Teenage Engineering OP-Z Teardown

I got my hands on an OP-Z Music Synthesizer and am amazed at how fun it is to make music!  It’s a worthy companion to one of my all-time-favorite consumer products, the OP-1.
I had questions about what’s inside, so we did what true hackers do – break out a T4 torx wrench!!

The unit is incredibly small – very portable and only 10mm thick:

The back (not shown) is easily removed by rotating the feet so that the rear panel comes off.  Inside is a user-replaceable battery.  A little surprise is that the expansion slot contains a phone holder that can be attached to the back of the unit — thoughtful design!

Battey (left) and phone holder (in expansion slot, center)

The battery and dummy expansion-slot holder can be removed:

Under the battery is a little easter egg based on the plaque that flew on the Pioneer spacecraft:

Here’s the expansion slot. There is a small gap between this and the battery area; perhaps an extra battery can be connected here.

I probed the pads, but didn’t find much interesting.  I found two ground pads (connected to the negative side of the battery), and two pads that looked like they should provide power to the module … but they didn’t seem to be providing any power (even when I turned on the sequencer and had enabled the expansion port).  The other pads didn’t have any voltage on them, except for one that was 1.8v.

So, I couldn’t draw any conclusions about what modules we might expect in the future.

The top half of the case contains all the keyboard buttons, keyboard LEDs, and the knobs for the rotary encoders.

I was thinking of trying to remake this part in sturdier aluminum, but the keyboard is an integral part – the plastic is melted in over 20 places, and it would be complicated to duplicate this.  It does explain why the keyboard feels so rigid, though!  This makes repair of individual keys difficult – the whole top would probably be replaced as a unit.  I pressed on the bearings from the backside and they were firmly in place.

The ribbon cable that goes to the yellow power and volume knob came a little squished in my unit.  You can also see (at the bottom) how the melted plastic of the case holds down the board – I wish these were tiny screws, but it would probably make the whole unit thicker:

This switch does have a connector, though, so it is replaceable without replacing the whole front cover.  It also looks like it’s possible to replace the yellow knob, too, should that break.

The encoders are pretty cool. They are basically magnets housed in ball bearings … they should last just about forever! Note that the multicolor lights come from the keyboard flex circuit.

Here’s the main module inside the case.  It connects to the upper half via a single ribbon cable.

The USB-C connector and the headphone jack are both on flex cables so they won’t break if tugged at. If they break, they’ll have to be replaced, along with the main flex circuit running between the left half and right half of the unit.  There is more of the power board hidden under this flex, along with a solid ground to the keyboard for protection from static electricity.

At the left and right we have ICs for the magnetic encoders.  These are IC Haus model TW11, which are low power and measure 10 bits (meaning that they can read 1024 different angles around a circle).
At the center is a bluetooth antenna and a Nordic Semiconductor NRF52832 Bluetooth Low Energy SoC.

The DSP board dissipates the most power. This board is revision 5:

The main components are:

Processor:  Analog Devices model ADSP-BF703 – Low Power 400MHz Blackfin+ with 256KByte SRAM
DRAM memory: Micron MT47H64M16NF-25E  – 64MB, DDR2-800, x16 width
FLASH memory: Micron FBGA code NW228, unknown part number and unknown size.  It may be similar to code NW225.

Lastly, we can see the microphone and dual-color LED on a flex board wrapped around the end of the unit.


If you find yourself in Boulder, CO, come visit our hackerspace!  We’ve got a bunch of people interested in building our own synthesizers, reverse engineering, and making music!

Router Table Insert

The router table has been a great part of the space, but I thought it could be made even better!

Some of you who have used the inverted router table attached to the table saw may have noticed that when you're working with smaller parts - specifically around 6 inches or smaller  - there'd be some issues...

I'm routing happily, suddenly the part drops into the router recess or gets tilted on the uneven surface. Oh no! My work has been mared and chewed up!

Just me? I thought not.


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Project of The Week: Beetle-Kill Pine Door

Howdy Hackers!

Due to high rental costs in Boulder, my roommate and I decided to rent out the living room! It’s a pretty sweet living room, has it’s own separate entrance and a balcony. It made sense to us because the kitchen is the size of the living room with a balcony and entrance as well so we decided to efficiently use the area as a communal space/kitchen.We met an amazing couple and before moving in we all decided building a door to make the living room separate would be a fun project.

Thanks to the amazing Woodshop available to SSD members, this project came to life!

Behold the end result. An 80 pound door made out of beetle kill pine.


We got all the wood at Home Depot for under $100 dollars. We figured if we’re going to have a door let’s go all out and make it legit and awesome, you know, something we could all be proud of- not some pre-made manufactured door.


Home depot had these slatted boards that slide into each other, that made life a lot easier! But we still needed top and bottom trim and an internal support system.


The internal support system turned out to be the most important aspect of the door and took a lot of measuring and planning. The slatted boards have a tendency to float away from each other so the width of the door kept expanding. Once we pushed them as tight together as possible we were able to get the correct measurements for the support system and tack the front and back panels together accordingly. We found some pallets and used the wood from that.


This is a solid knob that we got from Resource for 10cents!


The circle is for where the knob was going to go. The middle support goes on top of that so the screw doesn’t go too far out the front of the door.



The screw had to go through the middle support board and through the front panels. It turned out that the knob when screwed on as tight as possible was perfect! Meant to be I suppose=)


After securing the knob The back panels were ready to go on. I used a pneumatic finishing nail gun (rented from home depot across the street) to secure the front and back panels to the internal support system. The reason we used finishing nails instead of Screws, bolts, or hammerable nails is simply because of aesthetics. Now from a few feet away it looks like the door is held together by magic;)


The top trim needed some support so I cheated the top and bottom support upward until it was halfway on the panels and halfway through the top trim. As you can see the top trim comes out a little bit, that was so I could put flat boards on the front. This way looks cleaner and the internal support system doesn’t show.


Just cutting the front trim as before mentioned.



This part is incredibly important to get right or the entire project goes under. If the door drags along the carpet it could break the hinges so it’s important to line up where the hinges go correctly. To do this we put a scrap piece of board the same width as one of this boards (~3/4″) underneath the door and lined it up with the cut I made against the wall to use as reference. My roommate had a Dremel Multi-max oscillating tool which had a wood trim attachment, it is meant for precision cuts and that’s what I used, a router probably would have been good too.


The screws that came with the hinges were not even an inch long so we used 3″ long self tapping screws we got from McGuckins(cost like 4 bucks for 50 of them) We screwed those bad boys in and BAM! Door.



Happy Hacking!