We really wanted to keep the great idea of colour coding that exists on the earlier birds. But no bananajacks meant we had to go a different route – we are making coloured jack rings! We will be using blue for gates, yellow for audio and grey for CV. We wanted the same anodized aluminium quality that we have in our frontpanel and while we were having rings made, why not take away the ugly slit in the middle? This means we also need a new tool to twist all the rings in place and thankfully our friend and toolmaker Marcel Binkhorst is on the case.
We want to be able to give you a plug & play experience. All FenixIVs come with a bunch of cables so that you can immediately start patching it up. Having more cables made at our trusted supplier meant we had an opportunity to match the colour coding we are using on the jacks with the plugs on the cables. We hope you find this useful.
A delay in our planning – slowly we have shifted the hopes on sending out our first batch from NYE to ‘early spring’. A few things here are hard to plan as they are done-when-they’re-done. Right now, we are waiting for the boards of our second prototype. These boards will be half-populated already, saving Stijn a LOT of soldering and time, but they are still going to need chips, through hole parts, pods, jacks etcetera. After this the entire system has to assembled in the new case. Possibly this will take a week, things will work (cross fingers) and we can declare the hardware done. If anything doesn’t work than it needs to be fixed and this process will take until-it’s-done. We expect everything to work, but the power system, the interconnect board and the mechanical linkages between the seven boards and the frontpanel are all new and need to be fitted. When we are happy with this you will see me screaming GOLDEN PROTOTYPE over our social media – followed by pictures of us drinking champagne – and we can start ordering what we need to manufacture. All things going well this should be mid-November. We had hoped we would have been here before Dutch Modular Fest – so we are at least six weeks behind on our earlier planning.
After this milestone we’ll need about six weeks to go back-and-forth to Shenzhen and arrange manufacturing for 5 beta’s and the 25 of our first batch. Most parts we will order for the entire production run at once because there is no sense in ordering less than what we need for a 100.
While ordering and manufacturing, we want to build five FenixIV systems with our beta-testers and musically explore the software. We have now written the digital base-layer; everything is functional, most of it is already very good and with our betas we want everything to go to 11. After our experience with the first five, we will set up testing, calibration and assembly for 25 Fenikses and build them parallel to the software improvement. In between, we also design and order our gig bag, the cable pouch, the magic tape, the shipping boxes and write the manual. Another two months – at least – of software improvements and back-and-forth with our testers until the moment we decide it is FINISHED. The new and improved firmware will be flashed onto the waiting 25 FenixIV systems and I e-mail the first people on the list with the happy news.
Rinse and repeat for our other 75 Fenikses. We expect this to take up to six months.
Updates since last devblog
All the routing is done – not much to say about this other than Oh My God that was a lot of work and Stijn is very happy that it’s done now. It has improved things greatly and was worth it.
Part count overall has gone down a bit (225 different type of parts) but mostly the part count has gone way down per board (41, 40, 58, 14, 115, 110, 1, 136 different parts) – by splitting it in now seven boards. Doubles and naming issues have been resolved.
The case has also gone through another change. Our manufacturer came up with a nicer way to fit the frontpanel to the case. Allowing us to use a different material, making the whole thing lighter and bending it backwards to end up flush with the frontpanel. We are now using 2mm aluminium instead of 1 mm steel.
We’ve had some ‘vibration issues’ dragging our current prototype to several performances so we decided to add some more screws and standoffs. Just to keep things tight, tight, tight.
The mixer module is almost all good. It has reached the correct level of boredom. What is generally expected of a mixer has changed since the earlier Fenikses – like having levels per mixer channel instead of per output channel – and we have adapted it accordingly. The one thing that remains to be tested is the new headphone output.
Just to give you an idea of where some of the things in your future FenixIV are coming from:
Assembly of mostly through hole parts – Netherlands Ellage
Frontpanel – Netherlands Repos
Case metal – Netherlands Hieselaar
Bamboo sides – Netherlands Gould Case Works
Yellow knobs – Austria
Patch cables – China
Coloured rings – India Neeraj Exim
Some chips – Latvia Alfa
And all the love from Amsterdam
The number of people on the waiting list is now 114. If you are possibly interested in getting your own FenixIV please check out all the information here