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Pacific's Restorations You can see all of Pacific's vintage gear restorations here.

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Old 03-15-2014, 08:41 PM
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Exceptionally rare Accuphase C-200 preamp. WOW!

I've had to opportunity to to restore a very rare piece of equipment, an Accuphase C-200 preamplifier. When I was just a kid, Accuphase was stuff I could only dream about. Seriously top-tier for the period, and totally out of reach financially. But oh, do I remember these!

Well, I've had one cross my path after all these years and end up in the Pacific lab. Here she is, in a teaser shot. She's gorgeous.



Accuphase was imported and distributed by TEAC, but came from an outfit called Kensonic. Some of the boards inside this unit say "Kensonic" on them and others say "Accuphase." All the boards were made by Elna, very common at that time.

Here's are some preliminary looks. She's on the bench here, being evaluated.



While she works, she definitely has some serious problems. For one, the power switch is welded in the on position. Switches and controls are terribly noisy and intermittent. And the volume control is beyond awful. So... let's peel this onion away a little bit, shall we?



Yes, one of the secrets to noise performance is shield, shield, shield. And wow, do they! Here's a shot with those covers removed.



Wow! Now isn't this some beautiful construction? Each board plugs into a connector and is easily removed for service. This is just wonderful. Here's the bottom side of the unit:



Very nice.

The first thing I do to every unit that comes in is to get a feel for it. Every piece lives in a different home, a different environment, has been asked to do different things. Each one is unique, even if it's the same model I've worked on before. This one is of course new to me and has some very interesting things going on. One significant issue is one I did not expect. Under all that shielding is some pretty serious corrosion. Here's a look at one of the phono preamp boards.



and



and



Well, what could this be about? I expected to find clean, pristine boards under those covers, and instead I see this. There's certainly no evidence of water intrusion or anything else. What could this be? One of the things I notice about the boards is that the solder just looks very strange. They're not the standard smooth joints I expect to see. Rather, they look mottled and grainy. It looks like something I've seen when boards contain water and are wave-soldered. The water turns to steam, escapes and makes bubbles in the joints. This is a shot of a different board, but you'll see what I mean.



Not what you would expect, is it? And here's what the bottom of the phono board looks like:



EEEEK! Well, someone's been here before. And apparently, he didn't like the way the solder looked and he attempted a rework. But here's the bad news. There's something in these boards (water, or maybe some other unknown chemical) that makes gas when it's heated. And these joints are nearly impossible to make look smooth and ordinary. In the state they are in from the factory, they're actually fine from an electrical standpoint. They're just incredibly ugly. I wonder if there has been some interaction between whatever is in these boards and whatever flux was contained in the rework solder to have made those transistors corrode? Because these (there are two boards) are the only boards that were reworked like this, and these were the only ones to exhibit a corrosion problem to this extent.

But the problem doesn't extend just to those transistors. Oh, no. There's other problems because of it. Remember those Sony TO-66 transistors (about three photos up)? They connect to the board via the mounting screws. Those mounting screws are tightened and then soldered to the pads on the board. Well, they are SUPPOSED to be. These just unscrewed, like there was no solder there at all. And take a look at what I found when I removed the screws:



Saaaay WHAT? Look at those pads. Black oxide, with just a smidgeon of connectivity via the lockwashers. Whatever is in these boards is interacting with the copper, too. Oh, boy. So we have to clean those pads before we put the parts back on.



And what other troubles might be lurking on this board? Well, just about every other joint revealed black oxide on the copper when inspected and reworked. You can imagine how much fun (and work) that was.



Try as you might, you just can't make these joints look up to standard. But they have all been reworked and the board now looks good and works well. While I have both those Sony TO-66 parts and the other transistors too, they are exceptionally rare and expensive. Modern parts fit the bill nicely at a much lower cost. The Sony transistors don't need to be replaced, I just clean them up and replace the hardware.



Something I noticed was that some boards gassed more than others, and one didn't gas at all (that one happened to be the little fuse board on the bottom, a board I did not take a before and after of). I really wish I knew what was going on with the boards.

