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Monthly Archives: September 2014

  • Repairing an Audio Bit Buddy - The importance of using the right batteries in your products

    At Ward-Beck it is not uncommon for us to get repair orders for our products from time to time. Sure, the products we sell can be repaired outside, but it makes sense to send them to the factory that produced them, because we have all the production details to compare against, while doing the repair, in order to do an optimal job. In addition, if there have been software or hardware updates made to the project in the meanwhile, we can update those while we are repairing the unit.

    Another compelling reason is that we generally have access to the manuals and working files of the product, and considering we are dealing with fine electronics, we are mostly likely to know the nitty gritty about all the tiny components involved in the manufacture of one of our products. And that is what brings us to the Audio Bit Buddy that we recently repaired at our Toronto office. This ABB1 was quite old, dating all the way back from 2005, and had developed quite an odd problem.

    When in digital mode, it would not pass audio to the headphone jack or the meters until tapped on the side. Each time the unit was powered off and back on again, the procedure had to be repeated. The analog side worked fine, as did the status and error indicator, but in digital mode the issues lay.

    The initial thought of our technical team was there might be something wrong with the continuity of the power switch on the digital side, or a problem with an intermittent switch. Once the unit was received at our repair location, the ABB was taken apart, and a closer look revealed a different – if somewhat related- issue.

    Now, as mentioned before, this ABB1 was quite old, dating all the way back from 2005, which means the software and some of the hardware was outdated and replaced by newer components. However, the main problem was a more timeless: the wrong battery had been used.

    Our ABB units run on four 1.2V Ni-Cad batteries, which can be recharged with the charging adapter that is included with the ABB1. In the place of these batteries, someone has placed in a 9V Lithium battery, which is far too powerful, and is liable to damage components of the ABB1.

    If you notice the tape on the red wire, you will see that the original battery strap has been cut off and another one has been spliced in. There was also acid found on the metal battery bracket. Put together, these two things most likely mean that, at some point, the batteries leaked and damaged the connection to the original battery strap.

    Our technical team replaced the 9V batteries with four 1.2V Ni-Cad batteries, and repaired the broken connection to the battery strap. We also reprogrammed the ABB1 with the latest software, to ensure that the additional voltage had not corrupted the program.

    On the other hand, it is heartening to know that an ABB1 produced all the way back in 2005 (9 years ago!) has lasted this long, with only an odd little issue popping up. Ward-Beck products, truly made to last : )

     

  • M1204 Resto Mod - Part 2

    The Resto-Mod of a 1984 - Ward-Beck Systems M1204 is underway.  Anthony and his team  are getting the bits and parts together for this console build.   "The idea thus far is to make it either a 16 channel or 24 channel console,  we'll see what comes of it.  Either way, the wiring will be a breeze because of the new bucket wiring techniques.  The pre-amps will be M461 and M461M's with EQs from the ST series, with a fresh twist.  Within the console frame, 24 Channels of Ward-Beck 8200 series Digital to Analog Converters will feed the line inputs via a WBS 32ME-MADI"

    More to come stay tuned!IMG_7368 IMG_7374

  • M1204 RetroMod

    IMG_1927-2014-09-08

    IMG_1952-2014-09-08IMG_1966-2014-09-08

    IMG_1954-2014-09-08

    IMG_2036-2014-09-08

    IMG_2044-2014-09-08

    IMG_1999-2014-09-08

    IMG_1991-2014-09-08

    IMG_1943-2014-09-08

    IMG_1947-2014-09-08

    IMG_1938-2014-09-08

    IMG_1940-2014-09-08

  • The intricacies of building a POD2, from making the circuit board to shipping it out!

    Talk about coming back from the weekend raring to go! We have been busy at Ward-Beck this afternoon, shipping out a whole bunch of sales orders, including some POD2 Stereo Audio Switches. In honor of the occasion, we are doing a walkthrough of how a POD 2 is built, right from the circuit board stencil to shipping the finished product.

    To give you a bit of context and background, the POD2 6 x 1 Stereo Audio Switcher is from POD lineup of products, and functions as a unity gain six by one stereo audio switcher. Inside the Pod-Package, which is the factory standard packaging the POD2 comes in, there is a printed circuit board for the pushbutton control, as well as the main circuit board. The main circuit board is, of course, the core of the POD2 Audio Switcher. Made of numerous resistors, capacitors and other tiny components, the assembly of ths circuit board is crucial to the functionality of the POD2.

    (PCB without any SMD soldered on)

    Above, you see the plain printed circuit board (PCB), before any surface mount devices (SMDs) have been soldered onto it. These SMDs included devices such as resistors, capacitors and integrated circuit chips, and the final circuit board would have to be mounted with these SMDs in order to be functional.

    (Metal Stencil of the PCB)

    The first step in the circuit board assembly is the PCB stencil for the POD2, shown above, which will be used to accurately apply solder paste to the circuit board’s solder pad. Rather than apply solder paste to the solder pad painstakingly by hand, potentially leading to inaccuracies or too much solder paste applied, a stencil assures more accurate and professional application of the solder, in addition to saving time when many units of the same PCB are being produced (as is the case here.)

    The PCB stencil is placed into the stencil printer above, over the soon-to-be circuit board’s solder pad. Then the solder paste is brushed over the stencil, leading to application of the solder to the solder pad below. The tools below are used to apply the solder.

    Once the solder is applied, the solder pads are then fed through pick and place machines (one featured below), which are used to place the surface mount devices (SMDs) like capacitors, resistors and ICs onto the circuit board.

    For the curious, below is what the internal rear of a pick and place machine looks like.


    (Baby got back)

    After the pick-and-place machine has attached the various SMDs to the solder pad, the solder pad will be fed through a reflow oven. Under controlled heat, this oven will melt the solder, permanently attaching the SMDs to the solder pad. This process is known as reflow soldering, hence the name reflow oven. During this process, it is important to control the heat, so as not to overheat and damage the components of the circuit board.

    Once the circuit board is finished being made, it is partially placed into the Pod-Package, the factory standard packaging that the POD2 will be shipped out in.

    Note that the top has not been screwed on yet, as the board has not been tested yet.

    Now it is time for the technical team to test all the POD2 board and see that they work properly.

     (Wai-Keung at his testing station)

    Once the testing is done, the top can be screwed on, leaving a completed POD2.

     (Sia from the Production Department screwing together a POD2)

    Completed POD2s lying on the rack waiting to be packaged and shipped out.

    Packaged and shipped POD2s waiting for the pick up truck, off to a new studio or station where they will hopefully have a good and loving home!

  • From the vault - L2042 - shipping crate

    While digging around I came across these gems. Internal documents for shipping our mixing L-series consoles.

    Ward-Beck Systems - L2484 - shipping crates

    Ward-Beck Systems - L2042 - shipping crates

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