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5U Rack Rail Compatibility: .Com, MOTM, and Oakley
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Author 5U Rack Rail Compatibility: .Com, MOTM, and Oakley
phasebash
Greetings,

I see a thread relating to .Com and MOTM cabinet compatibility:
https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6598

This is great and helps a lot, but I'm unsure how this effects rack rail compatibility. Both .Com and MOTM have their own rail systems (the QCR8 and MOTM-19a respectively), while Oakley has modules displayed on their site in rack rails but does not indicate a model number or where they can be obtained.

In short, if one wants to create a 19" case full of 5U modules, what are one's options with regards to rack rails? Can .Com modules be placed in the MOTM rack? Can MOTM modules be placed in the .Com rack?

In the end, I don't care if I need to use multiple rail types (although something compatible would be preferred).

Rock on. w00t
bwhittington
Dotcom rails do not work with MOTM and vice versa. The spacing is quite different.

Oakley is compatible with MOTM, as is Modcan, a bunch of DIY panels, and probably others. The Dotcom rails are basically for anything with Moog-format flanged panels or similar spacing: STG, SSL, MegaOhm, Macbeth, etc.

I can smell a flurry of John Rice's pretty pictures coming. lol

Cheers,
Brian
zerosum
Quote:
Can MOTM modules be placed in the .Com rack?


Yeah but only two of the screw holes will line up, they wont line up on both the left and right, just left or right.
So yes a MOTM module will fit in there but it's not ideal.

Another thing you can do is drill holes in a dotcom module so that they will line up on MOTM rails, which works but others may not find it aesthetically pleasing.

I juggle MOTM and dotcom and just prefer to use MOTM rails for MOTM and dotcom for dotcom thumbs up

The good news is that you can use the same power supply, you will just need 6 pin to 4 pin adapter cables or 4 pin to 6 pin cables depending on which power supply you are using.
diophantine
Some of the Oakley modules are available (via Krisp1) in Dotcom/MU format, however.
nerdware
Cabinets for MOTM modules can be made using the Bridechamber rails.
VinceL
To give a bit more flexibility, if you are not a DIYer, Oakley is available assembled from our own Krisp1 in the MOTM format, and he offers many of the Oakley modules in the Dotcom MU format as well.

Sorry, diophantine. I somehow missed your post about the Oakley's being available in MU

Also, Moon modules are in the Dotcom MU format.
phasebash
Awesome, thanks for the info dudes, this helps a bunch This is fun!
synthetic
As the story goes, Arrick and Schrieber met for lunch to discuss their formats and couldn't agree on module width, power connectors, not a single thing. They probably fought over the check and cut each other off on the way out of the parking lot.
zerosum
synthetic wrote:
As the story goes, Arrick and Schrieber met for lunch to discuss their formats and couldn't agree on module width, power connectors, not a single thing. They probably fought over the check and cut each other off on the way out of the parking lot.


lol hihi
And Eric and I took both of their great ideas and combined them hihi
I like the size of dotcom modules, but don't like the side flanges, I prefer the panels to be cut straight across(like MOTM).
But I like the way MOTM handles the power, 4 pin connectors and a power distro instead of the giant power squid that dotcom uses.

Both are brilliant systems and I love them both.
BTG
arise!

I like dotcom cabinets but I'm not sure I'm excited about how they screw into bare wood instead of machine screws. Aside from the 8U rack rails from dotcom do I have any other options for dotcom compatible railing?
JohnLRice
BTG wrote:
arise!

I like dotcom cabinets but I'm not sure I'm excited about how they screw into bare wood instead of machine screws. Aside from the 8U rack rails from dotcom do I have any other options for dotcom compatible railing?

Tony at Analog Craftsman has similar frames to the DotCom ones. They are about the same price so deciding which to go with would come down to personal preferences over the differences in color and design. http://analogcraftsman.com/?product=19-x-8mu-stainless-steel-modular-r ack-2

He also sells wooden studio cases with machined rails in various sizes:
http://analogcraftsman.com/?product=studio-case

JohnLRice
bwhittington wrote:
I can smell a flurry of John Rice's pretty pictures coming. lol
d'oh! Sorry I let you down on this! Mr. Green
boothnavy
JohnLRice wrote:
bwhittington wrote:
I can smell a flurry of John Rice's pretty pictures coming. lol
d'oh! Sorry I let you down on this! Mr. Green


only took you 6 years hihi
JohnLRice
boothnavy wrote:
JohnLRice wrote:
bwhittington wrote:
I can smell a flurry of John Rice's pretty pictures coming. lol
d'oh! Sorry I let you down on this! Mr. Green


only took you 6 years hihi
Driving
Rex Coil 7
JohnLRice wrote:
BTG wrote:
arise!

