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The Pitfalls of Choosing Quality Brands of Components?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author The Pitfalls of Choosing Quality Brands of Components?
drip.feed
I would like to ask the forum about their opinion on quality of components. I am hoping that commercial builders chime in too.

In a recent discussion hereabouts, super-cheap hobbyist supplier Tayda came under criticism for supplying some poor quality parts as standard, specifically capacitors (especially electrolytics) trimmers and toggle switches.

As a beginner DIY'er that made me think, especially as someone who hopes to sell a few modules in the future to supplement DIY funds: I don't want to get a bad rep for failing modules!

How do you experienced engineers know if components are crap or should otherwise be avoided?

Is it mostly down to price? And if so, how do you know Tayda aren't just cheap because they have more direct access than Mouser, Farnell etc. to the Asian factories where these parts are manufactured?

Could it be that some of those factories make OEM parts that are cheaper than 'big brand' equivalents but they are actually the same part under the skin?

Or do you have some way of testing little batches of these parts so you can gauge their quality? Or maybe you only buy parts that advertise their MTBF value?

I have had some reputable module builders tell me to order from Tayda because their value-for-money can't be beaten. That implies to me that those builders use Tayda parts too. But why would they risk damage to their reputations if those parts are liable to early failure?

And finally, what brands of cap, switch, trimmer, pot, etc. whatever, do you buy for your commercial builds?
ashleym
Good luck mate.

This gets so tricky. You might order one resistor type and come back to reorder it 6 months later and your vendor has changed supplier or kept the supplier and changed the spec. Brand names will have dozens of ranges for slightly different purposes. People make for each other etc etc.

I do a bit of shopping by label. I only make for myself and getting the absolute best bargain isnt my priority. I try to buy Wima caps, Vishay resistors but I also have a file of resistors from Truohm with loads of the odd values you NEED. I have treated myself to a Welwyn or two- nice. Saving 50p for 100 components isnt worth the worries for me.

I buy switches that suit my design of panel and these are more expensive than toggles but I dont like silver toggles!! I also have some bargain unbranded Chinese push button switches for certain purposes that are less than 1/10th the price and they have worked OK so far. However that is with very limited use and not in a commercial product and I have got a lot of spares.

When I was looking at bananas I tried a few and chose the one that worked for me, easy to solder and well made etc.

Of course you can get great value and good quality. I do understand the correct part for the job is the correct part whatever it costs. As I am not a huge commercial concern and I am building other people PCBs I can only make educated guesses on the exact correct part and then buy my usual component anyway!!

I have not been let down by Rapid/Farnell/RS. But isnt it nice to have all the components looking uniform? With some care and attention you could have better quality builds than some commercial products but you wont be as cheap or , perhaps, as profitable. Can you sell with the strapline of best quality components
tojpeters
Xicon metal 1% film resistors have very tight tolerances.
I've come up with 2 matching resistors after checking only 3 on several occasions. 2 cents each.
If your pcb has 50 resistors that is one dollar.
Even if the cheap crappy questionable tayda resistors were free you are still only saving a buck.
I do use Alpha pots from tayda.
But the no name stuff I'd stay away from.
I bought a few components from them just to see but was afraid to use them as they were so obviously crap.
And if you have a troubleshooting issue with a module stuffed full of off brand chips and trannys where do you even start?
drip.feed
I agree, I stay away from no-name stuff. And eBay fakes obviously (WTF is that about??)

But, to be fair, Tayda's parts are not no-name.
  • Their resistors are made by Royal Ohm. Is that a questionable brand? I dunno.
  • Their trannies are made by names like Philips, Fairchild and National Semiconductors.
  • Their ICs are branded too.
  • And there is a spec sheet for pretty much everything where one is supplied by the manufacturer.

Maybe it's their capacitors that people don't trust. Are these manufacturers quality marques: AEC, JAKEC, Chong, Chang, ChengX, JWCO?

Anyway, I don't want to beat up on Tayda too much; they position themselves as a hobbyist store not an industrial supplier.

What I find off-putting, as a small quantity purchaser, is the cost of shipping from Mouser, Farnell, and the 'obvious' suppliers. Unless I batch up a large number of projects then the delivery charge becomes really prohibitive.
Now and Zen
In a commercial environment I would consider it a false economy to buy cheap oem components and keep changing to whoever is the cheapest supplier. I spend hours scouring datasheets for components that have the spec that we need, once I have found them it is then, and only then, that price is considered and we usually (but not always) pick the cheapest solution that fits our specs and our needs.

