Frac vs. Euro -- not asking 'why'

Blacet, Metalbox, Synthasonic, PAiA and the rest.... a frac frenzy!

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ektoquip
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Post by ektoquip » Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:35 pm

drumsofd00m wrote: the rack ears in Frac are 2" wide EACH, which is QUITE a waste of space if they're not used for mults or other custom stuff
That's an interesting bit of math all by itself. So a 'standard' frac rack is 10 wide (10 x 1.5=)15 inches. So yup, that'd be 2" of open space each side in a 19" rack.

In fairness, in a 19" rack, the ears are already 1" each, leaving 17" for the chassis area. So the frac could be 11 wide or (11 x 1.5 =) 16.5". But i don't think that's standard "lab grade" practice or hardware.

Of course, a guy with a saw, some wood, and some glue can always whip up a cabinet and basically ignore all those standards. Then everything fits fine.

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Post by BugBrand » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:20 am

^^^ another reason I designed my own frame. Seemed very wasteful horizontally (& depth-wise)

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fracmonkey
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Post by fracmonkey » Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:10 pm

Of course, both Paia, Blacet et al are commited to the DIY customer as well as the assembled market. This requires the limited use of surface mount and roomier pcb layouts to ensure customer assembly success. The typical euro compactness is not an option for this product. Also, some Blacet modules are quite complex compared to the more basic design of most euro.

Only two of current Blacet modules are six inches deep. The rest vary from one inch to 5.5" deep with new designs running in the four inch range.

The full chassis rak-3 (now discontinued) is 8" deep to accomodate a few older modules along with room for the power supply and distribution buss.

The current "bare rak" has no depth, being just the front end rails and side supports. These can rack ears or handles. The handles can be turned around and used to mount the rak into a box of the users choice; about 17" wide.

Choosing some of the more compact modules would allow the customer to size the box quite compactly, although possibly not to the euro experience. Still, smaller than a closet for sure.

"Flimsyness" is descriptive of the Paia rak, which uses an "L" shaped rail of very thin steel. The Blacet rail is "U" shaped aluminum and is quite strong.

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Post by ektoquip » Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:21 pm

fracmonkey wrote: "Flimsyness" is descriptive of the Paia rak, which uses an "L" shaped rail of very thin steel. The Blacet rail is "U" shaped aluminum and is quite strong.
Doesn't Paia also use those 1/8" pins for patching? Maybe that's part of why they didn't need much rigidity.
Or... maybe they're just cheap...

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Post by Rob_C » Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:19 pm

ektoquip wrote:
fracmonkey wrote: "Flimsyness" is descriptive of the Paia rak, which uses an "L" shaped rail of very thin steel. The Blacet rail is "U" shaped aluminum and is quite strong.
Doesn't Paia also use those 1/8" pins for patching? Maybe that's part of why they didn't need much rigidity.
Or... maybe they're just cheap...

EQ
PAIA frac racks have metal tops, bottoms, sides and backs which add to the rigidity of the "L" shaped mounting rails and provide shielding.

PAIA modules use 3.5mm jacks. Only the PAIA vintage equipment from the 70s and the 80s used a tip pin jack for control voltages (and 3.5mm jacks for audio). And those did not mount in a frac rack.

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Post by drumsofd00m » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:11 pm

fracmonkey wrote:Of course, both Paia, Blacet et al are commited to the DIY customer as well as the assembled market. This requires the limited use of surface mount and roomier pcb layouts to ensure customer assembly success. The typical euro compactness is not an option for this product (...)
Yep, and I salute you for that and hope it stays like that forever. To a Wiard 300 user the depth of other modules makes no difference anyway.
"Flimsyness" is descriptive of the Paia rak, which uses an "L" shaped rail of very thin steel. The Blacet rail is "U" shaped aluminum and is quite strong.
Maybe we can come together at saying that flimsyness is relative. I've owned both two of yours and a Paia, and as I said I've known people to bend their (Blacet) rails by pushing too hard, just leave me that. Then as Rob_C and I mentioned there's the metal sheets that come with Paia racks. And neither will ever be as sturdy as e.g. the bars in a Wiard or Hinton rack frame. But then of course those are much heavier. It's really all just a matter of pros & cons, I like them all.

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Post by fracmonkey » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:59 pm

The Paia raks are improved by the covers. But I think these are optional or used to be.

I remain very skeptical that anyone has bent a Blacet rail in "ordinary use". I have seen a very crushed unit that that encountered some unknown horror while in the postal system.

While people can vary in their treatment of equipment, a simple test placing a 10 lb weight in the center of a bare rail suspended in a chassis, with no modules, results in a barely noticeable deflection. When the weight is removed, the rail returns to normal.

Have you ever personally seen one of these bent rails?

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Post by e-grad » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:44 am

fracmonkey wrote:I remain very skeptical that anyone has bent a Blacet rail in "ordinary use".
My thoughts exactly.