And what do we do now? Lather, rinse, repeat. There's another board just like this one. And it looks just like this one does. Ugh. In this case, I ended up reworking all of the joints that were reworked by someone else to be sure all was good and on the other boards left everything else alone. Moving on...

The power switch on this sample is welded in the ON position. The reason for this is not that this unit makes a huge inrush of current, but rather the corresponding Accuphase P-300 that's plugged into the back does. Take a look at this power switch arrangement.



"But Batman! I see TWO power switches there!"

Yes, Robin. That's because not only does this unit have a switch for it and some convenience outlets on the back, but it also has a second power switch that's supposed to be used for the power amp. I believe that it's never been used, however, as it appears that the power amp has been plugged into the convenience outlets that go live when the preamp does. Of course, if the other switch hd been used it would probably be welded now as well, as it is identical. I take the welded switch apart and discover something rather ugly.



The contact is completely gone, and the only thing left is the spring, which is what's welded. Can't fix this. Note that the other contact is still reasonably intact. Both of these contacts are wired in parallel, making a theoretical improvement. But if you think about it, it's impossible for both contacts to make a connection at exactly the same moment in time. So one will always erode before the other one does. I have a nice switch that's actually capable of more current than the stock switch, so I install that one instead. Both switches get snubbers instead of ordinary capacitors.



Better. Now that we can turn the preamp on and off, let's take a look at the tone board.



Some of the devices on it have the same sort of corrosion (though not as bad) as the ones on the phono board did. I decide that it just makes good sense to change them out. And it gets new electrolytics as well.

Something you may have noticed are the big, high-voltage film capacitors sprinkled throughout. "This is a preamp," you say, "Why would those need to be 250 volts?" Well, that's because this is a very unique design. Those parts need to be 250 volts because the main supply runs at... wait for it...

+/-95 volts!

Most preamps run at +/- 12 volts or +/- 24 volts. This one is a just little different. While that voltage gets regulated down to lower values in various places, there is still the possibility of something bad happening and there being energy somewhere you don't want it. Also those film parts are part of the magic of this preamp. They... sound... GOOD!

And here's what we get:



This unit also has an exceptionally nice headphone drive board. Here's before:



And after. New electrolytics and that's all.



A similar story for the filter (output) boards. Only one of two is shown. Before:



After:



Now it's time to look at the switches and controls. And you thought we must be all done!



Notice something? No pots. Those are switches, the tone controls are stepped. For brevity, we'll show only the bass boards.



Buh-bye, tantalums! Film parts are a much better idea, here.



After dealing with the treble boards and all of the push switches, it's time to deal with the lamps. Oh, joy. Most are burned out and we're going to change all of them They are difficult to deal with, because they mount to a panel on the front, the leads go through eensy-veensy (do your best high-pitched Albert Einstein imitation here) holes on the board and finally end up on terminals on the switches. Of course, as installed, the old leads are twisted around the terminals. Oh, and you have to get your iron and tools in there without burning all the surrounding wires. Sheesh!



Well, THAT was fun. At least all the lamps work now.

After I got the switch and tone boards all back in, I tested the unit and discovered that the volume control would not come back to life. It was just cruddy, and no matter what I did I just could not get the results I wanted. What to do? I could change it, I do have another part. But that means one less rare volume control in stock. And since I do have a backup part, I decide that control is fair game for disassembly. What could possibly go wrong? Here's the victim before surgery:



First, we remove the outer decorative casing to reveal the pot inside. While this looks like a run-of-the-mill pot, it tracks very well, so my guess is that this was a tight-tolerance part.

Some pots come apart really easily. Some do not. Some are not intended to come apart. Ever. Guess which kind this one is? A warning: if you ever think of doing this, please remember the disclaimers they put in car ads: DO NOT ATTEMPT. THIS CAR CANNOT ACTUALLY FLY. This particular pot cannot be disassembled without special techniques that will allow for reassembly. Now that I have said that, here's a look at the bits inside:



And another shot (just cause I love macro shots!)



After cleaning and treatment of the internal surfaces, I put the pot partially back together. And then we test it (no sense in going further if the inner portion isn't fixed):



Voila! First test passed. The pot is now working perfectly. So we reassemble the second portion (this is the difficult part)...




