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Building a simple synth? (Super simple, basic electrical question)
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JohnnyLongarms
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5th August 2010
Old 5th August 2010
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Building a simple synth? (Super simple, basic electrical question)

So I want to make a little synth just as a project. I'm talking super simple.. two knobs, a speaker and a battery (I think?) I don't really know how a sound is made. I'm assuming if I attach a battery to a (little cheap two dollar radioshak) speaker, it will make a tone. So I need to put a knob in the circuit that changes the volume of that tone.. so do I need to change resistance? Voltage? what? Also.. to change the pitch of the tone, what do I need to do?

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5th August 2010
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A battery provides a constant voltage - DC - and a speaker moves back and forth; it needs an alternating voltage - AC.

To build an oscillator that makes a simple waveform, you need a few resistors, a capacitor, an opamp, a battery and a small speaker. Then you might get something that produces a beep.

If you really want to learn this, forget about building anything resembling a synth in the first two years or so.

Start with basic circuits, get books, breadboard and parts, and learn to build a simple stompbox first. You will make mistakes and debugging a small, simple circuit teaches you some valuable lessons about parts values, the importance of directions (diodes) and frying stuff when you hook it up to the mains.

If it was that simple as you think nobody here would ever buy complete synths, ever.
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5th August 2010
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Yeah I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. I just wanted to try something really simple. Any suggestions for an electronics super-noob? For example, I know what a capacitor is, but not why I would need one for a simple beeping machine. I have no idea what an opamp is, or why/how to us eone. =P Thanks

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5th August 2010
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Yeah my suggestion is to copy other peoples designs. Start as simple as you can. Get a breadboard.

BTW I made a stompbox back in the day... basic distortion with germanium diodes for a smoother rounding of the waveform. IT SUCKED.
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5th August 2010
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This is a great undertaking.
I recently got into DIY too and spent day and night for half a year reading books, gathering info and doing small projects. Don't expect results to come overnight.

I found the following book very useful:
The Art of Electronics

Also there is Electronotes which is a must for synth diy projects:
Electronotes

Here is a simple circuit that would produce some beeping, relatively easy and fun to build, close to what you wanted:
beeper circuit diagram

Okay, it surely won't qualify as a synth building project, but no knowledge about opamps is needed for this and there are many explanations on the net detailing how it works.

j

(EDIT: Btw I suggest you to strive to fully understand the workings of a circuit before building it, otherwise you will likely just get headache... Not much fun to debug a misterious black box.)
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i made a ring modulator from soundonsound years and years ago using some wires and 2 transformers (i think)

it made loads of noise lol


try something like the 500-in-1 electronics project kits

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5th August 2010
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Thanks a ton! I guess I'll be buying some books. Mysterious black boxes are fun to me though... Hmm.. we'll see how this goes =P
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Ooh 500 in 1!? It's like magic!!
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i highly recommend this CD book.
it has a section in it on how to build a simple synthesiser.
it is designed for artists, but it's good for anyone who wants to make interesting things and has no knowledge of electronics !

List of Chapters
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Quote:
it is designed for artists, but it's good for anyone who wants to make interesting things and has no knowledge of electronics !
That sounds perfect for me!
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And let's not forget Barry Klein's Electronic Music Circuits book.
It's full of valuable info about (modular) synth building.

Electronic Music Circuits
JohnnyLongarms
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You guys are the best. =) Really
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If you want to do something really simple, use a 555 clock chip in A-stable mode. The 555 is a clock generator which outputs a square/pulse wave and is also used in the (slightly more complex) atari punk console.
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YES! That sounds exactly like what I'm talking about. Thanks! =*
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