You are generally safe with branded parts, we buy almost exclusively from Mouser, Farnell, Digikey, RS etc and apart from a few isolated problems this has proved successful. They have their reputations to consider and if they get a part that gives too many problems I'm sure that they will either drop that product line or pressure the manufacturer to resolve the problem.

If you start substituting cheap oem parts you may save a few quid on the whole BOM, but when you start getting customer returns because something has broken, fallen off or burnt out then this instantly wipes out any financial gains from buying cheap oem parts and can take your reputation with it.

It is a completely different situation for DIY, if something is so cheap and crappy that it doesn't work properly then you just replace it and nothing is lost other than a bit of time and a small cost. You can hit lucky with oem parts, some are as good quality as branded parts but in a commercial environment you just can't afford to take the risk.
slow_riot
I also think it's slightly dangerous with DIY builds with respect to resale, and your honesty might be your downfall! But I would guess most people are in the same boat.

I have a UK supplier whose main customers are big companies and they have a good idea of how things work... allegedly pretty much all component trade worldwide is done through 2 main channels, Avnet and Arrow (I think).

I have noticed some OEM like behaviour going on, which rules the new tube market I think. I also noticed that a branded eu capacitor company claiming low prices are using the same green polysters that presumeably are from the same factory that everyone else gets them from.

Also, with parts choice from a 'pro' company are likely to spend hours deliberating over details that DIYers would miss, such as contact resistance in sockets, thermal properties of resistors.

So, I don't think you're "fucked" per se, likely the same situation as many. But I do think the resale value in the DIY market isn't going to be the same as from an obsessive humanoid where service and support is literally guaranteed.
drip.feed
slow_riot wrote:
I also think it's slightly dangerous with DIY builds with respect to resale, and your honesty might be your downfall! But I would guess most people are in the same boat...But I do think the resale value in the DIY market isn't going to be the same as from an obsessive humanoid where service and support is literally guaranteed.

Well, I was only thinking of selling some extra modules for a small mark-up so I can plough the funds back into more DIY. If I was planning to make a business out of it (I wish!) things would be quite different.

I'm perfectly willing to get my parts from mainstream suppliers if it puts potential buyers' minds at rest that their module won't suffer a component failure 6 months after they buy it from me.

And I'm going to start CGS Serge builds for myself later this year and would love to think the resulting boats to live as long as original 70's Serge boxes did! So maybe I'll just have to suck it up and put my faith in Mouser's component choices.
pre55ure
I tend to just buy "name brand" components. I have no problem buying alpha pots, TI IC's, etc... through tayda. But I tend to stick with mouser (or jameco here in the US) for resistors, capacitors, and jacks etc...
I do sometimes buy tayda's toggle switches, but only for my own personal use. If it's something I am building for someone else (or might sell in the future) I will stick with the mouser ones (at 4x the price).
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
I buy parts for my own DIY builds, and Dan buys all the parts for Intellijel modules, so I don't know too much about that.

However, for my part, I have had pretty good luck with PCB components. The only problem I had was with some pin connector crimp pins that weren't springy enough and failed to make connections after being unplugged two or three times. I was buying ones that were on a continuous strip, and those were bad. I started buying loose ones from the Mode catalog, and those have worked very well. I haven't had any problems with resistors or caps, and I've used many different kinds. I also try to buy high-quality caps (WIMA, etc), but they are often hard to find in small quantities. I generally buy all that stuff locally, at Lee's Electronics (or, if they don't have what I need, I walk three doors down to Main Electronics) in Vancouver.

Where I've had problems is with panel components. Here, I've had two main problems.

1) No-name Chinese pots. Some of these are absolute crap. They don't survive the soldering process, and will suddenly fail. Now, I only buy genuine ALPHA (Taiwan) pots from Small Bear, and they seem to be 100% reliable.

2) Cheapo toggle switches. If they look and feel cheap, they probably are. Also, I never use toggle switches in which the solder terminals are not potted in epoxy. You can tell, because the epoxy makes a hard little mound around the terminal. These can be soldered and desoldered without concern. The un-potted ones will generally not survive desoldering, and the terminals will get loose and even fall out of the switch body. I use Taiway switches from Small Bear, and they have been 100% reliable.

3) 1/4" Jacks. Do yourself a favour, and just use Switchcraft enclosed jacks. I was using Neutrik open frames, but they are too stiff. Also, the open-frame switching jacks are too easily destroyed by bending the switching part ever so slightly. The enclosed Switchcraft jacks feel good and are virtually indestructible, and the switching ones cannot be bent out of shape. They only cost a little bit more, again from Small Bear.
daverj
When I started out and was doing DIY just for myself I bought all the cheapest parts, with no thought about quality.

