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potential solution: Lexicon Vortex encoders
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Guitars, Basses, Amps & FX  
Author potential solution: Lexicon Vortex encoders
I got a non-working Lexicon Vortex for nothing a while back. Problem was the encoders which as it turns out, are unobtanium.

The encoders are gray coded (check wikipedia for "gray code", it's a type of binary coding that only changes one bit from one position to the next), but have a unique pin layout.

I thought about it, came up with a solution that used a PIC that would translate a standard hex coded encoder into the right gray sequence, but it took up a fair bit of space, the encoders didn't fit the original knobs, and they were fragile (I broke a couple trying to get the original knobs on).

Recently, I found a set of gray coded encoders on ebay that were much more workable. They are sturdy, they fit the knobs, but they don't fit the PCB footprint, and the coding sequence is "backwards" from what was used in the Lexicons. However, I found that using transistors to invert the output, and cocking the encoder at a 45 degree angle, I could make it work identically to the original.

You see below a picture of the resulting PCB.

BUT there is one outstanding significant issue to resolve before I will be comfortable saying go, send me orders, and that is mounting of the main PCB.

The bodge PCB is tiny, a little double-sided tape on the lower, inner lip of the front part of the enclosure will be more than sufficient. I also have mounting holes in case someone wants to come up with a way to do it more securely.

But the main board is held to that front panel piece by the encoders and the pot on the far end, and that's it. If you have to replace all three encoders, having the main board held on by a single pot is bad business, any significant shock (in other words, any gigging at all) and you'll break the pot, the PCB, or both.

There *is* a mounting hole at the opposite end of the main PCB, but nothing to screw it into.

I'm curious what people's opinions are about these kinds of spacers: bottom.html?utm_source=google_shopping

With some glue you could put this through the main board, glue it to the top lip of the panel piece, and I think it would have the right spacing.

Does that seem like it would be sufficient?

Anyone still interested, or has everyone else thrown out their lexicon gear with broken encoders? smile
I just bought a Vortex today from Ebay, came here to see what had been written about it and see this.. very frustrating

It says it's working fine, but we'll see when I get it and then, for how long? I hope I don't have to return it. It's one of those things I've been meaning to buy for at least ten years now.
My Vortex is in a rack, so I can't see the bottom. Is there any way to drill through the metal to add stand-offs? seriously, i just don't get it

While those standoffs are inexpensive, I've preferred using threaded nylon hex for things I've built myself. Unless it was something heavy like a power supply. Then I used metal SlayerBadger!

As totally impressive as that repair is we're not worthy

It makes me wonder how expensive a Vortex is now that it was worth fixing rather than buying another one hmmm.....

Is it a common problem? It not, then buying broken units for the original encoders might be less expensive than buying different encoders and making PCB's.
@elmegil - have you been able to make any further progress with your tests? I'd be interested in buying a set of your replacements when you're ready!

Did you ever make any progress on this? I really want to fix my vortex. Better fixed and fragile than totally busted.
The encoders can be repaired now.
Outsider Sound Design
I have used the Lexicon Vortex extensively over the last 20 years for my music and sound design and have never had any problems.

Would love to know how the encoders could be repaired if the problem should arise.

Also, here is a video of the Vortex with a Make Noise Mysteron if anyone would like to hear some sound examples.

Does anyone have a lead on replacement encoders for the Vortex now, in 2018? Thanks!
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