The ec500 analog video synthesis system was originally inspired by Jonas Bers and his CHA/V project. The real lightbulb moment came when we realized that all any analog video synthesist needs is a source of horizontal and vertical sync signals. Jonas used el-cheapo $5 VGA testers from eBay, and so do we. But we use a modular adapter system so that it’s not necessary to solder to the VGA tester itself. This also makes it possible to use other VGA sync sources, such as composite-to-VGA converters, or even laptops/etc. (WARNING: DO NOT CONNECT YOUR LAPTOP TO THE ec500. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.)
The ec500 system uses single-wire jumper cables to patch the various parts together. In this we took a lot of inspiration from other mini semi-modular systems, such as Bastl’s Kastle mini-synth.
There are currently two major components to the ec500 system. The first is the ec500 error.core, which includes 9 square-wave oscillators and 3 distinct mix busses, corresponding to the red, green, and blue components of a VGA signal. The error.core also supplies a single 5v regulated power supply to other components in the ec500 system.
The second ec500 component is the i/o expander, which greatly increases the system’s capability with:
- Two line-level inputs with adjustable gain and DC offset
- An on-board microphone with adjustable gain and DC offset
- A lighted pushbutton switch
- An infrared receiver
- Two triangle-core LFOs with switchable range
- Three passive attenuators
- A comparator that is configured to condition triggers from other inputs, but which also has Other Uses
- A bunch of control voltage sources, some of which round-robin with suitable trigger input
- A triggerable round-robin for the main R, G, & B busses from the error.core
- Three AND logic gates
The ec500 system has two expansion busses specified, and there are additional expansion modules currently in the planning stages.