At PIFcamp 2021, a gathering of makers, hackers, tech freaks and nature lovers in a semi-remote location of Upper Soča Valley, beepblip (Ida Hiršenfelder) is going on an expedition to the vast universe of retrofuturist sound with the extensive construction of a do-it-yourself analogue modular synthesiser —The Music from Outer Space Sound Lab ULTIMATE. As PifCamp is conceived as a collaborative DIY and DIWO workshop, I was joined in my effort by my amazing friend Sean McIntyre. Despite our mutual efforts, we were unable to finish the build of this beast of a modular synth in a week-long marathon of soldering, wiring, calibration, and troubleshooting. I managed to finalise the build of the MFOS only two years later, in 2023 and I’m now dedicated to playing and jamming with it in 2024.

The synth contains all the basic and some extended building blocks for modular synthesis. The project is a tribute to the legacy of the late Ray Wilson, who generously shared his circuits and knowledge with the DIY and DIWO community while maintaining the ethics of non-commercial and attributed work. He published a detailed description of the Music from Outer Space Sound Lab ULTIMATE construction from soldering to calibration. I wanted to follow in his footsteps and venture into retro analogue sound nebulae. In times when projections for the future are becoming increasingly dystopian when time has shrunk to the immediate reality, which is doubtful in itself, I wonder what kind of projections a retrofuturist sound will produce combined with an idyllic natural environment along the emerald green Soča river. Retrofuturism is not nostalgic but requires a reassessment of technological development.

With surgical precision, calibration and selection of rare and accurate electronic elements the modular synth contains three musically punctual voltage-controlled oscillators (VCO), a white noise generator, an active mixer, voltage controlled low voltage filter (LP VCF), voltage controlled amplifier (VCA), attack release envelope generator (AR Env Gen), two low-frequency oscillators (LFO), repeat gate generator, sample & hold and attenuator bank.

Video and camera: Domen Ožbot Photo documentation: Katja Goljat Time-lapse and audio: Ida Hiršenfelder Calibration: Bernhard Rasinger Caring PIFcampers: Sean McIntyre, Tilen Sepič, Irina Antonets Special thanks: Aleš Hieng – Zergon Producers: Tina Dolinšek, Uroš Veber Production: PIFcamp

“By assembling modules, source elements, and elements for treating sound (oscillators, generators, and transformers), by arranging micro intervals, the synthesizer makes audible the sound process itself, the production of that process, and puts us in contact with still other elements beyond sound matter. … The synthesizer, with its operation of consistency, has taken the place of the ground in a priori synthetic judgment: its synthesis is of the molecular and the cosmic, material and force, not form and matter, Grund and territory. … to make thought travel, make it mobile, make it a force of the Cosmos (in the same way as one makes sound travel).”

— Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Making MFOS Sound Lab Ultimate and Expander

I documented the process of building this fantastic retro modular synth in a video with timestamps and titles:
– Soldering
– Wiring
– Casing and Assembly
– Troubleshooting and Calibration

I warmly recommend that you read all (I mean really all) materials published by Ray Wilson Music from Outer Space Sound Lab ULTIMATE before embarking on this project. Spending a few days reading and studying will save you a lot of frustration with troubleshooting later. There, you also have detailed schematics with modifications, wiring and most importantly a detailed account of troubleshooting and calibration. Building this synth by studying the materials and building it from scratch should take about 120 hours of your time.

Etching your MFOS SoundLab Ultimate PCB

You may wish to buy Sound Lab Ultimate from MFOS for 67€ and Sound Lab Ultimate Expander for 60€. The same retailer also offers what you will need for +/-12 power supply: an unpopulated MFOS Wall Wart Bipolar Power Supply Bare PCB and 12Vac 500mA UK Power Supply Wall Wart and above all the unobtanium Metal film 2K Ohm 1/4W +/-2% T.C. +3300 PPM tempco. If you wish to go through the painstaking etching of double-sided PCB, here are links to the vector graphic PCB matrix for etching which I drew from Wilson’s pixel graphics: MFOS-Sound-Lab-Ultimate-PCB-side-1.svg and MFOS-Sound-Lab-Ultimate-PCB-side-2.svg. I decided to get the prefabricated bare PCBs mostly for conservation reasons as etching PCBs creates more toxic waste than industrial-scale production per item.


I warmly recommend you go through the schematics published on MFOS in detail. List of details that I will have to pay attention to when soldering:

Casing with CNC Machine and Silkscreen

Boulding parts for casing with aesthetic features like vector graphic matrix for DIY PCB etching or beautiful casing created with a CNC machine and silkscreen front panel.


Troubleshooting and Calibration

MFOS SoundLab Ultimate Expander Jam Session with Reverb

MFOS SoundLab Ultimate Expander Jam Session with Arturia Keystep

MFOS SoundLab Ultimate Expander Jam Session for SoundCloud