Goodbye for now, Hexinverter DIY!

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Goodbye for now, Hexinverter DIY!

Post by hexinverter » Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:28 pm

Hey synthDIY folks!

The question has been coming up a fair bit recently regarding our latest eurorack module reveals and their availability as DIY projects, so I guess it’s a good time for me to make a little statement. Pardon me while I take hold of this internet soapbox for a moment...

After much deliberation, the development of Hexinverter DIY modular projects is coming to a close. As many of the synthDIYers who build our projects likely know, the Do It Yourself facet of our work has been a core part of Hexinverter since the early beginnings.

Currently existing DIY projects will continue to be stocked at the Hexinverter online DIY shop and through DIY dealers (Modular Addict, Thonk, Synthcube) for some time – as inventory levels slowly deplete and some (but not all) projects are completely retired. Old PCB projects have been taken over by Modular Addict. As for Mutants and the Jupiter Series: now is the time to scoop them up if you want them, as once they are gone, they are gone.

This means that no new DIY designs will be developed after the currently existing Mutant Snare (Mutant BD9, Red Dragon, Mutant Rimshot, VCNO and onwards will not be accompanied by DIY projects).

Why?...

Well, over the years, I have tried my best to keep the DIY side of things growing somewhere around equal pace with the rest of our work. As time goes on, the two avenues of products we offer (assembled retail products, and DIY projects) are more and more becoming two completely different businesses to operate. As a result, the DIY side of things is not keeping pace, and the amount of human and other resources we expend keeping DIY going is holding us back from our full potential. :waah:

It’s been a couple of years in the making, and despite trying numerous different approaches, it’s time to let go. I personally have a soft spot for DIY and hate to see it go – perhaps this is why I have tried for so long to keep it a big part of what we do! It is just no longer economically viable to develop two different levels of hardware, documentation, logistics and support for every modular product we make.

Anyway, it's not to say it's gone forever. Hexinverter is constantly evolving and adapting and maybe one day it will be time for some DIY stuff again. But for now, we're saying goodbye to eurorack DIY!

So, thank you to everyone who has supported Hexinverter’s evolution in the past, present and future – especially those of you that supported the humble DIY offerings in the beginning! You have all put delicious meaty kibble in the cats’ food dishes for many years. For that, me, the cat children, and the other great people who help make our designs a reality are ever thankful for your patronage! :loves: :loves: :loves: :goo: :goo: :goo:

Onwards and upwards!
-Stacy
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Post by Puzzler » Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:56 pm

Man and i still want a Mitant Machine as DIY. :miley:

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Post by joem » Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:11 pm

I was hoping for the VCNO to be DIY, but oh well... Still interested in it! Do your thing, whatever works best for you.

Hmmm... I might have to grab some Mutant kits before they're depleted....

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Post by EATyourGUITAR » Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:09 pm

this is inevitable. I had to pretty much give up on DIY sales when I started designing for TSSOP. the products that use TSSOP packages will be cheap to manufacture but difficult for DIY. the through hole projects that use two pcb's stacked would be almost impossible to mass produce at a low price. I had to make two versions of some of the modules. I know a lot of eurorack companies do this. it is double the work.
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Post by hexinverter » Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:13 pm

EATyourGUITAR wrote:this is inevitable. I had to pretty much give up on DIY sales when I started designing for TSSOP. the products that use TSSOP packages will be cheap to manufacture but difficult for DIY. the through hole projects that use two pcb's stacked would be almost impossible to mass produce at a low price. I had to make two versions of some of the modules. I know a lot of eurorack companies do this. it is double the work.
That's a good point that I forgot to mention! The requirement to avoid SMT-only parts in order to be able to offer DIY has been setting designs back as well. Most of the best new technology is only SMT now (32bit DSPs, DACs and ADCs I have been using in newer developments), so there's not a whole lot of options for PTH-only designs that are DIY friendly.
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Post by Kirr » Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:49 pm

I'm sad to hear about this change. I was planning to build some hexinverter drum modules for some while now, just have to unbury myself from under backlog a little.

I'm just curious.. Is there a possibility for some middle ground here? E.g. Instead of making a separate DIY design of each module, just offering PCB+panel (+IC) for sale for whatever complete modules you'll be making? This way you won't need much extra work (hopefully), and the DIY community won't be cut off entirely from enjoying your work.

I personally won't consider ANY pre-built module, but would love building some more of your stuff in the future (I've only MIDI2CV now).

