Pico Paso Build Notes
This project is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in learning how to build their own synthesizers. The Bleep Labs Pico Paso is more of a “noise maker” than a synth, but it’s a good example of how to add simple and expressive gear to your rack on a budget.
One of the things I dig about this project is the Bleep Labs (or Dr. Bleep’s) approach to creating synthesizers. Each anthropomorphic synthesizer creation has a personality of its own.
I’ve been playing around with concepts like this as well. In fact, they’re one of the primary “Dream Of The Singing Machines” inspirations for this website.
The build was very straight forward. The printed circuit board is clearly marked and there aren’t too many parts to deal with. Soldering components to the PCB was simple enough as long as I stayed focused and didn’t try to rush anything.
I followed along with the Pico Paso build instructions available on the Bleep Labs website as I put everything together.
I made sure all of the components were identified, inspected and sorted before heating up the soldering iron.
I deviated slightly from the Bleep Labs instructions by soldering several components first before moving to the knobs and switches.
Here’s everything soldered together except the 9-volt battery box and the 1/4-inch connector jack.
So here’s the slightly embarrassing outcome to all of this – my Pico Paso doesn’t work. I’m fairly certain that I ‘fried’ the LM324AN IC chip by inadvertently installing it backward.
This is the sort of thing that’ll happen with “kitchen-table” electronics projects.
When I powered up the Pico Paso for the first test-run, I didn’t hear any sound being generated. I began testing all of the cable connections and volume settings. Nature called, and I decided to take a quick break – mistake!
When I returned, my entire room was filled with an nasty electronics smell. As I picked up the Pico Paso, I nearly burned my thumb while it was in contact with the LM324AN IC chip because it had heated up so much.
Closer inspection revealed that I had in fact installed the LM324AN 180 degrees backward. I flipped the IC around and re-installed it in the correct orientation, but it appears that the damage had already been done.
After double checking all of the solder points and other component connections, everything else looks to be proper and intact. Evidently, I was careful with everything else, but in my enthusiasm I made a mistake while installing the IC chip.
The next time I need to order some electronics components, I’ll order a replacement IC chip. Right now I don’t have anything suitable to put in its place, and I’m not going to make any special efforts at this point to obtain a $0.29 cent part.
For now, all I can do is point you to the Bleep Labs demo video of the Pico Paso listed below to illustrate how mine should sound. I’ll update this build page when I have a replacement part and we’ll continue this adventure.
The Pico Paso home at Bleep Labs:
A Pico Paso demo video: