DIY. How hard is it?

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dmod
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DIY. How hard is it?

Post by dmod » Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:28 am

I have always been tempted to get into DIY modular stuff but I guess I am just a little intimidated. I have soldered a couple of basic things before but not much. Is it worth it to get into this crazy world it sure sounds fun? :hmm: I would love to here anyones story especially someone that maybe was hesitant to do it and now loves it or the opposite and said"screw this not for me" lol.

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protocaps
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Post by protocaps » Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:30 am

All i know if you can save a lot of money :guinness:

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Count Edlington
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Post by Count Edlington » Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:34 am

I think you'd get a better response if you asked this in the DIY forum. There's so many amazing things going on there have a look :tu:

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muncky
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Post by muncky » Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:49 am

It's definitely do-able - I've built a few modules in my 6u, using pcbs and panels sourced through MW. I came from a low base (hadn't soldered anything properly before), and cocked up a few things, and make silly mistakes frequently, but getting less stressed about how to fix them these days. Some stories here:

http://www.danjec.com/index.php?/noisebox/05/

And the DIY forum is excellent - lots of clever folks, and lots of help available for the simple (or in my case, stupid 8_) ) or complex questions.

You could start with the AtAtAt from thonk.co.uk or else an RCD. Both really do-able, with excellent documentation

Go for it :tu:

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consumed
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Post by consumed » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:23 am

anyone can DIY. i started in on DIY after about a year of module swapping. my first modules were full kits (motm and blacet). i started building modules before i could read a schematic.

i recommend starting out with kits until you get familiar with through-hole parts and start to be more comfortable reading schematics, although many fantastic BOMs are out there for current DIY projects that make ordering parts super easy (like Mouser projects). stay away from complex designs at first. build simpler circuits (like utility modules) until you get up to speed. take your time building to avoid build errors (which take some time and experience to troubleshoot!).

DIY is not necessarily inexpensive. some manufacturers can really give DIY a run for its money in cost (e.g. doepfer). in most cases, the front panel is the most expensive piece. if you learn to make your own panels (or you get on some of the offerings around here) you can definitely save some $ building it yourself.

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Post by iopop » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:36 am

consumed wrote:DIY is not necessarily inexpensive.
This,

The only time you actually save money is when you DIY your own mult. For other modules it is cheaper to buy ready made, unless you have unlimited time on your hands.

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Post by muncky » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:43 am

Yep, there is definitely an overhead. Some modules give you it all, like the ones I mentioned, others it's a pcb and a panel, and it definitely mounts up. Building the Thomad White LPG was partly because the were no Optomix's out there, and partly on a cost basis. I think by the time I had all the parts for the TWLPG, it was at most only £50 cheaper in parts than the Optomix, and it took me a long time to build (and de-bug :mrgreen: )

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Post by andrewF » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:20 am

Regarding $$$, learn to make your own panels and cost is no longer an issue.

This synth is the equivalent of 8 Serge panels, made from 2 metal shelves found in a dumpster and 3 pieces of wood. the labelling was done with printable A4 clear stickers and then covered with contact.
Total cost for panels and case - approx $20 (printable stickers, contact, screws and drillbits) and a days work
Yes I own a drill press, they are cheap.

The other beauty of making your own panel is that you get a unique synth (....well unless it's a Serge clone like mine :oops: )

Image

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falafelbiels
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Post by falafelbiels » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:33 am

Is there a synth hidden behind that synth?

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Post by whitewulfe » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:51 am

I agree on the whole cost thing... While it is possible to "save" money through DIY, you wind up "paying" with your own personal time to build, test and debug everything, not to mention tools, supplies, and eventually storage/sorting stuff. I simply look at DIY at being able to pick up items that aren't readily available assembled, not to mention just the fun of it.

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Post by andrewF » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:01 am

falafelbiels wrote:Is there a synth hidden behind that synth?
yeh that was in my old place, it got pretty crowded.
Not like now, half my synths set up in the shed, half set up inside the house, right next to me :mrgreen:

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falafelbiels
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Post by falafelbiels » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:05 am

so if you have plenty of time to kill it wii be worthwhile.

the problem really is tools and learning how to use them. this will consume time/ money and so it wil take a while before you will be truely seeeing your investment return. It's great fun though and if you do your own panels you get to decide on what features your modules actually have. That is a big plus to me.

