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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Thoughts on bringing back MOTM/5U format modules
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> 5U Format Modules Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next [all]
Author Thoughts on bringing back MOTM/5U format modules
paults
Let me state up-front that personally, I prefer the size, visual appeal and jacks of 5U. Just look at this typical bad boy!



Now I know many folks were attracted to MOTM specifically because they were kits. But I'm not going there again. Maybe just "blank board + panel" for some lower-level stuff. But I am talking assembled modules.

The #1 important thing I have going in my favor is that my Euro modules would share common pots, switches and to some degree knobs. Pots and switches are the #1 and #2 most expensive total items on any modules, follows by a tie between jacks and knobs.

On the manufacturing side: the #1 new improvement is my assembler bought a selective solder machine for soldering through-hole parts without a traditional wave solder. This allows the pots, switches and connectors to be soldered cheaply and MUCH faster. Also, I buy sealed pots that can be washed after soldering (current MOTM pots cannot be washed) and this also speeds things up. New designs are a 'zero wiring' concept, so all the tedious soldering to the pots/jacks/switches is eliminated.

MOTM/5U panels are still expensive and slow turn-around. They cost about 4X a Euro panel.

Newer MOTM designs would have all 3 major power connectors on every board (MOTM/.com/Modcan) and all designs are +-15V only, so the older 6-pin MOTM cable scheme is not needed. Swapping out the front panels is easily done, so no more cross-module case issues.

So what would be the bottleneck? Me, of course! Dead Banana

The main thing is the actual ordering/shipping thing. My current Zen Cart app is so hopelessly out of date I would have to start 100% over (freaking PHP/MySQL). Maybe there are better/easier ways. I would NOT EVER AGAIN do credit cards: strictly PaPal now that PayPal have a backdoor for them. Or, I could use SynthCube.

The downside is the end retail price would be 20-25% higher. Maybe it's "worth it". But that means a large $$$ outlay on his part that we have discussed in the past. I might be able to sweet-talk 1 or 2 current dealers to carry "low stock" of a few modules of each type. But again, at the higher retail prices to you the end user.

My bottleneck would be nothing like in the past, it would be more like current Euro (I ship on average 100 modules/month in Euro).

What sort of new pricing structure are we talking? Well, let's pick a 5U E350 Morphing Terrarium, the most popular Euro and I have shipped maybe 35 of them to other format-conversion folks.

The new version would have all CVs attenuated with the 2 mode switches added.

If I sold them, they would be $429ea and if someone else sold them $499ea.

For something like a redesigned MIDI-CV about the same split: $420/$499.

This is why I am looking first at Kickstarter, because I can set a pre-determined initial cost AND quantity combine figure and judge interest. Since the KickStarter window is 30 days max, I would give everyone at least 30 days "head start" because you have to pay in at commit (but if not funded you get it all back).

So here is what I am interested in: what 2-4 modules, current or not ever seen in human history, would you want to see first? I am thinking that nowadays, the .com current base has the most potential as they do not have things like the '440 or '480 filter, the Euro E355 Morphing LFO or a fancy MIDI-CV.

I can do analog or digital stuff. But be aware, I not trying to compete with Roger. I don't have economy of scale and I use a different level of parts in the module.

What would be my "threshold" to get going? If I can sell a GUARANTEED 100 modules of any design, within 90 days, I would do it. Therein lies the distribution issue: if a "wholesale price" is $250, who wants to write me a $25,000 check per module? This happens every day in Euro, but not 5U.
Bryan B
I love the look of your 5U modules and they hold their own as far as sound and function.

I personally don't like the look of most Euro-based designs that are directly adapted to 5U (same part locations). That being said, I hope you can overcome that with some great looking 5U designs. Your work is always great, so I do wish you luck and success in this venture.

I have secretly wanted a Morphing Terrarium and the cloud generator, but I haven't had the cash to buy them to take them apart and re-panel them for MU or 5U, so I have been building cheaper things I need instead. Your Delay looks great too, but I have enough delay at the moment.
Hungryghost
I'd be interested in most of your new Euro designs…. its been painful watching all the developments!!! For me the E580 & E350 would be first on the list, followed buy a E355 and the new ASR module!!

