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best DIY kits for a beginner?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next [all]
Author best DIY kits for a beginner?
willbanks
Hey guys, I wanted to get into module DIY kits, and to do so I plan on buying cheap little toy kits to get soldering practice in.

But when i actually order a DIY module, i want one that would be easy and simple. you know? i dont want something super complex.

so does anyone have any suggestions on what the best DIY kits would be for a beginner?

also, if someone could suggest me some good DIY projects for soldering practice (toys, etc), that'd be much appreciated smile
mritenburg
I built the 4ms PEG kit as my first build ever. Besides the fact that it has lots of components, it's all through-hole so no tricky soldering. I thought it was an easy build with good instructions.
moofi
Without any soldering experience myself, at least the PEG kit is told to be an intermediate kit, so I assume it´s not the easiest built unless you have soldering experience outside the modular world ;-)

mritenburg wrote:
I built the 4ms PEG kit as my first build ever. Besides the fact that it has lots of components, it's all through-hole so no tricky soldering. I thought it was an easy build with good instructions.
TruantMonk
My first was also a 4MS kit: the SCM. I'd had some experience with soldering 15 previous to that, but mostly circuit-bending where the stakes were very low.
The SCM is super easy. Lately I've also DIYed Music Thing’s Radio Music and Mikrophonie. The most difficult thing about Radio Music was breaking apart the pins, not the soldering itself.
I love soldering: it forces you to slow down.
mritenburg
moofi wrote:
Without any soldering experience myself, at least the PEG kit is told to be an intermediate kit, so I assume it´s not the easiest built unless you have soldering experience outside the modular world ;-)

mritenburg wrote:
I built the 4ms PEG kit as my first build ever. Besides the fact that it has lots of components, it's all through-hole so no tricky soldering. I thought it was an easy build with good instructions.


That's a valid point. I knew how to solder before building the PEG. But what kit is not going to involve soldering?
LoFi Junglist
mritenburg wrote:
I built the 4ms PEG kit as my first build ever. Besides the fact that it has lots of components, it's all through-hole so no tricky soldering. I thought it was an easy build with good instructions.


I was going to drop by and recommend the PEG as well... best value kit in Eurorack IMHO because the module is dual, self modulates well, loops, has built in atteneutors, tap tempo etc...

There's nothing difficult about the build, it takes a while because it's a dual module, but if you dont read the instructions properly you can make silly mistakes (components/ICs in wrong place).
mdoudoroff
I’d recommend the Mikrophonie because it’s quick, it’s cheap, and it you don’t wreck it—fun. After you do the Mikrophonie, you’ll know exactly whether you want to do more or not.
cold_fashioned
I would vote for the following:

1) Music Thing Mikrophonie
2) Laurentide Synthworks VG2 (dual passive LPF/G)
3) Manhattan Analog Mix or CP3
4) Synthrotek Echo (not sure if they still offer a kit)
5) Nonlinear Circuits Sloth
6) Any of the RYO logic modules or other kits

Those are all straighforward builds with really good documentation. The RYO kits have particularly fantastic instructions.
Opnotic
The Bastl Tea Kick and Noise Square are great kits. The Solder they include is really thin with a great flow, -something that a newer DIY person may overlook. Just be sure to pay attention to the part where the Pots must lay exactly flat (may require some cutting and bending of the Pot side-posts). The Bastl Skis kit gets more complicated with cutting / trimming of the switches to fit in the wood panel (best to mount these solid into the wood first then bring the wood panel to the unit with the switches stuck in on the panel already. It's snug enough that they will stay in the panel on there own.).

The kits are very satisfying to build, giving you a sense that you have one of the best Tea Kicks, Noise Square, Skis, units out there. There is no calibration involved.

Otherwise I agree that the 4MS kits are good too. The Manhattan Analog 4HP units are also easy and clear with no surprises.
sethlatimer
Laurentide synthworks vg2. sounds good, one layer of pcb only, no connecting pins to line up, no power header.
grillo
I started with mutable instruments cvpal. I was an absolute noob at soldering, had an old iron and not even a real workbench but still managed to pull through after a couple of mistakes
brandonlogic
Meng QI DPLPG Kit!!!!
http://modularaddict.com/mengqi-dplpg-kit

Baddcr
I haven't done so many as to be able to say really, only about 10 boards or something, but my advice is to pick something you actually want and really just take your time.

