Beginning DIY in 2020

I’ve been thinking about starting down the road of DIY, and I have a quick question for the community. My original plan was to slowly work through the Cadet system 21, but given that 1-4 are being discontinued, and others are sold out, I’m not sure this now makes sense. What is the best way to proceed?

Do I order a Chromagnon and add on Visionary Mk2 DIY modules as they become available, or is there still good reason to begin with the cadet modules still in production?

Thanks so much for any suggestions. Really appreciate it.

At the moment the quickest way to start a brand new lzx video synthesizer is to wait for the chromagnon, unless you can find a used visual cortex, vidiot or cadet or you can find a dealer with cadets in stock (I just checked and Thonk appear to have stock, so other dealers might too) or you could wait for the proposed visionary core module to turn up in DIY, which may be a long wait

if you order a Chromagnon and start building some cadets, a few castles and then build some visionary II modules - they are all compatible - you can mix and match any lzx modules - you just need a core module (or set of core modules) to start with

But take note that there are different synch buses used - cadets use 14pin ribbon cables, castles use the cv and gate channels of the busboard and expedition/orion/automata/visionary mk2 use rca - hopefully the synch distro modules and kits are available soon

also note that the newer modules appear to be able to handle higher resolution video (analog hd) - so this may be a consideration

Lars has said that the entry price is about the same no matter which course you take - it’s just really how you want to spread it out and how much effort you want to put in

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I think it mostly boils down to whether or not you want to wait.

Cadets are available now, but Chromagnon and Visionary Series II are still a bit of a ways off. LZX are surely working hard to get them out as soon as possible, but there’s no guarantee yet of when they’ll be out. So if you do decide to wait, and expect to be able to get them when the latest ETA says, there’s a chance you’ll end up having to wait longer than expected if there are production delays. (LZX has been reworking how their products are produced to eliminate as many potential production delays as possible, but you can’t plan for everything.) Any release dates you hear now are estimates, not guarantees. Please remember that, if you decide to wait.

If you do get started with Cadet modules now, they’ll still be able to work with newer modules, especially since one of the upcoming modules is the Sync Distro module that will convert between 14-pin sync and RCA sync (and you can also use Cadet 1 and Cadet 2 to do that right now!). Or if you eventually end up wanting to skip that Sync Distro module and completely rid yourself of 14-pin sync in the future, that would mean Cadets 1, 2, 4, and 9 are out, but Cadets 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 are still fine. (So that’d be 7 module out of the Cadet 21 setup, and the other 14 would potentially still be useful.)

Personally, I think if you enjoy DIY (and the LZX ones are definitely some of the easier ones to build), then you might as well start now with Cadets, and add a Chromagnon and Visionary Series II stuff when it’s convenient for you (after they’re released, of course). The Cadet series is really a great series to start getting the hang of things, and you can still make some pretty cool stuff with it. Plus if you’re interested in figuring out the “how?” behind the electronics or if you want to tweak things, there’s nothing better than Cadets. (If you do go the Cadet route, I highly recommend also picking up a Staircase at some point, since it really helps a system with fewer/simpler oscillators feel beefier.)

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@hweeble Some cadet chips are a bit costly (LM6172, LT1251, LT1256) so it’s a good idea to watch this forum for any group buys that might happen from time to time to save buying at full price. One has just closed for LM6172s, unfortunately :frowning:

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For the LT1251 & LT1256, get the free samples from analog.com. You can request two of each (at least in the US – not sure about other countries) and might as well even if you’re not planning on using them all right away. Saves a bit of money getting those particular chips for free!

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in the EU this is the same. 2 of each.
make sure to get samples for all interesting ic’s (through hole and SMD format)

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Thanks for all the really helpful replies. I think I’m going to go the Cadet route and expand out from there, because I do enjoy DIY and want to get started as soon as I can.

I’ll definitely keep my eye out for any more group buys, and look into getting some sample ICs. That’s great to know also.

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If youre based in the EU i can hook you up with a Cadet sync generator for low. But if you want to DIY everything - go for it! It has been a wonderful experience and Ive learned a lot doing so myself.

If you are new to working only with a BOM take a look at this Google Document. It helped me a lot in the beginning. And dont forget ordering your electronic parts in bulk can make them way cheaper than buying just a single opamp i.e.

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+1 in buying in bulk
work out how many resistors, capacitors, ics you’ll need for all the modules you plan to build and then round up to the next pricebreak - mouser especially have good price breaks at 100 usually for smaller items - 100 can be cheaper than 30 say
also if you are going to buy from mouser (and a lot of the parts are available there) then it pays to hit the free shipping price - 50€ + vat (for me at least) saves 20€ in postage and packing

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