Synth DIY build part 1

This will be the first in a series of posts on my first Synth build.

How many will be in that series? I’m not quite sure yet. I wouldn’t like to put a number on it as I really don’t know how long this is going to take me. My previous DIY builds have been  guitar pedals, but I decided to go big for this project.

I found a world of information and projects on the wonderful Music From Outer Space website.

While some of the smaller projects interested me at first I went “all in” and opted for the Sound Lab MkII build. I ordered the pcb, and the power supply pcb from MFOS, and components from Tayda Electronics. I also signed up to the Irish Synth DIY group, which is full of knowledgeable, friendly folk.

Anyway – so to the project.

I have made a start on the front panel hardware side of things. I decided not to get the front panel available from MFOS, both as a cost saving measure and as I would like to do as much as I can myself.

I knocked up a front panel template design and printed it off. I based my sizings on the large format 5U size, as it will be a stand alone unit, and space isn’t really at a premium.

A bit of skip diving got me a metal sheet that used to be part of a shelving assembly.

I cut it to size, and started cleaning it up with a wire brush. I then glued the paper template to my front panel and drilled out the various holes.

2015-04-27 19.37.52

Cleaning off the paint and rust patches with a wire brush.

2015-04-27 20.43.00

Paper template glued to front panel. I have left space in either end for any extra modules I might add at a later date.

Next step was to remove the paper template. At this stage I realised I was probably a little liberal with the pva glue, so ended up sanding off the template.

2015-04-29 19.15.19

Holes drilled. Paper template sanded off.

Then, with the project pages from the MFOS site printed off I began fitting the pots, 1/4″ jacks and switches.

As my front panel doesn’t match the MFOS one extra care was needed to ensure the correct components went in the correct holes. This will also be the case when it comes to wiring up the panel.

2015-04-29 21.51.22

All hardware installed.

My design for the front panel is a sort of mock-modular, as you can see from the pictures. My original intention was to print this with white text on a black background similar to the classic Moog style. This may change, however, as I kind of k=like the bare metal look. I may keep it pretty lo-fi looking. Another option is to try engraving the panel, but those decisions are well down the line.

Issues so far:

With the front panel a little thinner than it could have been, and a hand drill rather than a press my hole alignment isn’t spot on. But nothing’s way off, so I’ll just call it ‘character’.

Next up is to start on the pcb assembly.

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