My Mod BLEW UP!!!! – Please give me some love (A Novel)

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Cobramatic
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My Mod BLEW UP!!!! – Please give me some love (A Novel)

Post by Cobramatic »

OK guys – I just have to write this post to get my frustration out.
A F A I L E D project – it hurts so bad….
:cry:

I know a lot of you here are real pros and would make my attempts at electronics look bafoonishly amateurish – but come on and tell me some of your stuff ups so I don’t feel like a total looser on my own.

I just spent the weekend modding the Korg Volca Beats – including the notoriously difficult SMT snare mod (more on this shortly).

OK, so I modded a few old Roland drum machines in the past, plus I cant help adding the odd switch and pot here and there to random modules, just to make them a little unique, so I figured a Volca couldn’t be that hard – could it?

I’m adding individual outs (easy),
Midi out on front mounted Midi jack – (reasonably easy),
But most of all I hate the factory snare (distortion), so I’m attempting Darren Glen’s C78 missing cap mod.

It looks fairly straightforward on the pics and video – that is until you get a real Volca and see how TINY the SMT components really are.
I spent an hour staring through my old school magnifying glass just to size up the problem.
I got my chisel of a soldering iron out and went to work – that sucker is better suited to welding plumbing pipes together. I just didn’t know what I was thinking…– basically I was rubbish, absolute crap. I got one wire on but the other side was impossible.
:bang:
So I enlisted the help of my buddy Jono – he has an ace soldering iron with a tip so fine it’s like a bee’s dick, a big light on his magnifying glass about as bright as the sun, and he can solder like a demon - but best of all he has a Volca too – and I convinced him to mod his as well.

Jono took a look at my sorry arsed attempt and told me I’d burned off the solder so the C78 route was closed… which meant we needed to mount the cap on top of the SMT resistor (as per Darren’s original mod). Amazingly he did it – easily – in about 2 minutes!! While we were celebrating I managed to snap the wire off and try as we might it would not go back on. I insisted but all we did was burn out the resistor and now the snare sounded like a wet fart in the wind.

But I didn’t give up. Armed with a bag of capacitors and an alligator clip I went about randomly sniffing for mod points on the PCB like some deranged circuit bent addict –it was totally by fluke that I found a spot to clamp that farting white noise into a reasonable snare snap using a dodgy capacitor that I don’t even know the value of. Not content with that I tried another cap and got another decay sound – in fact they both sounded so excellent that I reckon it was better than Darren’s original mod – happy days!

So I added 2 snare snap switches next to the Midi out on the top of the Volca case, wired it all up with the individual outs and all. Tested it- Lovely, Really LOVELY – closed up the box and sat back, pulled out a beer and starting thinking about my next hit track dedicated to the Volca. The Volca f*cking number One Electronic masterpiece.

So then I thought I should maybe just tighten those rear nuts a little more….. BANG –
Lights out.
It’s Dead.
Brick sized Volca paper weight Dead.
:deadbanana:

Turns out I squeezed the power switch onto the ground of my kick out jack and shorted the power supply, must have shorted an IC – either way it is rooted.

I shouldn’t feel too bad – it was a 2nd hand Volca and only cost me just over a $100 – but it’s the TIME I spent – I want it back!!

So please, go ahead – tell me about the time you did a simple mod and blew up your ARP 2500 – now THAT is something to jump off a bridge for – not a crappy Volca.
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hamildad
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Post by hamildad »

I was about to embark on a Volca snare mod but then found someone in London who would do it for £30 and realised it would be a similar story if I did it myself.

It's almost worse that you were almost finished and that final tightening borked it... I have done similar where that final turn of the screw splits the case...

I am about to embark on a TTSH build so maybe I'll come back to this thread with a sorry tale of 2600 smoke....
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jondent
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Post by jondent »

Hey Paul,
It happens to us all. I've got a draw full of failed projects.
Don't give up. Just do it again.

And BTW, the ARP2600 clone is much easier than the Korg volca snare mod.
I've done both the TTSH and the volca beats. The volca has very small SMD components so is easy to mess up. The TTSH, though a bigger project is all through the hole (apart from 3 small SMDs you will have to solder on the VCO daughter boards). So go for it guys. :banana:
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Cobramatic
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Post by Cobramatic »

hamildad wrote:I was about to embark on a Volca snare mod but then found someone in London who would do it for £30 and realised it would be a similar story if I did it myself.

It's almost worse that you were almost finished and that final tightening borked it... I have done similar where that final turn of the screw splits the case...

I am about to embark on a TTSH build so maybe I'll come back to this thread with a sorry tale of 2600 smoke....
Yeah - the final screw tightening - that was the heartbreaking part. It was DONE, and working beautifully!
I guess you live and learn - more insulation required between every possible shorting point for starters.

So 30 quid sounds like a great investment - a nice snare with NO worries. Take it if you can get it!

