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Audio Note Kit DAC 2.1 Build

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by DyersEve726, Oct 12, 2018.

  1. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Well, things haven't exactly gone smoothly so far, but so it goes. I'm still waiting on the digital board and film caps, but I was able to get started on the transformer and power supply board.

    I have always found the most difficulty with soldering wiring and that hasn't changed, haha. My mains wiring is sloppy, but it should get the job done. We'll see. I might redo it.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I moved on to my power supply board, soldered in my tube sockets, measured and placed my resistors...and then I hit my first real snag. One resistor was the incorrect value (1k instead of 100k). So now I'm stuck waiting for them to ship me out the BNC connector they forgot and the correct resistor.

    [​IMG]

    I had plans of going balls to the wall and doing this all in one go, but life is unfair. I'll be stuck until next week with little time available to work on it. I'll probably build up the other boards while I wait, but I can't plug in or test anything with the supplies I have at the moment :(
     
    Bevok, SirMarc, Kyhl and 4 others like this.
  2. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Continuing to build up the power board. Electrolytics and diodes are installed now.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    Glad you are posting this. It seems fast- i thought you were going to be waiting a couple weeks for it to ship. Has that much time already gone by?
    My soldering skills suck. Practice, practice, plus I got a couple tips on a good iron, solder and flux. (Does ANK provide the solder?)
    It is hard to be patient. Not one of my virtues. But, I guess once you are done, and fire it up, satisfying yourself that it works ok, you can always disassemble it to make it perfect. I've had equipment done by top flight engineers with bad solder joints. Pretty is nice, but I'll take "it works good" any day.
    Good luck-- maybe if you say "I'm supposed to be enjoying the process" it will help you not to rush. Dunno. Like I said, that's a hard one for me too. I watch someone with serious skills as a mechanic or tech and am always impressed by how methodical they are; plus, they always have the right tool!
     
    martinb4, Donivey and DyersEve726 like this.
  4. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    It has been about two and a half weeks since I ordered. Time flies man.

    ANK only supplies the parts, chassis, and wiring, no solder. My Hakko iron is awesome and I've got good Kester eutectic solder, solder suckers, lead cutters, Fluke meter, etc, so I've got the tools. I've done a LOT of pcb level repairs, so I've had a lot of practice, but it's been a little while. Definitely takes a minute to get back into the swing of things. Through hole work is generally pretty easy for me.

    I sometimes find difficulty in what seems like the simplest things though. I accidentally bent the lug on the power switch while trying to get the ridiculously tight spade connector on it...woops! Hope I didn't break anything internally.
     
  5. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    Location:
    Cloverdale,CA
    As far as wiring goes, you need a good mechanical joint before applying solder. And those big resistors build heat. They like being off the board 1/8" or so.
     
    56GoldTop likes this.
  6. thegage

    thegage Forum Currency Nerd

    I just built an ANK L3 line preamp kit. The process was not enjoyable. I've built at least eight other kits--Bottlehead, Hagerman, Tubes4HiFi, Millett, Transcendent--and the ANK hands-down was the absolute worst experience: terrible directions, missing or incorrect parts, extremely slow response or none at all to email questions for support. At one point I was resigning myself to having a very expensive doorstop, but I took a couple of weeks off (I had no choice, as I was waiting for promised missing/bad parts--which ultimately were never shipped!), and finally sourced myself what was needed and troubleshooted any issues. I will say that the final result is very nice sounding indeed, but I'd think twice before recommending one of their kits to anyone, particularly if they don't have any experience in building.

    John K.
     
  7. Shiver

    Shiver Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Watching with interest. How logical/fool-proof are the instructions?
     
  8. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Not very. I mostly agree with @thegage. So far, missing/wrong parts, some poor communication, instructions having different wires/parts as provided, and confusing wording at times. I've never built a kit before, but have a fair amount of technical knowledge and it hasn't been foolproof so far. I've definitely seen worse directions though...I'm a field tech for a large corporation who has all or their instructions written by monkeys on typewriters, I swear, lol.
     
    SirMarc and SandAndGlass like this.
  9. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    The wires provided were too large to fit through the holes on the lugs, so I just tinned both and smooshed them together. Maybe I should try wrapping around or something. And crap, I didn't know that about the resistors. I soldered them in already. That going to cause me grief?
     
  10. Carter DeVries

    Carter DeVries Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Big undertaking. Props my man!
    So, the late Ken Fischer of Trainwreck (guitar) amplifiers was convinced that solder connections were one of the key ingredients to the sound of his amplifiers; that solder connections could actually impart the tonal signature of the builder.
    Crazy? Maybe. Ken was certainly “out there”, but no one has been able to convincingly recreate the sound and feel of a Fischer-built Trainwreck circuit. Many talented builders have tried. Actual, Fischer-built ‘Wrecks can sell near $100k as a result.
    So maybe clean up those solder connections a bit if ya can. ;-)
    Of course, even Mr. Fischer has to start somewhere!
    I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out!
     
