Cables! Noob question

Cwejman, Livewire, TipTop Audio, Doepfer etc... Get your euro on!

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pekbro
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by pekbro » Sat Jul 25, 2020 4:11 pm

Multi Grooves wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 7:36 am
pekbro wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:15 pm
I refuse to buy any cable's that cost $8 a piece. Sooner or later I am just going to buy a shitload
of those nice metal connectors and a bunch of, I dunno 26 awg copper wire, which is what they
all say they are using, and the go to town and make em, even if they are all the same color.
Though of course I probably get some paracord sleeving to go with it.
Rolling my own caused the biggest failures by a country mile Vs bought cables. At first they were fine but then over time the connections started going funny- dunno if it was due to the quality of solder that I used... :despair: The majority are still in use, but I shudder at the thought of taking them apart for re-solder. The bottom plug is a joy to use but when the suppliers ran out, I was forced to using the upper one. The fit is so tight it requires greasing before being able to slide the barrel up the cable to get to the critical parts :
cable5.jpg

When I factored in the time it took it wasn't favourable. Then adding repair times, it was definitely not making $£€/time sense.
Thanks for that, a position I hadn’t considered. Anyway,
I have never done it, so it’s not that big of a deal I guess.
Definitely I will try a small number first, before committing
to making a bunch.

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dBVelocity
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by dBVelocity » Sat Jul 25, 2020 10:18 pm

Another thought to consider is not just color coded lengths but specific color for specific signal.. it's obviously personal choice but I use all yellow for all clock signals despite the division, pink ones for reset. The rest are mostly length coded as most other signals are definable by how you patch.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Pelsea » Sat Jul 25, 2020 11:10 pm

I color by voice because I only need to figure out a cable’s length once per patch, but I’m constantly tracing the signal path. Sorting by length is quick—just hold a handful by one end and grab the longest ones at the bottom. I buy the Hosa bundles of 8 colors, usually from Sweetwater. I have about 100 or so for 15U.
Instead of stocking super long cables, I have a bunch of 3.5mm f/f cable couplers I got on Amazon.
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dp4
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by dp4 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:17 am

honestly never had a tta stackable fail on me in the past decade or whatever but ymmv I suppose

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dubonaire
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by dubonaire » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:43 am

I have a bucketload of Doepfer cables and none have failed. I bought some TTA stackables earlier this year and they seem solid enough for me. I don't know why anyone would want to stack them several times high that would drive me nuts.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by ea67 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:44 am

pekbro wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:36 pm
I have one pretty complete (length-wise) set of the hosa version of the stackables,
they work fine when I want to use them, which is hardly ever. I just use a buffered
mult or make multiple identical versions of the source signal. Mostly the modules I
would use them for can already output multiple identical gates or whatever anyway.
I once managed a Radio Shack (surprise!) [ducks hurtling beer bottle] and during my auspicious tenure there, I recall a customer who saw a 4-channel RF switcher -- an unpowered box with a bunch of switches and CATV jacks. $31.95, it cost (in 1990 dollars.) This customer balked, and grimaced, and proceeded to storm around the store, grabbing a handful of toggle switches, some panel mount RF jacks, etc. Before he got too far along, as calmly and politely as possible, I reminded him that those toggle switches would be fine for switching DC, or even AC, for that matter. But radio frequency signals?!?? Not so much.

He turned beet red, because as a radio amateur he actually did know better -- he had just let his passions take over. The moral of the story? I'm not sure. How about: choose your battles wisely.

Anyone who is willing to drop $250 on a single Eurorack module -- plus another $1000 so it has some friends, to play with -- should have no trouble budgeting at least $100 on care & feeding for their little electronic menagerie. Are cables fun? No. (unless I'm doing something wrong) Are they sexy? No. (I'm definitely doing something wrong.) Are they essential? Abso-freaking-lutely!

The only thing more aggravating than a flaky module is a flaky cable. My abilities are such that I can build a reasonably complex electronic circuit. I can work with plywood and aluminium extrusions. I work with microcontrollers, so building my own DSP module, or clock divider, isn't outlandish. I can do a lot of things to reduce the cost of my Eurorack excursion, but one thing that I cannot do is reliably outperform a factory process -- if even once, with respect to the production of my patch cables. Even if I could, it simply wouldn't be worth my time, because I couldn't do it fast enough.

