a short version of my electronics history:
Although i have been homebuilding
electronic music devices for many years i have not spent nearly that much
time actually constructing circuits and stuff. i have spent approximately
a few hours a week for three or four months a year active in circuit building.
usually the coldest months of the year.
Analog modular synthesizers
(see below) are my main interest. effects boxes being another strong interest.
in the passing years i have constructed and in some cases deconstructed 3 synthesizers,
a bass guitar processor, and a bunch of fx. Since i am not a keyboard player
in the sense of traditionally structured music, i am quite fascinated with
other means of controlling my homebuilt synthesizers. Modifying commercial
equipment ( that i aquire secondhand) is a path i often take to meeting
my electronic music device needs. i can save a lot of time that would
be spent sitting at my bench soldering. my interest in electronics
started while i was in grade school but i really got started making my
own gadgets in 1985 when i got a job in the electronics industry as a bench
technician working for a subcontracting manufacturer. Basically they would
take contracts to build all sorts of small electronic devices such as telephone
autodialers, electronic scales, circuits for helicopters, etc. i already
had a very strong inclination for building music stuff, at this point i
was playing some pretty, far out, spacey, electronic music, i
had electronic tech training, and had 2 years of electricity and electronic
shop in high school. My first gizmo was a fuzz box, a real chunky one at that.
A (noisy) tremelo/preamp followed . the tremelo was pretty cheezy but the
fuzz/distortion was ok. After 7 months i got another bench monkey job at
a place that made telephones where i met and worked with an Vietnamese engineer and
a his team of helpers. After awhile these guys were impressed enough with my personal
interest and diligence ( i wasn't afraid to fry up circuits more than once
to figure out how they worked) that they started to teach me some neat
tricks and some basic engineering. At my bench (on company time) i designed
and breadboarded a single bit delta modulation ad/da unit that, when run
at high enough clock speed could pass a decent bandwidth audio signal.
My co-technicians, immediate manager, and even the head of engineering
were suitably impressed. No mention was made of the fact that i was supposed
to be sucking solder fumes fixing failed printed circuit boards. Next i
bought a few books on electronic music instrument construction. The first
two books got me started on simple circuits, but the third one i bought,
Electronic Music Circuits by Barry Klein was the one that really helped
me design and build some very nice analog synth modules. Eventually i got
a "real" job in a US subsidiary of a Japanese key telephone system manufacturer (still bench monkeying around.) After
about 6 months i applied for and was promoted to engineers' ass istant working
directly for the Japanese engineers who designed these systems.
In this position i really got to see what's makes some complex telephone
switching system circuits work which was very much audio related and quite
fascinating. Once again the engineers were very helpful and quite interested in
my circuits. That's
way past history now and i rarely even seem to get enough time to solder
as many things as i can dream up. update (2008): i now have an electronic
workshop set up in my garage. exciting new circuits are on their way...
Many of my designs are often just improvements
or just add-ons to already existing circuits. there is a plethora of published material
on electronic circuits for music and noisemaking fun. i am not much of
a perfectionist but i have come to appreciate better designs, simpler solutions,
and more precise circuits over the years. by
now choosing to build higher quality designs in the first place i find
less need to revise already constructed modules.