I like dotcom cabinets but I'm not sure I'm excited about how they screw into bare wood instead of machine screws. Aside from the 8U rack rails from dotcom do I have any other options for dotcom compatible railing?

Tony at Analog Craftsman has similar frames to the DotCom ones. They are about the same price so deciding which to go with would come down to personal preferences over the differences in color and design. http://analogcraftsman.com/?product=19-x-8mu-stainless-steel-modular-r ack-2

He also sells wooden studio cases with machined rails in various sizes:
http://analogcraftsman.com/?product=studio-case

(to member *BTG)I looked for some type of prefabricated mounting rails for Dot Com/MU format for a while, even posted a thread here in this subforum asking for suggestions ........ nothin' but crickets.

My hope is that someone somewhere will come up with a Vector Rail type solution, with sliding nuts. That is what I use in my small Euro cab, and although the sliding nut routine can be a little tricky, it works! I just got in the habit of putting an even number of extra nuts under the panels of modules, so if I ever want to place something other than what is in a given location, this practice makes certain there will be nuts available.

But this whole "big vector rail" thing is nothing but some useless dreamin' goin' on. Since I was unable to locate fabricated metal module rails (and short of completely converting over to MOTM) I just ran a drill bit through the pre-drilled module mounting screw holes in my wooden cab and installed what are known as "T-Nuts" (or otherwise known as "blind nuts"). It was only a little bit of a pain in the ass to get done, but worth it in the long run.

My only regret is that after I got the entire job done, t-nuts all installed and glued into place for extra measure .... I discovered that t-nuts in 6-32 configurations are available in stainless steel. BLAST! I used zinc plated steel ones, which will be fine, I'm sure.

BUT I WISH I'D USED STAINLESS DAMMIT!!







It isn't too hard to get done, and when finished you have a cab that will withstand many hundreds of module moves. You're also given far far greater freedom of choice when it comes to fastener selections (anything from anodized aluminum allen headed screws to phillips headed stainless steel screws, and anything/anywhere in between those two paradigms).

I go simple (heheh .... for the moment) and use phillips head stainless backed up with really nice fitting nylon washers to prevent screw hash on the modules' finish.



I've not tried it, but it seems it is possible to color the nylon washers using clothing dye ("Rit" dye). So black washers could be had if you're willing to do a little cookin' in the kitchen .... the dye is mixed with vinegar and boiled, then the washers are immersed. At least I believe that is the correct method. Well, whatever the recipe is ....

Still, I wish there were stainless lengths of MU mounting rails ... or better yet, the elusive Vector rails and sliding nuts in 6-32 for large modules.

Talk about lazy as hell .... I own a mill! (pic taken in 2012 a few days after I got it)



One would think I could just crank out my own rails. And I suppose I could.

Meh .... t-nuts work fine. lol lol
JohnLRice
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
My hope is that someone somewhere will come up with a Vector Rail type solution, with sliding nuts. That is what I use in my small Euro cab, and although the sliding nut routine can be a little tricky, it works! I just got in the habit of putting an even number of extra nuts under the panels of modules, so if I ever want to place something other than what is in a given location, this practice makes certain there will be nuts available.

But this whole "big vector rail" thing is nothing but some useless dreamin' goin' on.
Check out Makerbeam? cool
https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=163844



Rex Coil 7
Hooo--leeee--EEE CRAP!! JOHN!! L.!! RICE!!!!!!

Just what the Dr. ordered!

Checked it out, did some math. 4x35" pieces (900mm lengths x4) would cost less than Vector rail .... that much MakerBeam is $33.60 at the current exchange rate.

"Over-lip" is only 0.200" .... max amount is 0.400" so the MakerBeam will not hit the wood rails. Center of the mounting screw hole on an 8.75" tall panel is 0.175" from the top (or bottom) edge of a panel, MakerBeam has a little over 0.200" from it's edge to it's screw hole centerline, so it will fit just fine.

The screws are 3mm diameter (just over 0.120"). By comparison a 6-32 is around 0.140" .... so the mounting screws for that stuff would TOTALLY work. And it's all stainless steel as well!

It would be no more difficult or challenging to mount in a case or cab than Vector rail is, and MakerBeam seems to be really very sturdy stuff, as well.