Some tips I found very helpful:

Read the documentation and the relevant thread on Muffs thoroughly before starting - this will give you a great insight.

Use a temperature controlled iron - it's worth the investment.

Get a simple cheap multimeter - the ones for about £10 are absolutely fine.

Heat the plate and the leg together and bring the solder to the plate on the opposite side to the soldering iron.

Use good quality lead/tin solder.

Get some desoldering braid.

Make sure you know which components are orientation critical - just check every one until you're confident. It takes ages, but not as long as desoldering something you got the wrong way round.

Use Blu-tack for holding stuff together, I use it even for resistors sometimes - it's magic!

Do solder sockets, pots, leds, buttons etc... while they are seated in the front panel. Trying to match them up without doing this can be very troublesome. Same goes for pin headers when connecting two boards together.

Take a break... it's easy to get lost in it, get tired and make silly mistakes.

Take photographs in really good light and zoom in to inspect your work. Even iPhone is great for this if the light is good.

You're right to practice soldering on something that doesn't matter. Better is to get someone who knows how to do it well to show you. This is the next best thing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5Sb21qbpEQ

The eeevblog has loads of good info!

Good luck thumbs up
smithknows
I gotta jump in.
I started DIY about a year ago with zero soldering experience.

Get yourself a Velleman kit. They make little DIY soldering projects with little circuit boards and LEDs and resistors. $5-10 bucks. You can burn the shit out of the PCB with little consequence.

Also, don't start with a PEG. Could be your 2nd.

Start with some of the other smaller projects suggested above. I think it's a confidence game more than anything.

My first module was a Synthrotek DLY.

Have fun.
Grom
Opnotic wrote:
The Bastl Tea Kick and Noise Square are great kits. The Solder they include is really thin with a great flow, -something that a newer DIY person may overlook. Just be sure to pay attention to the part where the Pots must lay exactly flat (may require some cutting and bending of the Pot side-posts). The Bastl Skis kit gets more complicated with cutting / trimming of the switches to fit in the wood panel (best to mount these solid into the wood first then bring the wood panel to the unit with the switches stuck in on the panel already. It's snug enough that they will stay in the panel on there own.).

The kits are very satisfying to build, giving you a sense that you have one of the best Tea Kicks, Noise Square, Skis, units out there. There is no calibration involved.

Otherwise I agree that the 4MS kits are good too. The Manhattan Analog 4HP units are also easy and clear with no surprises.


altho great modules in themselves I would not go for bastl skis and noise square as first modules, they are really packed and dense. Also solder wick is mandatory because you probably create unwanted bridges as a beginner. I myself have done some modules and both my skis and noise I accidentally filled up holes with solder, and I'm using a really small chisel tip.

Bastl abc is a better starter, also small synthrotek modules and the turing machines are pretty easy.
wired
I agree on starting with a Velleman kit. No risks there.
My first real built was a MA CP3 + Music Thing Modular Microphonie.
And then I got hooked on DIY Guinness ftw!
infovore
Circuit Abbey Tick is nice and straightforward - although the vertical resistors are a bit funky. But it's a handy small thing to have, and there's not much you can get wrong.
cheliosheart
I just got into DIY a couple months ago. I wasn't a complete soldering novice but I did decide to get a nice soldering station (Hakko FX888) and it made everything very easy. Also just get my bearings and to practice, I got a couple cheap electronic toy kits.

