Phantastron Kit Available

Electric Western is proud to present the Phantastron Kit: an all tube synth kit. The first all tube synthesizer extracted from Navy radar circuitry (at least that’s where I got it).

Here’s my video of testing the prototype model (yours will be prettier and sturdier) Audio starts as the tubes warm up (within 25 seconds) –

Video Demonstration:

Phantastron Under Test

First, I’ll start with what you don’t get:

1. A metasonix oscillator (yes it uses a 2d21 thyratron, and yes, I too love metasonix and Eric’s work, but this thing is different – the last thing I want to do is rip off someone else, really). But thank you Eric for introducing me to the 2D21, it does work better than the 884 in this case (although the 884 is sooo sexy looking)

2. 1V / xxx — the CV is quite variable, which makes this intstrument, well more like a trautonium than a TB303. Just watch the video above and know that the ribbon controls 0 to 5.5VDC linearly.


A Turret board with extra turrets for your own mods.

All the electronic parts, including a 2D21/PL21 thyratron and a 6SJ7 Pentode. Why these tubes? Well, the 2D21 is the most affordable thyratron and the 6SJ7 is a metal wonder that is RESONANT as heck in a phantastron circuit.

An all wooden box and 1/8″ Steel panels. Copper, brass and other shiny things.

A completed, safe power supply which reduces the possibility of tasering yourself and eliminates the possibility of working directly with AC wall current.

Instructions with theory lessons and the original scans of navy and pre-WWII tube textbooks. Drawings and and assembly guides. A nice note from me and my wax seal (yes, I am steampunk, and I do write the note with a quill pen on artisan paper).

All the fun of tubes and experimentation without buying metalworking tools, having a workshop, etc.

Oh, and please buy one, they’re pretty cheap, awesome, and I quit my job as an audio electronics professor and corporate employee to make more crazy stuff. The pitch ribbon is the next release, but if you’re really anxious, you can get a 500mm strip from SpectraSymbol at Spark Fun electronics and make your own. Or I can show you how to make one from $5 worth of EM shielding plastic and mylar. The Electric Western one will include some logic to change tuning, allow two touch finger control, analog computing and sustainable local lumber, etc.

Also, we are total “western steampunk”, post-apocolyptic mountain folk, and we use no lead, local materials, wind our own coils, never get Chinese circuit boards, use “green” canadian lumber and have a solar power array that makes 5KwH a day (and a steam engine that makes abut 9 watts), catch and use rainwater and live in an earthship, compost all of our feces and urine into bio-gas and humanure. And I really do wear a cowboy hat and I’ve punched a goat (lovingly). So, just buy one (a Phantastron kit, not a goat) to support our carbon neutral anti-corporate lifestyle (if that’s your thing).

Or just buy one and return it if you’re not happy. I can deal with that too. But you will be happy.

Here’s a time-lapse video of soldering the turret board:

Oh, and thank you to Eric and Metasonix for opening up the world to crazy tube instruments!

But visit Electric Western:

4 thoughts on “Phantastron Kit Available”

  1. Sometimes a goat needs a punchin’.

    Could you get a picture of your goat standing on top of a Phantastron?

    Construct a ribbon controller platform that the goat stands on to control a Phantastron.

  2. Very nice! Good work. You chose tubes that are still easy to find. A phantastron can be built with a long list of pentodes and pentagrid converters. It’s such a simple circuit, but utterly obscure (no schematics on Google, and nothing in Wikipedia, for example).

    Here’s the only schematic I’ve found online. He used the phantastron to generate horizontal sweep for a small oscilloscope.

    Lorin, if you like later this year I could help you lay out a PC board for this circuit. Then you could (horrors) mass produce it. Mebbe mount it in a little cabinet with a 200mm control strip mounted on top.

  3. Thank you indeed. Right now I am definitely into kits, as I feel that many people desire to get into tubes and other obscurities without committing to building from scratch. Having the power supply laid out with a PTC, fuse and no exposure to wall AC is nice for DIY beginners too. My teeth hurt when I think of the shocks I’ve gotten from making old heathkit power supplies when I was a kid…

    There’s another website that explains the circuit fairly well:

    I’ll also post some scans of the textbooks I have that talk about miller circuits, sanatrons and phantastrons. I’ll post some schematics, too , for the deviant community. There are some good schematics yet to post…

    There are a lot of modification possibilities with this topology, which is part of the reason I like the turret board kit. Adding a 6h6 diode or a silicon diode to the screen and control grid can further linearize the timebase functions, for instance. Or, reducing the resistance between plate and grid can make some crazy, cranky distortion.

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