Nu Update and Road Map

      Design, Evolution, Nu Series, Pickups

Nu-ActivesThe Nu modular pickup is ready. It’s been ready for quite some time now. The design and implementation is just about perfect, I would say. The next evolutionary step from its predecessor, the Neo, the sound is superb, the clarity and separation is amazing.

So… for those who have been patiently waiting, if you want them now, send us a message. We can arrange for an initial batch for manufacturing. But here’s the thing… At this point, the initial batch will be for uber-tech-savvy builders only. Be warned that this goes way beyond a standard pickup install. A multi-channel system requires an elaborate setup for processing each channel. I will assume that you know what to do with these pickups. If you are a builder with background in electronics, then this is for you. You know how to incorporate these pickups in your design, including mounting, power, audio routing, wiring the multi-pin connectors, and perhaps building a breakout box. All designs (schematics, PCB layout, software, bill of materials, and CAD drawings) will be provided.

But There’s More…

We’re working hard to have a complete, easier to use system. I’d like to interact more closely with you as we finalize the designs. I’ll be posting a constant series of updates. Come join our forum and let’s discuss! Here’s what’s currently under development (there are more, but I’d like to keep this list as short as possible).

Nu6-dNu1

How do you mount and connect the Nu pickup? Typically, you need another PCB (printed circuit board) such as the one we have here (image at the right). Six Nu pickups are placed in a base PCB which routes the multichannel signals through a multi-pin header connector.

That is fine, but it goes against the modular design of the Nu. The problem is that we need a multitude of base-boards for different string spacings, number of strings and skew (pickup angle for fanned fret/multi-scale guitars). It’s simply not possible to provide all conceivable configurations. Sure, we can manufacture the common straight 6s, 7s and 8s, but beyond that, custom development of these base boards for other configurations will be costly and simply out of the question for one-offs. There is a better way. I’ll discuss the details separately shortly after this post.

Nexus

Nexus is a breakout box with specialized multi-pin connectors for up to 16 channels of audio and/or analog control voltages. You can route any signal to any of the 16 channels. The audio may come from standard mono-pickups or from the Nu multichannel pickup. This is the minimum viable product with which I intend to follow through other exciting projects such as Infinity. I’ll present the details after I lay out the plans for Nu1.

Now, how do you control an N-channel system? Take the master volume for example. A standard mono guitar is easy. You use a simple potentiometer. For an N-channel instrument, good luck if you can find an N-ganged potentiometer. The answer is of course MIDI.

MIDI control

Control voltages may be sent along with audio through any of the 16 channels. Control voltages come from specialized potentiometers and switches. This will be converted to MIDI messages in the Nexus. For starters, we will have a 5-way switch for patch settings and potentiometers for volume control as well as generic parameter control. Other cool ideas such as a ribbon controller for pitch bend come to mind.

Please don’t be confused with MIDI control and MIDI conversion. We will not be doing any pitch tracking and MIDI conversion of the notes at this point.

Nu Mono and Nu Stereo (splits)

While the Nu is designed for multichannel processing, the Nu’s modular design also makes them perfectly suitable as a mono (or stereo) source. Part of the allure of the Nu, and indeed its predecessor, the Neos, is the ability to place small individual pickups, one per string, just about anywhere. Yet, not everyone needs to have multichannel processing. Multichannel pickups necessitate elaborate setups for processing each string. Most of us simply want to have these pickups summed to mono (or perhaps stereo) straight to existing gear and guitar amplifiers. It is the optimal solution for multi-scale guitars. Unlike traditional pickups, number of strings, string spacing, and pickup angle are not a problem.

Splits

8-String 2-6 split pickup

Imagine for example, an 8 string multi-scale guitar with 2-6 split. The Nu is perfectly suitable for such a setup. But, instead of having one preamplifier for each pickup, per string, the outputs of one or more pickups are mixed into a group. Each pickup group will have its own preamplifier.

In such a setup, you don’t really care about channel separation (cross-talk). The design is considerably simplified. I’ll present the idea in greater detail.

ETA

Most of these are in the final stages of development, but there is still wiggle room for design changes depending on feedback. The ETA for the final release-ready production prototype for the Nu1 and its support electronics is mid-October.

As for the Nexus… I’ll be very honest with you. Production and distribution of the Nexus might prove to be tricky due to various factors. One is scale. Manufacturing the Nexus will be costly and can only be justified if there is sufficient interest, which will be hard to predict at this point. At the very least, what I can do is share the complete designs and build instructions, making sure it will be easy enough for anyone to build. We will also take care of sourcing of parts. Hence it will be in kit form, which most certainly follows the Open Source nature of this project in the first place. We can also assemble one for you, but it will be on a made-to-order basis only. Customization might be possible.

More to follow… Again, I invite you to join our forum. Let’s discuss!