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How hard is DIY for beginners?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author How hard is DIY for beginners?
tcbilly
Hi,

I saw a lot of interesting DIY-Kits from oscilators to drum modules. I would like to know how hard it is for beginners? Do you think there are easier and more difficult modules? I have a little bit of soldering experience with some XLR cables Mr. Green I saw some videos with pcb. But I'm not sure about that. Do you think I could try it or should I watch out for a course or something like that? Really want to learn it!
cygmu
Soldering through-hole components onto PCBs is about as easy as soldering gets -- making cables is much more tricky in my experience.

Buying the right components in the first place can be time-consuming and frustrating until you have got the hang of the vendor's web sites and know a little bit about what you are shopping for. You can get around this by buying complete kits, of course.

Troubleshooting when things go wrong is much more challenging because you need to know a bit about how your circuit is meant to work. This forum (and the search function) is very helpful with that.
mskala
If you have the right tools, and a well-designed kit, and you follow the instructions, it can be quite easy. You can make it as hard for yourself as you want by attempting extra challenges, such as working from a PCB and buying the components yourself separately. Those kinds of tasks are usually harder than the assembly as such.
ClausF
It's not too hard, start with small ones. Look at Thonk, they have beginners kits. And/or build a Atari Punk Console on breadboard or the PCBs with points or lines. Then you will go your way.
I was a total noob as I started and 95% of my builds work. And I have two left hands with 10 thumbs.
For PCB soldering practice you find a lot of very cheep kits for everything form chinese sellers on ebay... I ordered and SMD practice kit there for 3$ yesterday
TheSlowGrowth
I suggest you start with full kits. If you are patient, organized and not rushing, you will have a great time putting your first kits together. It really is super easy. I put together almost 4 rows of 180hp and I had only about 6 modules that didn't work immediately. It can be super easy, if you stay focused.


But if you
  • rush
  • don't double check before you solder components in place
  • don't take your time to make nice solder connections (watch a video about soldering and try it out on some spare parts before you start)
  • don't follow the kit instructions

you will almost certainly end up with a non functioning module. And trouble shooting is a pain. It really is.

Long story short: Take your time, be patient and organized and it's going to be a great experience and w lot of fun!
tcbilly
Well, I am not familiar with the components and how these things work in general. But I can work with detailed plans. So I would prefer buying complete kits.

The Mutant BD+Clap+HH got my attention. I thought about getting a proper soldering station and start building my own modules. For fun and because I like the sound of that modules! Some drum modules would be nice to have in my rack. If everything works nice I would have a look for further modules.
tcbilly
TheSlowGrowth wrote:

Long story short: Take your time, be patient and organized and it's going to be a great experience and w lot of fun!


This sounds like me Mr. Green I'm patient and always need to double check things I do. But I'm a little bit afraid that I'll have problems understanding the instruction because I'm not familiar with the name of the different parts.
ClausF
tcbilly wrote:
Well, I am not familiar with the components and how these things work in general. But I can work with detailed plans. So I would prefer buying complete kits.

The Mutant BD+Clap+HH got my attention. I thought about getting a proper soldering station and start building my own modules. For fun and because I like the sound of that modules! Some drum modules would be nice to have in my rack. If everything works nice I would have a look for further modules.

Mutant drums are bigger ones.
Read the threads about them here, this is the best source you can get.
tcbilly
ClausF wrote:

Mutant drums are bigger ones.
Read the threads about them here, this is the best source you can get.


That's a pity. I like how they sound. But I will read the threads and see if I can handle this.
Tombola
I always suggest people start with a Mikrophonie - that's the simplest kit that I do, and is quite rewarding once it's done. The Thonk kits are really easy to follow - individually bagged resistors and caps etc.
tcbilly
Looks like I need to start with other modules than mutant drums. I read that they stopped selling the DIY-Kits waah

Most kits on Thonk are out of stock. DIY is very hard. At least getting the parts =(
Tombola
tcbilly wrote:


Most kits on Thonk are out of stock. DIY is very hard. At least getting the parts =(

This one's in stock!
https://www.thonk.co.uk/shop/mikrophonie/
tcbilly
Guess it's nice to play with but I think this wouldn't be usefull for me. I would buy in combination with something I really like to have/need just to try it and get into DIY.
tojpeters
My kids did their first DIY kit,a PAIA FATMAN when they were like 10-12 years old.
You can do it.
euromorcego
tcbilly wrote:

I saw a lot of interesting DIY-Kits from oscilators to drum modules. I would like to know how hard it is for beginners? Do you think there are easier and more difficult modules? I have a little bit of soldering experience with some XLR cables

it is simple. as others have said: soldering cables properly is more error prone.

