Transcription: 0305 - Ed Guild

Released: December

Darwin: Today I have the great opportunity to spend a little time talking to someone I met at the recent Loop conference. We had a little bit of a chat then, but I was looking forward to getting a chance to talk more - because he's making a pretty unique product. His name is Ed Guild, and he's sort of the mastermind behind the company Circuit Happy that makes a really cool little device which is called The Missing Link - which really attempts to tie the Ableton Link timing collaboration software into the world of hardware that so many of us are entranced by. So with no further ado, let me talk to Ed. Hey, Ed, how's it going?

Ed Guild: Good. How are you doing?

Darwin: I'm doing great. Thanks for asking. Why don't we start off: I gave a one sentence, elevator pitch, version of what you're creating, but could you give us a little more expansive version of the Missing Link products?

Ed: Sure. And thank you for having me on this podcast. It's really awesome to chat with you. So the Missing Link is, at its core, an analog and MIDI clock generator that can synchronize your modular synth or class compliant MIDI device over USB. So you can plug it into a modern drum machine that has a built in MIDI interface, USB MIDI interface. Or you can use a $20 USB mini cable and then plug it into any, anything that had the MIDI DIN port. That being said... like, that's not too remarkable. But, what makes it cool is that it supports Ableton Link. And so that opens you up to synchronizing with iOS music apps, pretty much any desktop DJ software and of course Ableton Live, Bitwig Studio and Reason - the most modern versions of Reason and also supports Link.

So it kind of opens you up to your analog world, to digital world and bridges in a new and really seamless way. The Ableton Link APi is just an amazing piece of software that Ableton basically gifted to the industry. And it opens up a lot of possibilities. So you can show up in a room and everybody's on the same WIFI network. They just link up and you hit play. And it waits, because Link is aware of the tempo, but also your phase within the downbeat and - in musical terms, when you hit play, it's not going to start right away like a traditional clock. It's going to wait until the downbeat and it'll start at the next loop.

And that way, if I have an iOS app going and I'm doing a drum machine loop, and I want to add some modular synth... when I hit play on the Missing Link, it's gonna wait to start output and clock to my modular until the start of the next loop - where everything is synchronized on the downbeat in the same tempo. And from that point on, because you have Link, you're aware of where you are musically at all times. And if it requires correction because of some issue, like you've fallen out of sync because you stopped your modulars sequencer and started it back up and now it's on the downbeat on the next loop, the Missing Link can output a second secondary output that is a pulse that tells the sequencer to restart at the beginning. So it fixes itself while you're jamming. So it's kind of a safety net. While you're jamming, everything stays lined up or we'll resynchronize if you will.

Darwin: It's really important because... I've been in a number of different groups where the core vertebrae of the group was a MIDI timing sync signal flying around. And for people who are using standard MIDI sequencers, that was no problem. The start and stop would take care of itself - it would always know how to reset. But for those of us that were peeling off into the analog and especially the modular world, actually being able to decode all that stuff and have the sequencers all reset properly... Or if whoever's running the clock would start something up in the middle of a bar or something, it was almost impossible to get synchronized and back into shape. And so it ended up being a little bit frustrating. It sounds to me like that was something that you really thought specifically about solving.

Ed: Yes, it kind of came back to, so my, my last job before Circuit Happy was working at this company Izotope - I'm sure you're familiar with their products, like Ozone and RX. So there was a lot of modular and synthesizer people there - as you can imagine. And we would, every six months or so, host a jam at the company that I was peripherally interested in. I had a couple of synths, but I wasn't like a crazy all out synth head.

People would bring in their modular synths or whatever oddities they had. And they would all try to synchronize together. So I kind of watched this a little bit of afar and saw that, there's usually one person who couldn't get the clock to because they were too far away or there were just no more outputs. there's always one sad person that's just like off in the corner, out of sync.

Darwin: They have that face on, right?

