Diy ultrasonic cleaner

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by bradley a kessler, Mar 15, 2016.

  1. bradley a kessler

    bradley a kessler Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    pa
    im trying to build a diy ultrasonic cleaner and was wondering if anyone has a set up so i can get some ideas on the setup. I know i can get the cleaner on the auction site the 40khz units are cheap but the 80khz units are more expensive. From what i understand the 80khz units are much more quiet. My dilema is the motor and setup. I see some people use rotisserie motors what othe 110v motors could be used and what about the adjustable mount for the motor and rod to hold your records. If i use a 40khz unit and come up with the motor setup the whole thing maybe around 200 to 250 bucks. Thanx for any help brad
     
  2. stereoguy

    stereoguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY
    I don't know that this is a great idea, to be honest. An ultrasonic unit is not just a motor and a rod to hold your record. Its a pretty sophisticated device.
    You would likely end up with a bunch of parts cobbled together that aren't doing what you thought. I think if you want an ultrasonic cleaner, your best bet is buy a used one.
     
  3. tim185

    tim185 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Australia
    Well yes , that makes sense if they were anywhere close to reasonably priced! There is many DIY threads out there on various forums, I believe it can be done, its really not a complicated device.
     
    eddiel likes this.
  4. doublenaught

    doublenaught Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana
  5. I fiddled around trying to build my own and eventually ended up going with the Vinyl Stack apparatus shown above. It is hard to beat and the people at Vinyl Stack are great to deal with. I bought a used L&R ultrasonic tank that operates at 45KHz and it works great. The tank is barely large enough to submerge the records into the dead-wax, but in a way that is good as the amount of cleaning fluid/distilled water needed is reduced and saves money. I like to keep the water changed out frequently so you are not cleaning with "dirty" water.

    Also---a tank that has a built in drain at the bottom is really worthwhile and a huge convenience IMHO.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  6. Pushpaw

    Pushpaw Active Member

    I just got a 6 litre ultrasonic cleaner and cleaned some records basically by sticking a rod through the hole and turning the record slowly for 5 minutes. While this setup is extremely primitive, the results are stunning. I bought a Japanese pressing of Bowie Man who sold the world and it had intense, continuous crackle. Unlistenable. I brought it to a local record shop and cleaned it about four times using a VPI vacuum cleaning machine. This reduced the crackle enough that I could listen to it, but still very distracting and continuous- just quieter. Well, I just cleaned this same record with my primitive ultrasonic setup and the crackle is almost gone! May try another cleaning to see what happens. Really, you just want the vinyl in the cleaner without getting the label wet. If you don't mind manually rotating it, you don't need much except an uLtrasonic cleaning bath large enough to fit one end of a record. My opinion. Didn't have any issues with water dripping on label - the water stayed on the vinyl.
     
    Sailfree likes this.
  7. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    A local record store is offering to clean lps on their Ultrasonic cleaner. I think they have the KL Audio version. I plan to take some records up there to get them cleaned. If they turn out to be quieter (I cleaned them on my RCM a couple of times already) then I'll likely build my own.
     
  8. rob303

    rob303 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Its really not that complicated as long as it is coupled with a vacuum RCM.
     
    Tamla Junkie likes this.
  9. Pushpaw

    Pushpaw Active Member

    Have rescued a few more records with my primitive ultrasonic setup. A mfsl Doolittle that had a continuous crackle for tracks 1-5 of side A. It came like that. 6 minutes in the ultrasonic cleaner got rid of it. Also got rid of very bad popping/crackling on Nick Drake Pink Moon - Back to Black series. It now plays clean. Some records improve somewhat, but seem beyond saving. Will try adding isopropyl alcohol to the mix with some of those. So far, has been working with just distilled water, and for some I used a couple drops of clear, unscented dish soap.

    With the VPI vacuum machine I used, you have to stand there holding the brush while it cleans, so not much different having to stand there turning the record. Except the ultrasonic bath was on sale for about $160 US and a VPI is a lot more than that!
     
    Sailfree likes this.
  10. Whistlerskibum

    Whistlerskibum Active Member

    Location:
    Whistler, BC
    Vinyl Addict likes this.
  11. Rushton

    Rushton Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Ultrasonic tanks work better with the right cleaning solution in the tank. Consider the ultrasonic cavitation action to be your brushes. You still need a cleaning solution that will work to dissolve and break up the contaminants on the record. A good cleaning solution that includes one of the recommended Tergitol variants (including Triton X-100) gives immensely better results than water or water with alcohol. Some household detergents, like a clear dishwashing solution, may help but you don't know what other chemicals are in them or whether they will add to static because they are not a neutral PH. There's a lot of discussion about this on other forums, but I haven't seen much about it here.
     
  12. thesisinbold

    thesisinbold Forum Resident

    Location:
    Camarillo, Ca, USA
    Vinyl Addict likes this.
  13. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Can you post some links to threads or just a link to the forums you've seen discussions on in general?

