ETI 4600 Owner Mike Tillman's Page
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Born in 1961, even at
an early age, I had always had a great interest in both electronics
and music, and when I was 10, I bought an electronics kit. This
wasn’t like the kits you get today with modules that you simply clip
together with no understanding of what is going on, no, this kit was
made up of actual components - transistors, resistors, capacitors
and diodes! I was totally self-taught, and after struggling a bit at
first, soon mastered the resistor colour code, and thoroughly
enjoyed building all the circuits in the book.
This was where I got my first introduction to the audio oscillator. I remember building an oscillator where the frequency could be changed by sliding a wire along a wet piece of string - great fun! At the same time, electronic sounds started to become prevalent in the pop songs of the day. Some that incorporated synths that I remember are:
The Osmonds “Crazy Horses” 1972
Ike & Tina Turner “Nutbush City Limits” 1973 – Great synth solo.
Hot Butter “Popcorn” 1972
The Amazing Music of The Electronic Arp Synthesiser 1974 – funky and cheesy but really showed how versatile a synth could be!
Romantic Moog 1974
I was hooked on electronic music, and when by chance I bought a copy of Electronics Today International I saw it had construction details to build a Transient Generator. I read that the parts were available from Maplin Electronic Supplies, so from that moment, at the age of 14, I embarked on what was to be a 2 year project to build the ETI 4600.
The reason it took so long was financial. As a schoolboy, I had a very modest amount of pocket money. I saved every penny I could, and periodically I would buy the components for the next module. Finally, in 1977 I completed my dream project. My Mum was so proud of me she went to the local papers who wrote an article about it - see Faversham News article.
A little later on, I read that the ETI 3600 had a ‘better’ filter with a variable ‘Q’, so I replaced VCF 2 with one that I built from the ETI 3600 design, and that is how the synthesiser remained from that day. I am proud to say that the synth is still as good today as it was all those years ago. In fact, it’s slightly better. Some time later I decided to change the awful gold wires that were treaded through matrix board to form key contacts for proper contact types that Maplin produced for their range of Organs. This made it much more reliable. Then, about 15 years ago I rewired the synth completely using ribbon cable (ribbon cable was far too expensive when I built it originally), so it looks much neater inside now.