Ed: Yeah. Kind of looking around wistfully at everybody else jamming out and they're just adding some abstract noise. So maybe there are times when you don't need clock if you're droning out and stuff, but sometimes everyone wants to be together and go together in the moment and have a jam. you kind of need a clock! So I filed this away. I hadn't even thought about making it a company yet, but it was just filed away in my head. And fast forward about a year and a half, I had a son, and so I was on leave. While my wife was pregnant at work, I kept joking that, when my son was born, I was going to quit my job and work on my apps", just as a generic, "What are you doing? I'm working on my app" thing, but I had no plans. But then [my son] came along and I hit a wall at the company. There just wasn't anywhere else for me to go and I didn't know what to do next. And my wife said, "Well, you could take care of him and we don't have to do daycare" - because daycare in Somerville, Massachusetts is very expensive.

Darwin: Oh, sure. Of course.

Ed: So I said, "You know what, that's not a bad ideactually!" It'll give me a lot of time to think while I'm pushing this carriage around the town and figure out the next move. So, I quit the company, started taking care of my son Michael, and thinking about what to do. And another friend of mine, I ran into him at a barbecue and he also used to work at Izotope. Funny enough, that's how we met. But he left a couple months before me to work for another company and then we got together at a barbecue and Ableton Link had just been released for Linux, Windows and Mac, and both of us are out of the music space now, professionally. What could we do just to keep our chops going, and say, "Oh you a link just came out - you could do something on the Raspberry Pi.

So we just, we're just going to do a project - just to hack on the Raspberry Pi. And, he is big into modular, Nick Donaldson, by the way. Shout out to Nick. So Nick is big into modular and says, "Well, we could make a Link clock." And I was like, "Oh, that's cool." I wanted to be the product designer and think about those things and he was going to write the software. So we mocked it up and then we would just show friends from time to time, and everyone kept saying the same thing. "This isn't a product? Doesn't someone make this?" Nope - no one makes it... "Well maybe YOU should!" So a couple months after making the prototype, I said, "Well, what if we just pretend like we're making a product and I'll design a case and maybe I can make the PC board and you can write all the code and help me a little bit with the electronics as well."

And then quickly after that I said, "You know what? Let's just make this for real." Then Circuit Happy was born. The name actually is kind of funny. While I was working at Izotope, I was talking with one of my coworkers and I asked him some random question - nothing special. And I misheard what he said. He said, "Circuit happy." What? That doesn't make any sense. And then both of us agreed, "Oh, that's a cool name. Maybe that should be like a company or something." So I immediately registered the domain, and I had no idea what I was going to do with it. But so Circuit Happy - I have the domain, so it's like that works. So I started designing the product in earnest and about a year and a half after we came up with the initial idea, Knobcon happened - and that was a year and a half ago. So that Knobcon (7) - Not this past year, but the year prior. It was when we actually showed it for the first time and had it for sale.

Darwin: Well, one of the things I think that people have to understand is how this kind of simplifies, your existence. someone's existence in the Link network. Because right now, if you imagine trying to tie things together with link, it almost inevitably involves a computer and hardware interfaces to whatever you're going to integrate with your box. In addition to having the way to drive MIDI or modular signals, it also literally has a WIFI connection. So this allows you to do a Link interface without necessarily having any other hardware connections to the Link network, right?

Ed: That's correct. A lot of people - the first question as "Well, I don't have Ableton live." We don't need it. In my demos, I always have to point out there's no laptop hidden under the desk. It's just this box and yeah, it is a Raspberry Pi (a Raspberry Pi zero), and it has built in WIFI and it can create its own WIFI network if you don't have one. So it's very self contained. When the Missing Link boots up, it tries to connect to a local network. If it doesn't find a local network, it creates an access point mode and then you can connect directly to it and configure it through a webpage or just leave it like that. And everybody just connects up. So that access point and you get jammin' right? So it is a tiny computer, but the Raspberry Pi is amazing because it is a computer. It's a desktop computer from, maybe like what, 15 years ago (power-wise) but it's a piece of hardware, too. It's very kind of blurry world now. What is hardware? What is software?

Darwin: So, one of the things I like doing in my podcast is to people about their background and how they got to be the creator that they are. I'm curious because everything that you've talked about really kind of implies an interaction with a lot of different stuff. Obviously if you're working at Izotope, you are not unfamiliar with the music world. And you have some background there, but also you were clearly technically adept enough to dive into a project like this. There was circuit design, there was case design and product design in general. And and then also just literally the process of coming out of it with a product and getting that shipped out wherever it had to go. I'm kind of curious: what is your background? How did you get into all of these different things and what were the guiding influences for you?

