Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Previous - Subsequent

Happy birthday. A Livewire Dalek for $250.

That's a full set of the well known Livewires - see here.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Friday, 30 October 2015



I have just managed to snag a Livewire Vulcan Modulator on ebay for a very reasonable $207 and so will take this opportunity to catch up with recent purchases:

  • 30th Oct - ebay - new - Pittsburgh ADSR £79
  • 30th Oct - ebay s/h - Livewire Vulcan Modulator - $207 plus a Dual Bissell for $150
  • 18th Oct - eBay new - Analogue Solutions jack connector - £16
  • 13th Oct - ebay s/h - Makenoise Brains - £65
  • 19th Sep - ebay new - Pittsburgh Sequencer - £109
  • 18th Sep - ebay s/h - XIX 1902 - £27
This will be continued in a new post.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


If the Pittsburgh micro is pretty, the Moog MotherHub is lovely.

One of the units will probably be acquired and then a trinity box.

And, of course, something similar will be built.

Sound on Sound link.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Dream IV

Previous - Subsequent

Three problems:  modules are a tight squeeze; one of the power supplies is on the blink; and my Doepfer Envelope is too deep.

A shallower, narrower ASDR would help significantly and I try to pick up a power supply from Maplin on Thursday.

If I am still short of HP, I'll make do with one RVS and take a VS from the spare S/H.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Dream III

Previous - Subsequent

Maker Model Links Notes
Wiard Noisering Muff1 - Muff2 - Wiard Two Muffwiggler threads and and an old Blacet manual.
Pittsburgh Chain Reactor Product page
Wiard Anti-Oscillator Muff More Muff
Doepfer Inverter Manual
Doepfer Clock Divider Manual
Wiard Wogglebug Manual
Pittsburgh Sequencer Product page
Doepfer Sample and Hold Manual
Doepfer Envelope Generator Manual
Doepfer A-132.3 Dual VCA A-130 no manual, simple exp VCA link

Thursday, 17 September 2015


new rackold blog
Links: EMIS Postmodular SchneidersBuero Thonk MODULARgrid
Rubadub - clicksclocks

Dream II

Previous - Subsequent

This Link is to various documents on the DM, including Strange's book. A posting on musicthing.co.uk.

The list of sources is:

1. From Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques and Controls by Allen Strange
2. Don Buchla interview transcript from http:// www.vasulka.org/
3. From: Musical Applications of Microprocessors by Hal Chamberlin
4. Wiard Model 1210 Noise Ring manual
5. Grant Richter’s notes on the Noise Ring Entropy Expander
6. Doepfer A-149 manual

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Pitts micro: Dream


The Pittsburgh micro arrived. It is lovely but the cheeks are seriously overpriced: nevertheless, its beauty is confirmed. I'll set it up to run while I finish the build.
I'm tempted to try a Dream Machine in the micro first.

Above is the Strange original, left is the Doepfer version.

The hardware requirements for the original are:

  • two random voltage sources
  • an 8-step sequencer
  • one VCLFO
  • one audio oscillator
  • one sample and hold
  • one voltage inverter
  • two VCAs
  • and and envelope generator
  • the first RVS gets a kick on each 8th sequence step so a clock divider might also be needed.
While I have all the necessary modules, not all of them will fit in the micro, depth 52 mm and 36mm in places. I guess many of the Pittsburgh modules will fit in a Pittsburgh micro and they include a sequencer (14HP, depth 25mm) and a utility module (6HP, depth 43mm) that includes S/H and INV.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Pittsburgh micro

This is a thing of beauty, found at Rubadub. I have one small cell, so I'm tempted. I would also like to build something similar on the cheap. The only problem would be the power supply.

[later that day] Couldn't resist it - I bought the cheeks and another empty cell. The cells are quite shallow and so the range of modules will be restricted. When I build a knock-off I'll make it deeper.

The range of modules in a Pittsburgh System 10 is quite tempting at £382, but I managed to resist that.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

New Rack IV


Worked first time.
That's unusual for me.

