Helios – future manufacturing options
10 August 2017
In January 2017 we put a call out to people who might be interested in manufacturing Helios equipment. We're happy to report that we've been approached by a suitable UK company and we are busy talking to them and also a few individuals who may be able to join in the party.
Until negotiations are complete, below we're continuing to show the rest of the original document.
- To keep the name of Helios and Dick Swettenham’s legacy alive
- To develop some of the ideas that Dick had, particularly with respect to digitally-controlled analogue equipment
- To develop some other ideas that the rest of the team had
Achieving these objectives
The purpose of setting up Helios Professional Audio Limited (which will be referred to has plain Helios from now on) with Dick, Crispin Horsfield, Peter Stothart and Nick Cann was to achieve these objectives. It was Dick’s idea to re-issue the Type 78 Equaliser with a view to generating cash which would then allow development of more modern stuff. A prototype was built, though looking at it 17 years on it would benefit from more modern components and manufacturing techniques.
After Dick’s demise in 2000, we were persuaded that the Type 69 would be more popular and Cyril Jones of Raindirk was involved with this project.
There seem to be three possibilities in relation to the manufacture of re-issues:
- kits for self-assembly
- distributed manufacturing
- make the Helios vintage range ‘open hardware’, so anyone can make or adapt it
Looking at these in more detail:
Providing partial or complete kits of parts to end users or manufacturers would reduce the requirement for extensive compliance testing before export from the UK. It's not necessarily an ideal solution for some classes of end user, but may appeal to those with a maker spirit. And it's no bad thing to be encouraging young electronics engineers.
This would involve some kind of licence arrangement where organisations develop their own re-issues that become ‘Helios by xyz’. Helios would not be involved in manufacture, sales or warranty except perhaps to list available products on the Helios website.
This begs a number of questions:
- What qualifies as ‘Helios’? – we don’t expect people to manufacture re-issues using 1960s technology and techniques, but the circuits must be broadly the same. A topic for discussion.
- If licensing to a number of people is the right solution
- What licence fee do people want to offer for use of the trademark on their products?
- How often should the licence be reviewed/renewed?
- What are the reporting periods within a licence?
The reality is that many of the drawings, etc from Helios are in practice in the public domain. Formalising this may be a good idea – another topic for discussion.
We have a lot of Dick’s drawings, documents, disks and slides that need sorting out and publishing on the web. This time-consuming process will benefit the brand.
At some point we will want to dispose of Helios Professional Audio Limited with the trademark. When this occurs will depend upon what we get offered and how far we’ve actually progressed with our own plans and others have progressed with theirs.
Get in touch
If you haven't already been in touch with us and want to build outboard gear or consoles badged with the Helios trademark, then use the form below to get in touch.
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