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Post by drumsofd00m » Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:33 am

fracmonkey wrote:The Paia raks are improved by the covers. But I think these are optional or used to be.

I remain very skeptical that anyone has bent a Blacet rail in "ordinary use". I have seen a very crushed unit that that encountered some unknown horror while in the postal system.

While people can vary in their treatment of equipment, a simple test placing a 10 lb weight in the center of a bare rail suspended in a chassis, with no modules, results in a barely noticeable deflection. When the weight is removed, the rail returns to normal.

Have you ever personally seen one of these bent rails?
I owned one. And you say "ordinary use" while I used the wording "violently enough" and "TOO hard". How can we come together if you use different measures than I did when I made my initial statement?

I also said "SLIGHTLY concave shape", thinking of about 1.5 mm or so in the middle (and yes, it was twice that in a Paia rack I also owned). And last but not least, while the Wiard 300 frames I used as a counter-example are x times more solid, the faceplates of those 6U modules themselves are slightly bendy/ "flimsy" themselves WHEN compared to a 3U Wiard 1200 or Blacet faceplate. Again, IF you patch TOO hard... which however sometimes happens with an unlucky combination of tight jacks, fat plugs (we all know that 3.5mm plugs can vary a lot in feel between mfg's, unlike TT for example) and inconsiderate use (as in pushing against the faceplete when removing the tightly fitting plug, out of fear of damaging the jack or whatever, but with the result of not providing a counter-force/ pulling force to the push during insertion).

Or maybe the seller just ran his car over it. Whatever. I didn't criticize your product.

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Post by e-grad » Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:07 pm

:despair:

So if you describe Frac racks as flimsy bcs. if used "violently enough" and "TOO hard" they could slightly bend, those who think these racks are sturdy enough shall not speak out?

Wether "violently enough" nor "TOO hard" are distinctive scales but relative terms. Sometimes if terms are used too hard and violently enough you might even slightly bent any effort to communicate.

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Post by drumsofd00m » Sun Jan 29, 2017 1:13 pm

e-grad wrote::despair:

So if you describe Frac racks as flimsy bcs. if used "violently enough" and "TOO hard" they could slightly bend, those who think these racks are sturdy enough shall not speak out?
No. And that's a loaded question. On the contrary, I tried my best to clarify my wording to prevent a misunderstanding (due to different personal measures) coming into being and sticking around on a forum forever. I'm glad Mr Blacet responded when he disagreed.

You and I are both non-native English speakers. I wish YOU would stop chiming in on every Frac related thread I post in, whether it's discussions or my FS threads, with corrections to my grammar, vocabulary, opinions, hearsay even where it's marked as hearsay, and facts even where you're wrong.
That's why coming from you, and you only, asking (whether I think that) if I describe Frac racks as whatever others should not speak out is a loaded question.
Wether "violently enough" nor "TOO hard" are distinctive scales but relative terms. Sometimes if terms are used too hard and violently enough you might even slightly bent any effort to communicate.
Sorry teacher, but the first sentence is incomplete/ unclear and that it's "bend" with a d.

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Post by e-grad » Sun Jan 29, 2017 1:18 pm

drumsofd00m wrote:I wish YOU would stop chiming in on every Frac related thread I post in, whether it's discussions or my FS threads, with corrections to my grammar, vocabulary, opinions, hearsay even where it's marked as hearsay, and facts even where you're wrong.
Drunk?

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Post by drumsofd00m » Sun Jan 29, 2017 1:26 pm

To end this (hopefully), I should have said that the Blacet Frac rack (as opposed to the Paia Frac rack which JB agrees is "flimsy") is less protected against "abuse" (than more solid frames), but probably sturdy enough for "normal" use in most situations.

The problem here is that normal use and abuse are on a spectrum, not black and white, not least because of variations in plugs. Half of my XXX brand modules have "slightly concave" faceplates. I don't criticize anyone for that, neither makers nor resellers. I just acknowledge that the analog modular world is imperfect and I tried to be detailed about the OP's question.

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Post by drumsofd00m » Sun Jan 29, 2017 1:31 pm

e-grad wrote:
drumsofd00m wrote:I wish YOU would stop chiming in on every Frac related thread I post in, whether it's discussions or my FS threads, with corrections to my grammar, vocabulary, opinions, hearsay even where it's marked as hearsay, and facts even where you're wrong.
Drunk?
Facts. You're a troll. You know that the stress is on the second half of that sentence, so no need to highlight it differently.

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Post by BugBrand » Sun Jan 29, 2017 1:37 pm

Quit it you two or take it somewhere else.

