LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Buchla, Serge, Studio.h, Northern Light Modular, Keen Assoc., 1979, Vedic Scapes, etc. Banana systems
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sempervirent
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by sempervirent »

Two further comments:

1) It wouldn't be a bad thing to put the module names at the top of each section. It breaks your "no typography" rule but would add a useful level of clarity re: exactly what each panel contains. You could stick with the acronyms to keep it minimal, and move the name of the panel to the bottom.

2) Consider spacing your labels out just a little further from the jacks/knobs/switches, if for no other reason than to accommodate printing/drilling tolerances. When I've laid out Serge panels in the past you run into this issue where centering the label between two "things" makes it unclear whether the label refers to what's above or what's below. But you have a little more leeway to space things out here. You'd hate to install banana jacks and find for example that they slightly cover up the labels because the printed graphics are shifted slightly in relation to the hole locations. Also on the Possibility panel for example you already have some of the icons (like the Rise/Fall labels below the DTG black knobs) spaced out nicely but the waveform labels on the Quad VCA are much smaller and located very close to the jack. Using a consistent maximum height for each of your icons, and consistent spacing above/below each icon, would help to tie everything together.
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by 100000bps »

Hey @sempervirent and @ashleym - many thanks for your constructive input! Much appreciated :). Yeah i need to clean things up in terms of consistency; should've made the graphic elements into symbols from the get go for the easy updates :P, now i'll need to get it done the old-fashion by hand way. At least i laid out a grid so its easy to snap things around.

I really want to keep it as clean as possible so yeah, some lines will need to go, but at the same time i want to have a visual map of "the thing" thats more like a treasure hunt guide :hmm: . Well, back to the drawing board :D
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by KSS »

100000bps wrote: Sat Jun 18, 2022 3:39 pm Tagging for update :) - changes the panels to have a mix of functionalities.
Enthusiasm: DUSG / Dual PCR / DUSG / Dual PCR / DUSG / Quad VCA / SSG + Noise
Possibility: DTG / DTG / DTG / First Aid (R*S) / Quad VCA / Matrix Mixer

Changes - cleaned some graphics, introduced 3rd jack color for Trig/Gate input - Grey. Tried with Red, but was too intrusive for me. This is visible but does not draw attention too much. EDIT - just noticed the SSG should have one more Grey for HOLD...

Enthusiasm v2@2x.png
possibility@2x.png
Looking good. Gray for Gate-Trig works fine.

I think ashleym and sempervirent both made good points. Especially about the distance to labels from jacks. And stylistic consistency. I just made the same point as ashleym about having a style guide to a person I'm helping with a new product. It's not necessary that every knob have the same indicator lines but there needs to be understanding for the differences. Serge swooshes are one easily noted example. They have both style and convey important information. 0-10 or -,0,+ can relay similar information with less splash. min max instead of radial lines, sub lines and numeric marks is often ok too. But sometimes you do want need some kind of positional reference, even if it's unlabeled dots.

You've brought up CL as an example of minimalist panels. A story from a long time ago may paint a slightly different picture. It took my family and friends a long time to realize that I had memorized the grain patterns of our Scrabble tiles. The same thing is going on with CL panels. There are *plenty* of reference points around those knobs jacks and switches. That's *not* going to play out the same for aluminum panels. Unless you veneer them with a paper-backed and stabilized sheet.

Designing panels for bananas is not the same as designing for 3.5mm jacks. The initial area and potentially needed area are larger for each jack location. This also impacts the ease of reaching toggles and knobs.

Classic bananas are 0.440" 11mm diameter. If you make 1/2" 12,7mm 'construction' circles around each jack location when laying out you can ensure that labels won't be overlaid by the jack ring. <--This is a minimum and not put forth as an ideal spacing for labels! These construction footprints of course do not appear on the final panel. But there's more to consider.
Stacking banana plugs cover a great deal more area than 3,5mm types. The offset means that an even larger 'construction' circle can should be used to show the *entire* possible footprint covered by a patched jack. Like a boat on anchor or the plug can and will be rotated up to 360 degrees during patching and performing. A stack will cover more area than a single as each exiting cord requires a rotational shift to stay clear of those exiting below. Mathematically you *never* need more than 2-high plug stacking. But it's not uncommon to have taller stacks during patch creation.

