Pressing Pause

This probably is no real surprise to anyone but there is a world wide shortage of ICs at the moment, a month or so ago it was pretty much just micro controllers, but now it seems op-amps and even voltage regulators are in short supply. To cap this off a number of IC vendors are seeing this as a chance to “end of life” a few parts as well.

Add on top the complete train wreck that is brexit and the additional costs of buying and selling goods outside of the UK and things go from bad to worse.

And to cap it off, we’re also now seeing supplier issues in the UK, shortages of materials, courtesy of Brexit, and increased costs for parts and manufacturing. Add that in to the previous mix and that finding suppliers who are reliable and consistent in the UK has become almost impossible.

What does this add up to? well, a perfect storm for UK manufacturers like Dove Audio, creating a lot of stress and uncertainty.

The result? Building modules and synths has become somewhat of a chore, dealing with suppliers, HMRCC, taxes, shipping, supply issues and has taken the ‘fun’ out of building synths.

So we’ve taken the decision that we’re going to be pressing pause on things for a while, we’re not closing up, we’re just going to put everything on pause for a while. We’ll be keeping an eye on IC supplies and all the other fun things going on, but for the moment we’re taking a break.

Stay safe, Look after yourself and see you soon.

MuSeq

Things have gone a bit nuts since our last update.

The Beta units all failed with differing problems and so we’ve ordered what we hope will be the final PCB version, this did also give us a chance to include a number of extra things that we had been thinking about.

Dual MuSeq prototypes

We’ve been testing different LEDs and brightness’s for them as you can see above.

So next steps is that we’ll build up the new beta units slowly and test them a bit at a time. One of the challenges we face is that the worldwide shortage of microcontrollers is making it impossible to find the microcontroller we use for MuSeq. However we should be able to rework the previous boards and remove the microcontrollers from them. But this shortage may delay the launch of MuSeq.

We’ll keep you posted!

MuSeq & Delta Update

Here is a quick update on things that are underway for you.

MuSeq;
We now have the prototype panels (YAY) and things are looking good.

MuSeq with Panel

Everything fits in, the MIDI sockets are a bit more snug that we’d like, but they fit.
Next to do is to finish the beta unit assembly (just waiting on a couple of parts) and then they will be winging their way to testers.
Whilst testing is happening orders for PCBs and Panels will be placed, now delays may happen due to the shortage of ICs in the world currently, but we’ll keep you posted here.

Delta;
Delta had a bit of a major re-write of the VHDL code used in the FPGA as I was struggling to get the waveforms for the oscillators to update properly. I’m happy to report that I can now update waveforms for the oscillators.
So next is going to be adding back in in the modulation sources and we should be flying.

On a personal note, I wanted to say that the last few months have been challenging for me on a personal level, a number of things have happened that have meant I’ve had little to no time to spend on these projects. Things are getting better. But please do keep in mind, I do this for a hobby, for fun and not full time.

MuSeq & Delta

It’s been a few weeks since I posted on this website, I’ve been working on the MuSeq updating and I’m pleased to say I’ve finally got it working, you can see this and previous videos on the Dove Audio YouTube Channel.

MuSeq USB updating

I’m finishing the beta unit build and I’m hopeful these will go to beta testers before the end of April. Then after a few weeks of testing the plan is to get the PCBs and panels on order, this will take about 6 weeks and then we can become shipping them to our dealers.

For those wondering what’s happening with the poly synth, Delta, It’s on hold whilst I’m at this critical stage with MuSeq, once the beta units are out and the orders have been placed, I can resume work on it.

So that’s pretty much it for this update, follow us on YouTube for more MuSeq videos and start badgering your preferred supplier to contact me about obtaining stock of the sequencer as soon as it’s available.

MuSeq pre-Production

Things are marching on with the MuSeq sequencer for the MU style modular synth. The pre-production PCB is assembled (couple of extra mod wires).

A few mod wires, but that’s why we test changes before going to production!