Ed: That is a great question. It's been a long and winding path to get here - my professional background is actually in the graphic arts. I went to school at Rochester Institute of Technology and got a degree in printing management and that is where you learned about all the processes involved in producing printed material, whether it be a newspaper or bread bag packaging or whatever, whatever it may be, whatever ink on substrate. And so it's technical background but definitely not a computer science background, it's more computer operator where you're, you're learning how to manipulate files or whatnot. But while it was there, kind of took advantage of being at the Institute of Technology and looked around, said "Well, what are some things that could be useful to learn?" In high school I took, I took one programming class and, and learned a very useful language - Pascal - and that basically got me at least understanding, a a your, your basic logic and loops and stuff that, not exactly a language that's used anymore.

But, so I was at RIT, I found a class in Java programming for biomedical computing where the teacher would allow me to take the class and they were okay. I talked to the teacher and basically said what I had for knowledge. And he said "Yeah, you can take the class and just kind of do your own track because what we're doing is probably no interest to you." So I basically learned how to draw triangles on the screen and bounce them around and do all these things. And everybody else was trying to manipulate databases for biomedical data. So that was this oddity that everyone was curious what I was doing. I took that class and I learned HTML. I went to school from 96 to 2000. So HTML was kind of a new thing, at least relatively new.

And so I learned how to code that and do some JavaScript when that started happening. And then I went to work for a company that did IT for the graphic arts and I worked there for about a year and a half. Then that company went belly up. And then I fell into working at Houghton Mifflin for about nine and a half years. Basically a decent, cushy job making school textbooks. But, after seven or eight years, it got stale. And, luckily I had a great boss and he let me stretch my wings a little bit and I started doing some InDesign coding using JavaScript. There's the automation engine, for InDesign, that allows you to generate pages through JavaScript. And so I started doing some of that and then ultimately found a job through my network of friends at this company Typefi where that's all I did - InDesign automation.

Typefi did automated publishing, using InDesign for producing all kinds of formulaic books like catalogs and travel guides. And it was really quite an interesting job. All this is to say a lot of my time was not spent professionally in the music world, but in the background I joined the band so I could do their design work, make a website for them and stuff. That was kind of the main thing: I wanted to build a portfolio. Because I kinda always knew that working in production of books and things was not what I really wanted it to be. And, so I thought maybe I can get some design work, so I'd made some stuff for this band and I also just really loved their music and I projected visuals.

I used a couple of different pieces of software. In 2001 I was dragging a blue-and-white G3 Mac tower and a projector into random small clubs around the Boston area. And everyone would always give me weird looks like, "What are you doing?" And yeah, so I just basically was triggering video. They were an improvising, a jam band, essentially, but their framework was electronic music instead of rock. So they wanted to sound like a DJ but use all live instrumentation. So that challenge of looping and doing simple things but all but sounding like you're playing a record and making a seamless transitions between songs, that kind of thing. So yeah, our goal was we would play with a lot of DJs and our goal always was that when the DJ was done and we have jammed into their set, but no one noticed that we were playing now that they thought that the DJ was still going.

So I did that for awhile. And then, I just stayed with that band for 10, 11 years, and that morphed into a new band in that time. I did visuals for a long time and then I started noticing that my video clips - some of them had audio tracks and sound was coming out of the speaker of my tower and like, "Oh, maybe I could process that and mix that in." So I got a multi-effects pedal from the bass player - Joe - and and just started messing with that, and then quickly started using Ableton just as a guitar pedalboard essentially. I was just running the audio, I think I was using Soundflower and just routing it into Ableton and adding delay, filters and things to it.

And eventually video started happening less than I was just triggering sound and video. And as we got bigger... we never got huge, but we would play festivals with a few thousand people at them, so we were a regional Northeast band that had some notice. When we got to bigger venues, video is actually a lot more difficult to do. There's a lot more rules and you kind of need someone dedicated to that. And I was on stage doing audio stuff and so the video stopped happening because just became too difficult, which was unfortunate because I really loved doing that. But it just became harder and harder to do. And also in that time, as I started getting into audio, someone introduced me to a program called Max/MSP, I'm sure you've heard of it...

