Whatcha think of a more compact, lighter 5U format? (fishin'

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"New" 5U 1" Grid Module Line...

Poll ended at Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:13 pm

I wouldn't screw that in _your_ rack!
4
31%
Huh? What? Matters.
9
69%
 
Total votes: 13

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synthguru
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Post by synthguru » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:44 pm

JohnLRice wrote:
synthguru wrote:Well, as I've said to the synth manufacturers for years:
Don't give me weighted keys; give me weighted knobs.

Does anyone remember the big, must-have-been-one-pound knob that used to be the volume control on old Onkyo hi-fi amps?

Little knobs? :despair:

Zon
Will this work? :tu:

http://www.surplussales.com/ShaftHardware/Knobs-12.html
Solid Aluminum Knob with Spinner
Alco (Japan) solid aluminum knob with spinner (non-rotary). 1-3/4" diameter body x 5/8" high. 1/4" bore.

Image
LOL :yay:

Very much like that :grin:

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Post by essex sound lab » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:52 pm

At first I thought: sounds like Christmas.

But now I think I need to sober up a bit before I really weigh in. You know, think about what I would actually do. :hyper:

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Post by synthetic » Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:21 am

Wouldn't. Studio rat myself.

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Post by neandrewthal » Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:37 am

I can't see how it would make sense from a financial standpoint to have different variants of the same module/panel but you'd know more about that than me.

I like the idea, though. However I wouldn't buy them because I'm too stubborn/cheap to buy panels except the ones that are too big for me to make myself, like the sequencers.

I like to leave some room for big knobs on the tweaky controls like filter cutoffs/vco frequencies and cram the utility stuff even tighter to make up for it.

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Post by J3RK » Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:11 am

synthetic wrote:Wouldn't. Studio rat myself.
I'm somewhere in between. I don't play gigs, but don't like being tied to the studio either. My last few systems have been portable enough to haul it into whichever room of the house I feel like being in, or take it to a friend's place easily enough, and I want to preserve that now that I'm back in 5U.

The route I would go, is see which modules I could combine into useful mult-function devices, tweak panel layouts a bit to fit more without going too tight, but keeping them as solid as possible. Maybe mount the existing boards differently like making new PCB mounts that mount some boards parallel, some perpendicular, but vertically (tall way) to keep depth down.

Or, if there are some rather large boards that could be optimized, do a new PCB rev that could be used in either original or new panel format, so there aren't duplicate items being maintained. This way you're not ditching either panel preference, and only making two sets of panels/controls.

Just a few extra thoughts.

I love packing more things into less space, but I did go back to 5U from Euro, and the larger jacks, knobs, overall solidity, were all part of that decision. (ease of DIYing in 5U being the other major reason for me)

I've seen the interim Morphing Terrariums in 5U with the small knobs, and didn't think it was a big problem. There was still plenty of room between knobs, and they're definitely solid enough. Cramming some more functions into the empty space on something like that seems like a great idea.

Anyway...

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Post by analogsteve » Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:17 am

synthguru wrote:Well, as I've said to the synth manufacturers for years:
Don't give me weighted keys; give me weighted knobs.

Does anyone remember the big, must-have-been-one-pound knob that used to be the volume control on old Onkyo hi-fi amps?

Little knobs? :despair:

Zon
Amen brother.

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Post by slovo » Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:09 am

I think compromises to your (Pugix's) idea are key. I should say that when I was first starting out in 5U, someone started that "what's wrong with 5U" thread or whatever it was called and I made an ass of myself for blaming other manufacturers not complying with what I had come to think was standard -- MOTM sizing. Now that I've been schooled, and started plunking down to support MOTM, Mu, and Modcan A, I realize that I sort of don't care which one people support, as long as they are electrically compatible and near-indestructible.

I do think that the splintering of the format has likely done a lot to deter potential adopters. I very nearly didn't jump in because it seemed too difficult, and sometimes, when I am faced with building a rack, I still feel this way! For this reason, I am very tempted to say, why not go Modcan A? It's basically the same as what you're looking at, only... banana, which IMHO is great.

Still, assuming you're not interested in that, I'd like to see the following things in your new format:

- panel thickness should come down. they are clearly expensive and heavy to a bit of excess. But of course, they should NEVER flex. I think most of us go 5U to feel more comfortable -- and safer.

- agreed, those MU ears are silly and heavy too

- now that I said all that, the weight is not my primary concern. I am strong and heavy racks fall less often, I think. So if you skimp on these weight factors, it should really be to save money (on shipping too).

