Drip drip drip, can we get rid of that bullshit

Help Support GroupDIY:

xazrules

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 26, 2013
Messages
86
Location
Italy
Maybe we should create a small range of quality clone PCBs with decent documentation and put them out of business.

Cheers

Ian
You can write the best most exaustive build doc of the world but if a kid that has never used a soldering iron buy your pcbs you are in big trouble to be stalked for life with the risk that he’ll be ringing your doorbell at midnight. Better sell some surplus pcbs with just a schematic and wiring diagram in the black market..
 

JMan

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
366
Location
US
Maybe we should create a small range of quality clone PCBs with decent documentation and put them out of business.

Cheers

Ian
You know, I realize that you might be being facetious since so many people here — yourself very much included — do offer fantastic projects and support, but in my opinion a GDIY-approved alternative to some of these Dr*p projects would be a very valuable thing for beginning-intermediate builders like myself. (I realize that better versions of some projects already exist, but others not so much).

I think the appeal of the Dr*p stuff is that it offers the chance to build some enticing pieces of gear presented on fancy-looking PC boards, and it all comes off as very curated and high end to those who haven’t been around long enough to catch wind of the downsides. I definitely fell into that category, and so I tend to feel more sympathetic than some of the veteran folks on this thread when it comes to folks asking for help with these builds here on the forum when they get stuck.

But honestly, I believe that if there were better documented versions of these projects offered here with some willing support, it would allow someone like me to not only build the stuff but actually learn from it. Clear documentation would go such a long way in helping to understand what’s going on in a circuit and making it accessible to folks with a limited technical background who want to educate themselves. With the Dr*p boards, I don’t feel that I learn very much, I just pray that it works and hope that minimal troubleshooting is needed.

Just my musings…
 

morls

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 15, 2013
Messages
208
Location
Australia
With the Dr*p boards, I don’t feel that I learn very much, I just pray that it works and hope that minimal troubleshooting is needed.
I've done a few of their builds, and to be honest I've learnt a lot. Head scratching and trying to figure out what the *$#& is going on forced me to dig out original schematics, and then led me here to ask a lot of questions. If it wasn't for the generosity of members here I wouldn't have had a hope of getting these pieces up and running.

I can totally understand the frustration of those who have long experience with these designs. I think it's amazing that despite these frustrations, people are always willing to help out anyway. If I get too philosophical about it, I end up thinking that this kind of generosity of knowledge and skills, and dedication to the art of great sound and music, is exactly the kind of thing we need in these supercharged and polarised times.

🙏
 

Ilya

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2005
Messages
565
Location
Moscow
But honestly, I believe that if there were better documented versions of these projects offered here with some willing support, it would allow someone like me to not only build the stuff but actually learn from it.
Well, you probably don't have an idea what it takes to make a clear and easy to use documentation for the build. And it gets more complicated as you add various options to the PCB. This duty should be on the PCBs supplier completely, especially if they don't disclose schematics.
As for a novice builders, if anybody happens to stumble upon the same problem as another builder AND bothers to write about it (and its solution) on the forum - you can consider yourself lucky. Nobody is obliged to support kits from another supplier.
 

JohnRoberts

Well-known member
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 30, 2006
Messages
21,494
Location
Hickory, MS
Well, you probably don't have an idea what it takes to make a clear and easy to use documentation for the build. And it gets more complicated as you add various options to the PCB. This duty should be on the PCBs supplier completely, especially if they don't disclose schematics.
As for a novice builders, if anybody happens to stumble upon the same problem as another builder AND bothers to write about it (and its solution) on the forum - you can consider yourself lucky. Nobody is obliged to support kits from another supplier.
Back in the 70s/80s I ran a mail order kit business (Phoenix Systems) so I know a little about it. Heathkit was the gold standard for kit documentation, that few lived up to.

I even offered a flat fee repair service where I would troubleshoot and fix balky kits for customers. In almost every case it was something simple. One time the customer soldered all the parts into the wrong side of the PCB. I ended up sending him another bare PCB and loose components, then suggested that he try again. It didn't come back a second time, so I assume he got it right that second try.

JR

PS: In my judgement the kit business was not a great business model even last century and is probably even less profitable today.
 

ruffrecords

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
13,964
Location
Norfolk - UK
actually, most of their project do have alternative PCB vendors or open source designs.
And I don’t think this actually qualifies as business. Do you really believe they make a living selling their PCBs?
I have no idea. I have little interest in them. I only know about them because a friend in the US bought one of their REDD47 boards and had lots of problems getting it going. Fortunately I was able to help him and he now has a nice sounding fairly quiet mic pre, but I did discover that just about every aspect of their design, PCB layout and documentation is poor.

