I actually think that Michigan Synth Works/Altitude and Jakplug are collaborating on lay outing and prototyping of these modules.
Yes, they are. I admit that I’m not entirely sure who Jakplug is – I had a vague notion that he or she is the Orgone Accumulator person, but I’m probably just hopelessly confused. Anyway, Raph W from Michigan Synth Works is a good guy, and a long-time builder and supporter of Mutable DIY stuff right back to the early Shruthi (or even Shruti) days. Nonetheless, I am personally not comfortable with anyone selling versions of MI modules which are still being sold by Olivier. DIY of such currently-available modules for personal use is another matter, at least in my probably self-serving and biased ethical reasoning, due to the sheer masochism involved in ordering all the parts, soldering the tiny components by hand through magnification, hours of often fruitless troubleshooting, fiddling with firmware toolchains etc - but it is pain with gain in terms of understanding how these things work, or even just properly appreciating the care and attention given to their design (including firmware design, where much of the effort lays). However, I made a personal vow to never sell any of my DIY clones of Mutable modules while that module was still being offered for sale by Olivier. As it turns out, I’ve never actually wanted to sell any of them anyway (and who would buy them with weird transparent or translucent acrylic panels labelled in Esperanto, anyway?).
Agree. Some of the profit from those modules go inte development of modules like the new Syncussion euro adaptation he made, and the Midi cv interface for the Jasper wasp clone, and countless hour of knowledge sharing on diy message boards.
Speaking of a adaptations, have you guys seen the Monsoon Clouds version. With 4 cv in for all the blend parameters, and a dry wet. With custom firmware. Good additions to the module, and how the open source should work.
That’s correct, they make the Orgone Accumulator. They also seem to be the source of most of the micro MI versions, as witnessed by their GitHub repo list https://github.com/jakplugg?tab=repositories
I realised I’ve been missing a ‘p’ off their name. It’s ‘Jakplugg’. Ooops.
I haven’t made any “straight” MI clones myself, as my MI fanboy side prefers the originals, but I must admit the smaller form-factor of some of the the micro versions does attract me.
I think what concerned me about the MSW modules was the thought that they were being commercially produced in a factory. I may be wrong on that- maybe they’re all done by hand, still.
It also worries me slightly that the micro versions, if mass-produced, actually have an advantage over the original MI hardware, in terms of their smaller size. I realise in practice, this may impact negatively on usability, but for many people with limited HPs, the smaller modules may in fact be preferable to the full-size originals.
This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if they were being produced on a one-off basis, for personal use, or even when DIY builders make up an extra one or two to help fund one they’re building for themselves (I’ve done that myself a couple of times), but when the clones are being mass-produced in a factory, I can’t help feeling they’re on shakier ground, ethically.
I realise I’ve been making a lot of assumptions here though, and other forum members know more than I do about the motivations and past actions of some of the people I’ve mentioned.
I certainly have enough plan B’s to not feel threatened by this. The “worst” possible outcome is that I’d be tired of so much display of ugliness and lack of imagination, and I’d move on to things that are not audio/synth-related, but I don’t actually see this as a negative outcome.
I’m of a similar opinion to Tim - I’d never sell an MI diy module. I strongly dislike commercial sales of ‘live’ MI clones - it feels very wrong. I’ve learnt so much from building and playing with the fw. I’ve also learnt a lot from adopting the analog designs and making my own non-commercial modules from some of the analog circuits - for my own fun. Which I would never have done if the designs weren’t so free, open and easily accessible.
My concern is that the rampant commercialism of the clones is going to kill the open source ethos by making it less likely others will decide to open source their designs - it is such a valuable idea - look at gnu and the fsf and how much good that has done for example.
I think we need to call out those companies that we think are acting unethically and talk about it in the forums - hopefully public opinion will coalesce with regards the commercial clones.
The factory MI modules that I have bought has been purely because of the fact they are open source - I probably wouldn’t have bought them if they weren’t (especially as almost all of my rack is diy - both analog and digital)
I think this is right, and I also believe that it’s already happening. Over at Muffwiggler, there’s often debates popping up about certain websites selling MI PCBs, marketed as if they are providing a “DIY Service” while actually just forwarding gerbers to a fabhouse. And I also see debates over what looks like small scale production modules, even though they are handbuilt, but sold as “professionally assembled DIY”, whatever that contradiction mean.
But stopping those sites is only possible if you get the consumers to stop ordering. And to do that, they need to FEEL like its morally WRONG to buy these products. Not that they are breaking a law, but that they are breaking the trust associated with a licensing format, that they have maybe never heard about. Or even worse, don’t see the value in. One of the struggles with an open license, is that they are often so much more than a license. They are a framework that allows certain communities and groups of shared interests to exchange ideas and knowledge. But I’m not sure that the popularity of Eurorack and how it seems to have found a place in the hearts of people who believe that acquiring as much and as many of whatever you are into, can co-exist with these beliefs about knowledge sharing. Or, of cause it can. It is right now, but not without friction.
I have to say - the other thing I find bizarre and a little rude is the people who take an MI clone - either micro module or adapted module and then refuse to release the source code/designs until they have “made their money back” !!! I can think of a few recent modules that have done exactly this ! It just seems bizarre and ungrateful to violate the terms and spirit of the licence in this way !
Yes it’s stupid.
I don’t publish the sources of my modules when I release them, but well, it’s a different situation because they are not derivatives of anybody’s prior work so I don’t have any obligation to actually publish anything.
Despite what @forestcaver says above, I’m not convinced you’d lose significant market-share if you didn’t open-source your modules. I do think it’s very much to your credit that you do, though, as I’m sure many would agree.
Hope my post didn’t imply I expected that Olivier !! I absolutely don’t !!! It was purely a comment on the derivative works that are released under the licence you chose at the time you choose to release
Didn’t mean to imply that MI would lose market share either (just finished a long night shift on-call so apologies if I’ve been a little incoherent !) I suspect that the modules are so good that if they were closed source there would be no difference in sales.
I merely meant it was what motivated me personally - I am pretty confident I am in a very small minority of open source hard liners (Dating back to the early days of gcc and gnu/linux, minix and bsd). I like to know what is going on in stuff I use - it motivates me in eurorack/synths/guitars/amps etc. I like to have built my own kit - or at lease know exactly how it works - it feels more personal to me as well as being able to repair it/modify it. Purely a personal view and most likely a minority view
I’m pretty sure it would, a little bit at least:
(Open source supporters + people who buy without caring) > (people who buy without caring)
People who buy without caring + people who buy clones > people who buy without caring + open source supporters
FWIW id just stop releasing open source docs. Oliviers a cool guy for doing this but id not put up with the amount of pilot fish to be honest.
A few alternate firmwares are not worth for the creator being cheated out of his money by some lame imitators who are either too lazy or too incompetent to make their own designs.
Theres exactly one derivative module i respect and that is the supercell because it actually improves upon the existing design.
I may agree when and if I can see the design files and soirce code to see whst they have done…
But that’s also where it gets difficult. Is an “improvement” evaluated on technical of functional merit?
An Elements with CV on Exciter levels would be a huge functional improvement for me, but not a big technical achievement.
Do it ! That’s the beauty of open source - you can get on and do it yourself and then release your work for others to build on - just as you have benefited from others - standing on the shoulders of giants It doesn’t matter if the changes are big or small! Especially with the easy-to-read source code and eagle files - it becomes a lot easier to make the changes you want - large or small - I learn as I iterate small changes as my knowledge base is so low to start with :-). You can end up with exactly what you want for a much-reduced effort…