The ADDAC radio is not providing a very good signal: that needs fixing.

And the Thonk Radio Music kit arrived today.
[26 Aug] And the Erthenvar Fibonacci today. It is beautifully built.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Shall I build a big rack?

I have been having such fun building the small desk rack that I'm tempted by a large desktop installation. The 2013 SoS article on Eurorack included a few shots of the author's setup, a classic three stepped tiers and base unit, as right.

I could produce something similar at about zero cost - I have plenty of plywood, a spare Doepfer power supply, a Zeus for the base power and a lot of rails, not be mention dozens of modules not currently in use.

Alternatively I could use the new Thonk rails and Lamond side pieces and build 150HP wide. Four pairs of 150HP rails plus threaded strips and Lamond sides would be 4 * (£31 + £11 + £12 = £54) = £216.

In 104HP it would be 4 * (£21 + £9 + £12 = £42) = £168.

And in 84HP 4 * (£20 + £8 + £12 = £40) = £160.

Clearly the 84HP isn't worth considering unless I use existing rails. 150HP is tempting.

84HP is around 17 inches, 104HP 20" and 150HP 30".
Modules are around 5¼" high and so three rows of 150 would be 16" high and 30" wide: that might look a little stumpy. I could not justify 5 rows of 150HP plus base.

There's some good information here from Stefan Burbulla.

If I start small and cheap, I can always rebuild more grandly and extravagantly later and so (subject to finding and evaluating the rails I have in stock):

  • three rows of 84HP plus base;
  • configuration will be a smaller version of the standard synthesizers.com cabinet, i.e. two on the slope, one upright and keyboard garage below.
I'll need to find out the slope angle. The size quoted is 48-3/8"w x 14-3/4"d x 18"h. The single upright row is 8½" deep.
The depth of the garage will have to be sufficient to house a base with suitable skiffy modules and at the same time the slope of the bottom rail will have some effect on the depth of modules it will hold.

[27 Aug] I have a location 18" high and 30" wide: the Mondrian/Rietveld desk.

I'll continue this post on a separate blog.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Tidy Cables II

I posted on cable tidies in 2013. Yesterday I came across an elegant ADDAC product selling for €16. Schneiders list it so I'll get one or two with my next order.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Radio Music

I do not have a good track record with electronics builds but, ever the optimist, I have ordered a  Radio Music kit from Thonk.

This is, from the description, a remarkable product. It is not a radio but rather a means accessing sound files stored on a micro SD card. The suggested contents (which include two episodes of The Archers) are an eclectic mix of bits which can be used to simulate random radio tunings. The documentation references the team radio works of John Cage in particular.

If I fail to make one, I'll try to bribe someone to do it for me.

It should complement the ADDAC FM Radio.

Friday, 21 August 2015


[1st Nov] Collection complete (-ish).

I fear that gearlust is beginning to set in again. I feel the need to acquire a set of Livewire modules. These comprise (or so I thought):
  • AFG ✔
  • Dual Cyclotron ✔
  • Frequensteiner ✔
  • Dalek modulator
  • Vulcan modulator
  • Dual Bissel generator
  • [I doubt if I'll ever find or afford a] Chaos Computer (and Circuit Abbey Intermix)
I bought the AFG new, the Frequensteiner second hand, and David at PostModular found me a Cyclotron (and I squealed at the price).

There is a quality to both the build and the conception [and the noise made by] Livewire modules that is missing from many of the boutique items launched more recently: they epitomise one of the high-water marks of Eurorack. 
I expect that one day there will be a similar movement to the  period instrument fad in classical music that puts a greater value on earlier modules. I appreciate the period instrument inclination (the Orchestre R√©volutionnaire et Romantique were tremendous at the Proms this year) and I also like older modules.

A contributor to Muffwiggler has created a fine set of Livewire manuals. Here's one: the others are very similar.

Here's the full list from ModularGrid. Some I have never encountered - voltage mechanic and audio compositor and, to be frank I hadn't heard of the chaos computer before I started this post.