And that changed my world. I built a drum sampler for our drummer. He played an electronic drum kit, it was a Roland TD-20. We got tired of the built-in sounds and you can't add sound to that brain. So we tried Live, we tried Reason and just... I couldn't get anything that was tight enough. And then I tried a Max/MSP and basically was up all night one night and just built my first patch and I was hooked. And, so yeah, I'm a huge fans of Max and I built a drum sampler and I have a Berenger MIDI controller that I would control it with and we kind of became a unit, he would play... early on I realized I could change the pitch of every sample. So I remember doing this at a gig. I just like turn the pitch down a little bit. And then he turns to me and says, "Ed,speed up the sound!"

I had actually slowed him down. He's ready to play because mentally, it didn't make sense. I was like, "Oh, sorry..." and I'd turn it back up. And so we practice that, and we started to do ramp downs and speed ups and made lots of crazy noises and, we made way more noise than would fit in the band. So we would do side projects from time to time and perform. And that was a lot of fun. Like Max really opened up a lot of possibilities and it made me realize, "OK, I'm living this double life." I love audio stuff and I love the graphic arts. But I think really what I want to be is is in the audio world and how can I get a job building Max patches or whatever else. That would be really cool.

And I had a realization when I was working at Typefi where we had an internal Facebook thing where you could post up - it was before Slack, they would've been using Slack. You could post up to a channel and there was an all-company channel where people would post interesting articles about XML publishing and all kinds of interesting things like that. And I wanted to post up a Create Digital Music post about something - I can't remember what - but something really cool. And I said, "They're not going to care and they're going to just be like, Ed get back to work. Why are you reading music blogs?" And that's when I realized, "Oh, I should be at a company where I could share this and this is what they would want to see."

So I opened myself up to the universe to find an audio company. And I had a friend, Nick Dika, who worked at Izotope at the time and he'd been there for a number of years. And so I just started chatting with him and said, "How do I position my resume? What do I need to do to get in there?" And he's like, "You know, you'd be a good person here, but we'd look at your resume and say, Why are you going to work here? Everything's in the graphic arts!" And so I just started getting involved in local audio things, demoing Max/MSP, at local audio schools and things. And just trying to get my name out there a little bit. And eventually they said, "OK, we have a QA position open and we'd like you to apply for that.""

So I applied and, and eventually I got the job. And so I was there for about three years and that was... I guess you could say that was an incredible bootcamp. The CEO there, he's really big on education, which is really a cool thing. He has this internal thing called Izo-U, he likes to introduce you to the company personally and kind of give you an overview of what they're about. And then I think his vision for that is to educate on a larger scale with the customers and potential customers. And it's a really cool idea, but it was really a boot camp. I learned so much and I knew a little bit about development from my time at Typefi, but I learned a lot more because I was getting into C++ code and learning about that. And yeah, then product design and just the general industry and learning how interesting of an industry it is.

Darwin: So that's what sucked you in, right?

Ed: Yeah, that's the long answer. The short answer is I would say my, my dad, he's a electrical engineer, spent most of his career in sales. He worked at AMD and then Cypress Semiconductors and a couple of other places. But he always gave me an interest in electronics. He taught me to solder at a relatively young age and I started getting into radio-controlled cars before I could drive real ones. And there's a lot of electronics involved in RC cars. So I spent a lot of times soldering and learning basics and circuits. But I have no formal training in circuitry. I think thanks to the magic of Google, I've learned a lot.

Darwin: Sure. But that actually helps explain something because, in a way, one of the benefits of the modern world is, whether you're talking about Raspberry Pi or you're talking about Max/MSP on a laptop or whatever. There are a lot of relatively, easy ways to slide into software development. And the software development thing is something I think an awful lot of people can imagine bootstrapping themselves into. Hardware design, on the other hand, despite the fact that we have Instructables and Makers and all this stuff - there's this physicality to it that can be daunting for a lot of people. And also there's this sense that I can watch as many thousand YouTube videos about how to solder that I want, but until I actually do solder, and I see a good solder flow (instead of just like blooping solder on a board), there's just not a sense that I can really get it. So it's interesting that your dad was there to be the leader on the hardware part of this.

