Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cynare Demo

If you are new to DIY synths and are wondering what modules you should delve into then hopefully this video will help you decide on Ken Stone's fantastic Cynare. A complete synthesizer on one board, the Cynare has a wealth of options that return a lot of fun for your investment of effort.

Check out for more info.

Pardon the weird voice...bronchitis.

cynare panel

Monday, December 6, 2010

Check out this 16 step Up/Down sequencer

At some point in every DIY Synth enthusiast's journey they realize that they need some sort of structured way to control all the madness they've created. You want to build a sequencer. Often the first type of sequencer you build is something like the Baby 10, a ten step machine based off the 4017 decade counter chip. That's fine, and a lot of people do great music with it.

While going through some conversations on the Sound of Logic forum I ran into something that Psyingo (of the Ruin and Wessen website) posted. When I finally got my head around what was happening I knew I had to build it.

Here's a video introducing the device:


Do you like it? Do you want to make your own? Here's a general rundown on how I created the device so that you can base your own project on it.

Here are a couple of drawings that try to illustrate what's happening.

This first one details how the chips and control hardware are connected. For the most part I stuck to the plan as drawn.

up/Down Sequencer Notes 01

Here are some general ideas on how to interact with the incoming clock signal to create drum trigger signals and off-beat accents.


I like to build things that have interface elements right on the PCB itself. To stick to that theme I used some PCB mounted switches and potentiometers as well as both header pins and banana jacks to ensure ways to interact with other devices and build techniques.

I used photoshop to plan out hardware placement on a nice big slab of perfboard. I then transferred it to the physical piece and prepped the surface for painting and mounting.

Psyingo Up/Down seq layout test01

Psyingo Up/Down seq layout test02

After a test fit, I know that I'm happy with it. I fussed over the details of this thing for about a week. The main thing that changed is that I decided to put the ICs on a seperate perfboard. That created a dilemna of how to package all of this stuff.

Psyingo Up/Down seq layout test03

Now it' time for some painting. I cut some pieces of MDF and primed them grey. Then used my trusty sponge and acrylic paints to create what looks like an old rusty surface.


Time for some assembly with some standard hardware. The only real exotic thing here is the hexagonal PCB standoffs which I got in an auction.



Painted up/dn seq board


Many steps and a couple of troubleshooting days later, the finished piece!


I hope this has been interesting to you DIYers out there. Please leave a comment with and questions or feedback you might have.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." --Mark Twain

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Home Made Fury Counters and holders

Originally uploaded by drOffset
I made these to help keep my record-keeping tidy for Warmachine and Hordes. I can post the plans online if anyone out there wants them.

Repackaged Lunetta Synth

Repackaged Lunetta Synth
Originally uploaded by drOffset
Yet another iteration on my machine, this one is MUCH more portable and wieldy.

Baby 10 Plan

Originally uploaded by drOffset
I plan to build this in the same on-board style as the Lunetta.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

About this blog

I cover several different topics here, from wargaming to electronics to random DIY stuff.

Please use the links to the left to find the topic you like. If you like wargaming for example you can click on the word wargaming to cut out everything but the wargaming stuff.

Thanks for stopping by.

Go check out too, bunch of great guys over there.

Monday, May 17, 2010

True advice

I hadn't heard this song before but there's a lot of good stuff in here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Electri-Fire's DIY Lunetta

Tour of my Lunetta Synth

This is a general overview of what my current setup looks like. By building the patching interface right onto the board I'm able to fit a lot of logic blocks in a very small space.

Have any questions? Leave a comment !

Or you can visit the Lunetta forum to find out more.

Also check out the FREE tutorial document at:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Alesis Ion

Alesis Ion
Originally uploaded by drOffset
My new (used ) Alesis Ion Virtual Analog synthesizer. A very underrated and flexible machine that earns high marks from people who love their true analog sounds.

This is the first synth I buy that isn't sold in a toy store, and will likely be the only one for a while so it had to maximize value for money.

I love all the knobs and how you don't have to really dive into menus until well into the patch. I'm just learning how to tap its abilities but the interface is very intuitive, even the modulation matrix made sense right away.

The hard part is learning how to make good programs from scratch, which is also the fun part. :) I'm just glad I won't be fighting the tool.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Do you like scale modeling? Check out this cool modeling contest!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Facebook is unsatisfactory for any use.

*Edited to be more politically correct.*

Try removing an application or editing your profile. Try understanding your privacy settings. Have a look at the new default privacy settings for the photo albums of your nearest and dearest and the website will make the argument for me.

That is all.

Check out "Scale of the Universe" on your ipad or iphone.

Check out this very interesting app on your ipad or iphone. Oh wait, you can't, because they're lame and don't support Flash.

This is called "Scale of the Universe" a pretty simple presentation of how everything measures up. Just move the slider and you're up an running.

The link takes you to Newgrounds.

