Weston Audio AD110

AD110 Front

I built this as a DIY project. They offer it assembled also. It’s a Eurorack adaptation of the drum sounds from the Boss DR-110. All the sounds are analog, not samples.

The project comes as three PCBs and a front panel. It’s all through hole parts. The parts are fairly easy to get. I few of the parts are harder to get. For example the project asks for some very specific resistor values like:

  • Many resistors are listed as 0.1% tolerance. These are not hard to get but also not common. You can order these at Mouser.com for most. But some of the values were not available. I rolled my own with series and parallel resistors. I couldn’t get within the 0.1% tolerance but got reasonable close and things still seemed to work.
  • Uncommon resistor values like: 442K, 86.6K 0.1%, 127L 0.1%, 107K 0.1%., 374r and more. As I said above you can get most of these at Mouse.com but some were out of stock or otherwise unavailable.

Other parts list obscure part numbers but mundane substitutes can be used instead for example:

  • 1SS133M – General purpose diode. I used 1N914/1N4148
  • TZX9V1D – Zener diode. I used a random 9 volt zener here
  • KSC945 – Seems to be a general purpose NPN BJT. I used 3N3904

I had a problem with my build where the electrolytic capacitors were shorting out on the solder traces in the board above. Most common sizes for these is 10mm which is the space between the boards. Either get shorter 7mm caps or bend the caps over 90 degrees. The bill of materials lists 7mm caps but I had plenty of caps on hand I wanted to use.

The build process is pretty straightforward and the documentation is very good. The board is all through hold part with fairly generous spacing.

Here is a short sound clip. I used Temps Utile to trigger the AD110. Im using the Bass, Snare, open and closed hats along with cymbal. The only sound not used here is the hand clap. I used the mix out and sent a periodic trigger to the accent input.

Serge Resonant EQ

Serge Resonant EQ

This is the last piece of musical gear for the year. It’s a fixed filter bank with 10 filters. 8 of the filters are bandpass filters. The highest and lowest bands are high pass and low pass filters. It’s like a 10 band equalizer with synth filters. The filters are tuned to major sevenths and have some overlap. The filters also resonate as you turn them up. An interesting module with a lot of utility.

I got this as a kit from Thonk. The kit was pretty solid all of the parts were there and all clearly labeled. It would be hard to fail with this kit, I could have but didn’t!

The build process was very paint by the numbers. Nothing special, no tricky situations, or small parts. Just op-amps, and they are all the same type, caps, and resistors. The instructions are clear. The only place that might make you question is where a few parts are not used. There are a few resistors and caps marked on the PCB that are not used in the build. This is clearly noted by the instructions.

Overall this is a good module. It fills a useful niche as 10 band EQ. This is really great for adjusting and focusing a sound. With the two inputs you can use it to mix and “master” before the final output, or just use it to mix and tailor a sound to fit a sonic “space”.

The design and layout of the module is nice. Makes me want to have a whole panel of Serge. The spacing is nice the layout is evenly spaced and logical. It’s not trying to pack too much into the smallest space available. The panel is clearly labeled and easy to read.

The worlds largest analog synth

Anyone who has watched my podcast knows I’m a big fan of bandcamp.com. Haven’t watched my podcast? Don’t worry it’s really only watched by a select few.

Check out this link on Bandcamp:

https://daily.bandcamp.com/features/robin-hatch-tonto-interview

That said, I ran into this on the Bandcamp home page the other day. I’m a big fan of Tonto. These guys made something amamzing back in the 70s. They were the unsung/uncredited heroes behind Stevie Wonder. Tonto was almost co-starred in Phantom of the Paradise. But here’s where it gets controversial.

That’s pretty a pretty big synth!

I’m doubting this is largest analog synth. I have serious doubts. I’ve seen some synths in strangers spare rooms over on modwiggler.com. What about the systems they aren’t showing? Seriously Colin Benders has a rack that’s close to this size.

Wow! Look at all of those knobs.

And! Back in the 70s everything was bigger. It all just took up more space. I mean when we say “largest” are we talking physical dimensions or weight and volume? Or are we talking number of VCAs? Because that’s really what’s important, am I right? If this is the measure Colin Benders systems dwarfing Tonto. There’s plenty of people on modwiggler who are rivaling.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dismissing Tonto. I’m just saying that times change, technology marches on, things get cheaper and more available, and these days we can smash more VCAs in less space than was needed in Tonto’s day.

Glitchstorm & Bytebeats

Glitchstorm is a Arduino powered byte beat generator. Arduino if you are not familiar is an open source hardware programming platform. Rather than surf the web and send email you can use Arduino to open your garage door and flash your favorite color of LEDs. Or, in the case of Glitchstorm output quasi musical audio.

Bytebeats are generated by a software expression that runs in an infinite loop. Unlike random patterns byte beats tend to have repeating patterns that evolve and change over time eventually repeating. Usually they repeat a pattern for a while before evolving or changing abruptly. They are far more musical than typical random patterns or fixed pseudo random patterns. Bytebeats often evoke the sounds of early 8 bit video games, what’s not to like?

Read the post here former information and background on bytebeats: https://cult.honeypot.io/reads/hack-your-way-to-music/

There are many different software expressions that generate byte beat patterns. Google and you’ll find plenty. There are a few guides to writing your own!

The Glitchstorm is a project by Spherical Sound Society. It runs on the Arduino it contains a few byte beat expressions and can switch between them with two buttons. It also has a couple pots that adjust the variables used in the expression to vary the patterns and sounds. It has an audio out and clock out.

Check out this thread over at modwiggler.com.

I put the whole thing together on the breadboard in 15 mins. Time well spent! The results were amazing! This is a short 3 mins of noodling. I played with the for an hour!

Thonk

I have been planning to work on some Eurorack projects. Turns out it’s hard to find the correct jacks, or at least the PCB mount variety. I got a few on Aliexpress to experiment with I’ll talk about these in a future post.

Turns out Thonk has the jacks I’m looking for. I had to write this post to call them out for a couple reasons. First, Tionk is in the UK and their shipping was fairly reasonable to the US, and second they use recyclable paper shipping stuff rather than styrofoam peanuts and and plastic!

Thanks Thonk! I love these DIY projects but there is a dark side. The amount of packaging trash I end up throwing away is starting to bother me. This time it’s all paper and recyclable!

DIY LFO, Sampls & Hold, Stepped voltage generator, and Noise

Some old fracrack synth modules. The last is a Blacet Mixer Processor. The others are DIY. These DIY modules are

2 x 8 step sequencers. These are barebones they don’t have any quantization or even LEDs for the steps. These have a clock trigger out, forward backward switch, reset, and a carry out which can be used to chain them together.

A 10 step step sequencer it outputs a trigger at each of 10 steps. This has a clock out, and and end step which can be used to make shorter sequences.

2 x LFOs with triangle, square, saw, noise, and step out. These also have a sample and hold.

Dusting off the modular synth

Started thinking about synthesizers the other day this prompted me to dust off the old modular synth and get it working again. I was expecting more trouble but in the most if not everything seems to be working.

To get things working I needed to untangle and sort the massive amount of power cables and other wiring. In reality I disconnected almost everything and reconnected it all again. At this point I had the mixer setup and powered. From there I could run a test on each module. Lo and behold thing were functioning.

Here are a few images. Most of this would fit in the palm of your hand and run from your mobile phone these days.  That said in this case I can see the entire interface and there is a very real tactile experience.  Of course I’m not taking this with me.