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Mutable Instruments Ripples Clone -- My First SMD Project

SMD Soldering for Real!

As I mentioned in my earlier post I'm currently trying to learn SMD soldering. After successfully completing two dummy practice boards it was time to try a real project. I had ordered four Mutable Instruments clone boards from https://www.amazingsynth.com/ and Ripples was the easiest so it became the first victim.

Sourcing the Components

Sourcing SMD parts is all new to me. Capacitors have all kinds of weird material codes, resistors have unfamiliar wattages etc. Luckily amazingsynth.com provides mouser BOMs so you get almost all parts to the shopping cart with a click or two. I will eventually get familiar with SMD parts but at this stage I'd rather not add any more difficulty to the build by ordering wrong components. 

Unfortunately potentiometers are not included and jacks need to be ordered elsewhere. I happened to have plenty of thonkiconn jacks from Thonk and also some potentiometers. Unfortunately it later turned out that they were not suitable for the pcb and I had to order new ones in my next Mouser order. I considered getting the exact Alpha pots specified in the original BOM but ended up with these from mouser: https://www.mouser.fi/ProductDetail/858-P0915N-FC15BR10K They seem to fit perfectly and are a bit cheaper than Alphas.

Soldering

There's not much to tell about the actual soldering. It got easier and easier after every solder joint and in the end of the project the quality started to look much better. I learned how to make sure resistors sit nicely against the PCB etc. Somewhat surprisingly the most difficult components for me were not the tiny resistors but the big SMD electrolytic capacitors. Somehow I managed to get those in place too. More practice needed!
My first real project with 0603 SMD components. Most of the passive components in place.

Pretty much all SMD components soldered. Electrolytic capacitors were the most difficult for me.

Trying the panel on.

First test. I'm so proud everything worked immediately!

There were some rough edges in the aluminium panel. Made it smooth with a file.

Took the easy route with panel markings. Dymo labels and good old green potentiometer knobs.

Yet Another Filter?

I'm not sure how much I will use this module as I already have many filters. My main motivation for getting this was the easy SMD build. I do like the sound of this module and especially the fact that loudness doesn't drop when resonance goes up. For example the classic Moog filter in my Mother32 synth does that pretty heavily. Ripples also has VCA built in so this would be really convenient for a small Eurorack setup. Unfortunately my focus is on building a massive studio sized modular synth so space is not a major concern.

I'm looking forward to building the rest of the Mutable Instruments boards I ordered. I can warmly recommend these for learning SMD soldering. And they are brilliant sounding modules too!

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