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Null Modular F(n)

bringing modularity to modular cases

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Null-LA is bringing modularity to Eurorack modular systems with the F(n) series - an ever-growing line of case accessories for synth cases.

Modular synthesis is an incredibly empowering form of making music. Building your own modular system is all about dreaming up your ultimate instrument and having the creative control to curate what truly moves and sounds like you.

The First of F(n): Illuminating The Experience
We will be altering a 3U x 84hp Null Modular F(n) case prototype to embed a controllable, audio-reactive LED light strip to illuminate your workflow for studio use & live performances. The next phases of illumination will be to create a universal LED light strip case attachment and a Eurorack module, enabling manipulation of various parameters and playable functions on the fly.

Building for the Future: F(n) Series 

The F(n) series of case accessories is a means to identify & address turn-key activations to build and continuously improve upon the user experience.  In the research and development of the Null Modular case, we found a handful of red flags. We plan to address the highest barriers of entry in this field by bringing down the astronomical start up costs and inner-sourcing a fully vertical operation (open sourcing the development process internally within a community or team). By leveraging our knowledge of rapid prototyping techniques, experience in product development and collaborating with industry partners, this will allow us to fabricate a thoughtfully designed modular synth case right from the get-go without blowing a black hole in your bank account.  Our goal is to enable musicians from every walk of life to chase after their dream system. How we achieve this is through building a community of resources via an open & constructive discourse during the product development and design process. By doing so, we can further aid in the artists' discovery process.  


The First Sprint: Illuminating The Experience

The Hackaday Challenge offers us a platform to introduce the first accessory in the F(n) accessories pipeline: a LED light feature optimized for studio use and live performances. We've hacked a 3U x 84hp Null Modular case prototype to integrate a controllable, light-reactive LED strip to illuminate your workflow, so it's one less thing to worry about. No more headlamps to mess up your vibe! (Check out Log #2!)


Phase 1:

The difficulty of this project lies in the size of parts --not a lot of clearance inside the case to place extra features without sacrificing rack space for modules and having things dangling externally is not ideal either, hiding/integrating the wiring, and stable power supply for both the Eurorack system and LEDs. We've decided on two options for powering the LED unit, either by plugging directly in to the 16-pin row power of the Eurorack system or to an external power plug. The next phases will run in parallel with optimizing the first phase of the +1 embedded light feature.

There is no "one-size-fits-all" with modular synth units. As a result, we have devised concepts in three phases to combat various scenarios that different users may encounter. We have begun the process of building relationships with the modular community to provide input and feedback while we tinker with design and functionality of each phase. Partnerships with artists we're currently in talks with to perform with the demo unit in Phase 1 will be key to discovering how we can continue to improve and drum up excitement around what we're creating! 


Upcoming Milestones

... Read more »

1_nullmod-deconstruction.pdf

Hacking a prototype! Diagram of the destruction-deconstruction

Adobe Portable Document Format - 100.41 kB - 08/23/2019 at 08:11

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1_nullmod-assembly.pdf

(Part 1) assembly guide of the n-1 case prototype with +1 embedded light channel (working 07.21.19)

Adobe Portable Document Format - 149.85 kB - 08/23/2019 at 17:26

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nullmod_schematic081919.pdf

Schematic diagram (working model 08.18.19)

Adobe Portable Document Format - 336.19 kB - 08/20/2019 at 22:52

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  • 1 × Null Modular 3U x 84HP Case (or 48HP) Modified Modular Synth Case
  • 1 × Eurorack Power Supply Electronic Components / Misc. Electronic Components
  • 1 × 350ohm Resistor
  • 1 × XL4015 Step-down Adjustable Power Supply Module
  • 1 × LED Light Strip (RGB) WS2812B

View all 13 components

  • Lit

    Meghan Hui08/25/2019 at 10:23 0 comments

    It is LIT! The kind folks at Control, in Brooklyn NY let us do some light tests in their showroom.

    F(n) = (n-1) +1 module response test from Howard Tsu.
    Location: Control / Brooklyn, NY

    Cleaned up wiring on the right!
    (See schematic diagram)

  • Origins of the n-1 case

    Meghan Hui08/23/2019 at 08:21 0 comments

    Origins of the n-1 case

    The story behind the F(n) started (like most great ideas)... as a happy accident between friends.  The first iteration of the synth case was the brainchild of Meghan Hui (Null-LA) and France-based graphic artist & modular maverick Jonas Sella. Fast forward a few brainstorms later, the duo co-inspired on dreaming up a DIY starter case (Ps modular case now called the n-1) for J Sella's first modular system.

    Aiming to bring simplicity and minimalism to the musical aesthetic and form factor of a starter case,  creating a new way of entering the world of modular synths. Since its inception, the case took on a life of its own - forming an intimate cult following and passing through the hands of many modular enthusiasts and electronic artists based in Los Angeles.  

    For the past two years, Null-LA has been listening actively to our creators - the true heroes who inspired us to take on this entirely new approach to develop the F(n) Series. An ever-growing line of unique accessories made with creators, not just for them.  

    The cherry on top: We're just getting started. 

  • +1 embedded Light: Hacking a prototype

    Meghan Hui08/09/2019 at 22:24 0 comments

    Hacking a Prototype

    You know the moment when you're designing or making something, the one you have is just fine how it is, but then you decide you want to try make it even more "perfect" and then end up messing the whole thing up? Well, this is precisely how an "overachiever's" error on a Null Modular case prototype became the perfect fit for hacking to embed the LED channel in the light feature for the F(n) series.


