I recently came accoss the contruction manual for my Maplin 3800 synthesiser and flicking through it I wondered would it be possible to build the 5600s systhesiser today, nearly four decades on.

With the passage of so much time there will be a few challenges to overcome namely component obsolescence. Integrated circuits, spring line, patch board, keyboard but to name a few.

On the positive side the build process should be simpler. For me the circuit boards will be easier to produce, no more ferric chloride, bubble etch tanks, spraying copper clad board with photo resist varnish and so on. Just produce the gerber files (I used EasyEDA) and send them off to JLCPCB.

I'm still considering what to do about the patch bay, try to source one or simply bring the inputs/outputs to limited number small jack sockets so they can be 'jumpered' - no room for 900 sockets!

I am also considering usng the Raspberry Pi instead of a keyboard either as a sequencer or as a 'soft' keyboard. I will re-hash my sequencer program for use with the 7" touchscreen and find a space to fit it on the panel.

The new RPi 3A+, just released, is the perfect fit not just because it will run the software easily but it fits neatly on the back 7" touchscreen display. The Pi 7" Touchscreen will greatly enhance the usability of the sequencer once I work through the troubleshooting guide on Raspberry pi website. Hopefully I'll get the right click working and as the screen is optimised for viewing above the horizontal I may need to flip it 180 degrees depending on the final synth panel angle and height.

Designing the boards

The Circuit board diagrams and layouts were reproduced using a Raspberry Pi 3B+/Pi-Top combination with Google Chrome except the Keyboard Controller and Binary Encoder. These two boards were too complex for the Pi to work smoothly so they were produced on a PC Laptop. Auto track routing was also done on the PC as it could be performed locally and not on-line, a much faster method!

There are a few integrated circuits that are now obsolete such as the SCL4416 DPDT bilateral switch and the LH0042 op amp. They can be sourced but at a high cost. I have designed the board layouts where practicable with the original components and placement producing small daughter boards to plug into the appropriate socket.

Designing the front and rear panels

The panel designs were reproduced on the Raspbery Pi 3B+/Pi-Top using Inkscape. The dimensions of the front panel at 36" x 17", slightly enlarged to accomodate the sequencer and the alterations around the patch bay. The panels will be made from a 3mm Dibond material, two aluminium sheets sandwiching a polyethylene core, with white background with black text.

I have two options for rear panel design and they only differ in the physical size. The large one is due to my chosen supplier having a minimum dimension of 148mm.

Making the project public

Each printed circuit board and faceplate design has associated CAD files which I will release when I have fully tested each one. As I release each one I will add a link to the EasyEDA project page to each secton below. Note - the BOM (Bill Of Materials) on the EasyEDA web site may not be 100% accurate/complete so always use the Maplin Synthesiser construction book for parts and quantites.

But if all you are interested in is the Gerber files to produce your own circuit boards they can be found here.. The Maplin 3800/5600 Gerber files.

The CAD files for the Front and Rear panels will be released shortly.

Boards in order of build

Power Supply - EasyEDA Project Page.

There are two transistors on the power supply board that are obsolete, the MPS3638 and the PN3643, these were replaced with 2N4403 and 2N4401. The Power Supply is now ready to use in the testing of all the other boards.

Oscillator x 4 - EasyEDA Project Page.

It is the same issue of transistor obsolesence on the oscillator boards, the MPS3638A and the PN3643 were changed to 2N4403 and 2N4401.

One other change I am made and it is purely down to cost and that is to use 6 way switches for the range selection reducing the range by two settings. The wafercon switches are still available from RS Components but at about 30 each. Maybe towards the end of the project I mught change them.

As pcb space is saved using a double sided board I added the preset board on to the end. It doesn't need to be used as the connections are still available to use the separate board.

The oscillator uses a SCL4416 bilateral switch which luckily I have one left over from by 3800 build 40 years ago! For the other three oscillators I'll need to come up with another solution.

The oscillators are taking shape, all four boards built, tested and set up.

Mixer - EasyEDA Project Page.


(1) The Mixer board is complete with only two changes, the BC108C is now a BC107 and the BC178 a BCY70.

(2) and (3) The board and potentiometers are mounted on the aluminium plate and wired, I'll tree all the wiring once the synth is built - just in case I need access to the wiring or board before then.

