Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

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banedox
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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by banedox » Fri Mar 26, 2021 10:26 pm

What kits are you looking at picking up.
I picked up the beta version back in 2015 of Erica Synths DIY Polivocks kit. Still havent finished but I just did the filter and it works! I think.. just need to finish the CV pots but volume passes through perfectly.

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by Kawouddd » Sat Mar 27, 2021 2:40 am

burdickjp wrote:
Fri Mar 26, 2021 10:14 pm
I reach for desoldering braid much more often than a solder sucker. I think different people have different preferences for how they remove excess solder or desolder components.
Thanks for that. I have a lifetime supply of desoldering braid too, having stocked up to make sure 😂 I haven’t yet desoldered anything but do like the look of it!
banedox wrote:
Fri Mar 26, 2021 10:26 pm
What kits are you looking at picking up.
I picked up the beta version back in 2015 of Erica Synths DIY Polivocks kit. Still havent finished but I just did the filter and it works! I think.. just need to finish the CV pots but volume passes through perfectly.
Personally, I know I’ll only make things that I want to use. And I’ve spent a lot on a diy setup (well, about as much as one Frap fumana 🤦‍♂️) and so want to make sure I use it!

I’ve ordered a few bits from Gieskes, because they look eccentric and I want to see what they do. Vu perc (through parch point) another vu perc, no drums, pieper and fan VCO from his website.

I’ve also got a set of Tocante studworth PCBs (though I need to work out some substitute components or I’ll be waiting til October for the build), a Bastl trømso (looks frankly optimistic) and a few CL PCBs from crüc fx on reverb / on here under a different name.

I currently have a thonk basket with a couple of befacos and a 4ms qplfo, though I’ve been holding back on that given the volume coming in 😂 perhaps on payday!

And, yeah, one of the first places I went was Erica! I have w lot of Erica. Sorry to see their DIY is no longer centrally sold, at least.

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by burdickjp » Sat Mar 27, 2021 9:12 am

Have you looked at Frequency Central? Their stuff looks amazingly well thought out and is all through hole.

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by Kawouddd » Sat Mar 27, 2021 9:40 am

burdickjp wrote:
Sat Mar 27, 2021 9:12 am
Have you looked at Frequency Central? Their stuff looks amazingly well thought out and is all through hole.
Oh, blimey, and uk based. I’m there now. Cheers!

Edit: and they’re the people who make the power supplies that thonk is out of, and that can stop me from blowing up my skiff! Amazing.

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by moacir » Sun Mar 28, 2021 12:18 am

I can chime in a bit as someone who learned to solder almost a decade ago, but really only started synth DIYing w/ SMD, etc., in earnest about a year ago.

I went cheap for a lot of my gear, and I don't regret it much (though I regret having upgraded my multimeter twice before finally realizing I will have to spend three digits to get something that can reliably calibrate something like MI's Marbles). The additions I'd make to the above are:
  • Headlamp/magnifier $12 on Amazon. I now even use this with TH soldering, while I never used to use magnification before. It has a useless LED lamp, but three magnification settings. The first takes care of most things. The second requires you to be about a foot away for the view to be in focus, and the third is trash. However, since buying the Kotto helping hands, my PCBs are now closer to my eyes, meaning the second level of magnification is more relevant.
  • 30x loupe $10 on Amazon. After killing what I hope is my final STM32 chip with a solder bridge, I got one of these last week and now I feel unstoppable. The 60x magnification is not particularly useful--you can see all the bridges you want at 30x, and the LED here is useful.
  • Flux paste, flux pen kit, and flux remover, which might just be alcohol in a pen applicator. I never understood the point of flux in practical terms until I started smt. Now it's my best friend.
  • Regular old groove joint pliers for unscrewing the soldering iron nut to hotswap solder tips. Fingers, even when you're covering them in the t-shirt you're wearing, are not good for this.
  • Big ol' wire cutters for trimming away used solder braid
  • ChipQuik smd removal kit $15 on Amazon. This stuff is magic, and I'm convinced it's going to kill me because its fumes smell like poison. I've used it to fix mistakes, salvage components (just yesterday I pulled the STM32 off a busted Plaits board with this stuff and moved the chip to the Knit build I'm doing). Because this alloy is so low-temp, you really have to make sure you get as much of it off the component before you redeploy. This is hard, and I'm all ears for suggestions. This also works unfairly well on TH components. Jacks, headers, pots, LEDs—they all just fall out the bottom. But you pay a price; you don't get a lot for $15, yet you need to use this liberally. It will splash onto things and leave giant messes everywhere.

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by Kawouddd » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:09 am

Kawouddd wrote:
Sat Mar 13, 2021 5:02 pm

Digital multimeter
Plus contrasting views that this could be precision overkill and the £100 Tenma bench multimeter would be fine[/url]
Should any other new DIYers be reading this, it may be worth noting that this arrives with no test leads. This may or may not be obvious, depending on your foundational levels of ignorance.

