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1U: Some thoughts
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Author 1U: Some thoughts
BrotherTheo
Hi everybody,

I wanted to share some random neuron firings on the topic of 1U. Personally I have embraced 1U as a great place to park utility modules. Mults, unity mixers, attenuators, clocks. All the things we need but hate to take up rack space on. The prospect of giving up a mult to fit in that cool new oscillator you just shelled out $500 on, well, kinda sucks. I would rather part the mults and the mixers into the 1U space.

My new rack, known affectionately as Homemade Rack #2, is a 4 row 148HP setup and has 1U rows between each 3U row. Gobs of space for utilities. After the rack was completed I started working on taking some of my 3U designs and running them through a custom made funnel that converts 3U into 1U. So far I have a Tick and an Invy prototype in 1U.

Sadly there is a kerfuffle: 2 competing standards for 1U rail spacing. I am not going to argue which is right or wrong. The deed is done. Now we all get to live with it. I don't want to pick sides and go with one format over the other for a few reasons, mostly because it will lock out the users of the other format from using my 1U tiles. Yes I am calling them 'tiles'. This is to distinguish them from 3U modules.

My solution, I think, is to produce designs that will fit into the narrower format, and have a front panel for each format. I am not sure how the marketing will work yet. Also my designs will use standard Eurorack 10-pin power cables. I thought about using the radio connector form a '56 Chevy Bel Air or the left rudder pedal limit switch connector from an F4 Phantom but decided against it. Better to keep with the standards.

Another potential issue is running out of connectors on the power distribution buses. Every rack is different, but as you stack up a string of 6HP tiles you may run out of power taps. I am thinking about making some power cables with two or more 10-pin connectors so you cab double up the tiles. They aren't going to be drawing much current so I think we're safe here.

I would gladly entertain any ideas for 1U tile designs. Beyond the Tick and Invy (called Tock and Envy for the tile versions) I am thinking LFO, Static CV source, simple envelopes (AD, AR, D only). Oh, and a one channel Gozinta (Comzinta?). Someone asked for a stereo Comzinta. Maybe a headphone output?

The Unify MKII has an external clip LED connector. One thought I had was a 6HP panel that mounts a 20mm red LED for a clip indication. It will be called CLIIIIIIP! lol

Anyway, just some Saturday morning ramblings to get the day rolling.

May you always have enough patch cords.

--tr
scottmoon
More the merrier. Maybe you could do a single Ring Mod tile and call it Twangy or Ringy? I've always wanted a tap tempo clock tile. Clocky! Having to stock 2 different panel sizes might be a pain. thumbs up
scottmoon
Another idea I haven't seen is source switching. I made a couple of these passive tiles to switch 2 ins between 2 different pairs of outs, or you could send the other way selecting the reverse. I use it to send a CV and gate from my sequencer to 2 possible destinations. It could be a single tile to only route half as much. Am I making sense? It's early and I need coffee. Here's a pic of what mine looks like.

DSC
If their use will be primary utility, than make that utility as flexible as possible. Go with re-programmable arduino and ATTiny and whatever your proc of choice is. Clocks, digital OSC's and LFO's, Oh my!

Someone of your ability and skill should port over the Unify into a base mixer with the ability to add additional channel expanders!

Performance mixers are great if you want to use 30HP or more, but I would rather have that brand new OSC that you mentioned.

Daisy chain power would be a smart option too, if current draw won't be an issue.
euromorcego
scottmoon wrote:
I've always wanted a tap tempo clock tile. Clocky!

actually, there is one available from syinsi: http://syinsi.com/shop/tiles/assembled-clock-generator-eurorack-tile-m odule-copy/

I would like to see a uPam: a small tempo display, an encoder, and maybe 4 trigger outputs. Very simple, not like the new Pamela.
ArboriaAuralist
A sequential switch in 1U would be useful for me: next trigger, 1 in/out, 4 switched sockets.

Similarly, a voltage controlled switch: cv in to choose connection, signal in/out, 4 switched sockets.

And a 4-stage S&H shift register: clock trigger, cv in, 4 outputs.

I can never have enough ways of re-routing signals around. hyper
BrotherTheo
ArboriaAuralist wrote:
A sequential switch in 1U would be useful for me.


Features? 1 to 4? Clk selectable?

--tr
euromorcego
BrotherTheo wrote:

I wanted to share some random neuron firings on the topic of 1U. Personally I have embraced 1U as a great place to park utility modules. Mults, unity mixers, attenuators, clocks. All the things we need but hate to take up rack space on. [...]

Sadly there is a kerfuffle: 2 competing standards for 1U rail spacing. I am not going to argue which is right or wrong. The deed is done. [...]

My solution, I think, is to produce designs that will fit into the narrower format, and have a front panel for each format. [...] Also my designs will use standard Eurorack 10-pin power cables.