I'm not bothered by the length of line or distance between a switch and its LED. But I think the LED should have reasonable proximal relation to whatever it's indicating. I'd rather have the LED in the 'right' place with a long line -so the jack, switch, or knob can also be in the 'right' place- than use a short line for short line's sake.
Making full panels i could prolly add some utilities like Logic and Peak/Through on the modules section :hmm: the panels would become denser still but have more functions. Maybe every 2nd row in places where it is not close to knobs - like in the middle of DUSG & DuPCR ? WDYT?
I'm not a fan of the Euro-ization of Serge. It seems 4U designers are trying to cram more and more into smaller and smaller areas in new Serge related formats. It's one thing when you add a noise jack or two in a whole panel, or a couple toggles midst 4 jacks to give a range choice.
But it's quite another when the almost perfect 3/4" 19mm Hi x 1" 25mm wide 'grid' is changed to a 1/2" 12,7mm 'diamond' infested sea of patently unusable possibility. :foul: Is anyone still designing for actual use, or just making pretty pictures that look good on a screen and don't work well in the real world? :hmm: Has this been going on so long people have forgotten the joy of original paperface serge spacing? And the later 8up, but before the 'land grab' urban developer-ish squeezing between these elements.

Whatever you do, I *strongly* suggest you print it out full size, populate it with your *actual* panel parts and try some REAL -but 'fake'- patches. Then stack some patchcords in every jack and see what you're *actually* dealing with. Can you even reach that toggle in the middle of 4 nanas with two plugs in each jack? :despair:

Is it more important to have a great many things, or fewer things with greater distance -AKA more actual usability- between? Serge T founded this format on the idea that a relative few varieties of simple wide range elements be sparsely paneled to allow voluminous results via dense P-P connections.

I still believe you'd be better served by LW module sized bits instead of trying to get good 'instrument' panels before you've spent time embracing Serge style modules and banana patching. After you've determined through use what your 'instrument' looks and feels like, Then you can re-panel the modules into a well-conceived personally fitted instrument result. You can still refer to each panel worth of separate modules as Enthusiasm and Possibility. ;)

Either way.. Please design Serge format panels. Not Euro panels in 4U.
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by revtor »

A few thoughts from a primarily Serge user..
I like the overall aesthetic you’ve got going on. Is it going to be a silver panel or light gray painted panel or white panel? Because a computer graphic of a design is definitely different than a three dimensional real-world item. I’m sure you’ve done your homework and have found as many pictures of real 4u synths of all color combos. Bright white knobs are bright!
I also agree with not including the patch points in between columns, things get dense even in the relatively open landscape of 4u. Having patch points in between other patch points etc... there’s no denying it adds functionality, but at the expense of playability. Playing a patch once it’s set up for me is the most enjoyable part and when things get too tight and touchy I usually spend time trying to open things up a bit physically. Something to think about.

A lot of time with projects we get focused on the details and overlook big picture things; like how the it will look in real life, and how it will be to actually interact with it. Creating a mock up with real parts on a real panel is definitely a great step in this process if you can get that done. You will be spending a lot of money on this, it seems like a no-brainer.

