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Jones Modular Video Synthesizers

O'Tool Now Shipping

Otool oscilloscopeIt's an oscilloscope, but it's also a lot of other things. The Jones O'Tool is a single and dual trace oscilloscope, a levels meter, a VU meter, a Peak meter, a spectrum analyzer, an X-Y graph display, a frequency meter, a tuner, and a voltmeter.

There are three oscilloscope modes, with single trace, dual trace layered (input 1 is red, input 2 is green, on top of each other), and dual trace stacked (above and below each other). The timebase is adjustable from 100 microseconds to 5 seconds per division. The voltage scale can be set to +/-10v DC, +/-5v DC, +/-10v AC, 0-10v DC, or 0-5v DC. It can trigger on input 1, input 2, or on an external trigger. And there are two trigger levels for the external trigger. Or it can be set to have no trigger, so both waveforms free-run.

The levels mode is a visual indicator of the scale and bias of the signals going in. It is good for seeing changes in a signal at a glance without the full detail of the scope trace, but much easier to spot with a quick glance.

The VU and Peak meters follow industry standard specs for scale and response. The 0dBvu level can be selected between +4dBu (audio line level), +/-2.5v or +/-5v. There is a thin line drawn across between the meters to help see the 0dBvu level at a glance.

The spectrum analyzer has two forms. In the linear mode there are thin lines representing the frequencies, linearly spaced, and with a linear vertical scale. In the Log mode the frequencies are grouped into 6 wide bands representing octaves, and the vertical scale is in db.

The X-Y display mode uses the two inputs to draw points or lines on the screen. It has adjustable sampling times. In the shorter (faster) sampling speeds the inputs are sampled for a period of time and then drawn on the screen at once. In the longer (slower) sampling times the points are drawn on the screen as they happen and the oldest point is erased at the same time. This creates a sort of a snake-like drawing on the screen that can show very long periods of time (up to 200 seconds). Very useful for comparing slow LFOs or related voltages created by some modules.

The frequency meter has two parts. A numerical readout of the frequency, and a guitar tuner style of tuner. The tuner shows the note, the number of cents the note is off, and a sliding bar with a dot representing +50 to -50 cents. It can be used to monitor input 1, input 2, or both inputs. When used for both, the two sliding bars are above and below each other making it easier to align two frequencies. The tuner can be set for 440 or 432 scales.

The voltmeter mode is a simple DC voltmeter that monitors both inputs. It can be used to adjust two DC (constant) voltages to match or be a specific amount apart.

Suggested retail price: $250

Width: 8HP

Depth: 40mm (1.57 inches)

Power: 130ma of +12, 10ma of -12

Display: 45mm diagonal (1.77 inches) color TFT LCD with anti-static protective window

 

Please note that while the O'Tool is a very useful module for monitoring signals within a modular system, it does not have all the features of the full sized devices that it emulates. It does not have the large display, all the trigger options, or individual voltage controls of a full sized oscilloscope. Due to limitations in the processor the log spectrum mode can only display 6 bars, instead of the 15 or 20 typical of a full graphic EQ. And the frequency meter, tuner and voltmeter were all added (based on potential user feedback) after the hardware had already been built. So those modes do not have the accuracy or temperature stability that other devices like them would have (or that this would have had if those modes had been designed in when the hardware was designed). Those modes do not have the absolute accuracy of external dedicated devices, but they are accurate relative to the two inputs. So they are fine for tuning two oscillators to each other, or two voltages to each other. They just might be off a bit compared to an external tuner or voltmeter.

 

O'Tool and screens

The O'Tool has two jacks for each of the three inputs. The pairs of jacks are like two-jack passive multiples. You can feed a signal into either of the jacks, and can use the second jack to send that same signal to another module. That way you don't have to use up your multiples modules to send signals to the O'Tool while still using those signals elsewhere. For example, say you have an oscillator connected to a filter. You could unplug that cable at the filter and plug it into either of the jacks for input 1 of the O'Tool. Then take another cable and go from the second jack on input 1 back to the filter you had connected before. The inputs on the O'Tool each have 100K input impedance, so it is possible in very touchy patches that you might need to use a buffered multiple rather than use the passive multiples built into the O'Tool. It is NOT a good idea to plug the outputs of two modules into the pair of jacks for a single O'Tool input, which effectively shorts those two modules together. (it won't hurt the O'Tool, but might hurt your modules) The pair of jacks for each input are simply connected to each other behind the panel, just as any passive multiple would be.

