update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

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update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by synthcube » Wed Nov 04, 2020 10:23 am

Quick update--

We're continuing to work on integrating the Blacet designs into synthCube--- it's taking a bit longer than hoped-- we started down the path of relying on the original Blacet BOMs and parts bins for kitting, but ran into a couple of issues we are sorting out:

a) specific part numbers for Blacet parts are not always obvious, and its important for us to be able to identify the specific P/Ns so we can get parts labels correct in our kits, and provide for replacement stock.
b) a number of the original parts are obsolete-- so we have to identify and check replacements. We are staying original as much as possible; only in the case where an original part is no longer available will we specify a modern replacement. As an example, the original Panasonic PCB-mount pots are obsolete so we are working to identify matching replacements from other pot makers.
c) when we are done with this process we will have a complete 'Blacet parts shop' with any obsolete parts replaced by current ones. Kits will come with each part individually labelled, with a x-reference back to the original Blacet build docs.

An issue on which we would appreciate your opinions--
Blacet specified a mix of 1% metal film and 5% carbon film resistors for most modules. Generally, most DIyers today would swap 1% resistors in for all the 5% resistors. It would certainly make it easier to kit these if we did so. But, then our BOM would not line up as cleanly with the original BOM, and conceptually, it would be a departure from Blacet's original design.

We know that for all practical purposes, using 1% resistors in place of 5% resistors will not change the performance of the modules. But at the moment we plan to kit both 1% and 5% types, for consistency with the original BOMs and to make good use of the 5% resistor stock we inherited. Good business choice? Probably not. But unless you all object, we like the idea of being consistent with the original BOMs.
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by dogoftears » Wed Nov 04, 2020 10:34 am

hear hear...
thanks for your hard work!
i dont mind either way on the resistors.
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by emmaker » Wed Nov 04, 2020 2:11 pm

I would have no problem with 1% resistors and it makes sense to me to reduce inventory. If the parts are bought in bulk they might even be cheaper.

YES! PLEASE PUT TOGETHER A PART STORE FOR THE BLACET MODULES!

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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by synthcube » Wed Nov 04, 2020 2:16 pm

emmaker wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 2:11 pm
I would have no problem with 1% resistors and it makes sense to me to reduce inventory. If the parts are bought in bulk they might even be cheaper.

YES! PLEASE PUT TOGETHER A PART STORE FOR THE BLACET MODULES!

Thanks
Jay S.
thanks for the feedback-- we hope you and everyone will be happy with the parts store once we get it launched.
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by sneak-thief » Wed Nov 04, 2020 3:21 pm

Please put in the effort and retain the 1% resistors that John specified.

I just looked through the following schematics for my modules:

LFO2430
EG2070
VCA2100
FF2310
VCO2100

Most of the time if a 1% has been specified, it's for very good reason, eg. specific output & amplification levels, adsr timing, vco tuning and timing, etc.

Furthermore, in these schematics there are often listings for 5% and 1% of the same resistor value which clearly indicates that there are places where 1% are absolutely necessary (and not just because perhaps he couldn't find a 5% in a specific value).
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by deepblackjoe@gmail.com » Wed Nov 04, 2020 3:50 pm

Replacement pcbmount pots is something I was going to ask you about. I have a couple on the mixer that might need more than cleaning. I would preemptively buy some extras if/when you find something suitable. Thanx for keeping blacet alive!

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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by synthcube » Wed Nov 04, 2020 4:17 pm

sneak-thief wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 3:21 pm
Please put in the effort and retain the 1% resistors that John specified.

I just looked through the following schematics for my modules:

LFO2430
EG2070
VCA2100
FF2310
VCO2100

Most of the time if a 1% has been specified, it's for very good reason, eg. specific output & amplification levels, adsr timing, vco tuning and timing, etc.

Furthermore, in these schematics there are often listings for 5% and 1% of the same resistor value which clearly indicates that there are places where 1% are absolutely necessary (and not just because perhaps he couldn't find a 5% in a specific value).
noted!
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by diophantine » Wed Nov 04, 2020 9:49 pm

sneak-thief wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 3:21 pm
Please put in the effort and retain the 1% resistors that John specified.
I believe SynthCube is suggesting using all 1% and no 5%.

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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by sneak-thief » Thu Nov 05, 2020 8:40 am

Sorry synthcube, lemme try this again with a clear head: I have no objections to using all 1%.