...and test it along with the first part.



Working perfectly! And with that, we reassemble completely and put the cover back on.



And now it's time to change out the power supply capacitors. This is our chance to upgrade the parts both in terms of quality and capacitance. There are six to change out. Here's a comparison of old to new.



Look at that. Half again as much capacitance and almost three times the rated voltage. And two of those parts fits where one was.

Here's all six installed. All were increased in capacitance and voltage. The extra capacitance translates directly to quieter and better performance, in this unit. The increase in voltage doesn't matter much, except that it meant the new parts had essentially the same diameter as the old ones. And isn't she sparkly, now!



And now it's time to put her back together.



I TOLD you I replaced all the lamps!



An audition reveals what I suspected to be true all along, that this is a magnificent-sounding piece of gear. I like the sonics a lot, actually wish I could keep her. But alas, she's taken. She did want to go outside for some photos, however, and here they are.







Oh, and here's one with the door open. I'll bet you didn't know there was anything down here! There's the second power switch. And they do something really fun with the door. They use one of the ordinary push switches just like the rest, as a latch. They put a thin magnet on the end of the switch knob, and a small bit of steel on the inside of the door. Works just like modern push-in push-again mechanisms, but very definitely invented! Exceptionally cool.



What a beauty.


All photos, copyright 2014 Pacific Stereo. All rights reserved, no use without written permission. I better not see these on eBay!
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I RESTORE VINTAGE AUDIO AND VIDEO GEAR. Master technician for Concept, Quadraflex, Calibre, Pioneer and Sony. Endorsed by Richard Schram for Concept product restoration. Factory technician for both Yamaha and JVC. Sonics consultant for Denon. Pacific Stereo store manager, service manager, Central Service lead tech, liquidator at our demise. Pacific Stereo curator. Infinity IRS dealer. Music buyer for one of the first CD retailers in the USA. Authorized servicer for virtually every brand on the planet at one time or another. Music addict. Mastering & recording engineer, weaned on a Neve (no other console sounds like a Neve!). Industry-respected ears. Head Tapehead.

Need vintage audio & video repair and restoration, or unobtanium semiconductors and parts? Ask me! And do visit the website: pacificstereo.net

Last edited by Pacific Stereo; 05-26-2014 at 06:02 PM. Reason: Clarity
  #2  
Old 03-16-2014, 09:46 AM
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Beautiful!!!
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Old 03-16-2014, 10:05 AM
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Very nice! I have a soft spot for those as I owned one for 20 or so years. looks great! I remember how much fun it was to replace the bulbs. My boards didn't suffer that corrosion but the foam rubber strips under the shields rotted into nasty stuff that got into everything. The story I heard about Kensonic was that it was started by ex Kenwood engineers that wanted to make a Japanese McIntosh equivalent. Notice the similar styling and the same knobs as used on Mac equipment at the time.

This was mine after I partially re-capped it:




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Last edited by DaveInVA; 03-16-2014 at 10:31 AM.
  #4  
Old 03-16-2014, 10:32 AM
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Pacific Stereo Pacific Stereo is offline
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Nice! I really like the way this one sounds.
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I RESTORE VINTAGE AUDIO AND VIDEO GEAR. Master technician for Concept, Quadraflex, Calibre, Pioneer and Sony. Endorsed by Richard Schram for Concept product restoration. Factory technician for both Yamaha and JVC. Sonics consultant for Denon. Pacific Stereo store manager, service manager, Central Service lead tech, liquidator at our demise. Pacific Stereo curator. Infinity IRS dealer. Music buyer for one of the first CD retailers in the USA. Authorized servicer for virtually every brand on the planet at one time or another. Music addict. Mastering & recording engineer, weaned on a Neve (no other console sounds like a Neve!). Industry-respected ears. Head Tapehead.

