gechologic.com

Gecho Loopsynth DIY kits

Powered either by 3xAA, 4xAAA, 18650, 14500 or Li-po battery with charging & protective circuit. In case of AA/AAA, at least two batteries need to be installed in order to maintain persistence of user settings and content (programmed songs/melodies).

#1 (apprentice): Assembled board + box, THT components to solder €96
#2 (adept): Assembled board with THT and one SMD IC remaining unsoldered + box €87
#3 (master): Unassembled board + most components kit €39

Wooden box (optional)

For version with box, there are three finishes to choose from (if you have a different colour or finish in mind, you might want to choose the lightest one and apply additional coatings of your choice).

Since cameras, lighting conditions and monitor calibration have influence on how colours appear on screen, in order to give you better impression here is another picture showing all three finishes under various conditions (first row is Light Oak, second row Antique Oak and third row Ebony).

Light Oak
Antique Oak
Ebony

Sorry but DIY kits are out of stock at the moment.


 

Versions with recharging circuit:

Please note that rechargeable batteries are not included due to shipping restrictions. They are common types, you can buy them locally or on-line. The 14500 format is almost identical to AA battery (apart from voltage). Your kit will include a standard AA holder to accommodate it. For 18650 format, two contacts are provided to be glued to the sides of internal compartment of the box (a tutorial with pictures will follow shortly). Charging module is standard circuit utilizing TP4056, with DW-01P and 8205A dual mosfet for over-current protection.

DIY kit version #1 - Gechologist apprentice level

Requires soldering of through-hole components and drilling wood (should you not have drilling tools at hand, leave a note/special request with your order and we'll prepare the box for you).

What's in the kit:

  • printed circuit board with SMD elements assembled
  • THT elements which you need to assemble: headphone jacks (3x), microphones (2x), magnetic sensor
  • battery holders or contacts, according to chosen variant
  • Li-ion/Li-po charging circuit (optional, does not affect price as it is mutually exclusive with AA/AAA holders)
  • dark bronze mounting screws (2x)
  • wooden box
  • tested 7" USB cable for firmware upgrading

DIY kit version #2 - Gechologist adept level

Requires soldering of some SMD elements, also through-hole components and drilling wood (should you not have drilling tools at hand, leave a note/special request with your order and we'll prepare the box for you).

What's in the kit:

  • printed circuit board with SMD elements assembled, except for one integrated circuit in SOIC16 package
  • THT elements which you need to assemble: headphone jacks (3x), microphones (2x), magnetic sensor
  • battery holders or contacts, according to chosen variant
  • Li-ion/Li-po charging circuit (optional, does not affect price as it is mutually exclusive with AA/AAA holders)
  • dark bronze mounting screws (2x)
  • wooden box
  • tested 7" USB cable for firmware upgrading

DIY kit version #3 - Gechologist master level

Requires soldering of all SMD and THT elements. PCB and most elements included.

PCB board comes in two colours: dark blue-turquoise or black. Please leave a note/special request when placing your order. Both PCBs are functionally identical but little different layout, when looking at particular assembly instructions, check that it's the correct one. Also finish is different, blue is ENIG and black is HASL.

Assembly instructions / blueprints are provided on-line (you'll receive the link following your order).

Most elements are included, what is left out you need to source by yourself (BOM with remaining elements highlighted). Not included is only a few very common values of 0603 resistors and capacitors (a.k.a. "birdseed", which you probably already have - if not, buy a universal kit, you'll find it handy).

The included components alone would normally cost cca €30 (+ postage) if ordered from Mouser/Digikey at small quantities. You can select version without MCU (which is the most expensive element) if you already have it or can get it cheaper elsewhere.

What's in the kit:

  • printed circuit board (bare PCB), two colours to choose from (dark blue-turquoise or black, leave a note with your order)
  • THT elements: headphone jacks (3x), microphones (2x), magnetic sensor
  • SMD elements: CS43L22 DAC (sound chip), CH340G (USB-TTL converter chip), QRE1113GR (IR proximity sensor, 4x), MMBT3904 (NPN transistor, 2x), LMV324 (Op-amp, 1x), 8MHz and 12MHz crystals, 3.3V and 2.5V LDO voltage regulators, 0603 ferrite bead (5x), 1M Trimmer (2x), Schottky diodes (15x)
  • 1k 0603 SMD resistors (35x), 100n (25x), 1uF (15x) and 10uF (10x) capacitors - since these are the most common used value on the board, and your universal kit might not contain enough of these
  • all LEDs (8 red, 6 orange, 7 blue, 8 white + 2 spare of each colour), if you have a different colour scheme in mind, leave a note with your order
  • all buttons / tactile switches (6x), Power On switch and USB mini connector
  • dark bronze mounting screws (2x)
  • battery holders or contacts, according to chosen variant
  • Li-ion/Li-po charging circuit (optional, does not affect price as it is mutually exclusive with AA/AAA holders)
  • STM32F405RGT6 ARM MCU (optional)
  • wooden box (optional)