Bottom line: modular synthesis ain't cheap. Everything about it is overpriced, and you're darn tootin': as a DIY'er, I'm prepared to do everything sensible to save money. I will build my own power supplies, I will build my own cases, I will even build my own modules -- but I won't waste a single minute of my life making a bog-standard patch cable. Life's too short, too precious.

FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS COBBLE THEIR OWN EURORACK CABLES.

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pekbro
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by pekbro » Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:46 am

Honestly I don't mind making cables, I always make them when building computers as I am into that.
Anyway, I've spent plenty on cables, believe me. The biggest thing for me about making them is that they
would all be matching, rather than the mishmash of brands I am using currently. Of course I've tried
a lot of them trying to find a brand that I like. The ones I like the best were from Luigi's Modular out of
Denver, they are thicker than all the rest I've tried, which I prefer, unlike most I guess. Sadly, they
went out of business right after I got them. No doubt, I could probably find some similar cables, but
very likely I will make some to see how I like them at least. I'm pretty handy at things like that actually.

-Cheers

Not to mention that there are some guys around here who make all their own cables, guys that I know,
would not be doing that if it wasn't worth while.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by SavageMessiah » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:23 pm

Seconding starthief's recommendation of modular addict. Almost all of my cables are from there - I've got mostly the braided ones but also some of the skinny nazca noodle style cables, and some of the stackables. Never had any problems and the prices are way better than a lot of places.

As an alternative to stackables, hosa hopscotch cables have the jack on a little pigtail and both it and the main plug have strain relief. The plug is huge though.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by diggida » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:34 pm

Pelsea wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 11:10 pm
I color by voice because I only need to figure out a cable’s length once per patch, but I’m constantly tracing the signal path. Sorting by length is quick—just hold a handful by one end and grab the longest ones at the bottom. I buy the Hosa bundles of 8 colors, usually from Sweetwater. I have about 100 or so for 15U.
Instead of stocking super long cables, I have a bunch of 3.5mm f/f cable couplers I got on Amazon.
This is a very good idea. ;)

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by ea67 » Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:50 am

Fully agreed, Pekbro. I make or at least rework all of my Eurorack power cables -- so it's not that we differ, fundamentally. I just find the fuss factor involved in soldering up a patch cable, ensuring proper strain relief, etc. too much, given the number of cables I would want. Add to that the questionable reliability of my work, and it becomes not worth the frustration of troubleshooting the problems I've created. I can install an IDC connector in fifteen seconds, if I take my time, and rest assured that I didn't screw it up.

To your original point, I likewise balk at the idea of an $8 cable. Granted, my lengths are max 24", so the $20 10-pack of 1-ft HOSA cables generally works for me.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Pelsea » Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:25 am

I used to make patch cables for student studios in the 80s and 90s.The plug geometry of bought-in cables did not match the heavy duty jacks in my recycled patch bays. Also the half life of a cable students were patching with was about 6 weeks. (Pull the plug, not the wire!) I quit when Hosa finally brought out molded cables that were tough enough to last an entire year. Now I usually buy, unless I need odd lengths or differing types of connectors. I still build balanced cables though.
Books and tutorials on modular synthesis at http://peterelsea.com
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by ersatzplanet » Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:38 am

There are many makers out there and the big brands have lasted because they make good product. Bad makers don't last long. Stackables are helpful and there is no reason to EVER stack them more than two high (just use the other end, they are just wires). I make my own flying multiples but still use some stackable I got on a sale when the prices were reasonable. Otherwise, learning to make your own will be a skill that will come in handy in the future. With molded plugs, when they get damaged, you have to throw them out unless you can fix them.

I buy colored cables in all lengths. I don't need the color to tell me the length cause I hang them on the wall using standard wall mounted coat hooks. I use colors to show the modules used in a patch. When multiple things are going on, it is VERY useful to "just follow the red patch cords" to see what is happening in that patch, or to troubleshoot it.

