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[CONTEST] Design a new module and potentially win $2000
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Author [CONTEST] Design a new module and potentially win $2000
synthcube
UPDATED 5/20/2018 to modify terms-

Synth Module Design Contest

Win up to US$2000, recognition for your design capabilities and a lifetime royalty for your winning module!

Are you an aspiring synth module designer? A hobbyist with a desire to do commercial synth work? A quality synth module builder who wants to try your hand at module design work? A budding synth maker looking for a little boost?

Here’s your chance!

synthCube is sponsoring the inaugural ‘Make-a-Module’ design contest. It’s intended to encourage innovation and creativity in synth module design, by focusing on a few of the recently-introduced ICs that are modular-synth friendly.

Design requirements:
- Design 1, 2 or 3 modules that feature the Sound Semiconductor SSI2144 VCF, the Sound Semiconductor SSI2164 VCA, the OnChip CEM3340 and/or the Xvive MN3005 Bucket Brigade Delay, individually in each module, or in any combination.
- Modules must operate on either +/- 12V or +/- 15V; If your module(s) require different components to run on 12V vs 15V, those components must be specified
- Modules must be designed to be compatible with one or more of the established modular formats, eg eurorack, MOTM, dotcom/MU, 4U, Frac-rack, et al. Module technical specifications must be specified and be consistent with the established standards for the chosen format(s).
- Through-hole, DIY-friendly SMT or hybrid PCBs are acceptable. Note that the featured ICs represent both through-hole and SMT configurations
- Maximum PCB size is 6” X 8”; minimum size is 1” X 3”
- Your module design can utilize pcb-mounted pots/switches/LEDS/jacks, or flying wires to panel components, or a combination. If you need help with component selection for PCB-mounted panel parts, contact us for suggestions.
- Digital, analog or hybrid A-D designs are acceptable
- Complex designs are not necessarily required; simple but useful modules will be judged on equal footing
- By the due date, please submit:
o Schematic design and BOM
o List of controls, inputs, outputs, features, functions
o Calibration instructions (if required)
o One or more sample patch description/module use(s)
o Video, photo, or written proof of design success- demonstrate that your module(s) work as expected

o Production-ready PCB gerber files
o Panel designs will be accepted but are not required
o Proposed module names/brands will be accepted but are not required


Restrictions, Limitations and Conditions
- Do not copy other people’s work. We’ll know it, they’ll know it, the synth community will know it, and its bad form. If your module is inspired in part by other’s prior work, please acknowledge, recognize and credit it.
- People and companies with more than three modules available in the assembled or DIY markets do not qualify. This contest is intended to encourage newer designers, so if you’re a pro, please respect the goal of the contest -- don’t play.
- If you are a ‘smaller’ entity with three or fewer modules in the marketplace, you may qualify to compete. You can submit a design that is associated with your name/company, or you can submit something independent.
- Teams of up to three individuals are permitted. Each team member must meet the qualification requirements.
- Any individual can join up to three teams; Each individual/team is limited to submitting no more than four module designs.
- If you have any questions about your qualification to compete, please contact us. We reserve the right to make final decisions around eligibility.
- No purchase required.
- Employees/family members of synthCube cannot participate.
- In exchange for your entry to the contest, synthCube retains the right to modify, produce, market and/or sell modules based on the design(s) you submit for a limited exclusive period of eight months.After that the design rights revert to the designer. By submitting your design(s) to synthCube you acknowledge this reflects a transfer of the design rights in exchange for consideration related to prizes for the exclusivity period.
- You may utilize software simulation tools, but it’s not required.
- If you do not have the necessary CAD layout skills, software, libraries, etc. you may get help from someone who does. You must tell us who that is, so we can ensure fairness. Someone you rely on solely for CAD production does not count against your three-member team limit, and some CAD-fluent people may help multiple people/teams. We are doing this so people who lack CAD tools or skills are not penalized.

Key Dates

- By 20 May 2018 Entrants required to register with synthCube
- By 15 July 2018 End of design period; submissions due
- By 5 August 2018 End of judging period; winner(s) announced
- Dates subject to change

