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Thread: Z-5 Analog Abstract Generator

  1. #1
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    Default Z-5 Analog Abstract Generator

    Hi all!

    Well, this has been well over a year in the making and I'm happy to announce that I have successfully completed the first console. I have worked out an agreement with the orignal designer of the P-x series of analog consoles to make the "Z-5" available for purchase. The Z-5 replaces the P-4, which was designed and built in the early 1980's!

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    All that being said, I don't anticipate selling many of these, if any at all. Fact is, you can buy a software/DAC package that is more than capable of producing abstracts that far exceed the Z-5's capabilities. I mainly undertook this project because I've always wanted a very capable console and the P-4 had all the features I was looking for. Now that I have it completed I'm offering to make more for those interested in taking a step back in time to what the early days of this industry had to offer.

    Ok, so lets get down to the brass tacks; a completed console, fully assembled and tested will set you back $1700, plus $110 shipping (I originally estimated about $50, boy was I wrong!). The color knob box (more on this later) will be another $45, otherwise, the console will ship with a small loopback plug for the color connector. Eventually, for the diehard DIYer, I'll also offer a completed circuit board with logical block diagrams so folks can wire up their own panel. Currently looking at about $750 for a completed circuit board with logical block diagrams, this does not include the enclosure, potentiometer, switches, power supply, etc. It's just a completed circuit board.

    Lets talk breifly about color. The original P-4 only handled X and Y, that's it. The P-4 relied on an external signal to control color modulation. My plan is to eventually build another console for manual color modulation. Until then, the Z-5, like the P-4, relies on an external source for color modulation. I have added on the lower panel a db-25 which will accomodate a future manual panel, and can also be used with the color knob box to turn on/off the individual color channels. This offers no real modulation, just a way to turn on or off the color channels. This can be used in conjunction with a DAC, where you can vary the intensity of a color signal from a DAC or turn it off completely with one of the switches.

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    I eventually plan on posting videos of what each section of the console does, and will edit this post and add the videos when I can.

    So, purchasing a console. If you're interested in one, send me a PM. If there's no one in the cue then I'll need payment up front to order all the parts to complete a console. Lead time will vary between 1-3 months, just depends on how fast I can get parts in and dedicate time to build your console. If there are other folks in the cue, I'll put you on the list and request payment when I've finished the work ahead of you and ready to start your console.

    Videos coming soon! Will try to get a couple up tonight!

    Here's a pic of the completed panel for *my* console:

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    Any future panels built will have the following changes to the design:

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    Videos:
    Z-5 Color Modulation
    Z-5 Basic External Image Manipulation
    Z-5 Voltage Controlled Quadrature Oscillators
    Z-5 VCA, Clipping, Bypass and Shutter
    Z-5 Zeroing the Console

    Edited - Slight change to the audio out ports on the front panel. Originally, this was intended to attach to an adat for recording or for attaching to an audio amp. I've decided that the best method for recording the output of the console is thru the ILDA Out port, so I've added DC blocking caps to the audio out port to protect the speakers you have attached to your audio amp. This renders the audio out port useless for connecting to scanners, but safe for connecting to an audio amp.

    Edited - Updated shipping price. Doubled boxed and shipped via Fedex, the price is about $96, plus another $12 for the shipping box.
    Last edited by DZ; 03-29-2014 at 10:15. Reason: Added a couple videos

  2. #2
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    Well done sir, well done!
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  3. #3
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    Hmmm... This I want but, may have to wait awhile.. Grrrrr

  4. #4
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    Thanks guys!

    I plan on keeping this product around for as long as I can, Mark!

    Added a couple quick videos I put together. Will work on more when I get the chance.

  5. #5
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    That's a beautiful bit of hardware, but one thing bothers me (and it is likely as much to do with my ignorance as anything..). Even knowing a bit about synths, so knowing what a VCA, LFO, etc are for, I have difficulty figuring out the signal flow path as a whole when looking at the panel. The success of the MiniMoog, Pro-One, and Prophet 5, etc, was because they revolutionised the synth industry by making the hardwired panel so blindingly obvious to anyone who stared at it for a few moments even in absence of detailed knowledge. Your layout would work great for a modular system, but as it appears to emulate the thinking behind the hardwired synthesisers aimed at quickly getting a general set of abilities, that immediately apparent flow path would help a lot. Synths had it slightly easier than you do, because a long narrow panel makes it easier to run the logic like simple reading from left to right! But you might still gain some clarity by studying panels like the little Roland MC-202, a square thing based on their more common SH-101. Their JX-8P had a small square controller too, that might help a bit. Not that each sub-panel on your Z-5 is unclear, it's very good in proportions and so forth, it's just hard to see which sub-unit connects internally to which, when looking at the whole thing. Brains work better, especially in the dark, if they can see a pattern they can relate to without conscious thought. Not entirely dark, perhaps. That BNC for a goosenecked lamp is awesome. Every panel should have one.

  6. #6
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    You don't have time in a performance to look for much less read labels. Making something accessable isn't the same thing that makes it revolutionary...
    "There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun." Pablo Picasso

  7. #7
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    Bradfo69 is offline Pending BST Forum Purchases: $47,127,283.53
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    I know, I know... you're all waiting to see the words "PM sent". And... I'm gonna do it of course, just because it's a DZ creation and the only thing in this whole laser business that actually goes UP in value are DZ creations so, it's an investment but... more importantly, I'm relieved to finally see this post, as it gets us one tiny step closer to another run of ILDA splitters.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by laserist View Post
    You don't have time in a performance to look for much less read labels. Making something accessable isn't the same thing that makes it revolutionary...
    In the MiniMoog it was. It totally defined it, and a lot of other synthesisers in the following decades. If you think there's nothing to be learned from that you are missing something important. The same logic applies to the inventer who put valves on a brass horn. That was all about the accessibility, and it revolutionised the horn, and the trumpet. Pangolin rightly argue that immediate gratification, i.e. accessibility, revolutionises the laser show industry. I really cannot see a solid basis for your disagreement with me.

    Edit: Where did I say 'read labels'?. The best indicator of signal flow path is not text. If it were, computer science would never have invented the (revolutionary) flow chart.
    Last edited by The_Doctor; 10-16-2013 at 04:12.

  9. #9
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    You seem to be confusing making something more accessable and making something better...
    "There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun." Pablo Picasso

  10. #10
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    No. You just choose to see it that way.

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