Sunday, June 22, 2008

A hero lost

Not synth related at all...but one of my heros has just died.

RIP George Carlin. You were the greatest.

Modular Cabinet Update - EPIC FAIL!

The title just about says it all.

I should have listened to that voice in my head six months ago that said "whatever you build, it's not going to be 'good enough' and you'll just be disappointed. You'll justify it by reminding yourself constantly that you saved money". That would have been mildly valid had I been able to build the case in short order...but I didn't, it's been six months since I sold my Doepfer A-100P cases. For just $150 a month during that time period would have paid for the difference of the Doepfer Monster Case.

I spent all this morning and majority of the afternoon gathering the up the final materials (of which only 80% was obtained) and started building the case. I even got some nice red oak wood normally used for kitchen cabinets and had the guys at the lumber yard cut it for me, since all I have at home is a shitty old jig saw and oak is hard shit. Oh yeah, and it was $80 of Oak so I didn't want to fuck it up.

I was able to finally find some small corner brackets that I could use for mounting the Vector rails. They would work, but they weren't perfect. A minor issue, but it bugged me.

I searched everywhere for a nice thin, but sturdy piece of wood for the back of the case. Plywood was overkill, and ugly as fuck. Even though I wouldn't see it, it just seemed wrong to screw down this shitty plywood on $80 of sweet Red Oak. Everything else was too thin and flimsy.

After driving around most of Campbell and Saratoga to all the various hardware stores (Ace, OSH, and Home Depot...the trifecta), I finally returned home and got started putting the case together.

Of course, I have no jigs or anything...not even a proper workbench, so the glueing process started to get messy. I thought, "fuck it, I'll just skip the glue...the corner brackets should be fine". Well they weren't, the case was flimsy as fuck. And, despite what looked like an extremely well planed piece of Oak, it wasn't perfect and the corner joints did not align well and there were some slight gaps/overhangs. Again, not a big deal, but it was another one of those "fuck it, it's just cosmetic" things.

At this point, the sturdiness of the thing was starting to bother me. If you would have pushed it a little hard from the side, I'm sure all the screws from the corner brackets would have ripped right out of the Oak. "Well...", I thought, once I get the module rows mounted in, that will reinforce it well. So I brought one row outside to mount in the case.

But, as I was sliding the row in, I found that the inner dimensions of the case were to small...the rails were too big by about 1/8 of an inch.

FUCK! <- I yelled this so loud, I'm pretty sure my whole neighborhood heard me. One guy thought I had drilled my hand or something.

I spent the next half an hour thinking about what would be better/easier... using the spare couple feet of Oak that I had left to replace the one side, making the case slightly too big *or* take the vector rails down to a local metal shop and get 1/8" trimmed off each one.

The latter seemed extra complicated since 1) I didn't know of a local metal shop setup for this and 2) If I fucked that up somehow, then I'd been even more set back. And, of course, it would be more downtime...the modules still wouldn't have a case.

So I opted for the former, which would make the case less sturdy (since the rails wouldn't be butted right up against the wood...the mounting bracket would make up the difference, and it would look sloppy...oh yeah and there would about 1 foot and 1/2 of extra Oak that I would have to cut with my crappy old jig saw.

After measuring twice, I made the best cut I could with the jig saw. It actually took 3 minutes to cut through 10" of 3/4" thick Oak with that fucking saw and I had to actually pause twice to catch my breath and get a grip on the saw handle. After it was done, I re-attached the side and took a step back. It looked like shit! And it wasn't level! FUCK FUCK FUCK!

"You're 90% there", I thought to myself, "just mount the rails and see how it looks". So I did, well one row anyway, which was all I had patience for. The row wasn't perfectly parallel with the front edge of the cabinet and because the mounting brackets were making up the extra space, the whole row could slip around a lot. The case was barely any less wobbly than when the rails were not mounted.

And it looked like absolute shit.

So that's it. I'm fucking done. I'm ordering a Doepfer Monster Case first thing Monday. I'm too pissed off at this point to chalk it up to a learning experience. And, the only thing I learned, if anything, is that I should listen to initial gut instinct.


Now that you've read this horror story...if you are thinking of making your own cabinet, I have parts which I'd love to sell to you ;) No, seriously, the Vector Rails (including nuts and screws for the modules), the +/- 12V/15V 3A power supply, and Doepfer power bus boards are all up for sale. If you are interesting, just send me an email. I'm sure to have calmed down by then, and promise to be as helpful as I can.

james.cigler at gmail dot com

In the meantime, I'm going to hang myself... and try not to fuck it up.