project DSWF

Posted on Feb 4, 2014

The microcontroller (MCU) is responsible for sending variable voltages over time (just like a traditional LFO) to an effect that can be modulated by a voltage, or a pot on a traditional analog effect that can be replaced with an optoisolator/vactrol. Here`s a block diagram: On the left, we write some code that tells the MCU to output voltages base

project DSWF
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

d on program variables. We also have the MCU read various pots and switches connected to it. This gives us real-time control over the parameters of our LFO program. Once the program is ready, we upload it to the MCU. If it compiles and executes properly, we are ready to move on to the next step. If not, we go back to the computer and debug the problem. The MCU then sends a series of voltages to the input of the analog effect. We can do this directly with a Control Voltage, or have the MCU drive an optoisolator/vactrol to act as a potentiometer. An Important Note: If you are new to MCUs, you may get the impression that a laptop or desktop computer always has to be part of the equation. In other words, you couldn`t make a real effect pedal because you`d always have to cart around your laptop. Not true! The computer is where you write, test, and fine-tune your code. Once you have downloaded the code to the MCU, you can disconnect the laptop, stick the MCU in an enclosure along with the traditional jacks and switches, and never have to reconnect the computer. Even if the MCU loses power, it will retain its programming. Since I already had a basic knowledge of programming the Arduino microcontroller, choosing that for the LFO engine was simple. I have a few Arduino boards in the parts bin, so away we go. Here are some of the basic things about the Arduino that make it a very nice fit with this project: Open Source: Unlike closed...

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