Ed: Yeah. He definitely sparked the interest and gave me the basic skills to build. I could build a kit, later on. I think in college I built a preamp that never worked, but...

Darwin: They never do man. They never do!

Ed: And eventually, I built the Thingamagoop or whatever it's called - the one-eyed thing. I think everyone needs to build one of those!

Darwin: Yeah, exactly.

Ed: My three year old son loves that now. And so I just started building kits, and then when I had to design my own PC board for my own product as I thought, "OK, well I'm basically building, designing my own kit" - that's the way I thought about it. And that made me feel a little bit more at ease, I guess. It is a daunting task, especially when you're making a product for sale that you're designing a board that has electricity in it and that - there's very little chance of it causing a fire. But that's in my mind is this going to go bad?

Darwin: Is it going to be safe?

Ed: Yeah. So I mean, that just makes you extra careful here if you're not just dazedly diving in. So it was a lot of reading and a lot of studying online. But the basic tools were there from a young age, I guess kind of in my DNA, it took me 30 some odd years to get to this point.

Darwin: Sure. Now you've actually, in addition to just making the circuitry, you had all a lot of programming to do. You mentioned this guy, Nick Donaldson, who was helping you make that happen. But you also had a lot of [other] stuff to deal with - I mean, it sounds like you must have implemented some interesting shell scripts in order to make all this networking automagically happen as well, right?

Ed: Yeah. Oh, that's awesome that you recognize that.

Darwin: Yeah. Well, I looked at the documentation because I can imagine this being a hell hole to deal with for networking. And then I saw what you did and I was like, "Oh hell, that looks pretty straightforward."

Ed: Yeah. I have very few tech support questions. Every once in awhile I get someone who I think assumes - thanks to products by Apple and stuff - everything just seems to work entirely seamlessly. They think that they just are going to turn it on and it's going to work. But I've done a pretty good job of making it fairly straightforward and, yeah... One of the things that I always have a problem with Raspberry Pi projects is that usually there's a step where you have to flash an SD card. And I don't want a customer to have to do that. I want them to turn it on and it's a product, it's working. To get it there, I'm actually using a NodeJS app.

I found an open source project someone had done that did about 50% of what I needed and I built off of that. They basically had a WIFI onboarding process where it would show you a webpage that would show you all the local networks - click one, enter the password and it reboots. And I needed more than that. I need "over the air" software updating and some other administrative things. So I've since built a ton on top of it, but it took me a long time to find that project. I'm not in networking even though I did work in an ISP. I'm not a networking/software/Linux guy. Luckily I have a brother-in-law who is, so he was very helpful. I've talked to a lot of people that can make those projects happen and it's definitely not just me like Nick wrote 90% of the original code base - it would not have happened without him.

I like to think that neither of us probably would've made the project on our own. He probably could have done the whole project on his own, but I think just the energies and our motivation for each other is what got the project off the ground. But now Nick is quite busy in his current day job. So I'm the caretaker of the code - but I check in with him to make sure I'm not doing anything dumb from time to time. And he gives his input on the code when I make changes and stuff. So yeah, we're still very much working together, but he's much less involved but still very integral to making sure that things are... I want to make sure that I'm not making any big mistakes in the code. My brother-in-law Carl, he's a Linux guru, so there is some shell scripting that he helped me design for doing the software updating, and he came up with a very elegant solution that he uses in his day job.

So I implemented a version of that and gave it back to him and said, "Can you make this shell script look pretty?" and a half-hour later I was like, "Oh wow, this is incredible!" So yeah, there are a lot of people involved in this company, I guess you could say part time, doing little things here and there - but that have a major impact on the product. I guess I'm the product manager and designer and I do wear a lot of hats, but I bring in friends and family to help where my shortcomings are.

Darwin: Yeah. Well that sounds great. Now I'm kind of curious about the connectivity because it's a standalone device instead of a Eurorack device. When I first heard about it, I just assumed it would be a Eurorack module because it has that aesthetic and because the first time you showed it was at Knobcon. Is that right?

