Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Marantz Tuner Model 112 LED Conversion

I said I would get to the tuner to install the LED fuse lamps, but I did not think I would get around to it the same night. However I was so stoked on how good it looked in the receiver I had to do it.

Mostly pics in this one. Here's the best I can do at capturing the cyan green that was what I was getting with the old vellum paper and regular fuse lamps. I had to do it without the flash and a longish exposure so the rest is very dark.

Marantz 112 green

It's a bit harder to get at the lamps in this tuner than the receiver I have. More screws to remove and wires in the way but it was not that hard. Case removed here is the inside.

Marantz 112 inside

The black cover over the tuner's main circuit board has to be removed. This view is looking toward the front at the exposed board. The long narrow green board is the where the lamp sockets are, on the underside. There were 5 screws and a clip or 2 to pull off to get this far.

Fuse board 2

The next shot is closer in. The green wires at the right are in the way as there is a screw to loosen behind them, plus one at the other end. The dial indicator string is also a bit in the way.

Fuse board

Exposed bulbs. You can also see that I pulled out the single lamp holder from the back of the tuning meter. It's held by one screw.

Exposed fuse lamps

The bulbs that are about to go in are below. The one at the top is one of the original fuse lamps and the LED lamps below that. They have 2 LEDs inside each and as you can see are directional unlike the incandescents.

When I installed them I paid attention to the direction they pointed. In the 2215b I pointed them straight out as they go in directly behind the faceplate. In this tuner they are at 90 degrees to the face, and point down into a white reflector housing that redirects the light outward. This reflector is another reason the light colour can change with time as it will yellow and even sometimes get somewhat melted. I decided to turn the LEDs just a little, maybe 25 or 30 degrees forward of straight down and again make sure they all had the same angle.

Fuse lamps

The finished product is below and again it looks great. This shot was actually with the flash so looks the most realistic, and the blue stands out even against the power of the flash.

Marantz 112 LED

I am pretty happy with these little guys...total time to completion on this project: roughly one record side!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Marantz 2215b LED Conversion

I have a Marantz 2215b receiver that has appeared in few pics here lately as it has been my temporary hookup to some of the turntables I have been refurbishing. It has been living on my dining room table while I eat at the coffee table.

It's a great little receiver and works well. However it had one issue that always surfaces in old audio gear, burnt out panel lamps. They run on 8 Volts AC or something similar depending on model and brand, but they burn hot and burn out. They are cheap to replace at $1 or $2 each but often they are not easy to get at when you want to replace them. Plus they burn out again, light bulbs being light bulbs.

LEDs, however, almost never burn out. They are efficient, low energy devices that don't get hot (unless they are the very high power ones) and last a long time. They also can be made to emit different colours of light easily or operate on a range of voltages. With resistors in series they will work on AC.
Marantz and many others use what are called fuse lamps. They are shaped just like a fuse that you would see in the power supply or speaker protection circuits of the amplifier so are easy to plug in, with no soldering required.

On ebay and some other places you can find sellers of LED fuse lamps and I did buy a couple some time ago that went into my Marantz 140 power amplifier. I've also experimented with making my own. I have made a couple, but its a PITA to do in my opinion. Yes I could get better at it, but it's barely worth it. I have bought some of the appropriate LEDs and resistors and proof of concept is enough for me when I found that I can buy they cheaper.

The problem with ebay and the original source I used was the cost of shipping was not at all discounted for multiple items. So a $6 lamp had about $6 shipping, and 2 had $12 shipping. I bought the ones for the 140 amp, but decided not to do that again. However I recently discovered Northridge Electronics and their ebay store.

They are on ebay as well, but I emailed them and asked about multiple unit postage fees and we took it out of the auction site. The shipping became $5 for the entire package of 11 LEDs, so way better than the last time. I ended up buying enough LED fuse lamps for both my 2215b receiver and my Marantz 112 tuner. I just installed them in the 2215b and they look great.

Marantz 2215b 2
(lights off in the room)

Marantz 2215b
(lights on in the room)

Before putting the LEDs in this display was dimmer, less uniform and not blue. It was not a bad colour but was more of a cyan green.  Not a bad colour exactly but not what it should be. The cyan colour comes from the fact that the panel display is backed with vellum paper that filters and diffuses the light, but with age the paper yellows and affects the display colour. The vellum can be replaced but the LED conversion negates the need for that as the LED's that actual appear whitish when observed directly are throwing blue light through the paper. 

