I decided a while ago to get a VCA, because the Mother-32 VCA can’t be decoupled from the Mother-32 envelope generator to use the AI Synthesis ADSR instead. I also decided I could hold off a while on it. Ha, I say.
See, I did go looking at VCAs to try to decide which one to order EVENTUALLY. I decided for example the RYO 3xVCA was not what I wanted right now, because it has no knobs; I’d probably have to get another MiniAtt, or two, to go with it. Not that bad an idea, really, but for now I just wanted a single VCA with a VC level control.
I kept looking at full kits and not finding anything, but then I came across the GMSN! Pure VCA as a board and panel set. Price: $16. Impulse buy territory. But why buy on impulse?
Well, because GMSN! went out of business in December. There was talk of someone else buying it and keeping it going but I haven’t heard any followup on that, and meanwhile, presumably, there are no more Pure VCA boards and panels in production, and if I didn’t buy one today, I might not be able to tomorrow.
So I ordered one, and figured I’d get the parts EVENTUALLY.
But of course I looked for sources for the parts.
One tough one was the 9 mm horizontal Alpha pots. I basically could find three sources. One was Thonk, in the UK. Who buys Chinese pots from England? Ridiculous. A second was various eBay sellers from China. I’ve bought from Chinese vendors on eBay before and wouldn’t rule out doing it again, but it’s been problematic and I tend to avoid them if I can. That left door number three, which was Small Bear Electronics. Unfortunately Small Bear had little else of the BOM. So I decided to get just the pots from them… and in a moment of weakness I submitted the order.
And then I started considering the other parts. Of course whatever resistors and diodes and caps I didn’t have already, and the TL072 IC, could come from DigiKey or Mouser or Jameco or whatever. The more problematic ones were the THAT2180B audio amplifier IC and the PJ302M jacks. I could find the former domestically only at Mouser and the latter at Synthcube.
So, sure, orders to both of them. I could also get the power cable assembly from Synthcube and the rest of what I needed from Mouser. (Could probably get ribbon cable and connectors to put together myself from Mouser, but at $0.89 for the pre-made version, why bother.) Only… I’m not that big a Mouser fan. One big reason being shipping cost, which starts at $7.99. Other places ship for less.
I took a look at Tayda. I’ve never ordered from them before and I’d heard they were good. They certainly have low prices and low shipping charges. But they don’t have the THAT2180B or the PJ302M, and ordering from them and Mouser and Synthcube would make no sense.
Let’s suppose all I wanted was one THAT2180B and three PJ302Ms. The IC at Mouser is $6.10 plus $7.99 for the cheapest postage options. The jacks are $0.49 each at Synthcube and shipping is $7.70 for Priority 3-Day or $3.70 for First-Class Package. Going with the latter the total cost is $19.26.
Or I could get both from Thonk. The IC is £5.50 and the jacks are £0.42 each. You can get them shipped Regular Airmail for £1.68, which is slow and no tracking, or tracked for £6.33. With the second of these the total is £13.09 or about $17.29. Cheaper from England! And everything else could come from Tayda at a much lower cost than Mouser.
Of course, if ordering those parts from Thonk… then I should have ordered the pots from them, too, at £1.20 each, rather than from Small Bear at $9.44 with shipping. Idiot.
So okay, I decided, I should order the IC and jacks, and the power cable, from Thonk, and the rest from Tayda, EVENTUALLY. And then I found out about a 15% discount code for Tayda, expiring tonight. Now, Tayda’s cheap enough that a 15% discount code on an order like this is pretty small, a buck or so. But I’m not above jumping at a deal to save a buck.
So I put in the Tayda order last night, and since what I needed from Thonk was pretty well defined, I went ahead and sent in that order too. Cue Thonk 15% off sale in three… two…
And so there it is, all the VCA parts on the way now.