That's what I get for posting and simultaneously refreshing election results. yeesh.
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by KSS » Thu Nov 05, 2020 10:16 am

synthcube wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 10:23 am
An issue on which we would appreciate your opinions--
Blacet specified a mix of 1% metal film and 5% carbon film resistors for most modules. Generally, most DIyers today would swap 1% resistors in for all the 5% resistors. It would certainly make it easier to kit these if we did so. But, then our BOM would not line up as cleanly with the original BOM, and conceptually, it would be a departure from Blacet's original design.
The only truly reliable answer is to build *at least* one of each type and test. John was no dummy, and would be certain to have good reason in any choices made. Without him here to say whether it was an economic or engineering choice, you're in a shaky grey area. But build three of each, test them, and you and you'd be back on solid ground.

I'd hoped to see more of the docs released -like you did for the VCO- to do some of that testing myself, and can only say that any answers coming from us will be total guesses. Almost all will be based on general beliefs -and most will be favoring cost and ease issues, but *none* will be based on actual results unless they come form someone who used 1%MF's in all the places that 5%CF's are spec'd.
We know that for all practical purposes, using 1% resistors in place of 5% resistors will not change the performance of the modules.
No. You don't. Unless you have done the actual work to determine and define the differences, you're simply bowing to outside concerns. And that's fine -and all too often done, but don't mistake it for truth. I've done enough 'updates' of classic designs to know that the generally held beliefs do not always hold up in actual practice. When they do it's a blessing. But when they don't then choosing them is a degrade of the product.
And let me be clear that I'm not talking about audiophoolery. But real measured differences on actual builds.

I've sepnt a very long time on this issue, and have performed blind testing to find the edges. Putting the "wrong" circuit behind a panel and watching and listening to the comments about its sound. It's surprising how much the panel determines our experience! But some did notice the differences.
Whether this is proof you can simply use the less expensive path is a question only you can answer. But I'd be remiss in not bringing it up given how unique and revered the Blacet line is. And how much John was able to combine both engineering AND economy in his designs and practices.
Most of the people in these blind tests still don't know they were hearing what they expected. My goal was not to shame or fool anyone but to learn how many of the general beliefs about synth circuits and magic components actually hold up. And some do. Many don't.
But at the moment we plan to kit both 1% and 5% types, for consistency with the original BOMs and to make good use of the 5% resistor stock we inherited.
That's a smart move. Testing is a smart move too. For after the 5% stock runs out.
Good business choice? Probably not.
It's both a good business decision and also the *right* choice. For now, at least. Testing will answer the underlying truth.
But unless you all object, we like the idea of being consistent with the original BOMs.
I have to wonder if your post isn't just a means to this end? Because we BOTH know that the votes cast will be almost entirely for "I don't care" or "It doesn't matter." You already knew you'd wouldn't get any serious objections. My dissent is entirely based on science and testing over economics and popularity.

And to be clear, it's not a permanent dissent. If-when build and testing gives confirmation one way or the other, then you actually doing john a good deed. He'd have wanted the most economical but still properly engineered product for his customers. The fact he never bent to the euroracj pressure is a good example of his belief in his own choices.

Added point: The difference between MF and CF is much less than for MF and CC Carbon Comp. If that were the question, I'd push even harder for actual build-tests to answer the question. Here it's most likely<--only an educated guess that the difference will be tolerance-based and not johnson noise.
Which means either three build-tests are needed or one is senough. Because if it's a difference that matters, it should show up in each case. The only differences being tolerance results. Which by themselves *could* be enough reason to keep using them! It's sometimes forgotten that our goal here in electronic means of music is NOT about having everythig be exactly the same

We're not building test equipment. While exact uniformity may be necessary in that field, it's a different environment here. Bowing to economic concerns will always be a real pressure. But it's far too easy in business to let the bean counters ruin your customer experience to the point that your overall brand suffers. That's not often enough almost never a concern of bean counting. <--'Beans' are also time and structures to support their storage, not only the meals they provide. And using cheaper beans can eventually kill your brand. You'll still make money, as Behringer proves. But your products won't be the same. That's neither good or bad in itself. It's a choice made by any and every maker and distributor of products.
Last edited by KSS on Thu Nov 05, 2020 10:40 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by werock » Thu Nov 05, 2020 10:35 am

All 1% is fine with me.

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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by revtor » Thu Nov 05, 2020 10:43 am

You should probably use up the stock that you have. If you decide to move to all 1%, I totally get it -kitting up millions of parts sucks. And any differences will be way subtle. But perhaps in the documentation, note the values and types that came with the original kit so the builders could swap them out if they wanted to.

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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by KSS » Thu Nov 05, 2020 11:07 am

revtor wrote:
Thu Nov 05, 2020 10:43 am
But perhaps for sure in the documentation, note the values and types that came with the original kit so the builders could swap them out if they wanted to.
Yes.

