Etherwave Standard Module Installation

Posted: 5/15/2012 6:32:02 PM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007


Your "wet thumb" approach (without oscilloscope) is perfect for the Etherwave theremins, at least as long as you adjust for the highest tone at ~4kHz, which is 4 octaves above middle C (~260Hz). In that case you should hear a tone between the E and F above (~5kHz) when you touch the pitch antenna with one finger. Trying to go beyond that will lead to massive stability problems. Bending the wire a far as possible from the aluminum foil will not only make "high" tuning easier, it will also increase the tone spacing of the highest octave.

When I started tuning theremins (I practiced that on my own instrument), I killed the transistors of the variable pitch oscillator twice. Then I started checking for resonance currents and power dissipation keeping within reasonable limits. That way I found out with the years that your procedure will perfectly allow to remain in the safe area.

Posted: 5/15/2012 6:44:07 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

@Thierry: Thanks for the added notes on tuning. :)

Posted: 8/8/2012 10:06:41 PM

From: Champaign, Illinois USA

Joined: 9/29/2011

I missed this the first time through... that's great news! I'll let my new theremin get through the first N months of the warranty period, but do plan to take advantage of your expertise when the time comes.

Posted: 8/8/2012 11:07:33 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

@MusicPapa: I certainly don't blame you for waiting for the warenty period to expire prior to engaging in a modifiaction of this type. I look forward to upgrading your theremin when you're ready. By the way, after the mod, later on, you may also want to consider having Thierry perform the volume antenna modifications which I'm not currently set up to perform at this time. I'm good to go as far as the module implant goes though. :)

Posted: 1/13/2013 10:03:04 AM

From: Hampshire UK

Joined: 6/14/2012

I have just fitted the new ESPE01 Mk II module. Wow, what a difference! So why didn't RM do this to the EW originally it made me wonder?

Thanks Thierry/Wilco. 

I have been adjusting the tuning with over-the-internet advice from Thomas G (thanks again Thomas!) and I now have what to my ears is a very nice sounding EWM (Etherwave Module).

BUT, this has lead to another problem & no, I don't mean my playing. It shows up the inadequacy of my lil' Marshall practice amp. Still, not a bad 'problem' to have. Onwards & upwards.

Posted: 1/13/2013 2:42:51 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

@ChrisC You're welcome. :)

Posted: 1/25/2013 4:40:59 PM

From: Clarkston, GA

Joined: 12/15/2012


Great news, thanks for offering!  I was in touch with Wilco Botermans about this a ways back and my question was I was hoping that a switch could be installed that would allow me to switch from standard to module tuning.  Alas he said this was impossible.  So considering buying another etherwave standard and having the module installed.  There are times the lower register comes in handy, so I would hate to lose that sound.





Posted: 1/25/2013 6:49:33 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

@scottburland Yeh, it was a tough decesion to go module all the way with the two remaining Etherwave Standards, and with an upcoming video that will show the features of the most commonly available theremins in production, I've come to realize I should have waited on the second mod. But, as a performer, I really needed a ready backup, so the two instruments "had" to be modified. That's how good the quality is with the module. That said, I'll either have to pull an out-take from one of my older vids with the theremin unmodified, or let other unmodded theremin owners do a video response on youtube. I had also thought about a switch, and as you now learned, I too, had to learn that was not doable. However, you can come close to the classic Etherwave Standard tone by turning the waveform and brightness to face each other, or both to near the 10:00 positions, and adjusting as needed. The former will give a muted brass horn effect, while the latter gives a brighter brass effect. So, all's not lost from the classic in the modification.

Posted: 1/26/2013 1:40:05 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

ChrisC wrote: I have just fitted the new ESPE01 Mk II module. Wow, what a difference! So why didn't RM do this to the EW originally it made me wonder?


There are many things that the late Bob Moog didn't do with his theremins that he should have done, and an equal number of things that he did, that should NOT have been done. Why is this? It is because Bob was an engineer and not a working musician. Here's an example.

One of the most glaring design flaws, IMNSHO, can be readily seen in the Etherwave Pro. It is a great looking instrument, and it has been manufactured with a beautiful birdseye maple front, but there is a problem which would be very clear to a working thereminist. The front panel is curved in such a way that many of the controls are invisible to the player when standing in the classic playing position in front of the instrument. 

It is necessary to bend over in order to make adjustments to the lower rows of controls because they point slightly downward toward the floor, but there is yet another unpleasant surprise for those who are obliged to work under several ranks of 1000 watt Kliegls. The positions of those stylish gleaming chrome buttons and knobs are impossible to read under stage lighting because the chrome surfaces reflect so much light it masks the position of the black, hair-thin indicator lines. Beautiful design - totally impractical.

That's just the beginning! There is a whole litany of other problems I won't bore you with (and they are not confined to the E'Pro). I mention all this only to emphasize the gulf between theremin builders and theremin players. The problem boils down to the mistaken belief on the part of designers and engineers that they already know what is needed and how to provide it. 

The situation is further complicated by the fact that theremin makers tend to go ballistic when anyone suggests that they consult a professional, **accomplished**, working thereminist BEFORE going ahead and building their instruments. When they do ask for suggestions (which some, to their credit, have done) they are flooded with enthusiastic recommendations from people who play at the beginner level themselves, and have little or no experience with what is really involved.

What you end up with is a situation in which the blind seem to be leading the blind.

Most technical people are absolutely convinced they already know what is needed, but they don't. Most of them play a bit themselves, and they believe this gives them an insight into what the virtuoso requires. They couldn't be more wrong. What they end up doing is building an instrument to their own specifications, which are essentially those of a hobbyist.

In her GIFT TAPE interviews, Clara Rockmore goes into considerable detail about the importance of her personal collaboration with Lev Termen when he was building her custom theremin in the 1930's, and she emphasizes Lev's own belief that he could not have done it without her. 





Posted: 1/28/2013 1:59:31 PM

Joined: 7/9/2008

Yesterday, I had a successful installation on one of my Etherwave Standards. I love those low notes!

A prior installation on the other Etherwave was a complete failure, leading to no sound at all. Fortunately, I was able to back out that installation and get the Theremin functioning again (replaced C2 and C6 just to be safe). The failed Etherwave had tiny pieces of wire soldered into the GND and 12v terminal which I didn't see until I started unsoldering the plugged holes (no diode in either Theremin), which led to some circuit board damage.

Fortunately, the other Etherwave had clean holes for receiving the module. The installation on that one was a breeze!

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