Having managed to find a supplier with a few chips in stock I’ve managed to build up 3 beta units which will be going to beta testers in the next week or so.
I’m about to move house, again, and once the dust has settled from that these will be going to three beta testers. to pop into their MU modular systems and be put through their paces.
Whilst chipageddon is with us, these sadly won’t be going into production, however this does mean we can focus on the firmware and getting that nailed down and rock solid ready to go into units as soon as we’re able to go to production.
I was also approached by Darwin Grosse about an interview for his podcast, which I was honoured to do, if you don’t know his podcast you really should go and give it a whirl (https://artmusictech.libsyn.com/, also on iTunes and Spotify), he does some incredible interviews with Musicians and Builders alike. It was a genuine honour to chat at length with Darwin who is one of the nicest guys on the planet, so why not give his podcast a go and support him via his Patreon page.
In other news, I’ve had another visit from the black dog (video below for more information). I’m hopeful that moving house will mean the black dog goes away for a while. When I have a visit from the black dog I struggle to work on projects as I can’t really focus. So things have slowed a little of late.
For those of you out there, please know you’re not alone and it will pass, there are people who you can talk to about things, each country has their own, but for the UK the Samaritans is one of the best places – 116 123
For now, I’ll leave you with this video which goes some way to explaining what goes through your head when the black dog visits. I’ve been here before and I will get past it again.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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”
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
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.
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!
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.
The NJM2069 is a fabulous sounding VCF/VCA and I really wish you could still buy these new. not only is a great VCF, but it has a VCA built in and a mixer. It’s a very simple chip to use as well requiring very little in the way of external components. If I could get a good supply of these it would make building poly-synths so much easier!
Anyway, on the PCB you’ll see I bought out the extra pre VCF inputs and the CVs for controlling the levels. Just keep in mind you *must* keep the CVs within -5V to +5V (though they operate from 0V to 5V), going outside of this will damage the chip.
I’ve also added a “Ko-fi” page, so if you feel like buying me a coffee (or in all honesty more likely some chocolate) then you can do so on my ko-fi page here.
PCB routing all done and prototype PCBs have been ordered.
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.
Relaying the PCB for the next version of MuSeq is well underway.
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.
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.