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Six jacks in euro, what is the preferred configuration?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules  
Author Six jacks in euro, what is the preferred configuration?
oldcrow
Hey folks,

I am reformatting some of my 5U designs into 3U/euro and had a question about jack arrangement. As an example:

My GX1 resonator (bandpass filter) uses 3 panel controls and six jacks. I can either arrange these controls and jacks in a single slightly-offset vertical column or use a 5U-like 3 knobs above a 2 x 3 grid of jacks. The former can be done on a single board, whereas the grid arrangement would use two boards. The vertical configuration allows for use of a narrower panel width (guessing around 20mm), A grid panel would be more in the range of 30mm.

So, the question is, which would serve better overall? I know this is a highly subjective question but given enough feedback I can decide on the path to take, at least for this module and others of similar panel density.

Scott Rider
cs80.com
/**/
ersatzplanet
The problem with jack placing in Euro that sets it apart from 5U that poi are used to is that in Eurorack you never know if the module will be in a skiff or the lower section of a Monster case, or if the user likes his rig laying on its back face up. These positions hardly ever happen in 5U because the cabinets/PCBs are typically too deep for it. Then the placement of the jacks relative to the knobs becomes a real concern. Does the user have to reach over patched cords to tweak the knobs? This is fixed by two different methods, either the jacks are along the side of the module and are in a column (typically geared for right handers - jacks on the left, knobs on the right - like Doepfer does), or the panel is made with jacks at one end and has flippable graphics so it can be mounted for vertical or horizontal orientation.

I guess there is a third option - deciding that the function of the module leads it to almost always be used in one orientation vs. the other. For example a VCO or VCF will more often be in a vertical cabinet so the jacks should be at the bottom so cords don't hang in front of the knobs. On performance modules like our FSR series, they are better suited in a skiff horizontally with the panel facing upwards. In that case the jacks are at the top of the module so the playing surface can be reached without having to reach over the patch cords.

The function of the module determines its most common placement. The jacks along the side kinda covers both bases. A filter like you mention will most likely be in a cabinet mounted vertically, I would do like most and place the jack field at the bottom. People can buy one of my controller modules to run it from the horizontal hihi
oldcrow
Ah thanks, always good to get manufacturer input as you know the logistics involved behind a given unit in production.

I by habit place jacks below controls, so that is a non-issue. I was mainly concerned with the trade-off between how many vertical jacks to use vs. how wide a panel is preferred. It sounds like a basic rule of thumb might be audio signals vertical, clocks and triggers less so. I'll fiddle with both and see what seems easier to manufacture.

(I own a small factory, so how to manufacture is not a problem). SlayerBadger!

ersatzplanet wrote:
The function of the module determines its most common placement. The jacks along the side kinda covers both bases. A filter like you mention will most likely be in a cabinet mounted vertically, I would do like most and place the jack field at the bottom. People can buy one of my controller modules to run it from the horizontal hihi
Noisefan
I tend to group my modules so that the jacks are closer together and the knobs, buttons, switches, etc. are easier to access.

This has lead to several upside down modules on the lower row of 6U cases so that jacks are closer to the upper row. In fact, I've got a skiff with the complete Dubmix set and an Intellijel uVCA all upside down so it sits nicely in front of the other cases. On the far left is a Synthwerks FSR-4 right side up 8_)

Another important point is HP width versus playability. Smaller is better unless there is too much sacrifice of wiggling.

So for me, I prefer an easily playable module. Jack placement sometimes suggest where the module sits with its neighbors.
HIMA
seems to be a trend to group them at the bottom of the module. i'm liking it.
oscillateur
I prefer when the jacks are at the bottom too. Makes it much easier to access knobs when playing live. Except for performance-oriented modules, where placement at the top can be useful for playability, as mentioned above.