There are four buttons under the screen of the O'Tool. The button on the left cycles through the 9 different oscilloscope and meter modes. The other three buttons set options within each mode. The currently selected option for each button is displayed at the bottom of the screen. Pushing those three buttons change the options and the new settings are displayed. If the screen is blank above a button, that button is not used in that specific mode.

The instruction sheet included with each O'Tool can be downloaded here.

 

 

Jones O'Tool Oscilloscope

 

NOTE: THIS WAS A PRELIMINARY ANNOUNCEMENT.   PLEASE SEE THE UPDATED ANNOUNCEMENT

Coming out in April 2012 is a new Euro-rack module that contains a color LCD oscilloscope and audio measurement tools.

Single & dual trace scope with internal & external trigger. DC to 20Khz. +/-10v DC, +/-5v DC, 0-10v DC and +/-10v AC coupled. Timebase adjustable from 100 uSec/div to 5 Sec/div. The slow timebases update the screen in real time, so you see the trace slowly sweeping across instead of waiting for it to sample the whole waveform and then refresh.

The inputs are "loop through" inputs. Meaning that they are like 2-jack multiples. So you can connect one module to the input and then run another cable to another module without needing multiples.

Besides the scope modes it also has several audio and CV tool modes:

- Levels - this is an LED-like display that shows "lights" for how long the waveform spends at each level. This allows you to see the upper and lower limits of the waveform, as well as distinguish between some types of waveforms by how the lights are shaded. For example a square wave just lights up the highest and lowest light corresponding to the top and bottom of the waveform, while a triangle is evenly lit, and a sine wave is lighter at the top and bottom and has a curved darkening of the lights towards the center.

- VU & Peak - Classic LED style VU and Peak meters. The VU displays in dbVU while the Peak displays in volts or dbU depending on the scale selected. Scales include 5v p-p, 10v p-p and +4dbU (you can input line level audio and see a calibrated display).

- Spectrum Analyzer - Adjustable levels and top frequency, as well as two types of display. Linear shows evenly spaced columns based on Hz, while the Log display a logarithmic spread of frequencies.

- X/Y display - Display Lissajous patterns. Has a voltage scale setting and a time averaging setting to sample the inputs over short or long periods of time to build up patterns.

Tentative specs are:

Width: 8HP
Depth 1.575" (40mm)
Current: 130ma of +12v, 10ma of -12v

Price: $250

O'Tool oscilloscopeoscilloscope screens

Previews are available on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPTwMsjMYs0&hd=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M-pkGe_xWs&hd=1

 

New MVIP sample videos

I have created three new example videos using the MVIP to give people a better idea of the kinds of things it can be used for.

The first has an MVIP controlled with an AFG oscillator. A Z8000 sequencer changed the oscillator frequency, and also controlled a pair of A-110 oscillators plus a filter to make the sounds.

MVIP with sequencer

http://www.vimeo.com/20721230

The second video has an MVIP controlled by an AFG oscillator. The oscillator goes through a VCA to show the MVIP settings with and without the oscillator. The sound is a ring mod of the AFG and another oscillator modulated by the same LFO as the VCA. The AFG is also modulated by an LFO to give it a waving motion.

The first half shows the oscillator in each of the CV inputs. The second half varies the frequency and uses a combination of brightness, bitswap, and mode CVs.

MVIP with oscillator

http://www.vimeo.com/20767455

The third video is a quick test of doing some video feedback using the MVIP to process the signal from the camera to the monitor. The MVIP is a Euro video image processing module. No control voltages were used in making this video. Just manually turning the knobs on the MVIP while watching the monitor.

MVIP feedback

http://www.vimeo.com/21097609

 

 

MVIP is Available

The MVIP (Mini Video Image Processor) Euro module is now available from Dave Jones Design.