I would gladly entertain any ideas for 1U tile designs. [...]

thumbs up i also embraced 1u ... initially just because the diy case was a bit too large so i decided to put in a (poorly constructed) passive utility bar. But since then, i really learned that 1u/tiles are fantastic to 'glue' a system together.

Now i stick to 7u cases with a 1u row between the two 3u. And it is really about utilities, i am not looking forward to get a vco, vcf, and other full featured modules in there. No point in this. Also no need: a row of 1u is quickly filled when just considering utilities.

As for the IJ/PulpLogic issue: not taking sides either - but i think it goes beyond the pcb/panel size. Pulplogic has small 'modular' tiles, typically 6u. Intellijel seems to go towards larger more integrates 1u modules (10, 14, 22hp). The latter makes sense if you stick to conventional power headers and use a smaller pcb. It is a different concept, really.

And both concepts have their merits, the extreme case would be a single 84 or 104hp 'tile' (this is what birdkids and MakeNoise are doing).

Also other manufacturers are not quite as 'dense' as Pulplogic, even when they use the same pcb specs (see for example the Vermona 1U).
There is also the toolbar form Studio electronics that looks interesting (even though I would split it into two products): http://studioelectronics.com/products/synths/tonestar/toolbar/

Anyway, 1u tiles are also great to do some DIY. The pcb are small and cheap to make. And it is a good way to start with some simple circuits. Therefore i also dabbled a bit to make my own tiles (for personal use only):



and there is certainly no shortage of ideas ...
waveswinger
I wish there was some solution to the different sizes. I had quite a few synthrotek 1U modules, but sold them along with a 4U case to fund expansion elsewhere. Now I have the opportunity to fit another 1U 84hp area; Synthrotek makes an easy 1U setup now for rack cases, but to rule out intellijel 1U modules is such a bummer.
I fortunately have 2U free in my case, so I hope to end up with a bit of both somehow smile the synthrotek will be easy, but I may have to do a little research on the requirements for a 1U 84 intelljel row.
BrotherTheo
I feel your pain waveswinger. The only thing I can think of is to make short (IJ) tiles but slot the mounting holes Vertically so they clear the PL holes. It would not be pretty but I think it will work.

--tr
autopoiesis
nice to see more manufacturers entering the 1u zone! I'm also relieved to hear that you're set on finding a solution that works for both of the height "standards" that now exist.

as for ideas, I would really love to see tiles that realize utilities that are not already offered on the 1u market. line-level input and simple AD envelopes are already covered. what don't yet exist are bipolar VCAs (I would definitely welcome a "twangy"), envelope followers, pitch to CV (like a simpler rs-35), phase shifters (like one channel of the a-137-2), VC crossfaders, simple envelopes with either VC over a stage or a linear/exponential control, wavefolders, clock dividers & multipliers (some exist but there's plenty of room for differentiated designs here), overdrive & fuzz (can only think of the synthrotek germanium tile), and VC slew. ideally the ring mod, crossfader, and waveshapers should be DC-coupled. these are utilities that, I think, would still make sense in 1u and that would not compete with functionally identical tiles already in production.
Kentucky
BrotherTheo wrote:
ArboriaAuralist wrote:
A sequential switch in 1U would be useful for me.


Features? 1 to 4? Clk selectable?

--tr


+1 for this, the option to do 4-to-1 would be nice too. Would also be interested in a clock divider in 1u we're not worthy
scottmoon
BrotherTheo wrote:
The only thing I can think of is to make short (IJ) tiles but slot the mounting holes Vertically so they clear the PL holes. -


I was thinking the same thing. applause
thx2112
I got bitten by the 1U Tile bug a couple years ago. I've just now got to the point where I can build a complete modular system out of only 1U Tiles.



Some of the Tiles are available now, and a pile more are in development or just about to come out.

http://syinsi.com/Shop/tiles/

http://syinsi.com/Shop/pcbpanelkits/


I also ran in to the problem of having more tiles than tile rows so made a separate case for them. I've just now posted an interest-check for providing "kits" of these cases -- check out these threads and add your name if you're interested!:

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=181509

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=181789

1U Tiles are easy to DIY, and the panel size allows just enough room for jacks, knobs and fingers.

I tried making the PCBs compatible with all 1U formats, but anything less than 1U Tile sized is too small for complex circuits unless you go sideways -- which then is just a sideways-mounted Eurorack module.

The biggest benefit of the Pulp Logic 1U Tile is that the mounting holes are both vertically and horizontally fixed. This gives very definite constraints for the PCB and panel size (tile, double tile, triple tile) which makes decision making MUCH easier. Also mounting the tiles is much easier because you don't need a billion holes to cover every single HP possibility. This is why I was able to make the Tile Adapter and standalone case.



Tapping those threads would have been way too much work if I had to do a dozens of them per adapter.