That's the only real complaint I have with my Makenoise modules (Maths, Optomix, STO). The jacks placement can make it tricky to tweak the modules when fully patched (particularly the Optomix, Maths has a big space with all the knobs in the middle so it's actually ok).
sempervirent
Post a few layouts maybe, could be easier to give feedback that way.

Looking forward to any of your designs coming to Euroland... how about a monophonic crowBX voice module?
oldcrow
I will post layouts when they're ready.

As for a euro crowbx voice, if I can get the panel host board compressed to 3U, I can make it happen. The voice card will already fit behind a 3U x 6U panel; the host (holds the panel controls and jacks) would just need to be the same size which, when converted to mostly-SMT, should be possible. The panel I would adjust to the nearest HP width. As you can see, I've thought about this a bit already. SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger! The main thing to consider is how to make it run on +-12V. Again not impossible, it will just need some experimentation.

Crow
cs80.com
/**/

sempervirent wrote:
Post a few layouts maybe, could be easier to give feedback that way.

Looking forward to any of your designs coming to Euroland... how about a monophonic crowBX voice module?
Convulser
oldcrow wrote:
I will post layouts when they're ready.

As for a euro crowbx voice, if I can get the panel host board compressed to 3U, I can make it happen. The voice card will already fit behind a 3U x 6U panel; the host (holds the panel controls and jacks) would just need to be the same size which, when converted to mostly-SMT, should be possible. The panel I would adjust to the nearest HP width. As you can see, I've thought about this a bit already. SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger! The main thing to consider is how to make it run on +-12V. Again not impossible, it will just need some experimentation.

Crow
cs80.com
/**/


I would absolutely LOVE a crowbx voice. Consider me in on this theoretical enterprise!
ETP
what i don´t like at doepfer filters/ audio processors -> the input is not always the first and the out is not always the bottom jack. this should be standardized per manufacturer. 100 filters/processors and different jack layouts. and i love doepfer modules btw

just wanted to say
paperCUT
Panel density is really more important IMO. My all time favorite module is also the biggest headache to use, so it's not a deal breaker, but it makes me hate Euro sometimes.

Specific examples: 4ms PEG is perfect even with the spread of sockets, E440 uses too much space for what it offers, WMD Synchrodyne levels of density is a big no-no (but is still my favorite module). Doepfer's style is best tradeoff IMO, you still have wires everywhere but at least the knobs are easy to access compared to super dense modules.

I guess it also depends on the type of module, the A-152 has very dense sockets but you rarely use them all. On the other hand the Synchrodyne has pretty much the same spacing but you want to plug every hole in that thing.
sempervirent
paperCUT wrote:
WMD Synchrodyne levels of density is a big no-no (but is still my favorite module).

You should contact WMD, they are interested in hearing feedback about this type of thing.
daverj
oldcrow wrote:
The former can be done on a single board, whereas the grid arrangement would use two boards. The vertical configuration allows for use of a narrower panel width (guessing around 20mm), A grid panel would be more in the range of 30mm.


Something to consider is that in general Euro modules have moved to boards that are parallel with the panel rather than perpendicular. Cases are getting shallower and deep modules are becoming less popular.

de_raaf
don't forget the finger/hand factor so space is more liked by people with fatter fingers, i don't have much problem with the synchrodyne (as example of not being a very spacey module) and done some gigs with it and don't find it more difficult than other modules to operate, but i have more kiddie fingers
ersatzplanet
daverj wrote:

Something to consider is that in general Euro modules have moved to boards that are parallel with the panel rather than perpendicular. Cases are getting shallower and deep modules are becoming less popular.


^^This is very true. Skiff friendly modules are almost universally preferred. Parallel PCBs also tackles the pot/jack alignment problems too, easily allowing staggered parts to control density better. With a parallel PCB the controls and jacks can be almost anywhere and no restricted to straight lines.
oldcrow
The other thing to note in those images is the move from through-hole to surface-mount. I will be using parallel-to-panel board schemes (as well as SMT). I think I have enough to go on for these first few format conversions.

