• unicorn rainbow poop video generator

    Julien11/01/2018 at 13:37 0 comments

    the synth is working and giving its very particular "unicorn rainbow poop".

    I've been playing with the synth for few days. The result is what I expected.

    Still some work to do on the output circuit. It seems that I can't keep the bias on the op-amp right, bloody trimmers. Also don't trust On resistor of the CD4053 to be negligeable, it is not. I needed to add trimmers to compensate.

    I added random voltages using PWM from the STM32F0. Those need to be very well filtered otherwise the noise will be noticeable on the screen. However the more low the cutt off is, the less high the change of voltage can be. At the moment the PWM outputs are off. I'm thinking about using the three jacks for a mixer/blender

    The SMT32 is also creating the sync signals. On modern tv screen with VGA input it seems to be fine, the TV can lock on the signals beautifully. However on old monitor it can take quite some time to lock. I need to work on it as well.

    5 VCOs is maybe a bit too much. A mixer / blender could be handy for background pattern creating. I'm also on the impression that the synth lacks someking of external input in spite of the enveloppe filter. 

    Being able to send and manipulate an external VGA signal (RGB) and being able to mix it with the synth could be quite a thing. Next project ?

    Nonetheless, I need to tweak the details and make it really finished !


    Julien09/27/2018 at 11:29 0 comments

    An important piece of the project is done, the power supply. I couldn't put it in the box so I made a external one. The power is +12/0/-12V so I needed a 3 connectors plugs. I ordered these microphone plug for that task. The output is given at 500mA for each rail. I put two output in order to connector other circuit if need be.

    You need to go soft on those plastic faceplates. lesson learned for the next one.


    Julien08/12/2018 at 13:12 0 comments

    The output board is near completion. It still very long to do such things when not all parts are in the house and I need to wait for them. It take ages. Add to it the fact that when in August everything is slow in this country.

    No very proud of the 5V regular near the jack socket, nor the header pins for power right beneath the pot.

    Once this board is good, the synth will be finished and will be put in its case. 

    I'm working on the front panel.

    The power supply will be external and housed in a ABS case.


    Julien07/04/2018 at 18:57 0 comments

    Not much left to do. I was going to make the output circuit on a piece of veroboard but the all process is very tedious. I decided to go with a PCB as I feel that the circuit could be handy for other aplication VGA or PAL. Besides considering the price of 10x10cm pcb (5 dollars), the answer is obvious.

    this board will contain the output color circuit which transforms the 1V signals into the proper 700mV signals needed by the VGA color standard (it seems fine with 1V thought, but the documentation mentions "peak" so I'll play on the safe side). This part will be able to invert the signal as well.

    the board also has the envelope follower with three filters options (full bandwith, low pass, high pass). 

    here a simulation of the front panel . The project will be housed in an used metal tool box.

  • VCO Working

    Julien06/22/2018 at 14:06 0 comments

    This log will be heavy on pictures. Sorry for your internet bandwith.

    The lzx cadet vco is built and working. Really nice piece of circuitry. I added an inverted output to both waveform (square and triangle) . I had some oscillation at  42Mhz which was the ringing of the 74HC14 inverter at the output of the LM6172. The noise also fedthrough the other waveform (both inverted output share the same package) .

     10pF capacitor in the feedback loop of both op amp solved the issue.

    This vco was intented for TV usage. Nonetheless I guess it'll work as well with VGA. I built a small test jig for two oscillators:

    behin the panel, it's the video splitter board. It split the PAL video signal from its syncronisation and recombine it afterward. It allows to input an external 1v dc signal and it displays it on the screen (using the sync signal from the input pal signal).

    On a tv, this setup gives nice black/white patterns, vcos can also be modulated with video signal !

    Now that the vcos are good I need to test them with a vga screen (just to be sure) build the last 3 of them, the envelopper follower and the second part of the output circuitry.


    Julien05/27/2018 at 20:06 0 comments

    The XR2206 VCO gave poor results. Noises on the waveforms and a reduce amplitude above 200Khz. I'ts a pitty because the amplitude modulation amplitude could have been quite handy.

    I decided to go to the LZX industries cadet VCO :


    I redesign a PCB for 0805 SMD parts and I added a bit of logic with AND gate to have only one switch for the vco to be sync'ed to the vertical or the horizontal sync signal. I also added an inverted output for the triangle and square signals.

