The Pl2 or “PI L Squared” it´s a tiny synth developed by the Ploytec team at Berlin. I was fascinated by their tiny synth when it came out because it had quite a distinctive 8 bit retro sound and I always have been a fan of this nostalgic sound…
For me the main interest in this device came from the fact that is tiny and can be powered from either MIDI or USB depending in their versions, which makes them super gig friendly. It also bundles with an editor for both Mac, iPad and Windows plattforms, which is where you can make all the changes and where the power of this device really resides.
It looks like a toy, but this really is no toy, but rather a complete and very well developed full on synthesizer containing to name a few of the following features:
- 2 Oscillators
- 7 Waveforms
- 32 Presets
- 32 User presets
- Square Wave Synthesis
- Digital Multimode Filter (LPF, BPF, HPF)
- Analog Filter (LPF)
- Pulse Width Modulation
- MIDI clock synced LFO
With the editor you can access all the parameters, save presets, assign MIDI CC´s to any of the synthesizers parameters or flash the device with different alternatives firmwares which change the functionality of the device, such as the speech synthesizer which truly resembles the nostalgic Speak and Spell sound.
Anyway if you are interested and want to know more follow this link to their website page.
So it happens to exist a version of this synth in DIY factor, although their production is limited. I managed to get hold of 14 of this PCB and main ICs with the firmware on them, only had to find the rest of the parts. The idea is to make a workshop with the remaining ones and that is why I decided to make a small enclosure for it.
The functionality of the device is the same than their assembled units, just not SMT and a bit bigger but still quite small and it bundles a few extras, like MIDI and USB, 2xRCA line outputs, headphones output, volume control and an ON/OFF LED.
Here is a video (in spanish) of the workshop where I explain some of the functionality and stuff, also all the music in the background uses only the PL2 synth, make sure you check the description in the video for more info.
So for the sake of the workshop and because it really was asking for an exoskeleton, I decided to make the simplest yet sturdy and nice enclosure for this synth kit.
This system can be used with a wide range of DIY projects so I thought would be helpful to share it, or just by inspiring to some of you. The main idea is to use pieces of wood that come already in a 90º angle, to create a little wood side that also works as support of the PCB and the plastic enclosure.
Wooden side panels:
Like said before the wood use is just some standard pine frames that come in 90º with a rounded edge. Here creativity its open to use all sort of variations, since there are tons to choose from in any DIY store.
Cut to size, apply some dye and wax to protect them giving them a more walnut effect and let them to cure.
Here you can use a wide variety of materials, perspex, acrylic, or like I use most of the time… some modern “eco glass” that is easy to drill, cut and its also cheap.
I start by deciding the size based in PCB measurements and score the outline using a cutter or suitable knife for it (they go for like 1€ in ebay), this allows me to easily break the plastic perfectly along the lines.
I end up with all the individual “flat” cases which still retain the protective sheet of film.
This is the only part of this project that can be harder in case you don’t have some sort of plastic bending device, there are tons of plans online about how to DIY this and its extremely cheap and easy to make. they also sell already made kits online. But most of you may have a hot air gun which can work.
Basically the lines we scored before now help to bend the plastic once heated, creating a perfect edge and also becoming quite strong when it dries.
To connect the wood parts with the enclosure and PCB I use some 2.5mm metal spacers that hold the whole structure together. Add some rubber feet and you are good to go!
The result as you can see looks great! and also feel sturdy.
Hope you like it and you find it useful!