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More MicroMoorg

I got a new saw for Christmas, and I don’t mean the waveform. After a break of a few months as I figured out what I was going to do, I have been able to add another chapter to the story of my continuing efforts to mod my microKORG to look more like a MiniMoog, imparting an already awesome little synth with even more awesomeness.

As I said in the last update, I had decided on a design I was fairly sure would work as long as I could pull it off right. With measurements and plans in mind, I hit up the local hardware store and picked up some red oak stock to work with. I knew the basic design that I wanted, but I wasn’t sure how to make a strong joint between the boards. I’m a computer programmer, not a carpenter, after all. But the internet wasn’t about to let me down, and through many webpages and a handful of YouTube videos I was able to teach myself how to make something called “finger joints” which are all the rage in fancypants cabinetry. My first attempts were fairly pathetic, but after finally getting the correct router bit and clamps that were actually the right size, I started to see something with promise. Quite a few hours of work and several tries later, I had a version of the joints I thought had some promise. I clamped it up, let it dry for a couple hours, and hoped for the best.

When I came back, much to my delight, things had stuck. Not only that, but the pieces of the microKORG’s shell actually fit into it perfectly! The next day, I measured and repeated the process for the shell for the bottom section. When I finally got them all together, I was a bit shocked with how well it worked. You can see here the two main case pieces in what will be the laid-flat position, for storage and travel. Unlike other MicroMoorg mods that I’ve seen on the web, I wanted mine to be able to transform between an open playable position and a closed storage position without sacrificing usefulness or stability in either.

With the two pieces in hand, I very carefully measured and cut the piano hinge I’d bought for the project and mounted the two together. As you can see from the picture here, it actually works! You can lay it down completely flat or bring it up all the way past vertical. It feels quite solid and I think it will do very well when the whole thing’s put together.

I still have quite a long way to go on this project. Tomorrow, I’m going to be measuring and cutting the holes for the cables to pass through between the two halves. I’ve already picked up the wire to extend all of the cables, but that’s going to be a whole weekend project unto itself, at least, as I’m not really all that good at soldering. Then of course I need to build the base and finish all of the wood pieces.

I’ll be sure to keep posting progress as it’s made. Really, I can’t wait to have it put together so that I can play it again. I love this little keyboard, and I miss having it in my arsenal. It turns out that you can in fact use it without the case or keys attached, but it’s somehow not quite the same.

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Minor MicroMoorg Project Progress

You may recall that a little while ago, I cut my venerable microKORG synthesizer in half in an attempt to build my own MicroMoorg style synth. As soon as we had it sliced apart, it became clear that putting it back together the way I wanted it was going to be a bit trickier than originally anticipated. So I just popped the guts back into the shell and kept it safe in its bag for a while longer to think about it.

Then, the other night, I had a revelation as to its construction. Initially, I’d been thinking about how to attach some plates to the open space between the two halves of the shell to hold the hinge, and then just tossing some pieces on the side for decoration. That’s when it occurred to me: by making the side pieces actually part of the structural integrity of the project, I could give the important pieces a lot more to hold on to. This seemed like it was going to be outside of my woodworking skills, so I sought professional help.

With a basic plan in mind and parts of the plastic shell in hand, I headed out to a local unfinished furniture store last night for some advice. I was hoping that they’d say something like “Oh yeah, we can just toss that right together for you!” Unfortunately for me, my little out-of-left-field project didn’t quite fit with their more pedestrian furniture building. Different lumber sizes, doesn’t quite fit into their existing jigs and frames, etc. However, I did get some good advice for how I could put the thing together myself, so I’ve got something to go on. Looks like a new miter saw and some hardwood lumber stock are in my future. Not generally two things that you associate with synthesizers, but hey, we’ll see what comes out.