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December 3rd, 2013

I'm demoing the Super Syncussion at Teenage Engineering.

Today I visited innovative Swedish synth manufacturer Teenage Engineering. A couple of their employees ponder building the Super Syncussion and wanted to see how it worked together with the stuff that Teenage Engineering makes. Since they're located across town, I brought the Super Syncussion to their headquarters for a chat and demo.
The Teenagers quickly connected the Super Syncussion to their ultra cool micro synth OP-1 and the Oplab Musical Experimental Board. Their piezo trigger TS-2 connected directly to the Super Syncussion's trig input and could be used as a touch sensitive drum pad. Very nifty indeed!
Soon some very cool rythms emanated from the setup...

The Super Syncussion connected to the OP-1, Oplab and TS-2 from Teenage Engineering


August 22nd, 2013.

Finally, the complete write-up for the Bergfotron Super Syncyssion is done and published. This is an enhanced clone of the classic drum synth Pearl Syncussion SY-1. It's a complete synthesizer on a single circuit board. My enhanced version adds an extra dimension to the original unit's sound.

October 20th, 2013.

Replaced a link to Jürgen Haibles (no longer existing) site for the Voltage controlled divide by N with a newly drawn schematic.

October 18th, 2013.

Replaced all schematics with PDF versions. Removed all old non-AMORE modules.

August 22nd, 2013.

Added a percussion page and the complete write-up for the Bergfotron Super Syncussion

July 12th, 2013.

Bergfotron now has a page at Facebook. It's called ”Bergfotron synth DIY”. I'm planning to use the Facebook page for posting notices about errors in schematics and board layouts, among other things. So have look and like it if you like it...

I also post my schematics for the Pearl Syncussion SY-1 here now, for those of you who are interested in this classic drum synth. I drew it years ago, by comparing the lousy, barely readable original schematics with an actual unit (the one pictured). I have built a clone of the SY-1 from these schematics, so they are proven to be correct.

December 22nd, 2011.

I have been planning a DIY wind controlled synth for many years. This project is now taking shape and some parts for it are done. I'm going to document this project here on the Bergfotron site. Of course it will be based on the AMORE system. To begin with, you can read my reasoning behind the new synth concept.

November 18th, 2011.

For those of you with a good supply of transistors there is now the SSM 2040 clone filter + discrete VCA. This filter is plug compatible with the Minimoog clone VCF + VCA but has a different sound.
I also did some performance improvements of the Minimoog style VCO.

November 14th, 2011.

Finally a space-saving VCO with good performance and all the classic synth waveforms: The Minimoog style VCO

November 8th, 2011.

Two new modules and a handy tool added: The multimode filter and VCA adds the classic state variable filter to the AMORE arsenal. And with the new VCADSHR envelope generator, all the classic analog synth modules are finally available in the AMORE system. To help you build these and other modules, I have developed the Transistor Matcher.

October 24th, 2011.

New module added: The Brapper. Can help to produce some interesting sounds!

October 12th, 2011.

New module added: Voltage controlled phaser. This is an AMORE-version of my popular phaser, with some enhancements.

October 11th, 2011.

New module added: The Woodwind VCO. Many have requested a simpler module featuring my woodwind waveshaper, which is a part of the Advanced VCO. Well, this is it.

August 23rd, 2011.

Information on making the front panel for the AMORE Starter Kit added. All photos have now been moved to Google Picasa to make room on my server space for more material.

August 17th, 2011.

In the largest addition ever, you get three new AMORE modules plus a self-contained unit to run the AMORE boards. I call the unit the AMORE Starter Kit. It's mainly designed as a lab equipment for testing and servicing AMORE modules. But it can also be used with your AMORE module of choice as an addition to your studio. The circuit boards that make up the Starter Kit could even form the basis of a standalone DIY synth.
In addition to the Starter Kit, there are three brand new AMORE modules: The dual VCAD envelope generator, the dual log VCA with noise generator and the Minikorg VCF. This brings the total of AMORE modules up to ten.

March 3rd, 2011.

Bergfotron AMORE-modules and exerciser at EMS.


Bergfotron participated in a DIY synth meet held at the Swedish Institute for Electroacoustic Music (EMS – founded in 1964)
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Back home in the workshop, parts are currently being soldered to the prototype board for a new AMORE module. You can see the unpolulated board in the lower left corner of the picture above.


Participants at work on their own projects, supervised by EMS' Daniel Araya



The Bergfotron Advanced VCO board in good companion (Buchla 259 belonging to EMS)

March 29th, 2010.
Finally a new module! It's another VCO but this time a fairly simple one – I call it the Basic VCO. It's basically a clone on the APR 4027-1 module, with some additions that make this simple module quite versatile. One feature it inherits from the ARP 2600 (which used the 4027-1) is the ability to be switched between audio and low frequency (modulator) mode. To make it more useful as an LFO, I added triangle waveform. 
Note that due to space constraints, some of the older material will be removed to make room for new. This time I had to remove some pictures from the Complex VCO page. Make sure you have downloaded everything you want to keep. February 3rd, 2010.
A reader pointed out that the schematics for the Woodwind waveshaper was missing from the Advanced VCO page. This has now been added. A few broken links have also been amended over time.

