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The Steampunk Console Project

"The Day of the TARDIS"... or "Who's the Real Star of the Show, here, Anyway?"

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"The Day of the TARDIS"... or "Who's the Real Star of the Show, here, Anyway?"

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Forgotten Realms Fringe Division

UPDATED January 21, 2014

Well... I suppose I'd better update this "journal" with a new entry, before they start to think that I've just forgotten all about it.

Yes, yes... I know.

But the problem with this project... one of the many problems associated with this project... is that I tend to jump around a lot, in terms of what I'm focusing my efforts on, from one section of the console to another. And also, that each section involves the crafting of a whole lot of fiddly small parts, the acquisition or construction of special tools and jigs, the tearing-down and setting-up for a variety of different procedures... and the ever-increasingly formidable task of simply maintaining my sense of motivation.

Plus... it doesn't help that my main work area is set up outside, on my porch, and that it's now almost winter. With the end result of all this being that the whole console ends up always looking unfinished... hardly in any sort of show-able condition.

*sigh*... if only it were true... that business where, as in the movies and on tv shows, those stereo-typical folks who work on these kinds of things can somehow whip up complex circuits and structures in a matter of minutes... it ain't true folks! Truth is, "Life... the Universe... and Everything", always does whatever it can to throw obstacles in the path of efforts like this.

Well... regardless... I actually have made a bit of progress over the past few months. By focusing on the efforts needed to implement the functionality of one of the main panels... really, one of the primary purposes of this console... the synthesizer panel. The function of which is to enable the generation of audio frequency signals, sound-effects, even "music", with the installation of several digital as well as analog modules.

The main bit of circuitry to install are the internals of my old, original, ensoniq ESQ-1 Digital Wave Synthesizer... the case of which was destroyed ( but the electronics of which somehow miraculously survived ) in a disastrous house fire, some years ago:

The tricky bit, here, has been to remove that lovely old vacuum-florescent display from it's circuit board...

... and to place it on extension cables which will allow ease of installation on the upper part of one of the console main panels. A task which, fortunately, I have finally wrapped up without incident. On eighteen-inch cables, the display still functions perfectly and looks beautiful. Can't wait to see it installed!

More details, on this part, later on ( ... hopefully soon! ).

The secondary bit has included the construction of some basic modular-synth boards, starting with bare PCB's and working up to a completed functional module with console-mountable front-panels. One of the first boards completed for this was the Thomas Henry designed "El Cerrito" XR-2206 VCO, available from Magic Smoke Electronics:

All that remains to be done, here, is just to finish wiring up the brass front-panel. Though I may want to etch the brass with some sort of unique design... maybe... Gallifreyan script, perhaps...... I don't suppose anyone has managed to somehow come up with a good Gallifreyan font design?...

Anyway, other current and nearly finished modules include the "Mankato" VCF filter ( also by Thomas Henry and from Magic Smoke ); the SN-Voice ( nearly a complete small-single-board mini-synth, based upon the "old" Texas Instruments SN76477 chip... rare, but I currently have 3 of these! ), again by Thomas Henry, and Scott Stites, and still available, I believe, from sMs Audio Electronics; the Single Buss 1V/Octave Keyboard Controller from MFOS; and finally a DF2420 Dual-Filter module, plus SB2780 Splitter and SB2790 Mixer modules from Blacet Research.

... aannnd... I recently received the bare PCBs for the formidable "Klee Sequencer" and Thomas Henry's ( of course! ) MPS percussion synth module ( available from the store at electro-music.com )!...

Oooooh! Certainly all these should easily allow for me to run with "the brakes on" ( among other things )! Only, "TARDIS", in this case, might stand for ... something like... "Tempo And Rhythmic Device Interfacing System"...?

But, hopefully, I will have another update on all this, within the next few weeks!

Meanwhile, some handy links:



Of course, it's far from finished... so it's a little premature to be posting any more pictures at this stage... but here is a sneak-peek at the synthesizer panel, at least, showing it's layout at the current stage of development.

The top sub-panel will house the VFD, plus the ESQ's ten associated display-option selector buttons. The middle panel will provide implementation of the ESQ's programmable-wave functions ( with a new hand-wired button board providing the physical interface ), while the bottom row of sub-panels will frame the primary set of analog modules. The large one in the center houses the controls for my SN-Voice board.

As for the Klee sequencer, and the MPS... they will likely be mounted on most of the top part of the "Instumentation" main-panel. Why will become evident once I post a few pictures of their respective front-panel layouts.

Below all the main panels will be the edge-coverings made from copper tubing. In the case of the synth panel ( and likely others as well ) this covering will be hinged and openable to reveal access to additional controls: a mini three-octave keyboard ( placed within the semi-circular housing provided by the covering ), as well as additional analog modules housed within the inside edge of the console.

I'm expecting that it will all look glorious!


At least, I'm hoping to have some of the modules installed... soon.

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