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DIY kits - manageable with zero electronics knowledge?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules  
Author DIY kits - manageable with zero electronics knowledge?
tallrobphilp
Hi everyone. Annoying newbie again.

I'm curious about DIY kits for modules, that is to say complete kits and not my own self-designed stuff. I think it looks like it would be fun and satisfying but my electronics knowledge is basically zero.

So let's put it this way - if I'm the kind of person who has patience and can carefully follow instructions but doesn't know electronics, am I likely to be able to manage? Do these kits typically have instructions or just a bag of components and a schematic that I won't be able to understand?

I bought my Knurlies eurorack screws from Thonk and they have loads of interesting stuff on there at what appears to be very affordable prices. It seems like you can get some fun stuff that you might not find elsewhere and it's in the spirit of modular to try these.

Part of the modular "thing" for me is finding a hobby that is away from my computer, so this might fit the bill in that regard. That said, I don't have a lot of spare time to learn electronics to a high standard. I'm not trying to be lazy, just honest. I have a lot on my plate with work (I'm a software developer) and a fairly busy family life but I have enough spare time to spend a few hours in the evenings if this will be enough.

Cheers!
sleepgardens
This should probably go in the DIY section but yes, totally doable.

Of course there are easier modules than others (by easier I mean less components and clear and detailed instructions), for example Music Thing Modular/Fonitronik/AI Synthesis/God's Box/Erica Synth are a great start point, they all provide build guides with pictures and give you already sorted components.

After those you could go the next step to brands who provide full kits with less instructions like Befaco/SSSR Labs/Zlob/etc. Just read the build documentation before purchasing and you will get which brands I'm talking about.

After a while you could go ahead and enter the fabolous world of buying pcb/panels and sourcing the parts yourself. This is a whole different skill than building but worth it both economically (sometimes) and in terms of knowledge of electronics.

EDIT: Also some other suggestions: first get some cheap training soldering kit to get the hang of soldering. This is important to avoid the part where an actual knowledge in electronics is needed: troubleshooting. If something goes wrong you won't even know where to start to get it right... so it's good to at least have a good soldering technique beforehand.
Luap
Yes, do check the DIY section.. You'll find others have asked similar questions before.

But to add.. Youtube has some great soldering tutorials. So seek out some of those.
Also, whatever you do, don't start with an expensive kit. If you cock it up, you'll be pissed that you wasted a chunk of money.
And you'll need some tools beyond just a soldering iron. A decent multimeter for example is pretty much essential.
abelovesfun
Some great brands for beginners have been advised, including mine.

Yes, it is totally doable, that is how most of us started.

We do offer kits, but check out aisynthesis.com for guides on tools and articles around capacitor substitution, how resistors work, and other stuff.
If you do decide to buy a kit or PCB panel, every module has a full video how to guide, no wiring to confuse you, and extensive build guides with pictures for every step and free schematics always. Feel free to hit me up at aisynthesis.com/contact or in this thread if you have any questions.

Welcome to this wonderful hobby!
R.U.Nuts
... And better start with through hole kits. Before getting a kit check wether it requires SMD soldering. SMD components are way smaller and require a different soldering technique.
pieter
Great advice above, from my experience you should take all of it to heart, especially practicing on a cheap kit. Too bad Maplin is no longer a brick and mortar shop.

I'd like to add that you should not get a cheap soldering iron. A good quality iron makes the process so much easier and more enjoyable (good heat transfer is essential). Also get decent soldering tin. Once you mastered putting kits together you can gradually learn more about circuits and venture into simple circuit design. Before you know it you'll be reading the Filter Cookbook...
roya
Until a year ago, I never touched a soldering iron. I decided that I’m going to build a mutable instruments elements... people I talked to told me it’s not a good idea wink

I watched tons of YouTube videos on how to solder, bought all the components and started my journey. I tested each component after soldering it, destroyed some along the way, but after a week, had a working module.

Just go for it and don’t be afraid, soldering is way easier than people think...
motorhead412
Go for it! Yeah, you're gonna mess up a few times and you'll get frustrated as hell but there's nothing more satisfying then making a thing that works. Plus, some of us enjoy the smell of solder fumes or maybe that's just me....
joem
Just to echo what I believe someone else already touched on: Actual knowledge of electronics is really only needed for troubleshooting or for modifying or designing circuits (and it helps if you ever source your own parts). For building modules from a well documented kit, you usually don't need to know a single thing about electronics, though you do need to know how to solder (and even then, some kits are designed as intro-to-soldering kits).
mskala
tallrobphilp wrote:
So let's put it this way - if I'm the kind of person who has patience and can carefully follow instructions but doesn't know electronics, am I likely to be able to manage? Do these kits typically have instructions or just a bag of components and a schematic that I won't be able to understand?


You can often download the instruction manual for a kit from the same Web site where the kit is sold, so that's a good way to evaluate whether you'll find the instructions adequate. You don't usually need a deep understanding of electronics, but for most kits it helps to at least be able to tell the difference between a resistor and a capacitor, and have some idea of how to use a multimeter.

People put a lot of emphasis on soldering, but don't forget adjustment/testing/calibration/etc. I try to make clear with the kits I sell just what will be required for that part, and it varies. If you're building a Leapfrog VCF it'd be a good idea to have an oscilloscope, whereas the Transistor ADSR doesn't need to be adjusted at all.
FarmerPhilip
DIY Kits run the gamut from superbly documented with useful pictures (Turing Machine) all the way to kits were you get the board, the face plate and a BOM, after which you are on your own to source the components and build it.

Definitely check YouToob but you may also want to look into some of the "Practice" kits that are available to hone your soldering skills for a lot less money.

I mention the Turing Machine specifically because it was the first kit I built and I think it is the best documented kit out there, making it a good early kit even though it is a fairly complex piece of hardware.

Also - stick to through hole soldering at first. The surface mount kits I have seen tend to assume a greater level of knowledge about electronics - and, though certainly doable, they do, without doubt, require soldering skill and experience, plus the potential for frustration is a good deal higher with them.

Once you get started, don't discount the possibilities of designing your own simple circuits from scratch - that is a ton of fun and immensely satisfying!
electricanada
Everyone starts from zero knowledge. I have found building well-documented kits to be very meditative and relaxing. On the other hand, I have found building poorly-documented kits (and trouble-shooting even the well-documented kits) to be a frustrating experience. You take the good with the bad.
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