    A local hi-fi shop offers ultrasonic cleaning using the Audio Desk Systeme cleaner. They use just distilled water. I took 6 records to be cleaned that had already been cleaned on my Clearaudio Smart Matrix RCM and it made no difference what so ever. I was disappointed as I was using this as a test before purchasing some sort of ultrasonic cleaner myself. But your post has me wondering if I should keep looking into it as the distilled water only solution might not have been the best one to use.

    I just don't want to spend the money only to find that my traditional RCM cleans just as well 99.99% of the time.
     
    clhboa likes this.
  14. Whistlerskibum

    Whistlerskibum Active Member

    Location:
    Whistler, BC
    Awesome please give us a review when your ready thinking of purchasing one as well.
     
    Vinyl Addict likes this.
  15. acceler8

    acceler8 New Member

    Location:
    South East, USA
    I have to agree, it's all about the solution... My first passes with a 69kHz unit were not acceptable. I was using RODI water only. What tipped me off (other than no change in surface noise) was the static. Freshly cleaned records should have 0 static buildup. On my next batch, I looked closely, and saw that the water was not even fully touching the surface (held at bay by surface tension and surface oils.)
    My next batch was RODI + a few drops of 99% Isoproyl + a few drops of Triton X-100. The difference was immediate! Suddenly, the record surface was completely wet (where before the records came out almost dry.)
    The solution matters.
     
  16. Rushton

    Rushton Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Eddiel, I'd been completely underwhelmed with demonstrations of ultrasonic cleaning that I'd heard as compared to my multi-step wet/vac cleaning regimen. But, by adding a detergent based cleaning solution to the tank and being sure to follow the same double rinse process with vacuum, I'm now getting results that make me want to re-clean my entire collection.

    An easy place to start is an article of mine recently published by Positive Feedback. This explains, step-by-step, the diy approach I've chosen to apply based on my reading and subsequently listening experiments. This article also lists the discussion threads in various forums that I've found most helpful in exploring US cleaning:
    Rushton Paul: My DIY Approach to the Ultrasonic Cleaning of LPs - Positive Feedback »

    As acceler8 posts, some Tergitol/Triton (detergents) in the mix makes a world of difference. It does mean that you should add a rinse step to your process, but the results are worth it! The formula for my ultrasonic tank solution is provided in the article above. It is a combination of Tergitol, Hepastat 256, isopropyl, and DI water.
     
    eddiel likes this.
  17. thesisinbold

    thesisinbold Forum Resident

    Location:
    Camarillo, Ca, USA

    So you're just using a few drops of alcohol?
     
  18. thesisinbold

    thesisinbold Forum Resident

    Location:
    Camarillo, Ca, USA


    Should I rinse with the 16.5 and a motif brush or would using brushes defeat the purpose of ultrasonic?
     
  19. Rushton

    Rushton Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    This is essentially what I do. I use a VPI HW-17 that I've had for 30 years to do my rinse steps and vacuum drying. For a brush, I actually use a Shur-Line paint edger from Home Depot with the wheels removed and sharp edges rounded over. It has soft bristles which stay erect even when fully saturated.
    [​IMG]
    Shur-Line Paint Edger-00100c - The Home Depot »
     
  20. Rushton

    Rushton Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    You can use isopropyl alcohol in a concentration of anywhere from 5% to 10% of your tank solution. It will both act to reduce the water tension (as a surfactant) and provide some degreasing cleaning for fingerprints. Just a few drops of alcohol may reduce the surface tension, but won't add the the cleaning you need. Better is to additionally add a neutral PH detergent like Tergitol or Triton x-100.
     
  21. thesisinbold

    thesisinbold Forum Resident

    Location:
    Camarillo, Ca, USA

    I have the triton x-100.
     
  22. acceler8

    acceler8 New Member

    Location:
    South East, USA
    Perhaps a wee-bit more than a few drops. I don't measure; I take a store bought bottle (with the flip cap and a tiny hole) and turn it upside down and spritz in whatever comes out with a gentle squeeze. This is into a 6 Qt. tank.
     
  23. thesisinbold

    thesisinbold Forum Resident

    Location:
    Camarillo, Ca, USA

    Got it. Set it up. it's great. the machine is loud though.

    I can't test the results as I don't have a turntable at the moment but the disks look great.
     
  24. Whistlerskibum

    Whistlerskibum Active Member

    Location:
    Whistler, BC
    Purchased the cleaner vinyl unit, really complements the VPI 16.5. If you collect a lot of used vinyl the addional step of ultrasonic cleaning works wonders, very pleased with the unit, recommended.
     
  25. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    I bought a cheap 40Hz machine and have been using tap water with some "organic" laundry soap that is free of dyes/scents. I then rinse the record with distilled water in a spray battle. Then I wipe dry with a cloth rag and let air dry. I am going to try experimenting with adding some alcohol to the tank. Anything "wrong" with my method? It seems easy but I hope it is doing more good than harm :) . I am not looking for the perfect method, but the best balance of effort/cost vs. results!
     

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