one must have been the first transistor fuzz box ever Cool

Lovely story!

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ok, it´s late around here, I spent the night digging around the web, found this interesting read, kind of fits into this thread
http://www.vasulka.org/archive/RightsIntrvwInstitMediaPolicies/IntrvwInstitKaldron/61/BuchlaTranscription.pdf
Now I´m going to sleep sleeping

Quote:

"My studio at that time was ten feet wide and I worked out. on the sidewalk . It was so crowded in there we hauled the workbench out on the sidewalk on good days and set up my oscilloscope and worked out there. Cage came by and for voltage control I had hooked up my keyboard to an FM module that I'd built, a little module that was an FM receiver and I could play stations on it because I had one of the first varactor tuned FMs . Cage, as you can imagine was, just enormously interested in the fact that I could tune each key to a station and then proceeded to play the radio" Don Buchla
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

L´Andratté wrote:
Ok, it´s late around here, I spent the night digging around the web, found this interesting read, kind of fits into this thread
http://www.vasulka.org/archive/RightsIntrvwInstitMediaPolicies/IntrvwInstitKaldron/61/BuchlaTranscription.pdf
Now I´m going to sleep sleeping

Quote:

"My studio at that time was ten feet wide and I worked out. on the sidewalk . It was so crowded in there we hauled the workbench out on the sidewalk on good days and set up my oscilloscope and worked out there. Cage came by and for voltage control I had hooked up my keyboard to an FM module that I'd built, a little module that was an FM receiver and I could play stations on it because I had one of the first varactor tuned FMs . Cage, as you can imagine was, just enormously interested in the fact that I could tune each key to a station and then proceeded to play the radio" Don Buchla


Very interesting and helpful link, thanks!
Quote:
I wasn't excited about the size of the visual field believe or not, compared to the size of the audio field. The fact that I could command 100% of my acoustic perceptions and only 3% of my visual field. Kind of limited me as a composer in some weird way.

It has taken ready availability of a planetarium to get me interested in generating video. It seems I am part of a tradition! Also, I just found out last week, that most new planetariums have everyone facing in the same direction, mostly using one end of the dome. I guess that's the lecture based use of planetariums. For music I love working in a planetarium with circular seating and no preferred orientation. You get to watch the faces of people across the room.

Very nice thread here, thanks for getting the ball rolling, Howard.

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drumsofd00m



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

L´Andratté wrote:
Ok, it´s late around here, I spent the night digging around the web, found this interesting read, kind of fits into this thread
http://www.vasulka.org/archive/RightsIntrvwInstitMediaPolicies/IntrvwInstitKaldron/61/BuchlaTranscription.pdf
Now I´m going to sleep sleeping

Quote:

"My studio at that time was ten feet wide and I worked out. on the sidewalk . It was so crowded in there we hauled the workbench out on the sidewalk on good days and set up my oscilloscope and worked out there. Cage came by and for voltage control I had hooked up my keyboard to an FM module that I'd built, a little module that was an FM receiver and I could play stations on it because I had one of the first varactor tuned FMs . Cage, as you can imagine was, just enormously interested in the fact that I could tune each key to a station and then proceeded to play the radio" Don Buchla



It's always fascinating to realize that the idea for recently released modules, with SMD technology, onboard computers, MIDI and all, *still* can date back to ideas first explored more than 50 years ago. (Speaking of the 272e of course)
This makes me imagine that some, if not all of the 200e modules really were made because Don loved them and wanted to have them *for himself*, and not just as a 200 series rehash due to popular demand or influence from sponsors (cf. 260 & 297).

Nice find, thanks for sharing.
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