Spielsachen: The Future of the Future

As of a few days ago, what was called “Future” in my modulargrid designs has become the present (almost).

Which begs the question: what does the future of today – the future of the future if you will – have in stock?

Mechanical and Wiring Integration

The components that are not the A-100 need to be fixed in place. This includes stompboxes, PSUs, power strips, the mixer, the Analog Rytm, the Minilogue and a lot of stuff that sits on that front board (mainly semi-modular things).To do that, I’ll use a combo of screws and Velcro strips. Maybe at some point strengthening the boards is in order.

Once that’s done (and the positions are fixed), it’s about wiring – the static one, not the modular patches. There’s power (230V and low-voltage from the PSUs), MIDI, USB, audio (with ¼’’ and 1/8’’ jacks). Maybe at some points shorter cables than the ones I currently have installed are in order. Angled jacks might be beneficial in some places. And they need to be fixed in place, and configured in a way that assembly/disassembly of the setup is easy.

That Front Row

The front row holds mainly semi-modular things, and that’s something that won’t change.

As of now, it’s a 0-Coast, SQ-1, DFAM, Neutron, plus a MIDI Thru box. Packed closely together, this leaves ca. 5cm of space.

Front Row.JPG
The Front Row as of today…

One addition I’m looking at is a second SQ-1. Fortunately the depth of the SQ-1 is rather low, so both could sit behind each other, that way easily fitting into the available space.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is to fit all the semi-modular synths into a long skiff case and add a power feed to the SQ-1s along the way. Which would have to be around 205TE wide, which would mean a custom job. The idea I’m leaning toward right now is to replace the case for the Neutron with a standard 84TE case (like the Berliner one), and then I could put in the Neutron and an additional 4TE-wide thing. Like the Evaton Link or the Doepfer Multicore. Or I could remove the Neutron quickly and put in 80TE worth of modules. That’s a lot.

A potential growth path would then be to have the Berliner Case swappable, so if I felt so-inclined, I could swap out 80TE even mid-performance. Endless possibilities…

Front Row.JPG
…and a very cheap photoshop job of what could be.

The Berliner Case comes without a power supply and bus board. I’d opt for a standard (non-flex, keyed) bus board. As for power supply…

Power Supplies

Right now (but including the additional SQ-1, see above), the system has 17 individual components, two of which (A-100, 1202VLZ) have an internal PSU, the rest of which use a total of six eternal PSUs. That needs to change.

One step would be to use the existing stomp box PSU (or an additional one, or another one) to feed the Analog Rytm (12V) and Minilogue (9V) as well, that way using one external PSU for the entire top tier.

Real benefit is to be had on the bottom tier: requirements here are 15V (0-Coast), 2x12V (DFAM, Neutron) and 2x5V USB (SQ-1). However, considering the plan to replace the Neutron case with a generic Eurorack case without PSU one of the 12V could become 15V as well. Or some fancy idea might be in order…

A fancy idea would be to build (read: custom job) a central PSU that is either fed by 230V or by 15V (which comes from a standard laptop-style PSU either installed on the top- or bottom-tier). This PSU would then have as connectors:

  1. one 15V branch to the 0-Coast
  2. one 12V feed going to the DFAM
  3. two 5V feeds going to USB jacks to feed the SQ-1s
  4. and then either an output to feed an Eurorack case PSU, or
  5. a feed of all Eurorack voltages to the Berliner Case

Items 1 to 3 are simple enough and can be done with pre-assembled COTS components that I’d only need to put into a case and add connectors. The interesting part is the choice between 4 and 5. 4 would be the easy one – I could just use something like the Tiptop Zeus PSU, and with that feeding the Berliner Case would be just like feeding the 0-Coast: 15V and that’s it.

However, I’m already generating 12V and 5V in my own little PSU thingie. If I also created -12V, I could just feed all of these voltages to the Berliner Case via a total of four pins and not need an additional PSU component – which costs money and let’s not forget space (how to fit the Multicore, Neutron AND PSU into a 84TE case?).

That’s why I’m right now leaning towards a somewhat customized solution where my PSU generates -12V and feeds the Eurorack voltages to the Berliner Case.

A-100 Revisited

With the “Future” design in place, it’s time to see what kind of changes might still be in place for the big Monster Base in the future of the future.

Let’s start with additions: if I put a link module into the new Berliner Case, this would only make sense if I did the same for the A-100. I also have been thinking for some time about a second dual LPG (4TE), and I still have the Source of Uncertainty and the Expertsleepers ES-3. And I’ve been toying with the idea of a René 2018.

As for modules that might go (potentially to be put into the Berliner Case from time to time): something that’s at least somewhat redundant is the Nanozwerg, taking up 24TE. Both Mikrofonie and Kitty Eyes aren’t used that often (which is another 10TE). And there’s also the PPL which so far has only seen use very seldomly (8TE).

Taking the idea of the Nanozwerg as one example: if I removed that and added a link, I’d have 20TE to spare. And then I could either load the Berliner Case with the Neutron or, for a different synth voice, with the Nanozwerg, with another 56TE to spare in the Berliner Case and 20TE in the Monster Base. Those 20TE would, in a sensible setup, already been taken by other stuff (to be defined). Or, moving away from the idea of standard voices altogether, I’d have 20TE in the Monster Base (to be set up in a static fashion) plus 80TE in the Berliner case – that’s 100TE, which is quite something.

In a short-term scenario, though, the most probable move would be to remove the PLL and replace it with a Doepfer Multicore and a second Synthrotek LPG. I love these.

Summary

The future of the future looks bright. While most steps primarily focus on electrical and mechanical integration – meaning the enable quickly going to a gig, but don’t help the actual music-making – it appears that there’s some creative benefits along the path. One nice addition will be a second SQ-1, which doesn’t require anything else to go. The move of the Neutron to the Berliner Case does not only give the possibility to pack the entire setup in a patched fashion, it also allows for quickly replacing said Neutron with other things as I see fit.

Like I said: a bright future of the future.

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