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ST4 / Post-kickstarter update

First of all, 20 Sawbench rewards have now shipped out. That means all except the ones in the combined (ST4+Sawbench) rewards. The combined rewards will be sent out as soon as the ST4 is ready. This saves work and postage costs (which are very high). The webshop will start selling Sawbenches again at some point. But we’re running out of stock we’ll probably make a follow-up.

The ST4 development has reached another milestone as earlier on this week the new PCB’s arrived. See the picture below:

– top: IO board (MIDI/USB)
– center left: expansion board (power distribution, DAC’s, SRAM, display, connection with all other boards)
– center right: SD board
– bottom left: mod+env board
– bottom right: vcf/vca controls board

The new ST4 PCB's

The new ST4 PCB’s

Note that the mod board has got sliders for ADSR and ledbuttons to quickly select channel and function (VCO/VCA/VCF/AUX).

Assembly and test will start today. As mentioned before the SMD will be 0805 and SOIC, so relatively big and hence suited for DIY. We like the SMD because it’s cheaper, smaller, and we feel easier to solder than through-hole. However, all control and interface components (pots, sliders, sockets) will remain through-hole, since this is much sturdier!

Furthermore, we’ve contacted the factory for PCBA (PCB Assembly by machine).. Especially for the VCA (~100 components) and VCF boards (200+ components).

Some work on the software has been done. The most glaring bugs were fixed and it seems there are no more crashes now.. But a lot of features need to be implemented, still. After some deliberation it was decided to go ahead with MIDI OUT stuff like unlimited polyphony and cc’s. However, they won’t be there in the first release. More like v1.1 or 1.2. The GUI needs to be completely redesigned (piano roll for the poly stuff and some crazy stacks for the cc’s).

In recent days we also contacted a new designer to do the front plate  and back panel graphics. We’re thinking of a multi-color scheme, if the budget will allow. We’ve also contacted the casing factory about this..

In closing, a lot of activities. But it looks like it’s all coming together.

 

Rewards and ST4 development

For all the Kickstarter backers and people interested in the ST4.

Last week we sent the first rewards to the backers (first-come first-served): 5 Sawbench kits and 5 assembled ones. This week we made a similar amount and they will hopefully be tested and shipped over the weekend.

Also, for the DIYers, the manual has been enhanced with pictures and tables, which can be used (also by us) to verify if all components are in the bags! Just overlay your stuff to check!

Sawbench_D_R_mech_

Some good news about the ST4: the noise issues seem solved! The numbers: SNR is now better than 80 dB, in some cases better than 90 (but it should not be more than that, bleh! :)). Even better, the periodic noise issues are completely gone! The entire guts needed to be replaced (going from PWM CV to a multi-channel DAC), but it was worth it.

The envelope section has been redesigned and the new components are already in-house. The new design for the control PCB’s (with envelope controls and such) is almost ready to be taped out. We hope to send those off to the factory in the next week. The new multi-channel CV DAC design will also be taped out at the same time.

When the new control board design is finalized we can also start redesign of the new front plate and contact the factory. We’re currently in discussion with a potential US distributor.

Overall, things seem to be ahead of schedule. We expect to send out all the rewards early summer.

ST4 Kickstarter Campaign & Webshop

Hi guys, I guess you know we’re hella busy with the ST4 Kickstarter. The Sawbench is also a reward for this Kickstarter.. For this reason we temporarily removed the Sawbench (assembled and full kit) from the webshop.

If you want to buy a Sawbench please consider buying it via the Kickstarter.

Sales will restart 17 Feb. Thanks for your understanding.

ST4 Kickstarter online

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/844778849/st4-hybrid-synthesizer-tracker that’s the link you need to see! It contains a trailer video of which Stu & Erhalder having been sweating over for 5 days or so.. And the result is pretty damn sweet if we may say so ourselves.

The trailer in HD (since the KS video’s are always compressed to a pulp):

If you want to see this product turn into an actual real-life physical breathing and belching synth, please support us! The early bird price is a special offer and is a full 100 euros under the webshop price. Just so you know.

There is also room for a DIY kit reward.. _if_ there is enough interest. Just leave replies in the Kickstarter comment section or via tastychipselectronics@gmail.com.

Once again a nice pic of the prototype:

ST4 depth of field + some wood

ST4 depth of field + some wood

Details and more photos:

Official ST4 product page

Kickoff t-minus 4 days

The last days we’ve been working feverishly on the ST4 Kickstarter campaign preparations. We’ve already completed a feature-by-feature demonstration last week. This week we’re focussed on making a trailer video, much like the Sawbench one from last year:

But the ST4 more than 4 times as complex as the Sawbench. The feature list is enormous and it’s impossible to even list all features in a minute-long video. So we just have to make the best possible music with the thing..

That ain’t easy, though. We discovered:

* Renoise on Mac exports signed 8 bit WAV, should be unsigned.

* We need way better lighting in the studio to make decent film.

* The ST4 prototype firmware refused to reload the samples from its song.

* Hooking up a full-blown MIDI setup takes time.

Studio demonstration of the ST4.

Studio demonstration of the ST4.

Anyway, we’re good at what we do, and we’re big boys. We’ll manage 😉

Edit: we did, thanks to 20k of filmstudio equipment and professional help!

Developing for the old woodboard, a new screen to display the full LFO MOD matrix.

Developing for the old woodboard, a new screen to display the full LFO MOD matrix.

The coming days we’ll also output some extra video’s: jam sessions and feature-by-feature explanations. There might also be a documentary about STU’s synth/chip history.

STay tuned!

The last of the piggies.

With the year coming to its conclusion, it seems an amusing coincidence that the last Piggy now finally got sold. 🙂 The Piggy was our first synth, a simple and affordable shield that turns your Arduino into an MIDI-driven analog bass synth.

The Arduino Piggyback Synthesizer

The Arduino Piggyback Synthesizer and its host system, the Arduino Uno.

We might do another batch.. The filter would need to be revised (dual gang potentiometers are getting rare!), maybe even changed into the Sawbench VCF.. But we need to know if there is enough demand. The usual address applies tastychipselectronics@gmail.com. Either this or post on Tasty Chips on Facebook or Tasty Chips Forum.

Looking at what’s in store for 2016:

– The ST4. This beast of a synth/tracker has got its own page here: ST4 info page. As said, the Kickstarter will take place in january!

ST4 in its prototype steel casing

ST4 in its prototype steel casing

– The Sawbench mod board: modify the Sawbench to accept external CV for VCF and use and external input signal (If there is enough interest).

– Sawbench firmware update 1.2: including synced LFO, tighter envelopes and possibly exponential envelopes too (If there is enough interest).

– A big analog Eurorack sequencer with 2×16 steps and loaded with features.

– Sawbench VCF/VCA Eurorack module.

– The next polyphonic beast. This will be less channel-driven than the ST4, but will have more channels (yes, that does make sense 😉 ). The focus will be on polyphonic harmonic sculpting..

– The MIDI sequencer (“tracker”) taken from the ST4 released stand-alone, with more controls geared towards pure sequencing.

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ST4 casing

The ST4 synthesizer development has made several steps forward. The electronics are now as good as complete: performance seems ok, and software is getting mature. Below you can see it in action.

The ST4 wood board being operated.

The ST4 wood board model being operated.

Now.. we have a question for you guys out there. What kind of casing would you like to see? We’ve already made preparations and we already know it’s going to be a high quality metal enclosure (similar to quality of the Sawbench synth). But the exact form is still an unknown:

a) 19″ rack mountable

b) desktop model

c) both

See the ST4 casing poll on our forum if you want to give your voice! Cheers 🙂

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