Cheers

Ian
 

xazrules

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 26, 2013
Messages
86
Location
Italy
You really can’t build an advanced project like a varimu painting by numbers, especially if the designer of the pcb made it more complicated than it is, you are not learning anything. If you wanna learn study by building blocks on the breadboard, start from guitar pedals and then keep going to more sophisticated circuits.
 

FIX

Paul Wolff
Joined
May 5, 2021
Messages
110
Location
Nashville
Back in the 70s/80s I ran a mail order kit business (Phoenix Systems) so I know a little about it. Heathkit was the gold standard for kit documentation, that few lived up to.

I even offered a flat fee repair service where I would troubleshoot and fix balky kits for customers. In almost every case it was something simple. One time the customer soldered all the parts into the wrong side of the PCB. I ended up sending him another bare PCB and loose components, then suggested that he try again. It didn't come back a second time, so I assume he got it right that second try.

JR

PS: In my judgement the kit business was not a great business model even last century and is probably even less profitable today.
I just bought my original flanger and doubler back from a guy that got them after the club I worked in closed, I bought your delay kits and used them in it, back the the 70's. He had them all this time, it was what turned into the FIX Flanger and Doubler plugin by Softube. I'll post some pix when I get them, if only to give you a good breakout of hives....

They still work!
 

JMan

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
366
Location
US
Well, you probably don't have an idea what it takes to make a clear and easy to use documentation for the build. And it gets more complicated as you add various options to the PCB. This duty should be on the PCBs supplier completely, especially if they don't disclose schematics.
As for a novice builders, if anybody happens to stumble upon the same problem as another builder AND bothers to write about it (and its solution) on the forum - you can consider yourself lucky. Nobody is obliged to support kits from another supplier.
When it comes to electronics (hardly my primary area of expertise), of course I don’t have a good sense of what it takes to put together good documentation. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to have, which is all I was saying.

It’s odd. The hostility that should be directed toward Dr*p for their failings in providing clear documentation and support seems to often be misdirected at the people who need help with the builds once they realize what they’ve gotten into. Perhaps this is because those people are available to wag a finger at, while Dr*p is not (that’s part of the problem, after all).

I bought a number of Greg’s boards very early on in my electronics journey, being excited about the prospect of learning about tube circuits through them — again, not being aware of any of the gripes (at that time, I had only run across praise for the finished products). That was probably naïve for multiple reasons, but hey. Anyway, today, I’ve sold off most of the boards that I don’t think I would be able to figure out on my own (hell, I’ve still got one up in the BM, which actually has tons of docs but is too complicated and involved for me to confidently tackle) and I’m slowly working my through the one or two projects that feel doable to me.

I agree, it’s frustrating that Gregory does not provide the needed support for his projects and so people are forced to ask for help from others.

Lastly, because it seems that maybe you misunderstood this in my earlier post, I was in no way intimating that the forum should provide documentation to be used for Dr*p’s boards. I was saying that Ian’s [likely facetious] suggestion that “maybe we should create a small range of quality clone PCBs with decent documentation and put them out of business” sounded like a very preferable alternative.
 

Ilya

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2005
Messages
565
Location
Moscow
It’s odd. The hostility that should be directed toward Dr*p for their failings in providing clear documentation and support seems to often be misdirected at the people who need help with the builds once they realize what they’ve gotten into. Perhaps this is because those people are available to wag a finger at, while Dr*p is not (that’s part of the problem, after all)
No hostility intended. I apologize if you read my message as an "ad hominem" attack. The only thing I wanted to stress is it's very difficult to make a quality build documentation even for your own product.
I think that a proper support thread should be cared by a kit vindor. And other buyers can exchange experience in other threads. What CAN be done though is a list of useful info, known bugs/mods etc from different builders. You can even do it yourself - you can set up a thread or even a google table and put all the info you want to share there. Let the others access it and let them add what they think is useful.
And lastly, its these kits that are difficult to wrap your head around that you learn from. Easy paint-by-number stuff won't teach you anything. The only problem is - when you get a complex build, it may be way too difficult for your current level of knowledge. But you can make another attempt after some time and finally get it built.
 

JohnRoberts

Well-known member
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 30, 2006
Messages
21,494
Location
Hickory, MS
We need a proper definition of what the product (SKU) being sold is, and then what does the customer think they are getting for his/her money?

In my judgement customer expectations for the kit business have changed over the several decades I have been involved/paying attention.

