Sunday, August 30, 2009

x0xb0x SS#01:Testing & Tuning

All the parts were in place; I was soldering and building the x0x carefully; I certainly spent enough time on it. I couldn't figure out why the x0x wouldn't fire up. I compiled a list of all the tests and went through them once more as a matter of quality control. I completed a battery of tests and got support through the x0x forums and covered everything from my power supply to each IC in the digital section of the pcb. It turns out that my earlier envelope issue was still at the heart of the problem. It was still causing errors and wasn't sending the correct voltage to the amp. After about 2 hours of troubleshooting I was relieved to discover that 2SC536F in Q37 was faulty. I replaced it with another one and low and behold it was fully functional! LIGHTS AND SOUND! Relief & Joy. It wasn't my shoddy set of skills. It was a dead transistor.

Hours of jamming and more tests ensued. I had the x0x drive a TR-606 and vice versa, Ableton and ACID driving the x0x via MIDI, and even had a connection to the c0ntr0l software.

After a good week and a half or so of just enjoying the synth I finally sat down and tuned it as well. It's by no means a complicated step but it does require a bit of patience. The forums suggest setting the tempo to its lowest speed, setting up a low C and middle C, both with long slides and decays and using a tuner to match it all up. This method worked beautifully for me via Wavelab 6 and a free tuner VST.

I must say that I thought the x0x sounded amazing when I got it working but hearing it tuned properly really makes it sing. *Now* we have an instrument here!

x0xb0x SS#01:Sequencer Part 3

The LEDs.

If there's any advice I could give to anyone out there who's about to embark on this step it is the following:

- Install your standoffs, washers, etc., first.
- Set up and just drop in your LEDs onto the board. Do not solder them in yet.
- Set up your top panel so that the height has been correctly set.
- Place easy to remove tape on top of the overlay panel LED holes.
- Set up each LED into their respective holes. Lightly stick them to the tape.
- Solder away!
- Remove the tape.

I suppose if you have the kit's LEDs or your own rounded LEDs this step may be relatively easy. Using flat LEDs is a whole other matter though. It just takes some patience and in my case, a few mistakes to get this right.

Regarding the standoffs:
It seems obvious now but no one wrote it down before so I'll do it now. The two standoff heights you're likely buying are 10mm and 15mm. The 10mm standoffs are used on the four outer corners. The 15mm standoffs are used in the center holes of the board. This prevents the pcb from bowing and keeps the height consistent! Obvious, I know!

Once I had the LEDs locked in I fired it up and .... NOTHING.