As far as graphics go, I agree with pretty much everyone here, you will eventually get to know where all the jacks are etc. Just like modular synth users have been for decades. I wouldn’t sweat it.
BUT
Serge circuits are mysterious and do require a bit of time, practice and learning in order to really be able to use them close to their potential. Not knowing what a particular jack actually is could definitely be a hindrance when you are trying to achieve a certain outcome. If not a hindrance, definitely limiting. Happy accidents are cool, but at least for me when I go in with a focus or goal, having as much information about signals levels etc. is definitely powerful. You want to be able to use this amazing set of circuits in a masterful way, you need to know the details. Fumbling around for months waiting for happy accidents is not super appealing, at least to me. (Maybe I’m overreacting?)
So what I propose for you, as someone who is obviously good with graphic design and software, is to make the graphics and colors whatever speaks to you visually. It’s what you will see on a daily basis. Go for it 100% whatever you really wanted to look like.
But ALSO, make a graphic on card stock that you can overlay. This card has actual information about levels, names etc. for each jack, led and knob. Almost like an instruction manual that you set over the panel before you start patching. Or at least, you can reference it when patching. This will help you not only in patching but also when reading about patches that other users are creating, when they refer to the patch points and controls, you will have that reference to connect their patches with your system. This will be like training wheels and help you get to know what is really going on. Eventually you will have that muscle memory and the knowledge will be ingrained... you’ll be flying at that point -in the “flow” state.

And no matter what you do, post some pics when the panels finally arrive!
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by CLee »

KSS wrote: Sun Jun 19, 2022 4:52 am Either way.. Please design Serge format panels. Not Euro panels in 4U.
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by rampy »

Have you considered push/pull pots to clean up some of the switches (cycle, Lin/exp, etc)?
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by qwoned »

comparators and waveshaper/s added/replacing one or two of the blocks of the 'first aid' or 'quad vca' would be perfect for this and round-out to a fully featured voice-control system, imo
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by 100000bps »

So i took all that you've written into heart and cleaned up the designs a lot - made the symbols and linework and dimensions uniformed throughout the whole thing. Thoughts and prayers :D? :hmm:

For the comparators & other things - whole system will be 6 panels so there is still space. This are the core modulation/cv control panels and im starting from them.

Bidirectional switches will tell you by their positions on what setting you are vs push buttons that need leds to show their state. So im keeping the bi switches.
Enthusiasm v2@2x.png
possibility@2x.png
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by KSS »

For my own 50SQ format, I've adopted the practice and mnemonic Left=Lower. Left LEDs would then be associated with the Lower switch. Opposite of what you have. Same for the lower two switches on those modules too. Left jack-knob gets the Lower switch.
It's a choice either way, but I like having some rationale behind the placement choices. This also sets me -or any future user- up for what to do if there's no line or something else not obvious.

I agree with you about toggles compared to pushbuttons. Toggles usually hold up better over time too. But it's also true that latched push-on, push-off types still show positions -and so don't require LEDs- being visibly hi or lo. It's only the momentary type that require separate indication. And then only really necessary if the change isn't immediately obvious in the module outpu result.
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by KSS »

A little more about knobs and nearby panel components.

Reach out your right hand as if to grab and adjust your upper leftmost knob on the top panel you shared. Your finger-thumb naturally fall into 1and 7o'clock position.

If you reach out your left hand, it's 11 and 5 o'clock.

Anything that forces you away from this most natural finger and thumb gripping position should earn its requirement.

Serge is set up by default to favor gripping the sides with its larger spacing between columns than rows. When you put switches in the middle of four jacks, you are also choosing which hand has an easier time with which knob.

Taking a knob's expected usage into the choice of what's allowed nearby can make a difference in the usability of your panel designs. A knob that expects more complete rotations like a main freq knob prefers different surroundings compared to one that expects smaller rotational amounts.

Short toggles are harder to actuate, but also interfere with knobs less than the more common tall bat handle type. Yet another possible change-maker in the usability of your panel designs.
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by Peake »

Awesome thread.
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by J3RK »

I really like those last two. Nice work!!
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by jheronymo »

Amazing. Reminds me a lot of the Ligeti Artikulation score:
808AF576-5F1A-4731-9C09-5C87E1186C8E.jpeg
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Re: LW Slopes Panel B&W minimal design - some questions...

Post by revtor »

I like the color scheme of this synth design and the amount of thought going into this thread, but don’t understand why graphics would be chosen over words/text.

But like I said earlier, that’s the glory of DIY you do you! 100%
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