This week at Mutable Instruments…

  • Tried to rework Links’ PCB to use the same jacks as the other modules, shrunk everything and moved all components to the top side.
  • Prepared a 3-week schedule for all the work on new modules’ DSP code.
  • Sketched ideas for sequencers in pd.
  • Did plenty of nasty things with the STM32F – overclocking (STM32F1 at 135 MHz), abusing the PLL, clocking the chip from oscillators at unholy frequencies, input capture feeding timers triggering DMA transfers to GPIOC->ODR, unorthodox use of DMA registers and transfer width to do buffer shifting/mirroring operations… Got them to do pretty much everything unusual they’ll have to do for an upcoming module!
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Recently at Mutable Instruments

  • Finished shipping modules to dealers.
  • Reworked Streams’ calibration procedure – the range of the compensation in the software calibration procedure was a bit too narrow for 8 units.
  • Investigated on the cause of a firmware flashing problem in Streams. This time I had to manually check all units for the flaw, I don’t want this to happen in batch two!
  • Revised QA procedures for all modules, now that I have a better ideas of the kind of issues that are likely to pop.
  • Worked on a few improvements to Warps’ hardware. Reordered assembled prototype board.
  • Prepared BOM for new module, put it in the production quote pipeline, ordered assembled prototype board.
  • Wrote all the boring code (peripherals initialization, firmware upgrade, UI, calibration, factory testing program) for new module.
  • Panel assembly/testing/packaging of 100 Links. This is now the only module (with Volts) not made locally – I receive only the assembled boards…
  • Found a new packaging supplier. Yeah!
  • Received 25x Shades and 25x Branches from the factory – first batch made in France. Inspected all of them, all good! The remaining 225 are going to be made in the next two weeks.
  • Received 2x Shelves expander. I wanted to be sure these were OK before they put the panels on the 98 remaining ones. All good!
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Recently at Mutable Instruments

  • Received, inspected and dispatched new modules. About 75% of orders from dealers have been fulfilled – still waiting for more Elements.
  • Post-NAMM strategy planning. Among the modules I planned to do this year, I had to put one on the backburner because it would have looked too much like something announced by another manufacturer – but it looks like the other ideas I have for this year are very original and solid.
  • Feature planning, schematics and PCB layout for a new module. Certainly not the most original of the year, but it has to be done.
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Recently at Mutable Instruments

  • Found a couple of code and lookup table size optimizations for Braids.
  • Implemented triple sine and triangle modes in Braids’ firmware.
  • Implemented Tides’ original PLL and sync features in Sheep.
  • Built a prototype of Braids with a few hardware fixes/tweaks. The goal is to have it in production by mid 2015.
  • Resumed shipping orders to dealers.
  • Rewrote from scratch Clouds’ grain rendering code, boosting the maximum number of grains by 250-400%
  • Rewrote Clouds’ “blending” features – allowing all 4 blending functions to be used at the same time.
  • Improved Clouds’ three alternative processing modes (WSOLA stretcher, looping delay aka ‘Ghettophon’, spectral) – they are rougher, weirder and react to triggers.
  • Spent a lot of time with Clouds, trying to identify bugs before shipping the “golden” version of the firmware.
  • Updated Clouds’ manuals.
  • Solved a production emergency with Clouds. We’re going to hand-solder one part which we suspect does not withstand wave-soldering well.
  • Reopened the shop and shipped 2015’s first orders.
  • Sent RFQ for Warps’ manufacturing (and for another new thing).
  • Finished building and testing a small batch of 10 Links. More to come!
  • Fixed a couple of last minute quirks in Elements.
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This week at Mutable Instruments

  • Finished porting Peaks’ drum synthesis modes to Braids.
  • Spent some time trying to shrink Braids’ code size to have at least some space for future bug fixes (there are now less than 1kb left!).
  • Closed the shop and shipped the last order of 2014 (#9000)!
  • Continued testing every nook and cranny of Streams’ code – “golden” firmware file was due for thursday.
  • Controlled everything with two Mikrophonie kits I’ve built. If you plan to play with my new modules FROX FROX GET THIS THING IMMEDIATELY.
  • Worked on a “new module for free!” alternative firmware for Tides.
  • Timed the code in Elements to identify possible optimizations. The number of basic_building_block running concurrently jumped from 60 to 64.
  • Started moving new module 5′s DSP code from experimental C++ command line things to the actual hardware. 80% of the module is operational but the edges are still a bit rough. It more or less does what it is supposed to do, very pleasantly.
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This week at Mutable Instruments