Ed: Yeah.

Darwin: And so, it just had all the - if you don't mind me saying - it had the stink of a modular thing going on. And then I was surprised to see that it was a standalone device, but it made sense because it gives you the opportunity to really interface with MIDI stuff. The one thing I'm curious about though is that, for a lot of people that are into that are into analog stuff, Din Sync connections are really important; whether it's the old Roland drum machines or [TB-]303 or there've been a couple of modern things that have done Din Sync just because of its incredibly tight timing.

Is there a way to utilize a din sync, connectivity to this device?

Ed: Yeah, so when I released this at Knobcon, it was just an analog clock out. Actually the reasoning why that's a desktop hardware piece instead of a module is, you can use it with Eurorack, but you can also use it with desktop... it just gives you more flexibility. You don't have to be in the modular world to use the box. But when it came out, we didn't want feature creep to stop us from releasing. So, I started to see maybe MIDI was a thing that needed to be supported. And so we didn't support that from the get go because we weren't sure if it was a necessity. But people really were asking for MIDI. So luckily, because there's a USB port on it, you can plug in any device into it.

And I did a software update to support that. But another thing I got from my first showing at Knobcon was besides MIDI requests was Din Sync. I said, "Oh well, Din Sync is just an analog clock with an additional analog output that goes high to tell it to run and then goes low to tell it to stop." Din Sync can be more complicated than that, but at the core it's just those two outputs as well. So that was a very quick update that I did. And actually in the modular world, Pamela's New Workout is one module that can do the Din Sync style. It's has a run input and will operate at 24 PPQ. So those work really well together in that form. So within the encoder menu on the Missing Link, you can change the reset output to be a "Din-style Run High". And the PPQ option can be set to "24" and then you have Din Sync.

Darwin: Have you, in the variety of revs that you would have had in order to get this thing released, has there been additional features added to it? Or have you tried to lock the feature set down pretty tightly?

Ed: Yeah, software updates are pretty fluid - from what I learned being in QA. I don't go crazy with updates. They're pretty controlled, but, but I get a lot of feedback from my customers. It's one thing I really have enjoyed and I was a little bit surprised by was how vocal and friendly my customers are - and how excited to have a say into what the products will be. Because I think a lot of people saw the potential and bought into it because they knew that there could be more features that could be added. And so, I've responded to almost all my customer's requests. if they're reasonable and it's possible with the existing hardware. So that's the one thing with the hardware, you can't change it, really.

But the software can change and luckily the hardware has enough capabilities that I've rolled out probably, I don't know, like five updates in the past year and a half. First was Din Sync and some other minor changes. And then next big one was supporting USB MIDI because people really wanted MIDI and we just didn't see that when we were designing the product. So we weren't talking to people as much as we probably could have or should have. And and so now we have MIDI and there's a number of other things that people would ask for that I can't think of at the moment. But yeah, there's been like five or six updates.

Darwin: Sure. Both Din Sync and MIDI sound to me like they would have required some hardware modifications too. Right?

Ed: Well, actually there was one hardware modification required when I first designed the Missing Link, the back panel that reveals the outputs, the analog outputs and the USB. There's a USB micro USB port. Just for power, it's not an actual USB ports. But then there's also another USB port. And at first I didn't anticipate needing it so I didn't cut a hole for it. And so, the first 20-30 customers have a panel that you can't see the USB port. So when I decided to support MIDI through the USB port, I had to send an email out to those customers and say, "Hey, if you want this feature... I will happily mail you a new panel."

Because it's, it's a laser cut acrylic piece. So it's pretty easy for me to make. And so I made a webpage to show them how to open the case up and then pop in the new panel. It's pretty easy surgery.

Darwin: And then supporting the Din Sync - for getting that DIN-like cable. Do you just have some kind of special plug that plugs into the existing two outputs - or how does that work?

Ed: Yeah. So I've prototyped a passive adapter for that, but I had not put it up for sale.

