benjolin | the big knob spider

For a perfectly unpredictable noise synth, the Benjolin is actually not hard to make. The matrix for PCB etching and bill of materials was kindly provided by Peter Edwards on his Casper Electronics page, who got the official approval for sharing this beautiful piece by Benjolin’s creator Rob Hordijk. We etched the board at Ljudmila and it was a lot messier than the instructions for etching PCB in-house.

Here is the intermediate result. I’m really awful at mechanics and making the casing is a pain staking task, plus I do not like the square minded about assembling electronics in boxes. It seems to me there is so much more to be expressed in the interfaces that we produce. I strongly believe the interfaces (like the way modular synths are assembled) are not the most logical way to build them, but merely a cultural consensus. In order to change the hegemonic male dominated culture, one must also think of different interfaces… braking a wire or a know in between… Here is the intermediate stage of the building. I can still play it while trying to combine beauty, cultural disobedience and big knobs in the same casing. Mental note: potentiometers on Benjolin are highly sensitive so it makes sense to use really huge knobs.


There were a few mind boggling twists in the making, like getting a “not too expensive” Yamaha YM2164 chip. Getting an original would cost around 25€, so getting a clone at Small Bear was much more tempting and it works just fine. Another saga that took much longer was figuring out the power supply…


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