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Welcome to the third installment of the BPMC Do-It-Yourself Series. Think of these posts as starting points rather than definitive mod guides. I only took these projects as far as I saw fit for my own purposes. It is up to you to pick up where I left off and make these machines your own. I look forward to phasing out a number of BPMC machines and rendering them OPEN SOURCE and while I’ve been doing my machines up a certain way, my way is only one of many ways to flip it. This is a great video circuit for folks venturing over from the audio bending realm and looking for a feature-packed first video bend.
The now retired BPMC Fritz Telegraph Mini is based off of the Solidex Excel 200 “performance video editing center.”
The 200 is a mildly obscure basic video enhancer/fader/switcher from the Excel series of mediocre consumer grade nineties linear editing aids. It’s picture & enhancement quality is dreadful (Solidex had nothing on the guys at Rat Shack) and I cannot imagine anybody getting this thing circa 93 and being stoked on it. I cannot speak for it’s audio mixing capabilities but I envision them to be steeped in “character” & “charm” as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this thing, but I love it for illicit reasons. Lurking deep within the plastic & conflict minerals are a number of explosive glitch aesthetics worthy of every video magician’s Bag-O-Tricks.
The 200 is steeped in a variety of edge feedback effects of varying hue, thickness & stability. It also has some sync corruption effects that I do declare are mighty tasty. While a number of the edge feedback effects are common in other machines it has a really fantastic horizontal streak extrusion effect that I rarely stumble upon. Can’t think of anything else BPMC-wise that produces this look sadly.
If you are comfortable soldering and don’t mind throwing down on something a little pricier (60-120 bucks on ebay) then the Excel 200 should be a good choice for you. Many a machine has given me trouble, but the 200 is pretty friendly and easy for a novice to jump in on. There are no traces to cut, or little digital thumbs to destroy (damn you gods of Videonics!!!)… just straight forward bending. It’s also nice, there are no obscure ancient old ICs lurking on here so should you burn something out you are only dealing with caps n transistors here for the most part. Break out the multimeter and get uprooting cap legs you fledgling swine! You also certainly don’t need to use all 9 bends I have outlined here. Pick the ones you want. Not entertaining enough? Keep bending!!!!!!!!!!!!!
While the Telegraph Mini uses brass tap switches I recommend just utilizing basic SPDT switches. I tend to make brass switches whenever I can because unlike commercial switches they never break (thus no repairs) and they are way more expressive on the timing tip. They can also be utilized in tight spaces. The downside is that you can’t leave them “switched” on (without a coin or something to lodge under it) and they take forever to make. There is plenty of switch room on the far right side of the unit and a little bit where I typically put my tap switches.
If going the switch route you have the ability not to pop the circuit out of it’s casing, which is awesome. Just drill out the formentioned right side and use your little gremlin fingers to tuck some switches in there. Have fat fingers? Borrow a child for this project. When you pop the circuit out of it’s casing it becomes IMPOSSIBLE to get the audio fader slider tabs to sit back in the t-bar mounts on the casing. You will lose your fucking shit. I just remove the t-bar tabs and say to-hell with the audio functionality. I didn’t want to pipe Skankin’ Pickle thru this thing anyway.
I’ve never in my history of bending 200s fried one. I cannot say the same for it’s cousin the 280. The 280 fucking blows. You look at that thing wrong and it ceases to function. Even after mapping out and extensively labeling ground. Nope, unlike the 280 the 200 is quite forgiving. I do recommend doing the latter however. Locate the ground and trace that shit out. It pops up all over the board and you will want to avoid it like the plague should you go beyond my bends. Also it should be noted that the bends I have outlined here are after pretty extensive searching. I’m sure you can dig up some other stuff, but if looking to play ‘er safe, stick to my bends.
By all means, experiment with caps between cap-less points. You could also sub out the cap values I’m using for other values and see what happens. It’s a cheap and simple way to get the most out of a circuit. The 200 could also benefit from CV. Video enhancement circuits often have one or two points that respond well to voltages under 5. I also never considered hitting this thing with audio but there is another untapped aspect of this machine. Hell you’ve even got a crappy onboard audio mixer to re-purpose.
I hope you enjoyed the third edition of the BPMC DIY series. I don’t plan on making these machines for ever. Slowly but surely BPMC will go open source with all of these creations. What’s next? I really need to get my shit together and do the circuit bent DVD player post already. How do these things manage to take me so long. Anways anways….. Have a piece of gear in mind? Let me know via the contact link below. PEACE!!