An Interview With Laurie Biddulph Of Elby Designs

Vicmod has a great interview with Laurie Biddulph Of Elby Designs. Elby Designs sells a variety of kits for making synths, including the ASM2 modular synthesizer and the Panther euro modules. 

In the interview, Biddulph discusses why he got started making synth kits:

I first became interested in electronics when at High school back in England. I had just become aware of an electronics magazine called Practical Electronics when they published a design for the PE Sound Synthesiser. As that time I was also taking piano lessons and the synthesiser seemed the obvious hobby to incorporate both of my interests. With the aid of a friend I built the PE Synthesiser, the project was not only interesting because of the electronic/music combination but also because it was a complete stripboard design and proved to be a great introduction in how to prototype designs. 

An off-the-cuff visit to a record shop resulted in me coming across Walter Carlos. At that time I bought Switched-On-Bach and then my interest in electronic music was given a healthy boost. Jean Jarre and Mike Oldfield have been inspirations for me since then.

Some years later I was somewhat frustrated having bought a Christmas present for my son to find, on Christmas day, that not only did the unit require a power supply and/or a battery but it needed cables for connecting to a computer and came with software that did not work with the OS we had at the time. As my, then, job was with an e-Commerce company and I was involved with the main day-to-day duties of running the business, I saw the opportunity to offer a `full’ kit for the product that include all the `missing parts’ along with an improved manual and a series of projects notes. The unit was the `HotChip’ from Dick Smith Electronics, an ATMEL AT90S8535 based core module.

Shortly after offering this kit I came across the ASM-1 by Gene Stopp and saw an immediate problem (certainly here in Australia) in getting all the parts together to build the unit plus I realised that again there was a need to `complete the manual’. Conversations with Gene eventually resulted in me taking over the project and I started offering component kits for the ASM-1. Some design guides were created withe the ASM1-Genie being the first solution offered as a complete ASM-1.

When the stocks of ASM-1 boards ran out I took the opportunity to release the ASM-2 which included some additional modules to help make a more complete synth-on-a-board.

Having now started sourcing components for the ASM-1/ASM-2, it seemed an obvious step to see what else was being offered in a PCB-only option and I was pleasantly surprised to come across the Cat-Girl Synth from Ken Stone – a locally based person. When I first spoke it Ken it was with regards offering component and hardware kits for his designs as they stood on his website. These kits are still offered and, hopefully, I have helped some budding electronic-music enthusiasts to achieve their aspirations of building a synth with some exotic modules. 

Check out the full interview at the Vicmod site. 

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