Need vintage audio & video repair and restoration, or unobtanium semiconductors and parts? Ask me! And do visit the website: pacificstereo.net
  #5  
Old 03-16-2014, 11:05 AM
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retrokeeper retrokeeper is offline
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I was under the impression that the plug-in boards would be problematic with all the connection points to deal with and associated contact issues.Did you have to clean/treat these contacts any special way when you had to remove/insert them?? Rob
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Old 03-16-2014, 11:34 AM
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Not in this case. The fingers in the sockets are gold-plated and needed no special treatment. The card edges were nice and clean, and they got a precautionary polish.
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I RESTORE VINTAGE AUDIO AND VIDEO GEAR. Master technician for Concept, Quadraflex, Calibre, Pioneer and Sony. Endorsed by Richard Schram for Concept product restoration. Factory technician for both Yamaha and JVC. Sonics consultant for Denon. Pacific Stereo store manager, service manager, Central Service lead tech, liquidator at our demise. Pacific Stereo curator. Infinity IRS dealer. Music buyer for one of the first CD retailers in the USA. Authorized servicer for virtually every brand on the planet at one time or another. Music addict. Mastering & recording engineer, weaned on a Neve (no other console sounds like a Neve!). Industry-respected ears. Head Tapehead.

Need vintage audio & video repair and restoration, or unobtanium semiconductors and parts? Ask me! And do visit the website: pacificstereo.net
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Old 03-16-2014, 11:46 AM
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Interesting. I recognize those film caps. Luxman used them in a number of units.

Curious as to why you did not mount the small 'lytics perpendicular to the board in that one photo, instead wrapping one lead back to the top of the caps? I know there is a reason.

Lots of praise for the sound of these units and with this one fresh and ready to go, I'm sure it is worth a listen. With the reputation of this preamp, I'm am amazed at the solder side of those boards. Scary to me and a bit of work to make right.
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Old 03-16-2014, 12:46 PM
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Because the originals are axial, and I don't stock axial parts. If I were to set them perpendicular, I would have to glue them down. This way, the one lead is short enough to not have to worry about the part shaking around. Now that I think abut it more, I suppose I could have done it either way.

The original solder is fine if left alone. Ugly, but fine. It appears that it's only when it's been heated again that you have to start dealing with trouble.
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I RESTORE VINTAGE AUDIO AND VIDEO GEAR. Master technician for Concept, Quadraflex, Calibre, Pioneer and Sony. Endorsed by Richard Schram for Concept product restoration. Factory technician for both Yamaha and JVC. Sonics consultant for Denon. Pacific Stereo store manager, service manager, Central Service lead tech, liquidator at our demise. Pacific Stereo curator. Infinity IRS dealer. Music buyer for one of the first CD retailers in the USA. Authorized servicer for virtually every brand on the planet at one time or another. Music addict. Mastering & recording engineer, weaned on a Neve (no other console sounds like a Neve!). Industry-respected ears. Head Tapehead.

Need vintage audio & video repair and restoration, or unobtanium semiconductors and parts? Ask me! And do visit the website: pacificstereo.net

Last edited by Pacific Stereo; 03-16-2014 at 04:30 PM.
  #9  
Old 03-16-2014, 10:14 PM
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Hi PS,
We were the one responsible for the warranty work in the USA at Teac on these. I don't think any of the Technicians loved working on them and most of the time the large caps in the amps blew.
So good work on that. I hope is lasts a long time for you.
If I ever get one I will know where to send it.
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Old 03-17-2014, 01:30 AM
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Very nice work indeed! I think you have your write up format down pretty well too.

Always interesting to see what manufacturers do differently than others. I noticed all the ceramic disc caps were set off the boards with glass beads. Any particular reason why? Never seen that before.

My other question is about your choice for the replacement filter caps. I get the voltage upgrade to get the same case diameter, no problem. Was it just that that higher uF capacity was available where the original value wasn't? And given the constraints of case size and modern capacitors, can you ever have TOO much capacitance for filter caps? Just curious!

Again, nice work!
  #11  
Old 03-17-2014, 01:54 AM
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Oh wow! you have magic fingers!

I could only dream of being able to do work this insane!

wow...just...wow.
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Old 03-17-2014, 04:12 AM
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Nice work and kudos on salvaging the switches and boards. You are right that is some ugly solder, it's amazing how you fixed it up to working condition again in spite of the difficulty of the labor and skill required for a gorgeous outcome.I know it sounds better than it even looks which is again beautiful. It takes craftsmanship and patience to take what it was and make it what it is. That's what I do with cars so I know how difficult it is.I only wish I could do it on audio gear and electronics like you do. Problem is no one teaches a decent course in audio video repair and diagnostics.

