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Moon Modular repair in the US....
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Author Moon Modular repair in the US....
kgd
Hello everyone.
I have a Moon 501d that needs a repair. I am US based and hoping to not ship it abroad. Shipping in the States is fine. Any suggestions. Thanks for your time.
diophantine
You may want to ask Noisebug first, given that they are their US distributor. There may be a preferred one here in the states, or they can work something out.
JohnLRice
What sort of repair does your 501D need?
kgd
Hello again.
Good point on contacting Noisebug. I will see what they say.

JLR, the sync switch is entirely disconnected from the PCB. The 501d just took an international flight in a road case, so it's hard for me to say that is the only problem. My guess is that the sync being disconnected is the biggest problem, but it would probably be good to have it calibrated too.
My guess is that it took some shock impacts while being loaded in to the belly of multiple aircraft.....
That or customs poked around a little too much.
JLR, I am a Western Washington resident as well. If you know anyone around, let me know. I live in Olympia...
Thanks everyone.
Xero
i've had similar things seemingly happen to me - there's a lot of components rigidly mounted from the circuit board to the front panel on these things, a smack in the wrong way can most definitely break a trace or two....

I've gotten used to fixing stuff like that myself these days, if you were nearer by, i'd probably just help you out!

I agree, contact noisebug. Worst case, email Gert. He's always super responsive when i've had to email him.
JohnLRice
kgd wrote:
H I am a Western Washington resident as well. If you know anyone around, let me know. I live in Olympia...
Thanks everyone.
Hi neighbor! I would strongly suggest contacting Dave Brown at https://modularsynthesis.com/ He is an expert at modular repair and restoration, is a really nice guy, has reasonable rates and lives just south of you in Portland OR. thumbs up He has some experience with Moon products as well, although I can't remember if he has a 501D or not so tell him if he needs photos or test measurements of a working 501D he is welcome to contact me. cool
kgd
Thanks everyone! All of this is very helpful.
cornutt
kgd wrote:

JLR, the sync switch is entirely disconnected from the PCB.


This is why I dislike controls and jacks being mounted directly on the module's main board. I understand why it's done; there are many cost, manufacturing and packaging constraints to consider. But I still don't like it.
JohnLRice
Moon typically connects toggle switches to the PCBs using short pieces of bare wire. With the 501D, once the soldering iron is hot this 501D sync switch repair might only take 5 seconds since there shouldn't be any need for disassembly of the module? I haven't seen what kgd's situation looks like though and if there was any PCB damage etc. I'm assuming that since the wires are often just tack-soldered on, that maybe the solder joints weren't the best to begin with and then vibration cracked them off? hmmm..... Here's a picture of one of mine:
kgd
Yeah, that's right where it's gotten disconnected. Thanks for the pic, JLR. My PCB looks ok, so I think I'm just going to try myself. Still trying to decide if I should remove the front panel for easy access to everything. It's a bit of a tight space. Only thing I am missing is the bare wire, but that's easy to remedy. I think the hardest part will be getting the old solder cleaned off...
JohnLRice
kgd wrote:
Only thing I am missing is the bare wire, but that's easy to remedy. I think the hardest part will be getting the old solder cleaned off...
hmmm..... So the little bits of wire are missing? eek! hmmm..... Do you know for sure that the Sync used to work? It just seems odd and very unlikely that all three pieces of wire had bad enough solder joints on both the PCB solder pads and switch switch lugs that they would have all fallen off?! Can you post a picture please, I'm very curious. Also, there is no need to clean off any old solder, at least on the switch lugs, but you'd probably need to remove existing solder on the PCB to pass the wires through if the holes are closed off.

Had you previously owned this VCO or was it a recent new or used purchase?
kgd
Yeah, they are all three broken off. Who knows what goes on when customs and TSA types start poking around. And really, the case takes major impacts nearly everytime I fly with it. Its a 10u ATA mixer case. Not sure I can do better. One time I picked up the case in baggage claim and it sounded like it was filled with sand. All the modules had been unscrewed from the rack mount and rather than screw them back in, they just put them all back willy-nilly and closed the case back up. All the modules were loose and bouncing around. I had to put a lot of them back together as knobs and sliders had come undone as well. Another time, travelling abroad, my entire synth was sprayed witj some kind of gooey pesticide. That took a lot of cleaning to get it off. They even sprayed the underside, so all over the PCBs. Good times!!
kgd
And the 501d I bought new a couple years ago. But, its been in the case for every flight, so as far as I am concerned, the thing is STRONG AND RESILIENT. Its taken more hits than I know of. I have been flying with it for as long as I have had it and this is the first time its been hurt.
JohnLRice
eek! I'm shocked at all the abuse your poor synth has had to endure! waah angry

The damaged switch contacts look deliberate and malicious to me! Like a flat blade screwdriver was forced through them. I can't think of how this would happened accidentally! seriously, i just don't get it To repair this properly it would be best to disassemble the module, at least partially. I'll post a couple pictures in a minute.