Having had to wait two years for my last Motm order I'd be reluctant of paying into a kick-starter that reached the full amount and then took forever to arrive…. sorry but it would be a concern!

knowing my luck, having finally received my 650 Midi/CV (great module by the way) I fear your new version will be next…...
Dave_P
paults wrote:
So here is what I am interested in: what 2-4 modules, current or not ever seen in human history, would you want to see first?


Having been "involved" in the MOTM debate when Paul first started SynthTec, contributed to the debate on the SDIY list at the back end of the 1990s and also having bought into the DIY ethos at the outset with the early MOTM modules (I started in the early 80s with Digisound kits), I'd have to say that some of the originally mooted modules (e.g. Cloud Generator, Fixed Filter Bank) are impossibly long overdue as 5U modules.

The more recent ST Euro-sized modules would be nice but, as an afficionado of "70s-style" modular synthesis, I'd like to see basic over "flashy" modules first. That's not to say that the Morphing Terrarium or Quad Morphing VCO modules wouldn't be nice as well!

My main concern is being able to acquire the functionality of these modules but with the ability to "roll my own" when it comes to panel and jack formats; so I'd appreciate being able to do DIY (albeit with a fully populated board where these are heavily SMT-based) but I'd rather not spend the money on a complete module only to have to dump the panel and jacks in order to fit with the rest of my system.

Hopefuly not too much to ask ... ?

Cheers
Dave
paults
The new modules would have the jacks on a separate board (connected via ribbon cable like the '730). The pots and switches would be soldered in but removable with a bit of work. Yes, these are SMT.

Quote:
I'd be reluctant of paying into a kick-starter that reached the full amount and then took forever to arrive


It would be 8 weeks or so. Not 2 years!
Dave Peck
paults wrote:
The new modules would have the jacks on a separate board (connected via ribbon cable like the '730).


Just a word of caution - make sure this won't prevent these modules from being installed in the bottom row of a Dotcom slant-44 cabinet. There are a number of 5U/MU modules from various manufacturers that mount the jacks on a PCB, and if the lower edge of this PCB extends too far down below the bottom edge of the jacks, the edge of the PCB crashes into the floor of the cabinet and you can't install the module in the bottom row.
Henfield
Paul, I would definitely buy an MU E340 Cloud Generator right off the bat. In the next year, I would look at the 350 and 355, and possibly the 440 (just because everyone raves about it!). I would have also said a 490, but I already repaneled a MOTM unit into MU.

Thank you for considering getting back into the larger format!
Dave Peck
I have a 5U 440 filter that I built from a kit several years ago (excellent LPF!), and I'm one of the lucky guys who got a e350 that was converted to 5U. See below. IMO, this feature set & panel layout is excellent and would be a good choice for any new 5U builds.

For new stuff, I would probably be most interested in a 480 filter in 5U or MU.

xpmtl
Pcb and front panel is all i need personally and new designs wink

That being said i'd probably take an ASR and motm-730 if they were available.
xpmtl
double post sorry
Bryan B
Dave Peck, that module looks great! I would be very tempted to buy one if it looked like that (even though I am broke at the moment).
sduck
Hey Dave, I find it ironic that you've posted a pic of one of my builds of Dave Brown's panel design for the e350. When I developed a panel design that's much closer to the overall MOTM design standard.



(I built a bunch of these with white labels, but can't seem to find a pic of those)

Ah, such is life. Everyone has different tastes. They both work fine!

I'm sure Paul will come up with an excellent design for whatever he chooses to do with all this.

Me, I obviously wouldn't buy yet another e350, unless it had the super extra stuff that was hinted about years ago. But the uSeq would be impossible to resist. And perhaps the new mega-ASR thingie, whatever it's called.
Dave Peck
Hi Sduck,

Ooh, I like that layout too. I don't think I've seen that before. But all of your custom stuff looks great (just noticed your 2600 clone pix - that is gorgeous!).
Dave_P
Dave Peck wrote:
For new stuff, I would probably be most interested in a 480 filter in 5U or MU.

Dave,

Isn't that something which Scott Rider is doing already? It's his original design but now he's updated it for a change in the core ICs - see https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=85620 for the Muffs thread and https://cs80-com.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/cs80-fil ter-mkii-special-edition for the built version.

I have bare boards and am awaiting the build docs ... so it is a reality ...

Dave
Dave Peck
Dave_P wrote:

Dave,

Isn't that something which Scott Rider is doing already?