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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by synthcube » Fri Nov 06, 2020 9:53 am

thanks all for the feedback---
quick update as we continue to scrub the VCO BOM--
1) Resistors--- we will maintain the 1% metal film and 5% carbon resistors specced by John Blacet. This keeps the synthCube BOM aligned with the original Blacet BOM.
2) IC sockets--- John used the 'solder type' sockets, while we prefer to use Mil-Max 'machine pin' types. Our synthCube BOMs will include the 'machine pin' part numbers but we will use the original 'solder type' sockets in kits, until the supply is exhausted, and then we will switch over to the 'machine pin' types.
3) Pots--as noted above the Panasonic pots aren't available; we will switch to Alpha Taiwan, BI/TT or Alps when we find the closest match.
4) Transistors- we have a healthy supply of obsolete or hard to find transistors so at the moment, no subs are anticipated.

We'll post the VCO BOM here once done so you'll have a chance to look and comment--
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by KSS » Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:05 pm

Machine pin sockets are inferior over time for dip packages. Dual wipe are *much* better.

Here's why. A very short version as i've typed the long version many times already.
The machined pin types are made for *round* pins. DIP legs are *not* round.

Here's a longer version.
The machined pins bite into the DIP leg,v destroying it a little, and all's good. For awhile. Then after typical vibration rears its head eventually the item stops working right. The general fix every tech knows is to re-seat the ICs in their sockets. But when you do this with the MP sockets, they've already bit into the leg and now no longer have th gas tight connection required. So they fail quicker and the cycles continue in this fashion over time.

It gets worse. If you *must* subscribe to the cargo cult of MP sockets then be *very* sure to get GOOD ones. If you cheap out here you will really pay the price. The materials and dimensions of cheap MP sockets are crap. The people making them are aware of the cult about them, and they cannot make a MP socket as easily or inexpensively as a dual wipe in the best case. When you buy cheap, you're not getting the best case. And you're still dealing withthe wrong part for the job!

Dual-wipe sockets are designed for the flat legs of a DIP IC. They are *also* subject to vibration and need periodic re-seating. But the difference is that this re-seating does not ruin them as it does the MP types. They're also less expensive to make in good quality.

Here's the story behind the MP cargo cult. Back in late 70s and early 80s when synths -and personal electronics of *all* types- were exploding in popularity, there were some mfg issues with plating. Capacitors also got caught up in it. Demand far exceeded supply, and mfrs ramped up and cheaped out. Remember when Toyota's became *really* popular in the USA? And remember how their expected quality also suffered then? Same thing in sockets and caps.

As a result, some dual-wipe sockets performd poorly. And as I wrote above, the machined pin DO work ok at first. There was also the truth that MP sockets were flooding the 'used' secondary market as aerospace and military use switched to SMD. So the really good MPs were cheap. Not the case today! A second issue was that single wipes were promoted as being equal to the dual-wipes. They're not. But many synth mfrs bought the lie, and saved money doing so. Somewhere along the way, dual-wipes became -unfairly- conflated with these *awful* single wipe types.

Yes, this *is* the short version. But nobody seems to care about the real history and actual truths behind these cargo cult beliefs. But all will pay the price later. You have been warned. ;)

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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by synthcube » Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:16 pm

Fascinating. Curious-- if not made for DIP pins, what's the intended use for the machined pin sockets?
We went with machine-pin type (mil-max, not cheap fakes) because we had heard enough feedback about the sockets of the solder-type 'pulling out' when ICs were removed for troubleshooting or replacement. rendering the socket useless... whereas, to date we've heard very little if any negative feedback about the machine pin types--
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by KSS » Fri Nov 06, 2020 9:13 pm

Expensive military ICs and many ICs that were simply older when the technology was new, have fully round pins exiting ceramic IC bodies. They have..

..machined pins.

Machined pin sockets were made for these round "machined pins". Inside each socket is a little extra piece with three or four 'vanes' that act like a one-way 'valve'. Pressing the rounded end* of the machined pin into the socket pushes the vanes to the periphery of the socket interior and allows the pin to pass and seat. Because they are angled downwards, they tend to hold the IC in place. Dual-wipes do the same thing but with a single wide flat 'vane'.

The mill-max catalog has cutaways which show the way it all works.

If the solder types? whatever that means? were pulling out they were poorly made. If the comparison is against the worst of one type and the best of the other, then the results will be flawed. But that's the way cargo cults happen. Someone makes a mistake assigning meaning and purpose and humans take it from there. Poor quality MP sockets also have to deal with the little vane pieces popping out upon ship removal.