The stack of AMORE boards is growing.

March 22nd, 2009.
At last a new AMORE module! The prototype for this module was completed half a year ago but due to lack of time, I could not complete the design changes and write-up until now. This VCO module is by far the most complicated AMORE module yet, it's almost a "synthesizer within the synthesizer". That's why it's called the Advanced VCO.

The new Bergfotron recording mixer (top)

February 7th, 2009.
I have finally completed my recording mixer that replaces a less-than-reliable Tascam MM-1. The mixer is tailor-made for my current studio, where all recording is done with a DAW program in the PC. Because effects and EQ is done with software plugins in the computer, the mixer can be made simpler. In normal use, it doesn't even mix. It's used more like a kind of patchbay that also can mix. All mixing of recorded tracks is of course done in software on the PC. I included a midi switcher in the mixer, so I can simply select with a knob which controller plays each synth. There are toggle switches to select which input channel is sent to recording or to two aux busses. More than one channel can be sent to each bus. There are separate volume knobs for the monitor speakers and headphones. So I can turn down the speakers without affecting the earphones. The meters are from a scrapped cassette player and connected to one of the aux busses. They work, but are mainly a ”decoration”. All channels have right, left and mono inputs. The mono and stereo inputs are mixing, so in a pinch, each channel can be used for two synths.
The mixer electronics is based on OP275 op-amps. All mixer electronics, pots and switches are soldered to a single circuit board. The midi switcher (rotary switches and electronics) is on a separate board. 

September 5th, 2008.
I don't intend to make this a ”module of the week” site. But, well, there is in fact a new module this week too. It's a clone of the ARP 4014 ring modulator

August 31st, 2008.
The fourth AMORE board is here. This time it's something a bit special – a voltage controlled delay module. 

August 23rd, 2008.
The third AMORE board added. It is a Voltage Controlled Crossfader. Also added trimming instructions and some other information for the other AMORE modules.

August 16th, 2008.
The second AMORE board is a dual function module with a clone of the Minimoog VCF and VCA.

July 27th, 2008.
Some more AMORE material added and a few broken links fixed.
There is now a schematic diagram of the AMORE exerciser and a general building instuction for AMORE boards. The circuit diagram for the VCBPF board has been updared to reflect the AMORE version. The prevoius schematic shows a non-AMORE version. In addition, I'm currently in the testing phase for four more AMORE modules so stay tuned for further updates to the site.

The AMORE exerciser with the new VCBPF board

June 6th, 2008.
Today is the Swedish national day and what could be a better occasion to present my brand new synth DIY concept? 
I have realized that some of my earlier modules (the Complex VCO comes to mind) have been too complicated for most hobbyists. And even for myself, these multi-board modules are difficult to maintain and troubleshoot. They are also somewhat failure-prone, as internal wiring cables can break at their solder joints. These are just a few reasons why I have come up with the new concept for building synth circuits. I call my new concept Analog Modules Of Reusable Engineering (AMORE).
 You can read all about it here.

As the first AMORE board, I today make available the circuit board layout for my dual voltage controlled bandpass filter board. Read more about it here.

May 3rd, 2008.

30 years with synth DIY!

The front panel for my 30 years old Formant VCO

This year it has been 30 years since I built my first synth modules! The Formant series in British Elektor magazine was what got me started. First I built the power supply and then the VCO that you see in the pictures. The power supply is still in use. It's what I use in my workshop when I build and test new modules. The VCO and other Formant modules are retired though.
Note that when I built my first modules, analog synths were not ”vintage” – it was the latest technology! Well, maybe not modulars. The analog polysynths were on their way. So after a couple of years, the Formant was retired but I still loved the analog synth sound. That's why when analog started to become ”retro”, I dusted off the Formant and started to work on new modules, which eventually became the Bergfotron. 

The dusty components on my 30 years old Formant VCO

The very primitive home-made circuit board for my 30 years old Formant VCO

The Formant synth-DIY series ran in British Elektor between May 1977 and September 1978

 

April 13th, 2008.
I etched a new prototype circuit board today. Some very interesting developments and new ideas are in the works. Stay tuned!

September 2nd, 2007.

The woodwind VCO board during prototyping. See details below!