Back in the 70s when I started selling kits the consumers were trying to save money by providing their own cheap labor to acquire some functional product at a significant discount below retail. This business model got upset by factory automation dramatically reducing the labor content. By the 80s there were commercial SKUs being sold for less than my parts cost. :unsure:

For education the vast majority of my customers were not in it for the education but I marketed most kits via construction articles in Popular Electronics that involved a lucid description of operational theory and in some cases design equations. This accidentally created an opportunity for college students who were tasked with changing an existing design for course credit. After I figured this out I included more design equations and sold more kits to college pukes trying to get course credit easily.

Now I am less sure about what kit buyers are motivated by. I remain unsure about some thirst for education. If you want to learn how to design stuff, figure out how products work by repairing them. For extra credit repair them without schematics. Then design some simple stuff yourself. Nowadays with most functions integrated into ICs circuit design involves reading the manufacturer's app notes and copying it correctly.

Amusing to me was one popular kit author (now RIP) who screwed up even that, but at this point it doesn't matter.

If clones are of questionable merit, what does that say about clone kit's?

JR
 

JMan

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
366
Location
US
No hostility intended. I apologize if you read my message as an "ad hominem" attack. The only thing I wanted to stress is it's very difficult to make a quality build documentation even for your own product.
I think that a proper support thread should be cared by a kit vindor. And other buyers can exchange experience in other threads. What CAN be done though is a list of useful info, known bugs/mods etc from different builders. You can even do it yourself - you can set up a thread or even a google table and put all the info you want to share there. Let the others access it and let them add what they think is useful.
And lastly, its these kits that are difficult to wrap your head around that you learn from. Easy paint-by-number stuff won't teach you anything. The only problem is - when you get a complex build, it may be way too difficult for your current level of knowledge. But you can make another attempt after some time and finally get it built.
I can appreciate that.

I also surely can understand the “learning by troubleshooting” methodology. That’s certainly how I’ve picked up a lot of my knowledge so far, second only to the hours spent reading this forum and asking newbie questions. The trouble for me, I think, is in these builds where the designer makes unexplained mods, has incomplete published errata (or god forbid, multiple extant versions of the errata that contradicts itself), or things like that. For someone like me who doesn’t necessarily have the strongest grasp of general theory yet, that makes it pretty overwhelming to try to work out what’s happening.

A related thing that irks me is that Dr*p loves to add superfluous bells and whistles that don’t appear in any original schematics — the most obvious probably being the endless oceans of relays in some of those projects. Even if the thought behind it is straightforward (I couldn’t say), that seems like it makes things messy fast, and it’s only compounded by a lack of good docs or support.

I agree with everyone who has said that a paint-by-numbers project doesn’t teach you much. I’ve built plenty of such kits and while I like having a working unit to add to the rack, I don’t come away feeling smarter. At the same time, these projects that are TOO poorly supported/documented can be just as pointless from a learning perspective, since they are simply out of my reach. I learn best in the middle ground at this point, because that’s where I currently exist. Projects like Fripholm’s zener limiter have been incredibly gratifying and I’ve learned so much from working on them. My hat goes off to the folks who offer and sustain projects like that.
 

soapfoot

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2010
Messages
382
Now I am less sure about what kit buyers are motivated by.

speaking for myself:

1) more useful than a completed jigsaw puzzle

2) a high-end piece of gear for (usually) less than the cost of a comparable product, and I get to decide what parts go in it
 

JohnRoberts

Well-known member
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 30, 2006
Messages
21,494
Location
Hickory, MS
speaking for myself:

1) more useful than a completed jigsaw puzzle

2) a high-end piece of gear for (usually) less than the cost of a comparable product, and I get to decide what parts go in it
"High end gear"?

What is the resale value of these assembled kits?

Sorry, I am not trying to be a butt... it just comes naturally.

JR
 

soapfoot

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2010
Messages
382
"High end gear"?

What is the resale value of these assembled kits?

Sorry, I am not trying to be a butt... it just comes naturally.

JR

certainly not in terms of resale value!

but I can often build something that’s comparable in quality to a name brand for a little bit (or even a lot) less.

Back in NYC, I’m a partner in a commercial studio facility that books clients in part based on its gear list. In that situation, I can attest that it’s good to have brand names people know. A DIY copy of something isn’t going to bring business to the studio.

But my smaller home studio in LA is used primarily by me, for projects where my work (not the studio itself) is what I’m selling… and the DIY gear is great for that.

Very often, what I can put together is as satisfying to me (or more) as the name brand stuff, and lets me do work that’s just as good.
 

