AW: Analog DIY versus Digital DIY

Magnus Danielson magnus at
Thu May 7 20:54:04 CEST 1998

>>>>> "HJ" == Haible Juergen <Juergen.Haible at> writes:

 HJ> Well, my bias towards analogue is well known, so just let me add one point,
 HJ> that you might or might not find surprising:

 >> Do you like to work with your hands?  Soldering and part assembly
 HJ> are
 >> physical processes.  Some people enjoy that and others do not. 

 HJ> The strange thing is that I usually do *not* enjoy working with my hands.
 HJ> You know I am the guy who doesn't like garden work, and who is really
 HJ> helpless when his car produces strange noises. (;->)

Hmm... where did I recognise that from :)

 HJ> All this soldering and breadboarding is just a means to get these circuits 
 HJ> to work, for me. What I really enjoy is the circuit design that happens
 HJ> *before*
 HJ> building anything. Lots of hand scribbled partial schematics, optimizing by
 HJ> crumling up one sheet of paper and starting a new drawing ... that's the
 HJ> best part for me. Especially with a pot of Green Tea and a good music
 HJ> in the background, I can spend hours on that part. My dream would be
 HJ> that I had a few people who'd do the soldering and mechanical work
 HJ> afterwards. (;->)

The actual designwork can get you a lot of kicks... tea and good music
is essential for me...

 HJ> Now, the initial question was about a beginner. I also vote for analogue
 HJ> here.

I would agree with Juergen!

 HJ> The greatest motivation to learn something is when you come to good results
 HJ> at an early stage. You can build circuits that produce weird noises from a
 HJ> couple
 HJ> of transistors, and you can go on to build processing devices like guitar
 HJ> stomp
 HJ> box circuits quite early, and you get rewarding results very soon.

The learning factor is important here.

If one is going to do Digital DIY one is probably best of by doing
early simulations and even emulations on a standard PC or other
suitable computer. There is ways to get started, but for some
properties will studies in discrete time filters and their properties
become necessary. There is a lot of people out there that dimensioned
analog filters without really knowing the math behind them. Digital
filters quickly go non-obvious on you. Why has the virtual modulars
(like NordModular) taken so long time to get to a good level even if
we had digital synths since late 70ths?

 HJ> I never was so motivated to build digital stuff. A complicated DSP algorithm
 HJ> may be comparable to a large analogue modular both in complexity and in
 HJ> the resulting fun to play with it, but what about the small beginner's
 HJ> projects?

I agree. Many of the things that one usually want to do become at
least tiresome to approximate well enougth to get usefull. Some stuff
is really cheap to do in digital as opposed to analog, but for some it
is just the other way around.

Yes, I would also like to fool around more with DSPs, but I am not
sure that it is the best ground for a novice to learn from...

For those that would like to try out their DSP skill I think that
things like Csound or Octave (A free Matlab) could be a good
startingpoint. Personally I hacked my first digital simulators in
Basic, later Pascal and now I do it in pure C.


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