Back in the 1970s my step dad was a RETS graduate and got a EE at community college after he graduated and was working for Texas Instruments. They pages for a school and allowed him to OJT and do classes part time until he had enough credits for his EE, which was 6 years of night school part time. He worked on designing the hardware their North Slope and Prudhoe Bay Alaska oil pipeline process control systems and installing it over a 5 year period. He could work on audio gear like you do and diagnose anything, use a scope, meters, and all the gear needed to build and repair audio and video gear and did up until 1997 when he retired.

Unfortunately he passed on before passing on much of that knowledge to me. I suppose he left meith just enough to be dangerous as well as curious. I wish there was still places out there where you could apprentice while you go to school, earn while you learn like I did to be an auto tech. With my health, it would give me a vocation I could work at again as I can no longer do the back breaking work and standing and lifting/bending/stooping of a master auto tech, and I don't want to be in management or service writing. It's not interesting to me, I like to work with my hands.

Anyway sorry to go off Topic and get long winded but what I'm trying to say in a round about way is you and Skywabebedo the kind of quality detail and craftsmanship with else tronics I would do if I knew as much as you guys know.

I can fix anything on a car, and even paint and do body and upholstery work. But my body can't take the physical demands any more. I'm only 47 but too old to start over. By the time I learn enough I'll be too close to retirement age for anyone to qnt to hire. I'm too young to quit and too old to start again I guess. But I sue would like to.

Again beautiful job buddy.

Philip.
  #13  
Old 03-17-2014, 09:32 AM
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Thanks for your comments about the cap orientation. I redid an Ortofon MCA-76, removing the gold Frakos and like you installing something from Nichicon that is black and gold or G&B, the color combo for some of their audio caps. Obviously, axials are not widely available in every flavor and I used radials but had long leads spread to the solder through hole. Fortunately, these are small caps and should withstand all the vibration short of using the device as a football.

The one thing I have read about is the long lead possibly picking up RFI. Since the MCA-76 is inside a full metal jacket, no problem. But you use of one short and one long lead to make the cap be more solid in its position is a good one. I'll keep that in mind when I need to make these slight mods. We never know what is going to be required to put new parts in old units.

The soldering looks like what we envision or have experienced with that newfangled stuff we all hate the lead free stuff. I'm wondering if complete removal of the old solder would leave a good pad to put new solder on whether it be silver bearing solder or standard 60/40 or 63/37? If it would have provided the results you wanted I'm sure you would have done it. Maybe their solder had some special ingredient that helped it sound good but not flow like the ones we usually use and make it not as miscible with those standard solders.

Good to save one of those units.
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Old 03-17-2014, 10:09 AM
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@Nakmandan: The choice of replacement caps takes into account the size of replacement parts. New parts are smaller, and in order to use the old clamps one typically has to fill the gap with foam or something else. If you go to a higher voltage, the part gets bigger, of course. Same with more capacitance. So here, the trick is to find a combination that works. And in this case, the additional capacitance definitely makes for an improvement in performance.

Yes, one can have too much capacitance, especially if there is no surge control. In products like the SX-1280, you can up the main filters to about as much as you want, because the surge control at power-up makes initial capacity irrelevant. However, in products that don't do anything about inrush, one can't do this without working some calculations. You don't want to blow up the diodes in the supply (or worse, the power transformer) with the initial surge of current.

A lot of the components are set off by glass beads, not just the caps. I'm not sure what this is about, but I suspect it may be simply to keep the part spaced a minimum amount away from the board during stuffing.

@Macman: Thanks. The problem with this craft is that I wouldn't have the first idea how to impart all of what I call intrinsic knowledge and the institutional knowledge required to get this stuff right. Knowing how to read a schematic and how to determine that a circuit isn't working right and what to do about it is only a fraction of what's involved. I just hope there's folks (and I'm sure there will be) after all of us around who can still get it right.

