System 100M VCA clone

I’ve had a bunch of Curetronic 100M PCBs for ages and done nothing with them, so finally decided to start building them up as a test for Schaeffer UV-printed panels… only because I wanted to test out my version of the OpenMusicLabs clown/clone BA662, I built a single one up on stripboard.

System 100m 130 VCA stripboard photo

For stripboarding I’ve switched to Veecad, which is much less pretty than DIY Layout Creator but at least allows for verifying the layout using a netlist exported from Kicad. Here’s the Veecad layout using a BA662 as the OTA:

Roland System 100m 130VCA stripboard layout

In case you don’t have a BA662 clone or original to hand, here’s a stripboard adaptor for a BA6110. Without any other compensation it’ll be slightly quieter than the ‘662. I measured 2.68dB difference between the two, everything else being the same.

ba662 > ba6110 adaptor

If you build the VCA, don’t be tempted to socket the transistors – I ended up frying a small pile of my clone ‘662s due to dodgy connections.

Here’s my redrawing of the VCA schematic.

As for the clone (…of the clone) BA662 – the OTA part of the chip seems to work OK. The 100M VCA doesn’t use the onboard buffer, so I need to check that as well.

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ta7136 substitution

Some of the System 700 modules use Toshiba TA7136 SIP opamps (datasheet), which are long obsolete and semi-sought after by DIY guitar types because it was used to apparently pleasing effect in a Boss distortion pedal. An eBay seller is trying to get the best part of twenty quid for one.

A while back I bought a bunch from Utsource, and when I eventually got round to making a board to test them I found they were fake…

TA7136 vs fake

…booo.

I made up this adapter for an alternative op amp, ‘cos I don’t think using this particular chip is that important (for now, anyway).

TA7136 to TL071

Here’s a strangely moody photo of the resulting stripboard.

TA7136 > TL071 stripboard adapter

After this I cut one chunk out of one side of the board to indicate pin 1.

I’ve had this working in the 708 noise/ring mod and the 711 output module, and it works fine, although I’ve not had a chance to compare it directly to the 7136.

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DIY stripboard Roland System 100 ADSR envelope

System 100 ADSR front panel

The original envelope on the System-100 keyboard wasn’t really one of my favourite things about it. There’s precious little resolution on the decay slider for tuning in those tight bonky basslines, so I tend to end up moving the slider by infinitesimally smaller amounts to try and get the sound I want.

I should point out that it’s a different circuit to the possibly legendary System 100m ADSR envelope (“the snappiest adsr eg of the world…”). For once the hype is deserved, my stripboard 100m 140 clone felt super-snappy, with satisfying control ranges.

System 100 ADSR schematic

Let’s build the System-100 version anyway, maybe we can use different potentiometers or swap the timing capacitor size for something a bit smaller.

The rare-ish programmable unijunction transistor N13T1 was swapped for a 2N6027, although it has since been possible to get hold of the originals on eBay. The 700 LFO worked better with the N13T1, so that might be case here. I used 2SA733 and 2SC945 transistors as per the schematic, albeit the -GR variant rather than -Q, with 1N4148 diodes standing in for the 1S2473s that are splattered throughout.

System 100 ADSR stripboard

The original never quite fully opened the VCF so I’ve added a single opamp to optionally boost the level from 6v to 10v.

Here’s a video of the envelope in action – I left the text on there to keep the camera from trying to going apeshit trying to autofocus on the trace. Not being a storage oscilloscope makes it trickier to track slow moving signals but you get the idea.

In this test I’m using a 3.3uF tantalum for the timing capacitor as standard but smaller pots than the original: 500k for the attack, 100k for the decay (which is too small, really), and 500k for the release, all audio taper. At about 0:43 the sustain pot is turned to 100% which causes the voltage to ramp up slightly rather than staying level. I’ve not looked very hard into fixing this – I’ve just been turning it up to just below maximum.

Here’s the layout and the DIY LC file (without the 6v to 10v boost) should you feel in the mood to torture yourself with some stripboarding.

Roland System 100 ADSR envelope stripboard layout

102adsr-fixed.diy

Having been through all that, if you want tight and snappy then the 100m envelope is probably a better bet.

Due to other things (work, house move, more work…) the System 700 envelope PCBs I made have been left untouched in a box since March, I’m looking forward to getting those going and comparing them to the System 100 and 100m… eventually.

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