Friday, September 24, 2010

Egon Box rebuild.

A rebuild for a buddy. Everything is nicely done but for the wiring runs, so that is what I am gonna clean up. Here's a before picture.

Wiring can be tricky, especially for a novice. I know my first projects took some rebuilding before I got use to making clean runs and nice connections. Some tips for anyone building their own project:

- Heat shrink tubing! Yes this stuff rules. Electrical tape is a temporary fix, DO NOT use it for your projects! It leaves a horrid sticky mess and will become un-sticky itself in a year or less. So heat shrink tubing all the way. Just don't forget to slip it over the wires BEFORE you solder them together. Putting some tubing over your solder joints on the pots and switches will help to stave off any disconnects.

- If the build requires some off board component mounting(ie; a resistor on the input of a jack) then make sure you cut the leads short. Cut them as short as possible. It is even better to get them attached and then cut the leads. Shorter lead length = less heat needed to solder the part and less wire to accidentally short against something else. Also some more, you guessed it, heat shrink over the part in question will help secure and prevent shorts.

- When soldering to a board; cut your leads short before soldering(not too short!) for less heat needed to flow the joint and less chance of a short to the chassis or another lead. Also, make note of the type of hole you are soldering to. Some circuit boards are printed on one side, some on both and some have 'thru-hole' construction. Make sure you get that solder flowed over the part and board and that is is a seamless joint. The thru-hole stuff is a bit trickier. It requires a bit more time, just a bit more heat. If you hold the iron on the joint you should see a series of little bubbles begin popping out of the joint. This is air escaping the joint. Air in the joint = a gap which = bad connection which = oxidizing solder joint = no workee.

- Multiple parts to the same spot. I find it best to unify the parts and THEN run a single wire to the connection spot. I have seen pieces of wire used as a bus rail and I have seen multiple part leads mashed into the same spot or same hole. Don't do this. Twist the common ends together and run a wire from there to the spot on the board. Barring this, say because of distance, attach a wire lead to each part then connect the wires together and run a single wire to the board.

- Keep your wires short. Especially for audio projects. Think about it, what is an antenna? That's right, a wire! So long wires can = signal antenna. Whoops, where are those spurious signals coming from? Also, data has to travel down those wires too. Think of it this way, you like the shortest distance between two points right? So does electricity! Also, if you are wiring a project it is good to do it in stages. In other words, work on the power supply, then the LFO, then the keyboard matrix, then whatever is next. One at a time = a bundle of wires that all relate to one area that can be bundled together with a zip tie. That makes it WAY easier to troubleshoot a problem. Say there is a problem with the LED blinker part of a circuit, if all of the wires involved in that part are bundled together then it makes looking that section over that much faster and easier.

Just some tips. These are things that I have learned by doing over and over, thought I would pass them along. Hope they help someone make an awesome project!


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