3u + 2u Lunchbox



So, I bought a Vidiot and really tried to keep it at just that, because I don’t really have the $$ or time to build out a full system at the moment. BUT couldn’t help myself and jumped on the Sandin IP modules giveaway and that has dragged me into the actual modular world here. But, then, to both limit my options (which I find creatively useful) and keep my purchasing within somewhat reasonable limits, the case I bought is tiny, the PulpLogic Lunchbox LBZ-54 (it works great, BTW, and is a perfect size for portability… but it is, yeah, tiny).

I initially contemplated doing most of my signal modulation with audio tiles but now realizing that that is going to be extremely limiting. But building Cadet modules into 1u is extremely wasteful with space. So I have come up with another idea and I can’t tell if it is a really good one or really bad one (maybe both?) and want some opinions/advice (hopefully from @creatorlars, if he has time, as well as some of you other folks who do a lot more DIY than I do)…

Anyway, what I am thinking of doing is converting the case from 3u + 1u + 1u to 3u + 2u, which with custom 2u panels will allow me to fit more modules horizontally, like so:

Now that is just a quick Photoshop mockup (with maybe not everything turned the 100% correct direction; maybe some Cadets should face inward?), but it seems like the measurements for everything should allow that to work. The Function Generator has a short board that should fit vertically in 2u, I think.

So, yeah, are there any technical or space problems with this that I am not thinking about?

And I tried to pick the Cadets that would provide maximum modulation (I am principally interested in video image signals, not pattern generation), but does anyone have other suggestions? For instance, I assume it is not even worth it to think about Castle — none of those do much solo, do they? Also, kind of curious about the Mystic Circuits Ana — anyone use that on video image signals yet?

My hope is that doing this should also allow me, if/when I have time/money/inclination to expand further, to remove the modules from their custom panels and install in the standard 3u ones. But I do wonder if there are any back-end mods I should do to make power/connections easier/simpler?

And anyone have tips on getting panels made? I think I have a possible resource for that here, but not 100% sure. Not something I’ve done before. Indeed, this project is definitely going to exceed my skillset, but I am reasonably confident I can make it all happen. Unless, yeah, there is some big problem I am overlooking.

Anyway, sorry for the long post and thanks for any input!


Oh, one more question: don’t suppose there are front panel layout files for the Cadets somewhere, are there?

I can just measure once they arrive and re-draw, but having preexisting measured drawings certainly would be helpful for maximum precision.


Yeah, good choice with the LBZ54, they’re a lot of fun; I mainly use it for audio, but I’ve swapped modules around to use it for video & lasers too. The power supply is a little on the noisier side, though.

Can you go into a little bit more detail about how you want to use this with the Vidiot and any other equipment? It depends on exactly what you want to do, but there are likely easier strategies than trying to rig a 2u row.


Audio-reactive visuals for live music using camera/video-based source material (rather than pattern generation) is probably the most concise answer to what I plan to do with this. But I do a lot of different kind of stuff (motion graphics, photography using video, etc.), so that is kind of the tip of the iceberg.

Plan to integrate this into a workflow that includes a laptop as well as an ever-growing SD video rig:

But also thinking about mobility and what could perhaps be useful with just the Vidiot, a laptop, and a camera. Hence using up a lot of space on inputs & mixing within the small system. Relying on an external mixer and thinking of this as primarily a single-channel device could seem more logical (I’ve been debating that myself; it certainly would be nice to be able to fit a Staircase and/or an Arch in there!), but I think allowing multiple feeds to interact within it should allow for much more complex and dynamic audio-reactivity.

Anyway, if other strategies for creating maximal patching options within a minimal system spring to mind, would love to hear 'em! Thanks!

(I mean, I know a lot of this sort of flies in the face of received wisdom, but maybe that is kind of my personality.)

…Also, interesting to hear that you find the LBZ54 noisy. I haven’t noticed that thus far, but I am not running many modules in it yet… And also tend to use naturally noisy feedbacking patches anyway, so maybe it just blends in with all that.


Re: castles
They can perform they’re functions solo, no problem. The only one that is slightly less useful is the DAC, but you can think of that as a weighted mixer. Signals in D0 are lower than signals in D1 are lower than signals in D2.
You unlock greater functionality if you have me castle modules, but you can still do stuff with just one… Slice up a signal in to 3 zones with adc. Quantize and shift to the right with shift register. Combine two signals with 6 boolean logic operations with mitigate. Combine 2 to 4 signals with 1 boolean logic operation in 4 different routings (usually xor, selected when you build). Divide a signal by 2-16 with counter (like an octave divider in audio). Quantize 3 signals with flip flops, like a sample and hold for on/off keys. Clock vco is a square wave vco.


Re: ‘2u’
A potential problem will arise if you eventually upgrade your case. 2u is nonstandard so having to reconfigure the new case for 2u might be an issue. I would try to fit the cadets in to 1u rows instead. I think @jnoble did the 2 sandin modules as 1u. Sticking inside standards is a good idea…


It’s not that bad; it’s better than some cases, worse than others. I might notice it more (when using it for audio) because I have the PulpLogic reverb tank inside it.


the ‘noise’ may not be audible, just visible

most surorack psus are designed to filter noise out, but they’re designed for audio so a lot only do so within the audible frequency range - video is higher so sometimes there are artifacts in the picture of video synthesis caused by this noise - may or may not bother you


Super cool setup!

If you only need two TBC’d inputs in the studio, it might make more sense to put something like the TipTop Happy Ending Kit or another 19" rack solution into your desktop rack as a home for the TBC2 module. You’re probably not going to want to stop at 54HP.

For field use in the LBZ54, I’d consider Visual Cortex and Staircase in place of TBC2+Marble Index+Cadets. Cortex replaces the mixing and keying, and Staircase replaces the multpliers. And you get ramps! You do lose opacity mixing, and the ability to sync two independent channels, but if your portable inputs are just a laptop and the Vidiot you can sync Cortex to the laptop and sync Vidiot to Cortex.

You can make 1U panels for the two Sandin modules, and 1U LFOs and multiples are available off the shelf. The PulpLogic Cyclic Skew works a lot like the 2hp LFO, but you can also use it in one-shot envelope mode. (Both LFOs are 0-5V, unfortunately, so you might want to stick a Cadet V or Bridge in there. I’ve been thinking about modding my Skews to output 0-1V.)

Here’s an concept I threw together. I have all of these modules, and while I haven’t put them in this configuration, I think this would be pretty fun portable unit. I believe there’s enough room in the bottom row for the two Sandins plus maybe another 6U tile. You may or may not be interested in W/, but that’s been a permanent fixture in my lunchbox. I think it’s the most fun you can have in 2HP, and it could come in handy if you’re processing audio or want to loop control signals, like an Escher Sketch without the touchscreen.


Ha! Coincidentally, Teenage Engineering just announced a line of 2U modules.