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?
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.
Once the kit was sorted, we fired up the ZLOB website and headed on over to the build guide. Each step is meticulously documented which made for a very quick build. Novice builders might struggle with this module, whereas intermediate or expert builders will have little to no trouble completing the kit.
We mainly used top down soldering for the build thanks to the ample room between the components. We wouldn’t recommend this for novice builders as its much easier to maneuver your iron on the bottom side of the PCB.
Triple Cap Chaos - Time Lapse Build
The Logic Board ...
The logic board is first. It’s the smaller rectangle of the two PCBs. Our kit had 2 resistors already soldered, which according to the build guide, it could happen and not to worry. Jump right into placing the resistors into their appropriate spots, paying attention to the labels and the build guide.
Capacitors are next (the bread and butter of the module) followed by the electrolytic (black with a white stripe) capacitors. After placing the electro caps, you will bend them 90 degrees towards the board. Just remember that the white stripe will be facing left or towards the resistors. If you mess this up, you could pop a few components or toast a module.
Once the caps are done, diodes and the IC are next up. It is very important to place these parts in the correct orientation, just as it is stated in the build guide. Stand offs are next up and when tacking these down, make sure the long pins are through the logic PCB. Make sure they are flush as when you mate the control board to the logic board, things need to line up.
We tacked down the center pin of each then temporarily lined up the control board so that everything would be where it needed to go when it was time to mate the boards. At this point, you are pretty much done with the logic board after attaching the power header pins and tacking down the rest of the stand offs. Double check everything with the build guide and set this board aside.
Zlob Modular Triple Cap Chaos - Build Gallery
The Control Board...
Three resistors and one left over (104) capacitor are the first things to mount to the control board. Resistors on this board need to be mounted standing up due to the way the boards line up. The black stand-off is next as it is screwed in from the back of the control board. You will use the larger of the nylon screws to hold the stand-off in place. Make sure not to over tighten the stand-off as it can mess up the panel mounting side.
Potentiometers, jacks and the LED are next up. The pots are different so make sure you pay attention to which one goes where. The B10K will be placed on the top of the control board, whereas the B100k will be in the second mounting position. Tack down the middle pin on each and move onto the jacks. After placing the jacks, tack down one pin so that they stay in place prior to placing the panel. This also allows them to be moved around a bit as you mount the panel.
Control Board ... Continued...
As for the LED, the important thing to know is that polarity matters. The flat side of the component faces the jacks (or in the down direction on the control board. Do not tack this one down yet though, as we still have to mount the panel. Grab the panel and line everything up accordingly. Use the jack nuts to hold the panel in place as you place the other screw into the stand-off on the panel side.
Now, flip the module and begin soldering everything else into place. With the LED, you want it close to the panel but not pressed against it. It helps to bend the legs and tack one side at a time adjusting as needed.
Finally, place a dab of solder on the backside of the control board by the pots. Gently use pliers to pinch the tabs on the pots to bring them closer to the back of the control board and dab of solder you just placed. (If you miss this part of the build, your 2HP module will become a 2.3HP module) . Solder the tabs to the solder dabs and call the control board complete after you double check your soldering and tighten down the jack nuts.
Now, its time to mate the control board to the logic board. Carefully insert the pins of the logic board into the control board, paying attention to the orientation of the boards. Make sure the logic board is flush with the top of the PCB and tack one of the headers to the top PCB to hold everything in place. Solder the rest of the headers from the side, being careful not to hold your iron on any other components. Congrats!! You have just completed the build of the ZLOB MODULAR Triple Cap Chaos. It’s time to install the module and get to patching.
Our Final Thoughts . . .
The Triple Cap Chaos module from ZLOB MODULAR and all its compactness really packs a punch. We are big fans of “chaos” and the Triple Cap Chaos module does just that. The build is relatively easy for an intermediate or expert builder, where as it might pose some challenges with novice builders.
The panel is reversible which is really cool and this little attention to detail makes the build fun as well. As the newest module in ZLOBs lineup, it pairs well with itself and the Diode Chaos (which we have in our build list). In the end, for the price of the kit, and the total reward from patching this module, this is technically a no brainer to have in your rack… (plus its only 2HP!).
If you decide to pick on up, head on over to their shop page and let them know we sent ya!