And the laser cut case works because there's enough room between the mounting holes to fit a trapped nut -- and because of their size the panels are stiff enough to only need a couple bolts to hold them down securely.

Because they're 1U, they easily fit in a 19" 1U rack space. This is another adapter I'm working on:

Graham Hinton
BrotherTheo wrote:

Another potential issue is running out of connectors on the power distribution buses.


I have been supplying connectors grouped in to fours or fives on a male bullet terminal like this:



A female bullet with thicker cable goes on to a faston or ring terminal, or a Euro16 socket, or a 4-way MOTM connector--whatever your distribution uses.

It would be a lot simpler if tiles used KK 0.1" 4-way headers (like Bugbrand).
Oblivion
I'm small-time and don't know if this contributes anything useful to the discussion, so please forgive if not.

I'm trying to figure out when to go 1U or 3U. I've got a project ( https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=160915 ) I'm trying to lay out a panel for. A single tile it just barely too snug for the PCB. A double tile seems wasteful. I could easily put it into 4HP 3U. Either way is 12U*HP, I guess (I just made up that unit), so don't know which way to go. In my case, I've got an empty 1Ux150 row and 2 empty 3Ux150 rows. So . . . .do I flip a coin? Or make the tiles just to have some?

Not really asking for you to make a decision for me - more curious about the broader question of when is one format 'better' than the other. Case by case (no pun) to be sure, but what are your thoughts (general you)?
BrotherTheo
I just drew up a universal 1U panel:


This will fit the Intellijel 1U space but also fit a lunchbox, albeit loosely. Since the lunchboxes seem to all have sliding nuts, spacing should not be an issue.

Still on the fence on where to go with this. Guess I need to cut a proto and play with it. Where can I get a lunchbox cheap?

--tr
mathomas
I would love to see somebody produce more 1U tiles, and it would be truly brilliant to find a way to make both formats available. After all, some of us will probably end up with both types in our quivers anyway.

Selfishly, I'm especially excited about Intellijel format 1U, since I own one of their cases and will be buying more. Intellijel is unfortunately not offering enough variety right now, though the modules are very nice, and attractive.

I concur with suggestions above for small sequential switches and other general routing possibilities. It would be interesting to see how many Doepfer modules could be re-implemented as 1U tiles, with possiibly reduced features.

It probably starts to leak into "too much" territory, but I'd actually love to have a simple Function Generator/AD available, possibly looping for LFO duties.

There's definitely a "network effect" issue going on, where I can imagine it's hard to commit to creating 1U modules when there aren't tons of cases, and vice versa. I just hope the logjam breaks at some point.
BrotherTheo
I was going to make the 1U Invy 2 channels like its vertical cousin. But after reading the comments here I wonder if it should be just one channel? It'll lose the normallled inputs and mixed output features, but it would be more compact.

Thoughts?

--tr
scottmoon
BrotherTheo wrote:
I was going to make the 1U Invy 2 channels like its vertical cousin. But after reading the comments here I wonder if it should be just one channel? It'll lose the normallled inputs and mixed output features, but it would be more compact.


I think that would be the same as the Pulp Logic Att/Off tile.
https://www.modulargrid.net/e/pulplogic-1u-att-off
neonmercury1
Im just about to jump into the 1U realm with my next case and love the idea. I have been dreaming of mutes that have individual outs like the malekko mutes but not mixed outs. I would love to have a tile or module for that matter that multiple inputs and 3 outputs, each input has a three throw switch preferably with cv over that can route to and be summed at each out. i feel like this might exist but i haven't seen it


I love my invy but it could definitely exist in 1u as a single channel but i would buy a double if it were made
BrotherTheo
Here is a front panel mock up of a 1-channel 1U Invy:



It is 8HP as shown. Thoughts?

--tr
HeWhoWantsJeans
BrotherTheo wrote:
I was going to make the 1U Invy 2 channels like its vertical cousin. But after reading the comments here I wonder if it should be just one channel? It'll lose the normallled inputs and mixed output features, but it would be more compact.

Thoughts?

--tr

The normalled inputs and mixed output features are a huge selling point of the Invy to me and in this case, would distinguish it from another offering - the PulpLogic AttOff.
TheRosskonian
Really dig the dual solution between the two 1u sizes. Would be most interested in a LFO with a square waveform and sync-able myself.
scottmoon
BrotherTheo wrote:
I just drew up a universal 1U panel:


This will fit the Intellijel 1U space but also fit a lunchbox, albeit loosely. Since the lunchboxes seem to all have sliding nuts, spacing should not be an issue.


Sorry, but I hate sliding nuts. I always replace them with tapped strips. I wonder if there is a way to cut an angled slot so both would work?

I just ran across a 1U panel by Boomstar. Looks interesting but I think I would rather have it broken up into individual modules.
http://studioelectronics.com/products/synths/tonestar/toolbar/#crumbs

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