Synth-in-a-box

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, some time back now. I decided to build a synthesizer.

Analogue electronics is not really my thing, I’m much more a digital person but when I found a design online for The #3 Standard WoggleBug by Grant Richter, I just had to build one.


Neat circuits, who needs 'emFirst I built the circuit on some veroboard. This thing is controlled by a bunch of potentiometers, there is no keyboard and certainly no MIDI!


This CD won't be readable anymoreThen I was wondering what to make for an enclosure. My friend Jasper found an empty CD spindle and you know, it was just crazy enough to work.

To create the control panel, I got a CD-R and messed it up a bit with a blowtorch. I mounted the knobs on this and glued it to the central shaft of the CD spindle. A little more glue and the whole thing was assembled inside the spindle.


And I even get a free travel-case for it!Here is the finished product. As you can see, the cover of the CD spindle makes a handy travel case.


The finshed productIf you want to hear what it sounds like, Click here for an MP3 (1MB). Okay, this is not a pure recording, I have added some drums and a couple of effects because this thing sounds really rough and is almost impossible to control. You’ll have to imagine me twisting the knobs frantically while you listen.

Anyway, I had fun building it and that’s what makes me happy.

16 thoughts on “Synth-in-a-box

  1. Nice work :)

    While the cracked & crazy appearance is not half cool, you can poke holes in CDs without cracking by punching and widening with a hot soldering iron. Open the windows- it’ll smoke & stink when you do it. Wrap some sandpaper around a pen barrel for finishing or fine adjustments of hole size. Use an old iron tip or sand back & re-tin your iron tip after plastic meltification.

  2. Just listened to the MP3. How cool is that?! :D

    You could use a number of different ways to control it, but easiest would be some sort of keyboard or series of switches with levers and spring returns.

    Could be loads of fun at dance parties. :D

  3. Thanks for the tips and compliments weez. I don’t know if I will do anything further with this gizmo, if anything, I might try to add a MIDI interface which could at least keep it in time with a drum machine or sequencer.

  4. I think it’s got a lot of potential to be a crowd-interactive sound toy. Some sort of Twister-inspired pressure sensitive floor mat (see alarm system suppliers) and the output mixed in the PA output would have people on the dance floor in no time.

  5. If you are 12 then well done, otherwise you suck and are a F.N. embarasment to your self! “Maker of finest quality digital things”… they is soooo contradictory to the work you have shown here I am stumbling for words to use to express how laughable that statment is!

  6. Aw c’mon Nathan, that’s a bit harsh. This is something fun I did when I was feeling silly. The crapness of it is part of its charm.

  7. nathankirchenr, sod off. There’s lots of room for dorking around in this realm.

    I was a prototypist for Bell Laboratories and many other F500 R&D houses before I retired. Hand me a schematic and I hand you a prototype device or test jig.

    Plenty of 1st protos from my bench looked MUCH worse than Adam’s first go. I love the fact that Adam had a go. Fining up could change the entire machine or purpose, but it’s a bunch of fun as it is.

    If your pissweak personality needs some cheap thrills like stomping on Adam, why don’t you just go kill a few kittens?

    Wanker.

  8. Cool – I love your cheesy geeky toys hon! They’re so original. I love watching you guys play some weird-ass homemade twiddle knob thingy on stage and seeing other people going off to them. Nice guy that Nathan someone… I hate it when some suck comes along and just has to rain on other people’s parade.

  9. Hi Adam,
    Thanks so much for sharing your creativity with us all, and the link to the circuit. What a rockin’ little box! I fully endorse wacky hardware like this that can’t be controlled by midi. So much in computer music tends to gravitate inevitably towards control, which of course is a desirable thing, but brings with it a left brain downside.
    BTW talk about parralell processing, I was only tonight applying a hacksaw to a CD spindle case as a housing for a crackle box http://www.eam.se/kraakdoos/ that I’m building. On that topic does any one out there have a source for the ancient 709 op amp that is the heart of it?
    BBTTWW I should also say that these circuits are worthy of your attention
    http://www.ciat-lonbarde.net/paper/man/index.html
    http://www.ciat-lonbarde.net/paper/grassi.gif
    http://www.ciat-lonbarde.net/paper/phal.gif
    I have made a version of the first and it is great.
    And I’m sure you wont waste a second worrying about the lame dissers, all public posting places have trolls :~)
    Cheerio john

  10. Cool woggle-bug Adam! Thought you might like this fun circuit too: http://www.musicsynthesizer.com/Hairball/hairball.html
    Good for a circuit-bending random source.

    Hey Weez, in addendum to your previous post, you could also use a video game dance pad (a la Dance Dance Revolution) for your Twister controller: multiple piezo elements in a pad with cord.

    Regards,

    Merrick Hard

  11. /me notes that nathankirchenr didn’t post a link to the putative hot shit stuff that he’s created that puts this to shame. :P

    maker of assholish troll posts on people’s personal blogs, are ye, nate?

  12. I would love to build one too but I am still a beginner and might need a hint. A parts list would really help me get this thing together. Would you mind jotting one down? Thanks!

  13. I was basically following Grant’s design which you can see at http://www.musicsynthesizer.com/WoggleBug/WOGGLSCH.GIF – All the parts are labelled on that diagram.

    My box does not exactly match Grant’s circuit, I made a few substitutions here and there. Most notably I completely left out the VTL5C3 because I didn’t have one and the circuit works fine without it. The only part I actually bought was the LF398 sample and hold chip because it is vital to the design. The rest of the parts are whatever I had in my junk box so a lot of resistor and capacitor values are different.

    Unfortunately, I was not documenting all my changes so I can’t tell you exactly what I did but that doesn’t matter because I am sure that the original design works better than my ugly hack.

    Good luck building yours. It’s good to see people having a go!

  14. Wogglemania! As a budding circuit bender, makes my heart soar like a hawk to see folks ‘avin’ a go. Just might be next on my list. Cheers.

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