Number 41


I started building Number 41 in May 2013 shortly after Number 39‘s successful auction thinking that I could use it for another fundraiser of sorts – namely, to help out with the fees associated with Pau’s immigration paperwork. The thought was to approach the myriad quagmire of immigration forms as some sort of art project, with the idea that if each stage was accompanied by special addition fund-raiser instruments priced at a finite portion of our various fees, the process might actually be kind of fun. Which, for anyone from the USCIS who might be reading this, it is. We love it. Keep up the good work. Please contact us if you appreciate our props – our case number is…

Unfortunately, we got a little off schedule. And no, I don’t mean this as a reference to the current processing times associated with US immigration paperwork. More like in this way: So, when we taught our first round of TicoTronics courses in Costa Rica, we chose to use black plexiglass for our front panels, since there are at least four sources of cut, colored plexiglass in San José. This is not the case in New York. In New York, the only color of plexi available in any dimension is clear. Black is a custom order and only available by the sheet. Which is 4 feet by 8 feet and you have to cut it yourself. For all essential purposes, just a little impractical for our purposes. I managed to wrangle the front by salvaging a couple pieces from Tap Plastics that I had left over and sitting in storage for a few years, but while Tap accepts custom orders, they also only ship by UPS, which means that a $10 order of plastic would cost about $15 to ship. And asking a friend to pick some up and mail it standard, while ideal, is a tall order considering Bay Area work schedules and stress levels. So it goes. So the project sat for a bit. Ok, it sat for five months. How did it end up getting finished? Easy – Pau picked up a couple panels in San José and brought them up on a visit. Talk about carbon footprint! Lesson learned? Fancy plexi boxed folk instruments are the stuff of city-folk – I’m thinking that future renditions of this format may have to be adapted to better take advantage of materials common to the hardware stores and Home Depot’s of rural america.

Lesson learned: When working local, don’t try to force the materials common to one region onto another.

So what to do – do I continue? I mean, it does kind of add to the legacy of the numeric series of my builds – and since we’ve still yet to hear back from our first round of paperwork, we could very well still pursue this as a fundraiser – I mean, the design would have to be tweaked, but eh, so it goes. Work with what you’ve got. Or, look into seeing how the design can be adapted into a nice little 8hp Eurorack Module. More on that later. But yes, probably going to happen.

Speaking of the design, this is what’s up: Similar to the TicoTronics builds a 4093 CMOS chip is at the core of this box. But instead of cascading one into the other, I’m using a 4077 as a pseudo-ring modulator similar to the one used in the Korg MS-20. It’s been a second, so I forget exactly how I’ve wired it, but I know all 4 channels of the 4077 are being used, so there’s undoubtedly  good degree of cross-modulation and heterodyning going on in an unpredictable non a+b = x fashion. It’s not the same as the core of a Bugbrand Postcard Weevil, I can tell you that much. Similar concept, but different signal routing. I’ll have to take a look at it. Once things begin to solidify in the Euro-world, I’ll probably have a better diagram to post retroactively.

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