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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.

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

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. 

We invite the Hackaday creator community at large to take part in our journey. 
 (1) Create a profile and join the Hackaday community.
(2) LIKE + FOLLOW this project.
(3) Follow our journey on Instagram @nullmodular.  


Origin of the 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 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. 


The First Sprint: Illuminating The Experience


The Hackaday Challenge offers us a platform to introduce the first accessory in the F(n) accessories pipeline: an embedded LED light feature optimized for studio use and live performances. We intend to hack a 3U x 84hp wooden 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!


The second phase of the light feature is to create a Eurorack module to add into your modular system, enabling manipulation of various  parameters and playable functions on the fly. 

Upcoming Milestones
Phase 1:

  • Modular case integrated with audio reactive and dimmable LED unit
  • Document the build process (stay tuned in the Log Section!)
  • Log #1: Combating The Cardinal Sin of Design 
  • Log #2: An Artist Perspective - Understanding The Nature of the Problem

Phase 2: 

  • Universal modular case accessory attachment for LED unit
  • Cost-benefit breakdown of components
  • Assembly Video
  • Log #3: Inner-sourcing For Innovative Solutions
  • Log #4: Illuminating The Case 

Phase 3: 

  • Eurorack module for LED unit with additional functions (ie. colors, trigger, patterns)
  • Start-up guide to modular systems
  • Building out digital assets: Website, Social platforms, Community Organizations & Partnerships
  • Launch Video/Webseries 
  • Log #5:  Building For the Future with the F(n) (live stream event)
  • Null-LA Design Process Guide 


Contact Us: 
You can reach us at any hour with curiosities or inquiries at hello@null-la.com.
Stay tuned in our Log Section and with future events by following @nullmodular on Instagram. 

  • 1 × Null Modular 3U x 84HP Case (Prototype) Modified Modular Synth Case
  • 1 × Arduino Uno R3
  • 1 × Adafruit Electret Microphone Amplifer Microphone Amplifier w/ Auto Gain
  • 1 × Rotary Potentiometer
  • 1 × LED Light Strip (RGB) Fiber Optics / Emitters

View all 9 components

  • 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 a light in the audiences' faces with a headlamp. Now...

    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. 


    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 streamlining modern best practices and collaborating with industry partners, we can fabricate a cutting-edge 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 more knowledge we share, the better we can build. 


View all 2 project logs

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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..

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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

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