The first modules I built were the three RYO logic modules. Very easy and straightforward. Soon after I built two Music Thing Radio Music's and Random*Source Serge VCFQ and ResEQ, all successful builds. It really doesn't take too long to develop decent soldering techniques, at least for me, and I found the process very rewarding!
peteone
RCD - easy, but led lights are pain in the ass (if you want to do them the right way)
kwaidan
If there is still a Radio Shack in your area, they used to carry some cheap under $10 electronic kits that are good for developing soldering skills.
Maxx mayhem
Most of the Synthrotek stuff can be handled by a beginner, while some of the MST line is more towards intermediate (best to read the build descriptions, if they warn you, take heed)I've built most of them. The DS-M is a great starting point, because it basically gives you a micro synth with oscillator, noise, modulation and a decay control. With any kit, take your time. Decent tools are a big help. Use fine solder, and check out some YouTube videos on soldering and circuit assembly to get started.
MultiCat
I second the RCD, it's a sweet little buddy in your case, and the build gives you a beginner workout soldering parts that are pretty close together. I mostly built guitar pedals before I got into euro so I had some experience, but, the RCD was my first shot at through hole PCB. Also, yes, the LED part is kinda quirky. $95 and worth it. love
Abyssinianloop
A decent soldering station makes a BIG difference. You may not want to invest a lot in tools, but a crappy iron is going to add to your problems. I would try to find something like a used Hakko 926 or similar on ebay. Maybe $50 used, and worlds better than a $20 iron.

I've built:
Erica Polivoks filter
RCD
Turing Machine and Pulses expander
Penrose Quantizer
NLC Timbre! wavefolder

I feel like those were all of similar difficulty, which is to say pretty easy once you've got your soldering technique down.

Whether you do it first or not, I recommend the Turing Machine. It's such a fun module to play!
moofi
I was just mentioning it because it sounds like Will isn´t very much experienced with soldering as he was thinking about getting some soldering practice on toykits. Reason I felt something like the PEG isn´t necessarily a toykit :-D

If I was about getting into first soldering projects I´d take a look at those very beginner kits, something like a`passive multiple for starters? lol
If that is working fine next level would possibly be something where the more PCB-style soldering is required like this e.g.:

https://www.thonk.co.uk/shop/cfm-bipolar-half-wave-rectifier/

Still I wouldn´t even lay my hands on that quite simple looking module before I tested the PCB soldering on a test PCB because without having done anything in that regard I would first have to get a feeling for the handling process + required precision itself. Though not having tried it at all I at least assume it definitely needs some hands-on experience first. Where´s the point if the very first soldering point is already on a real module and I would fail to solder it properly as I assume it would most likely be the case here.

After successful initial test-soldering I would approach something with merely a few solderingpoints like the linked module where the probabiltiy to fail on one or several of them is reduced, simply because there aren´t that many to begin with. Something like the PEG to me looks like way too many possibilties for an untrained solderer to screw it up. :-)

mritenburg wrote:
moofi wrote:
Without any soldering experience myself, at least the PEG kit is told to be an intermediate kit, so I assume it´s not the easiest built unless you have soldering experience outside the modular world ;-)

mritenburg wrote:
I built the 4ms PEG kit as my first build ever. Besides the fact that it has lots of components, it's all through-hole so no tricky soldering. I thought it was an easy build with good instructions.


That's a valid point. I knew how to solder before building the PEG. But what kit is not going to involve soldering?
ambrohski
Gotta love the options out there for DIY these days...

As it was my first build (of 20ish), I disagree with Maxx on the DS-M being a good first kit- The density of vertically oriented resistors is intermediate level, just placing them. I found some flakiness in operation due to the vertically mounted resistors being problematic because of it. They can hinder solder flow on the resistor side (it can sit flush with the hole, and plug it) and if the trace is on that side, it can be the cause of a poor solder joint...

The most noob friendly build I've done is probably the RYO Optodist, maybe. Maker.ie looks like a company that sells stuff that is beginner friendly (I haven't first hand experience with their gear, though).

The key, IMHO is-
what functionality do you need? Is there a DIY for that?
Look at the build documentation- does it seem thorough?
Muff's build pages are surely worth reading, they are generally supported by the manufacturers, if fellow wigglers haven't already worked a solution for the most frequent issues with builds.

There have been a lot of great tips presented in this thread, mostly taking your time, using leaded solder, getting a decent iron, and definitely looking at some how too videos- this one may be too much, but if you are looking for best case scenario https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vynb_HdEIDU

Have at it! It is not beyond you if you research a bit... Good luck, and don't breathe the (solder) fumes whistlin'
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