  • Fixed one lethal Merzbug in Elements.
  • Fixed a couple of serious Merzbugs in Clouds.
  • Reprogrammed the 24 Clouds modules I got from the factory with the bug-free (for now) firmware. Sent a few to testers.
  • Fixed a very nasty problem in Streams through a software+hardware fix (my favorite kind of fix!).
  • Built one Ambika kit, no missing parts! How long does it take to build? Exactly one The Sea and Cake discography. Waiting for the delivery of the hardware parts (spacers, screws & co) to release the kits! The cases are already here. December 2nd or 3rd is probably going to be the date…
  • Wrote more and more DSP code for new module 5. Feeling a bit guilty for solving easy problems, but it’s very relaxing after all the unknown territories I’ve explored when developing this year’s new modules.
  • Went through my list of all glitches/quirks/bugs in past modules and tried to identify smells of them in new modules. So far so good. Looked back at 18 months of production/prototyping screw-ups and created “check-lists” for PCB prototypes, panels, manuals and modules.
  • Compiled all the manufacturing changes/extra QA steps for the new modules. Gave manufacturing order.
  • Tested and packed 250 Volts modules.
  • Finished the CVpal kits.
  • Received new module 5 PCB prototype! Successful board bring-up (LEDs, buttons, CV inputs, audio inputs/outputs, firmware upgrade code and CV calibration routines are tested), after 3 hours of battle (PCB defect, then fried op-amp, then backward soldered op-amp, then stupid software bug that looked like a hardware bug).
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This week at Mutable Instruments

  • Continued working on the PCB upgrade of existing modules – this week rerouted Ripples and Braids’ PCB for new jack connectors’ footprints, removed +5V requirements, fixed quirks, ordered prototypes.
  • Worked on filterbank / tf2sos code for new module 5.
  • Continued inspecting/testing the new modules for assembly issues.
  • Prepared a batch of 100 new CVpal kits. Almost ready, waiting for the PCBs!
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This week at Mutable Instruments

  • Reordered new batches of Peaks, Shades, Branches.
  • Rewrote new module 5′s sample rate conversion code. The new code is much more concise and efficient – brought it to new module 1.
  • Remotely followed the factory production/testing of the remaining first 25 pieces of new modules 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • Fixed a bug in new module 3’s firmware.
  • Wrote most of the “structural” code for new module 5 (lots of while (size–) { *out++ = *in++; } waiting to be filled).
  • Started filling the gaps in new module 5’s code. The most difficult bits are over, from now on, it’s just polishing and listening tests.
  • Rewrote some parts of new module 5 code with C++ templates. The goal is to create many specialized, branch-free instances of the signal processing code for the various settings of the module.
  • Tortured new module 4. Found a few quirks but they can be creatively abused, so I’m good. Launched production of batch of 224.
  • Solved nasty mechanical problems occurring during new modules 1, 2, and 4 panel assembly. In the process, found a mythical supplier of non-standard washers – and reviewed assembly procedures for all modules to see if we can benefit from these (and the answer is yes!).
  • Finished building prototypes of revised modules.
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This week at Mutable Instruments

  • Created technical drawings for new module 5′s panel.
  • Prepared BOM and production documents for new module 5. Ordered a prototype, received postcards from the PCB manufacturer.
  • Ordered panel prototype for new module 5. Hannes did a quick (and as usual, great) job on that one.
  • Tweaked new modules 1 and 2′s code – probably some of the last changes as the release date approaches…
  • Spent a long day at the factory. New modules 1, 2, 3, 4 have been all made in small quantity (4 to 25 pieces of each) and successfully passed the test procedures (minus false positives).
  • Started work on transitioning the production of modules from “half-turnkey” to “full-turnkey”. There are still a few parts that I currently purchase myself (faceplates, pots, jacks, boxes…) – the goal is to have all the inventory bought and managed by my CM. There’s lots of tribal knowledge that needs to be properly written down.
  • Reworked testing procedures for new modules 1 and 2 to account for some of the deviations between units we observed in production. This was also the first time I got to hear the consequences of new module 2′s variations/modulations influenced by the processor serial number.
  • Played with all the first units brought back from the factory.
  • Received prototype PCB of new module 4′s expansion panel, built one. Sent quote request for having it made very quickly.
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This week at Mutable Instruments

  • Finished writing the user manuals for all new modules.
  • Reworked the calibration procedure for new module 3 – it no longer requires a multimeter and access to a test point on the PCB – I have found a trick in which self-patching the module allows the MCU to measure and digitally trim the parameter that needed adjustment…
  • Ordered prototype PCB of thonkiconned/depentavoltified Edges. This is a low priority, background task, so you won’t hear about this for months…
  • Rushed things on new module 4’s expander front – hoping to make it available at the same time as the module.
  • Reworked Shades and Branches PCBs to use Thonkiconn jacks.
  • Collected notes, bits of codes and sketches into… product specifications and panel UI requirements for new module 5! Created the schematics (it’s digital and has the same innards as new module 1)
  • Designed the digital upsampling/downsampling chain for new module 5 (internal processing is done at 8x or 16x the sample rate).
  • Created the code tree and wrote all I/O drivers for new module 5.
  • Received and shipped lots of modules.
  • Designed the PCB for new module 5.
  • Spent a nice week-end in Metz, panel on electronic instruments with Chapelier Fou, concerts on saturday; and Shruthi kit assembly workshop on sunday.
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