@Mark: Man, I hate lead-free solder. The entire ROHS initiative is complete crap. In conventional solder, lead is bound with tin and there is simply nothing to worry about. And nothing works like tin and lead together. I am waiting with bated breath for some European government study to show that the lead-free stuff is worse and it must be banned, as well. And of course, we'll kowtow to it, just like we did with ROHS. And at that point, I guess we all switch to imaginary solder. What nonsense.

Insofar as the solder on this unit, on those boards with the corrosion, all of the old solder was removed from every joint and replaced. Most of the pads exhibited at least some black oxide. I found that silver-bearing solder didn't seem to work any better than the 63/37 I typically use, so I stuck with the standard stuff. The ugliness is caused by the joint outgassing something when heat is applied. Steam, something else, I just don't know. On the boards the did not have any corrosion evident, I spot-checked a couple of joints and did not find any black oxide.

@Skywave: Yeah, I know these were imported and serviced by TCA. I was reminded of that when I looked at the box this came in (yes, the owner still has the original boxes!) and saw the carton tape. Sure wish I could keep this beauty!
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I RESTORE VINTAGE AUDIO AND VIDEO GEAR. Master technician for Concept, Quadraflex, Calibre, Pioneer and Sony. Endorsed by Richard Schram for Concept product restoration. Factory technician for both Yamaha and JVC. Sonics consultant for Denon. Pacific Stereo store manager, service manager, Central Service lead tech, liquidator at our demise. Pacific Stereo curator. Infinity IRS dealer. Music buyer for one of the first CD retailers in the USA. Authorized servicer for virtually every brand on the planet at one time or another. Music addict. Mastering & recording engineer, weaned on a Neve (no other console sounds like a Neve!). Industry-respected ears. Head Tapehead.

Need vintage audio & video repair and restoration, or unobtanium semiconductors and parts? Ask me! And do visit the website: pacificstereo.net

Last edited by Pacific Stereo; 03-17-2014 at 10:24 AM.
  #15  
Old 03-17-2014, 03:27 PM
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Smile

That's a nice looking unit and it goes without saying that you have done exceptional work on it!

To an old guy like myself, the look of that unit's front panel bears some resemblance to some Kenwood Integrated Amplifiers of a certain vintage!

Look at the two units in the upper left corner.


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Old 03-17-2014, 03:45 PM
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Kensonic who made Accuphase was started by an ex Kenwood engineer about that time and that explains some of the similarities:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accuphase


I used to own this KA-7002 and its matching tuner also..






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Last edited by DaveInVA; 03-17-2014 at 04:38 PM.
  #17  
Old 03-18-2014, 08:06 AM
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Boomchild Boomchild is offline
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I remember laying out printed circuits manually and then taping the artwork by hand. We didn't get our first ECAD system until 1982, a Racal-Redac.
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Old 03-18-2014, 08:16 AM
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Pacific Stereo Pacific Stereo is offline
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Yup, the first board I ever did was with with tape. Now it's PADS and you whip out some Gerbers and... instant PCB. I just love the modularity of this design.
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:32 AM
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Boomchild Boomchild is offline
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PADS!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pacific Stereo View Post
Yup, the first board I ever did was with with tape. Now it's PADS and you whip out some Gerbers and... instant PCB. I just love the modularity of this design.
Yes, nice design, but not as good as my 180R...

I moved onto Intergraph systems, designing digital cameras in 3D at Kodak in 1987. Yes 1987, but upper level management at Kodak decided there was no future in Digital photography. So I went to work for Intergraph, supporting and testing their ECAD software. Then when I got to Huntsville, AL, Intergraph bought DAISY Systems (San Ramon, CA), and Cadnetix (Boulder, CO). So after the merger they let us decide where we wanted to work, and everyone moved to Boulder of course.

I miss designing electronics...
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:01 PM
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Much work, to bad that you didnt restore the original metal can transistors. So the original sound is gone....
I would have cleaned the rusty ones and conserve it with a special chemical "rustchanger" or simply Kontakt 41. For the rest I would try to get ORIGINAL spare ones. Accuphase are still in business and can supply most parts.
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Last edited by lucky; 03-18-2014 at 12:11 PM.
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