    F(n) Case vs +1 (embedded LED Channel Case Prototype)

    Thankfully, I have a tendency to hoard mistakes! The following illustrates the process of adjusting the miscut side panels.

  • An Artist's Perspective by Jstory

    Meghan Hui05/31/2019 at 05:05 0 comments

    Josh Story is a LA-based producer, engineer, and sound enthusiast making music under the moniker @jstorymusic
    Pictured at Triptronics Research show, Little Joy bar in Echo Park, Los Angeles. 

    I've been playing with modular for around 4 years now. 

    Watch clip on: https://www.instagram.com/p/ByAx_peBW1e/


    My first exposure to modular synthesis was at Berklee College of Music, where I had the pleasure of playing a full Buchla system, an ARP 2600, and took a class solely dedicated to learning synthesis on a NORD modular. At the time, I had absolutely no idea how to use the Buchla, and the ARP felt pretty foreign to me coming from a classical brass background.

    It wasn't until my friend Jonas bought a small Pittsburgh starter case and started jamming together that I become truly fascinated in modular. I felt stuck 'inside the box' making music with my laptop... I wanted to get back to playing a real instrument again. 

    Once I started to see and hear all of the crazy sounds that the little Pittsburgh rack could make, the inspiration hit me. 

    Watch clip on: https://www.instagram.com/p/BQ7ZmXSBqj_/



    My First System 


    Jonas was experimenting with laser cutting acrylic cases and scheming on the Ps Modular case with Meghan Hui. My first system was a throwaway case that didn't cut properly. I paid 20 bucks for a set of rails, and was off to the races with a 6U 84HP Ps Modular prototype. I began building DIY kits (as I couldn’t afford to buy designer fully-assembled modules), and quickly became obsessed. 

    Then the systems started growing...bigger. And so did the jams. 

    Picture captured at Output Studio (Los Angeles): My first system & the first prototypes of Ps modular case made of birch. 


    The First Live Performance

    The first experience performing with modular synths live was with Jonas for a new underground MARBLE party in downtown Los Angeles. 



    We decided to patch everything from scratch in front of a live audience, which went surprisingly well considering we didn't plan a single thing ahead of time and working in total darkness. But it was still a great time. 

    We had both come close to filling up our cases, as our sounds were evolving and growing simultaneously. 

    Pictured: Josh's Pittsburgh 9U EP360 case (Left), Jonas' 12U Elite Modular case (Right)


    Managing In The Dark

    The most challenging thing about the performance we anticipated was the lighting, or lack thereof.


    Jonas used a headlamp and I set up a little IKEA lamp as an attempt at lighting my rack, but it was too direct and didn’t cover much of my system. The lighting never allowed me to feel comfortable and move freely during the performance. I’ve tried the same light at other gigs, but it never quite functioned as I wanted or needed.


    Keeping Artist's Needs In Perspective

    Modular music gave me a whole newfound sense of freedom when playing and performing. My main goal with modular music has always been to be able to play and perform live sets where everything is totally free, while at the same time being musical with dynamics and contrast. 

    In order to do this, I need to be comfortable knowing that no matter where I end up playing, I will be able to see what I’m doing, and not have to worry about carrying a lamp or shining...

    Read more »

  • Combating The Cardinal Sin of Design: Our Approach For The F(n)

    Meghan Hui05/28/2019 at 20:04 0 comments

    “Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.”


    Combating The Cardinal Sin of Design 

    Design-thinking is a critical part of our creative process - provoking questions, empathizing with diverse perspectives, and aligning the heart and mind to work together to find creative solutions. At the core, the insights shared by the creator community on their craziest ideas, deepest desires, and basic needs inform us as designers to tackle a variety of challenges artists face day-to-day.  

    Artists are the keepers of the human imagination. Their mode of living or  'modus vivendi' is to discover new meaning and elevate these new ideas and realities through creative expression. 

    As designers, we operate within a different paradigm. We're in the business of making dreams a reality --for the music tech industry, finding innovative solutions and building systems that empower artists to focus on what truly matters: making music.

    Null Modular and the F(n) series is our response to the artists' call. As makers, we hope to inspire the notion that creatives have the power to create our own solutions. 


    The more knowledge we share, the better we can build.



View all 5 project logs

  • 1
    Link to GitHub!

    Link to GitHub code by Howard Tsu for Null Modular F(n) series

    https://github.com/HelloHowardYou/NULL_Fn

    /* Built upon the amazing code by Michael Barlette who shared onto the SparkFun website on 2/7/16
     *  Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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Discussions

Stephen McCaul wrote 05/31/2019 at 23:28 point

glad this is moving forward! I have a couple of the prototypes and they are great..

  Are you sure? yes | no

hiljaeger wrote 05/31/2019 at 03:59 point

These look soo beautiful and perfect, I can't!

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Ujin Kim wrote 05/31/2019 at 04:39 point

*blushing* Thank you Hil! Excited to bring these babies out to the world.

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Jacob Penn wrote 05/29/2019 at 16:53 point

love it!

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Ujin Kim wrote 05/31/2019 at 04:39 point

Love YOU! 

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scottkorchinski wrote 05/29/2019 at 16:06 point

These look beautiful o.O

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Ujin Kim wrote 05/31/2019 at 04:40 point

So are you. <3

  Are you sure? yes | no

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