Archive for July, 2009

So what are we doing here?

July 4, 2009

Hi everyone!

I’m building synthesizers. Real live playable instruments.

Why, I hear you say? Just for the fun of it!

So are many others. But I’m going to blog about it so that you can follow the building process here online.

So why don’t we start of with something easy like a Virtual Analog (VA) synth.

Wow, you say, it that easy?

Hell yes, because you only need a scrap computer, display, keyboard and some buttons and knobs, put that in a box and presto! you have a live synthesizer.


PC motherboard with P200MMX CPU (why only 200Mhz? Because it’s scrap and I didn’t feel like scrapping my Intel P4 3.4Ghz computer and I need it to be able to blog 🙂

128MB SDRAM Memory (That is all I had and we need as much memory as we can get because using CF as a harddisk we need to turn virtual memory off).

1GB Compact-Flash Card used as a HDD for booting with IDE->CF adapter. CF as a HDD is nice. Makes things boot fast and survives even trash-metal musicians 🙂

512kb Trident VGA Displaycard. Why do we need this if the synth is going to have an LCD display? Because the motherboard won’t boot without one and also it’s handy for debugging purposes. I also have a 4MB PCI VGA card if this won’t be up to it.

OEM ESS1868 Audiocard. Another piece of scrap. 16bit 44.1Khz is enough.

PSU from an old DIGITAL Alpha computer (small formfactor).

Mini 49-key midi keyboard.

And various other bits and pieces.

Why am I using scrap from the previous century? You are right in that question, more CPU power gives a more versatile instrument but then again, it was available and it is also nice to prove that you don’t need Ghz CPU power to make a nice instrument. Next time we might use something else 🙂

Hang around here the following weeks and I’ll show you how it’s built.

Welcome back


Scrap computer