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Plan B/Cliff Jacks
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Plan B/Cliff Jacks
apemandan
Hi all!

I am having real problems with the jacks on my new Plan B Model 25 and Model 13. I have Doepfer and home brew patch cables which work fine with my older Model 15 and 12 but the jacks on the other two modules are really crackly and intermittent.

Peter Grenadier recommended the all electronics cables as a solution, and did actually include a few of these with a repair return shipment of the model 25 i bought (the VCA was totally dead). They do work much better with these two modules than the Doepfer cables. Problem is i'm in the UK and its not straightforward to get them shipped to europe

Peter admitted there was a problem with the cliff jacks....why use them then?!?! Obviously because they're cheaper! angry very frustrating

Does anybody in Europe know of a substitute for the all electronic cables that work well with these fucking cliff jacks?? goatse.cx

Also, does anybody have a model 25 and a Doepfer A132-1 VCA? The model 25 seems to be much more sensitive to control voltage and clips much easier than the doepfer. Peter says that is part of the design?! I'm not sure, its already been returned once to repair the VCA and to be honest i have lost faith!

AMD Rage!
Roycie Roller
Very sorry to hear this Dan. I can't offer much advice, but if you don't have a soldering iron, perhaps you could ask Future Sound Systems to repair the problem. He's in the UK.
wetterberg
Cliff jacks really suck. And they're at times also hard to come by, so manufacturers have to call them up and beg like for a shipment. There must be some modular mojo I am not getting, because they're expensive to boot? wtf?
apemandan
wetterberg wrote:
Cliff jacks really suck. And they're at times also hard to come by, so manufacturers have to call them up and beg like for a shipment. There must be some modular mojo I am not getting, because they're expensive to boot? wtf?


right, i just presumed they were a cheap option, whats that all about??

Which mini jack cables do you use? Has anybody else experienced these problems?? I'm happy to make my own if anybody has a part number for a trusted mini jack?!
BugBrand
Dan - there's two places in the UK that may be of interest / use (semi-indirectly)

Emis Music - just on the outskirts of bristol - they're the UK doepfer distro. and Andy can make custom cables if you want. May be worth a look?

But, yeah, you probably want to change the cliff sockets - everything I've heard of them says poop.

www.rapidonline.com is probably the only UK parts supplier who I'd really recommend - but they don't have all that much in the way of good 1/8" jack sockets (they may have ready made cables though?)

I've just got a few different types of socket from Farnell - will test the feel / apparent quality of these shortly. Unfortunately Farnell aren't as good in general as rapid - they're certainly not cheap (maybe because they seem to repackage EVERYTHING - seriously every single component seems to be wrapped in its own little plastic bag. Nice to see companies taking some action for reducing waste!!?!!?!)
apemandan
BugBrand wrote:
Dan - there's two places in the UK that may be of interest / use (semi-indirectly)

Emis Music - just on the outskirts of bristol - they're the UK doepfer distro. and Andy can make custom cables if you want. May be worth a look?

But, yeah, you probably want to change the cliff sockets - everything I've heard of them says poop.

www.rapidonline.com is probably the only UK parts supplier who I'd really recommend - but they don't have all that much in the way of good 1/8" jack sockets (they may have ready made cables though?)

I've just got a few different types of socket from Farnell - will test the feel / apparent quality of these shortly. Unfortunately Farnell aren't as good in general as rapid - they're certainly not cheap (maybe because they seem to repackage EVERYTHING - seriously every single component seems to be wrapped in its own little plastic bag. Nice to see companies taking some action for reducing waste!!?!!?!)


Thanks Bug (Tom, right?)

This what Peter had to say about the cliff jacks..

