How to start Modular – The Little Dieter

C’mon Guys (Ladies),
after doing some DIY Kits (Mutable Instruments best…), if you are honest, you shurely asked yourself why not get modular and build an monstrous Chinese Wall like Set of Modules you can sit in front of when BBC comes around makin a Bio about you lifetime achievement….


But where to start? And how not to spoil 1000s of Euros wrong in the beginning?

Thinking of all this i considered some alternatives and came to the conclusion that i had to start somewhere regarding the following

  • it must be a usable Setup right from the start
  • it must be good sounding and fun to use
  • its meant to be expanded and replaced but no single unit should be that crappy that it needs to be disposed
  • its got to be that cheap that i don’t mind replacing it sometime

This Set of features leads to the minimum need of one VCO, VCA, VCF, ADSR and LFO, a rack to mount all this and a PSU.
Adding this up with A-100 Modules from DOEPFER you’ll end up somewhere in the 500€ Area without a proper housing and MIDI Interface.

Taking a deeper look, theres the DOEPFER DIY Synth, delivered as a bare built PCB that you have to wire yourselves, including a VCO, VCA, VCF, LFO, Inverter, Buffer, Slew Limiter – hey, thats just what we defined above!!! And this for a whooping 120€! Perfect to start into Modular, all whats left was to design an EuroRack compatible Panel and i am ready to go, so heres my first Prototype, Codename LittleDieter™:


While being far from perfect you can see where its leading to:

  • jacks are spatially correlated to the Pots so its easy to patch
  • jacks are coded with a Triangle (Audio), Dot (CV) or Squre (Gate) that are located at 11o’clock for the Inputs and 5o’clock for the Outputs
  • nothing is prewired although the used jacks are switching type and you could prewire your favorite setup
  • only common pots and easy to source jacks are used
  • the panel (42TE) is made of a 1,6mm piece of 2PlyAcryl glued to a 3mm backpanel
  • on the back a 2nd panel is attached by 20mm spacers on which the DOEFPFER DIY-Synth PCB is attached

This shurely isn’t the Ferrari of modular Synthesis but as stated above I’m aiming more for the DACIA 😉

While i am wiring the whole mess here a bit of Gearporn:





EDIT: Just spotted: Dieter and I both have the same scope! And the past is strictly black and white.

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