Accessories included:

  • protective acrylic / macrolon laser cut plate
  • printed quick start instructions
  • a few informative / decorative stickers
  • version with box includes protective pouch made of black synthetic "velvet"

What's also included in the price:

  • unlimited technical support on forum / via e-mail
  • access to members area where you can find source codes, schematics and firmware updates, as by the purchase you are supporting continuous development of new features
  • warranty: kits version #1 and #2 - in case of damaging the board, guaranteed repair for flat rate of €25 + re-ship postage
    kit version #3: if you damage or lose some components, you can get spares for price of postage (first time only, does not apply to optional elements)

Shipping schedule:

Goods will be usually dispatched within one week, depending on circumstances, DIY kits may take longer to complete so will be dispatched within 10 days. Express tracked post is used with average delivery times of 2 to 8 working days.

Functions and capabilites:

Classic music box usually plays one or two melodies with one "sound". Our modern music box plays few melodies with limited amount of sounds. If you want more melodies or sounds, you can put them in using programming modes (channels #41-44) or upload via USB cable from a PC application (Mac or Linux is not yet supported, but we are working on it).

Your unit will be shipped with most recent stable firmware, where all known bugs were fixed. Please note that most of the demo videos show previous iteration of the product (older versions of hardware, software and box).

Drivers and firmware updates:

Please note that at the moment the update mechanism is fully automated only for PC platform. If you are a Mac user, and don't have any Windows PC at hand, in order to run the update utility you may need to use 3rd party tools or workaround in form of emulator or a virtual machine (e.g. "dosbox"). These are commonly available as some Arduino clones use the same USB driver chip. System drivers are available for Mac, Linux does not need any.

More information:

In some channels there is inherent noise, because of the type of synthesis. If you have good headphones, you won't mind it. If you have headphones that boost certain frequencies, it may bother you (then, the equalizer can be used to adjust treble, and bass too).

It is possible to plug more headphones at once, for example 4x Koss PortaPro will work, as they have higher impedance (60 Ohm) which is about twice as much as the usual common headphones. But it might not be a good idea to plug more than two low-impedance headphones. Also, they better be of the same type to get same volume levels for everyone.

In order to completely mask the environment sounds and convert them to music, you'd need to plug in good noise-cancellation headphones, Gecho cannot cancel noises this way on it's own with standard headphones.

Playing live, on stage, etc. - people say they are using it this way, but your results may vary. The "active" channels, mostly seen in demos, might not work well there as they depend on microphones input. However, the mics can be turned off completely, if the needs be.

Microphones are very sensitive - will register your voice from a distance of one metre, ideally you need to be 30-40cm from them, not closer - and no need to raise your voice either.

Gecho works best in quiet environment, hence the meditative aspect as a primary use. Passive channels can be used in loud environments - no problem there. Also, alternative firmware (written by you, us or someone else) may appear, targeting other types of usage.

Battery life: Standard capacity of AA battery is 2400mAh, Gecho's current draw varies between 50 and 110 mA depending on the program. Let's say you get about 24 hours of continuous listening before batteries need replacing. That's not much (can be 4 weeks of occasional playing with Gecho), but there are other options: power it via USB (you can do this any time while batteries are in, then they are not used). It is safe enough to plug and unplug the USB cable at any time, even while playing. (Please note that the same is not true about headphones connector!)

Gecho is "Lo-Fi in, Hi-Fi out" device. It cannot be used as a sampler, the pre-amp circuit is primitive and cuts off higher frequencies, plus the ADC is only 12 bits, and there is no extra memory for storing sampled data. This is fine for few demonstrated applications, if you want to do more, there are soldering or contact pads that allow various hardware extensions.

MIDI Interface is not included by default but the board allows easy customization (this requires some DIY effort though).

Connecting to other devices: It is your responsibility to assure safety when hacking it and/or connecting to other devices. Damage to your unit caused by improper handling is covered by flat-rate repair policy (as mentioned above).

Various features that were suggested during this campaign, such as different types of synthesis, complete MIDI implementation, variable tempo and sync methods) are in progress, however not guarranteed to be delivered at the set time.

Space is provided on our website and forum for you to contribute with your own extensions, hacks, examples of use, photos of boxes finished and decorated by you, or made by you from scratch, art projects based on this board, etc..

Also, user contributed content or code extension will be integrated into the main firmware, then released as updates for everyone. Because of the open-source nature of this project, results of our development efforts will be shared among the entire community of users.

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