Thursday, June 26, 2008


today i finished the "time synth". it only took 6 hours. here's some pics i took along the way.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008


last week i started this toy synth built out of an old alarm clock. i thought it would be a quick project taking maybe a week at most, but so far it has given me a lot of trouble. it will basically consist of a one octave keyboard with a 5 step arpegiator, two filter mods, and a pitch bend. it will also have the option of switching the arpegiator to one of the filter sweep functions, and it will have a key hold switch that will hold the last key you pressed.

thats all for now.

Monday, June 9, 2008


DAY13: put on a coat of white on the sides that will show through the grills.

DAY14: didn't do anything.

DAY15: wired it up, put the keys in, built the lfo circuit, glued it all tight, and finished at about 5pm. i would have taken more pictures of the inside, but i wanted to hurry up and finish this thing. and actually it didn't even really look that impressive in there anyway. i still had tons of room left inside. pretty tidy i must say. there are a couple flaws i noticed right away. i used the bigger half of the joystick for the depth of the lfo(about 90k) thinking that it would help the pitch bend go lower. unfortunately when the depth is at its lowest, it doesn't excite the transistor so the modulation stops. also, the orange paint is a little cracked in some places. the cracks are extremely small. i think that the acrylic dried before the enamel cured and it caused it to do this. i hope so at least. only time will tell if it is a bigger problem. also, when both "square" and "ramp" are modulating at the same time the peak tops out pretty high. oh well, this is hardly a real synthesizer. here's the pics

i will be posting a functional diagram and a video soon.

Friday, June 6, 2008

DAY 12

day 12: time to paint!
this has got to be the most intense part of any of my projects. i can only hope that i dont fuck up too bad. i usually fuck something up in each of my paint jobs. as you probably know if you live in portland, the weather sucks right now. its cold and the rain is teasing me. since i started this project, i knew i wanted to paint it a solid light color to compliment its industrial style features. at first i thought i should paint the whole thing solid white, but that was too ipod's. i then thought it might be a good idea to paint it orange with a blue-white fade behind the grills, but then i thought that might look too artsy. i also thought about orange on white, yellow on black, so on and so on. i think i'll go with a simple solid orange. i figured i could use krylon fusion but they didnt have that color at the hardware store. "fusion" is the only dependable spray paint i know of, even though it beads. i've had great results from generic spray paints, but its a gamble from can to can. i really prefer the airbrush over everything, but the acrylic paint wont stick to plastic that hasnt been sanded and primed(i dont care what you say).

after testing techniques. i've decided to put on a base coat of fusion white and airbrush orange on to it before it cures.

airbrush paint can be a pain in the ass(even badger) you always have to modify the viscosity. i ve found that the testors stuff you buy at walmart is the easiest to use right out of the jar. ultra thin and bright candy coat, dries fast and even. its too bad you cant get it in more than a half oz at a time.

here is the box partially assembled with the orange paint.

it turned out a little more florescent than i had expected. i think the acrylic paint reacted with the fusion somehow. i think i might go back and paint in white behind the grills after all. it kind of looks like it might bring it together better. i'll have to wait until the paint is fully dried though. i will have to use tape to mask the orange parts and i dont want to risk pulling up the paint with it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

day 5:
Saturday morning i rewired the keyboard to see if it still worked. it didnt. thats because i forgot i scraped the vcc+ trace to the keys to try triggering the keys with an oscillator. (that didnt work at high frequencies when the keyboard's clock was low so i 86'd it)any way i found the problem and it worked. then i glued the keyboard "tops" to the box and sanded the edges. this all took two hours before i had to go to work.

error #1: thought it was a good idea to put some hours in late at night after work.
error #2: thought i should bend one of the keys over to the side to make them more aligned.
error #3: try to bend the key using a blow torch
with the keys out of the box they seemed rather misaligned. what i didnt realize at the time was that the hole cut for the keys was flush to the perimeter of the set. in order to bend the plastic i melted it first with a little butane torch and bent it into place. it didnt work how i planned. i realigned the one key on the end but a different one moved. after i fixed them a few times to make them parallel, i soon realized that now the hole was too big. i then had to return the keys to their original state. hopefully the melting of the plastic hasnt compromised the integrity of the keys. after that i realized that ther was significant warping on the piece of plastic that holds all the keys together. that s when i said hell with it and decided to swap out the keys with my backup keys. unfortunately the backup keys were a different size. oops! to make a long story longer; i ended up sanding the warped parts down and got myself back to where i was 3 hours earlier. i then went to bed.
day 7: nothing
day8: didnt even go into the basement
day 9: worked 11 hour shift on a position ive never been trained on with no help and no breaks whatsoever. still waiting for some empathy.
day 10: did a little touching up on the box and drafted some templates for where all the hardware will go on the side panels.
DAY 11: used my templates i made to cut extremely precise holes in the side panels for the hardware. this is the joystick side.

this is the switch and pot side.

and here's the speaker side

here are some shots of the whats left of the box

and here is all of it before being put together

(oops, almost forgot to add a line out)
now im just waiting for the weather to clear up so i can go out side and start painting it. what the hell is going on with all this cold rain!?