And of course there are easier and more difficult modules. First is the number of components: more is not difficult per se, but it is more likely to make an error ... and the error is more difficult to locate.

To start with full kits is a good idea, but sooner or latter you should learn to source your own components. It is also not difficult (you'll learn to check for the correct footprint after order a couple of gargantuan capacitors). And there is a lot more pcb/panel options to chose from.

So start with some simple kits (no SMD), the Bastl range looks quite good. Maybe something from Music Thing Modular (if available, the RadioMusic is a must build!). Then continue to some simple pcb/panel options (Frequency Central, almost all parts can be bought at Tayda. NLC Sloth, non-SMD version, very few components and again a "must build". Other NLC are more complicated and use SMD).

Also AI synthesis has some really simple kits (i am wondering why abelovesfun has not posted yet, he is usually quick).
abelovesfun
@euromorcego Because I am on Pacific Time and just getting up! Thanks for the shout out!

@tcbilly Yep check us out at aisynthesis.com - I made that business to teach DIY to those who have never held a soldering iron.

In addition to easy to build, wiring free kits, with full how-to build videos, we have information on tools, and other educational guides.

I suggest you start with the mult to understand signal flow and basic soldering (and build confidence), and then move on to the mixer for an easy module that will teach you about op-amps and power.

From there you can move on to the AI003 for a useful and cool looping envelope generator or another manufacturers kit.

Lots of new stuff on the way.
wackelpeter
I find some easy and furthermore useful kits/modules for beginners are something like the Ken Stone Psycho LFO, Thomas Henry 555 AD/AR Generator, Thomas Henry VCA1 and if you're into stripboarding as well the crossfader from the Buchla Timbre and Crossfader module.

Well that's mostly stuff to Control modules and Sound but not producing sounds... Therfore an easy "low" part count module is the Serge negative Slew, which Kits could be available too as i guess. The negative slew goes from LFO Speed to audio range, so both sound source and controlling device.

A not to forget the numerous quick and easy circuits by Nicolas Woolastone over at the EMF Forum.
http://electro-music.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=34550
eewee
I find DIY is all the more rewarding when it goes "just a little bit" wrong, and you're forced to think of "how do I fix this", whether that is a mechanical problem, or a soldering thing, ... That's when you really feel you're progressing (I have been lucky so far).

My last build was a 4MS RCD, it had these small steps (LED placement, connector leads) that made it just a bit more satisfying because you had to think twice before doing something, without the overall build complexity going up.
basicbasic
I started with zero electronics experience a couple of years ago. I now have a bit more than zero with a shit-ton more to learn but I found that it was pretty easy with decent (not expensive) tools, but more importantly a willingness to learn. You'll make mistakes and there are tons of helpful article, videos and forums around to help you solve them.

The fact that at the end of each project you will have a new module to use is terrific incentive.

Main tools I would suggest starting with:
- Half-decent soldering iron with (more importantly) a small chisel tip
- Decent quality, thin (I use 0.7mm), leaded roisin-core solder
- A solder sucker and/or solder braid
- A small fan to blow the solder smoke way from your face
- Small clippers for cutting component leads
- Needle-nose pliers
- Fine tweezers if you're doing any SMD stuff
- A desk lamp
- Some isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush for cleaning off flux! If you stuff something up and need to post pics on here for help then this is a MUST! hihi

Depending on where you are you should be able to get all that for well under 100 dollars/euros etc.

I also find watching the endless electronics repair videos on youtube an enjoyable way to see how others do things and learn more about troubleshooting in general.
ekoch
One thing I'd add to this discussion is that you won't save any money by doing DIY lol
abelovesfun
OMG not that debate smile

My studio begs to differ, I built it "building three and selling two."
But it does depend for sure!
Oblivion
tcbilly wrote:

Most kits on Thonk are out of stock. DIY is very hard. At least getting the parts =(


They just had a big 5th anniversary sale and I think they got slammed, so may take a little while to restock (they just got my Saturday order out this morning, usually much quicker than this - not a complaint, just showing how busy they were).
abelovesfun
We have our kits on our site, and if you just want panels and pcbs (that's how I build) the how to build guides (aisynthesis.com/build) BOMs have direct links to the parts.
windspirit
Ive been making kits with video manuals recently to make them as easy as possible for newbies to jump in. To get a picture of how hard it is check out my latest- the video is less than 30 minutes long and that is with me stopping to explain things thoroughly.

FrogStar
Best DIY advice I ever got: "if it smells like bacon, you're holding the wrong end."
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