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Make: Analog Synthesizers
Ray Wilson wrote the seminal guide to analog synth DIY and it’s still available! The book covers tools, equipment, synthesis basics, hot tips and companion content for the Noise Toaster project!
My Electronic Compositions
When the last component is soldered and the last bug is found and fixed, it's time to realize the purpose of all your hard work and actually produce "electronic sound" with your gear. I'm not going to call it "music" because music is a very subjective term. Birds chirping might be music to someone. A jet going over in the distance might evoke a feeling for someone else. These are some of my "sounds". Some atonal, some musical others more environmental in nature. If you click an image you can download individual tracks for 99¢. Great for yoga and meditation. Namaste.
Quad Timbre Bank
We're always looking for ways to make things sound new and different. If you're looking for more timbre take a look at the
MFOS Quad Timbre Bank
Alien Screamer
The MFOS Alien Screamer is a simple 9V powered noise box that will keep you and anyone in earshot entertained for days. This project is along the lines of the WSG in complexity and capability.
MFOS VC Echo Module
The new MFOS Voltage Controlled Echo Module is here! Learn to use the PT2399 Echo Processor Chip, one of the coolest chips going.
Selecting CMOS
When MFOS projects call for CMOS ICs Always buy the buffered type (CD4013BCN for example). The "B" in the part number stands for buffered output. When you see a plain number like CD4013, CD4081, CD4042 and/or other CMOS chips listed in a project part list always buy "B" type chips for example: CD4013BCN, CD4081BCN, CD4042BCN, etc. Remember to observe static precautions when handling any CMOS chip. Good building!
Synth Interfacing
Learn how to safely connect your MFOS gear to your synth without letting the magic smoke out of either one. Go...
Bipolar 10uF 50V (5 Pack)
Bipolar 1uF 50V (5 Pack)
Mini Mixer & 1W Amp
This 9V battery powered 3 input mixer and 1W amplifier will let you take your battery powered noise boxes anywhere you want without worrying about whether you'll have power or not. Whether you're going camping, mountain climbing, or on a Peruvian meditation retreat now you can hear your battery powered synth wherever you are. Just remember to bring along a few 9V batteries.
Pocket Protectors Back!
All scientists, physicists and engineers know that after the degree from a prestegious university a pocket protector is standard equipment. Be ready to record your next idea by having a - protected - pocket full of pens and pencils.
Pay with PayPal
MFOS recommends PayPal for all your synth-diy purchases. It's secure and sign-up is free. How to purchase from MFOS...
PayPal Logo
Ray's Op-Amp Webcast
Thanks to everyone that attended the TL07X op amp webcast. Maker Media was kind enough to provide me with an MP4 of the webcast which I have posted on YouTube. You can also download the presentation PDF below.
Poster Campaign
If your school or university has a place where they allow you to put commercial posters I would appreciate it if you printed this one out and hung it up. MFOS' mission is to bring synth diy to the masses. Thanks!
Get the MFOS poster (pdf)
MFOS Oct-Attenuator
Build an Oct-Attenuator for your MFOS modular. This module adds 8 generic attenuators to your modular for adjusting voltage outputs and modulation levels. A super simple project.
Oldish MFOS T-Shirts!
These oldish MFOS t-shirts are really comfortable. Our logo on a sports gray GILDAN Softstyle 90% cotton and 10% polyester t-shirt. Let the world know you're a synth-diy jedi master.
MFOS Wave Freaker
The MFOS Wave Freaker is making itself at home in a wide variety of commercial and diy synths. Sounds from subtle to "IN YO FACE" phat. Thanks to all of the customers that are helping to make this module a success.
Brackets Anyone?
These universal brackets are very useful when mounting a PC board to your front panel.
There are several articles and applications on the MFOS site useful to electronics educators. Here is a list of links.
  • Virtual Op-Amp Lab
  • Reading Resistors
  • Capacitors
  • Resistors in Parallel
  • Analog Synthesizers 101
  • Electronic Components
    Virtual Op Amp Lab
    I made this tool to help me when I need the results of an op amp setup quickly. You may find it useful. It is idealized and simple but gives a decent approximation. Check it out!
    Sawtooth to Triangle
    Convert your Sound Lab (Mini-Synth, Mark II, and ULTIMATE) synthesizer ramp or sawtooth waves to triangle waves. Great way to prepare ramp or sawtooth waves to use the Wave Freaker. Check it out!
    Bend Your WSG
    Some simple mods for the WSG that will keep you making weird sounds into the next century.
    If you're into electronics, can solder and trouble-shoot and you love analog synthesizers we have tons of cool projects for you. Spend some time browsing and you'll find lots of inspiration.
    Our mission is to help people realize their analog synthesizer dreams by providing: complete schematics, assembly drawings, professionally manufactured PC boards, cool face plates and kits as well as hard to find electronic components. Learn more - check out these links:
    Getting the Most Out of the MFOS Website...
    From Getting Started To Your Very Own Analog Modular...
    Introduction to Analog Synthesizers...
    Anyone can start learning about electronics...
    Books About Electronics and Analog Synthesizers...
    Build the Sound Lab Mini-Synth Mark II Analog Synthesizer
    The Sound Lab Mark II will surprise you with its array of sound shaping modules. Check out the sound samples below which were made with the Sound Lab Mark II. SONAR X1's effects used for reverb, never for pitch correction. The VCOs and VCF in the Mark II track very well after thorough calibration. Check out these YouTubes!
    Mark II - Module Tour
    Mark II - Sound Sample
    MFOS Stocks the harder to find components for this project which you can order at the time you order your PC board and professionally machined front panel.
    Check out music by musician Quincas Moreira from Mexico City. These amazing songs were done entirely using his hand-made Sound Lab Mark II. Very cool & creative works of art.