Once I started making the occasional circuit for other people (Mid 1970s) I ended up literally throwing away bags of switches and pots because they wouldn't last 6 months in other peoples hands. That's when I started paying attention to quality.

Knowing the distributor is half the battle. I buy 90% of my parts from Digikey. I have never received questionable parts from them. I buy about 9.5% of the parts from Mouser. I have received bad parts from them on occasion, but not in the past 5 years or so. They own several "brand names" which they have manufactured for them, and some of those have varied in quality over the years, though have gotten better in the past decade.

The final 0.5% of parts I use come from various sources. Some direct from Chinese manufacturers, but only after exhaustive research into the company and careful analysis of samples (which I rip to pieces to examine). Some others I buy from old school distributors like Allied and Newark, but only if there is no other choice, since they are always higher price than Digikey. Sometimes I buy parts direct from an IC manufacturer (Maxim, Linear, Analog) because distributors can't get them fast enough.

Having a brand name isn't always a clue to quality. Everything has a brand name, whether the distributor says who it is or not. It comes down to brand names that have been around for a while and consistently supply good parts.

You can't go by looks. For every decent Chinese OEM there are 100 more making knockoffs that look exactly the same but are crap. The most popular 3.5mm jack used by many Euro manufacturers today started out as unreliable until a group of manufacturers banded together and pushed the manufacturer to make quality improvements.

A big problem these days is "counterfeit" parts. Somewhere here there's a thread showing a Chinese company pulling parts off boards, sanding the markings off and reprinting new markings. Often these parts work fine, but often they are sub-par, or rejects, or used parts that have been overheated or stressed. Because of that I only buy chips from authorized distributors. That way I know they are real and not remarked rejects or clones made in some Chinese foundry.

Even between reputable companies you sometimes have to choose the right brand to get quality over price. For example I use BI pots instead of Alpha because they are rated at 4 to 5 times longer life at maybe 20% higher cost.
Skaput
I avoided those JAKEC electrolytics, for the frequency Central Power, but only because i read their name wrong and thought they were called JAKEY hihi
The Real MC
I've been into DIY since 1978. Here's what I've learned regarding suppliers:

    1) You get what you pay for. Repeat after me, you get what you pay for.
    2) With few exceptions, the hobbyist suppliers are a crapshoot. I recently bought a pack of new 2N2222 NPN transistors from my local elex store and found that they would malfunction at Vce of 15VDC. They did work at 5V Vce and I had to redesign my circuit.
    3) I haven't bought any DIY parts from Radio Shack since 1984. RS's profit model is purchase bargain rejects and resell high. I know for a fact that they purchase ICs that are functional but won't meet spec (IE reject parts with offsets that exceed spec). Jacks that no longer conduct because the tip connection doesn't. Capacitors with HIGH variance from their marked values. RS parts are pretty poor.
    4) I've bought hundreds of parts from Digikey, Mouser, Allied, FullCompass, Markertek, Redco without a problem.
    5) I've bought NOS ICs from dougt, Paul Schreiber, Jameco, no problem.
    6) I don't buy NOS ICs from ebay. Period. Two problems: counterfeits, and sellers who do not ship the ICs in static foam (ZAP!) or tubes (bent or broken pins)
    7) I no longer buy ICs from NTE.
    8) ALWAYS buy new caps as fresh as possible from the OEM. See #4.
    9) Many asian manufacturers have american sounding names. Illinois Capacitors used to be good capacitors before they were acquired by an asian company.
    10) To be fair there ARE good asian suppliers but it takes more effort to sort them out.
    11) Do not cut corners on jacks. Use Switchcraft or Neutrik.
    12) Do not cut corners on cabling. For fixed or rack wiring use Canare or Mogami, for instrument cable use Belden.
    13) Always buy a reputable brand bench power supply. The last thing you want while prototying a circuit is to have a malfunctioning and/or noisy power supply.
    14) If you're building a modular, get a reputable brand power supply and plan for expansion (if your system draw 3A of current, buy a supply with higher rated current capacity).
    15) Do not cut corners on your test instruments. Buy reputable brands. The last thing you want while troubleshooting ANY circuit is a DVM that is lying to you. That also applies to measurement probes, I helped a work associate troubleshoot a problem and quickly found that his scope probe was bad.
    16) If you buy used test instruments, buy from reputable businesses that sell restored instruments with a guarantee. Most test instruments on ebay are broken. These things use custom components which are not readily available and if you thought synth repairs were expensive wait until you get a scope repaired.
    17) Test instruments like oscilloscopes are complicated. If you don't understand them then you are risking errors in your measurements.
medbot
You guys are making me paranoid that my Tayda resistors and caps are going to go black hole as soon as I power stuff on MY ASS IS BLEEDING
slow_riot
Perhaps some sugar coating will help?
spotta
One batch of Tayda components was enough.
I only buy Pots and male/female headers there now.
goom
I shudder at the thought of having massive failures like pots, jacks or switches in my modular. I plan to keep it indefinitely, so I only use NKK for switches, and Switchcraft for jacks.

