Archive for February, 2013

Modular Modifications

Posted in DIY, modular synthesizers, synthesizers with tags , , on February 2, 2013 by pyraphonic

Today I made a couple modifications to my main modular synthesizer system. I recently sold a module I wasn’t really using so I had some space to fill.


I have the 4MS Rotating Clock Divider, which I really like, and I decided I wanted to add the breakout expansion which is a panel with six switches that gives you more control options. There is also new software for this unit that you can buy on a chip and swap out in the RCD unit. To buy the wired up unit and upgrade chip as a set it would have cost me $95 plus California tax which would put me over $100. However, I saw on the 4MS site that you can get a kit for $50. But then I saw they also offer just the faceplate for $15 and the upgrade chip for $8 and I would only have to supply the switches and wiring. Shipping is just a couple bucks. I have switches here that I got at a surplus store for 50 cents apiece, as well as ribbon cable and a $1 connector, so I ended up making my expansion unit for under $30 plus about 30 minutes of work.

Here’s the RCD with the new chip swapped in.

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Here is the panel with the switches mounted and the ribbon cable and connector soldered to the switches.

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Next I just had to remove the jumpers and connect the panel. I realized today why jumpers are named as they are. It is because when you remove them they jump out of your hand, onto the ground and run to the nearest shadow.

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So far, so good – time to test it out.

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Success! Time to get clocking.

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The other modular mod today was to address a quirk on the Flame Tame Machine. The Tame Machine is a really elaborate voltage quantizer and beat looper. The quirk is that when the cv input goes above 5 volts the keynote value is affected and starts jumping all over the place. Likewise whenever the keynote input goes above 2 volts the patch value goes nuts. The work-around has been for people to attenuate their voltages before going into those jacks. I often send rows from Pressure Points modules and just try to keep the voltages low, but often accidentally cross into crazytown. I’d really rather not have to use up attenuators for these two inputs. I had thought that perhaps zener diodes of the appropriate value across those jacks would solve this issue but was not too keen on experimenting on a $400 module. Thankfully gimlay & jeannot on the MuffWiggler forum did the guinea pig work and posted their results. Thanks to them both! On to the mod…

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I ended up leaving more of the leads on the diodes than I needed to in case I ever want to remove them in addition to the fact that it was easier to solder that way with my helping hands alligator clamp holding the diodes in place.

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Another success! The Tame Machine has been tamed.

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Two projects without a hitch? I’m going to quit while I’m ahead today and just do some patching tonight.