  • ElectroCumbia
  • Woody Groove
    For these samples I used SONAR Producer Edition for recording, mix down, and addition of reverb. All sounds are directly from the Sound Lab Mark II driven via a MIDI to CV convertor or MFOS Single Buss Keyboard Controller (the last was recorded real time).

     Prelude and Fugue in C No. 2 - J.S. Bach
     Three Part Invention in C No. 1 - J.S. Bach
     Sound Lab Mark II Symphony - RJW
     Song tail w/the SLMS Mark II - RJW

    Laurentide SynthWorks Sound Lab Mark II YouTube
    Laurentide SynthWorks published an excellent example of what can be done with the Sound Lab Mark II. It explores a lot of the Mark II's sound nuances. In a blind test it would be interesting to learn which analog synth people thought they were listening too if they didn't know this was an MFOS Sound Lab Mark II. Effects are added but the synth comes through loud and clear.

    Thank you Laurentide SynthWorks.

    Sound Lab Mark II 17 x 7 Inch Panels Are Here
    The Sound Lab Mark II Faceplates are ready for prime time. These plates work well with BUD Box AC-423 as a ready made case. They are .09" thick which is nice and sturdy even at 17 inches wide. These are perfect for building your next rack mount Sound Lab Mark II analog synthesizer. Check it out...
    The MFOS NOISE TOASTER is way more fun than you thought was possible with a 9V battery! It's an awesome little 9V powered noise box that's like carrying around a miniature synth. This project is a bit more complex than the WSG but has far more sound shaping and producing capability. This is going to be one of your favorite portable toys (amp and speaker built in). PCBs and PLATEs IN STOCK!
    The Venerable Yet Flexible Synth-DIY Experimenter PCB
    Synth-DIY Experimenter PCB
    This project helps creative electronics hobbyists who have successfully completed the WSG learn more about synth-diy. You make "patches" with the Sound Effects project by patching the various "modules" together, and adjusting knobs and switches.


    Multi-track demonstration of sounds you can expect (reverb has been added during mixdown):
     SDIY Experimenter Board Opus 1 - RJW

    A *.sfz compatible soft-synth and samples of sounds made with the MFOS Synth-DIY Experimenter PCB were used to create this cool multi-track version of Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy".
     Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy - Tchaikovsky
    The Synth-DIY Experimenter PCB contains some of the first synth circuits I started experimenting with when I first got into synth-diy. You don't have to build all of the modules. You can just build what you want to make a specific sound. You want wind... just build the White Noise Generator and one VCF. You want better wind build the White Noise Generator both VCFs and the output mixer. How about birds or bell sounds... just build the Sound Effect Oscillators an AR Envelope Generator and an LFO. You can go as far as you like with this project.

    This project will NOT result in a 1V/octave Moog like instrument but it will provide you with a lot of sound making fun. In any case it will be a fun learning experience and the finished project will keep you and anyone else within earshot very entertained.

    The Sound Lab ULTIMATE. Our most advanced synthesizer project.
    The Sound Lab ULTIMATE packs: Three Musically Accurate VCOs, a White Noise Generator, an Active Mixer, a Voltage Controlled LP Filter, a Voltage Controlled Amplifier, an Attack Release Envelope Generator, two Low Frequency Oscillators, a Repeat Gate Generator, Sample & Hold, Attenuator Bank and Patch Panel into one totally cool synth-DIY project.

    The following songs played by my amazing daughter Arielle Wilson on the ULTIMATE.