See ... this stuff here is the answer for building a mixed format cabinet. With it's sliding nuts it wouldn't be any problem mounting MOTM in the same row with MU/DotCom modules. If there's some weird space left over, make a filler panel. You could just make the panel, and drill the mounting holes right in the center without worrying at all whether the hole will line up ... the nuts slide!

I may have to make a new cabinet at some point, just to build a "proof of concept" unit that would use MakerBeam rails. Geez, making new synth panels would be easier as well, you can place the mounting holes ~wherever~ due to the sliding nuts.

Damned nice find, John!

Thanks tons!
Rex Coil 7
Geez .. Amazon has MakerBeam by the piles.

It seems from the thread you linked that a number of MU/5U people not only know about that stuff, but even wanted to get into using it (in other words ... ~interested!~).

I wonder why when I posted a thread about locating MU rails no one even bothered? Dayum, bruthuhs .... whassup?

(Heheh .... jes kiddin' around .... ).
JohnLRice
Some thoughts on Makerbeam:

* You've probably already looked at their site, https://www.makerbeam.com/ . There is also the larger sized MakerBeamXL and OpenBeam. They probably wont line up perfectly like the regular MakerBeam but it might be worth it to buy the shortest piece of the larger sizes just to see if they would work.

* Important: It seems that tolerances have slipped over time or maybe Makerbeam is made at different factories? I bought a small order of beams, brackets, t-nuts, and wing bolts to try out the system and to maybe use for a project and then I never went ahead with it. Then about a year later I decided on a larger project and ordered some more beams and t-nuts. With the original batch the t-nuts fit into the beams like a glove (or I guess like fingers into a glove? hmmm..... hihi ) and the wing bolts worked easily. But with the second batch the opening in the beams were slightly larger and t-nuts were larger too. I didn't realize this was an issue until I was well into the project and ran into some issues. The newer t-nuts almost didn't fit into the older beams and I had to use a small Allen wrench in the screw hole to pull them through the channel, with a fair amount of force. And then the wing bolts from the first batch were a little too small to lock into the new beams, making them near impossible to use. angry
The moral of this story: plan your project well and buy everything you'll need plus extras ALL AT ONCE from the same vendor to hopefully get all your parts from the same manufacturing facility/production run. thumbs up

* With MU (and MOTM) it's easy to gauge how many t-nuts you'll need and there is room to pre-insert the maximum t-nuts so you'll always have as many as you'll need. With eurorack though you can't do this so designing an easy way to get more t-nuts into the rails at a later date will make you happy. I used my MakerBeam parts for a eurorack briefcase and of course I didn't design it to be taken apart so that's why I used some wing bolts and acorn cap nuts in a few places . . . .too bad they didn't always work because of the tolerance changes . . Dead Banana

* Make sure you get the correct screw length. With MakerBeams and t-nuts, there isn't anywhere for the screw to extend into if it's too long. Before you buy screws in bulk test for the length you'll need based on your panel thickness.

* Depending on the diameter of the mounting holes in your MU panels, the MakerBeam 3mm screws may or may not work to your satisfaction. When I was considering using the Makerbeam stuff for a MU project I noticed that Synthesizers.com and Moon Modular use different sized holes, with Moon's being larger. I think the Moon modules would have held in OK but it might have looked funky in places.


I have a tin of Befco Knurlies screws that i was considering using but they can almost slip through the holes in the Moon panels:


* If you go with the Makerbeam screws or other allen/hex types ones I found it a lot easier and less fiddly getting the screws started with a modified wrench. I cut off the short end and put some heat shrink tubing and a switch handle cover on one end. thumbs up
Rex Coil 7
Good info, all around, John. Advice from an experienced person is usually the best kind.

Regarding the standards changing .... that's an odd one! One would think there'd be a "MkII" or something ... y'know ... at least SOME kind of ~noises~ made about the dimensional changes within the catalog.

I wasn't aware that Moon used a module mounting hole that is something other than 0.170" (spec per a CAD drawing that Roger Arrick drew up in 1999 and has since published on the Synthesizers.Com website).

This may be helpful, here's my own observations of some dimensions (with the exception of the Dot Com module mounting hole, source credited above):

0.170" = Synthesizers.Com module mounting screw hole ID.
0.235" = Head OD of M3mm stainless steel Phillip's head screw.
0.270" = OD of M3mm nylon flat washer.
0.260" = Head OD of #6 black oxide wood screw (Dot Com systems).
0.265" = Head OD of 6-32 stainless steel Phillip's head screw.
0.310" = OD of #6 nylon flat washer.