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Post by gwaidan » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:08 am

iopop wrote:
consumed wrote:DIY is not necessarily inexpensive.
This,

The only time you actually save money is when you DIY your own mult. For other modules it is cheaper to buy ready made, unless you have unlimited time on your hands.
Not really. My quad TW LPG cost me about $240 all up...compare that to a QMMG!
If you can only source your parts from Radio Shack/Jaycar/main street shops then forget about DIY. Buy them from Mouser, Tayda or Futurlec and you will save money. For concrete savings and a smooth build why not get a kit or two-Bridechamber, 4MS and Elby can get you started...
Last edited by gwaidan on Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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falafelbiels
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Post by falafelbiels » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:08 am

looooove all the colors Andrew.....

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Post by Boogdish » Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:47 am

If you're goal is to save money, you may be disappointed, depending on what it is you're building. If you're goal is to experience the process of building a synthesizer module, you're less likely to be disappointed. There are rewards to this beyond just having more modules.
I have DIY stuff and pre-made eurorack modules of my designs at: www.bartonmusicalcircuits.com

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Post by Soy Sos » Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:56 am

For the sake of balance, my story is that I tried for a while and bailed on it.
I started trying to build stuff with Rick from Pitt Mod, he kept making stuff and I did not. My success rate was something like 50% and I don't think I'm really wired (get it?) to be the kind of person to soldier on to figure out why something doesn't work. YMMV!

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Post by drip.feed » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:11 am

My idea of a panel:

Image


andrewF's idea of a panel:

Image
:lol:
Dripfeed

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Post by e-grad » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:13 am

DIY tends to be rather time consuming thus you might end up doing less music than before.

Speaking on money: You hardly can save any money compared to ready built Doepfer modules. However, compared to hand made boutique modules you'll save some bucks.

My main cost factor are the panels. I've them made by Schaeffer (Front Panel Express) which is rather costly compared to andrewF's approach. But then FPE works fine for me to get an professional finish for my DIY-stuff.

BTW I've started DIY with Blacet kits which offer an outstanding cost/performance ratio.

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Post by synthcube » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:15 am

Boogdish wrote:If you're goal is to save money, you may be disappointed, depending on what it is you're building. If you're goal is to experience the process of building a synthesizer module, you're less likely to be disappointed. There are rewards to this beyond just having more modules.
+1

It really depends on your goals.... DIY can be very gratifying in terms of seeing your work come to completion. It can be less expensive if you are smart about panels and parts sourcing. It can be equally frustrating in terms of troubleshooting etc... but I land on the side of trying it out -- you can always switch back to assembled modules.... I also think we are about to see a big increase in DIY kits, panels etc for Euro as well, providing more opportunities and support
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Post by slow_riot » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:31 am

For me, DIY has been quite rewarding in small doses. It's necessary to invest quite a lot into it to get the desired results, and I wouldn't do it if I had a better paid job unless I really enjoyed it.

Blacet kits were what I used (nothing else yet) and they were really cost effective, with really great documentation. Although I would probably start out with something less valuable, as well as to research a decent amount about soldering method.

I just got a PEG kit and the documentation looks fantastic, and the price saving is really significant.

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Post by negativspace » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:47 am

Even with spare-no-expense panels from FPE and expensive parts, DIY modules generally cost me 50-80% of a comparable retail module. You guys who claim it's just as expensive are doing something wrong. :despair:

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Post by thermionicjunky » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:04 pm

I am one that saves money doing DIY. I use generic panels labelled with a pen. I pack modules into a tight one-inch grid. Some modules are built into cigar boxes.

The reason that I got into DIY was to make modules that weren't commercially available (either in my desired format or at all). When my cabinet is done, it will be packed with Buchla, Fritz, Haible, CGS, Dixon, Stites and Bergfotron. Only a few can be purchased assembled, but either in Euro, which I have strict limits on, or in spacious layouts that I can't devote space to. I was reluctant to begin, but it has given me the system that I always wanted (combined with commercial modules).

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Post by Soy Sos » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:19 pm

negativspace wrote:Even with spare-no-expense panels from FPE and expensive parts, DIY modules generally cost me 50-80% of a comparable retail module. You guys who claim it's just as expensive are doing something wrong. :despair:
:lol:
Probably. What I was doing wrong was working too slow and building unsuccessfully. My time is better spent earning some money and buying a functioning module that fits my need. If you are inclined to to DIY, do it!

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Post by synthcube » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:24 pm

monobass does a great job with kits too, there's always bridechamber, hexinverter has some well-documented ones as well in addition to blacet, elby, 4ms et al. Some really good options out there.
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Post by Barcode » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:26 pm

Is it hard? Not really. Just start with an easy full kit. The 4ms stuff is a good start.

As for saving money... for the component / hardware side, yes you will save money. If you consider your time as a cost, you will pretty much break even if everything goes as planned. If you have to troubleshoot an issue your time will go up.

To be completely honest I don't build to save money. I build for the joy of building. and heck soldering is very therapeutic for me.

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