Mini Video Image Processor

The MVIP is a Euro rack module, designed to fit into audio synthesizer racks made by Doepfer and other manufacturers. It is a stand alone video module, not part of the larger video synth system that I am still developing.

Specs:

Width: 14HP (2.8 inches)

Depth: 2.56 inches (6.5 cm)

Power: 140ma of +12 and -12 volts

Inputs: Composite video (NTSC or PAL), five control voltage inputs for +5 to -5 volts

Output: Composite video (NTSC or PAL) matches the format of the input, or jumper selected if no video input

Price: $595 plus shipping

Available: In Stock

User Manual: MVIP_instructions_booklet.pdf

MVIP side view

We do not have an online or e-commerce ordering page.

Credit card orders can be placed by phone by calling Dave Jones Design at 607-687-5740 between 11am and 5pm Eastern US time, Monday through Friday, or you can contact us via email to arrange payment via mail, bank transfer or PayPal. Our current email address is on the Contact Us page in the main menu above.

 

MVIP Screen Captures

The YouTube video of the MVIP is fairly blurry so I am posting some screen captures from the original video so you can see the difference. The top one is the original, the lower one is a screen capture from YouTube.

YouTube image

 

Here are a few other screen captures at half size from the original recording:

MVIP 3
MVIP 8
MVIP 1
MVIP 5
MVIP negative
MVIP 9
 

MVIP Mini Video Image Processor

Coming in December 2010 from Dave Jones Design is the MVIP Mini Video Image Processor.

This Euro rack module is not part of the larger video synth system that I am designing for Euro rack. This is a stand alone video processing module. It mounts in a Euro rack and is compatible with Doepfer and other Euro audio modules. This module has a single composite video input and output. It works in NTSC or PAL, and auto-detects whichever you plug into it.

Unlike the larger video synth system that I am designing, this module does not require any other video modules to work. The larger video synth system will require video input, sync and output modules, plus whatever video processing modules that you want. The MVIP doesn't require any of those. It works by itself. On the other hand it also only processes a single video input and doesn't combine multiple video signals like the larger system.

You can see a very simple demo of the MVIP on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPXCnTyDXFA

(be aware that the YouTube video is very blurry compared to the original)

That demo doesn't use the control voltage inputs. It simply shows the changes made when turning the manual control knobs. I added titles to the video to show which knobs are being turned.

Full specs and prices will be posted by Thanksgiving, and modules will be available by Christmas.

MVIP faceplate

(for those with a vivid imagination, the "3D" shapes on the panel are printed on, they are not physically 3D)

 

 

Video Synth Concept

The new Jones Modular Video Synthesizer from Dave Jones Design follows the same basic system model used by Dave Jones since the early days of video synths.

Back in the mid 1970s Dave Jones was building video synthesizers as a "system" concept, though physically they were not plug in modules like the new system. That system concept revolved around two core devices: a sync generator and an "Output Amp", surrounded by a collection of video processing and control voltage processing devices. The system was tied together with a central patch panel. Instead of each processing device being a plug-in module, the early systems were built with groups of devices in rack mount cases and those cases all connected to the patch panel to connect them together.

Read more...
 

Patience Please

The Jones Modular Video Synthesizer has been under development for almost 5 years. The first few years were spent with general system planning and a lot of research into the newer types of electronic parts available these days, and some general circuit design tests using those new parts. Even after 35 years of designing video synths, I find new parts and techniques all the time.

The past couple of years have been spent designing specific modules and building test boards to try out variations of different circuits. During the last year those have been coming together into a concrete set of module designs. One set of prototype modules has been in use in video performances for a little over a year.

Read more...
 

New Jones Video Synth Announced

One of the original inventors and creators from the analog video synthesizer movement of the 1970s is back with a new video synthesis system. Dave Jones, well known in the video art world for his original and creative tools for artists, is proud to announce a new series of video processing tools in modular form.

The new Jones Modular Video Synthesizer system from Dave Jones Design is a series of modules designed to be compatible with the popular Eurorack format of audio synthesizers, made popular over the past decade by Doepfer and other audio module manufacturers. These video modules fit in the same racks, use the same power supplies, and accept control voltages from current Eurorack audio modules widely available around the world.

 

Read more...