Music Thing Modular Mini Drive - DIY Build
Music Thing Modular (or MTM as we shall call it), is a range of eurorack modules designed in Herne Hill, London by Tom Whitwell. The MTM Mini Drive is the latest module of Tom’s and it is beginning to make some waves in the modular community. Like all of Tom’s other modules, the Mini Drive is open source module that is a Drive/Distortion module inspired by the classic Minimoog input gain.
Needless to say, this thing packs a lot of punch in a tiny 4HP size. As Tom puts it “Using this module is a great way to make a polite sound source into something less polite, but always experiment with the levels!”. After seeing the debut of the module, we knew we had to pick one up and get it on the build table.
We ordered our kit from THONK in the UK. As many DIYers know, this is THE place to find all of the MTM kits. The Mini Drive is the first of the MTM series that only comes in a black panel and it has a bulb to show signal intensity. These two things really set the Mini Drive apart from its brethren modules.
Another thing to be aware of is that the Mini Drive kit comes with all surface mount parts come pre-soldered, making this a perfect kit for beginners.
The kit consists of the following components:
- 4x THONK jacks and nuts
- 1x power cable
- 1x potentiometer
- 1x lamp header
- 1x power header
- 1x lamp holder
- 1x lamp/bulb
- 1x black 1900H Davies Clone Knob
- 1x red/black wire harness
- 2x mounting screws
- 1x panel
- 1x pre-soldered PCB
Once we sorted all of the components, it was time to solder, but there were no online instructions or BOM included with the kit. Luckily, Tom had put together a build video for reference while you were building. We hope our time lapse video and photos of the build help you as well since there is very little build information out there.
The Build Begins...
When you first open everything up and sort out all of the parts, you want to start with the lamp header and the power header. These two headers are easy to mount if you put a dab of solder on the top side of the PCB. You can then line up the header and heat up the pre-soldered pad. Gently push the header into place as you heat the pad and the header will click into place. Reheat the pad if you need to straighten out the pins. Once you have completed this initial step and everything is where it needs to be, complete tacking everything down to finish the headers.
MTM Mini Drive - Time Lapse Build
Jacks and The Pot
Next up are the jacks and the pot. Please note that you don’t want to tack anything down until you have lined everything up with the panel. You can solder the ground pin on the jacks to keep them in place but movable should they need to be nudged in any one direction.
Mount the pot and then place the panel over the jacks and the recently mounted pot. Use the nut provided for the jacks as well as the nut for the pot to help the panel in place as you turn the module over to solder everything into place. Now, remove the front panel and set the PCB aside.
There Shall Be Light! (well almost)
After removing the front panel, you will grab the lamp holder and insert it through the top of the panel. It will sit in place but needs the metal brace to keep it in place permanently. Make sure you mount the metal brace so that it lines up with the front panel and there is nothing sticking out of the sides of the panel when you face it. Once this has been completed, place the panel back on the PCB and tighten everything down into its final resting place using the nuts provided.
MTM Mini Drive Build Gallery
Wiring the lamp.... (now there is light!)
The next part of the build involves the wire harness that connects the lamp to the lamp holder. You want to start my placing the white clip of the harness onto the previously mounted lamp header pins (the one with 2 pins, not 10).
Next, you will want to trim down the black and red wires so that they are not so long and upon completing this, prep them for soldering to the lamp holder. You can do this by stripping the end of the wire and tinning them with solder. After this has been completed, solder the black and red wires to the metal contacts on the lamp holder.
Lastly, you have to insert the bulb into the lamp holder and test the module. Be careful as you open up the bulb and take note of the metal on two sides of it. These will line up with the right and left sides of the lamp holder (it doesn’t matter which way, just as long as the metal meets the metal you are good to go). Mount the knob to the pot and you can pat yourself on the back because you just finished assembling the MTM Mini Drive.
Upon firing up the module, we used our Synthrotek TST module to ensure that we didn’t have any shorts prior to placing it into our rack. Being an advanced builder, we knew we were good to go after a quick test and once over.
MTM Mini Drive - The Final Thoughts...
The MTM line of modules are staples in many modular artists rigs. Their modules are solid, affordable and capable of doing things that many modules cannot. The Mini Drive is an inexpensive module that belongs in your rig. Its powerful, unpredictable and is aesthetically pleasing.
While we have yet to spend a lot of time with the Mini Drive, we are looking forward to experimenting more with it and you should too. So, what are you waiting for… Pick one up over from our friends at THONK and let them know we sent ya!