Prizes and Recognition
First Prize:
- $1000 cash prize
- $1000 store credit to synthCube and/or Music From Outer Space
- Lifetime royalty for synthCube sales of PCBs, panels, kits, modules etc. for the winning module(s)*
- synthCube will commission a panel design for your module(s) and will consult with you on branding, style, logotype, layout etc.
- synthCube will commission a demo video for your module(s)
Second Prize:
- $500 store credit to synthCube and/or Music From Outer Space
- lifetime payments for synthCube sales of PCBs, panels, kits, modules etc. for the second place module(s)*
- synthCube will commission a panel design for your module(s) and will consult with you on branding, style, logotype, layout etc.
- synthCube will commission a demo video for your module(s)
Third Prize:
- $100 store credit to synthCube and/or Music From Outer Space
- lifetime payments for synthCube sales of PCBs, panels, kits, modules etc. for the third place module(s)*
- synthCube will commission a panel design for your module(s) and will consult with you on branding, style, logotype, layout etc.
- synthCube will commission a demo video for your module(s)

Judging:

We will review and evaluate the submissions against some objective criteria and subjective opinion. We will rely on a small group of friends/business partners for input to the review process.
Objective criteria:
1) do(es) the module(s) use one or more of the required ICs? (YES is required)
2) is the module unique (sufficiently different from one or more existing designs available today)? (YES is required)
3) do(es) the module(s) pcb(s) meet the PCB size requirements? (YES is required)
4) Are all of the submission requirements met (YES is required)

Disclaimer:
Our intent in sponsoring this contest is to encourage newer designers and synth enthusiasts to learn, experiment, and be creative. We believe this is in the spirit of the synth DIY community If feedback from the community is negative, we reserve the right to postpone or cancel without notice. If questions arise during the contest we will provide answers to all contest participants equally. We reserve the right to cancel the contest if we have fewer participants than planned.
To register for the contest, please email us the following information:
- Name(s) of each team member; team name (if any)
- Where you heard about the contest
- Will you do the PCB CAD work yourself or rely on someone else for assistance?

NOTE: There’s no registration fee and no purchase is necessary

Use this thread for contest questions, comments, feedback, requests for advice/help, suggestions, ideas, etc!


*Royalty note: Typical royalties range from US$5 to $US25 per PCB made/sold depending on module complexity, cost, retail price and other factors.
sduck
Very cool!
Joe.
synthcube wrote:
In exchange for your entry to the contest, synthCube retains the right to modify, produce, market and/or sell modules based on the design(s) you submit. By submitting your design(s) to synthCube you acknowledge this reflects a transfer of the design rights in exchange for consideration related to prizes.


Will there be royalties for designs that do not win 1st-3rd, but are produced at a later date by SynthCube?
KSS
synthcube wrote:
In exchange for your entry to the contest, synthCube retains the right to modify, produce, market and/or sell modules based on the design(s) you submit. By submitting your design(s) to synthCube you acknowledge this reflects a transfer of the design rights in exchange for consideration related to prizes.

This definitely needs further explanation. Giving away all present and future rights unconditionally for a maybe 3 prizes is not very smart for a would be designer. If you choose not to use the design, it becomes unusable for them under this agreement. If they do go ahead and you allow it and then later decide to re-assess and offer the module your right to stop their production would be in place.

Otherwise, Agree with Sduck that this is cool. Could be very good for the community. Really good for Synthcube. Under present rules, not so good for aspiring designers outside the chosen.
KSS
There's also a typo in the second place winner description. says 'third place module'. Should be 'second place'
KSS
If a designer or team submits four modules, and only one is picked a winner. The other three are no longer owned by the designer-team under your present description.
dubonaire
thumbs up
cretaceousear
Great idea - just needs a wiggling lawyer to review those t&cs out of the goodness of his art. That royalty needs specifying too.
lisa
I can send you my idea for a Moog style transistor cascade ladder filter. w00t

Well, jokes aside. I think that this is a great opportunity for anyone who has a few cool ideas but no time or ability to or interest in making anything of them.
KSS
cretaceousear wrote:
That royalty needs specifying too.

It's here in tiny print at the bottom of OP. I wondered also and then noticed a blurry line at the bottom on this 20" wide monitor. Not sure why it wasso small.

Synthcube wrote:
*Royalty note: Typical royalties range from US$5 to $US25 per PCB made/sold depending on module complexity, cost, retail price and other factors.
synthcube
Joe. wrote:
synthcube wrote:
In exchange for your entry to the contest, synthCube retains the right to modify, produce, market and/or sell modules based on the design(s) you submit. By submitting your design(s) to synthCube you acknowledge this reflects a transfer of the design rights in exchange for consideration related to prizes.


Will there be royalties for designs that do not win 1st-3rd, but are produced at a later date by SynthCube?


Yes. If we determine in consultation with the designer that a market exists for their design(s) and produce the module, then of course we would agree on royalties, as we would for any design we support.
synthcube
KSS wrote:
synthcube wrote:
In exchange for your entry to the contest, synthCube retains the right to modify, produce, market and/or sell modules based on the design(s) you submit. By submitting your design(s) to synthCube you acknowledge this reflects a transfer of the design rights in exchange for consideration related to prizes.