     Original Star Trek Theme
     Star Trek Next Generation Theme
    bchris1776's Sound Lab ULTIMATE/EXPANDER YouTube
    bchris1776 published an excellent example of what can be done with the Sound Lab ULTIMATE and EXPANDER. Just a totally cool sound exploration. Effects are added but the synth comes through loud and clear.
    A driving sequence is accompanied by Pink Floyd sounding runs. A totally cool watch.

    Thank you bchris1776.

    MFOS Delayed Modulation Module
    The MFOS delayed modulation module includes an Attack Release envelope generator, Low Frequency Oscillator with square and sine waveforms, and a Voltage Controlled Amplifier. These separate elements are connected in the classic delayed modulation patch such that the LFO is fed to the input of the VCA and the AR generator is connected to the VCA's control input. When you apply a gate to the circuit the AR generator is gated on and the VCA responds to the applied envelope and the LFO comes through the VCA. You use the output of the module to modulate other voltage controlled modules. Since there is a complete AR generator built into the module you have some really excellent flexibility.

    Check out the Delayed Modulation Module project

    The venerable Sound Lab Mini-Synth. Old school analog and still going strong.
    The Sound Lab Mini-Synth is a great project. It is a complete mini analog synth on one PC board. It has two VCOs, one LFO, one Mixer, one State Variable Low-Pass/Band-Pass Filter, one AR Envelope Generator with repeat, and one VCA. It runs off of two nine volt batteries for a long time due to its low current design. Check out the MINI-SYNTH!
     COOL PROJECTS for your Mini-Synth
  • Sound Lab Mini-Synth Sample & Hold!
  • Sound Lab Mini-Synth Drum Trigger!
  • Sound Lab Mini-Synth Guitar Trigger!
  • Sound Lab Mini-Synth Parts Kits!
  • SLMS Windows WAVs!
     Listen to a multi-track Sound Lab demo!
    Contribute a Composition to the Art of Electronic Sound Project
    You've put blood, sweat and tears into building your very own analog synthesizer. Show the world what it can do. Contribute a composition to "The Art of Electronic Sound" project so other creative synth-diyers can be inspired. Whether you create: traditional, twelve tone, noise, soundscapes, dreamscapes, space music or something further out, as long as it's electronic and you built some of the gear, we want to hear it. The duration of your piece can be short or long and the content simple or incredibly textured. Whether you're a newbie or someone who's been building for years submit a composition. Your composition might be the one heard by a famous filmmaker looking for an obscure electronic sound track.
    16 Step Sequencer Quantized Vari-Clock Module
    Quantized duration adjustment literally adds a new dimension to your MFOS 16 Step Sequencer.

    Check out our new project. It gives the MFOS 16 Step Sequencer the ability to have settable duration per step in 16 quantized increments as well as multiple gate modes. It is definitely an advanced and challenging project but I tried to document it thoroughly. Thank you for your thoughtful comments on this project.

    I think you'll really like the functionality provided by this circuit.

    Click here to go to the project.

    Check out the YouTube...

    The MFOS Mini-Controller. This is too cool not to have so what are you waiting for?
    The MFOS Mini-Controller

    The MFOS Mini-Controller has a twenty nine note stylus keyboard (C - C - C to E) built right into the PCB. It can be used to play your Sound Lab Mini-Synth or 1V/Oct modular. The PCB supports four CV outputs (2 with portamento 2 without portamento). There is one trigger output and one gate output. This and a Sound Lab Mini-Synth would make a great combination for your first forray into synth-diy.