I'd be interested in seeing pictures of your case and how it's set up. Also stories of your touring adventures would be interesting and educational, if you feel like sharing with the folks at home! hihi
JohnLRice
To do this repair all you probably need to do is to remove the two oscillator boards.

There are 4 Phillips screws with lock washers holding the first one on and then 4 stand-offs holding the second one on. Remove the screws and then VERY GENTLY pry it off the two multi-pin connectors. These grip strongly so take your time going back and forth a little bit at a time. It will take a fairly strong pulling force but be sure to be very controlled about it so that it doesn't suddenly come apart at an angle and bend a bunch of pins! d'oh! Dead Banana

Then remove the 4 stand-offs using a small Crescent wrench or pliers etc and pry off the second oscillator board.


With the oscillator boards off you'll be able to easily get to the solder pads for the switches. (circled in red here)


Use a soldering iron and some solder-wick to clean up the pads and then clean off the switch lugs enough to get the old wire bits off. (just heat and drag the soldering iron tip across the lugs). Then use some uninsulated solid buss wire * to remake the connections by passing the wire through the PCB holes and soldering to the switch lugs first, then solder to the PCB second. *Cut your buss wire pieces pretty long, like 6" or more so you can hold onto them easily and not burn your fingers. hihi

Then reassemble, again being very careful with the multi-pin connectors.

I suggest you try this repair project yourself since you are traveling a lot with your modular and it's getting some serious abuse, so having some basic soldering skills and tools with you might save you at a remote gig if something simple is broken! thumbs up Get some practice now while you are home and not under pressure so you can handle a repair with less stress at a gig. Om

Here's my favorite soldering video. It's old but good!


I was going to list a bunch of preferred soldering tools and accessories but . . . to get your feet wet a cheap starter kit might be good if you don't want to invest a lot of money at first. I haven't tried this kit but it's rated pretty good.
https://smile.amazon.com/Tabiger-Soldering-110V-Adjustable-Temperature -Welding/dp/B01H1IFT54/

Here's some buss wire I randomly selected:
https://smile.amazon.com/Modern-Findings-Tinned-Copper-Wire/dp/B01IRUC P84/
kgd
Wow! This is amazing. Thanks so much for the visuals and the in depth description. This is great.
I realized once I sat down with it that I would have to take it apart some. There's no way to reach the solder pads otherwise. But, seeing it in the pictures makes it much easier to digest.
I have a bit of solder experience, but just making cables really, so this should be fun and sweaty. And yes! That video is my favorite soldering how to video as well. I find the instructor comforting, yet informative, with just the right amount of authority in his voice.
I will post some pictures of my case tomorrow, but its nothing too impressive. I'll try to zoom in on the damage it absorbs. Lots of dents and scrapes, but it keeps on working. That said, I have done a couple of things to it that have helped. The first time I traveled with it, the screws in my rack frames had vibrated loose, as had all the screws holding the modules into the rack frame. Some screws in the ATA case had vibrated loose as well.
So, for the screws in the ATA case and the rack frames, I used Loctite for a little extra grip. I haven't had a problem with those screws since and they have made it through at least 20 flights since I added the Loctite. For the modules, I used lock washers. Yes, it definitely adds some serious rack rash, but I am not a big resale guy, so it doesn't bother me. Those hold great as long as Customs Types don't unscrew them and leave them unscrewed.
Ok, pictures of the case tomorrow.
Thanks again to everyone who has offered up advice and thanks JLR for the in depth look at the work ahead.
Xero
if you use some more flexible wire, I bet you can probably prevent the problem from re-occurring.
kgd
Hello Zero.
I had that same thought. Think I will try something with a little flexibility. That said, the more I look at it, the more I think someone cut the connections. The break is too perfect and the bare wire is still soldered to both the terminals on the switch and the solder pads on the PCB. It's hard for me to believe that bare wire snapped in half on an impact......