Click Here

Saturday, April 24, 2010

DIY Synth Jam 01

Here are a couple of videos of my machine. The Lunetta is controlling the SN voice via an R/2R and the three DS8s via some little one shots based on XOR gates.

Part 1

The DS8s are using a 386 preamp so you can hear them, and they sound fine now amplitude-wise. I feel like the DS8s sound a bit wimpy though and I think I'm going to remove them from the big setup and into small self contained units, then focus on the Quad BASS++

Part 2, sort of tearing the patch apart, so the SN voice can shine a bit more.

Thanks, more to come.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A bit more

Here's a 6 input mixer based on the Ray Wilson schematic at
6 Channel Mixer

This mixer works beautifully but the only hassle is that it needs a bipolar power supply. So while the Lunetta portion all runs on +5v the synth units need +-15v. So setting up an elegant power distribution thingy is going to be necessary.

Also built a wooden rack frame to house the bigger modules.

Synth iterations

The more I rework the layout the more compact it gets, which is a good thing. Maybe it can be portable at some point.

The SN-Voice and Lunetta are close enough in amplitude to work with the mixer but the DS8s output woefully low levels. They will need their own little mixer and preamp. Good thing I know how to do it now!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

SN-Voice Completed!

Originally uploaded by drOffset
My first proper Voltage Controlled Oscillator, the SN Voice was designed by the great Thomas Henry.

It wasn't that difficult a build, it just took a while to get the hang of the controls.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: New lPad prototype boasts over 30 processors !

In a shocking ploy for attention DrOffset has leaked this photo of a prototype device boasting over 30 Integrated Circuits and a dynamic LED display. This device will rival any other handheld device ever produced in the late 70s and is sarcastically known as....

The L-Pad.

Ok, April Fools. It's just my Lunetta, (and I'm not going to be calling it the L-Pad,) but here's an update on how much it rocks.

I've decided to take a certain concept as far as possible, which is that the board is also the interface. As you know a Lunetta CMOS Synth is a digital noise making tool pioneered by one Stanley Lunetta and developed into amazingly diverse implementations by the members of . I also created and maintain a Google document that details how you (yes, you) can get started building one of these fun thingamajigs.

Here's a close-up of the main section:

Total modules so far:
4x 4093 oscillators hard-wired to 4040s
4x 9039 osc
3x 4040
2x 4011
2x 4015
3x R/2R DAC
2x Melody Gen
Soon to be a melody gen
simple 40106 vco (YAVCO I think)
4 channel mixer (buggy, need to fix it or redo it)
The new expansion board has:
Shift registers
Mux and selectors
FlipFlops and other

Do you want to build one too? Stop by to say hi and have a look at the Intro to Lunettas document!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Single Board Lunetta

Single Board Lunetta
Originally uploaded by drOffset
Working on a new way of doing things. (New for me at least.) Everything happens on the board itself, and I have several perfboards in this size so the machine can expand. Also for me this kind of build feels tidy and easy to work with.
Sparkfun sells awesome single header female/female wires.

So far it has:
4 oscillators based on 4093
3x 4040 ripple counters
4011 nand
4070 xor
4077 xnor
40106 inverters

To come(for this board)
More logic gates(AND/OR), maybe 4017 and 4018, they do have their uses.

The second board will have shift registers and data selectors, maybe the flip flops if they fit.

And lots of blinking LEDs this time!

Currently thinking about ways to mount it to a blog of wood or something to give it weight.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Custom Deluxe NAND Photo Synth Plus

I built this for a friend and had to mail it away before I could get any video.

The design is based on the classic 4093 based NAND synth, but there are some big differences on this one. There are phototransistors across pins 1 and 3 of each potentiometer to modulate things. Under the hood they are connected via small alligator clips to be removable if you get tired of them.

Basically all of the capacitors are separate from the circuit and the appropriate pins on the 4093 are brought out to header pins. That way you can 'roll your own' custom setup. There's also a simple 4 channel passive mixer that brings it all together for your output.

Annotated image here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tradition and the Blues.

Thank Goodness it's Friday, and to celebrate I want to look at the blues. Not because I'm sad, but because musically it's where I keep coming back to and I aim to play some guitar with my little son this weekend.

So here's a group of videos from the Youtube school of art. You'll see a lot of people on youtube wanting to teach you the blues, and while they might be getting the notes right a lot of them are just playing it all wrong.

I was at a guitar store about this time last year shopping for a guitar because I wanted to get back into it. So I'm in this shop and a young guy was in there impressing some younger guys with his skills. Fair enough right? Well he worked there and was showing them this magnificent real steel guitar that I would have loved to get my hands on but I just kind of kept looking around at the stuff I could reach. Anyway, this guy says "you know how to play that Delta stuff?" Of course my ears perked up because that's part of what I've been admiring since I was 12. Dude puts a slide on his finger and proceeds to defile that poor guitar playing the worst sliding mess I've ever heard. He got the notes right, but he was playing it all wrong. The younger guys were very impressed. I left.