I tried to take a picture that would highlight the green colour of the display with the original incandescent fuse lamps, but the camera still wanted to interpret it as blue. Suffice it to say, the display is brighter, very even and uniform, and even more importantly it's BLUE! 

Thanks Northridge!

I'll soon be installing them in the Marantz tuner. When I do I will take some interior shots. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Raining Turntables

When I arrived home from work the other day I found a note on the door of my condo:

"Hey, I hear you are into turntables. I've got three, give me a call later..."

So I did, of course! 

My neighbour Doug is up 2 floors and over a few doors. He is trying to get rid of things as he prepares to go away for 6 months. I'm jealous of his trip as he plans to spend 6 months in Sicily, or is it Corsica?  I am also jealous of another friend as Doug gave him over 700 records a little while ago! Yikes. 

Oh well, at least they went to another friend and one of these days I might get to listen to them. I know he has a killer system too and will appreciate them.

Anyway, I was given the tables. No money has changed hands yet, but I do expect to sell at least 2 of them and I will do something nice for Doug. Like share some of the proceeds for example. 

They all need work, and I am well into now. 

Pioneer PL-155a

Table 1: Pioneer PL-155A is a belt drive semi-auto, from around the mid 1970's. It has on it now a Nagaoka MP11. I might keep the Nagaoka, and when I do get the Pioneer on the market equip it with a Shure I have around. The closest I can see in the Vinyl Engine library is the PL-15D: 

The lid had deep gouges (that snakey shape you see above is from the cord that was pressed...melted?...into the lid) in it but after sanding and polishing it is quite presentable. Other than that in good shape overall, with just a couple of small nicks in the "veneer" near the back, so after a new belt and some cleaning it looks great. Below you will see it is still a bit hazy (but less so in person than in the camera shot) but much more presentable.

I am not immediately going to put this one on the market. I'm waiting for a stylus to arrive, plus I have a co-worker who says she wants a Pioneer so I am going to give her a chance at it.

Pioneer PL-155A 2

Pioneer PL-155A


Sony PS-LX22 3

Table 2: Sony PS-LX22 is at least 10 years newer than the Pioneer. It's direct drive and also semi-auto. Rather than the vinyl veneer covered particle board base of the other deck, it's pretty typical silver/grey plastic mostly. Even so it is reasonably heavy feeling, though nothing like any of my "keeper" tabes.  The tonearm is straight and is made up of nicely machined or cast parts, and kind of looks like a "son of biotracer" concept. The cartridge is a Sony as well.

Sony PS-LX22 5

This one needed less aggressive work on the lid as it was scuffed, not gouged. No belt to worry about and it spins up fine. I aligned and tightened the cartridge and may not even change the stylus though I will have a better look later with my microscope.

This one goes up for sale tonight. Not a bad rig, but I don't need it and I don't have anyone else I can think of for it. Craiglist here we come...

Dual CS-508

Table 3: Dual CS-508 (more to come on this, it's bed time)

Sunday, 15 April 2012

A Record Run

Today I did some contrasting things.

In the morning I took part in the Sun Run, close the the largest event it's kind in North America if not the world. It is a 10 km run through Vancouver streets with about 50,000 participants. With so many people involved I did not even start until almost 9:30, 1/2 hour after the "official" start. Another 20,000 people started after me, and the fastest runners finished around the same time I crossed the start line.

I had no expectations of doing well, but actually took a couple of minutes off last years time. Considering I did not train at all, I did ok...but I won't tell you my time.

In the afternoon I went to a record swap at the Croatian Cultural Centre, a twice yearly event. Again I had no expectations of doing well but also did better than expected. It cost me more than the Sun Run though (the run entry fee was partially paid by work, plus there were free tights and shirts), entry fee of $3, and I spent about $60 on 25 records.

Records 1

Records 2

Considering the state of record collecting right now, I did alright. I could have spent $60 on 1 or 2 discs.