- brown seems a little silly but I don't really care. If I got a vote, I'd say, that Oakley blue is killer, and Modcan white is gorgeous, too, so I have faith that you could make another color scheme that rocks. But brown does not sound too promising.

- pot supported PCBs sounds a little silly to me, too. I want my modules to feel tough. But you're the expert, compared to me -- if you can make it work, then do so, and save me some money, too! XD But it had better be reliable.

- the small pot thing I am not really excited about, but I'm not completely antagonistic either. It is definitely less good to tweak my Modcan A stuff. But then I can also fit at least twice as much functionality into a Sixpac. But at a certain point you have to wonder, why didn't I just go Euro?

- for gods sake make sure your mounting holes line up vertically with something (Mu might be safest). That way, at least vector rails and wooden cases in some format will still work.

Honestly, I am waffling like hell. I think it's a "if you build it, they will come" scenario. 5U guys may seem intolerant of stuff like off-brand panels and non-Moog knobs, but looking around I see a couple dozen guys here who are supporting Mu and Modcan and MOTM already, so I think, if you build something enticing, orders will come, and if you can be more price-competitive while remaining rock-solid, then even more orders will come! Your modules already sound great, like what I would expect out of Bridechamber. I'm surprised there's not more support for a cheap(er) 1U sequencer! Must not be enough noobs in the house today. Have faith in that product, you seem to be a brave and ingenious designer with great associates! Just look at Wiard 300, what a foolish-seeming format... :hide: And of course, don't make the PCBs incompatible if you should decide to abandon ship. :yay:

...sorry for the tldr.
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Post by kindredlost » Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:59 am

I can see marketplace room for a denser 5U, but in coalescing module function instead of component size.

For instance, adding amplifiers to EG's, or filter/amp combo's. These are where dotcom modules are so space hungry. Other mfg's make better use of the module space. This is what I'd like to see more of.

The ARP 2500 had this concept going for it in some ways, but the beauty of it's design was no jacks. Using outboard slider matrix is still a killer idea. You could have a dedicated cabinet/matrix setup and sandwich dense modules between the matrix. I still wonder why someone hasn't done this like ARP and EMS.

Of course lugging around a 2500 is not exactly competition with EuroRack.

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Post by drewtoothpaste » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:39 am

The weight of the system (and its immobility) are what I like about the 5U format. You can plug/unplug cables and turn knobs and nothing flexes, moves, or bends.

If you need to move that shit, get on stevia, lift some weights, get swole!

:twisted: WEIGHTLIFTING :twisted:

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Post by magman » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:47 am

You can get quite a lot into 5U if you move away from the MOTM standard layout, just look what Teknik from the EM forums has done, here:

http://synteknik.blogspot.com/

I especially like the look of some of these metal instrument knobs and the panels look quite a bit thinner than standard MOTM.

I'll probably stick to the standard MOTM format for now though, I'll just have to get a bit more exercise before I try and move my system around.

Regards

Magman

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Post by sduck » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:02 am

bridechamber wrote:
sduck wrote:
I'm not a fan of pot and switch mounted pcb's - I've had to fix too many of these. It's great in concept, but sucks the road-worthiness right out of a module. Personally I'd think old fashioned brackets would still work, but perhaps have all the wiring interconnect based like the dotcom stuff?
Hmm... the combo pot/ switches give out or what? That's the key for me, to cut down on time, cost and weight.
I've had several pots break off the pcb or pull apart, even when bracketed. Consider a fall from several feet, and how the pcb(/bracket) are going to fare if the angle is just right to flex the pcb back and forth. You've got 2 large masses involved; the front panel and it's components, and the pcb and it's parts - and the interface between these is often the weakest link in the system. Put wires that can flex between these two parts, and you eliminate a large source of problems.
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Post by pugix » Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:47 pm

magman wrote:You can get quite a lot into 5U if you move away from the MOTM standard layout, just look what Teknik from the EM forums has done, here:

http://synteknik.blogspot.com/

I especially like the look of some of these metal instrument knobs and the panels look quite a bit thinner than standard MOTM.

I'll probably stick to the standard MOTM format for now though, I'll just have to get a bit more exercise before I try and move my system around.

Regards

Magman
Those Teknik designs are beautiful! I'd never seen them before. Thanks for the link. They don't look like any standard format I know of. 5U height, but narrower than MU. Agree about the appealing variety of knobs and switches, even panel graphics. The grid spacing is certainly closer than 1" on some. Here's one with 10 jacks vertically.

http://synteknik.blogspot.com/2010/07/m ... rsion.html

It looks as if he fit components in whatever way would work, not worrying too much about a standard, except the panel dimensions. I can appreciate that, even though I personally have stuck with standard grids.
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Post by NV » Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:11 pm

drewtoothpaste wrote:The weight of the system (and its immobility) are what I like about the 5U format. You can plug/unplug cables and turn knobs and nothing flexes, moves, or bends.