Note that I don't mention 'tone' or what vintage guitar you'll need to play. It's in the fingers, and it's in the person controlling the fingers.

Not that I can do all that much better, but there's a disconnect somewhere there. There's technique and there's feeling, and there's the language you're speaking. Not just blues, pick your artform and this would apply.

I'll pull on the thread for a while and see what ties together.

On joining a tradition:

Maybe Leonard Cohen is a good place to start, even though it's not about the blues. But the blues is a bit like folk, enough for me.
(5:30) Confession filtered through a tradition...

Jack White (from 2:20, and around 3:00)

If you haven't heard this album yet you're missing out.
2:00 and 4:00

Remind me to compile some videos on minimal setups and artists wanting to create limitations to make themselves come up with creative solutions.
Looking for the tradition (without a textbook):

Billy Gibbons teaches more than technique here. It's a language.

Keith knows it, look for the '1 on 1', for example.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

"You feel it first and then you learn how to do it. It takes a lifetime..."

Zuzu Bollin - remind me to compile some videos about how so many blues musicians' Mamas didn't want them playing that devil music.

How it's played distinguishes one song from another.
(It's at 2:00)

Sometimes you better get it right.

And to pull it all together here's Jimmy, just because he's amazing.

Want more?
Here's a great playlist.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

AnnMarie Thomas on Why Making Matters (from TED2010)

Ms. Thomas writes:

"Below is a "transcript" of the short talk I gave at TED this year (short= 5minutes). Of course, given that I didn't use notes, I'm sure the actual speech I gave varied a bit from this one. If the video is ever posted, I will let you know. (Note that this is from the "TED-U" portion of this year's TED, not the main stage!)"

Read her article here:

Collin's Lab: Kit-making

Collin from Make is about to release his MidiVox DIY Adruino shield kit and he took some time to make a video where Becky Stern gives him some valuable advice on getting those bags put together.

I've had the same kind of dream for some time, to come up with some kind of product, some kind of innovative gadget that people will want to buy and build.

Until I come up with something you can watch this video and build his.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shapeways offering Alumtide for a limited time

Shapeways, a 3D printing service, is offering to make stuff out of Alumtide, which is “White, Strong & Flexible” with Aluminum mixed in with it." Interesting!

What I want to know is if the material is electrically conductive and if 3d printed circuit traces are possible. I love the idea of an additive process of creating PCBs instead of the old messy way of etching PCBs with nasty chemicals.

Check out this Arduino case someone came up with.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Do you use Google Buzz? Here I am

I decided to join Google Buzz and see if it's useful to me. I think it can be a very useful tool for people of similar hobbies and interests. This isn't my primary email though, so I'm starting from a small number of people in the network. Let's see how it goes.

Here's my profile:

3x Coron DS8 Clones Complete!

3x Coron DS8 Clones
Originally uploaded by drOffset
As part of my ongoing drum synth contruction project, here are 3 Coron DS8 Drum Synth clones on one panel. I learned a lot on this build that I think will help keep things organized for the rest of the project.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Check out Ruin and Wessen for Lunetta articles

EM member Psyingo has a great looking blog where, among other things, he discusses techniques and ideas for adding to your Lunetta CMOS Synth.  A Lunetta is a home-made sound circuit that is highly customizable and very fun to make and use.

This particular article is called:  Synth DIY: Synthesis with logic concepts

Check it out!

So what's been going on?

I haven't written anything here in ages. This should catch you up with my awesome progress.

My son is 21 months old now, wow time flies.

Metaplace went down, that's a bummer.

I'm building a DIY analog Drum Synth, follow the progress here:

I'm writing an Intro to Lunetta CMOS synth building document, see the thread here:

I'm into Unity3D now, what a fantastic engine. Imagine if Maya had a game engine built into it. Also joined the very cool community The Unity Artist.

I'm also a beta tester for Stencyl, a really cool 2D game engine that allows easy sharing of assets and code. Jon and the gang at Stencyl are very helpful and really like getting feedback.

I'll probably buy an iPad. I know, I know. This will be the first Apple product I ever own, and I'm hoping it will prove useful to my art and music stuff.

I've gotten into chipmusic and trackers. Currently learning Milkytracker and LSDJ, and joined the online communities at and

I have a Soundcloud account now where you can hear my random experiements in Lunetta world.

I'll probably never go back to Second Life. What awful customer service. I have a fair amount of $lindens in my account and use them to pay the monthly fee. Well I forgot to cash a bit of it in to pay the fee and now the account is locked. Can't get into the website, can't get into SLexchange, nothing. I even called customer service and the guy refused to do anything without a credit card. Linden lab must not think much of their own currency because they didn't want to exchange some to pay their own monthly fee. I apologize to all of my sculpted primitive customers for disappearing but I have no idea what the status of the land or shop items is, and our PMs obviously won't get to me.

Oh yeah and we finished a project at my day job, that was fun.