I'm glad to hear you're using Mill-Max at least. They're a first tier mfr. Still, over time it won't be surprising that weird and difficult to diagnose quirks and failures *will* appear. Often these will be attributed to some other cause -nobody looks at teh sockets because hey, they're MP, and those are good, right? And the cargo cult cycle continues.

To be fair, people *are* expriencing what they're reporting. The machined pin sockets *do* bite into the soft IC leg. And because it's *literally" pushing a 'square' pin into a round hole, the parts mash together exchanging metal bits. Connecting only at corners in the good case, and maybe accidentally getting one mostly flat arced vane against the flat surface of a DIP pin. Giving maybe two points of contact instead of the more likely one point. Accidental because when they make the sockets by putting the vane piece into the socket, they aren't aligning for a square pin! And then in the next step when a bunch of these assemblies are over-molded into 6,8 and more pin socket packages, there is again no need to plan for the vanes to line up with the flats of a DIP IC with its stamped rectangular pins. Because they'r making sockets fro round pins.
So the result when you push a typical DIP into an MP socket is one of *guaranteed* partial destruction for *both* parts. With an initial often decent connection. Setting up for worse things ahead.

Because in this Sq pin in Rnd hole mating process, the plating is also almost always compromised. Moreso today when plating is *much* thinner so the price stays at what we consumers 'expect' it to be. And also when people mix platings because they don't understand the intricacies of gold over tin and other plating choices. Gold is always best, right?
Now that the plating is pierced, environmental conditions band together with the metal nobility scale to almost ensure galvanic deterioration. Combine this with the cheaper and thinner materials mfrs use to save micro cents per part and it just keeps going south.

The problem is that we're hearing the positive results of the negative choice. And we don't hear from the positive results of the positive choice because it just works. When it doesn't it's for many of the same reasons. Cheap materials tighter dimensions, or poor plating that accompanies modern production focused on keeping margins in place by 'optimizing' methods. Such optimization intended for the mfr sometines more than the end user.

Along with all this, the success and popularity of of the cargo cult fueled by non-informed instant-shared opinions making mfrs focus on making more MPs and fewer Dual-wipes. Which means that in all but the higest quality producers, the qualityof *both* types suffers.

It isn't the first instance of humans allowing the worse choice to gain in popularity for the wrong reasons.

A good MP beats a crap Dual-wipe. Usually. So that's what we see mostly today. But a *good* dual-wipe blows the doors off a marginal MP. And still handily beats a good MP. Talk to synth-techs or electronics technicians who've been at it for a long time and you usually get a different answer than what the less-experienced techs say and do. New is better combines with ageism and youth culture to ensure the generation gap continues and the old tuths are replaced with cargo cultism.<--Until the pendulunm swings far enough that somebody young starts listening again and "old" quality becomes the new again. It happened to our father's father's father's, it's happening to us.

Final thought. In the first pressing of a DIP IC into an MP socket the results might seem -and somewhat *be*- equal to a good dual-wipe. And over a relatively short life or with unsophisticated users the results may seem the same. <-- No bad will intended, it's simply stating that many musicians are not also experienced technicians. But over time, as service is required, the dual-wipes hold up and the MP's either get replaced or start causing funky issues. Because every re-mating of MP to flat pin DIP mashes the mating sufaces more and more variably. Over time, it's significant. Keep in mind that vibration and thermal cycling *ensure* that this happens to *every* socketed item. Which is wy the absolute best answer is not to use sockets! But that's a whole different discussion.

Good thing I keep refraining from the long version*, and keep posting only the most obvious and salient bits! ;)

* Yes, there's more to this.

Never use single-wipe sockets. Ever.
------------------
Edit: Here's one of Mill-Max's individual pin sockets. In the drawing you can see the dotted outline of the little vane piece.
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by KSS » Fri Nov 06, 2020 9:24 pm

Two more quick thoughts to cap this.
When you look at that drawing, consider the difference between making an MP vs a Dual-wipe DIP socket.

MP process:
Each pin of the MP socket is made up of a turned socket on a lathe. Like the drawing above, but with an thin extending pin below. Then it's plated. Next a stamping for the vanes is made which requires at least three operations: Blanking, Fining and forming. It then needs not only platingbut also tempering to ensure enduring spring qualities.
Then these two parts are joined in a seventh process. Now a bunch of these are corralled into molds and once over-molded you have a finished MP socket.

DW process:
The Dual wipe also has the three steps of stamping per pin <-- But they're all flat, simple. Which is then plated.
Completely separately, the IC socket is molded in one piece. The stamped pins are inserted into the molded body. Done.

