Have You Had to Replace Any Panel Pots, Jacks, Switches and LEDs in Your FracRack?

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KSS
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Have You Had to Replace Any Panel Pots, Jacks, Switches and LEDs in Your FracRack?

Post by KSS » Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:29 pm

What the thread title says.
The goal is to discover if being able to easily change Frac panel pots, jacks lamps and switches is important to you?

Which parts did you find needed replacement?
I'm really looking for what actually went bad -if anything- and had to be replaced.

For everybody else, Does the use of modern SMD and 'panel' PCB in Frac result in fewer panel control failures? Have you ever wished you'd been able to change out panel parts as easy as you could if they had individual connectors instead of being all on the same panel PCB ?
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Note for MW Moderators. I'm asking this in multiple threads on purpose. I want to see how the answers differ among the formats. Putting a single post in general modular will not give the result I'm looking for.

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Re: Have You Had to Replace Any Panel Pots, Jacks, Switches and LEDs in Your FracRack?

Post by uniqview » Sun Oct 25, 2020 12:03 am

This is an interesting question. I wanted to respond to circuit design implementation with respect to issues of reliability and maintainability.

I do not believe in SMD for modern synthesizers, FracRak in particular, since I'm building for that format. I certainly do understand all the space and size advantages of SMD, and that it allows compact synthesizers with amazing features in a small physical space. Eurorack being a prime example.

But I have zero interest in SMD for synthesizers under any circumstances whatsoever. For my SDIY modular in FracRak, I think much more like a defense contractor who has to build a system that is maintainable for a very long course of time, 25-50 years. I do not believe SMD offers any form of improvement, if you intend to reliably use your musical devices over a very long course of time, and want to maintain them yourself.

PCBs with SMDs are not really designed to easily be repaired or maintained, they're designed for module-level replacement only: thrown away, like the mobile phone you obtained 18-36 months ago, and suddenly you need a new one. A PCB with through hole devices is much more maintainable. Some SMD assembly is so sophisticated, and the devices so small, that it really takes robotic handlers and automation. Assembly of such PCBs is certainly possible enough through vendors, but not as easily mere individuals. Not impossible, just much more difficult and capital intensive. For 25 years out, one has to kit component replacement spares for future failures, but that's a totally seperate phenomena than having actually repairable boards, and technological means to do so.

There are also much more basic issues with component selection in systems designed for very long life. A key example is electrolytic capacitors. These components are notoriously unreliable, given process, voltage, and temperature. They're cheap, and nearly everyone uses them. But they are common source of power supply and other PCB failures, given enough time.

On the front panel issue, FracRak modules not made with SMD tend to have a PCB mounted at right angles, and the front panel components mounted either directly on the front panel, or as an extension from the PCB. This mounting scheme is different than a PCB behind the panel, which is what Eurorack generally does.

The right angle mount approach allows easy repairs, should something break. Notionally, any damaged front panel components are far more likely to be the 3.5mm jacks, due to the number of insertion and withdrawal cycles going beyond the mechanical limits for the jack. For many of the PAiA FracRak kit designs, the jacks are mounted individually on the front panel, and can easily be replaced as needed.

Of course, this is just my opinion, and I certainly do not mind if others do want to construct systems with SMD. Please enjoy.
Applying Bipolar Junction Transistors for New Sound :hyper:

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Re: Have You Had to Replace Any Panel Pots, Jacks, Switches and LEDs in Your FracRack?

Post by ndkent » Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:37 am

The instance that comes to mind is the front panel printing started flaking off my mini wave. John was with us back then and he was kind enough to send a replacement. It wasn't hard to swap.

I take things as they fail unless there is a known issue with a specific module. John once sent some kind of quick fix for a known fail on an IC and I did the fix.

I've heard of SMDs shorting or a wrong value, never had any fail. No great desire to remove SMD ICs, I'd probably have to watch some videos, but never needed to.

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Re: Have You Had to Replace Any Panel Pots, Jacks, Switches and LEDs in Your FracRack?

Post by e-grad » Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:10 am

KSS wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:29 pm
Which parts did you find needed replacement?
I'm really looking for what actually went bad -if anything- and had to be replaced.
I am in Frac land since almost 20 years and never had any failing pot, jack, switch or LED.

However, the 13600 in the Time Machine reportedly tends to fail.

In my experience the pcb mounted jacks are somewhat picky and don't make good contact with my patch cords (Doepfer).

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Re: Have You Had to Replace Any Panel Pots, Jacks, Switches and LEDs in Your FracRack?

Post by chachi » Sun Oct 25, 2020 12:45 pm

the pots on my super VCA are crackly and I actually sent it in to John to “fix” something that wasn’t actually broken and had him spray the pots out too. worked for awhile but they’re back to their crackles.

i’m not such an evangelist about SMD vs TH but I did stick with this format for the DIY friendly aspects. if you want something in a module, it’s very easy to pound out a right-angle bracket and screw a board on to a faceplate.

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Re: Have You Had to Replace Any Panel Pots, Jacks, Switches and LEDs in Your FracRack?

Post by plord » Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:40 pm

The only component I have ever had to replace in decades of Frac usage is a jack on a SuperVCA (the one on the little daughtercard) that I fucked up all by myself during construction. I replaced the daughtercard with a set of flying wires and the module doesn't care or know the difference.

All of my Frac, Wiard 300, and most of my DIY gear was built with long term maintainability in mind and I prefer it that way. I have a half a Borg filter that is misbehaving...I haven't dug into the cause but I have zero doubts it can be fixed, probably even by me.

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