I have now completed the testing of the new module and I'm happy to report that it works exactly as intended. Naturally, I had to make some changes to make it work but it was really only minor things. 
OK, so now you're itching to know what the module does. Well, the clarinet in the picture above is a hint. 
The new module is a waveshaper that is mainly intended to mimic the behaviour of woodwind instruments. It is inspired by the vintage german wind synth Variophon. You can read all about the theory on the Variophon homepage
According to the theory, the proper way to emulate a reed instument is with triangular pulses where you can adjust the up and down slopes. For some reason, the Variophon used rectagular pulses instead. Probably because it was easier to implement in electronics. Because of this, I just had to test it the proper way, with triangular pulses. And in my circuit the pulse widths are even voltage contolled. To be able to emulate the Variophon, I added rectagular pulse too. And as an added bonus I even added a double pulse, where you can voltage control the width of the positive and negative pulses separately. The circuit diagram for the complete circuit is here.
The circuit can be driven from any VCO with squarewave or sawtooth output and basically works like a linear VC-AD envelope shaper. You could actually use it as just that. The pulse width is independent of the oscillator frequency, which is according to the reed instrument theory. This is where this circuit differs from ordinary pulse width modulation. If you set the up slope slower than the VCO frequency, the circuit will perform frequency division. This can be heard in the last sound clip.
A separare page for this module is forthcoming. In the meantime you can listen to the module in the following sound clips. The patch: Minimoog VCO clone > Woodwind waveshaper > Minimoog VCF clone > Minimoog VCA clone + reverb.

Triangle pulse Double pulse Single pulse Double pulse LFO modulation Double pulse+VCF resonance Sweeping up-PW  

August 23rd, 2007.
Good news! I have finally completed the board layout and etched the board for a new module that I designed over a year ago. I will tell you more about it, when I have found out if it will work or not. It's an entirely new design, so you never know if it will work or not. 

August 11th, 2007.
Because of health issues, I have unfortunately not been able to work on the Bergfotron in a long time. I hope to continue some day, but currently I can't say when. I have some interesting things in the works but I have to cut back computer usage, for health reasons. At least I have now updated my e-mail address, which somebody pointed out was outdated. I thought I had already updated it, that's why it was wrong for so long. I'm sorry about that. 

February 18th, 2006.
Finally a new module! I designed this circuit several years ago, but I haven't got around to test it before. It is a voltage controlled bandpass filter, where you can voltage control all parameters (center frequency, Q-factor and resonance amplitude). The filter will only do resonances and not cuts. It is intended to imitate the formants in acoustic instruments, but could be used for other things as well.
Why voltage control? Well, first of all you can sweep the parameters. But it can also be used to introduce note scaling or other subtle effects. You could also interface it to some patch storage system.
So far, I have a prototype module that works the way I want. I'm planning on building a triple module and to provide circuit board layout for that. In the meantime, here is the schematic diagram.

January 4th, 2006.
The midi interface on the Bergfotron  didn't quite manage all the continous controller data that a wind controller generates. Therefore I have replaced it. I now use the Pro Solo II from Kenton, which I have integrated into the Bergfotron (see picture).
The Pro Solo copes with the wind controller data but it turned out that it lacks smoothing of aux controller data. This means that there was annoying zipper noise on the breath contol CV (aux 1 output set to CC2). Therefore I added an analog 24 dB/octave low pass filter that cuts at 50 Hz. This removed the zipper noise completely.
It really sounds excellent, playing the Bergfotron from a wind controller. Even a simple one-oscillator VCO>VCF>VCA patch can sound terrific. Just route the breath CV to control the VCA and then some to the filter cutoff. Stay tuned for a sound clip...

13 may 2005.
I have been working on this small stand-alone synthesizer for a long time. It's now fully functional. Only some cosmetic additions are left to do. Lately I have had very little time to work on synth projects though.
It is basically a clone of the Pearl Syncussion SY-1. But I have designed a number of additions that expand the sonic possibilities considerably. More details to come...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The new Bergfotron percussion synthesizer.

 

1 december 2004.
This time I'm going to show you how I modified my wind controller to improve the ergonomics. The wind controller is my main instrument and I use it to control digital synths and sometimes also the Bergfotron, via the midi interface. Read more in the new wind controller section.

My modified Steiner Midi EVI.

 

5 november 2004.
It was almost a year since the last update of this site. I suppose you all think that I have lost interest in synths and stopped working on the Bergfotron. Well, I do have periods of high and low tide, when it comes to my hobbies. But the truth is that I have worked quite a lot on a new DIY synth project, that is separate from the Bergfotron. I haven't yet decided in what form that will enter in these pages. 
There have been some work done on the Bergfotron too, though. I decided to remove the built-in speaker system, as I don't use it in the studio and it made the synth too heavy to move. This also means that I have moved the transformers to the main unit. They were originally mounted in the floor unit. The latter now only serves as storage for cables etc. when the synth is packed up for transport. The speaker grilles on the sides now serves as vents, which definitely are needed. I used steel mesh grilles for the vents, which I took from a broken ghetto blaster, that I found in a dumpster.

The transformers are now moved to the main case. Note the protective cover 
over the parts that carry mains voltage.