Now as you read both of those, which do you think has more room for error? For cost? For shortcuts? For hidden bad quality?
And most important, which do you think costs more to make?

So when you pay the same money for a dual-wipe and an MP, which one is more likely to be of higher quality?

Of course the answer is that this alone is not enough to make that call. But I'd like you to think about the difference that *can* be had from a good dual-wipe -at a naturally lower cost, or better quality at the same price- as an MP.

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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by synthcube » Sat Nov 07, 2020 9:15 am

So, to be clear, part of why we are doing this whole synthCube thing is because we love learning new things. And this counts, for sure!! Unapologetically, we've moved from 'cheaper' dual-wipe types ('solder type' using John Blacet's term') to what we **THOUGHT** and were **TOLD** was a much better answer-- genuine Mil-Max machine pin types. Now we have learned in fact, to do this 'right,' we should select and use, instead, a 'good' quality dual wiper type. Suggestions and recommendations on P/Ns welcome. The stock we acquired with Blacet look to be TE Connectivity brand so assuming those count as 'good' its a simple matter to change our default. And, we go through enough IC sockets every day that a switchover to the 'right' and 'best' solution won't take that long. People wonder what's amazing about the synth DIY community? **THIS**
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by synthcube » Sat Nov 07, 2020 9:21 am

Attached (for anyone interested) is the current working draft of the synthcube converted kit BOM for the blacet vco2100. (Notwithstanding the potential change to IC socket P/Ns noted above)

Thoughts and comments welcome; this would be an example of how synthcube kit BOM would evolve for other blacet module kits as we bring them online.
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by ranix » Sat Nov 07, 2020 11:42 am

I don't see a problem with using 1% tolerance resistors. The 5% tolerance parts for the most part just have a wider variance and it's certainly possible for a module assembled with some 5% tolerance parts to sound exactly the same as a module assembled with all 1% parts. The variance of the 5% parts can just happen to fall inside the 1%'s range. I guess it's possible for the 5% part to behave differently with regard to some frequency or temperature effects but I doubt anyone will ever notice.

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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by revtor » Sun Nov 08, 2020 5:35 pm

So glad to see positive energy, thought, and engineering going towards the production and sale of Blacet’s awesome designs. He would be stoked!
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by stin-g » Thu Dec 10, 2020 12:12 am

I'm with revtor - Big thanks to synthcube for keeping the Blacet dream going, and extra thanks for for checking in with us on what we think the best way to do that is! I know it's gotta be a lot to sort out.

Part of what I love about my Blacet modules is that the quality standard is so high. They'll probably outlive me. Especially the ones John built. I know they're gonna work when I turn them on, and if something does go wrong it can probably be fixed. Not so for a lot of the newer Eurorack stuff, as fun and imaginative as they may be, that will probably wind up in the landfill when the teensy SMT components or microcontrollers fail.

In that spirit thanks to KSS as well for all the great in-depth info! This is the kind of dialogue that brought me to this forum however many years ago - The synth freak brain trust!!

John always kept his prices reasonable but I feel like he never skimped on what was important. I'd rather see prices go up a little than see *any* parts get substituted (unless of course said parts are simply not available any more).

VIVA FRAC! AND VIVA SYNTHCUBE! :headbang: :headbang: :headbang: :headbang:

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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by pugix » Fri Dec 11, 2020 1:34 pm

synthcube wrote:
Sat Nov 07, 2020 9:15 am
Now we have learned in fact, to do this 'right,' we should select and use, instead, a 'good' quality dual wiper type. Suggestions and recommendations on P/Ns welcome.
Thanks to KSS for the details on the machined pin sockets. I have read similar discussions here, before.

I, too, am one of those non-EE techies who bought into the machined pin socket mystique. At least I used Mill Max. But I used sockets only on lower quality PC boards, especially single sided like some of Ken Stone's earlier boards. On any board sturdy enough to withstand rework, which includes John Blacet's, I usually followed Paul Schreiber's recommendation to simply avoid sockets. In all the hundreds of ICs I've soldered in, I can think of only three that needed replacement.

I donated a bunch of the dual wipe sockets that came with Blacet kits I built to Synthcube. I never had a part number for them, and I'm indeed interested in manufacturer/PN for quality dual wipe types, which I'd like to use on some boards I'm currently working on.
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Re: update on Blacet kits migration to synthCube

Post by pugix » Sat Dec 12, 2020 9:32 pm

I ordered some of this line to try.

https://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/3M ... VTHw%3D%3D
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"Everything in our world is actually always modulated by everything else." - Peter B

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