    Some Component Clarification
    Every MFOS project has a parts list (also called a BOM) that lists all of the components needed for the project. Experienced project builders know what types of components to buy when it comes to working voltage, power rating, lead spacing, etc. For those newer to synth-diy, here are some clarifications and pointers.
    I recommend 1/4W 5% carbon resistors for general project use. You can always substitute a resistor with tighter tolerance for one with less precision. For example: 0.1% or 1.0% metal film resistors can be used anywhere a 5% carbon film resistor can be used.
    Projects will call out when more precision is required specifying 1/4W 1% metal film resistors. Occasionally a project will recommend sorting 1/4W 1% metal film resistors to obtain greater accuracy. MFOS also sells 1/4W 0.1% tolerance 100K and 200K metal film resistors for use in MFOS circuits that use A/D and D/A convertors (see the catalog under Electronic Components).
    If a resistor in a circuit is high in value you can get away with using 1/8W instead of 1/4W but you must determine the current through the resistor and voltage across it in-circuit to ensure the 1/8W will be appropriate. The boards are laid out for 1/4W resistor packages so 1/8 watt resistors will look a little odd but they'll work fine.
    I call out ceramic caps (for non-electrolytic ones) most often in projects but you can substitute film caps for any of them. Buy capacitors rated for 35V or greater for any and all MFOS projects. When I call out polystyrene caps it is because the circuit requires the lowest leakage cap available. If you substitute other types the circuit performance directly related to the cap will suffer. Sample and Hold circuits will leak faster without polystyrene caps. Often the boards are laid out for 0.2" (5mm) lead spacing caps. Components with wider or narrower lead spacing will work but you will need to do some lead forming using tweezers or needle nose pliers.
    For electrolytic caps be sure and buy ones with a voltage rating that is higher than any voltage that will seen while in-circuit. This will generally be the power supply voltage. For projects powered with +/-9 to +/-15V I would recommend capacitors rated for 35V. Buying 35V caps provides a bit of safety margin and they're very obtainable from suppliers. Higher working voltage caps will work fine but not lower working voltage. As a matter of fact, caps rated for 35V will work fine for all capacitors in all MFOS projects.
    Non-polarized caps (also called bipolar) provide a large capacitance but are non-polarized. They look very much like electrolytic caps except that instead of having a positive side and a negative side the two sides are interchangeable, the cap is not polarized. Many suppliers have these. Search for bipolar capacitor. MFOS sells 5-Packs of 1uF and 10uF bipolar capacitors (see the catalog under Electronic Components).
    Potentiometers in all MFOS circuits can be linear if you can't find audio taper. You can go the other way but you will probably see some unexpected behavior. Potentiometers in all MFOS circuits can be rated for 1/8W and up (1/4W, 1/2W, etc). You can use the large potentiometers or the smaller sized ones, it makes no difference. Just be sure the pots you buy will fit into your panel.
    Trimmer potentiometers should be the multi-turn square Bourns top adjust style (3296W). They don't have to be actual "Bourns" brand trim pots, they just need to be the same style. Tayda sells nice ones at reasonable prices.
    Integrated Circuits
    Be sure and buy DIP style ICs. The small format ICs have become ubiquitous so double check what you order or you'll get a bunch of teeny tiny ICs. In part lists I only give the main IC number (example TL074 or TL071) but there will always be a suffix that indicates the package type and the expected temperature range when you go to buy the ICs (examples TL074CN and TL071CP). Buy the least expensive version of the IC in DIP format. Plastic or ceramic package material makes no difference to the circuit's performance. Consumer Electronics temperature range (the most restricted) is fine.
    I call out the LF444CN for projects that require an op amp with the lowest input current and corresponding highest input impedance. Sample and hold circuits benefit from the LF444CN.
    When MFOS projects call for CMOS ICs Always buy the buffered type (CD4013BCN for example). The "B" in the part number stands for buffered output. When you see a plain number like CD4013, CD4081, CD4042 and/or other CMOS chips listed in a project part list always buy "B" type chips for example: CD4013BCN, CD4081BCN, CD4042BCN, etc. Remember to observe static precautions when handling any CMOS chip.
    I recommend mini-toggle switches but you can use any type of switch that serves the function called out in the schematic. Some folks might like really large switches for an art installation and other people might want to go with submini-toggle for really tiny or really crowded face-plates.
    When buying switches be sure and buy the correct type. When center-off switches are specified be sure and look for ON-OFF-ON in the specification. The OFF in the middle of the two ONs means center-off. The type that are not center-off use either ON-ON or ON-NONE-ON to indicate the fact that there is no center position.
    In a battery powered unit all of the switches can be low power (500mA to 1A). However for a mains powered unit I recommend that the power switch used handle at least 5A. All other switches can be rated for 500mW and up. The synth module switches never carry a significant current load.
    I recommend 22 to 24 AWG stranded hook-up wire for wiring panels to PC boards. All Electronics sells 25' and 100' rolls of nice quality stranded hookup wire.
    For COAX you need a supple thin wire with braided shield and stranded center conductor. Something similar to RG174/U w/braided shield and stranded center conductor 2.5mm outer diameter. You'll have to search around on this one but I found it on this site: http://www.pasternack.com.
    If I get more inquiries I'll answer them here. Cheers.
    Will MFOS circuits work with a +/-15V power supply?
    All MFOS circuits will work with +/- 15 volts with from none to minor value changes. All of the chips I recommend are rated for the higher voltages so you should be good to go. One small consequence is that the peak voltage of things will be a bit higher. Oscillator P-to-P outputs will be higher at higher supply voltages and AR or ADSR voltage peaks will be higher also. Filters and amplifiers will have more headroom and may need a bit of re-biasing if you find that the output is not sitting at ground when the input is at ground. For any circuit to which you want to apply higher supply voltage examine the schematic and you'll find its not difficult to reduce the output voltage to what you want. Where bias levels are set with resistor dividers you may need to tweak values. If it absolutely, positively has to be there with a different supply voltage; breadboard it, apply the voltage you want, and tweak as necessary.
    Open Source Philosophy
    Everything on Music From Outer Space is free for non-commercial use.

