Neural Agonizer   



This page contains some photos of Tellun's Neural Agonizer under construction.  More general information will be added at a future date.

A top board in-progress.

This is the top board before the jacks, vactrols and a few other components were installed.  All done now!  Notice also that I used the "better" (longer) ferrite beads on the power inlet.  I live about 1/2 mile from a five kilowatt AM radio station.  Trust me, conducted radio frequencies are an issue around here.  But these ferrites seem to work a bit better in the keeping out of unwanted audio and mystery signals.

The picture says it all.

All resistors are pointed the same way so one can read the values left-to-right.  And the capacitors are installed with the values facing "up" so they can be read.  Naturally, machined-pin IC sockets are used.  Each machined pin is internally gold plated for corrosion resistance.  All connections are made with silver-bearing solder.  That solder does NOT have a water soluble flux.  In fact, it is a pain in the ass.  But it does offer excellent wetting characteristics and a wee bit better conduction that your basic tin/lead variety.  Since the wash is not water, things don't seem to want to rust as easily.  That can be important for mechanical components like the jacks used to interface to the reverb tanks.  The "wash" is 91% isopropyl alcohol.  No, you cannot "wash" polystyrene caps in that without being very careful.  I am... very careful!


Sixteen jacks ready for installation on the panel.  I must say, the Stooges make very nice panels.  This panel is the one I drilled.  The other two panels I have, were drilled by Stooge Larry and are in better condition (if that is even possible!)  This last run of panels is terrific.


Now, I do something controversial with my DIY synth modules.  If you notice in the above picture there are some rather "fat" lockwashers.  Take note of those and keep looking at the pictures.  I'll explain why that is significant.

Yes, that is me cranking down on some Switchcraft 112A jacks.  I was afraid to show any more of myself as the camera would surely be damaged.  That much ugly in once place has got to hurt!  What is noteworthy, is that assembly of any components on a synth front panel is done with the aid of a medium density foam rubber sheet.  That way, panel nicks and dings are avoided.  It is sooooo annoying to spend days putting together your newest pride and joy, only to have things screwed up by a panel ding when it flops over unexpectedly.  That really pisses me off.  So I learned that a cheap sheet of foam rubber helps a lot in preventing dings.  There does seem to be a strong correlation between scars and wisdom, don't you think?

Okay... in the above picture the jacks and the NKK switch is installed.  Now, I placed a fat lockwasher by the "FEEDBACK" pot logo for you to look at.  Pardon the following tome, as I explain why it is shown:

Switchcraft 112A jacks do not come with any sort of lockwasher.  Without any lockwasher the jack will rotate when when you tighten the mounting nut.  If you have built other DIY modules you are familiar with this problem.

I chose to use a rather "fat" lockwasher for affixing the the 112A jacks.  Now I could have tried to buy some of those skinny washers from Synthesis Technology.  The problem is that I feared that delivery would be excessive.  (I'll not expand on that other than to say I've waited for as long as 11 months to get kits that already existed and were not "new".  I don't think an order for a bunch of washers for DIY projects would command a very high shipping priority.)  As has been stated on the MOTM list, those washers are not easily obtainable.  I believe they were created for service in military aircraft.  I looked long and hard to find a source for those washers and I struck out.

So who cares?  Well, there is an up-side and a down-side to those washers.  The down-side is this... because these washers are "fatter" the 112A jack mounting-nut does not quite draw the jack sleeve quite as far out as with the thin (MOTM) washer or no washer at all.  The result is that the jack's threaded sleeve is recessed about 1/32" below the nut outer surface as can be seen in the above picture.  There is a slight difference between modules made with these "fat" lockwashers and the thin MOTM style (or none at all).

What about the cables?  Do they plug in properly or is the connection made on a wink and a prayer?  The connections are fine!  The Switchcraft 280 plug (and Neutrik plugs) are actually beveled a slight bit anyway where contact is made with the jack's threaded barrel.  In a blindfolded test, I cannot tell the difference between plugging into a 112A with a "fat" lockwasher and one with no lockwasher at all.  In fact, all of my DIY synth modules use these "fat" lockwashers and the visual difference between side-by side modules is unnoticeable unless someone points it out.  And then you have to look pretty close to see a difference.  Electrically, I can find no difference at all.

There is an up-side, although I will admit that it is small.  The jacks are held in a death grip.  They won't move if you hit them with a piece of heavy mining equipment.  They won't break either.  Since they dig into the panel rather deeply, there is a sure-fire ground connection with that front panel.  I actually prefer the look of jacks secured in that manner but you may not.

There are two people I will not mention by name, that need to note this difference.  What do you want me to do?



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