So many things to do. So little time! I think Karl Steinberg was right in remarking that I have too many projects happening all at the same time. Oh well, these Modula prototypes are good to go. We worked so hard for this. These are custom made pickups. We do not have injection molded enclosures yet, so these are hand crafted, painted and buffed to perfection. This is already the third version, but it was all worth it! The next, and the most stressful step: Production!
Category Archives: Evolution
A two-operator FM synth offers nice, easy to use, harmonic control over the driven waveform.
I can’t recall how many times we went back to the drawing board. Design, test, rinse repeat. I only wish turnaround time is shorter than it is now. After initial design, planning, and breadboarding, we start off with dead bug prototyping and do a barrage of tests to validate the design. Then, we do PCB layout using Eagle CAD (although we might be switching to KiCAD soon) and send the design to PCB manufacturing. A cycle takes around 1 to 2 weeks depending on complexity. PCB layout itself can be a demanding task, especially if space constrained, like the Modula preamplifier. What’s painful is when you are in the final stages, and there’s that yet one more test that breaks to design! It happens! And it happened again with the Modula preamp.
Time to revisit the Alpha and replace Alpha’s pickups with what else but Nus and XRs! Dimarzios out, Nu and XRs in… Ehmm, OK I suppose I’d refret the guitar as well.
In case you have no idea what Alpha is, check out this link. Alpha is a thru-Neck Carbon Fiber over Bamboo with a Carbon Fiber Body I designed and built a few years ago. I’ll have more of Alpha in the coming days. Stay tuned. I am highly considering building a few of these sexy Carbon Fiber guitars with even crazier ideas brewing in my mind over the years, perhaps in collaboration with a fine luthier in the U.S. or in Europe (To my luthier friends: send me an email if you are interested and let us talk). You want the bleeding edge, this is it! It will be a complete multichannel system with the Nu, Nexus and Infinity all standard features, just as I envisioned it when this all started a few years ago. Yes, Infinity! My holy grail is now within reach with recent breakthroughs!
It’s amazing what creative minds can come up with. There is exciting innovation everywhere, and it is not limited to the guitar. I thought violin (and cello) builders are the most conservative. After all they’ve “perfected” the violin construction and wouldn’t care for anything more beyond that, right? Well, no…
Meet Halldór Úlfarsson and his invention, the Halldorophone —a Cello-ish electro acoustic string instrument designed to facilitate feedback on the strings. The Halldorophone features 8 strings (for the newer models). 4 on top and 4 resonator/harmonizing strings under the fingerboard. This kinda reminds me of the Hardanger fiddle with sympathetic “understrings” that resonate under the influence of the other four.
Each string has its own pickup, now using the Nu multichannel pickups on the latest models.
A little background: I’ve written a series of articles before about Virtual Pickups and how they are implemented in software (DSP). It’s a three part series: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. I wrote about Standing Waves, Nodes, Antinodes and Pickup Position, Comb Filters, some underlying Math and Simulation in DSP code. I also presented what I thought was a minimal interface I really like.
It has taken a while (I can’t believe it has been almost 2 years now!), and now I’m back to writing the software. What has transpired since then? Production of the XR and the Nu took the most of our time and I’m left with very little time to do what we I best: R&D. Now that the Nu is out, it makes sense to go back, pick up and continue where we left off, starting with the GUI.
What do I do on Christmas eve? What else, but hack some C++ code. I got a new highly optimized sustain driver design that also acts as pickup! The power consumption is now at 20mA, each. With the new drivers, I upgraded to FM synthesis from simple additive synthesis. Now I will be driving the strings with FM waves, the same tech behind the 80s Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. FM synthesis was developed by John Chowning at Stanford University in the 70s. In the 80s up ’till the mid 90s, Yamaha virtually monopolized the market with their hardware implementation. The patent expired in 1995.
FM is cool! I think FM synthesis is the best fit for the Infinity project.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Last time, I hinted at ways to mount the pickups. Surely, a guitar builder will find a zillion ways to mount these modules. I’ve had inquiries, not only from Guitars builders but from Violin and Cello builders too! I bet these builders have cool ideas how to mount these bad boys. Here are some examples. Images convey a lot of information, so here again are some 3D renderings for your perusal. Click the images to zoom in!
Which one do you prefer? Comments and suggestions welcome (in the comments box below or in our FB forum).
How do you mount the Nu modular pickups? You’ve seen the basic Nu capsules before. Mounting these miniature pickups might be tricky. One way involves making a printed circuit base-board where these pickups are soldered into. As I said in the previous post, the problem is that we need a multitude of base-boards for different string spacings, number of strings and skew. That defeats the intent of the modular design.
The 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.