This definitely needs further explanation. Giving away all present and future rights unconditionally for a maybe 3 prizes is not very smart for a would be designer. If you choose not to use the design, it becomes unusable for them under this agreement. If they do go ahead and you allow it and then later decide to re-assess and offer the module your right to stop their production would be in place.

Otherwise, Agree with Sduck that this is cool. Could be very good for the community. Really good for Synthcube. Under present rules, not so good for aspiring designers outside the chosen.


Fair point-- its loosely based on the 'Amercian Idol' model where an aspiring artist (designer) exchanges some of their creative rights for the opportunity to compete, to gain exposure etc. Producing a first module in collaboration with synthCube does not restrict that designer to producing any other module , in fact one might argue that a 'first module' from a designer, produced with us, could be a jumpstart for other commercial oportunities. Unlike American idol, we only ask the rights for the one submitted module design, not the entire body of work made by that designer for all time smile
synthcube
KSS wrote:
cretaceousear wrote:
That royalty needs specifying too.

It's here in tiny print at the bottom of OP. I wondered also and then noticed a blurry line at the bottom on this 20" wide monitor. Not sure why it wasso small.

Synthcube wrote:
*Royalty note: Typical royalties range from US$5 to $US25 per PCB made/sold depending on module complexity, cost, retail price and other factors.


Fixed the too-small font in the original post. Royalties (like everything else) are negotiable so that was intended as a guideline.
synthcube
As is evident to everyone, we're not attorneys here meh
But in response to this feedback and questions from a couple of people considering entering the contest, we're clarifying the language a bit. Here's the answer to a question submitted to us vai email:

"Fair question-- technically, yes you'd transfer the rights to us for anything you submit, whether you win or not. But for all practical purposes if we believe there's a market for the module, and you agree, we would arrange a production collaboration with you to make it work. If we could not come to terms, then you'd still own it. So it's more like a 'first right of refusal' on producing your design, rather than an outright transfer of rights... perhaps we should clarify that in the description.."
KSS
synthcube wrote:
If we could not come to terms, then you'd still own it. So it's more like a 'first right of refusal' on producing your design, rather than an outright transfer of rights... perhaps we should clarify that in the description.."[/i]

thumbs up
Timmy
synthcube wrote:
As is evident to everyone, we're not attorneys here meh


Maybe get a lawyer, then, before you run a contest like this.

synthcube wrote:

But in response to this feedback and questions from a couple of people considering entering the contest, we're clarifying the language a bit. Here's the answer to a question submitted to us vai email:

"Fair question-- technically, yes you'd transfer the rights to us for anything you submit, whether you win or not. But for all practical purposes if we believe there's a market for the module, and you agree, we would arrange a production collaboration with you to make it work. If we could not come to terms, then you'd still own it. So it's more like a 'first right of refusal' on producing your design, rather than an outright transfer of rights... perhaps we should clarify that in the description.."


No, sorry, that's not good enough. If you really don't intend that each entrant has to transfer all rights to their design to Synthcube just for the privilege of entering the contest, then ffs don't say that in the terms of entry! It's not hard - just remove the offending text. It is not enough to add some informal disclaimer in this thread that that's not technically what you really meant, because if there is ever any dispute, I bet you'll be pointing to the terms of entry exactly as written, and the poor entrant is screwed.

There's no need for entrants to transfer any rights to Synthcube, nor should they give Synthcube "right of first refusal" just for the privilege of entering. If Synthcube want to open negotiations with an entrant, then that's when discussion of transfer of rights or licensing agreements starts. Not at competition entry.
synthcube
Of course we respect everyone's opinion, although its a little disingenuous to ask about this forum on FB, then come over to MW and criticize the contest here, as well.

We'll let our reputation in the community and our fair dealings with many synth makers speak for themselves. Anyone not comfortable with the terms should not enter.

We'll assume @timmy that you're not going to be making an entry ?

Good news is, we have some entrants already and some very interesting concepts being floated about.
Timmy
synthcube wrote:
Of course we respect everyone's opinion, although its a little disingenuous to ask about this forum on FB, then come over to MW and criticize the contest here, as well.


In the FB thread on this, you said "it's sorted out on MW" and you referred me here. So I looked here, and saw that the unreasonable claim on rights to every entry is still there, and it hasn't been sorted out at all. That's not disingenuous.

