My Mini Moog Voyager. Click to go to my web site...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Moog 914 Fixed filter Bank progress

914 Clone and studio

914 clone, Eagle v. DipTrace...

I decided mid stream I wanted to migrate from Eagle to something new. A thread on the SDIY list got me thinking again about the offerings and some of the frustrations I have with Eagle. Eagle has been a great capture/layout system, but I've been more and more frustrated with some of its core operation and workings.

One package which came up was DipTrace. I gave it a look and like it. It's got a few oddities, but seems to be well supported, with reasonable pricing even for the full unlimited version, and full featured, more than I'll ever need for the 2 layer synthesizer circuits I do. And, very important, PCB-Pool, who I use for PCBs, accepts DipTrace format directly.

I've already found that editing/creating parts is as easy if not more so than in Eagle. Schematic capture is intuitive, PCB layout is also nice and the auto place is nice for a first go at least. A nice feature is you can hand place components which have to be in certain areas, the the auto place will put the other components around trying to minimize the signal length. Again, for the simple stuff I'm doing maybe not needed, but also works nicely and saves some time. There are some quirks I'm finding, like selecting which labels to display and placement, but I think I can make it work.

In the end, I bought a license and will be migrating my future work into DipTrace. The Steiner stuff is pretty fixed and I don't plan on any modifications. But if needed, I can export the Eagle schematic or PCB and bring it into DipTrace. Not the ideal, but a workable solution should the need arise. I'll also output all the Eagle designs into Gerber files for future proofing. This is something I tested quite a bit before I decided to buy.

That leaves the 914 clone I was doing a bit in limbo. I had already laid out one PCB and had two schematics completed. While I can import the schematic and even the PCB into DipTrace, I found that there is still some work to make the schematic useable. At this point, I think I will probably just start over in DipTrace. The schematics are really pretty simple for this clone and then I'll be able to make use of the enclosed and custom libraries I've got in DipTrace.

My time line for PCB prototypes is now a couple of months out at least. I need to learn DipTrace, double check the schematics, etc. but, I'm excited to get it done. I still intend to build two, one with inductors for everything and one with GIC simulated inductors.


My new studio is done. I just need to make time to actually re-connect all the instruments and a little organizing. I'll put up some photos after it's all hooked up and neat.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New studio and Moog 914 clone

I am moving to a newly finished attic space for my studio. I'm pretty excited about it. This photo shows it with sheetrock and baseboards. The painters finished today and I should be able to move in this weekend. I get the far end, about 12 feet wide, and 15 feet long out of about 30 feet. The rest will be for storage. the two round "lights" are actually skylights. They install a mirrored tube to a clear dome cover and it collects and reflects the light like crazy. I will put some diffusers over the openings to help soften the very bright highlights.

Next, I have a new project. I decided to roll my own Moog 914 fixed filter bank. I have two of Yves Usson's version, and PCBs for Jurgen Haible's version, so why my own? A couple of reasons. First, I want it to easily fit behind a euro rack panel. Second, I want to have PCB mounted pots to minimize flying wires. Third, I found a source for inductors and I want to make it easy to use either inductors or a GIC simulated inductor like Jurgen offered. The result will be 4 PCBs which will fit behind a 28 HP euro panel.

Carsten Toensmann at has his own 914 clone for which he made his own inductors. He has decided to offer a service of winding custom inductor values, in particular those found in the 914. I think he is also offering PCBs. Carsten is very helpful and I encourage you to look at his work. Really amazing.

I purchased two sets of coils from him and will build at least one of these clones with real inductors. The layout I'm making will allow for the size inductor Carsten is making as well as a simulated inductor for the high pass and band pass cells. The low pass will have to use real inductors or an active low pass filter like Yves Usson designed or Jurgen Haible designed.

I decided that I will have the option of using all the original Moog circuitry. Most of the parts are still readily available and the one transistor which is out of production, 2N2926, is still to be had at Nikko Electronics I have always had great service from them and highly recommend them.

Besides using the original Moog circuits, by flipping a couple of DIP switches and moving a jumper or two I'm going add the options of having a more useable output stage as well as an input stage that can handle higher input levels than the Moog original. In my simulations, the circuits I borrowed (from Jurgen Haible's fixed filter bank clone) match the frequency response of the original very closely with the advantage of a higher level output and higher level inputs. I am also adding even and odd cell outputs following Yves Usson's great idea.

I'm almost read to actually start the layout process. I've got the input and output stages designed and simulated. I have the basic bandpass filter cell designed as well as the high pass and low pass sections. I just have to copy and paste all the filter cells and adjust the values. Then, layout the PCBs. I think I might realistically have PCBs in hand by the end of July to middle of August. I'll post some samples when I have it built.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Project update

Project update:

First, some rather poor photos of my current setup.

Left Cabinet, left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Voltage Processor/Mixer, Dual Sample & Hold, Peak Selector, Sequencer
  2. 3 VCO Type A, 4 waveform outputs each
  3. 3 sets of: VCO Type B - Saw/Square, VCF
  4. Oscilloscope ( XMega Xminilab)*, Ribbon Controller
  5. MIDI controlled DuoPhonic keyboard, Trigger Converter, Resistor Ladder controlled DuoPhonic keyboard connected to ribbon controller.