MuSeq has a number of modes and features, so I’ll explain them here;

  • 2 Channels of sequencing, A & B (channel A shown above)
  • Channel A has the following modes;
    • Note (1V oct but scaled to 12 notes)
    • Step Length (variable from 1/32 to 1/1 with triplets)
    • Gate triggers (1, 2 or 3) commonly called “ratchetting”
    • Gate On/Off
    • Legato
    • Skip
  • Channel B is linked to Channel A, but still has the following modes
    • Note or CV (512 value resolution)
    • Gate Triggers (1,2 or 3) same as channel A
    • Gate On/Off
    • Legato Mode
  • you can change the first step,
  • the last step
  • direction (forward, backward, pendulum, Fwd/bck and Random currently)
  • Syncable from MIDI or internal clock currently, will be adding Sync24, USB MIDI sync and also a pulse input from other modules in your system
  • Digital output (x2), one for Run/Stop and one for clock out (from 1 beat per bar down to 32 beats per bar)
  • Inputs (x2), can be used for Tempo, Channel A note, run stop, clock input, pattern change.
  • Bank play mode, this lets you chain up to 8 patterns together, with the added advantage that you can enable/disable patterns on the fly and set a number of repeats for each pattern. So you could have pattern 1 play 3 times, skip patterns 2 & 3 and then play pattern 4 once, then skip patterns 5,6,7 & 8 and go back to pattern 1.
  • Loading and saving of 8 banks of 8 patterns to an SD Card in text format, making it easy to share patterns.
  • USB updatable

There’s a way to go with the software but most of the features listed above are already in. I’m confident by the time the first production run arrives I’ll have got everything in.

One of the main goals for this was to make things smaller, I love sequencers, but loosing 8U of rack space to get 2 or 3 channels of fairly limited sequencing didn’t really appeal.
MuSeq is 3U wide and has two channels and of course you can get up to 64 steps per channel with variable gate lengths without sacrificing a channel to do that!

MuSeq panel layout.

I’ve endeavoured to keep the “analogue sequencer” feel as much as possible, but sometimes I think adding some digital into the mix makes for a truly powerful sequencer.

Below are a few images from the prototype showing the various “pages” which are selected by the knob just below the tempo knob.

More updates as they happen!

MuSeq Update

PCB routing all done and prototype PCBs have been ordered.

MuSeq PCB

We’re having parts fitted by the PCB supplier, though there will be a few we have to do by hand (for example, the through hole parts).

Couple of changes to the PCB;
1) It’s smaller so as to ensure it fits in both the Box11 and portable cabinet styles.
2) A rotary selector switch for the mode select (was previously a pot)
3) An extra switch to enable “bank play” mode (just below and to the right of the tempo knob
4) Moved the jack sockets up a little so there is the correct amount of space for the MIDI sockets.
5) An extra chip to allow updating via USB.
6) Offset and scale presets for both analogue CV outputs, so you can be sure you’ll get 1V/Oct regardless of any power supply problems.

The code base will be the same as before, so there should be minimal work to bring this board up.

The next steps will be assembling testing the first PCB when it arrives (early February) and then designing the new front panel (a few things have moved, so the holes will need to move accordingly) and then shipping to beta testers.

We’ll post a video once we have the prototype up and running.

MuSeq V1.1

Relaying the PCB for the next version of MuSeq is well underway.

3D render (some 3D shapes missing)

There are a few changes;
* gone is the extra display and rotary encoder as it really wasn’t useful.
* Added a switch for mode selection, just below tempo knob.
* allowed more space for the DIN connectors for MIDI/Sync24.
* shortened PCB so it actually fits in the case.
* a new way of updating in the field has been found.
* going to attempt to add USB MIDI in, this may or not be included in the final version. It’s very much dependant on what the impact is to the performance of the sequencer.

Rats Nest

Routing the PCB is going well, but it’s going to take a while to complete. My aim is to finish the PCB before the new year.

Dove Audio in 2021

I’m taking some time over the holidays to consider the future and direction of Dove-Audio. But a few things are certain, MuSeq will be resumed, and it’s going to need a new processor which means a lot of rework so will be a while before there are any real updates.