JohnRoberts

Well-known member
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 30, 2006
Messages
21,494
Location
Hickory, MS
certainly not in terms of resale value!

but I can often build something that’s comparable in quality to a name brand for a little bit (or even a lot) less.
This was certainly true several decades ago, now not so much IMO. I outfitted my test bench with serviceable equipment by assembling Heathkit gear back in the 70s. Today a lot of that functionality can be covered with new technology gear for a tiny fraction of the former cost.
Back in NYC, I’m a partner in a commercial studio facility that books clients in part based on its gear list. In that situation, I can attest that it’s good to have brand names people know. A DIY copy of something isn’t going to bring business to the studio.
I recall selling a few of my big split (AMR) consoles into NYC last century and heard about studio customers covering the Peavey markings with black tape to not degrade the sonic expectations of their clientele.

As I have shared already manufacturing technology has advanced in the decades since some of these classic legacy clone targets were current such that a modern version that doesn't suck could be manufactured and sold for fraction of the old price (adjusted for inflation). While at Peavey we designed two such modern classics, a tube mic preamp (VMP) and a tube limiter (VCL). IMO these jewels, hidden in plain sight, never received the recognition they deserved because of their negative association with a successful value brand.

Trust me I did enough work in product management to understand the intricacies and quirks of brand management, i.e. you can't be two things in the consumer's mind at the same time.

[edit- ironically perhaps AMR was supposed to be perceived as a different brand than Peavey, but they screwed that up, long story /edit]
But my smaller home studio in LA is used primarily by me, for projects where my work (not the studio itself) is what I’m selling… and the DIY gear is great for that.
Yup, back in the 70s/80s I had two different friends who designed and built their own recording consoles (in CT) while operating successful studios.
Very often, what I can put together is as satisfying to me (or more) as the name brand stuff, and lets me do work that’s just as good.
Indeed the gear is rarely the limiting factor for making good sound. Electronic advancements over the decades have made it even cheaper to approach effectively noiseless and linear audio paths. It used to be difficult to design low noise mic preamps and compressors, now its just connecting the dots using manufacturer's app notes.

JR
 

soapfoot

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2010
Messages
382
"Low noise and linear" may have become so common, in fact, that it's become something other than universally-sought.

Hence the desire of many (self included) to source or re-create technologies that may be objectively less-optimized, but that have subjectively-attractive behaviors with which to creatively interact.

If recording is conceived as strictly-documentarian, there would be little use for devices that distort and are noisy.

But it can also be a creative process, and the sounds of certain historic technologies have accrued cultural currency; they've acquired meaning.

And like anything with meaning, these characteristics can be leveraged in the creation of new art. This is why some technologies an engineer would see as "primitive" manage to avoid obsolescence.

One benefit of DIY is that a builder can choose historical components that would be unfeasible-to-impossible in a commercial product.

I've become rather attached to the specific sound of the three vintage LA-2As we have at the NYC place. If I want something similar in my home studio, DIY allows me the flexibility to chase that down to the component level at a fraction of the cost of a rare/valuable vintage unit.

LA-2A reissues and reproductions exist, but they must make considerations for what's feasible in a production item. If building my own, it's not-too-onerous to source a single UTC A-10 and a single UTC A-24, but no reproduction could ever use components that are rare, and were EOL decades ago.

I understand that this doesn't mean the reissues are inferior--in fact, the new parts are quite possibly superior to the old parts in objective ways! But I'm not chasing superior--I'm chasing something near-as-possible to that which I'm accustomed to using, and which has accrued meaning for me.
 
Last edited:

davejrei

New member
Joined
Sep 18, 2014
Messages
1
Being a DRIP customer I can vouch for the quality of what he has done. The guy did make some quality stuff. I have built more than a few of his boards all the way back to 2007 (?) but I can also vouch for some of inconstancies of some of his builds HOWEVER that goes without saying that it is based on the DIY mentality.
I still have quite a few of his manuals that were related to these builds and I'm still happy I have them to refer back to the builds. But I have noticed that he does not leave those manuals out there to keep supporting his builds which I believe to be non-supportive.
But as it is human nature sometimes we will veer from what we used to do to expand our horizons and that is kind of what I see him doing. The guy was always an artist and decided to use his artistic qualities to build what he did. I see him going down the road of building his own stuff and as some of you know, the DIY world can be somewhat unforgiving. We have expectations of being able to support as much as we can to help out the DIY world but will NEVER make everyone happy because expectations will always be different based on various individuals.
However I do believe in customer service because I do own an actual electronics parts business and I do believe that if you are going to put something out there then support it, simple as that. If you are too busy to help out then don't put it out there.
But the one thing this will do is open doors for other that want to support the DIY community with new and/or improved versions of what has been put out there which is what the whole DIY thing is all about. We want to continue to support this effort, pure and simple.
Sorry about the rant.......
 

Latest posts

Top