Ray Wilson (1956–2016) became interested in analog synthesizers in 1968 when he first heard Switched On Bach. He has been influential in the synth DIY community and many people got a start in the world of synth DIY because of his sharing of his designs.
Education and how MFOS got started
First employed at a steel mill he bought sold and traded analog synthesizers, mainly Korgs, Mini-Moogs, and a variety of the patchable semi-modular Rolands. There he also went through an electronic repairman apprenticeship program. Supplementing the classroom training with breadboard experimentation, a Heathkit microprocessor trainer kit, and a great deal of reading and maths. Learning enough to spend the next fifteen years in the medical electronics industry.
Together with a friend in the 1970s through into the early 1980s he sold electronics kits under the name Waveform Processing, advertised in Radio Electronics magazine. While keeping on researching, breadboarding and developing monophonic and polyphonic synths. Coming across the versatile Curtis Electromusic Specialties ICs designed by Doug Curtis.
Then doing electronic design at Intec Systems and Siemens Pacesetter, his focus shifted to designing electronic test equipment and writing software. Until in 1994, he moved from California to Aurora, Colorado where his work became solely software development. The desire to work with electronics brought him back to synth-DIY, starting a website called Ray-Land to publish the circuits and PCB layouts that he was coming up with.
Developing and publishing a simple, battery-powered mini-synthesizer, called the Sound Lab Mini-Synth for which he started selling PCBs, led in 2008 to the birth of his brand Music From Outer Space (MFOS). The information available on the MFOS website is respected by synth-DIYers the world over.
On the 21st July 2016 Ray died of cancer. His family will likely have medical bills and a GoFundMe page was setup to raise funds.
Not open source
Ray was happy to share his circuit designs and knowledge with hobbyists but did not give permission to mass or hand produce what he considered his intellectual property. MFOS designs are now owned by synthCube.
Incomplete list of writings on electronic music
- Make: Analog Synthesizers, Maker Media, 2013, ISBN 1449345220
Papers and articles
|Article name||Publication||Issue||PPNo||Key components||Corrections||Comments||On Web|
|The Sound Lab Mini-Synth Sound Synthesizer||Nuts & Volts||March 2006||44||CD40106, op-amps||Archive.org, Parts and PCB art|
- Ray Wilson, YouTube