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Sound Lab Mini Build Notes

I recently built a Sound Lab Mini-Synth from MusicFromOuterSpace.com.  Before I start talking about the build, I want to say a few words about the SLM.  It is awesome.  It sounds fantastic and it has all of the basic building blocks of a "real" synthesizer.  I think the reason they call it "mini" is that it is self-contained, not modular.  Some people have built patched versions, but the standard configuration is to use switches.  For instance, instead of using patch cords, the two oscillators, the filter and amplifier each have switches to enable LFO and envelope modulation.  That is one of the reasons I think it makes a great first synthesizer.

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Handmade Music Austin #12

October Tenth at the Salvage Vanguard Theater

It is our one-year anniversary, and I am honored to be providing the featured kit!


First Workshop 1pm $20
SimSam by 4ms - Glitchy Sampler/Noisemaker
PicoPaso by Bleep Labs - Triangle Wave Stepped Tone Synth

Second Workshop 3pm $45
Ring Modulator by Mickey Delp - Passive Ring Mod Effect with Built-in Oscillator


UPDATE: We had great fun at the workshop patching every noise-making gizmo we could find through the ring modulators. Here's some video:

World Maker Faire

World Maker Faire in New York was amazing!  It was crazy and loud and lots of fun.  A full report will follow shortly.


P.S.  If you purchased a Bender Sequencer Kit at Maker Faire, please contact me so I can send you updated instructions.

Ring Modulator Prototype

I've been wanting to build a passive ring modulator for some time and finally got around to it.  Ring Modulation is a very cool audio effect.  You have probably heard it used, even if you have never heard the term.  It was most famously used to create the voice of the Daleks on Doctor Who.  Two incoming signals (referred to as the input and carrier) are multiplied and the output is the sum and difference of the two frequencies.  Most often, a sine or triangle wave is used for the carrier signal.  When modulating a voice, the effect sounds "robotic" and is similar to a vocoder (in sound, not operation).  There are tons of effects that can be achieved by varying the two input signals.  Using the same signal for the input and carrier has the effect of multiplying the frequency.  You can also feed in a dry signal for the input and use the same signal through a delay for the carrier.

There are many different circuits use to create digital ring modulators, including using DSP (digital signal processor) chips.  I built the classic passive ring modulator which uses nothing more than two audio transformers and four germanium diodes - and no power.  That is why it is called a passive ring modulator.


Ring Modulated Voice Sample

This test repeats the same words, once with no modulation, then several times with the carrier signal at different frequencies. The last sample was created by increasing the frequency of the carrier oscillator while the words are being spoken. Each repetition is the same exact wav file, so all of the variation is caused by the ring modulator, not the person speaking.


Ring Modulated Notes Sample

For this test, I used a nice clean triangle wave from a software synthesizer as input. I just drew my finger across the keyboard, so not every note is exactly the same for each repetition. Again, the first time is with no modulation, then several times with the carrier signal at increasing frequencies.

Read more: Ring Modulator Prototype

Circuit Bent SAW III Memo Recorder

On August 8th, at the Handmade Music Austin #10 we will be circuit bending the SAW III Memo Recorder.  Since I spend the event helping participants with the project du jour, I thought I should do one first.  Here it is:

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Exhibiting at Maker Faire New York

See me at Maker Faire!

I just found out that my proposal was accepted and I will be an exhibitor at Maker Faire New York!

I'll be demonstrating/teaching circuit bending featuring my Bender Sequencer.  Of course, I'll also have a bunch of other cool noise making stuff on hand to show and sell.  Hope to see you there!

Soldering Tutorial

To assemble any electronic kit, you just need a few basic tools.  This simple tutorial contains all of the information you need to start soldering.  There are also hundreds of other soldering tutorials on the web, many with video.

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