A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
The Klein Bottle was designed for the noise makers, soundscape artists, endless tinkerers and tone wizards. This epic pedal starts by splitting the input signal into three FX loops. Each FX loop has dedicated controls for pre-gain, HPF/LPF (bandwidth filters), and main mix level. This allows you to send different parts of the signal to different effects, and blend them all back together to create new tones out of your existing pedals.
But wait, there's more! The magic happens when you use the independent feedback controls to send the signal from one FX loop into another...and then back again! Keep your existing tone intact with the DRY knob, while layering a cornucopia of sonic goodness on top.
How the Klein Bottle came to be - PART ONE
Back in 2011, VFE founder Peter Rutter and his brother Joe had the same crazy idea. What if there was a pedal that allowed you to overdrive the bass, mid and treble frequencies separately, and then mix them back together? What if you could tune the frequencies sent to each drive section? What if you could use your favorite overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedals?
Peter had a number of other crazy ideas, but not the cash or experience to design such an ambitious product. This concept lead to the design of a multiband distortion pedal called the Triumvirate. This pedal split the signal into bass, mid, and treble frequencies, each with dedicated gain and mix level controls. It was a unique pedal in its own right, but made major compromises on the original vision.
In October 2012, Peter began development of that original idea - which took 3 years to develop! This pedal was called "Rainbows, Unicorns, Puppies", or RUP. It was a crazy, complex pedal to build. After playing with it again & again, Peter concluded that the real power of the pedal was in its FX loops. Using the FX loops, he could create really unique effects by blending delays, reverbs, fuzz, modulation, etc.
The problem was that the built-in distortion added a ton of cost, size and complexity - the pedal retailed for $499. Peter believed that he could bring the cost way down if he removed the internal distortion, and let the player connect their own effects.
How the Klein Bottle came to be - PART TWO
When Peter started developing the RUP in October 2012, he also began work on another pedal idea. A customer asked him to create a reverb, but as an analog designer, his options were limited. Peter decided to see what would happen if he designed a pedal with multiple delays that could feed back into each other. He called this pedal the Möbius Strip dual delay. Just like the Triumvirate, it was a unique pedal in its own right, but was not complex enough to meet that original vision. A few years later, he also designed a parallel delay/reverb called the Yodeler, which was one of his first forays into parallel ambient effects. Both these concepts led to the next evolution of the Klein Bottle story.
In the spring of 2015, after successfully designing the final version of the RUP, Peter began on a project to take the Mobius Strip concept to the next level. He called this project "Klein Bottle", which had 3 independent delays - each with 3 separate feedback controls to feed the delay back on itself or any of the other 2 delays. While it was truly incredible to play with, the lack of tap tempo and excessive cost - it would have retailed for $600 to $700 - led him to scrap the original concept.
Instead, Peter decided to focus on the real power of the Klein Bottle & RUP - the 3 FX loops - in order to design a pedal that could combine the functionality of both ideas. The result is a pedal that's smaller and less expensive to build, but with more functionality and flexibility because the internal effects were removed.
VFE = Taking Pedals to School
In December 2015, Peter and his family decided that he should return to teaching full time. Launching VFE had been an amazing experience, but his growing family needed more financial stability than VFE could offer. Peter spent the next several months clearing out inventory and preparing to transition the company back into a hobby...and then something awesome happened.
In the spring of 2016, Peter learned about a new school opening in September called IDEA - Industrial Design, Engineering and Art. This high school was making hands-on and project-based learning the core of its approach. IDEA was not just looking for great teachers to innovate new curriculum, but also for business partners. These partners would work with and within the school to give students real world opportunities to learn professional skills and applications.
Peter spent the past 18 months re-making VFE into a company that supports this vision. VFE Pedals has built out a circuit design studio, prototyping and production spaces, with plans to invest more into the classroom space this year. VFE launched an internship program for students to be able to learn about circuit design, manufacturing, accounting, marketing, business planning, and more. In just the first year, students have re-designed the VFE logo (twice); developed and manufactured a unique, resonant fuzz pedal; taken stock product photos; designed graphics; developed a new, hand painted graphic process, and created a Kickstarter video (the one at the top of this page).
You will be supporting an amazing high school artist (Tiffany Howell), while getting a custom, hand-painted Klein Bottle. Tiffany will work with you directly to design an amazing work of art that you will be proud to display on a pedalboard or in the studio.
$179 - Get a VFE original!
VFE discontinued my entire lineup in August 2016 so Peter could focus on teaching. We have had countless requests to purchase one of VFE's original pedals in the past year. Due to time and cost restraints, we can't do one-off requests - but in this Kickstarter exclusive, we am making them all available. Peter has scheduled a time to build a batch of original VFE pedals during his winter break at the end of December. See available pedals at vfepedals.com/originals
NOTE - You will be able to choose the effect you want after the campaign is over (and successful). We will send out a survey to gather that information. Also, if you want multiple pedals, just pledge at $179 times the number of pedals you want. Shipping is a flat rate fee, so international customers only need to add $20 to the total, no matter how many pedals you want ($15 to Canada).