MakerBeam is pushin' these really cool (ugly?) looking ~square~ headed allen screws for their assemblies. They look pretty neat ... well ... within their own universe so to speak. I don't know how they'd look among a crowd of synth modules, but all on their own and used in a context where ~skwair hedz iz kewl~ they look very unique (as in *good*).

I wonder if using screws other than what MakerBeams offers would be a better choice? Between Bolt Depot, Fastener Express, and several other vendors there's certainly plenty of sources available for M3mm screws.

There's also MICRORAX ... another make of construction rails that (of course) uses their own designs of nuts and rails. Rail seems to be right in there when it comes to cost per foot. Screw and nut designs .... well, we're back to M3mm stuff again. But the nuts are a two-hole "nut plate" that slides into the railing. Screws seem to be nuttin' special, just plain old M3mm socket head (aka "Allen screw") ... so we're right back to 0.235" head OD (or there abouts).

MICRORAX (nuts and bolts and stuffage) link = http://www.microrax.com/Hardware-c6/

MICRORAX (rails baby!) link = http://www.microrax.com/Profiles-Beams-Rail-c3/

Both MakerBeam and MicroRax use a 10mm x 10mm beam (aka ... "profile" or "rail" or "beam" .... geez people, pick one already!). So when it comes to working out rail placement you're working with the same centers, regardless of manufacturer.

BTW, MICRORAX is a "Maydin Murica" product, right up in the Pacific Northwest, the parent company is "Twintec" owned and operated by a pair of identical twin brothers. So at least you're not dealing with exchange rates and international shipping and so on.

MICRORAX rails are not end-drilled (there's no hole down the center), so mounting their rails into a cabinet may require some other piece of their hardware to accomplish the task.

There's also "8020" rails, but those are large and costly. I remember seeing a complete Synthesizers.Com system made entirely of 8020 rail ... the whole damned thing (built by Dot Com as a special order for someone with a lot of money and fame). I recall Roger commenting on the high cost of using 8020 railing.

In summary, I don't know if any of this stuff is going to change the way MU/5U/MOTM systems are designed, constructed, or offered ... but it is nice to know that what I initially thought was a pipe dream is actually a reality. It's use can certainly make the DIYer's life a bit simpler, especially if mixing formats is in the design sheets.

Thanks for all of your help, John.

This concludes my morning bla bla bla ...

Brian ... (that other Brian). lol
JohnLRice
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
I wasn't aware that Moon used a module mounting hole that is something other than 0.170" (spec per a CAD drawing that Roger Arrick drew up in 1999 and has since published on the Synthesizers.Com website).

This may be helpful, here's my own observations of some dimensions (with the exception of the Dot Com module mounting hole, source credited above):

0.170" = Synthesizers.Com module mounting screw hole ID.
DWIW this is what my digital caliper here is saying:
0.164" = Synthesizers.Com module mounting screw hole ID
0.175" = COTK module mounting screw hole ID
0.197" = Moon Modular module mounting screw hole ID
Rex Coil 7
JohnLRice wrote:
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
I wasn't aware that Moon used a module mounting hole that is something other than 0.170" (spec per a CAD drawing that Roger Arrick drew up in 1999 and has since published on the Synthesizers.Com website).

This may be helpful, here's my own observations of some dimensions (with the exception of the Dot Com module mounting hole, source credited above):

0.170" = Synthesizers.Com module mounting screw hole ID.
DWIW this is what my digital caliper here is saying:
0.164" = Synthesizers.Com module mounting screw hole ID
0.175" = COTK module mounting screw hole ID
0.197" = Moon Modular module mounting screw hole ID
The trouble with using calipers (digital or manual) when measuring holes that are small is that the tongs (aka "inside small jaws") used to measure inside dimensions have a flat edge. That flat edge will not permit the ID Tongs to actually extend into the outer most curve of that inner diameter. You're essentially drawing a square inside of a circle, and then calling the dimensions of the square the same as the inner diameter of the circle.



To accurately measure holes that are this small, a "small hole gauge" is one way to achieve much more accurate measurements. To add more lumps in the gravy, digital calipers can be less accurate than manual ones (all depends on how well made the electronics are, and the state of the battery's charge). I only use my digital calipers when I need Metric figures, and I'm too damned lazy to use my Imperial calipers and just use a calculator to arrive at Metric figures.

