Wilba SammichFM

I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw that Wilba made another DIY synthesizer kit available. I had tremendous fun building the SammichSID and also the MB6582. So I ordered this kit right away when I found it. Even though it looks a lot like the SammichSID on the outside it is completely different on the inside. Where the SammichSID is based on the sound chip of the famous Commodore 64 home computer, this one is based on another famous chip called the Yamaha OPL-3 (also know as YMF262). This was also a famous sound chip from the 8 bit computer era. It is a 4 voice stereo FM synthesizer. It was used on several famous sound cards like the Sound Blaster Pro 2.0 and the Sound Blaster 16 ASP.

 

SammichFM2The construction of the case is identical as the SammichSID. It has two PCB's stacked on each other like in a sandwich construction with connectors between them. The upper PCB holds all the front panel components, like the switches, the rotary encoder, the leds and the LCD display. The bottom PCB holds all the intelligence and the sound chip itself. I still think this is a very clever construction idea, the only thing I don't like is the painting of the engraved text. Somehow that is not my thing :) I screw up every time, but I maned to get it in acceptable state after all. The whole project is very well documented by the way and I think Wilba did a great job here. He really provides everything you need in his kits. You just need some basic tools.

 

There is only one thing quite tricky in this project and that makes it an intermediate level project I guess and not something for a total beginner. The OPL3 chip and also the DA converters are SMD chips. You can see them in the picture on the left. This means that there are no through hole pins like with normal IC's, but you have to solder the IC's on little pads on the surface of the PCB. This is quite tricky since they are quite near to each other and you need a steady hand, good eyes and I guess some soldering experience to get this right. You might find an expert to do this part maybe and do the rest yourself, since the rest of the project is quite straight forward. Well I certainly had fun building it and I'm looking forward to using this synthesizer somewhere in a song. If you are interested in the whole building process, then you can read that back on my blog on this URL: http://synthnl.blogspot.com/search/label/sammichfm

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