The past few years, I've been using Alpha pots, but a few are getting cranky on my older modules. Other modules in my system which are even older, have Bourns and Spectrol pots. All of those pots still work as new, except for one. So now, I'm considering using the pricier sealed pots again.
Raytracer
medbot wrote:
You guys are making me paranoid that my Tayda resistors and caps are going to go black hole as soon as I power stuff on MY ASS IS BLEEDING
hehe me too! I like Tayda for their reasonable shipping charges. But I also want anything I take the time to build to not crap out in a year or two...
L-1
I bought 9mm alpha pots from Tayda. Some came with 6mm shaft, some 6.3mm.
Also i would buy ARCOTRONICS film caps from them, they have full row and good price.
That is all for now.
Cablebasher
Hello fellows,

Ok. So this seems to have become a " don't use Tayda for SDIY" thread.

I have used them for a number of module builds, as recommended to me by the very helpful Rick at Frequency Central.

I have never had any problems with their components (resistors, caps,trannies, ICs, switches) but it seems from this thread, many people have.

Shall I except all my modules to begin failing and eventually need replacing all components with the more expensive mouser/Farrell bits?

I ask as I have a few builds that I need to buy components for and am happy to pay the extra for mouser etc if it means better builds but at the same time don't want to stop using tayda without good reason.

Interesting thread.
drip.feed
Cablebasher wrote:
So this seems to have become a " don't use Tayda for SDIY" thread.


And that's a bit of a shame considering how great a supplier Tayda is for hobbyists.

But I think I'll buy my stuff from Mouser / Farnell / Rapid for modules I plan to sell. Just to be sure hihi
seanpark
My favorite distortion pedal is failing due to a cheap stomp switch.

Cheap switches are awful. They feel awful and they fail. The shaft and body of a tayda toggle separate easily under stress.

Going to try some Taiway with my next small bear order. NKK hurts my wallet.
CJ Miller
I try to order from whomever provides enough information for me to know what I would be buying. Many of the cheaper outfits such as Tayda and Futurlec can't say what brand, size, or spec any of their parts are - so I would be stuck with whatever I get. Sometimes I will send a small experimental order to try out some parts. But if they changed them when I reordered, I could be SOL. Sometimes it works out great. But cheap is only good if you get the parts which you actually need.
daverj
seanpark wrote:
NKK hurts my wallet.


It only hurts for a little while. The pain is worth it in the long run.
mad_magician
I am new here and fairly new to SDIY, but have been an electronics hobbyist for pushing 30 years (got started due to model trains as a kid my first robotics Science Fair Project was in 5th grade....)

My experience is that Mouser/DigiKey is truly the way to go for the vast majority of your electronics needs <IF> you are looking to buy in bulk (notice that many of the 10/25/50+qty prices are 2/3 or even half the single price so plan and buy your stock ahead of time to save on shipping and hit the breakpoints) I am sure Newark/Farnell and a few others are reliable and I use Jameco as a more hobbyist /rare/NOS dealer.

As far as buying name brand, I typically stick with Big names and avoid NJR, NTE and off-brands if at all possible.

- Caps - Wima, Vishay, Kemet, AVX, Xicon and TDK are well respected names in the business.
- Electrolytics - Nichion, Panasonic, United Chemi-Con period
- Semis - ON, TI, Analog Devices, Fairchild and others, with that said, I rarely have gotten "off brand" components when I shop for Jameco's "Major Brand" ICs, however most of the transistors I have from them are generic labels . Diodes I go for IR, Rectron and Vishay.
- LEDs - honestly, I just buy jelly bean ones here.
- Resistors - Yaego and KOA Speer are available at mouser, No problems in the last couple of years.


Now about Jacks and Pots....