Back to small hole measurements. For instance, I just measured a ~never been installed~ (so the screw hole is still in good shape, it's not hogged out larger, nor is it squished down smaller) Dot Com module mounting hole. I used calipers only for these measurements:

*** Digital caliper = 0.163"+
*** Manual Caliper "A" = 0.164"
*** Manual Caliper "B" = 0.164"+

But, when using a small hole gauge properly fitted into that very same hole, then using the main "OD" jaws of the manual dial calipers to measure the small hole gauge, I read .....

*** Caliper "A" 0.169"
*** Caliper "B" 0.169"+

Just for shits-n-giggles I also used a manual 0"-1" micrometer to read the small hole gauge, I saw 0.1695" (5-ten thousandths short of 0.170")

CAD drawing spec calls for 0.170". Going by what I see on my measuring gear, combined with what spec calls for, I'm going with 0.170".

At the end of the day it really doesn't matter (0.164" vs 0.170") .... we're only talking about 6 bloody thousandths of an inch (two human hairs or so). Haahaa!

lol lol

My point was to call attention to the fact that dial calipers (digital or manual) are not the best tool to use when measuring small holes ("small holes" .. meaning anything less than 1/4" or 6mm). If it comes down to fitting something within a "close fit" then avoid using calipers for small holes, and at the very least use a small hole gauge, then use your calipers to measure the small hole gauge.

Sorry if I came across as nit-picky (but, good workmanship is all about picking nits!).
Ockeghem
JohnLRice wrote:


He also sells wooden studio cases with machined rails in various sizes:
http://analogcraftsman.com/?product=studio-case



love This would do nicely, I like that walnut.
xerxl
I think all Euro rails should work with .com. I tried the Tip-top Z-rails and they work fine with the modules I tried. Which is nice because the Z-rails have this neat aluminum lip that lines things up nicely at the top and bottom.

Cheers
JohnLRice
JohnLRice wrote:
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
I wasn't aware that Moon used a module mounting hole that is something other than 0.170" (spec per a CAD drawing that Roger Arrick drew up in 1999 and has since published on the Synthesizers.Com website).

This may be helpful, here's my own observations of some dimensions (with the exception of the Dot Com module mounting hole, source credited above):

0.170" = Synthesizers.Com module mounting screw hole ID.
DWIW this is what my digital caliper here is saying:
0.164" = Synthesizers.Com module mounting screw hole ID
0.175" = COTK module mounting screw hole ID
0.197" = Moon Modular module mounting screw hole ID
Revisiting this because . . . OCD is a lonely bastard! meh hihi Plus I just got some small hole gauges and a digital micrometer so FWIW. . . spinning

0.16535" / 4.2 mm = Synthesizers.Com module mounting screw hole ID
0.17715" / 4.5 mm = COTK module mounting screw hole ID
0.19685" / 5 .0 mm = Moon Modular module mounting screw hole ID
Rex Coil 7
Nice work, John. Once you develop a feel for how to adjust your own personal set of small hole gauges you'll learn to trust measurements more and more. How one person adjusts the gauge differs from how the next person does. Same goes with using a micrometer.

Looks like you're having fun with your new measuring gadgets. Why, that's always a good thing!

hihi
JohnLRice
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Nice work, John. Once you develop a feel for how to adjust your own personal set of small hole gauges you'll learn to trust measurements more and more. How one person adjusts the gauge differs from how the next person does. Same goes with using a micrometer.

Looks like you're having fun with your new measuring gadgets. Why, that's always a good thing!

hihi
thumbs up I feel (see what i did there? Cheesy! ) like I need to get a block with precision holes in it so I can practice and develop reliable skillz. hmmm.....
Rex Coil 7
JohnLRice wrote:
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Nice work, John. Once you develop a feel for how to adjust your own personal set of small hole gauges you'll learn to trust measurements more and more. How one person adjusts the gauge differs from how the next person does. Same goes with using a micrometer.

Looks like you're having fun with your new measuring gadgets. Why, that's always a good thing!

hihi
thumbs up I feel (see what i did there? Cheesy! ) like I need to get a block with precision holes in it so I can practice and develop reliable skillz. hmmm.....
Outstanding idea. Wise magic, surely. cool
kcd06
Metrology and OCD are a combination that is lovely if you are working for NASA, and absolute hell if you're trying to get the prototype built.
Rex Coil 7
kcd06 wrote:
Metrology and OCD are a combination that is lovely if you are working for NASA, and absolute hell if you're trying to get the prototype built.
Especially with synth modules. Is it within 10 thou? THEN IT'S DONE! MOVE ON!!!

lol thumbs up
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