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by Kawouddd » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:12 am

moacir wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 12:18 am
  • Headlamp/magnifier $12 on Amazon. I now even use this with TH soldering, while I never used to use magnification before. It has a useless LED lamp, but three magnification settings. The first takes care of most things. The second requires you to be about a foot away for the view to be in focus, and the third is trash. However, since buying the Kotto helping hands, my PCBs are now closer to my eyes, meaning the second level of magnification is more relevant.
  • 30x loupe $10 on Amazon. After killing what I hope is my final STM32 chip with a solder bridge, I got one of these last week and now I feel unstoppable. The 60x magnification is not particularly useful--you can see all the bridges you want at 30x, and the LED here is useful.
  • Flux paste, flux pen kit, and flux remover, which might just be alcohol in a pen applicator. I never understood the point of flux in practical terms until I started smt. Now it's my best friend.
  • Regular old groove joint pliers for unscrewing the soldering iron nut to hotswap solder tips. Fingers, even when you're covering them in the t-shirt you're wearing, are not good for this.
  • Big ol' wire cutters for trimming away used solder braid
  • ChipQuik smd removal kit $15 on Amazon. This stuff is magic, and I'm convinced it's going to kill me because its fumes smell like poison. I've used it to fix mistakes, salvage components (just yesterday I pulled the STM32 off a busted Plaits board with this stuff and moved the chip to the Knit build I'm doing). Because this alloy is so low-temp, you really have to make sure you get as much of it off the component before you redeploy. This is hard, and I'm all ears for suggestions. This also works unfairly well on TH components. Jacks, headers, pots, LEDs—they all just fall out the bottom. But you pay a price; you don't get a lot for $15, yet you need to use this liberally. It will splash onto things and leave giant messes everywhere.
Thank you for all of these. I am currently steering clear of SMD, though given the extent of my current ambitions it seems likely / inevitable at some point.

Could I just solder paste and hot air it? Is that a working solution? It sounds potentially quite low effort, which I’m sure is wrong given how much time is spent discussing manual SMD soldering 😂

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by moacir » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:18 am

Kawouddd wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:12 am
Could I just solder paste and hot air it? Is that a working solution? It sounds potentially quite low effort, which I’m sure is wrong given how much time is spent discussing manual SMD soldering 😂
I just never pursued this, though, yes, my engineer friends look at me like I'm from another planet when they hear that I'm hand-soldering STM32s and 402 passives.

I feel like I got much more confident with everything once I embraced SMD. You can get the little practice kits, and they're great at building up one's self-esteem lol. Magnification and patience.

I now even prefer SMD--no flipping pcbs or snipped leads that stick to the magnets in my soldering mat! :sb:

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by Kawouddd » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:35 pm

I really really like soldering pins.

I feel as if I’ve learned a lot about soldering in the last day or so. Not happy, in retrospect, with many of these joints but progress is eternal and all failure is an opportunity to learn! If it works I SHALL BE AMAZED.

Wairing on the delivery of test leads before soldering in the last five mystery resistors and cracking on to the top board 🥳
29219B1B-F2E5-4809-BDC7-6ABA8FF87880.jpeg
9F75C6D9-D550-4B22-BB38-3B2F99997E5A.jpeg

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by Polarflux » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:42 pm

Jumping in on the thread, any recommendations for good and reasonably priced bench power? I guess the other related question is, and I know somebody else mentioned this in the thread, what would the advantage be between simply using a wall wort and linear regulator circuit vs. proper bench power. I more inclined toward bench power so I can dial in the output voltage and perhaps have some protection, to be honest.
Reality is whatever refuses to go away when you stop believing in it. -Philip K. Dick

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by forestcaver » Wed Mar 31, 2021 1:55 am

Polarflux wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:42 pm
Jumping in on the thread, any recommendations for good and reasonably priced bench power? I guess the other related question is, and I know somebody else mentioned this in the thread, what would the advantage be between simply using a wall wort and linear regulator circuit vs. proper bench power. I more inclined toward bench power so I can dial in the output voltage and perhaps have some protection, to be honest.
Price. Something like a dc-dc converter or linear supply can be built for about £7; a bench supply is an awful lot more. Bench supply will have current limiting. It depends on how you work - eurorack power is pretty straight forward to design. If you use a cad package eg eagle, you are less likely to make power supply errors (eg when connecting ics, shorts, etc). If you are bread boarding you will make power supply errors. I tend to do a lot of modelling in ltspice then design in eagle. I then use the prototype to hack around ideas. For me, a bench supply at home isnt cost effective - if I make an error it will be cheaper just to rebuild.... but for some people it’s definitely worth it. I think if you are breadboarding a faur bit then it’s essential....
Ps I definitely would like one though, just cant justify it!

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by bgreeves » Wed Mar 31, 2021 6:37 pm

When I first started out I literally just made a Ray Wilson wall-wart PSU on a piece of perfboard. I crossed my fingers and the gods smiled upon me and it worked.

Years later.... same thing basically. I designed a simple PCB for the wall-wart PSU and a bus-board PCB to go with it. I use that for all my breadboarding and module testing. I don't anticipate I will buy a bench power supply unless I branch out from Eurorack into other general electronics hobbies.

But I'm far from the best role model on this site.

