PCBs and parts kits are now available for the NEW and improved Drone Lab!
The Drone Lab is an analog sound module specially designed for making dense, rich drones. I wanted to design something that could fit in your hand but still deliver some heavy sound. Check out the video below to see/hear how 3 of these lil’ guys can really bring the drone-y goods.
Below is a higher quality version of the audio from the video above.
3 drones recording
-4 Tone generators. Two can be pitch modulated, two volume modulated.
-4 Tone activation switches. 2 are 3 setting switches, up=on/center=off/down=volume modulation.
-2 LFO dividers. The dividers can be used to modulate the tones.
-2 Pitch modulation depth adjustments.
-Resonant low pass filter filter
-2 Band pass filters
-Battery powered. Runs for weeks non-stop on one 9 volt battery!
Here are a schematic and block diagram drawn by Giancarlo Sica. Giancarlo has been very generous with his time and patient with me through the many revisions I requested. Thanks Giancarlo!!!
Click on either image to see a much larger version.
The core of the Drone Lab is based on Ray Wilson’s Weird Sound Generator. I talk about Ray alot on this site. His work is amazing and the documentation on his site is unbelievable. His site is called Music From Outer Space. If you’ve never been there, go now. Just stop reading and go.
The basic architecture of the Drone Lab is 4 tone generators, a rhythmic modulator and a bunch of wave shapers.
Tone generators. I took these straight from Rays WSG. I used a CD40106 Hex Schmitt trigger to make 4 adjustable square waves. It’s very compact and stable BUT it’s very sensitive to noise. If you build a Drone Lab or WSG, be aware of this! This has been pretty tough to work around. Even if you turn off a tone you may still hear it in the final mix. There are ways around this which I may get into later but it requires extra hardware. All told, I’ve played out with the Drone Lab a lot and I haven’t found this to be much of a problem at all but some people may find it annoying.
Rhythmic Modulator. This is a really awesome feature that I’m going to start building into lots of gear. 2 dividers are linked to 1 LFO. The outputs of the dividers control the tone generators. The effects are linked but at separate tempos. You can use this to create really interesting rhythmic and melodic effects.
I used one more trigger from the 40106 to make a square wave LFO. Then I sent the LFO to 2 variable divider circuits. The dividers output subdivisions of the master LFO at a rate and pulse width determined by a single potentiometer (1 per divider). Each divider can be used to control 2 of the tone generators. One tone can be pitch modulated, the other can be volume modulated.
Wave Shapers. The wave shapers really bring the Drone Lab to life. I included 3 filters and a fuzz circuit for lots of knob tweaking potential. The fuzz is a very basic circuit and it’s main function is to accentuate the pulsing that appears when two tones are tuned to almost the same frequency. The resonant low pass filter is taken from Rays WSG but with a few small changes. The other filters are 2 band pass filters and they sound amazing.