"The first issue is the jack problem. Cliff Jacks are and will remain a problem.The problem you're seeing is due to the design of the contact area on the Cliff jack. They don't like patchcords in which the tip longer than it is round. For instance, the more expensive cords Doepfer sells are particularly bad. The less expensive one are much better...but there's an easy fix you can do yourself:

Look at the jacks. There are two leads on it. Two bands of silver. One band is close to the faceplate, one jack is further away. the one we need to concern ourselves with is the one furthest away from the faceplate. Have a close look: In the middle of that bands of metal is a detent. A little depression is the contact - the only part of the cliff jack which makes contact to the plug. If this doesn't make good contact there will not be a connection.

You need to get yourself a straight blade screwdriver. A small one in which the tip is about as wide as the detent. Remove the plug from the jack, put the tip of the screwdirver in the detent of the outer contact of the cliff jack and press in gently. What you're trying to do is depress the contacts in a little bit until they make better contact to the jack tip. Do a little at a time. Press it in a little, try it, press it in a little more, try it. Don't try to nail it in one shot. Probably all that will happen then is it'll suddenly fold up - which is bad. Just push a little, try it, push in a little, try it.

I know this is a problem, trust me...I know. We're working on the day when we are free of Cliff jacks, but for now this issue comes up and it's impossible to test them because there so many different manufacturers of 3.5MM plugs and we couldn't even begin to find every design to test them against. "

I have just ordered some mono jack plugs from RS, i will make up some cables when they arrive. Hopefully these will help the problem before i have to replace the jack sockets. i will also do what peter suggested and bend the second band of the socket. Seems crazy i have to do all this on new modules though, no??!!

Dan
D/A A/D
I have been having problems with my M25, as well as my Mod Demod - fucking cliff jacks.
futuresoundsystems
Roycie Roller wrote:
Very sorry to hear this Dan. I can't offer much advice, but if you don't have a soldering iron, perhaps you could ask Future Sound Systems to repair the problem. He's in the UK.

Mr. Green

I'd gladly do something like this. I'm looking at delving further into module modifications and reformatting so this would be good practice.
apemandan
futuresoundsystems wrote:
Roycie Roller wrote:
Very sorry to hear this Dan. I can't offer much advice, but if you don't have a soldering iron, perhaps you could ask Future Sound Systems to repair the problem. He's in the UK.

Mr. Green

I'd gladly do something like this. I'm looking at delving further into module modifications and reformatting so this would be good practice.


Thanks! If it came to that its probably something i could do myself..

Think I'll try tweaking the sockets that are there for now. Strange that the jack cables that Peter sent (from all electronics in U.S.) work perfectly with the model 25, but my doepfer cables don't. The jack plugs look completely identical on close inspection..
krisp14u
Hi Dan
there are 2 types of the 3.5mm Cliff jacks
Rapid sell the crap ones that don’t work well at all I have a bag full that are going in the bin
The ones I have been using on the Frac modules are Direct from Cliff are the same ones that Doepfer use they have a little curl on the back contact that makes it work with all 3.5mm jacks
If you want to try some I can send you some PM me
futuresoundsystems
krisp14u wrote:
Rapid sell the crap ones that don’t work well at all I have a bag full that are going in the bin

I'll buy them off you if you want. smile I could do with a few scrappy minijacks for prototyping.
suitandtieguy
i'm sorry if this comes off as sounding negative, but would someone please explain to me why anyone uses these jacks?
wetterberg
-that's what the whole discussion is about. It baffles a lot of us, I think.
felix
There's 3 (er, no wait 4) Plan B modules that I still want. After that, no more modules with Cliff Jacks. I'm done.
criticalmonkey
fwiw - i ran into the connector tip issue -
apparently the gold adapters from the fine radio shack do not work with clif jacks - my newish model 15
1/4 female to 1/8 male mono
silver colored worked fine

glad i had this thread in the back of my head otherwise i would have had 1 frustrating night
dbch
you might want to try something by switchcraft or even kobiconn. there are plenty of options at mouser.com i usually use a kobiconn jack that mouser sells for $.20 each that are more robust than just about anything else i've used.

you might want to avoid the open style jack like switchcraft sells. they tend to break when you tighten them as the nut can cause the sleeve to rotate and break connections.

i would imagine that plan b uses what they use because the PCBs are designed for specific parts and they have probably decided that a redesign of ever module + set up fees for the new PCBs is more costly than dealing with a few pissed off customers. not the way i would do things, but fairly typical of modern american manufacturing.
Muff Wiggler
yet another reason why pcb-mounted pots and jacks are scary

i know it puts a higher cost on the module to have all fly-away wires to knobs and jacks.... but when you can I think it's worth it.

