Noise Engineering’s Founders Learned PCB Design From Scratch

Pooria Sohi November 19, 2020 2 min read



Like so many stories we share on this blog, cult-favorite Eurorack synthesizer brand Noise Engineering had humble beginnings. Before founding the company, Stephen McCaul worked in the video game industry. One day, his coworker brought in a Euro Rack synthesizer. “I ended up critiquing my friend/coworker’s modules, and he got tired of it,” McCaul recounts. “After a while, he basically said, ‘Well, if you know so much about this, why don’t you make me a module?’ So I went home and made a prototype module, which ended up being the first product that Noise Engineering released. It was a linear-feedback shift-register oscillator that made the sounds that the Atari 2600 makes.” 






“For a while, Noise Engineering existed as a hobby—just something I would work on every now and then and release a module when I could. Eventually, Kris and I got tired of our careers and decided it was a reasonable idea to make Noise Engineering our full-time jobs. So we both quit our jobs and did just that in 2016.” McCaul is referring to his business partner and wife, Kris Kaiser. “Before this, I was a biology professor. So to say that I had zero experience using a CAD program is completely accurate,” says Kaiser.




When it comes to PCB design, McCaul and Kaiser’s go-to software is EAGLE, which is now integrated into Fusion 360. Kaiser is currently Noise Engineering’s primary Electrical Engineer and uses EAGLE regularly. “I’m the one with the premium seat, but Stephen also still does a bit of the hardware. Before Noise Engineering, I had never done anything like this before. I don’t think that any CAD software is intuitive, especially for beginners, but I was able to become pretty fluent in EAGLE within a few months. One of the perks of using it is that our manufacturer also uses it, so it’s very easy for us to trade ideas.”






Here on the Fusion 360 team, we’ve always prided ourselves in our commitment to support up-and-coming talent in the commercial fields by providing free or discounted versions of products to new businesses. “If I had to pay for EAGLE when I started making my very first PCB designs, I probably wouldn’t have learned it,” says McCaul. “Now it’s a staple in our workflow. That really reduced the barrier of entry.”




Fast forward to today, and Noise Engineering is an internationally recognized brand of Euro Rack modules, used by professionals and enthusiasts alike to bring the newest bleeps, bloops, and songs to our ears. With over 30 products under their belt, they’re not only a lean team of passionate designers and engineers building products they care about but also proof that a small group of people can have a massive impact.


Are you ready to start creating your own PCB designs? Read our guide on how to edit your Autodesk EAGLE electronic design files with Fusion 360, then download Fusion 360 to get started!



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