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Post by Kyhotay » Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:00 pm

Time to chime in! I have used the PAiA FRAC Racks with and without covers (I prefer without) as well as the original and RAK-2 Blacet Racks. I don't give a rats ass about "flimsy" or "sturdy." I have not had a problem with either and have owned about a dozen or so between the three. Maybe I'm just not as aggressive in patching?? :hihi:

I do prefer the Blacet only because of the power distribution buss & connectors. I've even used the CONN-2 in my PAiA Racks (hell, I use them in my 4700 cases!). If I could change anything on the RAK-2, it would be to have the power switch on the front, not the rear where it does me no good since I can't reach it.

Rather than bitch and moan as to who makes the better racks, why don't we all just fucking support the few FRAC form-factor manufactures? Or maybe demand more modules from our friends over at SynthCube? They at least actually seem to listen to us.

Jus' sayin'...
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Post by drumsofd00m » Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:06 am

Kyhotay wrote:Rather than bitch and moan as to who makes the better racks, why don't we all just fucking support the few FRAC form-factor manufactures?
Harsh words and a bit of irony: It was Mr Blacet himself who insisted on the distinction and re-used the word "flimsy".

Again, I was really just being meticulous to answer the OP in detail (he did ask for the technical differences to Euro after all), not to derail (haha) any product, as I thought I made clear ("pros & cons ... I like them all").

Can we really put this to rest now? The horse has turned into sausage by now!
Last edited by drumsofd00m on Tue Jan 31, 2017 1:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by ersatzplanet » Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:37 am

You can easily offset Vector, or any standard Eurorack rail that doesn't have a "lip" built in, rail to fit the Frac dimensions. You would have to use sliding nuts I believe.

I remember somebody designing a "universal rail" that could be used to make either a frac row or a Euro row. The rail was shaped something like this:

Image

The two slots were offset such that when you flipped the rail you could use the rail with the slot against the cabinet wall for euro, or offset from the cabin wall for frac. Don't know if it ever got in production.
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Post by BugBrand » Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:04 am

ersatzplanet wrote:..I remember somebody designing a "universal rail" that could be used to make either a frac row or a Euro row. ...
Randal? That story did not end well...

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Post by fracmonkey » Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:51 am

BugBrand wrote:
ersatzplanet wrote:..I remember somebody designing a "universal rail" that could be used to make either a frac row or a Euro row. ...
Randal? That story did not end well...
I remember that but not the outcome. You would probably have to spend big bucks for the extrusion tool and buy a ton of product. Maybe today you could do it in a 3D printer.

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Post by ersatzplanet » Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:53 pm

fracmonkey wrote:
BugBrand wrote:
ersatzplanet wrote:..I remember somebody designing a "universal rail" that could be used to make either a frac row or a Euro row. ...
Randal? That story did not end well...
I remember that but not the outcome. You would probably have to spend big bucks for the extrusion tool and buy a ton of product. Maybe today you could do it in a 3D printer.
Not strictly needed though. All you have to do is use "lipless" rails like Vector, and just mount them at the different positions needed to line up with the screw holes on the front panels.
-James

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Post by e-grad » Wed Feb 01, 2017 4:00 am

ersatzplanet wrote:All you have to do is use "lipless" rails like Vector, and just mount them at the different positions needed to line up with the screw holes on the front panels.
Since the distance of the mounting holes differs you won't be able to swap a Euro module for a Frac module at the very same position. However to swap freely different 3U makes is wanted IMO.

You could use a wooden "mounting rail" without any mounting holes and screw the modules directly into the wood. Such a rack won't be a beauty but it will work - untill the wood is worn out.

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Post by fracmonkey » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:03 am

My first modular used this. You could even make the wood strips replaceable. Wood is pretty cheap.

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Post by emmaker » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:29 pm

I've used both Blacet and PAIA racks without issues. Once you get the rack filled with modules they stiffen up pretty good.

Going to start to add Euro to the synth. I'm just going with single 3U Euro racks and mix them with the single Frac racks I have.

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Post by ersatzplanet » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:57 pm

e-grad wrote:
ersatzplanet wrote:All you have to do is use "lipless" rails like Vector, and just mount them at the different positions needed to line up with the screw holes on the front panels.
Since the distance of the mounting holes differs you won't be able to swap a Euro module for a Frac module at the very same position. However to swap freely different 3U makes is wanted IMO.

You could use a wooden "mounting rail" without any mounting holes and screw the modules directly into the wood. Such a rack won't be a beauty but it will work - untill the wood is worn out.
The problem with this is that many Euro module makers use the maximum height size of the enclosure for the PCB size. The holes being closer to the center on a Frac panel means the wooden mounting rail would probably leave too small a space for many Eurorack PCBs. When I design PCBs for our products, I use 0.4" from the panel edge as a measurement to clear all the rails I know of. With the Frac system mounting holes being 0.3" from the edge of the panel, there is not much room left. I am sure many makers get closer to the edge than I do too.

I imagine it would be easier to just drill holes in the Frac panels to let them work in a Eurorack system. I dod this to all my AS modules to get them to work.
-James

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