Posts Tagged With: double helix

Double Helix Oscillator

I’ve been wanting to fine-tune the image of the Double Helix Oscillator, that I used in the Patch Chart I created and, today, I finally got around to doing just that. This one is cleaner, more professional looking and contains less clutter… making it easier for everyone to indicate Knob and Switch settings as well as the Patch Cord connections routings.

So the updated Chart for this Pittsburgh Modular module is now in our “Downloads” area and is free to download.

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Double Helix Oscillator – overview

Sylvia and I have only had the “Double Helix Oscillator” for a day and a half and we’re really enjoying it. The build quality in their “Stucture 270” Case is first-rate. The “care of design” that’s behind the Double Helix has infused this Module with more functionality than may appear at first glance. Each time we “just want to try a simple Patch”, “hours” just fly by. For us, that’s the sign of a versatile piece of gear.

On June 21st, I sent an eMail to Pittsburgh Modular, asking if there was a Manual for their “Double Helix Oscillator”. This is their reply:

  • The Double Helix is an excellent analog synth voice module. While we don’t currently have a manual for this item available, I’ll be happy to give you a brief walkthrough of its functionality.
  • The Double Helix contains two full range analog oscillators. They can sweep from subsonic LFO range, up past 20 KHz. The first oscillator has 5 waveform options (including a 1 octave down suboscillator and our signature Blade wave) while the second oscillator as 3 waveforms. They both track 1V/O and have various modulation options available.
  • The module also contains an LFO (with Sine, Square, and Random outputs) and an analog noise source
  • The Contour section is where the Double Helix shines. It contains two sections: Timbre and Dynamics. The Timbre section is an analog wavefolder. Basically, it continuously folds the peaks and valleys of the incoming waveform to add complexity and upper harmonics to the sound.  The Dynamics section is based on our Dynamic Impulse Filter module and allows for organic “plucked” percussive sounds
  • Finally, the CV router at the bottom allows for easy control and experimentation with modulation. You can route several modulation sources to various locations simultaneously, which adds even more complexity to the sound.

Although they don’t “technically” offer a “Manual”, they do provide some very helpful information on the Double Helix product page. Here’s the link:
pittsburghmodular.com/lifeforms-double-helix-oscillator

Because Sylvia and I needed a “paper” version of that information, I pulled-out the content from that web page and reformatted it into standard pages… and I allowed for those pages to be on 3-holed paper. (So they could be placed in a 3-ring Binder.

  • Note: If you print those 4-pages as “double-sided”, the holes in the paper will not interfere with the text or images.

You can download this file from the link below.​

Double Helix Overview (pdf)

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The “Double Helix Oscillator”

Over these last several months, after buying 3 small Synthesizers, Sylvia pointed out that I wouldn’t be satisfied until we got a “Modular”.

  • I thought about it for a while and she’s right. My experience with Synthesizers started in the 70s, when Synthesizers themselves were still evolving. There were only a handful of companies making Synthesizers and “Moog” and “ARP” were the most popular.
  • My first Synth was a very basic Korg. While in High School, I saved-up and bought a “Mini Moog Model D”. About the Time I was getting bored with its limits, I read about a much more flexible, more powerful Synth: the “ARP 2600”. Again, I saved-up some money, sold the Mini Moog and bought a “2600”.
  • In 1972, I took 1 Semester of private Synthesizer lessons from a local college. The Professor in charge of the Music Department told me he went to school with Bob Moog. The Synthesizer in the Electronic Music Lab was a “Studio Moog”, similar to the “Moog System 55”. Here’s the link to that model:
  • www.moogmusic.com/products/modulars/system-55
  • My point is, Sylvia’s observation is correct… Since I came up through “old school”, analog, one-function-per-button, Synthesizers, I wouldn’t be happy until we bought a Modular Synth.

So, after doing a lot of research, we decided to jump in. About a month ago, we bought the 1st piece — the “case”. It’s a “Structure 270”, made by Pittsburgh Modular. Here’s the link to its product page:
​​pittsburghmodular.com/structure-270

Last Saturday, Sylvia and I drove to our local Guitar Center store and bought our 1st Module — the “Double Helix Oscillator”, also made by Pittsburgh Modular. Here’s the link to it’s product page:
pittsburghmodular.com/lifeforms-double-helix-oscillator

When we brought it home, I was just going to try out a few simple things and… almost 4-hours went by… Whoosh! Now THAT’S a sign of an interesting piece of music gear.

  • The keyboard on our ARP 2600 doesn’t work right and we don’t have another keyboard that will send “CV” (Control Voltages) out. So we couldn’t play this new Oscillator with a regular keyboard. However, since we have a “BeatStep Pro” (by Arturia), I was able to connect its “Pitch” output to the Double Helix (to change notes) and the BeatStep Pro’s “Gate” output to the ARP 2600’s “Gate Input” (to fire the Envelope Generators / open and close the sound to the speakers).

Knowing that the “Double Helix” doesn’t have any way of Storing Patches (saving its settings), I spent almost 3-hours today creating a Patch Chart for it. I’ve uploaded it to this Blog and you should be able to download it from the link below. So if you own a “Double Helix”, this Chart may be of some help in keeping track of the sounds you create.

  • A contrasting pen color, such as “red”, works best.
  • For “Knob” settings: simply place a line where the “white line” on the real Knob should be turned to.
  • For “Patch Points” (Jacks): just draw a line from any Patch Point to any other. It’s better if you don’t draw those lines over any other Jacks, Knobs or Switches. If you need to indicate that a Patch Point on the Double Helix is connected to another Module, just end the line below the diagram and add some text explaining where the other end should be connected.
  • For “Switches”: since the Double Helix Switches can be moved to 3 positions, I illustrated those positions with 3 small circles for each Switch. Just fill-in the appropriate circle or draw a line through one of them.

Click the link below to download this Chart…

Double Helix Patch Chart

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