I decided that it was time to expand the synth; I’m going to add the following modules, albeit in non-standard pieces and configurations: MFOS Multifunction Module, Dual VCA, and Noise Module (I will be making these by hand on perfboard to save some cash on PCBs from MFOS, however). There will probably be others, to be decided sometime in the near future.
Now, to do all of this, I needed to remove all of the hardware from the front panel, as well as all of the foil tape that had been there for about two years now. It took a full night of careful scraping (not careful enough, unfortunately) and scrubbing with various chemicals (Goo Gone is just about as effective as WD-40, by the way; it just happens to smell much better). Now that I was the proud new owner of a very heavily scratched panel, I hit it up with some 220-grit sandpaper, then wet-sanded with 1000-grit and 2000-grit sandpaper, and finished it all off with some toothpaste to give it anmockup almost-polished clarity. In the end, I’m surprised with the results (I was considering ordering some specialized acrylic polishing compound online, but now I think I’ll just stick with toothpaste); here is a close-up with a mockup of how I intend to do the labels:
I will be printing the labels from the computer and cutting them out with a bit more uniformity, as well as being more careful with the foil tape, but that’s the essential idea of how I have been planning to do this all along.
As far as the expansion goes, I’ve got a 1:1 scale layout going on some grid paper that I printed up from here. I hope to use it as a drilling guide, as well, because I’ve now noticed that my original drilled holes do not seem to be all that well lined up; I think that I can do better for the expanded sections:
Something that I’ve decided to be improvised once I have everything ready and mounted back on the panel is how I will be sticking the circuit boards to the front panel. Previously, I had used some metal clips made from an old heatsink and JB-Welded to the foil tape to mount them perpendicular to the panel wherever I could get them to fit in free spaces. It performed horribly and fell apart after a bit of jostling. After some rather ignorant searching for what turned out to be called “mounting brackets”, and discovering that the only place I could find them as small as I needed was from Mouser (from whom I had just received some new solder), I decided to just make them out of something similar. After a bit of searching, I finally found some hardware called “one hole midget straps” (humorously suggestive, no?) at Lowes, for which I just need to straighten out one end and drill a hole through it. I only need about 20 of them, so that’s just an hour or so of work to keep from paying $8.00 shipping from Mouser for $2 worth of product.
On the electrical front, I have not made much progress; I started working on soldering together the sequencer circuitry, but ran into a lack of solder that was remedied with a one-pound spool from Mouser. Seems to be a decent product, and I look forward to using it more in the future.
I have also decided to rebuild the case (other than the front panel) from some new stock acrylic, because the current build is not only the wrong size for the front panel (I cut the pieces and put them together rather hastily), but it is cracked and broken in several places. It just plain looks bad, to be honest. Unfortunately, the pieces I got from US Plastic seem to have been cut to the wrong dimensions; I sent them an email and hope to get a response (and maybe some new boards sent out) on Monday.