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by Kawouddd » Fri Apr 02, 2021 1:35 am

moacir wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 12:18 am
  • Headlamp/magnifier $12 on Amazon. UK link, c.£12

    Since buying the Kotto helping hands, my PCBs are now closer to my eyes, meaning the second level of magnification is more relevant. Branded FStop in the uk, £36
  • 30x loupe $10 on Amazon. Uk link, £15
Some UK links and prices added to the above. Cheers!

I’ve got my first non functioning build, a FC CEMosc on which I put the pcb connectors on the wrong side (first experience of desoldering, c.40 connectors 🤦‍♂️), couldn’t work out how to turn the 12 point switch into a 6 point, and have yet to calibrate it. There may also be solder bridges, hence returning to view the magnifying stuff above!

Finding trimmable / breakaway female pcb connectors has proven remarkably difficult (I really fouled up the break of some, and the kit didn’t arrive with enough to begin with) - so much so that I’ve ended up ordering from Tayda. Can’t find them in mouser, or farnell despite probably an hour of searching this morning.

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by cygmu » Fri Apr 02, 2021 4:57 am

Kawouddd wrote:
Fri Apr 02, 2021 1:35 am

Finding trimmable / breakaway female pcb connectors has proven remarkably difficult (I really fouled up the break of some, and the kit didn’t arrive with enough to begin with) - so much so that I’ve ended up ordering from Tayda. Can’t find them in mouser, or farnell despite probably an hour of searching this morning.
Admittedly I have not looked very hard but I've never found any that are intended to be trimmable. But it's easy to cut long lengths of header down, especially if you don't care much about the tidiness of the edges after you're done. Sacrifice one connector per cut: I just cut through the middle of the next connection point, typically making a little snip with my cutters and then snapping the stick in two, and afterwards I might shave the broken edges down a bit to be cleaner and smoother.

If there's a way to do it without losing one connection per cut I'd be happy to learn of it but I am doubtful. For super clean builds, just buy connectors of the correct size.

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by Kawouddd » Fri Apr 02, 2021 5:17 am

cygmu wrote:
Fri Apr 02, 2021 4:57 am
Kawouddd wrote:
Fri Apr 02, 2021 1:35 am

Finding trimmable / breakaway female pcb connectors has proven remarkably difficult (I really fouled up the break of some, and the kit didn’t arrive with enough to begin with) - so much so that I’ve ended up ordering from Tayda. Can’t find them in mouser, or farnell despite probably an hour of searching this morning.
Admittedly I have not looked very hard but I've never found any that are intended to be trimmable. But it's easy to cut long lengths of header down, especially if you don't care much about the tidiness of the edges after you're done. Sacrifice one connector per cut: I just cut through the middle of the next connection point, typically making a little snip with my cutters and then snapping the stick in two, and afterwards I might shave the broken edges down a bit to be cleaner and smoother.

If there's a way to do it without losing one connection per cut I'd be happy to learn of it but I am doubtful. For super clean builds, just buy connectors of the correct size.
What I found hard was finding any stock at all.

Male headers, in stock and dirt cheap everywhere.

Their female counterparts - dozens of adapted searches over the best part of an hour turned up nowt, except one at £5 ea from Amazon!

I’m sure it was something to do with the search terms I was using. Puzzling, though! I ended up ordering from Tayda, with a couple of other bits that may or may not work as subs for long delivery time items on a CL BOM. (Are metal film 1% resistors an acceptable substitute for carbon film 5%?! If so, sorted.)

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by forestcaver » Fri Apr 02, 2021 5:21 am

Aliexpress for headers - not found cheaper anywhere else - just buy loads and wait. Female headers - as above - just sacrifice one pin and clean up with a craft knife or file (if you want it tidy)

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by cygmu » Fri Apr 02, 2021 5:54 am

There are plenty of options here for example:
https://uk.rs-online.com/web/c/connecto ... 81961&pn=2

But I believe my stash of these comes from a large Tayda order some years ago.

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by Kawouddd » Fri Apr 02, 2021 6:37 am

Thanks, both. I have fifty of each coming from Tayda (already shipped), so hopefully that should see me through a few projects!

I’ll revisit this thread when I need more!

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Re: Starting DIY in 2021 - sensible starting kit, having read the forum's stickied resources?

Post by Kawouddd » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:49 am

And from early experiences of DIY kits, I’d say:

Gieskes is really good for beginners, produces satisfying and odd results, but needs other tools on hand (eg hacksaw, craft knife, drills). Good introduction to some stuff like very big and basic surface mount. Kits generally quite quick, with SMD pre soldered. Build documentation on two of the three gieskes ive built so far have been for previous revisions. Tbh I quite like that, as it means some thinking is necessary.

Frequency Central are tidy, complete, entirely through hole kits. I have found some aspects of their build docs a bit puzzling, but following the pictures even when it appears to conflict with the pcb has mostly worked. Tempted to do more.

Bastl - just love them. Tighter, smaller and denser than FC. Feel more “professional” or polished. Significantly more expensive and eg require a multimeter to id resistor values. These are my favourite kits so far. Building a tromsø as a second build was clearly a fair bit, but doable and it works (!)

I haven’t done any passive mults etc because I want to build things that I want!

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