DATA modules are now available, and with new hi-res front panels in WHITE and BLACK! They go quick, so order now in the Mordax Shop (with FREE U.S. domestic shipping) or from one of our awesome retail partners.
Check out the new look! We changed up the design a bit to be in line with the GXN's panel style; left-justified the DATA at the top and added the little descriptor text. And we finally made the much requested BLACK version! The new panels are FR-4 based, similar to those of many fellow eurorack makers (e.g., Make Noise, 4ms), but these are a little different, using a novel process of stacked layers of liquid photo imaged polymer mask, each a different color - white, black, and green - to make all of the graphic elements.
The imaging process is similar to that which actually makes silk screens, but in this case the photo result is used directly in the final product and there's no loss in resolution, compared to running screens, which pass ink through a mesh. The new process gives super crisp, high resolution text and graphics, with perfect alignment, and improved durability compared to our previous screened ink panels. It took quite the effort to develop and manufacture these, but in the end it was worth it; we love how these turned out and we hope you will too!
Gotta give a shout out to super brain Bunnie Huang for setting us on this development path. At the Teardown Conference in Portland last May, Bunnie had told us about using layered mask as a potential solution to avoiding the issues inherent with silk screening. Thanks for the tip Bunnie, it totally worked!
The front panel change wasn't just for aesthetics though, and it wasn't for cost savings either - the new panels surprisingly turned out to be more expensive! Rather, it was part of a larger directive here at Mordax to identify and address all of the major pain points with our internal and external manufacturing, so that the DATA can be less unobtanium going forward, and so that we can go into production with the other awesome products in the pipeline without getting bogged down.
Historically the display/window/panel mount was one of these pain points for our in-house assembly, as well as for service repairs. It was a permanent process, where the window was glued with structural adhesive into the front panel, let sit for 12-24 hrs to dry, and then the display was hand aligned on to the panel with camera assist, UV-cure glued to set the placement, and then silicone sealed to the window/front panel around its edge, with another 24 hour cycle as the silicone set. Now with the new processes there's no permanent adhesives involved between the display, window, and front panel; a die-cut Rogers PORON gasket around the rim of the display compresses to seal the space between the display and window from dust and debris, while holding the window in place against the front panel. The display is mounted to the DATA’s front PCB now, with hex standoffs, on a custom platform (also made of FR-4), which is self-aligning and further aided in assembly by a 3D printed jig. The precision and repeatability in the manufacturing of the new panels was essential, as the powder coating on the former panels could not meet the sub-millimeter tolerances required of the the new display/window assembly design.
This improved display/window/front panel process has worked out great for us this run, but we want to point out that it means the new front panels are not compatible with DATAs made using the previous permanent display/window/panel process. So don't go through the trouble of unscrewing all those jack nuts hoping to swap front panels with your mate’s DATA from a previous run. Also FYI - we're not selling the new front panels separately at this time.
And speaking of compatibility, we also want to point out that these new DATAs are 100% electrically identical to the previous units, they run the same firmware, and both will work with all future firmware updates. These are NOT the DATA Mk II, there is only one DATA, there’s just different faces and assembly now. There was another revision of the circuit board for this run, adding the mount points, and you can see some parts on the board have moved a little (like the inter-board headers), but these changes are all mechanical. We've already had some folks ask about this and hopefully this clears up any potential confusion, but if not, feel free to email us with any questions you have about the changes.
We'll be wrapping production and continuing shipping over the next couple weeks, then we'll be starting right up again on the next batch, as well as doing a test run of a third DATA panel variant - that's right, we're gonna do a silver one too, as we’ve had number of requests from the all-silver-case purists.
On the development side, we've got a DATA firmware update in the works, and we're continuing design on the GXN Granular Synthesis System. Obviously we didn't hit our initial target of getting the GXN into production this year, but it's coming along, slow and steady, after a brief pause for all the DFM work on the DATA and processes. We get many emails asking about the GXN's release (just got another one while writing this post actually), which is a good thing, as it means people are as excited about it as we are! But it's hard to gauge its time line with precision; sometimes what you expect to be difficult and take a lot of time turns out to be quick and easy, and then the things you weren't worried about, or things you didn't even know to be worried about, can end up taking forever (like all the contract manufacturing issues we had on this last DATA run!) . We only will release a product when we are satisfied with it, and will never rush just to get it out and grab cash. Patience. Know that the GXN is coming and it will be amazing.
Lastly, want to mention some shows coming up in the new year. Mordax will be at the new SynthPlex event in Burbank, California March 28-31, and we'll be returning to SuperBooth in Berlin, Germany May 9-11. These sound far off, but time flies, so start making those travel plans, we hope to see you there!