Past Meetup

Build a Synthesizer with artist Darcy Neal

This Meetup is past

6 people went

Price: $25.00 /per person
Location image of event venue


Artist Darcy Neal leads this workshop on building your own synthesizer. Read below for her description:

We'll learn about some of the building blocks of creating a synthesizer using the 4046 VCO and the classic 40106 CMOS ICs. The 4046 is a well documented and powerful IC that can be turned into a modular synth voice with just a few added components. Participants will learn to solder together their own prototyping PCB, build a circuit on a breadboard from a schematic, experiment with sensors, and learn the basics about how to produce custom circuit boards using design software like Kicad and Fritzing. No experience is necessary, but basic electronic knowledge or a strong interest in synths will be helpful.

Bring headphones for sure, and a laptop if you would like to view extra files available for the course, which will be provided via github. If you want to bring a laptop to look at the schematics and PCBs, you will need to download Fritzing and Kicad.

We'll start by assembling a prototyping development board that will help make building circuits easier. It has a 9v battery, a TL072 active mixer with multiple inputs and a 3.5mm headphone output, along with potentiometers that are mounted so that they are easy to patch in to. (It is roughly based off of the OMsynth design by Peter Edwards of Casper Electronics)

Next, we will build a simple synth with a 4046 VCO, and experiment with components like pushbuttons for a resistor ladder keyboard, LDRs, some etextile sensors and VCR tape w/ alligator clips. Part of the emphasis of the class is experimentation, and getting comfortable with trying different things with the circuit.

Then, if there's time, we'll cover the PCB software(s), and how to build a paper circuit, or order boards through OshPark. I should have $10 coupons available for participants. (They donated the production of 72 copies of the workshop PCB, so I am eternally grateful for their presence.) Participants will take home a completed prototyping development board, and a variety of components to build their first interactive synth. You will also get links to further reading material if you choose to continue learning about building synths.

Darcy Neal ( is an electronic embedded systems artist living in Portland, OR. She was originally inspired by the art of circuitbending, and creates custom designed electronic objects and performing live with her devices, which are shaped around tangible interactions and aim to blend sensory experiences. While living in TX, she co-founded LadyBrain Studios, where she developed commissioned interactive creations and taught electronic workshops at hackerspaces, galleries, venues and universities. She helps designs eurorack modules at 4MS company and loves sharing her knowledge about audio electronics, and hopes to share knowledge freely and often with others.

This workshop is hosted by The Women's Electronics Workshop ( Meetup. The Women's Electronics Workshop is committed to providing a safe space for electronics enthusiasts who identify as female or genderqueer. This event is open to everyone.