Bank of 8 X/Y Analog Joysticks controlling a Modcan
This is a copy of an article written by Jason <SRRecords@aol.com> about building joystick controllers as a DIY project.
The Analog Cottage "joystick project" is an incredibly good way for modular synthesists to "get their feet wet" in the world of do-it-yourself controllers. All one really needs are some readily available hardware tools like drills and soldering irons, some electrical components easily available on the internet and local stores, and a very simple understanding of electricity (which was good for me because I am "clueless" when it comes to serious electronic/electric projects!) I did have a great deal of help from André, but he left it to me to design the chassis and implement the electric components that fit into the chassis. This was good because it turned out to be a learning experience about signal flow in electric equipment. He provided detailed instructions with the project about the materials, the tools, and exactly what wires get soldered to what components etc. I particularly liked this detailed approach because I don't consider myself "electric friendly" - I'd rather sit down and start playing! But while building the project, it was nice to be able to refer to the detailed instructions every so often. Any problems I encountered during the building of this project were the result of my own lack of knowledge, not the design of the project - it is fantastic! For instance - my soldering job is quite a bit messier than a professional's and my woodworking skills are not exactly the best. But my choice of a wood cabinet was not what the project specified - it's something I decided to experiment with and it worked quite well. If one were to follow the guidelines exactly as they are specified, no doubt the project would be even better than what I ended up with! And the project does leave a lot of room for experimentation - I ended up putting banana jacks on mine to play a Modcan system, but those could be replaced with 1/4" jacks for use with another comparable system. The bottom line is - for any modular synthesist out there with a curious mind and a willingness to experiment with electronics, this project is a fantastic way to open the door to completely original musical ideas. It's almost like having 8 (or whatever many joysticks you have) "finger Theremins" controlling 16 different parameters (more with stackable banana jacks) on a modular synthesizer! With the joystick project, you'll be wanting to add more modules to your system just so you can control them with the joysticks - not mearly to have another oscillator to add to yet another lead synth patch. The modules themselves seem to be born again because the joysticks breathe new life into them. I urge any synthesist out there who may be a little bit concerned about diving into a diy project to give the joystick project a look - it's a very good way to get started and it could very well open the door to other projects in the future. It certainly opens the door to new layers of creativity! Jason