Project:Cigarbox Sequencer case

A funny little project - as said elsewhere, my modular case is a compact affair, but my desire to have a PMakeNoise Rene available to drive it was strong...! On a thread on MuffWiggler, postings were made about alternative cases, or skiffs as the kids like to call them, using more unusual approaches to cases design. Having built a cigarbox uke, having a cartesian sequencer housed in one appealed. My main concern was to not having to end up with with another power supply needed in the case, and when first launched, MakeNoise did offer a 'barrel power' option, which in effect allowed one to plug a regular power supply in directly, rather than through any of the cleverer power supplies that drive modular synths.

I contacted Tony Rolando, the MakeNoise guru, and was very surprised when he responded straight away to my question, confirming that it was indeed a perfect solution for the Rene, as it only required ground and a 12v connection.

A bit of ebay hunting turned up a suitable cigarbox, which had the height to accept a module neatly (c. 5.5 inches), and wide enough to take a Rene. Actually, mine was slightly oversized...

So, after a little bit of trading, the Rene was secured. Time for action. I glued two narrow strips of beading along the long edges of the case, which would become the rails for mounting the modules. I think drilled out a hole for the power supply connector in the back of the box - ideally, would have been done on a drill press, but I hacked away with a regular power drill... and the case turned out to be too thick , so had to improvise to carve out a little more width to make the power connector sit neatly.

Then I started to panic - I really didn't want to end up frying my Rene before getting started, so I emailed Tony again. He sent through some very clear instructions, which I share here in case anyone else wants to try the same trick:


"You need to determine the +12V and GND configuration on the AC adapter(note this must be a regulated power supply, ideally c. 200ma for powering Rene). Most are using Tip Positive, but Boss/ Roland many years ago started the awful trend of tip negative (meaning tip is GND and outside ring is +V). To be certain plug the adapter into your connector before you solder anything together. Use a voltmeter to ready those pins on the connector. this should give you certainty which will be GND and which will be +12V.

Once you know that, trim the end off a euro style 10-16 pin power cable. The Red striped wire and the wire next to it are -12V, just leave those be. The next 6 wires are GND. Trim the insulation from the end of these and twist together. Tin this twisted bunch and then form into a hook that will hook into the hole on the connector. The top two wires are +12V. Do the same thing with those. I'd recommend using shrink tubing to cover these connections if you have it. If you do not, electrical tape will suffice.

Before you power the René with this contraption, plug the Ac adapter into it, and then use your DVM to check the other end of the euro power connector by taking a thin wire, stripped of insulation, and poking it into each of the pin holes in the connector. You should get nothing at the bottom, red stripe. GN in the center 6 pin holes and +12V at the top two.

Now you are ready to power up the rené."

These instructions read simply, but I managed to make them seem complicated. I probably put the power connector a little too far in the corner, and really struggled to get the 6 ground wires hooked onto the terminal. Once in, the power was coming off and on - I'd used the wrong barrel from the power supply I'd picked up from Maplin.

Have to say, this is exactly what I'd hoped for - and as mentioned earlier, had a little extra room, so now my Rene has some passive modules next to it (a Pittburgh Mult and a Thonk AtAtAt )

Results Pass

 the box ready with wooden rails   the box ready with wooden rails 
 euro power cable, stripped for Rene   euro power cable, stripped for Rene 
 Cigarbox MakeNoise Rene + friends   Cigarbox MakeNoise Rene + friends