For one, you don't have to design your board around any specific part, so if the part goes out of production (which is out of your control....) you don't have to worry.

For two, concerning long-life and ease-of-maintanance for years, the modules with flyout wires can always be repaired fairly easily, the PCB-mounted stuff can as well, but it's a lot harder. John Blacet actually recommends never trying to replace a pot on his boards!

Further to the first point, I learned in my day job very well the lesson about relying on a third-party to provide something essential to your product. About 10 years ago when we were a startup (long before being bought out....) we included a fancy piece of smart-card-reading-hardware to go along with the software we made. This hardware was made by a very large company in France. Our software was written assuming that specific piece of hardware was connected to your computer, and a card with a specific digital signature inserted into the reader. Without that you could not use our software.

Well, much like the modular scene is to the jack-manufacturing companies, we were NOTHING in terms of their sales. They sent us the hardware we ordered, but we were TINY. No weight to throw around with them at all. We would be like 0.001% of their shipments probably.

Anyway, I bet you know what happened. They stopped making the reader we used. Just plain stopped. They didn't need to make it anymore. We couldn't get any. Just suddenly. And because we were a small, cash-tight startup, we only kept a few dozen on hand at the most.

Well, we were screwed. We had to spend tons of unplanned money and time (which startup companies are short on) to re-engineer our product so that we could keep shipping working copies without the French hardware. It was a really hard time for us. Plus the few customers we had (who were all very important to us) were upset because we couldn't ship their orders for many months. Really upset.

So we learned very hard way the lesson - NEVER depending on the availability of something that's out of your control, in order to make your product.

Wiard 300 modules are designed "to anticipate failure", in Grant's words. all jacks, pots and knobs are very easy and fast to replace. They are designed to last for lifetimes with only simple maintanance needed.

But I know, they are expensive. Like I said, fly-out wiring everything IS expensive compared to PCB-mount. It's just way more time consuming on the builders.

But.... you don't have to pay Wiard prices to get that kind of philosophy. STG and Synthesizers Dot Com, and possibly others (5U MOTM? ModCan?) have a very similar build approach to Wiard - knobs and pots are flyout wires on nice MTA header. snap, click. wow. And those are some of the most attractively priced modules available. No-one ever accused Dot Com of being 'expensive' yet they do have a top-notch approach to the way they are designed.

Anyway I'm ranting and of course many manufacturers will always use PCB mounted stuff, I think for some of the one and two-man operations, it's the only way to keep up with production and/or be able to chage 'fair' prices that people will pay. I don't know, just bringing up ideas.

I do worry a lot more about all the PCB-mount modules I own over the long run. I didn't say anything at the time but it was one of the motivating factors in selling off about a third of my frac rig... I had all these duplicates of modules, all with PCB mount pots. I worried that in 15 years it was going to turn into a repair nightmare. So I slimmed down and put the money in Wiard which is what I always wanted anyway... .AND doesn't leave me worried about what the future may hold....

rant rant grumble grumble
makenoise
It is easy to replace a board mounted socket or pot with a non matching part. For example, the 24mm board mount pots commonly found in music electronics from the 70's are easy to replace with smaller 16mm pots. Just fly wires from the smaller pot down to the board!

For me, one of the most attractive things about euro rack is SIZE. PCB mount pots and sockets allow for the circuit board to be the size of the panel, and that allows for dense electronics within a small and shallow form factor.

At my previous job we utilized about 80% PC mount sockets and pots, and 20% flying wires. 2 years in the service department the only time I saw a connection at a PC mount socket or pot fail was due to EXTREME impact which not only severed the joint, but also destroyed the part!


