Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by zeiss, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. zeiss

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 13, 2011
    I'm looking to build the DIY synth described here. From what I can tell, this project is leagues out of my ability range, but I'm hoping that such an ambitious project will start me on my way to understanding circuitry in practical application. The site makes very little sense to me, partially because of my lack of circuitry knowledge. I may be asking many questions here in the future, but here's what I want to know now:

    • Where do I start on something like this? Should I build based on the schematics or the panel wiring diagram?
    • If I buy all the components listed on the parts list, what else will I need to purchase? From what I can tell, there are 2 PCB's on his site needed to complete the synthesizer, but I don't see those mentioned on the panel wiring diagram.
    • Is there any pertinent information that, from experience, you think a beginner might overlook?
    I plan to head over to my local Radioshack to pick up some parts on the list, so tell me what you think.
  2. zeiss

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 13, 2011
    Sorry to bump this, and I realize the title may violate the 'Buzzword' criterion, but hopefully this is a fairly simple question for the helpful folks on AAC.
  3. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    Get the circuit boards first. Without them you don't have a hope.

    Ps. Assembling something that somebody else designed will not do much to help you understand circuitry unless there are design errors that you can figure out and re-design. I was assembling Heathkit oscilloscopes when I was 16 and didn't have the sense to see that I put the vacuum tube filament supplies on the wrong pins. Today, I would laugh myself out of the room for a mistake like that.
  4. zeiss

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 13, 2011
    First of all, thanks for your reply.
    My ultimate goal is to become proficient in constructing circuitry designed to my specifications, but my short-term goal is to construct a synthesizer. Do you think that I could build this project with the minimal knowledge I have? This may be based partially on a few other facts of of my circuitry ability: I can read schematics, but I'm not sure where I'd start if given a schematic of this complexity, and I'm not sure where I'd start with the wiring diagram either.
    With my experience, would you suggest this as a project that would be a) possible for me, and/or b) worthwhile, in terms of the academic study of circuitry?
  5. SgtWookie


    Jul 17, 2007
    If you've never built any electronic circuits before, I suggest that you start off by building some small kits, and see how those go.

    Even before that, you'll need to get proficient in soldering. Soldering isn't something that you just "know" how to do; it takes some practice to get even halfway good at it. Your first attempts at soldering might turn out as huge gray wrinkled blobs of crud, like mine did many years ago. Poor soldering technique can render an expensive, complex project into so much junk.

    Keep that synth in mind as a goal, but start off by setting your immediate goals towards much less complex projects.

    It's all too frequent that an "electronics n00b" will attempt an overly ambitious project with wild-eyed expectations of a successful completion. These projects usually don't end well, and the person gets discouraged and gives up on it, and perhaps electronics altogether.

    You will be far better off to start off on much smaller projects, get to understand how they work, and have successes building them and having them work (gaining experience and confidence in the process) than getting into a project that's "way over your head", and finally resigning in defeat.
  6. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010

    Also, work on getting yourself the right tools. You'll need a soldering iron, wire cutters/strippers, good solder, maybe a magnifier, a clear and organized workbench, good lighting, and more. I keep parts in one of those organizers with lots of (labelled) plastic drawers. None of this needs to be expensive, just meant for this kind of work. Ask the experts here if you're in doubt about what to get. My soldering iron was less than $20 and I love it. My wire stripper is far better than the cheapy ones you can find but I don't think it cost a fortune. Having used the crappy ones, I really appreciate the right tool. Your tools will last for years, maybe a lifetime. So if you think you're going to continue this hobby, it's a good investment.

    Radio Shack fills a role but you may want to start using suppliers like Mouser and Digi-Key. They have vast product ranges and if you consolidate your orders, the shipping isn't as bad as the waiting in anticipation for your new parts to arrive.

    Learn individual components, one by one. Light LEDs. Make a square wave generator from an op-amp. Control a transistor and a MOSFET, and maybe a relay. Use resistors and observe voltage drops. That reminds me, get a cheap DMM such as the one Harbor Freight often sells for under $5. They work fine for hobby work.