I've been thinking of doing that because it's a very simple soldering kit. It's two jacks that are surface-mount but really easy surface Mount. And then I have five pins DIN through hole. So it's, it's not a very complicated build. I probably should put that up on my website and build it, make a few kits. But, everybody that's doing it, I think they'd probably already have one. It's fairly easy to build one. If you just get a cable that has like, you have to be a little bit careful because not all mini cables have all five wires. So you have to find a high quality one that has all five wires and then you cut it and then splice on a couple of eighth-inch jacks to the right wires. So it's a pretty easy thing, but it's a little tedious.

Darwin: Right. Got it. As since you stay personally connected with your user base, obviously anyone that's using Ableton Link is probably part of the bigger Ableton ecosystem. But aside from Ableton live itself, what do you see the most use of it? Do you see a lot of people using it to interface with iOS? Do you see a lot of people using it to interface with Reason or DJ apps? Or where do you see the biggest secondary group of users?

Ed: So when I was getting close to releasing this, I started thinking about that and I had a Venn diagram. There's a lot of people that are coming up and learning on iOS apps, and they mix their music in that world because they just always had an iPad and as a kid or something. And they're coming up and that's the world where they're making music. Now they want to get into modular and let's say they want to bridge those two worlds. So that Venn diagram - in the middle of that is the Missing Link. The most exciting area I was thinking about was people that are building or making music with iOS and they want to integrate with a friend who has a drum machine, or they are trying to integrate their own synthesizers or a Looper pedal that has MIDI Sync. I definitely have a lot of customers that are integrating iOS - or they are coming from the other direction. They are a hardware person that has an iPad app they really love.

And just so it's a much easier way to integrate then finding all the cables that you need for your iOS using a lot of adapters and stuff. It also gives you that ability to reset, and it's a lot tougher coming out of an iPad or an iPhone. There's not a lot of cables that can give you that, that reset outright, you know?

So I have a lot of customers that do that. Obviously there's a lot of customers that use Ableton live for recording and they're using the Missing Link to kind of be their sync to line everything up on the grid. And actually something that surprised me was I have a couple of customers where Link is not that important to them. It's kind of cool from time to time, but really, they said, "You know what, just this is the best DAW-less clock." It gives you that reset output and it gives you an analog output and it gives you MIDI and there's a big knob with a large display that shows the tempo.

Darwin: Right. And if you happen to use Link, that's great, but just as a pure clock source, it's all right.

Well, unfortunately we are out of time, but before I let you go, do you, do circuit, have happy, have anything on the, on the lab bench that you can tell us about? Have you got a next step?

Ed: Oh yeah. I'm staring at it right now. The big thing going on right now is that I am porting to the ESP 32 chip by a company called Espressif and it's a really powerful chip. It's got two cores in it, so it has a decent amount of horsepower, a decent amount of memory and it amazingly enough can run Ableton Link through ports. So Ableton, I don't think I'm stating anything that is in breach of any disclosures, but another developers also ported to the ESP 32; I emailed them about a month ago because I was working on my own port and I said, "This is going to break the APi license cause I am modifying your API." And they said, "Yes, you can't do that." So for a second that dashed my dreams, but they said, "We are very interested in the ESP 32. We think a lot of people will hack on that.

It really opens up a lot of possibilities and I have a lot of product ideas based around it that are not not quite ready to talk about; but the one that I can talk about the most - anybody could guess - is I was going to make a module, probably two Missing Link modules for your Eurorack. The first one should come out, sometime early- to mid-next year; it's been a little slow going because the port that ESP 32 went slower but just got a big boost because I'm now collaborating with the other developer who already has a successful port. We're doing a lot of testing to make sure his port works seamlessly for both of us. And, I'm working on a Eurorack module.

Darwin: That's awesome - that makes a lot of sense. Well, Ed, I want to thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to have this talk, and to walk us through not only what you're making, but how you got to the point where making it made sense to you. So, very inspiring. Thank you so much for that.

Ed: Hey, thank you so much for having me. This was a lot of fun.

Darwin: Yeah, no worries. Well, with that, I am going to let you go. Have a great day. All right. Happy Thanksgiving. I seem to you. Bye.

Copyright 2019 by Darwin Grosse. All right reserved.