I'll aim for a case of AFG, DC, Fq and try to find a Dalek, Vulcan and Bissel. The Chaos Comp will probably remain a nice to have.

Monday, 17 August 2015

New Rack III


I made a start on the woodwork today.

[18 Aug] I've had a thought. Rather than just making passive multiples to mount horizontally below the main rack, I could include spaces for thee proper modules with a max width of, say, 6HP. That would allow me to include the prime number clock divider, a multiple (real or diy) and another utility module. They will have to screw into wood.

This they now do.


Saturday, 15 August 2015

Dream Modules

Doepfer has released a clock divider that works with prime numbers. I have ordered one. I think I suggested this a few years ago.

I had not previously heard of Erthenvar but they do a series of dividers, including Fibonacci numbers. Outstanding.

Memory is a strange (and increasingly unreliable) thing. I first suggested primes in a Yahoo Groups poll in Feb 2010 with a fuller explanation a few days later:
"The reason this idea came to mind was a recent piece in The Times referring to a lecture by Marcus du Sautoy at the Royal Society available here entitled The secret mathematicians, it concerned the use of maths in art and starts with a piece by Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time. It uses rhythms of 17 and 29 beats - as these are prime numbers, a sequence would not repeat (at least until you get to 17*29).
I think La Monte Young used primes too.
The lecture also refers to the Fibonacci series which I think is mentioned in a later post but I haven't got there yet.
Anyway, as I play with long automated noises, I thought prime-based rhythms would be fun.
A prime number is only divisible by one and itself (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17 etc).
Cheers, Nick"

Thursday, 6 August 2015

New Rack II


I am planning a new rack above my desk. 84HP using Thonk rails and uZeus power. The current notion for modules is:

with some sideways diy multiples underneath.

Module instructions:

[8 Aug] The uZeus and the blanking panels (for diy multiples, from ebay, not EMIS) have arrived. When the rails arrive, I'll be round to B&Q for a sheet of plywood.

[13 Aug] The Thonk rails are quality kit and especially the Lamond mounting brackets: expensive but beautifully formed. Go get plywood.
Perhaps I should work a quantiser into the rack.


Friday, 24 July 2015

New rack

I've been thinking of building a new eurorack to mount under the shelf above my laptop (if you see what I mean). This month's Sound on Sound featured a new product range from Sknote which strikes an elegant note in plywood.
I have a small, shallow Pittsburgh rack but need one with depth to hold the A126 Doepfer Frequency Shifter.
There's only room for 1 unit high and then around 84HP wide.

I'll consider the contents in due course: the initial plan is to process radio while I am listening to it and to interact with the trogotronic 679.

We'll have the A126 and the Strakal Brulu for starters.
[29th July] First cut of the modules.


The A126 is 105mm deep, so I might aim for a 200mm deep box and position the power rack carefully so that the power cables will reach.

Other Frequency Shifting modules available from:
Audio damage
Analogue Systems
Encore Electronics
Synthesis Technology (their site is not available)

and, no doubt, several more

but I have $000s of modules gathering dust, so let's go with what we have.

[2 Aug] Measurements:
Modules are 5¼in. high, the space available is 20" wide.
I might add a row of sideways DIY 4HP multiples mixing mini-jacks and ¼ in, freeing up the 12HP currently occupied by the RS-270. The Pittsburgh Delay will probably not fit.
Perhaps the Dewanatron Triple Slice: the exact opposite of the Strakal and (I believe) the first green eurorack module.
Three multiples would fit so perhaps:
1. 2x 6.3 to 3.5 for input
2. 2 sets of 4 3.5s
3. 2x 3.5 to 6.3 for output

Thonk do rails and so I have ordered an 84HP set.

[4 Aug] The original plan for this rack was low budget, screwing the modules into wood and recycling an old Doepfer power supply. Having ponied up for aluminium rails (£50ish), I have now decided to continue with the easier and dearer options and ordered a uZeus power supply from Rubadub (£65). No answer from EMIS on the query on 4HP blanking plates to use for the multiples.
A power supply in the rack will mean not enough room for the Dewanatron. Here's the latest plan: