Toronto, Ontario, Canada

tag "electronics"

Combining components for new values

When I started breadboarding the Coiler VCF (see my new videos about it...), I ran into a problem: the design called for a couple of 6800pF (also known as 6.8nF) capacitors, and I didn't have any of those on hand. I didn't want to rush out and buy some, both because of the time and effort involved and because it was quite possible that design changes would mean I might not end up using that value in the finished product anyway. I could either end up paying a high price for a small quantity, or buying in bulk to get a lower per-unit price and having the extras go to waste. As I've written before, it's not a bargain if you end up paying for components you don't use. READ MORE

Common parts to keep in stock

One of the most common beginner SDIY questions is which parts are frequently used and worth buying in large quantities to use on multiple projects.  The people who ask this question think they're going to save serious amounts of money by buying common parts in bulk, and although I have serious misgivings about the money-saving aspect, the question isn't going to stop being asked, and there are in fact other reasons why keeping a stock of parts may be a good idea.  Here are some thoughts on that. READ MORE

The vanity of "Having A Lot Of Parts"

It is often said that the secret of Taco Bell's success is that they only use six ingredients:  refried beans, seasoned ground beef mixture, cheddar cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and corn tortillas.  Everything on their menu is just some combination of these six ingredients, and the ingredients are all cheap to begin with and more so when bought in huge bulk quantities, so Taco Bell's cost is very low and their profit margins incredibly high. READ MORE

Transistors for the Perplexed

Most transistor circuits are quite straightforward.  If you look at the schematic of something like the North Coast Transistor Mixer, you can easily recognize common patterns - an emitter follower here, a common-emitter amplifier there - which are in every textbook and really are just transistorized versions of vacuum-tube circuits going back generations.  The new Transistor ADSR gets a little more complicated, largely because of its use of two-transistor circuit blocks such as multivibrators, but there's still nothing really weird in it.  But every now and again you'll see something in a schematic diagram that isn't in the textbook, seems like it makes no sense... and yet, it works.  This article covers a couple of those non-traditional ways to use transistors - as well as some simple, obvious questions that smart beginners are likely to wonder about but which aren't usually answered in introductory presentations. READ MORE

Tools for getting started with SDIY

Visit the North Coast Synthesis SDIY page! READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 11: Digital oscillators

This is Part 11 of a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 9: Other filter designs

This is Part 9 of a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

One minute op amp analysis

You can understand most op amp circuits with just three simple rules. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 8: State-variable filters

This is Part 8 in a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Voltage control modifications

There's a recurring thread that comes up again and again in SDIY fora, where someone asks how to "mod" an existing device that is not voltage-controlled to give it a CV input. Sometimes this question is asked in relation to a specific product, in which case there's some possibility of having an intelligent discussion; but quite often it's framed more generally, with the poster hoping that there will be just one single, simple procedure applicable to all (or at least many) non-voltage-controlled modules to make them voltage controlled. In this article I'll talk about some of the issues underlying that kind of request, and how CV "mods" can and can't be done on different kinds of circuits. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 7: the Moog ladder filter

This is Part 7 in a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 5: Saving money

This is Part 5 in a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Random thoughts on negative resistance

It's been an exciting week here at North Coast. Since selling out the first batch of Leapfrog filters, I've been busy making more. That's still in progress. Then just yesterday I gave a talk at Frequency Freaks, here in Toronto, and that seemed to be well-received. At least, they asked me plenty of questions. I've also been playing a lot with the Roland D-05 I got as a present for the winter holidays, trying to learn how to program it. Somewhere in the middle of all this I'm trying to make progress on the development of the next North Coast module, the MSK 011 Transistor Mixer. There's been Spectre/Meltdown mitigation to do and a move of one of my backend servers to another data centre. And I have a couple of other super secret projects on the go. READ MORE

Ribbet!

The Leapfrog VCF does not actually go "ribbet," at least not without some effort. But after being told by one friend I showed it to that most people don't want to make real music with their modulars but just want something that goes "uuuuuuuuuuuLAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH" (which, let's face it, is true) I've added a demo highlighting that. Uulargh? Yeah, we've got this. READ MORE

Preferred values for resistors and capacitors

You've probably noticed that although resistors and capacitors come in many different values, some of which seem like they could be randomly chosen, there's nonetheless some sort of logic to it. You'll see power-of-ten sizes like 1kΩ, 10kΩ, 100kΩ and it's understandable that those would be "round" numbers it might be convenient to use and manufacture... but for instance there also seems to be something special about the number 47, so you see many resistor values like 4.7kΩ, 47kΩ, 470kΩ, and capacitors like 0.47µF and 470pF. Why 47? Why not 46 or 48 - especially when 47 is a prime number and 48 has many small divisors, which would seem like it might be convenient? Here are some notes on the commonly-used numbers and where they come from. READ MORE

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