Category: General

Synthrotek VERB – DIY Build

Synthrotek VERB- DIY Build

As described by the Synthrotek site, “the Synthrotek Verb is a reverb module like no other. This three PT2399 unit offers a warm tape saturated spring reverb like sound but with the added flair of the subtle modulation which truly makes it shine.” This was enough for us to decide to take on the VERB on for the next build of September 2020.

Unlike a lot of other reverb modules, this one does not require a “tank” to produce its reverb. It relies on the x3 PT2399 circuits that were previous utilized in other delay modules. 

The PT2399 is back … again.

We won’t go into all of the technical jargon like we have in previous builds (see Synthrotek DLY and Waveform Magazine Delay builds), but we will say that the PT2399 is a very versatile IC. It can be used for delay’s, echo’s and even reverbs (as this module uses them).

To keep it simple, the IC takes in analog audio input and converts it into digital stream of bits to add a digital delay to it. This audio delayed audio signal is then provided as output (ie. perfect for these module types).

On with the build ...

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Synthrotek DLY (Delay) – DIY Build

Synthrotek DLY (Delay) - DIY Build

Synthrotek DLY Kit

Delay, echo, reverb and distortion are all common effects for synthesis and in the world of modular synthesis, they make all the difference in the world. Synthrotek have had a long history of effects modules in their lineup and the DLY module is one of their finest.

The DLY is a PT2399 based delay module that can be dialed in to fit the users preferred range of delay due to the independent rate control. 

Another rad feature of the module is that unlike the ECHO module by Synthrotek, the DLY has a true wet/dry mix knob, giving the module its unique character and allowing it to be chained within the effects loop. Since fall was upon us, we decided to take on a couple of the companies legendary effects modules for our latest builds.

The PT2399...

Before we jump into the build video and all that jazz, let’s revisit an old friend of ours.. the PT2399 IC. You might recall a previous build of the Waveform Magazine PT2399 Delay module, where a karaoke module was converted into a delay module.

The Synthrotek DLY utilizes the same chipset. Aforementioned in the Waveform build, the PT2399 is a CMOS echo/delay processor developed by Princeton Technology Corp. It includes an ADC (Analog to Digital converter), 44Kb of RAM to store the samples and a DAC (Digital to Analog converter).

This chip was created as a simple solution to add delay/reverb/echo to karaokes and set-up entertainment systems. What does this all mean? This means that the chip is a perfect candidate for a delay module and the gang at Synthrotek decided to base a module around it.

Onward with the build ...

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Zlob Modular Triple Cap Chaos – DIY Build

Zlob Modular Triple Cap Chaos - DIY Build

Started in 2015, ZLOB (pronounced ZWOB) Modular offers a unique take on modular synthesis. Their latest module, the Triple Cap Chaos is unlike anything that came before it as stated on the ZLOB website. We found this intriguing and once it was announced via their social media feed, we jumped on the kit and ordered one up. Shipping was fast and before you knew it, it was ready in waiting in our backlog. 

Triple Cap Chaos (C^3 Chaos) is a 2hp analog, chaos based, noise oscillator, pseudo ring modulator/harmonics generator, and audio mangler. Sounds friggin’ rad huh? We thought so too.  According to the ZLOB website, “It expects a +5v to -5v max signal in to modulate the chaos. The “IN” jack is an A.C. coupled input for audio in, although cv and audio can work for both the “CV” in jack and “IN.” The “IN” will interfere and interact with the onboard chaotic oscillator depending on the frequency of the input, which may take some experimentation”.. This module … is right up our alley.  Let’s get on with the build shall we?

Triple Chaos - kit
Zlob Modular - Triple Cap Chaos Kit

About the kit ...

ZLOB provides some really great documentation via their website which is always a plus when taking on a new build. The components were also individually labeled which shows how much time the company puts into their product. This also made it easy to sort things out when cracking the kit open. We used our handy dandy acrylic sorting tray to separate out all the parts prior to jumping into the build. 

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Cereal Instruments ‘thump’ – DIY Build

Cereal Instruments 'thump' - DIY Build

Cereal Instruments - THUMP - Completed Front

Cereal Instruments ‘thump’ allows you to send two signals through a gritty vactrol amp with low pass gate modes & plenty of gain/distortion. Sounds cool huh? We thought so too and thought it only made sense that the ‘thump’ was our next build. One thing to note is that the ‘thump’ is unlike its brethren kin with regard to power. It is Cereal Instruments first active module, meaning it requires power to operate unlike the ‘mesh’ or ‘swerve’.

The ‘thump’s aesthetics are a matte black panel with orange knobs and white silkscreen give the modules their own unique look. The PCBs that Cereal Instruments uses are excellent quality. They soak up solder like a sponge grabs water. This makes for a stress free build. Speaking of the build, the ‘thump’ would be recommended for intermediate builders and above.

Novice builders could struggle with some of the tight spaces, double PCB layout and the giant pot/switch that needs to be wired in a specific manner in order to get the correct switching.

Let the soldering begin…

Since there are 2 PCBs, start with the logic board first. This is the one that doesn’t have the jack/pot mounting spaces (that is the control board). Resistors, diodes and caps were first up (one cap will be placed on the control board). We used top down soldering instead of bottom soldering due to the ease of access. After these were tacked down, the IC sockets were next. 

Dab one pad with solder and then line up the IC socket with the holes. Heat up the solder and lightly push the IC socket into the melted solder. This will hold everything in place when you turn the control board over and complete the IC socket soldering.  

The main power header is next followed by the standoffs and the electrolytic cap. This capacitor is soldered on the backside of the logic board.  Lastly, attach a wire from the top CV jack pad to the outer CB pot pad as shown in the photo below.

Detailed - Install Wire
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