MOTM - assembled? or DIY

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fluxmonkey
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MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by fluxmonkey »

Among active MOTM folks: is there still a contingent of DIYers who would prefer building from kits? Or would you rather buy an assembled module and get right to patching? I built my whole system, both for economics and because I enjoy soldering (Paul's kits and instructions made it easy). But i wonder if the easier availability of modular in general these days has tilted us away from DIY?
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Eric the Red
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by Eric the Red »

I prefer DIY, both for the cost and customization.
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jheronymo
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by jheronymo »

Another vote for DIY. I’m building a 3-4 rack system now. Same general reasons: mods and cost.

In addition to these being easy builds, the documentation makes me confident I can do some basic servicing and/or bring it to a tech in the future without much head scratching. In fact many of the docs are a great crash course on synth circuit design.

Although I’d say the time/cost trade-off is considerable. Once I have my basic system, I’d probably prefer to buy the occasional pre-built module, unless a really compelling kit showed up.
Last edited by jheronymo on Thu Jun 23, 2022 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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MrNezumi
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by MrNezumi »

I used to buy kits, but now I get assembled modules.
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eskimo99
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by eskimo99 »

I like building a kit when the instructions are similar to motm synthtech builds. It can be frustrating when the instructions are like Barton musical instruments.
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sicknick
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by sicknick »

I am not MOTM format, but I do have various MOTM circuits in my MU/DotCom System... I send all building tasks to Jason at Free State FX.
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eljay
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by eljay »

Definitely DIY for me. Half the pleasure of owning and using my modular comes from the process of building my modules. The majority of my modules are from Oakley, I have also built MOTM variants of YuSynth, MFOS Thomas Henry and Mutable modules. Nothing has been built from kits but the modules have all been well documented and PCBs have been readily available. I have enjoyed the whole DIY process including the sourcing of components but have yet to make my own PCBs, I have a couple of modules made using stripboard. I don't use kits because I tend to source components for a number of modules at a time and this enables the purchasing of components more cheaply.
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kindredlost
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by kindredlost »

I have done a fair amount of DIY kit builds as well as customized modules but I mostly look for finished modules now as my time is limited and I have too many other hobby interests. Regardless, I would love to have a 110.

I would take issue with DIY as a cost effective saving plan. From my experience, unless you already are running an electronics hobby/repair outfit, then the time, equipment and stock issues generally offset the cost savings of a module prebuilt.
The only recommendation I would give for a beginner to go into building for their own module is for the fun, education and pride in ownership of a faulty, buggy module that you can further learn how to repair. It is a great hobby regardless.
The importance of good documentation and build instruction is paramount and not lost on the great DIY proponents such as Paul S, Ken Stone, Tony Allgood, Serge Tcherepnin, Yves Usson, John Simonton, Ray Wilson and others.

So yeah, I'd rather buy one built but would DIY if I had to.
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by cornutt »

Paul's kits made it as easy as it is possible to make it. So without those, it's a little harder now. And with designers turning more to surface mount, it's becoming impractical to build some things. (I no longer have the eyesight or the hand steadiness. ) But I do still build easier stuff. It's enjoyable; I like having things in my case that I built myself, and it's a good opportunity to incorporate mods.
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sduck
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by sduck »

All of mine are DIY builds - the oldest ones are kits from Paul, and I've moved on pretty far beyond those. I ran out of room several years ago, even with 6 cabinets, so mostly stopped building in MOTM format, and have been leaning towards euro in the last few years. Despite that, I've still built a few MOTM modules every year, and have 2 of them up to be built next in line. (BTW the oldest ones I've built are 20 years old now and still are working perfectly)
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davebr
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by davebr »

I do enjoy building. I chose MOTM originally because I liked the larger format, the panels were robust and easy to duplicate for DIY, his designs were solid, and I got full documentation. To me, having schematics is important for two reasons. First, I want to be able to repair modules and intend to keep them functional for a very long time. Second, I often make modifications, some large, some small. Putting these all together, I much prefer to assemble modules for my use.

I have made 5U adaptations of some of the "e" versions. I wish I had schematics and hex files for the programmable parts for the same reasons.