Here are some pictures of my case, as requested...
It's been a great case. I've flown at least 20 times with it and it's taken A LOT of abuse in that time. The only times the synth has needed fixing has been due to TSA and Customs Agents doing stupid stuff to it. Left alone, the case is solid and tough.
The case is a 10u mixer case made by Pro-x with Synthesizers.com rack frames installed. As mentioned above, After my first flight with it, I used Loctite on all the internal screws in the case and on all the screws on thethat keep the .com rack frame together. For power, I installed Analog Craftsman bus boards. Those things are GREAT. Very low profile and surprisingly sturdy. They took a lot of hits when TSA/Customs unscrewed all my modules and just threw the modules back in the case without screws attached. All the modules, screws, and lock washers were loose in the case and slamming around on the bus board. They are still operating perfectly. When I installed the bus board, I used rubber grommets between the floor of the case and the bus board PCB. I think that has helped a lot. Can't prove it, but I believe it.
The modules are screwed into the rack frame with lock washers. As I said above, this multiplies rack rash by about 1000%, but the lock washers keep the screws from vibrating out.
All in all, it's been a great travel solution. Flying with it is always terrifying, especially if you have a window seat with a view of the baggage being loaded into the plane. But, I must say, all of the modules are built strong. They can take WAY more abuse than I thought they could. It's rare for something to break, and when they do, it's almost always due to TSA and Customs "inspection" practices. I wouldn't hesitate to fly with it again. But, one good lesson from this particular event, not having my 501d is a show stopper. I can make due with any other module breaking, but the 501d IS the sound. So, the lesson is, have a backup. I will never travel again without a backup 501d, wrapped in bubble wrap and in my carry-on luggage. Safe and sound......





kgd
Sorry Xero. My stupid phone autocorrected to Zero......
kgd
And for good measure, here's my true favorite soldering how-to video.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vIT4ra6Mo0s&t=213s
JohnLRice
kgd wrote:
Thanks for the images and info! thumbs up Was your 501D at the bottom of the case in that empty space? If so I don't see how the switch contacts could have been cut without removing the module? seriously, i just don't get it I've only transported my modulars locally so I'm glad you've mentioned about screws coming loose, so in the event I need to travel abroad I can know to take steps to make sure everything holds together! cool Here's a couple thoughts:

You might consider having some nice labels made up, or at least use a silver Sharpie etc, to indicate that if someone needs to inspect inside of your case that they should just remove the 8 large screws that attach the rack frames to the case rails? Put a label on both sides of each frame so there is no doubt as to how to remove the frames.


Since the Dotcom frame rails have mounting holes that are threaded all the way through, it should be possible to use screws that are long enough to pass a 1/4" to a 1/2" past the underside of the rail so that you could put a lock washer and nut on the underside, which would save on the rack rash and also might make it more difficult for idiots and assholes that try to remove your modules from the front with just a screw driver. Actually, do this but use security screws so it would take a special driver. I'm sure TSA etc have every security drive bit in existence but it might make them pause long enough to notice your labels indicating which screws to remove in the frames and make it harder to impossible for average Joe jerks at gig who are trying to sabotage your gear? angry cool



kgd
Labels are a good idea. But still, I feel like those guys do whatever they want when they are inspecting stuff. Yeah, the empty spot is where the 501d lives. It's a mystery to me how those connections broke the way they did.
My concern with odd screw driver bits is that if they don't have it, they will force them out and start bending and prying panels. I'd rather just keep it easy for them to do what they are gonna do. Even then, they find a way to brake stuff. On another case I had, they broke a butterfly latch off just by twisting it in the wrong direction.
My concern with the lock washers on the back is that even if they removed them properly, they wouldn't necessarily put them back on, so then the lock washers are just floating around in the case banging in to the components on the modules.
Xero
Heh, maybe some smart-alec TSA agent thought they were "disarming" the bomb and snipped the leads
JohnLRice
kgd wrote:
My concern with odd screw driver bits is that if they don't have it, they will force them out and start bending and prying panels. I'd rather just keep it easy for them to do what they are gonna do.
Arg, true! d'oh! Makes me not even want to tour . . . I'm afraid if they ruined my gear and I was in the wrong kind of mood I'd try to "ruin" them and then spend the rest of my life in prison, if I survived the initial beating! MY ASS IS BLEEDING Dead Banana
kgd
It is definitely a bit of a gamble to fly with these things, and while I have written here about my nightmare stories, the modules hold up. They are not nearly as fragile as I thought. Knobs come loose, screws come loose, jacks come loose, but the things survive. Most of the time.
It's a little scary watching the case go down the conveyor belt, but things usually turn out ok in the end. I wouldn't let it stop you from traveling and touring. It is terrifying to leave your beloved synth in the hands of ham-fisted brutes, but getting to play out in places is definitely worth the day of stress. Vaya con dios, ya know?
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