2020 has been a tough year for everyone, without exception. At Dove-Audio we’ve felt the impact, sadly sales this year, 2020, have slumped which means that I am probably going to need to do another Kickstarter to raise money for MuSeq, something I had hoped to avoid. It’s also going to have a knock on impact into the what we can develop, prototype and put into manufacture in 2021.

Delta, the poly synth, is going well at this stage but still has a long way to go. It is making sound and you can ‘play’ notes on it from a midi controller, but there is a way to go and there will need to be a revision of the analogue PCB.

Delta polysynth as it stands now, a jumble of dev kits and wires.

The design we did for Tangible Waves for a wavetable oscillator came out really well, with 7 wavetables and two oscillators (de-tuneable by up to an octave) it sounds better than we could have hoped for. We’re pleased to have been able to work with Robert on this and we’re looking at a Tangible Waves format WTF module.

For now, have a wonderful holiday and stay safe.

Paula

Life in Boxes and FPGAs

Well, the move went “ok”, I can’t say it was the most enjoyable experience, nor the smoothest, but it’s done.

I’ve unpacked about 75% of things and now have my soldering iron and workbench set up again. Which now means I’m starting to catch up on orders that were placed during my move.

The new place is smaller and so I’ve had to downsize my workshop considerably. So I have relutctantly taken the decision that I will no longer be manufacturing Eurorack modules, onc ethe last few Waveplane modules have gone, that will be it. I will however be working with someone to license these designs for their own product line, in much the same way as I did for Tangible Waves “wavetables” module

There are a number of reasons for this but primarily because I don’t have the space to store all the parts and modules for 3 types of modular system (MU, tangible waves and eurorack).
For now, I will be focusing on the MuSeq sequencer for the MU (dotcom) system and the delta poly synth but there are other modules planned which will be available to be licensed for eurorack systems going forward. Likewise the same is true of Tangible waves modules (which I really enjoyed working on). 
Does this mean I’m sick of modular and/or synths? no, I don’t think I could ever give up synths, I suspect I’ll still be designing them when I’m in my 90s. I still love modular , and non modular, synths, but just right now I have a much smaller space in my new place, so a downsize is a must sadly.

Some of you may have seen some of the pictures I’ve posted of my playing with FPGAs.

VHDL code on an FPGA generating three sawtooth outputs

This is a bit more than “playing”, what I’m trying to do is see how much/how many oscillators/voices I can fit into a single FPGA. I have a number of concerns over the use of CPUs for creating oscillators and voice control.
So I’m seeing if there is mileage in switching to an FPGA in place of the CPUs for Delta.

Life & Focus

We’ve finally found a suitable place to relocate to and we will be moving the end of August, this means we will temporarily not be be able to complete and ship further orders until around the middle of September.

This has taken a huge pressure off me personally, as have a couple of major life changes in recent weeks. My mood has lifted significantly in recent weeks as a result.

In short, I’m going to drop my current project list down to just three things and try and focus my efforts on those, they are;

  • MuSeq – My MU sequencer, there are a number of hardware changes that are needed, so I will be looking at these first. I did post a recent video with an update on some extra functionality that has gone in on my YouTube channel.
  • Delta – The basics are there, the analogue VCFs and VCAs work and the oscillators are all working. I’m considering a slight change to the VCF to give it a fourth filter mode and there is likely to a processor change (which is why it’s on headers) . I am pleased with how small it is, 110mm by 110mm for four voices.
  • PJ5CPU project, this is a bit of fun for me, basically it’s a RISC microprocessor made from TTL logic with a single instruction per clock cycle. I’m hoping to achieve 1Mhz/1MIPS from it, but it’s really just for fun and is not aimed at becoming a commercial product.

There are other things I would like to do, for example more modules for Tangible Waves, but for the moment I need to try and keep my focus.

Whilst Dove-Audio remains a hobby/cottage industry things aren’t likely to happen quickly, but I will post updates when I can.