I have been buying the Neutrik REAN open frame jacks (Mouser and Parts Express carry them at similar price), but I fear that they will simply not hold up, no reason other than the fact that they are half the price of Switchcraft. I have been doing music and stage work as a past time since Middle school and can count the number of times on 1 hand that I have had a Switchcraft jack or plug fail. I can't say that about any other company's products.

Pots - Simply on price I have been buying the Alpha-TW ones from Futurlec, I will likely also regret this decision in the future, but in my own defense, finding the right mounting and shaft length through Mouser or Digi-Key is double root canal painful...

In the end, I just have done lots and lots of reading on the web. Audiofools say one thing, the SDIY crowd says another and the MRR folks say others. One thing I do find consistent across hobbyists (and repair guys too) is the bad reviews of many "off brand" components. This just tells me that a few dollars here and there is just worth it at the end of the day.



Hope this helps!
keninverse
I use TI parts because a looong time ago when I was a very poor student I sent off for samples. I know, I know. I feel bad for it so I buy tubes and tubes of TI op-amps now.

Switches: NKK
lytics: Elna Silmic II, panasonic FM, sometimes FC; nichicon FGs, sometimes PWs.
polyfilm: wimas but if I can't track down a value I'll use a suitable part with tighter tolerances
ceramics: MLCC usually TDK, I use axial for 10nF and 100nF for PS decoupling
Pots: BI and Alpha
wire: silver PTFE bulk from apex jr.

I usually pick up caps that are over-rated than what's needed, especially for electrolytics and ceramics.
goom
Does anyone have a recommendation on where to by BI pots? Any place with a good price? Has anyone ever encountered a BI pot go bad/intermittent? Thanks... I'm in the US.
mad_magician
I wanted to put this out there as well for Nichion Electrolytics

KZ>FG>KW>FW

if you need a 105C part

KA>KT
goom
It's interesting that the BI pot datasheet mentions 1 million rotational life:

http://www.bitechnologies.com/pdfs/p260.pdf
mad_magician
goom wrote:
Does anyone have a recommendation on where to by BI pots? Any place with a good price? Has anyone ever encountered a BI pot go bad/intermittent? Thanks... I'm in the US.



Mouser has a pretty big selection of BI, like I said above trying to showp for the right shaft and length drives me batty on their site.

http://www.mouser.com/BI-Technologies-TT-electronics/Passive-Component s/Potentiometers-Trimmers-Rheostats/_/N-9q0yi?P=1yybw5p
goom
Thanks, mad. I found these, but I don't know if that would be a good match for standard MOTM format panels. I'd have to look at the specs more closely.

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/BI-Technologies-TT-electronics/P26 0P-D1BS3CB100K/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMtC25l1F4XBU1gRILB9VStLgBMZJ5fBRX0%3d

I wonder if that's about as cheap as they come.
mad_magician
goom wrote:
Thanks, mad. I found these, but I don't know if that would be a good match for standard MOTM format panels. I'd have to look at the specs more closely.

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/BI-Technologies-TT-electronics/P26 0P-D1BS3CB100K/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMtC25l1F4XBU1gRILB9VStLgBMZJ5fBRX0%3d

I wonder if that's about as cheap as they come.


Doing some digging, I found these, much more reasonable price, 15mm(L) 6MM shaft and 200mW. Rated for 100k cycles. They seem to have several values in the series. Since I made a couple of mistakes in my last order I may check these out as I would rather trim my list of suppliers (got murdered on shipping late last year confused )

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/BI-Technologies-TT-electronics/P16 0KNP-0EC15B10K/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMtC25l1F4XBU%252bXO0%2fntrrgI57UceJN3lSY%3 d

Datasheet

http://www.bitechnologies.com/pdfs/p160.pdf
megaohm
mad_magician wrote:


Doing some digging, I found these, much more reasonable price, 15mm(L) 6MM shaft and 200mW. Rated for 100k cycles. They seem to have several values in the series. Since I made a couple of mistakes in my last order I may check these out as I would rather trim my list of suppliers (got murdered on shipping late last year confused )

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/BI-Technologies-TT-electronics/P16 0KNP-0EC15B10K/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMtC25l1F4XBU%252bXO0%2fntrrgI57UceJN3lSY%3 d

Datasheet

http://www.bitechnologies.com/pdfs/p160.pdf


What the datasheets don't tell you is these types (and Alphas and any open pots) are most likely to get scratchy from dust. Rotational life expectancy doesn't account for that. You can use a spray cleaner but make sure it's safe on plastics if you use those BI pots.

