Music gear and modular maker Bastl Instruments have been dedicated to DIYers and open source hardware since the start. But today they’ve done a major dump of circuits that tinkerers will want to check out.

Open hardware is in Bastl’s DNA. The founders from Brno, Czech Republic got their start with the Standuino, an Arduino clone, some years ago, and some assorted projects they built atop that. Using those boards, they presented workshops and jam sessions, teaching electronics, sound, and improvisation. Standuino was followed by Bastl Instruments and new desktop products, then modular, and worldwide recognition followed.

The thing about doing open source hardware, though, is that it forces you to clean house – a bit like inviting somebody over to dinner. So while Bastl Instruments have always been committed to open source hardware, this week we get not just code, but schematics, too.

Here’s their announcement:

Attention to all nerds & designers ! We did put a vast majority of our schematics to one repository on gitHub 🚀 all under CC-BY-SA license. We believe in the power of open source – all our code is on git already. At this point, we do not want to publish HW production files (eagle or gerber) since there is a vital ecosystem in place here in Brno that lives by producing our instruments. End of message.

This doesn’t quite qualify as open source hardware under a strict definition, as that requires production files. But those definitions aren’t really meant for the music tech community, specifically, who are used to deriving their own modifications from schematics. (I’ll update the CDM guide to open source hardware and software and content soon, just as I get asked about it a lot. I think what matters isn’t so much abstract ideals as helping people to communicate effectively and apply licensing that suits them.)

I spoke to Václav Peloušek from Bastl about the move.

“I actually feel really lucky that I could look at other people’s schematics online,” he told me. “And through that, I learned most of what I know, so I always felt obliged to give the knowledge back.”

Schematics are enough to learn from or even make your own modified versions, while still supporting Bastl’s hardware makers and employees by buying their products, made in Czech.

(If you’re wondering why they qualified that with “a vast majority” of the schematics, Václav explains that they left out the messiest ones!)

Back when Bastl/Standuino got started, schematics looked… like this. Courtesy Václav Peloušek at Bastl.

Apart from those primitive examples, putting together a repository like this takes a lot of time. Peter Edwards, creator of the softPop synth for Bastl (and a long-time hardware engineer), echoes this. “All of this free info takes real work,” he says. “Good schematics look good because someone spent time and made decisions on absolutely every aspect.”

So it’s a pleasure to have all this in one place.

By the way, I’m still totally committed to our own MeeBlip open source hardware project. We’ve discontinued existing synth models, but we’re hard at work on something new. And this illustrates something, too – the discontinued models will never really die, so long as our code and schematics remain online. You can also take a look at this to see how you would release completely open hardware, including production files and associated licensing:

And go follow Bastl, as more is coming!