Here's a walkthrough of the Klein Bottle prototype. Peter refers to some quirks and noises the pedal was making. These issues were solved in another prototype that was sent out to YouTube demo channel Knobs. We expect to have an official, professional demo done around mid-November.
All specs are estimated based on the components used in the design.
DIMENSIONS - 6.2"W x 5"L x 1.6"H - 2.2" with knobs (158 x 127 x 41/56 mm) WEIGHT - About 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg) POWER - Accepts industry standard 9VDC, all the way up to 18VDC. We recommend using 18V if you plan on using the Klein Bottle with line level sources. CURRENT DRAW - 50ma @ 9V, 100ma @ 18V
One Kickstarter, Many Goals
This Kickstarter will not provide funds to put the Klein Bottle into production, but also much, much more. Here is what you are supporting when you back this project.
Synth Workshop - In January, Peter will partner with two other teachers in a 16-day workshop on DIY synth building. Students will work in teams to create CV-controllable synths from scratch, and even learn how to create a manufacturing and marketing plan for the synth they create. If this Kickstarter is successful, VFE will be able to purchase Eurorack cases, allowing to students to learn how to build modules for this new synth format.
Entrepreneurship - Peter is teaching a unique entrepreneurship course this year, and the students have been preparing for this Kickstarter since the start of the school year. Teams formed around finance, marketing, customer service, human resources, and product design. New teams were formed at the beginning of this Kickstarter, so students get real world experience from various aspects of business.
While the curriculum this semester is centered around the Kickstarter campaign, next semester students will work on teams to help their classmates launch their own businesses. Your support of this Kickstarter would mean VFE could offer seed money to young entrepreneurs to get their business off the ground.
Circuit Design - Peter also teaches a circuit design course. In this course, students will work with a recording studio to design and manufacture audio gear specifically for their needs. A successful Kickstarter campaign means VFE can purchase more supplies and parts to fund the prototyping phase of this course.
Student Internships - VFE launched student internships last year, and has also offered students paid opportunities to develop and use their unique skill sets and interests. VFE has already paid out $1200 to students for their work in the first year, and plan to triple that number in the 2018-19 is this Kickstarter campaign is successful.
Interior Design - Peter also teaches an exploratory course on Friday afternoons to make our classrooms at IDEA more functional and inviting. IDEA is located in an old elementary school building, and it needs some work to bring it to life. Students are already working on re-designing Peter's classroom space, including designing furniture to build out creative, collaborate spaces. A successful Kickstarter campaign will mean more funds to purchase materials to make these classroom spaces truly amazing.
What happens if we don't reach $20,000?
Simply put, the Klein Bottle doesn't go into production, and all the above programs and goals are significantly compromised. VFE will remain committed to finding ways to integrate real world opportunities into high school education, but this campaign is a major part of financing all the student programs and opportunities listed above.
Klein Bottle Timeline
Develop 1st prototype (completed March 2017)
Develop prototype with all functions of the final prototype (completed June 2017)
Develop 1st draft of graphic options (2 of 3 completed)
Build pre-production run of Klein Botle pedals (December)
Finalize production PCB layout and component values (December)
Order components and PCBs (January)
Send off parts & PCBs for assembly (late January)
Receive and test first assembled boards (February)
Build first production run (March)
Built full production run and ship remaining Kickstarter rewards (April)
Risks and challenges
The primary risk, as in all our past Kickstarter campaigns, is production delays. We are sourcing all our parts from manufacturer's that have a track record of on-time delivery, in hopes to prevent any production delays.
We have also spaced out reward delivery dates to make sure there is enough manufacturing time in between shipments to keep production on schedule. I have also planned the most labor-intensive reward level dates around breaks in my teaching schedule, so I can dedicate more of my time to get rewards fulfilled.
VFE has had 5 successful Kickstarter campaigns since 2013. Please help us make the Klein Bottle campaign our 6th and biggest campaign yet!
This option is for more experienced DIY builders. Get the Klein Bottle PCB and all VFE proprietary parts (pre-programmed microcontrollers, custom potentiometers). The case and any parts not listed above are not included.
You'll also get a full parts list and how-to instructions, so you can build your own Klein Bottle!
This option is for moderately experienced DIY builders. Get the Klein Bottle PCB and all VFE proprietary parts (pre-programmed microcontrollers, custom potentiometers), plus a Hammond 1590XX case drilled to Klein Bottle specs. All other parts are not included.
You'll also get a full parts list and how-to instructions, so you can build your own Klein Bottle!
This option is for moderately experienced DIY builders. Get the Klein Bottle PCB, microcontrollers, pots, jacks, switches, plus an empty Hammond 1590XX case (drill/paint/graphic) made to Klein Bottle specs. All other parts are not included.
I will make a Mouser project list for the parts that are not included in this kit.
Get an original VFE Pedal! These pedals were discontinued in August 2016 so I could focus on teaching full time, but are being made available exclusively for this Kickstarter campaign! See the Kickstarter description for the full list of available pedal options.
We collaborated with popular YouTube channel Knobs to create a version of the Klein Bottle specifically for this Kickstarter. A portion of this reward tier goes to support the work of this amazing YouTube channel.