Those are GREAT prices, though!
I'm going to check some out next order.
goom
Yes, that is an excellent price. I'm thinking of going with sealed pots from now on though. I wonder if there is such a thing as a sealed carbon pot? I guess I have some researching to do...
ThecureForSin
I think everyone is slightly paranoid, but in cases like this it's not really a bad thing.

Personally, I have had no problem with any parts from Tayda aside from having the wrong parts delivered a few times (and their Davies clones are crap). I am only skeptical about their electrolytics and any mechanical parts (mainly stomp switches), but have yet to have any issues and if I do, I'll take 2 minutes to swap them out.

Now for someone manufacturing and selling units, I can definitely see the need to keep everything brand name; it's about reputation and reliability. For me to swap out parts is easy, but if you have to pay for postage to get it back and forth then repairs, it's going to cost you more in the long run.

If you are worried, buy well-known parts and have peace of mind.
drip.feed
What exactly is a "sealed pot"? Looking at the Alphas I have they all look "sealed" to me: the mechanics are encased in a shiny housing which, in turn, is encased in a plastic cap. Is that not "sealed"?
fracinfrucer
Not all alphas have that plastic cap and you can see under the plastic cap where dust could get in if it weren't there. But I've wondered if there are any long-term opinions on the effectiveness of those little plastic caps myself...
However, the difference in cost for pots and switches is so great, I think I'd rather just leave an extra inch of hookup wire in case they need replaced than to pay 10X the cost. I can understand not wanting to have to worry about it, and it would probably be a different story if I were building something like a serge boat where it may be harder to get to, but throwing down $3 for 6 pots on a module vs. $30+ seems too good to pass up if the pots aren't complete shit.
fracinfrucer
As for Tayda and pcb components, I have mostly used them for breadboarding, but everything has seemed on the up and up so far (but I'm a beginner, so take that with a big ol' grain of salt). But for longevity's sake, maybe I'll stick to mouser for actual builds (I've done this so far, but mostly out of laziness because of available mouser BOMs lol) . And then with common resistors, I just buy 200 Xicon so the cost difference isn't significant enough for me to risk it (like it is with the pots IMO). Those Tayda banana plugs are also so cheap I'm going to have to at least try them out...
ThecureForSin
fracinfrucer wrote:
Not all alphas have that plastic cap and you can see under the plastic cap where dust could get in if it weren't there. But I've wondered if there are any long-term opinions on the effectiveness of those little plastic caps myself...


The plastic dust caps definitely help. They're not a perfect solution, but it would be really good practice to use them. Unfortunately a lot of eurorack layouts don't compensate for the extra 1/4" or so that you need to fit them, but I use them wherever I can.

I was also thinking last night about the whole cheap components issue and thought of a way to explain it (hypothetically).

So everything mass produced has a specific failure rate (I don't think many manufacturers share this, but some might). So I'm just going to throw some random numbers out there, but lets say brand named electrolytics have a 1/100,000 failure rate per batch and some no-name brand has a 1/1,000 failure rate (numbers are grossly in favor of the brand name). As a DIY'er I might buy 20 of a specific value component. Now, if I go with no-name, I have what, a 2% chance of getting a bad component? Not terribly bad odds. With a name-brand I have a .02% chance (it's likely not going to happen).

Now for a manufacturer purchasing say, 2000 of a value. Well, you're automatically guaranteed at least 2 failures from the no-name brand and you have a 2% chance with the brand name. So if these numbers were correct (which I doubt), the DIY'er and the Manufacturer can end up around the same odds of getting bad components.

Of course these are just random numbers I made up, but I think it illustrates the real logic here.
roglok
ThecureForSin wrote:

Of course these are just random numbers I made up, but I think it illustrates the real logic here.


ThecureForSin
thumbs up
elmegil
drip.feed wrote:
What exactly is a "sealed pot"? Looking at the Alphas I have they all look "sealed" to me: the mechanics are encased in a shiny housing which, in turn, is encased in a plastic cap. Is that not "sealed"?


These are green rather than the blue ones i've seen, but the idea is the same: sealed plastic box, no gaps.

http://www.mouser.com/ds/2/414/p08x-2182.pdf

Thing is, the blue ones I have (got in a trade or something) have far too loose a feel to the turn than I care for.

Ages ago I bought some alpha pots than you could get separate plastic caps for--sadly I don't remember where, or I'd go buy a whole load of those caps..... I do like the feel of the Alphas, even though I've had similar problems alluded to by others in getting the exact right shaft instead of something too long, too short, etc.
drip.feed
mad_magician wrote:
As far as buying name brand, I typically stick with Big names and avoid NJR, NTE and off-brands if at all possible.

