Hello again from the workbench.
What’s been going on since last time?
Firstly, we restocked at Thonk; we’d run out of UtiLFOs and stocks of other tiles were running low. So I did a second run, sitting in the basement bagging, and now our stocks are replenished. Good.
The prototypes I mentioned in Foxnotes #1 march on. I revealed some glimpses of them over at Instagram.
FOX006 is revealed to be called Auricula; I’ve made one minor change to the board, built up a BOM, and once I’m happy with the build that should arrive in the next week or two, that one can be taken into production.
FOX007 is called Phones, and it’s pretty obvious what it’s going to be. I’ve got a BOM built up for that too, and a really nice panel design; I’m just finalising the panel layout and investigating different options for the large jack on it.
FOX008 has had me erring back and forth. Is it too complex? Is it just right? It’s our most crowded tile to date (and likely ever) and it’s gone through a couple more iterations; I’ve got the latest arriving shortly. It’s acquired the name Thorn along with a panel design. What I do know is that this is a tile I frequently reach for, and that makes me want to keep using it.
I’ve also broken ground on something we should call FOX010 for now: a digital 3U module, built around an ARM chip. I’ve been coding up a version of this and learning a whole stack about embedded development beyond the land of *duino; it’s equal parts fun and frustrating.
So, you know, not a lot to show just yet, but lots of things marching forwards. I think it’s unlikely this batch of tiles will be out in 2017, but I’m hoping I can release them in early 2018; Auricula and Phones should be available at similar times; it’s unclear whether Thorn will make the cut as well.
And that’s it for this time. It’s been great seeing people happy with their tiles and enjoying building them; let us know if you’re enjoying yours.
Happy music making.
Being the first in infrequent updates from the lab.
So, Foxfield Instruments launched into the world. Exciting! And now we keep going.
The current products are selling well over at Thonk. So well, in fact, that the UtiLFO is already out of stock. Don’t worry: there will be a Thonk restock coming soon. That’s part 1 of keep going.
Part 2 of keep going is new products. I’ve got lots of prototypes kicking around my 1U row - some of them you might have seen on the Foxfield Instagram account. I’ve recently been working on which of them to take forward, and in what order. Some of that work is just “getting them working” - but that’s not where prototyping ends. Once they’re working, I need to stick them in my instrument and live with them for a bit. Do they behave how I’d like? Are they musically useful? What would make them better?
I went down to Brighton Modular Meet at the beginning of July, with a row of prototypes to show, and that also helped confirm some of my suspicions. It was great to meet up with fellow synth players and module designers and chat to them about their music and process. Here I am, pointing at something:
[@foxfield_instruments demonstrating his cool new 1U modules @brightonmodular](https://www.instagram.com/p/BWDUChRgxTo/) > > A post shared by Rupert Lally (@rupertlally) on Jul 2, 2017 at 9:59am PDT > >
I also spent the Saturday at Brighton helping James from Nobots run a soldering workshop - teaching a small room how to build one of his SMD DIY modules. Great to see so many people take on SMD and discover that it’s really not as hard as the rumours suggest!
So: those new things.
Nothing is set in stone, yet, but I think I know what the next four products are. Three of them are 1U tiles; one is a standard 3U module. The three 1U tiles have all been teased a little: FOX006 is design complete, definitely well-received, so that goes into the process of finalising the panel, BOM, and costing it up. FOX007 has a good first prototype - I’m investigating a few tweaks to that, and then pushing that into the ‘productionising’ phase. FOX008 also has a good first prototype; it required one bugfix, and that’s gone into a revised design along with a new feature. It’s probably the most complex of the tiles, and one I want to spend a little bit longer playing and testing before it heads to production.
And then, further down the list, are all the “maybes” and “don’t knows”. But for now, that’s easily enough to be going on with.
Oh, and to wrap up: after some busy weeks of building and designing and fixing websites and launching, it was good to sit down with the synth and just play. Here’s a short piece I recorded, built around the String/Organ mode in Rings, and featuring some Foxfield Tiles as clock-source (Gearbox), modulation (UtiLFO), and a prototype mult-thing (“Desmond”)
Happy music making.
Our first range of tiles is now on sale at Thonk.
They’re selling the Averter, Gearbox, GT2 and UtiLFO, as well as our Tile Tail Adaptor.
It’s taken a while to get to this point - I hope you enjoy these products. We should have more for you in the near future. And if you’re at Brighton Modular Meet in July, I’ll have these and some new prototypes kicking around to show.
Many DIYers I encounter online are a little sceptical, or perhaps afraid, of surface-mount work. It can be challenging, especially on boards designed for automated assembly. But there’s no reason to be afraid - and with a board design for human hands, it’s often a lot faster than through-hole.
So to illustrate this point, and also to give you an idea of what building one of our tiles is like, I made a film of buildiing the 1U UtiLFO: it walks through what’s in the bag, what you’ll need, and then films the whole process, with narration to explain what’s going on. It’s about 15 minutes:
It also is proof that even if you’ve got shaky, clumsy hands, you can build these kits!
I’m going to be at Brighton Modular Meet 2017!
On the Saturday, I’ll be assisting James from nobots with a soldering workshop. You can get tickets from that link - and if you’re interested in getting into SMD work, it’ll be great experience.
And then on the Sunday I’ll probably be in a room with a rack making some noises - and perhaps showing off some new prototypes. Perhaps see you there!