System build examples

Here are a few system examples. Feel free to discuss or ask further questions, or submit your own beginner layouts for newbies.

Starter System 1
“This system assumes you have no other EuroRack modular gear or oscillator sources. The inclusion of an oscillator like Prismatic Ray really brings shapes and video to life. Staircase is the fastest way to create patterns and visual complexity. The ability to patch a ramp output from Visual Cortex into Staircase and use Prismatic Ray as a primary modulation source makes this a complex, fun and low cost way to step into LZX.” – Sam Newell

Prismatic Ray
Visual Cortex
Total HP Width, 52HP
+12V Power Consumption, 370mA (0.37 A)-12V Power Consumption, 390mA (0.39 A)

Starter System 2
“The most minimal configuration I could recommend, this system assumes you are expanding an existing EuroRack modular synthesizer which includes oscillators and other modulation sources. Bridge provides a scaling interface between your video and audio modules. Bridge also allows you to fade and mix ramps from Visual Cortex, which can then be processed by Staircase. With the Visual Cortex Colorizer & Compositor you can create many interesting patches from a very small system.” – Sam Newell

Visual Cortex

Total HP Width, 44HP
+12V Power Consumption, 280mA (0.28 A)-12V Power Consumption, 330mA (0.33 A)

Basic System 1
“Building off of the Starter System 1, this layout introduces Shapechanger and Color Chords. The addition of Shapechanger instantly takes you out of solely making patterns and into the ability to generate complex and stunning shapes which can be mixed with patterns using Color Chords. Color Chords lets you dive deeper into the amazing analog color mixing capabilities that the LZX system provides, and gives you multiple layers to play with. This is important because of the vast amounts of possibilities within the Shapechanger + Staircase combination. Patching RGB out respectively into A or B on the Visual Cortex Compositor allows you to fine tune and filter through colors producing stunning combinations.” – Sam Newell

Prismatic Ray
Color Chords
Visual Cortex

Total HP Width, 84HP
+12V Power Consumption, 630mA (0.63 A)-12V Power Consumption, 650mA (0.65 A)

Basic System 2
As Basic System 1, but building off of Starter System 2.

Bridge (x2)
Color Chords
Visual Cortex

Total HP Width, 84HP
+12V Power Consumption, 570mA (0.57 A)-12V Power Consumption, 610mA (0.61 A)

6U System

Prismatic Ray (x3)
Visual Cortex
Bridge (x2)
Color Chords

Total HP Width, 168HP
+12V Power Consumption, 1210mA (1.21 A)-12V Power Consumption, 1140mA (1.14 A)

12U System

Prismatic Ray (x4)
Passage (x2)
Navigator (x2)
Shapechanger (x2)
Staircase (x2)
Curtain (x2)
Doorway (x2)
Bridge (x2)
Visual Cortex
Sensory Translator
Color Chords (x2)
Mapper (x2)

Total HP Width, 336HP
+12V Power Consumption, 2360mA (2.36 A)-12V Power Consumption, 2210mA (2.21 A)


Hello @creatorlars ,
Thank you very much for the info, what would be the best build for a scanimate-style animations like the ones you showcased here:
Im having a hard time figuring out the modules.
Thank you very much in advance

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@eurostar You can do this using pretty much the same patch as the one illustrated here:

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Hello everyone, i wonder if anyone would be so kind as to chime in with some words for the leyman!
I am entirely ignorant about video synthesis, but it’s always fascinated me and I have some questions if anyone cares to answer, please?

When i was a kid in the 70’s I saw what i think was an EMS Spectre/Spectron Video Synth.
The spec of this is:-

Image sources : X and Y counters. Slow counter.
Four shape generators. Video comparator (colourizer).
Image modifiers : Four overlay gates. Four inverters. Edge. Delay. Two flip-flops. Invert X. Invert Y.
Outputs : Two, each with four bits controlling luminance, three bits red bias, three bits blue bias. Colour swap. Output to analogue control matrix.
Voltage control sources : Two sine/square oscillators. Two random. Three audio inputs. Digital signal matrix (two sources). Four manual sliders. One external source.
Voltage control inputs : Two shape generators. One video input. One comparator level spacer Input.

This was 1974 technology of course, but i wonder what the equivelent setup would be now (I suspect control pin matrix is not necessary, perhaps some modules have been superceded)?

Also, any comments about that machine/spec would be very interesting.

I’ve been looking at the Vidiot with great interest but it’s useful to consider/learn about alternative/deeper setups too.