Anyway, clearly no-one much cares, but I strongly urge prospective entrants to actually read all the conditions as stated, and consider what they mean, before entering this contest.

synthcube wrote:

We'll let our reputation in the community and our fair dealings with many synth makers speak for themselves. Anyone not comfortable with the terms should not enter.

We'll assume @timmy that you're not going to be making an entry ?


Not with the totally unreasonable conditions of entry as they stand, no.
ranix
Synthcube, I think the magic word you're looking for is "non-exclusive". You need a license because you want to sell it via Synthcube, and you don't want the designer to be able to take it away. But, you also don't want the designer to not be able to produce the module himself if he wants, or open source the hardware. So you require a non-exclusive license.

Either that, or maybe you should alter the terms to say that the submitted designs must be open source and licensed with a license of your choosing (I might suggest Creative Commons - Attribution 3.0).

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, I think it would be prudent if you contact a lawyer to obtain some legal advice, but I would not insist.
ehafh
i think it's really cool this is a thing being offered.

from what i've seen over the past 3 years synthcube has put out a lot of cool designs. i really dug the SMT conversion of the Thomas Henry SN Voice.

i will say that this shop has gone out of their way when not required on more than one of my orders. other shops that i have spent 50x the money at have not done the same. very few of the small companies have gone out of their way when not even asked to do so. that kind of speaks a lot to me as a customer, i also like throwing in bonus stuff to good customers or large orders. synthcube doesn't seem like a place that's out to get you. none of these shops i've dealt with over the past 3 years do. this whole community is awesome and it's quite small.

maybe the terms needed some work from the initial post, and that's ok really.
i just don't get the impression that this was anything but a cool idea to support the community.
furthermore there's a lot of people who don't have the ability to fund a project of this sort and that's demonstrated by the many open source items we can buy at cost. people outside of the usa are making killer stuff. these monetary amounts may be HUGE to someone who lives in india for example.

best of luck to everyone involved. i'm sure amicable terms will be reached and the whole community will benefit. we're already benefiting from the knowledge of such an idea being offered as a route people could consider.

nanners
tojpeters
A kind and generous offer
I’m trying to get my oldest son to enter
synthcube
We have modifed the terms slightly-- see the OP for the period of exclusivity following submission of winning designs after which rights revert to you, the designer
KSS
synthcube wrote:
We have modifed the terms slightly-- see the OP for the period of exclusivity following submission of winning designs after which rights revert to you, the designer

modded OP wrote:
- In exchange for your entry to the contest, synthCube retains the right to modify, produce, market and/or sell modules based on the design(s) you submit for a limited exclusive period of eight months.After that the design rights revert to the designer. By submitting your design(s) to synthCube you acknowledge this reflects a transfer of the design rights in exchange for consideration related to prizes for the exclusivity period.

thumbs up
Rob_C
You shouldn't have to give up your rights because you lost a contest. If the contest is over and synthcube is interested in a submitted module, that's when negotiations should begin.

Should someone who does not win give synthcube the rights to "modify, produce, market and/or sell modules based on the design(s) you submit" for five months after the contest (a period of less than three months) is over ???

"By submitting your design(s) to synthCube you acknowledge this reflects a transfer of the design rights in exchange for consideration related to prizes for the exclusivity period." Again, the contest is less than three months. Once the contest is over, there are no more prizes, so why should synthcube claim rights and exclusivity for five more months?

There is no mention of compensation for synthcube selling your non-winning module after the contest. Presumably, that is negotiated. But again, no mention of it. So that needs to be added.

Certainly synthcube does not have evil intent, and a module competition is a good idea, but the language still needs tweaking. Once this is done, it could be publicized beyond Muffs to aspiring engineers/designers at colleges and universities.
KSS
Rob_C wrote:
Once the contest is over, there are no more prizes, so why should synthcube claim rights and exclusivity for five more months?


umm, Because it's their contest and that's what they feel will work best for them? Anyone has the option of not entering if the timeframe does not suit them.

And I think you're missing a point in saying "Once the contest is over, there are no more prizes". Clearly there are additional 'prizes' in the possibility that a non-winning submitted design is later chosen for production. While not one of the three, this is certainly in line with what could be called a prize? Your question about payment for these was answered in the first post and reposted by me in larger type. A range was given, and as a private business, it makes sense for them to keep the negotiation details private too.

As the first to draw attention to design rights value and express concern, they've addressed it well. There is a large difference between a few months and the lifetime rights originally asserted.

Synthcube have shown themselves to be a fair and valuable resource for this hobby. The 'prizes' possible beyond the contest winners would seem to be a planned additional reason to have the contest in the first place.
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