Right Cabinet, left to right, top to bottom:

  1.   Sequencer, Frequency Divider
  2. Dual Voltage Follower (Slew), VCO Type B - Triangle/Sine, Selective Inverter, VCO Type B - Triangle/Sine, ENV VD**, VCA/Mixer, Input Amplifier
  3. Voltage Processor/Mixer, VCA/Mizer, Triple EG, VC Trigger Generator, VCA/Mixer
  4. Multiple, Dual Voltage Follower (Slew), VCA/Mixer, Triple EG, VC Trigger Generator, Panel Power Output
  5. Noise, Phase Shifter, Ring Modulator, SynthTech Moog 904A Clone***, Dual Voltage Follower (Slew), YUSynth Moog 914 Fixed Filter Bank Clone****, Tuner/Monitor, Stereo Monitor*****
 The controller is an Arturia "Analog Experience THE LABORATORY 61" keyboard, I liked the wooden end caps and it's a great controller for my Arturia modeled analog synthesizers. As a side note, the Arturia Mini Brute Page, Mini Brute Details, about half way down has a photo of Nyle in front of a modular system you might recognize :)


* Gabriel at has some really fun oscilloscopes and the Xminilab just begged to be put behind a panel.


 The ENV VD is a Steiner design which I don't think was ever released. At least Nyle can't remember ever selling one. He explained it was a more "traditional" design to compete with the other guys. When the "DAMP" switch is in the up position, the DAMP knob controls the final decay, otherwise the DECAY knob controls the first decay to the DURATION LEVEL, and the final decay. The DEL/ATT switch changes the function of the ATTACK control to a delay to the start of the envelope and then has an immediate attack, like the ENVDT design.

*** and **** MOOG Module Clones:

The next two modules with asterisks are not Steiner designs of modifications of a Steiner design and technically, they are modern clones of the original MOOG designs.I'm including them because I know that back in the mid 70's when I started this project, I would probably have tried hard to get a MOOG filter, and maybe some other modules. My goal was to have the equivalent of a MOOG 55 system. Even though Nyle had his voltage controlled filter, I probably would have eventually tried to get my hands on a MOOG filter and the FFB because the 55 came with a FFB. It also came with a Dual Trigger Delay (see below). So, I added these two wonderfully designed modules to the system. At some point, I may actually try to do my own clone of the 904A, B, and C as well as the 914 using the original parts, but that is down the road. I may just buy them from COTK or MOS Labs and try to jam them into the Euro format I've chosen. Not too sure about that however...

I also have another Jurgen Haible Frequency Shifter which is based on the MOOG/Bode frequency shifter design if I understand it right. I might want to add that as well. We'll see.

*** MOOG 904A Clone:

I thought it appropriate to add a MOOG filter clone and Paul Schreiber's designs are wonderful. Give SynthTech a look,

**** MOOG 914 Fixed Filter Bank (FFB) Clone:

OK, so I also wanted a fixed filter. Yves Usson's Fixed Filter clone is really excellent. I love that he split the cells. It gives a very cool left/right effect.

***** Stereo Monitor:

This last module with an asterisk is based on a Steiner design. I took the Tuner/Monitor Nyle designed, got rid of the "Tuner" and doubled the "Monitor". It makes for a great output interface to my DAW and keeps true to the Steiner designs.


Trigger Delay:

There were a couple of modules Nyle never did design and were ones I would probably have purchased or cloned back in the mid 70's when I started this whole deal. My first project one is a MOOG 911 Dual Trigger Delay which was included in the MOOG 55 system. Not too exciting, and Nyle has a delay built into the ENV DT and ENV VD, but it's a pretty straight forward design and fits nicely into a 1 unit wide module.

Pratt-Read Keybed Clone:

I'm still wanting to make a "real" Steiner keyboard. I found Gino at He is a DIY electronic organ builder and came up with a kit involving a silver plated rod, flexible phosphor bronze contacts, custom PCBs and (unfortunately) a custom built keybed. But, I have hope. I purchased a "contact kit" and when it comes, I'll have a good look at whether or not I can modify a modern, easy to find keybed with his parts, or something similar. Then, I can build the DuoPhonic electronics into a custom keyboard controller and fore go the MIDI conversion. I'll still keep the MIDI to Steiner module because it is just useful to interface to the modern world.


Chris at is going to be selling Microcon kits. He really does a nice job with them and I highly recommend you look at his site. You'll see he is also carrying the SynthTech MOTM modules and DIY parts.

I'm still selling the bare PCBs, but Chris makes it very easy with a complete kit.


There you go. I've actually had a break from building and have been tweaking knobs, great fun. I can't call it music, but it is the icing on the cake for me. 40 years after  I first heard a squawk out of a breadboarded VCO and keyboard, I've pretty much finished it.

Stay tuned. I will post some updates from time to time and hopefully audio/video of what I'm doing. I also an trying to learn Adobe Dream Weaver so I can get the website updated and cleaned up.

Thanks for the interest.