Tony
suitandtieguy
makenoise wrote:
the only time I saw a connection at a PC mount socket or pot fail was due to EXTREME impact which not only severed the joint, but also destroyed the part!


it's not the solder joint that fails on the Cliff jacks, people are having a problem with the part you stick the cable into.
Muff Wiggler
it's true about the shallow depth on the euro modules, that's a huge bonus!

my concern about these things isn't the solder connection (which should be fine if done properly and not subsequently abused), nor even jacks of any type....it's about pots coming to the end of their life.

these pots have lifetimes measured in number of rotations. at some point, ten, fifteen years out, they will have to be replaced.

a system with 60 eurorack modules in it will be a HELL of a lot more work than a system with 60 synthesizers dot com modules

'tis all i'm saying 8)
makenoise
suitandtieguy wrote:
makenoise wrote:
the only time I saw a connection at a PC mount socket or pot fail was due to EXTREME impact which not only severed the joint, but also destroyed the part!


it's not the solder joint that fails on the Cliff jacks, people are having a problem with the part you stick the cable into.


Yes, I understand that. I was actually responding to Mr. Muff's above comments about board mounted sockets and pots. They have their advantages to the consumer as well as the manufacturer

I have switched to a new socket. It really hugs athe plus AND it is board mount!

Tony
BugBrand
Mike's post brings up some VERY pertinent points.
Yep - its a bit of swings'n'roundabouts...

From a builder's point of view, I'm very much for PCB pots - but not too many other things, partly down to the designs. The time saving is massive and, for a small setup like mine, that really is a freaking major point. I still do most controls with wiring though.. One thing I think is that the alpha 16mm pots I (and many others) use are very standard and widely available - who knows exactly, but I'd have thought you'd still be able to get them many years down the line (but that is unknown territory). Any other pots or components would perhaps be a different story 'cos of incompatibility..

I think a major reason for JBlacet saying not to try desoldering pots from his boards is probably more down to the fact that desoldering through-plated PCBs (ie pro-pcbs) is a right bitch! Standard vacuum desolder pumps just don't tend to cut it, solder wick is tricky and you always risk messing up the pcb pads if it all takes too long.. I've just got an electric desolder pump (cheap from Rapid in UK) and this now DOES make it possible - this thing is great - very quick and easy now to desolder things.

Hmmm --- what about things like Cjweman! Never been able to have a good look at one, but I'd imagine they could be tricky fixes due to the (amazing) build detail.
6.4 Billion
Picking hardware is a tough! I'm looking at using the 3.5mm open switchcraft jacks (fly-out wired) and pcb mount pots.

I believe the jacks Cjweman uses are not actually intended for pcb mounting. There are solder lugs on them that are tied to the board.
krisp14u
BugBrand wrote:
I've just got an electric desolder pump (cheap from Rapid in UK) and this now DOES make it possible - this thing is great - very quick and easy now to desolder things.



I have had one of these for a year or so and would hate to go back to the normal solder sucker and iron technique
flight
I can definitely chime in on the time-consumption of wiring. That's one of the main things holding up the release of the Infernal Noise Machine (here's a picture of the inside wiring: http://www.flightofharmony.com/INM.html).

About Board-mounted pots: I'm in the same boat as Mr. Bugs, of course. However, I had an idea while re-designing the PB Barebones PCB; one customer asked me to leave the pots off so he could mount them remotely. I thought "Hell yeah! That's 12 connections I don't have to solder." Then I remebered I had to test the board before I could ship it. I had to attach the pots with just a dab of solder, so they could be easily removed.

For the new design, each pot has two sets of pads. The ~0.2"-center pads for the pot and, just behind those, pads for AMP 0.1" 3-pin header. After reading this discussion, I think I'll just make that standard. This would be an affordable solution for the down-the-road pot failure replacement - Just cut the old pot off and use a standard header.
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