Yes, sort of. So far, that thread seems to only refer to board kits for panel DIY-ers and a very luxurious but pricey 3-space version. Not seeing a lot of info about a more standard 2-space 480 filter like the original MOTM version.
Minimoog56
Alternatively Paul I feel a selective production of 10-20 modules in MU format would be in high demand even at premium pricing +$400. An MU E340 and E350 would no doubt sellout quickly. The MU format has been steadily expanding rapidly over the past 3-4 years in terms of builders and users. Small one off runs with Resynthesis cover panels would be economic and fill a niche.
blt
Minimoog56 wrote:
Alternatively Paul I feel a selective production of 10-20 modules in MU format would be in high demand even at premium pricing +$400. An MU E340 and E350 would no doubt sellout quickly. The MU format has been steadily expanding rapidly over the past 3-4 years in terms of builders and users. Small one off runs with Resynthesis cover panels would be economic and fill a niche.


+1 thumbs up
sduck
Yes, I hate to say it but it's true - if you really want to make this work I'd concentrate on the MU end of it. You'll probably sell 5 times as many in MU rather than MOTM format. (just ask S&TG about his adventures selling MOTM modules)

Some other ideas/temptations: in addition to the e350 posted above, there's this:

Motm e340 front by sduck409, on Flickr

...with a matching design to the e350.

And these 2, with a matching panel design (although they tend to end up not together in my system) -



These 2 would be fantastic additions to the existing 5U/MU offerings. They're both full featured, great sounding, and don't have any real competition in what's already out there. And could probably be tooled up into 5U/MU format relatively easily - the design is already there. And of course, more "normal" panel designs wouldn't hurt - I like big knobs, and I cannot lie!
JohnLRice
I'm no longer in buying mode and probably wont be for the foreseeable future cry so my comments probably aren't important but doing the kickstarter thing to gauge interest before you commit is a major turn off to me. If you aren't committed and enthusiastic and believe in the format enough than why should anyone else be?

Kickstarter might be OK for a one-off module but if you are going to get back into the MOTM format game for real and want to alleviate fears of past MOTM delays it might be better to silently develop, build and ship quantities of 3 or 4 modules to distributors and THEN announce that they are ready to buy.

Sure that is a sizable financial risk to you but expecting the consumers to commit to something with a weak tentative foundation probably isn't going to happen and probably the majority of people willing to kickstarter commit will be people who already have MOTM systems and want some new modules but aren't thinking of building full systems. I can't think of any modular kickstarter campaigns that have gone well, but I could be wrong.

And besides if this is true
paults wrote:
"who wants to write me a $25,000 check per module? This happens every day in Euro
then even just calculating gross cash flow for business days that works out to be about $6,300,000 per year! woah You can afford it, just git er done! hihi
paults
I would not put the toggle switch in the "jack field" but I like the 2 different knob sizes. And the nice thing about using vertical mounted pots is I can put them "anywhere" on the front panel. The pc boards are all parallel to the front panel. This makes them fit in the slanted lower 44-space .com cabinets.

Yes, I agree MU would be more likely to sell more.
paults
The issue of being "committed" is strictly a risk versus reward thing. Let's say for example my cost is $130/module. This is only if I make 50-100 because the price of the front panels are 2X at 25pcs versus 50, and then 100 are 50% cheaper than 50.

The SMT tooling is a fixed price $750.

So 50 modules costs me 50 x $130 + $750 = $7250 or really $145ea w/tooling.

The good news is that if I sell them for $429 then I only have to sell $7250/$429 = 17 to break even.
Then the profit for this batch is (50-17) x $429 = $14,157 so this is a 50% GM which is average for the industry. This is of course pre-tax and my net tax rate is around 19.5% so the real in-the-bank profit is $11,400.

So if I start with 3 designs (lets say the 350, the 355 LFO and the E580 Delay) I have to spend ~ $22,000. Now, in order to GET $22,000 after tax profit from selling Euro, that in turn means I have to sell around 260 modules. Which is about 3 full months of production.

So yes, I am somewhat skittish because in Euro, I don't have to put up any money per se because there is known, guaranteed set of orders coming in, And this WAS TRUE from about 1999-2003 with MOTM. Every new module I announced I knew I would be selling 150 minimum within 6 months. Not that I would SHIP them (cough), but to me, orders are the same as cash. Sure, I had cancellations but in many cases no money ever was exchanged. The cancelled modules were 100% bought by the next people in line so no loss of sleep.