    Please feel free to use the information presented on the MFOS website to the fullest extent for non-commercial uses. You can make your own PCBs from the layouts and drawings we provide or design your own if you prefer. We appreciate a link to us if you blog or YouTube your work. MFOS sells professionally made glass epoxy, double sided, plated through PC boards, electronic parts, parts kits and faceplates for many of the projects found here. Please keep in mind that although I use these circuits in my synth I recommend that you review them thoroughly and/or breadboard them before relying on them to make sure they'll meet your expectations. If you find errors or omissions in the project documentation please email the details to the email address at the bottom of the page so we can correct them and continue to improve the site. Thanks.

    Commercial Use


    Connect with MFOS
    MFOS Echo Rockit

    The 9V battery powered Echo Rockit makes some of the most unusual sounds I've heard. Any seasoned electronics diyer could build one. Hey what was that... a modular or... an Echo Rockit?
    MFOS Mobile Site
    We are now mobilized as much as practical. You can search, listen to Sound Art and order MFOS products from your mobile now. There is still large format content that is best viewed using a larger viewer but getting around with a phone should be much easier.
    Ordering Information
    Wave Former
    The MFOS Wave Former mash-up project puts the MFOS VCO and the MFOS 10 Step Sequencer together to create a simple arbitrary waveform generator. Add some new timbre to your set up.

    Go check out the project...

    Cool Function Generator
    Build this cool little battery powered function generator. Low current design will keep this thing going for a long time. Keep one in your toolbox.

    Go check out the project...

    MFOS Vocoder
    Trouble Shooting Tips
    When everything doesn't go just right with your project you may need to consider some of these trouble shooting tips. Chin up, don't panic, you'll get... whatever it is... working!
    First Time Here?
    Welcome to the site. Here's a short YouTube video to help you get the most out of it.
    Substitute Op-Amps
    In the table that follows I show op amps that can be used to sub others shown in some older schematics. Note however that the LF44XCN can be replaced only when not used in sample and hold applications. All op amps must be in DIP format.
    More DIY Sites
    Visit other DIY sites that share cool information.
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    NEW! V/Oct Calibrator
    This circuit makes calibration of your volt per octave equipment way easier. Build one today and get in tune. Read more...
    Designed as a companion for the Sound Lab ULTIMATE the EXPANDER has become the favorite "Swiss Army Knife" module of many advanced synth builders. Read More...
    Share MFOS on Facebook
    We really appreciate FB shares. Help more people discover Synth-DIY. Thanks!
    Matched 2N3904s & Tempco
    Hand matched pair of 2N3904 transistors (Vbe of pair within 2mV) and a 2K 1/4 watt 2% +3300 ppm metal film tempco. Great for VCO or VCF expo convertors like those in the:

    • Sound Lab Mini-Synth...
    • Sound Lab ULTIMATE...

    Great deal at a great price!

    Swiss OpAmp Knife
    Three (3) pack of great quad op amp kludge boards for when you need some extra op amp related circuitry and you want a quality pc board to put it on. Glass epoxy, plated through holes, solder masked it's the creme de la creme of op amp kludge boards.
    MFOS uses DIP
    Always order DIP package chips for MFOS boards. No offense SOP packages but gentlemen prefer chips with longer legs. You can also buy type adapters.

    DIP Spec. vs. SOP Spec.
    The Fine Print...
    This website assumes a basic level of electronics proficiency and knowledge. To build the projects found here you must be able to understand schematics, be familiar with electronic components, solder, do panel wiring, case building, and troubleshoot. MFOS projects do not have step by step instructions. There are; schematics, circuit descriptions, pc board layouts, suggested panel layouts, and suggested modifications. Please read any project's information in its entirety before buying products. Just getting started? Read this:
    Getting Started...
    All information presented on the Music From Outer Space website is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. MFOS product prices are subject to change without notice. The information provided by this website is only intended to be general summary information to the public. Please study carefully or breadboard circuits to be sure you will be happy with the results before you purchase MFOS project PC boards, Parts or Kits. Thank you - have fun.
       info@musicfromouterspace.com Copyright © Music From Outer Space LLC 2015 Keep imagining, keep inventing, stay ingenious!