    Once the VCO is ok the project will move forward quicker.

    Ordering and waiting for parts is so boring....

  • VCO testing

    Julien03/28/2018 at 12:50 0 comments

    the vco is working fine minus two non-lethal errors.

    I wanted to have a sine and triangle outputs. The sine output was supposed to be shaped after the triangle in the regular synth fashion, with a diode clipper.

    However the output of the XR2206 is amplitude modulated (PIN1 of the chip) and therefore the amplitude coming into the sineshaper is also modulated. The Sine wave will be only obtained with full amplitude where the diodes are about to conduct. Not ideal, although could be interesting to have a morphing wave (triangle - sine - square).

    I went back to the datasheet exemple with a Sine/Triangle switch. The advantages of this configuration are a less busy front panel and two op-amps removed (less $$$ on the shopping list). The protoarea on the board was a good idea.

    I hate trimmers.


    Julien03/15/2018 at 14:26 0 comments

    I worked a bit on the audio modulation circuit. It will make things move on the screen with the audio input signal.

    At first I though about controlling the analog switch with three microcontroller pins . Although it'd be a simpler solution, both circuits are not on the same board which will create a need for another ribbon cable. I wanted a bit more fun with digital logic and came up with the switch controler on the right.

    Value for the filters will certainly be variable with trimmers.

    The input buffer will be able to accommodate low signal (headphone output of mp3 player), line level signal and modular level signal (very hot 10Vpeak-peak). R1 will be made variable to attenuate and control the depth of modulation.

    The output will probably be clipped at 1V to not exceed the standard of the synth.


    Julien02/20/2018 at 19:11 0 comments

    The VCO board are in the house. I wanted them before the celebration of the Chinese new year (Happy New Year!!). I ordered five and received nine. Always good, thanks Elecrow ! The remaining will be for sale I think.

    I added a small prototype area for added circuitry if need be. I'm also working on a video signal modifier (PAL) and the oscillator could be used for it as well.

    As I'm a bit slow I haven't ordered the parts at the same time which will delay even more the project. I'm not in a rush anyway. I must say that I hate this part of a project, waiting for components to arrive, borrriiiinnngggg.....

    I ordered two DIP LM6172 from alixepress, they work fine. The part is 6euros at Farnell !!

    Working on the mechanical aspect of the project (box and faceplate) as well.

  • Hardware considerations

    Julien01/23/2018 at 13:16 0 comments

    While I’m trying to figure out the specific vga timing I decided to put down the current progress.

    The plan was to add VCAs to the synth. However, without surprises a LM13700 can’t handle 1Mhz (not really designed for it). The only «ready » solution at those frequencies is the LT1228 from Linear. However it costs 8,88 euros. Needless to say, it’s not for me.

    Another solution is to build a vca from discrete components. Simulation are being made with what I called the Yusynth VCA although it is a standard VCA design seen a lot in Synth design. A major drawback is the offset of 500mV at the output. I’m wondering if there will any VCA in that project after all, this will give 5 VCOs instead of 4.

    This led to another constrain, the bandwith of the op-amps throughout the synth. The bandwith and the slew rate should be sufficient for the minimun 1MHZ frequency. It’s a nightmare to chose an opamp from parametric search because there’s so many. I reduced the selection by taking into consideration only parts that can be bought on aliexpress or ebay. Remained the LM6172 or the MAX4392 that works only with +5/-5V which may lead to redesigning the VCO. The synth will run with +12/-12V, I’ll stick with the LM6172 for now, besides is the same price as the MAXIM part.

    The pin 3 of the XR2206 controls the frequency. It is fixed at 3V and the design should not pull more than 3mA out of it. The problem is to not to exceed those specifications while modulation is applied to the input. The first solution is to clamp the signal when it needs to be in order to not fry the XR2206. However it requires more components and is still not ideal in terms of use. Another solution is to limit the range of the manual frequency control whereas the highest and lowest frequencies are only obtainable with modulation applied. I took this solution.

    The same problem applies to the « fine » frequency control when, again, modulation is applied. Therefore I removed the « fine » control.

    The PCB has been designed for cost and size.  Jacks and switches will be linked with wires.  A prototype area will be installed in the bottom empty space of the board