I make a very useful module that it seems from the sales numbers, that only I find it useful, and that is the PC5V 5v power adaptor and Patch cord checker. It has saved my sanity many times where I couldn't figure out why a patch didn't work, when it showed it was a funky cable.
PC5V-angle-SM.jpg
PC5V-angle-SM.jpg (14.47 KiB) Viewed 61 times
-James

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Synthwerks is a proud member of the Mostly Modular Trade Association (http://www.mostlymodular.com).
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by ea67 » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:24 am

My pack of ExcelValley 8" right-angle connector cables arrived on Sunday, and I've already found a great use for them. First, understand that I'm dealing with a small rig -- a 104HP skiff. Many connections, like the mults I use to fan out the clock & CV from Marbles, tend to remain unchanged, from patch to patch.

I find that using right-angle cables for the relatively permanent connections and routing them flat against the panel, and flying cables for the variable connections, I have an easier time isolating the creative elements of a patch, as well as tearing it down when moving on.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:47 am

As I get deeper into 2HP modules, the small ends become a necessity. As I buy more used modules, troubleshooting is becoming difficult. That cable tester would solve one of those problems. I played with the idea of making one. You see them in every industry. Is it lighting up < 50 Ohms?
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by ea67 » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:22 am

EATyourGUITAR wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:47 am
As I get deeper into 2HP modules, the small ends become a necessity. As I buy more used modules, troubleshooting is becoming difficult. That cable tester would solve one of those problems. I played with the idea of making one. You see them in every industry. Is it lighting up < 50 Ohms?
My sloped skiff sadly lacks the depth needed to run my 2HP Clock Divider, leading me to realize that most 2HP modules will necessarily run deeper, so I will avoid them, until I start building my own cases.

While there are simpler ways of managing what you describe, given an expanded skill set, using a microcontroller (e.g. Arduino) could be used for doing so with a fair degree of refinement. (I haven't checked the resistance of my cables, so I'm not sure what's reasonable, but I would hope they're less than 5 ohms!)

I'm looking at building a simple Arduino project for verifying Eurorack power cables. Another would be a current readout module for my power supply.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:39 am

You do not require an Arduino. You need a comparator and a cheap resistor divider for a reference. You don't even need the comparator. You can do it with a resistor and an LED. If you are going to use an Arduino, it should send a %50 duty cycle square wave at various frequencies into an envelope follower into the ADC on the Arduino so that you can test cable high frequency response hence therefore cable capacitance. Is every cable > 5 Ohms definitely bad? Personal I don't think so. That depends on cable length.
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by ea67 » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:57 am

I fully realize how simple a continuity tester can be. My point was precisely that, and that given a microcontroller, one could readily achieve a much better understanding of a cable's electrical characteristics. So why stop with the caveman assessment of whether/not the cable conducts?

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Tue Jul 28, 2020 12:06 pm

That is the point of the comparator. You set the DC resistance one time for pass fail. Do we need to log the DC resistance of every cable or do we need to throw them out when they go bad? If you want to grade them based on levels of good cable vs also good cable slightly different DC resistance then you also need to input the cable length into the device before the device can tell you DC resistance per foot. Or you can write this down, measure the cable, get out your calculator. Even with the Arduino based device there will be stuff that is impossible to automate. Is anyone interested to know that one cable is 5 Ohms but the other cable is 8 Ohms? You would need to come up with some real world example where that small value change in DC resistance is the cause of some difference you can hear. With an input impedance between 10K and 100K on every module, this seems like it will have very little affect. If you can degrade a 26awg cable to be > 50 Ohms and also < 1,000,000 Ohms I will be impressed. You have a better chance of winning the lottery.
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by ea67 » Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:21 pm

Just to be clear, I'm not on some crusade to promote Arduino. I was simply bothered by the idea of using a dumb circuit like a continuity tester for testing patch cables -- although it likely does the job adequately. A smarter circuit could better detect intermittent issues, for example. LM339's are cheap, but I have a drawer full of Arduino Nano's -- either will do a far better job.

But all in all, at the end of the day -- factoring in the value of one's time -- it's ultimately cheaper to buy more cables than you need, and when in doubt, throw it out. Patch cables are the peanut shells of this circus -- no cause for undue fretting!

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Pelsea » Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:36 pm

Any oscillator on my instrument can be a cable tester. I patch to an output mixer and bend the cable just behind the plugs.
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