Thursday, 9 January 2020

Synthesizer Build part-16: SAMPLE and HOLD.

Makes random R2D2 bleeps from noise or turns an LFO signal into a stepped signal which you can use to control a filter. Lots of options.

Every synth needs a sample and hold circuit in my opinion to have an extra source of control voltages. The S&H samples whatever you put on the input at a given rate, which you can control with a potmeter and delivers the voltage it sampled at the CV output. If you feed it a white noise signal it will give you random tones. If you feed it a signal from the LFO it will turn that signal into a stepped signal. The LF398 chip samples the input signal in 4 to 20 millionth of a second (!) and is used in many more applications that just synthesizers
For this build I used the schematics from Rene Schmitz called 'Yet Another Sample and Hold'.
I had ordered the LF398 chips a while ago and had a try earlier at building this circuit but I couldn't get it to work, but this time everything went fine and the circuit works very well. I added some extra's to this circuit in the form of a DC offset feature so I can control the voltage range of the output signals a bit better and I installed two input sockets between which you can choose with a SPDT switch. I also installed a switch that gives me the normal output voltage range (0 - 10Vpp) or half the normal output voltage range (0-5Vpp) which is better as input for the VCO's. The DC Offset in particular has proven to be a very useful addition. If you turn it into the negative the random notes get very deep and if you then put that through, say, the Steiner-Parker filter, you get the most amazing sounding low notes that sound really deep and sharp and in some cases can resemble the sound of drops of water. I can experiment for hours with this module.

Here is the layout I made and used for this build. It's a revised version from those published before the 12th of Februari 2020. The DC Offset feature is newly designed and there also was a wire bridge missing in the previous version. (All potmeters viewed from the front):

(Last revised: 12-Feb-2020)

At the bottom right on the layout you can see the circuit for the DC Offset feature. I re-designed this from the previous version. This is a better way to add DC offset and it makes use of both opamps in the TL072 chip. (You can also use a TL082).

Here's a close-up of just the stripboard:

This S&H has an internal clock pulse generator based around one Schmitt Trigger NAND gate of the CD4093. You can also choose to trigger it externally by selecting the external input with switch S1.

Here's the schematic drawing of the extra features I added myself; the DC-Offset and the output range switch:

The CV output goes through a resistor voltage devider that halfs the output voltage. This puts the different random tones closer together which sounds better. It's something I added after testing and seeing the output signals on the oscilloscope. Later on I added a switch that bridges that voltage devider and gives the original output voltages. I labeled it "Output x 1 and x 0,5". I did this because I wanted the full voltage available in case I want to use the output of the S&H to control the resonance of a filter (among other things). The resistor voltage devider however is something I strongly advise to include in your circuit if you're building one of these. The range switch is a good feature to have.

I didn't have any more space in the synthesizer I build to put this S&H in as a separate module so I cut a hole in the wood above the panels and mounted it there. This works very well and adds yet more buttons and switches and a flashing light. That always looks cool ^___^

Here's a picture of the finished panel and one that shows the placement within the synthesizer:

Here's a little video to demonstrate the sound you get when you put white noise on the input. This sound is going through the Dual Korg MS-20 filter described in the previous article.:

Here's a cool demonstration of the S&H with the Triple Wavefolder and the Steiner-Parker filter:

Okay that's another one done. Hope you enjoyed it and if you did please consider following this blog to get notified of new uploads and while you're here, leave me a comment please!

If you want to know more about sample and hold circuits I refer you to this Wikipedia page.

Here's a link to the LF398 sample and hold chip datasheet in PDF form:  (Click here)

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