- Caps - Wima, Vishay, Kemet, AVX, Xicon and TDK are well respected names in the business.
- Electrolytics - Nichion, Panasonic, United Chemi-Con period
- Semis - ON, TI, Analog Devices, Fairchild and others, with that said, I rarely have gotten "off brand" components when I shop for Jameco's "Major Brand" ICs, however most of the transistors I have from them are generic labels . Diodes I go for IR, Rectron and Vishay.
- LEDs - honestly, I just buy jelly bean ones here.
- Resistors - Yaego and KOA Speer are available at mouser, No problems in the last couple of years.

keninverse wrote:
Switches: NKK
lytics: Elna Silmic II, panasonic FM, sometimes FC; nichicon FGs, sometimes PWs.
polyfilm: wimas but if I can't track down a value I'll use a suitable part with tighter tolerances
ceramics: MLCC usually TDK, I use axial for 10nF and 100nF for PS decoupling
Pots: BI and Alpha
wire: silver PTFE bulk from apex jr.

Thanks guys! That's the kind of thing I was looking for.

mad_magician wrote:
Hope this helps!

Yep. thumbs up

So, do we think BI pots are better than Alphas..? hmmm.....
seanpark
Tayda's 16mm alphas are rated for "more than 15,000" rotational cycles while the cheap 16mm BI are rated for 100,000. No plastic cover means more dust but easier to clean.

Digi-key actually has reasonable prices on the BI 260s so loved by MOTM / Oakley / Discerning builders everywhere.
keninverse
drip.feed wrote:

So, do we think BI pots are better than Alphas..? hmmm.....


They don't feel as nice as the 9mm Alphas but better than some other pots that some manufacturers put in some of their modules. I use these because according to datasheets they look to last forever, more accurate over a longer period and tighter in tolerance (this, I've measured). Trays of these are a relatively cheap from TTI and other vendors. Maybe I'm just accustomed to using conductive plastic and cermet pots from my MOTM days.

Having said all this, AlphaTaiwans are very popular and for good reason. They definitely feel better than the BIs. Feels like buttah

Check bulk prices at TTI. I get the P260s for $2.43/30 and P160 $0.38/20. Trimmers are cheaper by the tray also.
megaohm
I have some BI pots removed from an e350.
I was very impressed with them.
They felt good and seemed robust.

The issues I have with them are shared by most other sealed pots I've tried.
They look bad when used with small diameter knobs (Davies 1900). Their nuts stick out too much.
I don't love soldering to pc pins.
Availability is somewhat limited.
Variety of tapers and values are severely limited.

but the price seems great.
$2 something for quantities is a great deal!
Also, you could get whatever value and taper you want (even solder eyelets!) but it probably needs to be a special order.
I am curious to try their push/pull version. The Alpha p/p pots are...
well...that switch is just a little wire. I don't see it lasting for a lifetime!

I've been using Alpha pots because they are easy to get everywhere and the feel of the 16mm is great with a variety of knob sizes.
Feel being very important to me.
They are the easiest pots to replace, too.
That said, they will develop scratchiness from dust over time and dis-use.
Whereas the sealed pots in my synth never give me problems...unless it is more physical - Bourns 51 series - the pc pins break free of the body easily. Spectral 249(?) back popped off.
The BI pots are built MUCH better so shouldn't be problem.
megaohm
Parts I have 10+ yrs experience with that are super awesome:

toggles - NKK
jacks - Switchcraft 112
resistors - Xicon from Mouser
trims - Vishay square types for single turn 72-T70YB
BI trims for multi turn (only have a few yrs with these)

Something not mentioned yet is plugs.
These are at least as important as using a good jack.
Except you can't determine it by brand name.
Mates well will Switchcraft 112:
Rean NYS201 and NYS224
Switchcraft 280
Switchcraft 250
Hosa (!) - really - at least the 15 yr old one I have here does

I plan to keep ordering singles/doubles of plugs to test.
If the plug doesn't mate well it may allow the NC switch lug to remain in contact with the tip even when patched.
Almost all of my cheapo plugs fit badly. Surprisingly so do some nice looking plugs - Amphenol ACPM-GB (works but destined to fail), G&H right angle plugs, many more.
I plan to put up a thread with a list of all the plugs I test and the good and bad results ASAP.
It was a real PITA to remake half(!) of my patchcords.
Hope to save others from that kind of trouble.
emdot_ambient
daverj wrote:
seanpark wrote:
NKK hurts my wallet.

It only hurts for a little while. The pain is worth it in the long run.