Please can somebody explain the basic differences/principles/focus of the individual LZX lines, i.e. Cadet, Castle, Expedition, Orion. Would help me learn a bit more…

Thanks for your time and help and best

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I don’t know anything about the EMS device you mentioned, but as to the different LZX lines, I think I can give my interpretation…

  • Cadet - DIY, the basic building blocks of analog video synthesis/processing, great for learning or as companion modules to other more complex modules
  • Castle - DIY, some basic building blocks for digital synthesis/processing (or in other terms, this series is about making and processing video using the CD4000-series logic chips), also good for learning or as companions to more complex modules
  • Expedition - excellent feature-packed analog video modules, the gold standard!
  • Orion - (presumably, since they’re not out yet) excellent feature-packed digital video modules (somewhat based on features found on classic digital video mixers, I think?)

That’s just how I differentiate the series in my mind. Lars and others probably have other ways of describing them. My Castle description should probably be better… Just calling it “digital video synthesis/processing” might be technically true in a way, but it’s not what one usually thinks of as digital video. Digital video usually involves things like bitstreams and color depth and frames and compression and many other things like that, but with Castle, it’s all very open and any part can take analog signals in or use the digital outputs as analog outputs, so a lot of the more strict concepts of typical digital video don’t really apply. That’s why I mentioned the logic chip series, since that’s the best way I could think to describe it without using a somewhat loaded phrase like digital video.

The EMS Spectre/Spectron was an inspiration for me when I made my first videosynth – using CMOS logic ICs. Castle is very much informed from that perspective.
The logic functions in the Spectre can be achieved with Castle, mostly. They differ in implementation. Theres no delay or edge processing (yet?). But you can do some edge type stuff with Castle with some clever patching, or using the Sandin IP Differentiator.
The oscillators on the Spectre are very interesting, and there’s nothing like it yet in LZX territory. You could nudge the oscillators up or down in scroll speed, horizontally or vertically! Pretty complex thing, using PLLs, counters, tracking filters.
The shape generators were also pretty interesting. You had a lot of shape options to choose from, something like that would be awesome in LZX as well. Clone, anyone?
For the oscillators Prismatic Ray is probably your closest bet, but with a lot more functionality and flexibility than the Spectre oscs – excluding the lovely scroll functions. But you’ll have a lot more CV control and more waveshapes.
For shape stuff, you can use Visual Cortex’s ramp section, which has a few different shapes, though not as many combinations as the Spectre.
OH, that reminds me about the ramp generator in the Spectre. There was a variable frequency Ramp, which is how you could get some stuff like Sierpinski triangles. I cloned the ramp section a while ago many years ago.

Castle has: counters, gates and inverters, flip flops, a video comparator of sorts in the ADC.
You can use Prismatic Ray for the oscillators.
Visual Cortex will give you shapes and mixing.

I think something close to the Spectre is possible, though not every function will be present, it’ll certainly be similar.


Actually I think they are inspired in machines like the Quantel Paintbox

Its worth that you check it out.


Re: Orion, both is correct.

With Expedition series we tried to thoroughly analyze analog image processors, audio synthesizers and classic video synthesizers on a circuit wise and functional level, expand on those ideas with our own, and put them within the context of a next generation video instrument.

With Orion series, the approach is the same, it’s just that we’re focusing on a different category of device (and implied era of the 80s and 90s). So that encompasses everything from early DVE units like the Ampex ADO, dedicated video computers like Quantel Paintbox or the Amiga Video Toaster, hybrid devices like the Fairlight CVI, and also just early computer graphics and computer game consoles/devices as well.

So Expedition is a shot at what analog video could have been if it had progressed from the 70’s and into the 80’s without a digital video revolution transforming the market.

And Expedition series is a shot at what digital video (with analog interfacing) could have been if it had progressed into the late 90’s without a software video revolution transforming the market.

In both cases, they’re conscious experiments in retro-futuristic possibilities. :slight_smile:


Would it be possible there would be example setups with memory palace as well now? I am planning my rig around it and it would be fantastic to have a starting ground! :smiley:

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You have an exciting journey ahead. You can add just about anything to Memory Palace and get exciting results. Here is a powerful complete system with Memory Palace. You can add any of these modules as the next step after Memory Palace.

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thank you! :sunny:
What would be the reason i would need TBC2 with the memory palace? Does it not do a similar job with inputs? (I am a novice so sorry if this is a silly question!)

Memory Palace only has LZX patchable video inputs, you cannot connect an external video source to MP directly. You would have to use Visual Cortex, TBC2, Cadet III or Vidiot to decode it first – each of these has different capabilities. In addition to supporting several input formats, TBC2 will let you bring two different sources into the system and share sync between them and other video synth modules – currently you need some out-of-rack time base corrector for this.

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Starting to understand how clever this setup would be for a beginner like me. Thank you very much! :smiley: