Picking up steam

Since putting this site up a couple of months ago, I haven’t posted anything here. What happened? In part, something that I might call research-stage feature creep. The more I read about modular synth design and video synthesis, the more I realized there was to know. As the the scope of a project like this deepens and widens, it threatens to become overwhelming and impossible to complete. To counter this risk, I’m going to start posting regular development updates to this blog (as in, at least once a week). Hopefully this will enable me to set some achievable goals and provide useful information to others.

The widening of my reading for this project has stemmed from practical concerns. So far, my approach to building circuits has been pretty slapdash – lots of messy improvised breadboarding and very little documentation of what I’ve been doing. The results have sometimes been exciting, but I feel that I’ve hit an impasse. I find dealing with more than a few simple circuits on the breadboard headache-inducing and fairly difficult to troubleshoot. This, coupled with a frustrating history of building electronics projects in a quick-cheap-and-dirty style only to have them gradually disintegrate, has convinced me to be more deliberate about design and construction.

I’ve decided that I’m going to build this project as a more-or-less conventional Eurorack modular synth. Choosing this route brings a number of related fields into play:

-power supply selection and/or construction
-PCB design (and thus, learning EDA software)
-PCB fabrication (ah, the toner transfer method)
-front panel design and production
-mechanical construction
-surface-mount soldering
-component sourcing

… not to speak of trying to understand some of the underlying electronics theory, ha! I plan to post updates on my progress in all these areas, and would be happy to hear feedback from you about your own experiences.

My goal is still to produce plans for a simple, cheap and easy-to-build DIY vidsynth, and so when the dust settles I’m planning to distill my findings into some simple circuit recipes. For now, though, it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get messy…

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