    DyersEve726 likes this.
  11. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Yeah, I'll probably do that before I get everything put into the chassis and it becomes a pain in the butt. Luckily, wiring that's actually in the signal path isn't for a bit, so I'll get more practice before then :p the wires I soldered going into the circuit board turned out nice and shiny, but my mains joints are clearly all cold solders, as I had difficulty keeping them steady. I'm not sure how much it matters in the case of AC from outlet to transformer (audibly), but I'd rather feel confident about it before firing it up.
     
    SandAndGlass and Carter DeVries like this.
  12. thegage

    thegage Forum Currency Nerd

    I worked on technical manuals for 11 years (for cars, where poor instructions can lead to a big loss or death), so maybe I'm a little sensitive about the quality of directions, but I liken the ANK ones to the old joke where a guy is asking for directions, and his friend says, "Drive down Highway 1 and you'll come to a white church. 3/4 of a mile before that you want to take a left...."

    The other thing about the directions is that there are no test values. Zero. At one point it read, "check for high resistance, low resistance is bad," but did not give you any target numbers.

    As much as possible you should try to make a solid physical connection, by bending leads in holes so they are tight against the sides, or wrapping the wire around a junction. On the transformer I trimmed down the wires so I could fit them in the holes to do that. I think you'll be fine with you've done so far. The transformer is less critical.

    As for solder, I've used the Cardas Quad Eutectic for years with no issues. It melts at a reasonable temperature and I've never had any cold joints.

    John K.
     
    Paully likes this.
  13. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I'm using Kester 63/37. The Cardas is a little pricey for my liking and I feel like the Kester flows a little easier. I haven't had any issues with cold solders on my components, just the wires in that first photo cause they kept moving on me. That's a good idea, trimming the ends to fit the holes. Don't know why I didn't think of that. I'm definitely going to redo that part for peace of mind.
     
  14. Shiver

    Shiver Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Totally. After-thought instructions are pet hate of mine... And I'd certainly need me-proof ones on something like this. Good luck with it!
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  15. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    @thegage I may need to order some additional wire to redo this. Seems you have a good deal of experience. Would 18 gauge solid copper wire be the ticket for all the wiring coming off the mains transformer? I found this on Amazon.
     
  16. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    This is so odd to read. 10 years ago when Audio Note ran the kits they were hailed as having the absolute best instruction manuals that were like 80 pages with colour photos guiding you each step of the way and also teaching you about the terminology. All I read about was how wonderful the kits were and how great the instructions were. Now ANKits is no longer associated with Audio Note. They no longer use the parts either (the solder used to be Audio Note silver solder as used in all their finished products). And the transformers are no longer AN transformers. Times have changed I guess.
     
    Nascimento Brasil likes this.
  17. slcaudiophile

    slcaudiophile Forum Resident

    Location:
    Salt Lake City

    you should let me borrow this ... I've always wondered what the kits sound like. nice pics ... don't break anything :)
     
  18. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    Location:
    Cloverdale,CA
    They will burn the board.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
  19. Orrin Porter Rockwell

    Orrin Porter Rockwell Well-Known Member

    Location:
    xyzzy
    I wanted an ANK 2.1 DAC because, at least to me, an NOS DAC was the way to go but I was concerned about not being able to do a good job building it so I ordered one that was already built by Pete Fulton (digitalpete) and am very happy with both Pete's build and the 2.1's performance. Pete also (at an upcharge, of course) substituted some upgraded parts such as Dueland capacitors among other components. After reading this thread I'm glad that I didn't try to build it myself.
     
    rodentdog likes this.
  20. rbmitch2

    rbmitch2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tucson
    Find this thread very interesting. I love my ANK 2.1 but like Orrin am very glad that I didn't attempt the assembly. I purchased mine used and it looks to be very well built. Regarding the resistors on the power supply I took a picture of my board and they are attached with a gap underneath.

    [​IMG]
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  21. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Is it too late to send the whole thing back for a refund?
     
  22. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I don't give up that easily...
     
    Paully, Kyhl, Carter DeVries and 5 others like this.
  23. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    This is usually when I haul out my Belushi quote:
    Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
     
  24. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I talked to Brian and he said that it's not a big deal...however, they're a buck a piece, and I can't fire this thing up for a while anyhow, so I'm just going to order all new resistors for this board and redo the dang thing. I'm not really worried about the board as much as the resistor itself overheating, burning up, and damaging components farther down the line. Good lookin out...I let him know it might be a good idea to include that note in the instructions. Considering their website says you don't need to be experienced to do their kits, it should be assumed the builder wouldn't know this unless told.
     
    Ham Sandwich and Metralla like this.
  25. waterclocker

    waterclocker Forum Resident

    Location:
    NW Indiana
    Wow, sorry to hear about the issues. I've got a L3 Phono V2 and L3 EL84 Int. C-Core kit on the way... looks like I might have my work cut out for me.

    I've built a VTA ST-70 and various other projects, I would expect AN kits to be easier with much less point to point wiring. Some of the wording was
    confusing for the VTA, but there were plenty of pictures and examples to look at. All the parts were correct and labeled nicely in the VTA kit.

    I'm curious to hear about your results, a AN Kits DAC might be in my future if the EL84 and Phono kits go well.
     

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