[chuck-users] Electronic ChucK

Kassen signal.automatique at gmail.com
Wed Oct 1 16:53:43 EDT 2008


Kassen, the reinvention notion is valid, but with a twist.

Cool. I like modular synths so it's a good invention IMHO; the other people
who also invented it are generally considered to be quite clever... it's
just that they were a bit sooner. No shame in this at all.

>  The twist is a physical one.  You see, I have not described it completely,
> now I'll try more.  Instead of being mounted in a rack, each module is a
> little circuit board.  Instead of having front panels, each module has
> PCB-mount thumbwheel pots and little bitty PCB-mount switches.  Instead of
> banana jacks, each module has row-style screw terminal connectors.  Instead
> of banana jack wire, each module is interconnected with solid wire stripped
> at the ends.

Check. that sounds like it gets rid of many of the expensive bits. Banana
jacks are used only by Serge and (for one type of signal) Buchla, BTW.
Unless there is a smaller brand that escapes me everybody else uses 1/4"
Jack (convenient and solid) or 1/8" jacks (cheap and small). Bananas mean
grounding structure becomes quite important.

> One can then form structures, like kijjaz's thunder block diagram that we
> investigated on the forum.  You just chain the modules together rather than
> "patch" them.  Also geometric structures like a ring of oscillators will
> look physically like, um, a ring.  One can construct a Bucky Ball out of
> filters and SinOscs just to see what it sounds like.
> It's kind of like making a flowchart or code diagram in which each block is
> an actual hardware module.  So yes, it's a modular synth, but no it isn't
> quite the same beast.

I like this idea. With large (or even smaller sized) analogue modulars it's
easy to lose track of what you were doing because the physical structure of
the patch won't always reflect the structure in signal flow.

> You would purchase a circuit board the size of a piece of notebook paper
> (81/2 x 11 inches) (A4 size) and then cut or twist off the 30 or 50 or so
> little bitty circuit boards that were on it.

Modules *that* small? won't that mean sacrificing things like decent
tracking for modulation CV signals?

> AlgoMantra, cool on the crickets notion.  That stuff and much more is so
> possible with this approach.  I see parents buying kids a kit consisting of
> all you need to get started, and then you can buy add-on boards for like ten
> bucks each as they are all super small and cheap.  Or just buy multiple
> sheets of boards.  They are all held together by solid wire so that they
> hold their physical form if you make a Christmas tree out of them, well,
> that's what you get.

It's a nice dream but things will only get that cheap with huge runs and
surface montage.. if it will fly at all.

> I plan to make initial boards with 555 timers and opamps and the like,
> linear you know, but eventually it will make sense to create a PIC-based
> general purpose board that can be programmed by a PC to be a SinOsc or a
> multiplier or a whatever thingie.

Sounds a bit like a Arduino (plus a dac)? Those are about 35€ around here, I
think. Accessible but not a toy for kids. Also affordable but beyond my
budget to build Christmas trees out of...

Whew, typed a lot - as you can see I find the idea exciting.  I'm working on
> it now.  DigiKey has the parts, and us - we got the smarts, haha!  I'm
> calling it EChucK for now.  Comments welcome as always.
I like it a lot as a dream but I don't think the numbers add up on a
practical or financial level. Modular synths are large and expensive and
always have been so, to say nothing about the tuning of some types. Because
-like most people- I can't afford a decent one in terms of money and space I
once grabed my chance to live for two weeks in a studio that had some. I
took to waking up, switching on the studio, making breakfast, calmly reading
email... and by the time that would be done they'd be at a stable
temperature and hopefully the right tuning. People have been wanting to get
around these limitations for a long time. Perhaps the most succesfull atempt
so far is this;
That's  a miniature modular system; quite modest (if charming) in terms of
features... and it was still something like 500 or 600€... and it probably
wasn't discontinued because they were selling it by the truckload.

I don't mean to discourage you; it *is* a very apealing idea but as a
practical product (which I sense you are after?) I don't think it will work
out. Then again; I'm neither a electrical engineer nor a salesman so I might
be way off.

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