(4) Testing is now finished and it works well.

Pseudo SCL4416 - EasyEDA Project Page.

The SCL4416 Quad Bilateral Switch is quite tricky to get hold of and at a reasonable price. I therefore made a small board that is functionally equivalent from a CD40106 and a CD4016 and at a fraction on the cost.. and works a treat.

Keyboard Controller

The LH0042C is obsolete so I made a small change to the board for IC 16 and 17. The pinout is changed from a TO99 to an 8 pin DIL which will allow a greater choice of replacement including using a TO99. I will be using a TL061.

Keyboard Controller LED Strip - EasyEDA Project Page.

To simplfy the wiring of the keyboard controller LED's I've added this small board.
I'll be using white LED's throughout - That decision is now reversed! Probably not the best idea to have white LED's on a white panel! They will now be red flat top 3mm LED's.

Sample and Noise

The issue of transistor obsolesence is as above, the MPS3638A will be changed to 2N4403.

Transient used in Envelope

The issue of transistor obsolesence is as above, the PS3638A will be changed to 2N4403 and the PN3643 to 2N4401. I have also found it difficult to source 2M ohm double pole switched potentiometers so I have made a conversion board - see below.

Converting 1-pole switch to 2-pole switch - EasyEDA Project Page.

The Envelope board requires a 2M ohm potentiometer with a 2-pole switch which I have found imposible to get. I did manage to source 2M ohm single pole potentiometers which are also used with the Transient boards so I designed a simple board to convert the potentiometer switch from 1-pole to 2-pole.

Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA) - EasyEDA Project Page.

No changes were made. Both amplifers have been tested OK.

Transient A/B.

Board complete and assembled. No changes were made to the components.


Board complete and assembled, ready for testing. No changes were made to the components.

Reverb and Phase.

Board complete and assembled. Q1 will be changed to a 2N5320 and Q2 to a 2N5322. The original reverb tank is no longer available so I will use the Accutronics Blue Reverb AMC2BF3.

Voltage Controlled Pan and Ancillary.

Board complete and assembled. Q1 will be changed to a 2N4401 and Q2 to a 2N4403.

Voltage Controlled Filter.

Board complete and assembled. Once again the transistors were changed to 2N4401 and 2N4403.

(1) adnd (2) PCB artwork ad different stages of production.
(3) Blank PCB.
(4) PCB assembled.
(5) Both VCF built but awaiting a few components.

External Inputs.

Board complete and assembled.


Board complete and assembled.

Headphone Amplifier.

I am thinking a 5 to 8 Watt amplifer is a bit of overkill for headphones so I may use a LM380 2 Watt amplifier instead.

Binary Encoder.

Board complete and assembled.

The original Binary Encoder.

Raspberry Pi Interface - EasyEDA Project Page.

The design for the Raspberry Pi interface is complete. It allows control of the synthesiser in the same way as my Maplin 3800 sequencer with the addition of 8 input data bits which will allow a recording functionality to be added. The board is just a simple Low-High/High-Low voltage level shifter. It converts the signals to/from the Raspberry Pi 3V3 and the CMOS 14V logic.

The board is assembled, tested and mounted on the Pi 3A+.


(1) and (2) PCB artwork ad different stages of production.
(3) Blank PCB.
(4) PCB assembled.
(5) Interface being bench tested prior to fitting to Raspberry Pi.
(6) Interface fitted to Raspberry Pi 3A+ and the Touchscreen.
(7) Interface voltage level shifting being tested - no burnt out Pi!
(8) Frame added to screen to simplify mounting to faceplate - the rear of the screen is nice and flush.

RPi to Maplin 5600 Synthesiser Interface

RPi to Maplin 5600 Keyboard Controller wiring

When the Interface board is assembled and tested it'll sit on top of the Raspberry Pi - see above. Full software for play/record sequencer is now written and bench tested awaiting the Binary Encoder and Keyboard Controller boards to be tested

(1) Switching on the Raspberry Pi 7" Touchscreen for the first time and running my Maplin 3800 sequencer program.
(2) The Touchscreen with the Raspberry Pi 3A+ mounted on the rear of the touchscreen.
(3) My first pass at rearranging the screen layout to fit the 7" screen.
(4) Screenshot of my first pass of the sequencer screen layout.
(5) Screenshot of finalised sequencer screen layout.