Tag: modular

Nonlinear Circuits Bong0 Module – DIY Build

NLC Bong0 Module - DIY Build

As our summer kicks off,  we take on a new build … the Nonlinear Circuits Bong0 Module.  We decided to take a break from the hole-through components and try out our soldering skills with SMD components. Surface Mount Devices or SMD are different from your basic hole-through builds in that the components are mounted as stated … on the surface of the PCB board.  The actual terminology for this is known as SMT or Surface Mount Technology.  

So what’s the big difference between hole-through vs surface mount components?  Usually the size of the component.  SMD components are small… some of them are VERY small. One’s choices in tool selection is also different as well.  You can use solder paste and hot air guns or you can use small gauge solder and your trusty iron if you choose to.  For the NLC Bong0, we chose small gauge solder and good ol iron sides. 

Ok … enough of the technical jargon, let’s get onto the NLC Bong0 and the build/review itself!

Bongo or Bong0?

The Nonlinear Circuits Bong0 Module is described as a Twin-T drum module with an LED acting as a nonlinear resistor.  This means that the module is able to be used for all sorts of things besides drums.  It can be patched to create complex bass lines, drones or even a crude VCO.  For this build, we highly recommend the use of a magnifying glass due to size of the 0805 SMD resistors/capacitors.  As you can see from our photos, the components are small and the use of some fine pointed tweezers is also a necessity during assembly. 

You will want to make sure to have an open and clean workspace too.  If a component goes flying across your bench because you picked it up the wrong way, your build might be slow going as you try to find something the size of an ant.  We fortunately found the few resistors that decided to fly across our workbench and were able to complete the build as required. (we accidentally grabbed the part with our tweezer by an edge – we got lucky!)

NLC Bong0 - Time Lapse

We started the assembly toying around with some solder paste and our hot air machine, but ultimately ended up soldering with our trusty ol iron.  Take your time with this one, as working with micro sized pieces can be very painstaking. 

NLC Bong0 - Gallery

NLC Bong0 - Build Notes and Patching

In the end, the build itself was pretty straight forward, but there are few resources out there to go by.  The BOM was online and we had to do an online image search to ensure that we mounted the diodes correctly due to the PCB printing of the diode layout not being very clear (the PCB is only 4HP and very tight in some areas). 

Once we completed the module, we populated it into our test case and fired it up, piping a sine wave into the module.  Instantly, we heard that beautiful clean bongo sound.  As with any module, factory sounds don’t cut it at fiN Studios.  We triggered the NLC Bong0 with our 4MS Atoner and patched the audio out of the Atoners oscillators into the Bong0… the thing went wild! Just like the description said, it functioned as a VCO and our droney bass lines were born.  If you want to hear what the Nonlinear Circuits (NLC) Bong0 Module sounds like during our test, check out the audio samples in the video below.

NLC Bong0 - Audio Samples

NLC Bong0 - The final verdict!

After the short time we’ve had the module, we can tell you that we intend to utilize the NLC Bong0 in more way than one in future segments and write-ups.  This little 4HP module from Nonlinear Circuits is a winner and tapping into its circuitry was so intriguing… it might just be time to order another! (dualing Bong0s anyone?…. LOL!)

If you have questions about the build process or suggestions/feedback about this post, feel free to contact us! 

Until the next build … 

~ f i N


Fonitronik Ps3100 Triple Vactrol Resonator – Time Lapse Build

Fonitronik Ps3100 Triple Vactrol Resonator - Time Lapse Build

In our latest build we take on the Fonitronik Ps3100 Triple Vactrol Resonator – A clone of the lovely triple resonator from the rare 1977 Korg Ps3100 polyphonic modular.

What we have here is basically a module combining three bandpass filters (vactrol based filter core from the PS3100) with a simple resettable LFO and some clever CV and signal routing.  The LFO is normalized to the common CV input, which is normalized to the 3 single CV inputs. the 3rd CV channel can be inverted.

Play Video

The build itself was a timely one and it took great patience and a skillful hand to complete.  As they stated in the description “Not for the beginner”, remained true.  We don’t recommend this kit to anyone just getting started in the Eurorack DIY realm as it can easily be overwhelming and a simple soldering mistake can cause feelings of anxiety and let down. 

Now, if you successfully complete the module as we did, the module itself can be a prize possession in your rack.  The triple vactrols do exactly what they say they will do and resonate some of the warmest sounds from the 1970’s.  Hence, another reason why this module is special.  The warmth of the analog audio is something that is rare to find in today’s Eurorack systems.  

If you are down for a challenge and are needing some much provided warmth in your rack, this might just be the perfect module for you!

Fonitronik Ps3100 Triple Vactrol Resonator Specifications:

Module Description:

– 3 single audio inputs + a common audio input,

– 3 single audio outputs + sum audio output

– 3 single CV inputs with attenuators + a common CV input

– LFO output, LFO reset input

Module Dimensions:

Height – 3U

Width – 20HP

If you have comments or questions about the Fonitronik Ps3100 Triple Vactrol Resonator, please feel free to contact us!


Modular Building Weekend: Radio Music Machine

We will be taking on the Music Thing: Radio Music 4hp Virtual Radio module this week/weekend and will be filming all the goodness in a time lapse.  This is a tricky little module as its piggybacked by a Teensy module, which can be programmed separately. This module is where the firmware is stored and flashed as one is able to alter the firmware to ones liking.  I am sure we will start of with the stock firmware and eventually flash the Teensy in the near future to get even more out of the module.

Another cool thing about this module is that the onboard SD card can be formatted with various samples to ones liking and the settings.txt file can be manually edited to turn on and off various settings.  

We are excited to build this module, as we have had in our build box since Christmas 2017.  We purchased this DIY kit from Thonk UK alongside our Turing Machine Module. 

Stay tuned to see how the build comes along!

Have any suggestions on our next build?  Drop us a line on our Contact Page and we will see what we can do!

Make sure to follow us on Instagram @finstudios and also Facebook!

~ f i N 


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