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Post by EATyourGUITAR » Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:55 pm

hexinverter wrote:That's a good point that I forgot to mention! The requirement to avoid SMT-only parts in order to be able to offer DIY has been setting designs back as well. Most of the best new technology is only SMT now (32bit DSPs, DACs and ADCs I have been using in newer developments), so there's not a whole lot of options for PTH-only designs that are DIY friendly.
if I can maybe chew on this for a bit...there is the in the middle option of having a DIY braids for example that has the microcontroller soldered but nothing else soldered. you can then do it in %99 through hole. itead has really good prices for 100 units partially assembled. you could also flash them yourself before you sell the partially assembled PCB + microcontroller set. before SMD was hip I purchased some stuff from L-1 like this. without this mixed and pre-soldered style of DIY, it would not have been possible to do on a single pcb and it would not have been possible to sell TH + SMD DIY PCB to customers that only purchase through hole projects. the DIY PCB ends up selling for $40 like this for a $4 PCB + $10 ARM chip. the robot needs to get paid and I need to get paid. $10 retail for a DIY pcb is just not happening anymore if we all go in this direction. I also worry that a $40 PCB that is %90 finished will steer people away from buying a $250 module. I can't eat on %20 of $40.
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Post by xahdrez » Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:04 am

Thanks for all the great builds!

Prompted me to finally pick up the all the old nein oh nein pcbs and panels :tu:

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Post by Hezza11 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:38 am

Shame to see you guys go but understandable with the level of support and extra work required.

Just put my order in for the clap, hihat and snare to join the Bassdrum. Was going to slowly add them over the next year or so but wouldn't want to miss out.

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Post by sleepgardens » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:41 am

This is of course sad for all DIY folks. Any chance of you open sourcing old projects once they get out of stock? That way the projects would still live on in the hands of the community and they are not really competing with your factory-made products. Please consider this, it would be a nice gift to the DIY community!

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Post by TheSlowGrowth » Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:56 am

+1 on this

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Post by fuzzbass » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:44 am

Onward! March of the Mutants! I keep thinking I have them all, and then I find there are more.

Let us then hope this frees Stacy up for more tchotchke presentations like the lab coat and shop glasses mutant machine demo.
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Post by hexinverter » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:53 am

Thanks for your support everyone :cloud:
sleepgardens wrote:This is of course sad for all DIY folks. Any chance of you open sourcing old projects once they get out of stock? That way the projects would still live on in the hands of the community and they are not really competing with your factory-made products. Please consider this, it would be a nice gift to the DIY community!
There are no plans in the cards to open source existing or future designs which have active, equivalent retail eurorack modular products (eg: Mutant Drums, Jupiter/Galilean Series, Soviet Series).

Very old things (universal format PCB only projects), which do not exist in retail eurorack (eg: sympleSEQ, MIDI2CV) may at some point be open sourced, however. And if a product is retired and has nothing equivalent in eurorack that is active, the same goes. At this point, nothing really fits into that description though, as those have all been licensed to Modular Addict's DIY shop to carry them on. But who knows in the future :tu:
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Post by hexinverter » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:58 am

fuzzbass wrote:Onward! March of the Mutants! I keep thinking I have them all, and then I find there are more.

Let us then hope this frees Stacy up for more tchotchke presentations like the lab coat and shop glasses mutant machine demo.
Haha yes! Certainly, more elaborate presentations and video work are something we want to do more of, but don't have the manpower for as it's being sapped by DIY. Maybe Snarold Snarington will meet the Mutant Chicken someday :lol:
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Post by hexinverter » Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:05 am

Kirr wrote:I'm sad to hear about this change. I was planning to build some hexinverter drum modules for some while now, just have to unbury myself from under backlog a little.

I'm just curious.. Is there a possibility for some middle ground here? E.g. Instead of making a separate DIY design of each module, just offering PCB+panel (+IC) for sale for whatever complete modules you'll be making? This way you won't need much extra work (hopefully), and the DIY community won't be cut off entirely from enjoying your work.

I personally won't consider ANY pre-built module, but would love building some more of your stuff in the future (I've only MIDI2CV now).
We sort of did the middle ground thing for a bit (Mutant Snare is mostly SMT done for ya, and the majority of Mutant Drum DIY are not full kits, but just PCB+panel), but more and more of our stuff is using QFN (has no leads to solder on it, requires reflow or hot air machinery) and cell-phone sized SMT parts (0402, etc.). Some future designs are using BGAs, which are not very DIY friendly at all. The electronics world is moving to SMT in a big way, and lots of the cutting edge technology is not available at all in through hole. Hexinverter has never really been about the cheap, race to the bottom "bread and butter" module archetype, so I've been moving to more and more cutting edge stuff in recent designs to realise the ideas we're having.

Since a modular specialist builds our retail stuff, we don't really use RefDes labelling on part numbers, on the PCBs. Even just providing SMT boards to capable builders who can handle reflow ovens and parts that really need a microscope to solder would still require a lot of documentation and support, which is a big part of the reason we're leaving DIY behind.
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Post by GryphonP3 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:26 am

I am sure builders would be happy to have SMT only boards and no documentation or support provided. Olivier does it that way (doesn't even produce his own boards) and it is extremely appreciated in the DIY communit. Nobody is whining about his not providing support - you take it on yourself if you try to tackle those projects! Put it in a disclaimer :) make those smt boards available with no changes for DIYers! I think a lot of us would even prefer it this way :party: I only really build these 0603 SMT projects with microprocessors anymore since they are much more fun to me than the TH stuff. I'm sure there are more like me out there.