Several of these I have been looking for, and a couple are duplicates. 4 of them were free and I mean that literally. They were not just thrown in, the table had 3 or 4 boxes of records that he was simply giving away with no minimum purchase or other strings attached. They were not crap or in crap condition either. The free ones were the Ahmad Jamal - Happy Moods, Johnny Case - At Folsom Prison, Herbie Mann - At The Village Gate and Taj Mahal - Happy To Be Just Like I Am and none of those I would consider junk. I was very impress but the quality of what he was GIVING away. Too bad it was a 4 disc limit. I bought $20 of other stuff from his table.

You can also see I ended up with 2 copies of Led Zeppelin - Presence. This one I have been looking for and one table sold it to me for $2, but it had one bad scratch but the cover was in very good shape and it had the original picture sleeve. A few tables later I found a better copy but not as good a jacket so I picked it up too.

At least on of the Elvis Costello's is a duplicate I realized when I got home, but that will end up at the cabin. The Yes album came with the single version of Roundabout. The Chet Atkins I had been looking for as well. Wishbone Ash - Argus was a must buy (I used to have it and remember it well).

A couple are gambles, such as The Specials AKA - In the Studio and Eddie Kendricks - Boogie Down but they were at yard sale prices. And how could I resist Monty Python's Previous Record.

Funny thing is I don't think many people did the same 2 activities I have described here. I was chatting with one vendor at the record swap and he was amused that I had just come from a 10k run. "most people here are more comfortable in leather with a cigarette" we sort of agreed on. I don't care, Santana is spinning right now and I think I did ok.

Trading Duals for Duals

The Dual turntables have been moving in and out of the house recently. Not having owned one since about 1981 until last summer, I managed to have as many as 4 in my possession lately. That went down to 3 today and will drop to 2 some day soon, perhaps tomorrow.

Last summer I picked up a Dual HS-37 which was a 1214 rim drive table built onto the top of an amplifier in a teak case. Very neat little unit, and in good shape except for worn lettering. Some cleaning and lubing got it working pretty well.

Today I sold that one. It went very nicely both cosmetically and proportionally with the Mini Advent speakers I picked up (also last summer) at the 3 hour per week thrift store on Mayne Island. The young guy who bought it was quite stoked to get a little unit for his apartment, and also needed some speakers so away they went. He did not live far away and we even gave him a drive home.

Dual 1219

One reason I decided to get rid of this one as I had picked up a Dual 1219 locally a week or 2 ago, and after some struggle got it into a usable state. As with the HS-37, the speed selector was stuck but that was familiar by now so was not a big problem. The main thing this time was the switch for changing from Multi-play to Single-play.

The 1219, as many other tables of the day, was capable of being using as a record changer. You could stack up to 5 or 6 discs on the special spindle (which I do not have) and the records would drop and play one at a time, until the entire stack was finished and then the table would shut off. You could also use these as single play units, getting up and changing them every side.

Because of the stack of records the tonearm was designed to be able to adjust to different heights so that the cartridge had the appropriate Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA), or at least roughly so. I mentioned this in the post about the Sony 2400. Unfortunately the flaw in this Dual and some similar models like the 1229 is that there are some easily broken parts in the tonearm base that did exactly that when I tried to force the lever from MP (multi) to SP (single). Dammit!

With these little plastic pieces broken off, the tonearm wants to stay on the higher position for the stack of records, but this would be wrong for my situation so something had to happen.

After quite a bit of analyzing and monkeying about I managed to get it to stay in the SP position. It involved using my usual fall back position, some bike parts that helped out. Actually not bike parts exactly but bike pump parts.

I'll try to get some pics of the area later, but essentially I used part of a rubber grommet from the head of a pump to hold some bearings in place on one shaft, and a piece of thick walled rubber hose to act as a spacer on the base of the tonearm to keep it at the correct height.

So after all that work, and due to the fact that this is a better turntable than the 1214 in the one I sold today I plan to keep this one. One reason I want one of these is it's ability to play 78's. I don't have any yet but some day. I have a spare cartridge holder on the way, so I could install a dedicated 78 rpm cartridge on that.

Also though it gives me an opportunity to use an idler or rim drive table instead of the usual belt or direct drive. And one more thing to collect...