Some ‘things’ I built over the winter so far.

So I love DIY music equipment, I don’t really have much room to properly setup and use the eq but I still love to mess with it and build things.

I’ve built a few projects over the winter so far, starting off with a x0xb0x, actually I started on it last winter got about half way done and then I got busy with summer activities so it sat, amazingly enough I didn’t lose many parts and none of the rare parts.  I did have some issues with the EEPROM and swapped out chips from my Shruthi-1 (Another project) but still no luck even though the chip worked in the Shruthi.  I ended up buy some extras which came in handy when building my Midibox SID (Yet another project) and the new chip worked fine, I still can’t understand why I had an issue but it’s solved now, chalk that one up to the mystery of electronics.

Here is a pic of my x0x along with some other DIY projects (A ‘Where’s the Party at’, and the Shruthi)

The x0x is cool and I love the 303 sound but it’s kind of a one trick pony, not sure if’ I’ll keep it or not.


Since it’s in the picture there I’ll move on to the Shurthi-1.  The Shruthi is a DIY digital synthesizer with a analog filter, it’s designed by Mutable Instruments and really has a nice sound for being Digital, also there are a ton of options for modulations, waveforms, oscillators and even a built in sequencer, it’s very impressive for it’s size and cost!  Dare I say it but I’m almost a bigger fan of the digital sound over analog, but combining the digital sound with a nice analog filter really works out well.  Here is video of just me messing aound with some of the paramters on the Shurthi.

Pretty impressive for a tiny box that’s a DIY kit.  Assembly wise I self sourced this project so I didn’t have a nice manual for putting everything together, which for me wasn’t bad but could be somewhat overwhelming for a newbie, especially the part of programming the chip, since this requires a special programer, but I’m sure the actually kit that is sold would be much easier (They do seem to sell out quick so if you want one keep an eye open!)  Here are a few pics of assembly…

The only problem I really had was the interface between the boards (Top board is digital, lower board is analog filter)  it uses a 8-pin jumper and finding the correct length was problematic for me, but again this was all self sourced I’m sure the kit has one the correct length.  Since I mentioned about how I actually like the digital sound that leads directly to my next project the MidiboxSID!

What is a MidiboxSID?  If you lived in the 80’s then you know exactly what makes this DIY synth sound like it does.  The SID in MidiboxSID refers to the Sound Interface Device found in Commodore 64 computers, remember that heavy digitized sound that mesmerized you for hours when playing arkanoid?  Well that’s exactly what the MidiboxSID sounds like, but with a WHOLE lot more!  If you really want to get in depth about it head on over to Midibox.org and check out the wiki but here is a general overview.

Each SID chip has 3 oscillators capible of sine, triangle, pulse and any combo of those, also each oscillators has it’s own filter control and pulse width, now add on the Midibox core circuit and you get full Midi control over all of that plus some amazing digitally controlled effects including 6 LFOs, a arpeggiator, 3 envelops, a huge mod matrix that can be effected on by any 2 of the LFOs and envelopes with if I remember correct up to 8 mod matrixes.  Also add in full filter control for each of the 3 OSCs which of course can be modulated in the matrixes and even some unique modes like a bassline mode and more and more!  Really there are so many possibilities it’s boggling!  This thing can do far, FAR more then what a C64 could.  Then on top of all that you can add a second SID chip and have full stereo effects for some amazing mind bending sounds!

There is one caveat though SID chips are hard to find, plus there are 2 different types!  There is the 8580R5 and the 6581 (There is also a 6582, but it’s the same as a 8580R5 just the latest replacement version)  It seems the most sought after is the 8580R5, it sounds more digital and the combo waveforms work well, it’s the later version and can be found in Commodore 64Cs but not in the old version with the black keyboard those have the 6581.  The 6581 has a more analogish sound the filter is also different and the combo waveforms don’t really work well on it, but that doesn’t mean it’s garbage.  I think it’s rougher and bassy sounding compared to the 8580.  Also the take a different supply voltage, the 8580 uses 9VDC and the 6580 uses 12VDC.

I prefer the 8580 so bought one off the forum on MidiboxSID, and my other for stereo sound came from an old C64C on ebay, the chip was socketed so very easy to remove, but care needs to be taken as they are very sensitive to static.  If you want to tell the sound go on youtube a listed to samples played by the real chip not an emulator of each chip.

Once having the chips the rest is common parts that can be sourced from Mouser or Digi-Key.  There are also boards and parts available from here http://avishowtech.com/mbhp/buy.html I’m not going to go into what you need but at least a core8 module and SID module.

So enough talk here is some sample sound from mine.

Awesome right?!?!  That’s running in the bassline mode, god I love that sound!

As for construction I decided to take the ‘hard’ way since I was building over Christmas break.  First I put everything on a breaboard and it pretty much worked right of the bat (I was a bit supprised).  Then I decided to veroboard it, wow what a pain I never veroboard something this complex but again to my amazement it worked first try (after hours and hours of soldering over a few days!)  Things were kind of a mess though so I did some refining and then that’s when I decided to add the second SID chip for stereo, so here are a couple pics.

Now I knew about this before I started building but I didn’t know if I’d like the sound, but there is a an ultimate, super-mega version that uses 8, yes eight SID chips, called the MB-6582, there are PCBs sold but you have to find 8 SID chips but I’m game so my order is in for the boards but imagine that’s 24 oscillators, yes two four, 8×3 per chip, awesome.

So I haven’t been lax over the winter so far, next will be the MB-6580 and I’m going to try my best to document the build of it here on the blog.

Sorry about the long post, but if you made it this far, thanks for reading and leave a comment!!






1 Response to “Some ‘things’ I built over the winter so far.”

  1. 1 corey
    July 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I’m curious how much you estimate it cost you to build your Shruthi-1 sourcing your own parts? Did you get the PCB printed yourself as well? I might try to do the same thing myself, but I won’t bother if it’s not significantly cheaper than the kits (which sell for 130 euros).


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