Good luck with the TTSH - I just couldn't do it. I'll stick to dodgy mods.
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Sandrine
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Post by Sandrine »

About a year and a half ago, I'd almost forgotten about it using selective bad experience erasure, I bought a $400 V-Machine hardware VST player.
I wanted to build it into a project I was working on, and add a secondary MIDI control to enable selection/adjustment of VSTs remotely as, believe it or not, you can't do any of that with it's MIDI.

It was a simple matter of soldering wires on to some of the keys, and other parts of the "mini computer" to monitor load and memory status.
Somewhere along the line, while soldering on to tiny via's, I fryed the main processor (the v-machines one, not the mini computer one) and it wouldn't boot past a certain point.
It took a while, but I realized the thing was unrepairable due to unavailability of that particular chip.

I was pretty pissed of for quite a while! I have 35+ years of soldering experience and somehow I muffed that up totally.

If anyone needs some V-machine parts, i.e. the mini computer part, lcd, whatever, I'll sell it cheap cheap.

Your Volca may not be entirely hooped, maybe try following the power to the regulators and see if they are outputting power at all. Might just be that.

BTW, if you're eyeballing one of those v-machines, used now as they're discontinued, don't get it. They have a very limited memory and can't run most of the really interesting VST's due to memory and speed deficiencies. Total crap in my opinion. No wonder they dicontinued them. Also they tend to overheat if you're not working on a stage, at night, with a 10 click wind breezing through it!

Cheers
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Post by slow_riot »

There is a range of metallized paper Kemet/RIFA brand capacitors that were designed for safe use at high voltages (e.g. power supplies). I think their point is that they are designed to fail open, but they have a habit of slowly degrading and then just catching on fire! This has happened in 2 pieces of gear that I've had, and luckily I've been in the room. They are still in production (I'm not sure whether they have changed the formulation or not). That is an epic industrial level fuck up in my opinion.

I did some rework on a power supply and washed off the flux, I thought I was careful when I applied the water and let the thing dry but I guess some dampness got into the power inlet module because it melted.

Plus a couple of instances when I first started working with high voltage where I was a couple of inches from frying myself. (It took me a while to learn safe practice and develop a 6th sense for what is plugged in to where).

Oh yeah, plus a lovely brand new Tascam 122MK2 cassette deck that I thought about modding for VC speed and toasted the CPU.

Those Korg boxes are not designed for modding, they are "use once" consumer items. Don't let this one incident put you off. In designing a module I find that blowing stuff up is an important lesson to make sure the same failure doesn't happen in the field!
mckenic

Post by mckenic »

I have a Strakal Brulu & xoxheart I just couldnt for the life of me get working - makes me :cry:

But lucky, I was able to give em to a mate to have a look at - hopefully he can get em purring as I was at my wits end! I guess it happens to us all! Main thing is to not give up and keep going!

@Sandrine - might take you up on that offer. Love my V-Machine as Im a Mac dude and there are some nice SynthEdit VSTs that play nice with the V-Machine. But your right, very underpowered & generally disappointing. I was hoping to use it for DBlue Glitch but it cant receive midi start to start playing :bang: Still, the Ugo stuff runs fine :-)

As an aside (and perhaps this is better as a PM?) - do you have any Irish relations by any chance? All my Mums side of the family are Sims (great grandmother married a Mc Mahon) and I believe some of them moved to Canada back in the day. I 'think' there is some connection with Kilkenny Castle in the family too...
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Cobramatic
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Post by Cobramatic »

slow_riot wrote: Those Korg boxes are not designed for modding, they are "use once" consumer items. Don't let this one incident put you off. In designing a module I find that blowing stuff up is an important lesson to make sure the same failure doesn't happen in the field!
I take your point, the failures are there to help us learn and make us better!

I've had a chance to sleep on it now so I feel less sore about it - but man that was frustrating. Really pissed me off.

The Volka is definitely designed for some modding though - it has the patch points for Midi out and most individual outs on the easily assessable back PCB - thats why just doing that (especially with a break out box) is relatively easy.
It gets hard when you mount all the jacks inside like I did - see pic. And that's what was my undoing - the ground wire on the Kick out jack touched the +ve on the switch.

Plus that SMT snare mod ---- stay well away unless you are a pro!!
Otherwise, and with the snare fixed, it is a brilliant cheap and portable very capable drum machine. I have others but I love that this machine is a 'consumer' item with batteries and a crap speaker. But once hooked up to an Amp the sounds are really very good. The Stutter controls are also very versatile and programmable per individual drum track, and that makes up for the lack of swing etc.

So, I'm just gonna have to get another one and have a bash - I'm obviously just a sucker for punishment!

See Jono's Blog post for the details on the mods if you are also brave enough to have a go:
http://djjondent.blogspot.com.au/2016/0 ... rcuit.html

Image

See the easy patch points for midi and outs:
Image
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