I find it only hurts when you're looking at the shopping basket and when you're going through the payment processes...palms sweating. sad banana

After that you don't notice so much. And when they come in the mail it's like love

I have a bit of a fetish for NKK switches. They feel great, look classy, sound sweet. I've been known to order them without having a project in mind eek!

...is there a 12 step program?
drip.feed
megaohm wrote:
I plan to put up a thread with a list of all the plugs I test and the good and bad results ASAP.

That would be a fantastic asset, especially if you also cover 3.5mm hardware too. we're not worthy
negativspace
Component selection is a good place to apply the "don't buy cheap toilet paper" rule. hihi
drip.feed
negativspace wrote:
Component selection is a good place to apply the "don't buy cheap toilet paper" rule. hihi

I only use the finest components on your boards, Jason. MY ASS IS BLEEDING
ashleym
negativspace wrote:
Component selection is a good place to apply the "don't buy cheap toilet paper" rule. hihi


For all the uk wigglers......didn't schools use Izal toilet paper because it was cheap (or nasty so no one nicked it?) and look at the price of it now or at least when you could last but it #shudders #clenches
goom
megaohm wrote:
I have some BI pots removed from an e350.
I was very impressed with them.
They felt good and seemed robust.

The issues I have with them are shared by most other sealed pots I've tried.
They look bad when used with small diameter knobs (Davies 1900). Their nuts stick out too much.
I don't love soldering to pc pins.
Availability is somewhat limited.
Variety of tapers and values are severely limited.

but the price seems great.
$2 something for quantities is a great deal!
Also, you could get whatever value and taper you want (even solder eyelets!) but it probably needs to be a special order.
I am curious to try their push/pull version. The Alpha p/p pots are...
well...that switch is just a little wire. I don't see it lasting for a lifetime!

I've been using Alpha pots because they are easy to get everywhere and the feel of the 16mm is great with a variety of knob sizes.
Feel being very important to me.
They are the easiest pots to replace, too.
That said, they will develop scratchiness from dust over time and dis-use.
Whereas the sealed pots in my synth never give me problems...unless it is more physical - Bourns 51 series - the pc pins break free of the body easily. Spectral 249(?) back popped off.
The BI pots are built MUCH better so shouldn't be problem.


Thanks for the info, megahom. I don't have any BI pots in my rig, but that will soon change.
goom
emdot_ambient wrote:

I have a bit of a fetish for NKK switches. They feel great, look classy, sound sweet.


I agree! They have such a nice feel compared to the other switches that I've tried. I love the flatted bat handle too.
goom
Does anyone know what the difference is between the BI "dust proof" and the "sealed" pots are? The datasheet has part #s for each, but it doesn't go into any details beyond that.
megaohm
goom wrote:
Does anyone know what the difference is between the BI "dust proof" and the "sealed" pots are? The datasheet has part #s for each, but it doesn't go into any details beyond that.


They have IP Ratings of 50 (dust proof) and 67 (sealed).
hmmm.....
So what's an IP rating, me thinks?
I learned something new.
Mr. Green

http://www.euroboxenclosures.co.uk/IP-Ratings-Explained.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code


So, first digit = Solid particle protection
second digit = Liquid ingress protection

The higher the number the more protected it is.
decaying.sine
goom wrote:
Does anyone know what the difference is between the BI "dust proof" and the "sealed" pots are? The datasheet has part #s for each, but it doesn't go into any details beyond that.


They are both dust proof. I believe the sealed pots have an o ring or something like that allows them to be washed. The dust proof ones cannot be washed. The ones Digikey typically carries is the dust proof one, I believe.
emdot_ambient
goom wrote:
emdot_ambient wrote:

I have a bit of a fetish for NKK switches. They feel great, look classy, sound sweet.


I agree! They have such a nice feel compared to the other switches that I've tried. I love the flatted bat handle too.

thumbs up Flatted bat is all I buy. I've purchased a variety of cheaper switches that looked similar, but they feel horrible...very stiff with exceedingly loud clicks.
negativspace
Yeah, NKK switches are a perfect example of getting what you pay for. There really is a difference, and it really is worth the extra money.
Vsyevolod
emdot_ambient wrote:
I have a bit of a fetish for NKK switches. They feel great, look classy, sound sweet. I've been known to order them without having a project in mind eek!

...is there a 12 step program?


I'm not sure about your issue, but there IS a 12 step program for people who talk too much. It's called On and On Anon...

Stephen




.
goom
Thanks Gents, for the dust proof vs. sealed info. And thanks for those links, megaohm. Those were very informative!
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