Crow
/**/

daverj wrote:
Something to consider is that in general Euro modules have moved to boards that are parallel with the panel rather than perpendicular. Cases are getting shallower and deep modules are becoming less popular.
oldcrow
One more question: what is the maximum safe board height to fit between the upper and lower mounting rails? I know 100mm is eurocard spec, but a crowbx voice card is 109.35mm and this dimension cannot change. 5mm of slop gap on either end and it should work. The boards will be set back 13mm on pillars, so even if the panel has to be saddled onto the lower rail and then seated it should fit. screaming goo yo screaming goo yo

Thanks,

Scott Rider
cs80.com
/**/
ersatzplanet
I usually make sure the closest that the PCB can get is 0.4" (10.16mm) away from the metal edge , top and bottom. Vector and Schroff and Z-rails are less than 0.4" thick.
paperCUT
oldcrow wrote:
One more question: what is the maximum safe board height to fit between the upper and lower mounting rails? I know 100mm is eurocard spec, but a crowbx voice card is 109.35mm and this dimension cannot change. 5mm of slop gap on either end and it should work. The boards will be set back 13mm on pillars, so even if the panel has to be saddled onto the lower rail and then seated it should fit. screaming goo yo screaming goo yo

Thanks,

Scott Rider
cs80.com
/**/


I could pull it and measure but the FX6 from Flame is too tall vertically. I could only get it into the middle of my old system with a lot of elbow grease and bending of rails. 1mm less would have worked, or pushing it further back with standoffs.
paperCUT
sempervirent wrote:
paperCUT wrote:
WMD Synchrodyne levels of density is a big no-no (but is still my favorite module).

You should contact WMD, they are interested in hearing feedback about this type of thing.


It's a pretty common complaint about the Synchrodyne. Looks like all the newer WMD and SSF stuff have great layouts and space.
daverj
There are a couple of notable modules that people have had to use a shoe horn to get them installed. (figuratively)

I defined a maximum board height for my Euro modules of 4.25".

4.25" = 108mm and has a small amount of breathing room. So your 109.35mm (4.305") board should probably be OK.

The mounting holes on Eurorack rails are 122.5mm apart (4.823")

Based on the manufacturer's drawings for the most common rails used in Euro cases, the clear space between pairs of rails is:

112.5mm, 4.429" = Doepfer (Gie-Tec/ProMa)
112.5mm, 4.429" = TipTop Z-Rails
115.1mm, 4.531" = Vector
112.2mm, 4.415" = Schroff

Those don't include the tolerances (slop) of the nut in the rail moving up and down and the screw hole in the module. Those can cause the rails to be closer or further apart when any given module is tightened in next to where your module is going to get mounted. That's why I try to give a little more clearance and not count on those exact figures above.

So Schroff are the thickest rails, giving 4.415" space, your board is 4.305" which leaves 0.110" (0.055" top and bottom) for the slop of the nuts and neighboring modules that might pull the rails closer to each other.

It will work, but you'll need to be sure mounting and assembly between the panel and board keeps the board centered and doesn't increase the slop any more.
ersatzplanet
And keep POWER traces from going along those edges so if they touch it doesn't matter much.
oldcrow
Every board I make has a 2mm keepout zone around the board perimeter. No copper at all. This is more to allow for depaneling errors than anything, but it also prevents edge-copper shorts to a chassis.

I will make the host board vertical height slightly smaller, about 104mm. This is the only board that has any chance to contact the mounting rails as the voice board, while 109.35mm in height, will be mounted behind the host. Installation will involve making the lower mounting rail act as a temporary saddle rail, resting the host board pillars on the rail in order to allow the top board edges to clear the upper rail. I will test all this out on the prototypes.

Thanks for all the feedback, btw. SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger!

ersatzplanet wrote:
And keep POWER traces from going along those edges so if they touch it doesn't matter much.
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