If you need to move that shit, get on stevia, lift some weights, get swole!

:twisted: WEIGHTLIFTING :twisted:
I'm kind of on the same page. I have a mix of formats in my system and many of the things I enjoy about 5U are directly related to its unwieldy girth - big knobs, heavy and solid feel, seems like it would win in a fight with most people. One of the biggest 5U appeals for me is DIY - building a module where the PCBs aren't a hair away from SMT and the wiring can be done with a soldering iron rather than a miracle. Panel wiring a module in euro is a great way to test your patience.

1/4" cables are fun and all, but only when there's room to use them. If I'm tossing a portable and condensed modular over my shoulder I'll bring out my euro system and cram all the cables I'll need into a big pocket rather than try to build a combustion module so I can drive my 5U. That being said, I do love the non-standard 5U panel designs out there like the UEG, Tellun Switching Comparator, Klee, and MFOS Sequencer, but I think those are cases where the right mix between large format and practical density were achieved. On the other side of the spectrum, huge panels for the sake of being huge are sort of annoying (IE, MOTM-320 VCLFO with about 50% dead space).

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Post by analogsteve » Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:41 pm

Your module ideas sound great, but I think a new format is the last thing we need in 5U.
slovo wrote:I do think that the splintering of the format has likely done a lot to deter potential adopters.

- for gods sake make sure your mounting holes line up vertically with something (Mu might be safest). That way, at least vector rails and wooden cases in some format will still work.
The weakness of 5U is the division between formats. A euro system may look like a patchwork of different colours and styles, but all those wildly different modules from so many manufacturers will fit in the same case and run off the same power supply. This is key.

5U is a weird scene. People get all worked up over what type of knob you use, or whether or not you stick to some stupid grid. As euro has proven, what makes a format is mounting and power compatibility.

MU is the dominant format in the 5U world. A lot of MOTM guys use Synthesizers.com walnut cases anyway. I don't really care what your modules look like, but I should be able to mount them in my Synthesizers.com case without drilling extra holes or leaving ugly gaps.
slovo wrote:- agreed, those MU ears are silly and heavy too
This is kind of ridiculous. MU Panels are made of .062" aluminum and are incredibly light. The "ears" add strength and rigidity. The actual weight of the "ears" is so minuscule that it is hardly worth mentioning.
slovo wrote:- the small pot thing I am not really excited about, but I'm not completely antagonistic either. It is definitely less good to tweak my Modcan A stuff. But then I can also fit at least twice as much functionality into a Sixpac. But at a certain point you have to wonder, why didn't I just go Euro?
Every once in a while, someone brings up the topic of making 5U more portable. I don't get it. A huge part of the appeal of the format is that it's just so huge. 1/4" jacks, lots of space for chubby fingers, big knobs... The larger the diameter of the knob, the easier it is to dial it in just right. I find this especially useful for recall. C'mon people. If you're really that concerned with panel size and function density then what the hell are you doing messing around with the 5U format stuff in the first place?

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Post by pugix » Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:19 pm

analogsteve wrote:C'mon people. If you're really that concerned with panel size and function density then what the hell are you doing messing around with the 5U format stuff in the first place?
Because originally we thought we'd stay in the studio, but later changed our minds? :hmm:

A few late nights I've pondered getting a BugBrand to carry around and leave the 5U stuff at home. :bugbrand:
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Post by JohnLRice » Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:36 pm

pugix wrote:
magman wrote:You can get quite a lot into 5U if you move away from the MOTM standard layout, just look what Teknik from the EM forums has done, here:

http://synteknik.blogspot.com/

I especially like the look of some of these metal instrument knobs and the panels look quite a bit thinner than standard MOTM
Those Teknik designs are beautiful!
Agreed! :love:

They remind me somewhat of the CMS modules only with ¼" jacks:
Image
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Post by magman » Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:34 pm

I posted the Teknik designs as an example of the density you can achieve if you move away from the 1.625 inch pot spacing that is the MOTM standard.

I'm working on a few sequencer panels that are going to deviate from the MOTM standard (2 x Fonik VCPS8), simply because I want them to fit in 2U rather than 3U or more, so I'm using 19mm Alco style knobs rather than the normal 27mm to fit 8 pots in one vertical line, rather than the strict standard maximum of 4. The panel still looks good with all of my other MOTM panels.