I believe anyone who sells DIY PCBs should provide schematics and hex files. I've done a lot of repairs for DIY builds. Some are very expensive and large. I've come across bad etched PCBs. Imagine spending all that money and time to build up a module that is unusable and basically unrepairable without technical documentation. Some have been so bad (including my own 248 Marf) where I couldn't find the short and ended up wiring that specific trace above PCB. It takes a lot of reverse engineering to figure this out and even then you might not be successful. For the same reason, I **HATE** this opaque black or white solder mask that people use. There are times one needs to be able to follow the traces to find issues. My own 248 was an example of not being able to follow traces easily.

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pugix
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by pugix »

I got back into modular synths about 2002, largely due to finding the Synthesis Technology website. I ordered a few kits and got a phone call from Paul. At that time he had a practice of calling new customers to understand his customer base better. And now look, even Synth Tech euro is going away. Ultimately I bought one or two (with a few exceptions) of each Synth Tech MOTM module. They were almost too easy to build. The only ones I did not get from Paul were a pair of MOTM-420 filters. One was bought as a kit, the other assembled. All in all I had great success with the builds. I had to replace one bad TL074. And I had to replace one pot. Everything is still working great.

Of course I built a number of Oakley modules, converted some Blacet modules to MOTM format, put lots of CGS modules into MOTM panels, and even adapted several Mattson assembled PC boards to MOTM panels. The few that were not kits include the Encore UEG and Frequency Shifter, three Modcan B modules, and the notorious Cyndustries ZerOscillator (which, despite its flaws, I will never sell).

It would be fun, today, to get panels and PCBs for Synth Tech MOTM modules from Synthcube and source parts. If you want to start DIY, the Synth Tech PC boards are a good starting place.
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jheronymo
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by jheronymo »

I’m currently really digging the MOTM building experience. Even with Synthcube selling PCB/panel/brackets, the components aren’t hard to source, due to the documentation and consistency between various modules (which makes ordering at bulk discounts possible) However, the build guides were clearly meant for kits and I’ve had to make guesses on a few part selections (“yellow box” caps = polycarbonate => SMR/PPS caps, using Dale RN resistors in the oscillators, etc)

I think a great idea for someone to take up moving forward with 5U “DIY” would be selling assembled & tested PCBs and letting the customers do the panels. It would have a lot of advantages: MOTM and MU power header options, various mod points, digital modules, taking advantage of cheaper SMD production, etc. and saving headaches for both less-electronics-inclined customers and the designer.

It seems this worked well with the E340/350/560/580, although this was before my time in 5U and DIY.
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by KSS »

davebr wrote: Tue Jun 28, 2022 1:18 pm I believe anyone who sells DIY PCBs should provide schematics and hex files.
...
I **HATE** this opaque black or white solder mask that people use. There are times one needs to be able to follow the traces to find issues. My own 248 was an example of not being able to follow traces easily.
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As for the thread question, DIY for me.
But it seems hard to make an economic case against old Serge-style offers. Which PAIA has been using too.. Populated and tested PCBs with panel the only real DIY aspect.

NLC has done good business in SMD DIY with unpopulated boards and PCB panels. But I fully believe the future of SDIY is going to have to include populated SMD PCBs. For reasons that go beyond cost.
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pugix
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Re: MOTM - assembled? or DIY

Post by pugix »

KSS wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 4:03 pm NLC has done good business in SMD DIY with unpopulated boards and PCB panels. But I fully believe the future of SDIY is going to have to include populated SMD PCBs. For reasons that go beyond cost.
I just have not felt like getting into soldering SMD boards. I stick now to all thru-hole (for which some chips are becoming obsolete) or populated SMD boards. At this point I'm happy to put together a pre-soldered SMD module. Done several of them now. The easiest Eurorack module kit I've built is the River Marble, which has a factory kit with SMD soldered.

Sorry to go off track from MOTM. I will say that converting the early E340 and E350 into MOTM panels, several years ago, was a bit of a PITA mounting the boards to a bracket. But thank you to Paul S. for including both euro and MOTM power headers on the boards. Those modules work on 12 or 15 volts supplies without modification.
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