Really though, this is sad. All the mutant stuff was on my list but has to wait for my new bigger case to be built which is a really long project, and I cant afford the pcbs right now. Hope they are still around when I am ready to build them..
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Post by fluxmonkey » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:37 am

I am in total awe of anyone who supports DIY projects... it's truly a labor of love, and just about anyone who's done it for a period of time has eventually burnt out on it. Kudos to you for doing as much as you did, and have no regrets!
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Post by J3RK » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:44 am

Makes sense to me. There is only so much time a person (or small group of persons) can spend, and splitting that between divergent sets of products only makes that worse. Kinda sad, but I think you're taking the realistic approach. I hope all goes well for you. You've got a really nice set of modules already.

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Post by nigel_mck » Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:20 pm

Damn! Galilean Moons was my first real DIY build as well as my entry into Eurorack. Sad to see the DIY side of Hexinverter go, but I completely understand—cat food isn't getting cheaper anytime soon.
GryphonP3 wrote:I am sure builders would be happy to have SMT only boards and no documentation or support provided. Olivier does it that way (doesn't even produce his own boards) and it is extremely appreciated in the DIY communit. Nobody is whining about his not providing support - you take it on yourself if you try to tackle those projects! Put it in a disclaimer :) make those smt boards available with no changes for DIYers! .
I really do wish there was a way to keep the DIY side alive without hurting the prebuilt side of the business or making extra work. The issue with selling the SMT boards would be the hassle of either preflashing any programmed chips or releasing the source code for DIYers to flash the chips themselves. Unfortunately neither option seems that great from a business perspecive.

Anyhow best of luck with the prebuilt module business Stacy! A huge thanks for keeping the sweet DIY kits alive for so long!

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Post by joem » Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:44 pm

A not-always-considered issue with releasing the boards with no support is that no matter how many disclaimers you put about there not being any support (or to go ask a DIY forum - and not you- for support), people will still ask you for support anyway. It can be hard to turn a blind eye towards those asking you for help (especially when you know you can help them)... You might think "oh they've just mixed up R1 and R2" and reply and before you know it you're sucked into something much bigger. Or (god forbid) you release a board with a serious bug somewhere. You'll be swamped with trying to fix it or recall it or whatever for all the pre-builts (which may or may not wipe out your business), AND you'll have folks who got no-support PCBs hounding you... blaming you for blown power supplies, problems with other modules no longer working... Ugggh.

So... unless you're _really_ good at being a hard-ass, "releasing things without support" still means having to give some support, unfortunately.

(In case you can't tell, I've worked in support before. :deadbanana: )

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Post by FetidEye » Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:57 pm

Sad about this, but I understand.

I've build most of your projects (all noise stuff anyway :) and the sequencer)
and they rocked hard!!

Good luck with all future stuff you make! :party:

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Post by truman_k » Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:31 pm

My first DIY was a NeinOhNein Kick, that was awesome. Then I finished the whole series of NeinOhNein and AteOhAte.

Now I am working on the Mutant series. Too bad no more new DIY from Hex, but I'll still support your up coming invention.

:yay: :yay:

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Post by hexinverter » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:08 pm

joem wrote:A not-always-considered issue with releasing the boards with no support is that no matter how many disclaimers you put about there not being any support (or to go ask a DIY forum - and not you- for support), people will still ask you for support anyway. It can be hard to turn a blind eye towards those asking you for help (especially when you know you can help them)... You might think "oh they've just mixed up R1 and R2" and reply and before you know it you're sucked into something much bigger. Or (god forbid) you release a board with a serious bug somewhere. You'll be swamped with trying to fix it or recall it or whatever for all the pre-builts (which may or may not wipe out your business), AND you'll have folks who got no-support PCBs hounding you... blaming you for blown power supplies, problems with other modules no longer working... Ugggh.

So... unless you're _really_ good at being a hard-ass, "releasing things without support" still means having to give some support, unfortunately.

(In case you can't tell, I've worked in support before. :deadbanana: )
You are absolutely right about this. I've been putting disclaimers in advanced Mutant Drum projects for years, saying "this is an advanced project", with limited or no tech support. It doesn't stop the flood of tech support emails, which I do indeed feel guilty if I do not answer :sadbanana:
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Post by hexinverter » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:14 pm

fluxmonkey wrote:I am in total awe of anyone who supports DIY projects... it's truly a labor of love, and just about anyone who's done it for a period of time has eventually burnt out on it. Kudos to you for doing as much as you did, and have no regrets!


Thanks Fluxmonkey <3 It means an extra lot coming from you because I know you've been around since the start of all this fun!!! :goo: :goo: :goo: :goo: :goo: :goo: :goo:
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Post by rico loverde » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:21 pm

I totally get it as Ive seen what goes into DIY kits. Its really awesome to have seen you grow from the first projects to what hexinverter has become. Looking forward to future growth and new modules!
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