I might try to get 3 or 4 current Euro dealers to commit to carrying say 12 modules (4 each of 3 designs) so I can get those 50 total modules needed to be paid for, so at least I can break even at the start (I can "break even" staring out the window as well).

I just have to decide if spending $22,000 on the hope of selling out in a reasonable time will occur.
Leverkusen
I know it is a bit of the rail but since I am not the first one it may be an useful feedback. I would love to have a morphing terrarium, a morphing LFO and a deflector shield in my system. But MU would fit much better in withwise. So I wouldn't buy motm-format. Rather I would get them in Euroformat as I did with the cloudgenerator but I dont think so as I am just moving over from there.
EATyourGUITAR
I would be much happier with pcb & panel. it would also be crucial for the panel design to match older MOTM panels. no tiny knobs and don't break the grid. stuff like the e340 e350 I have already built so I don't see you selling them again to the DIY crowd. people like Dave, Sduck, myself for example. the only think I can not get from hacking your euro modules is all the 6 pin MOTM stuff. the sequencer and the clock divider. maybe some new designs too.
Bowman
paults wrote:
The issue of being "committed" is strictly a risk versus reward thing. Let's say for example my cost is $130/module. This is only if I make 50-100 because the price of the front panels are 2X at 25pcs versus 50, and then 100 are 50% cheaper than 50.

The SMT tooling is a fixed price $750.

So 50 modules costs me 50 x $130 + $750 = $7250 or really $145ea w/tooling.

The good news is that if I sell them for $429 then I only have to sell $7250/$429 = 17 to break even.
Then the profit for this batch is (50-17) x $429 = $14,157 so this is a 50% GM which is average for the industry. This is of course pre-tax and my net tax rate is around 19.5% so the real in-the-bank profit is $11,400.

So if I start with 3 designs (lets say the 350, the 355 LFO and the E580 Delay) I have to spend ~ $22,000. Now, in order to GET $22,000 after tax profit from selling Euro, that in turn means I have to sell around 260 modules. Which is about 3 full months of production.

So yes, I am somewhat skittish because in Euro, I don't have to put up any money per se because there is known, guaranteed set of orders coming in, And this WAS TRUE from about 1999-2003 with MOTM. Every new module I announced I knew I would be selling 150 minimum within 6 months. Not that I would SHIP them (cough), but to me, orders are the same as cash. Sure, I had cancellations but in many cases no money ever was exchanged. The cancelled modules were 100% bought by the next people in line so no loss of sleep.

I might try to get 3 or 4 current Euro dealers to commit to carrying say 12 modules (4 each of 3 designs) so I can get those 50 total modules needed to be paid for, so at least I can break even at the start (I can "break even" staring out the window as well).

I just have to decide if spending $22,000 on the hope of selling out in a reasonable time will occur.


With all due respect, that would not be the way I would proceed. Your calculations are based on building all three modules ( e350, the e355, and the e580) at a minimum run of 50 each, correct? That would give me pause also.

You have access to your customers here on this forum. Find out what module will generate the most interest and concentrate on that module. Only build a run of 50 and let everyone know that.

You are going to need some "web presence" . It's not 1999-2003 anymore. You do not need a secure transaction website. You do need a picture of a module, a detailed description on what it does and an embedded YouTube video showing what your module sounds like. Payments are to be handled by Paypal, as you stated earlier.

Have your modules on sale at SynthCube, the Muff Shop and EBay and even brick and mortar vendors such as Noise Bug if you can. Talk up the unit on this forum. Heck, I'd consider giving John L Rice one for free on condition that he makes a few of his usual excellent videos showcasing your module. That is excellent advertising! I'd prefer to see something like that instead of a kick starter campaign.

Best wishes on whatever you decide.
elmegil
I already have refitted E340/E350 modules as well (many thanks to sduck for his panel files), but I think one or both of those in MU would be you biggest bang for the buck.

I'm not automatically turned off by Kickstarter as JLR is, but given history, I think it would give a notable number of people pause.

I think with a trial balloon of a single module you could establish (beyond what you already have done in Euro land) that you're past all that and have a bankroll to build the next modules from.
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