I suppose what we are moving towards here is an MOTM-Lite type of panel design. It would still fit in an MOTM rack space (so 1U or 2U, with the standard MOTM mounting holes), but the pot spacing would be a lot tighter. PSU connections should also still be MOTM compatible. This would then allow the panels to co-exist with standard modules if required. There will probably also be some component issues (like pot sizes of 16mm max for example), though I would still like to see the jacks at the bottom of the panel, as in MOTM. I also think choosing the right knobs could possibly making the denser layout a bit more useable, something like the instrument style knobs that Teknik used on some of his panels, like these:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_scXskDGdzNw/T ... 0/pol1.jpg

Interesting discussion though, lets see what develops.

Regards

Magman

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Post by Just me » Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:00 pm

One thing I like about MU is no rigid spacing scheme. I find it easier to recognize my modules even in the dark as each one has a different layout to it.
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Post by emdot_ambient » Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:30 pm

JohnLRice wrote:Will this work?
Image
I've got a couple of those to be used with some 10-turn pots. :tu:

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Post by emdot_ambient » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:00 pm

JohnLRice wrote:
pugix wrote:Those Teknik designs are beautiful!
Agreed! :love:
They remind me somewhat of the CMS modules only with ¼" jacks:
Image
With 1/4" jacks and only 5U tall. CMS are something like 6U tall.

I've worked with 1/8" jacks for over 30 years (ARP Axxes & Sequencer). I hate them. They've gone bad at least once every decade, whereas I've never had a 1/4" jack go bad in any of my keyboards.

As for the proposed format, I agree that they should conform to either MU or MOTM as far as mounting and power goes. Power's not such a problem really since a lot of 5U are now coming with either MOTM or Dotcom power connections...and of course it's pretty easy to adapt them from one format to another. But panel width and mounting holes are an issue.

As for spacing on the panels themselves and knob sizes...have at it! I'm designing my first case now and it's going to be pretty close to what's been proposed here (although I'm doing full 19" wide panels).

Brown/cream? Hmmm...not into that. Black/white is hard to beat. Blue/white looks pretty good, but I think I'd get tired of it after a while. White/black would make these panels fit in with Modcan B modules and I think that would be a plus (I really want Modcan B stuff when I can justify the cost, but I hate the idea of odd modules sticking out like a sore thumb surrounded by a sea of black/white).

Jack placement I prefer (as much as possible) at the bottom of the panel and not mixed in with the knobs. I also prefer inputs on the left and outputs on the right with the most likely to be used jacks on the bottom row. That's my own preference, though, and not everyone's cuppa.

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Post by J3RK » Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:39 pm

magman wrote:You can get quite a lot into 5U if you move away from the MOTM standard layout, just look what Teknik from the EM forums has done, here:

http://synteknik.blogspot.com/

I especially like the look of some of these metal instrument knobs and the panels look quite a bit thinner than standard MOTM.

I'll probably stick to the standard MOTM format for now though, I'll just have to get a bit more exercise before I try and move my system around.

Regards

Magman
Davies 1900H and 1/4" looks beautiful! That may be a good way to go. You can pack these into less space and still turn them well, and as long as you've still got solid pots behind them, strength as well. I may do some rethinking of my designs to go this route. I like a thick panel and panel mounted controls, so switching the knobs, could be the key here.

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Post by sduck » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:21 am

J3RK wrote: Davies 1900H and 1/4" looks beautiful! That may be a good way to go.
Here's some examples of lots of knobs and functionality packed into small 1U panels -

Image

These knobs, although crammed in pretty tight, are no problem to work with. And you could probably get even more of them on one of these panels.

The one thing I like to stick with is the standard motm jack grid - I like having all my jacks down at the bottom, and I don't think compressing them even more is a good idea. At least with my fingers, manipulating cords in and out of tight patches is fine at this spacing, but any tighter and things would get hairy.
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Post by neandrewthal » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:22 am

analogsteve wrote: C'mon people. If you're really that concerned with panel size and function density then what the hell are you doing messing around with the 5U format stuff in the first place?
Cause it`s my synth and I can do what I want :bananaguitar:

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Post by analogsteve » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:54 am

neandrewthal wrote:
analogsteve wrote: C'mon people. If you're really that concerned with panel size and function density then what the hell are you doing messing around with the 5U format stuff in the first place?
Cause it`s my synth and I can do what I want :bananaguitar:
Fair enough. I'm all for people doing what they want. I'm just pointing out the inherent dichotomy.

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Post by Luka » Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:09 am

5U offers enough space to pack a lot of features onto a panel
everything can have cv input attenuators, extra utilities and still space to move

Image

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