Cheap Bastard: Power supply conundrum

April 16, 2013

As I’m quickly learning, starting a DIY modular is not for the faint-hearted. Of course it would be easy to cave-in, buy a basic setup and go from there. But that’s not in keeping with the skinflint ethos.

It’s when looking at how to power my modular that I fully realised how archaic and uncoordinated the Doepfer Eurorack format really is. Options for powering the thing are surprisingly limited, and connector conventions are known to vary between manufacturers. Just to get up-and running with the Doepfer PSU + Busboards + 5v converter comes to a total of 145euro. These are crazy prices. I went looking for reasonable alternatives.

The first question was whether I would build my own PSU based on the many specs found at Muffwiggler’s. After some consideration I decided not to go this route. Being still the newbie in this area, I decided against, if only because there is a real risk of frying myself and my surroundings if something goes wrong. So I’m better-off with a pre-fab PSU option.

Following-up a suggestion made on the Mutable forums (thanks yet again Frank!) I went for this one. For 24 euro it provides three power buses – 5v and +/-12v – and with a whopping 5A on the 5v bus.

IMG_2016

IMG_2017

The unit is heavy and seems quite robust, with clear connector options – if somewhat exposed. Handy enclosure to protect little fingers. There’s a prominent trimpot on the fron for adjusting the +5v bus. Not sure yet how noisy it is when plugged-in.

There is also a 5v =/- 15v version which will probably find it’s way here at some stage. But let’s keep focus for now.

I’m thinking to build the busboards myself using perfboard and some nice big capacitors, and based on schematics I found at Muffs.

IMG_2018

Another option might be to just use a ribbon cable and connect the first modules in series until I can come to a more permanent solution. Much reading to do. Oh for some free time!

I have to face facts at the beginning that this modular won’t be a static device – it will likely grow and evolve as the addiction takes over. So I’ve got to be prepared to make big changes along the way, and try to anticipate my future requirements.

If I can get this PSU working as intended, I’ll be well-covered for power options.

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