What magnifier/loupe do you use for cart alignment?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ProfessorC1983, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. ProfessorC1983

    ProfessorC1983 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I have a Technics SL1200 MkII with stock tonearm, and just bought the Mint Best Tractor made specifically for my setup, based on all the glowing reviews. The provided instructions are great, but I'm having more than a bit of trouble using the thing because it's so impossible to see the cantilever and corresponding lines clearly enough to determine the alignment.

    With my modded Denon DL103R, it's not quite so bad because the cart rides a bit higher, and there's more room underneath to get a good view. (Plus I somehow already had alignment near-spot-on before buying the Mint.) But when I try to align my new A-T ART9, it's pretty much impossible to see what I need to. I've tried the included 10X loupe that came with the Mint (not enough magnification and no light), a tiny 30X jewler's loupe (too small of a viewport and I found the inverted viewing angle challenging) as well as a USB microscope (impossible to hold steady enough, and the included stand for that purpose was worthless).

    What are you guys using for lighting/magnification to align carts that don't have a lot of room underneath? Or is this just a "be patient and get more practice" situation? I'm not very good at those... :whistle:
     
  2. tman53

    tman53 Vinyl is an Addiction

    Location:
    Pa
    I use a 30x jeweler's loupe but I think the key is very bright and focused lighting. I use strong LED lighting directed at the cartridge. That seems to work very well for me.
     
    blakep likes this.
  3. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    I have a whole bunch of different magnifiers that I use for different purposes in relation to the cartridge- for set up, I use one that sits on the platter, hands free, a kind of folding magnifier in a frame, not a loupe, as such. I think the geologists who use loupes to examine rocks use a 10X triplet lense- less distortion- i have one of those-not self-illuminated. I have a bunch of the illuminated ones, I did get a magnifying glass with built in lamp from Mint (I think) when I bought a protractor; I also use magnified illuminated eyeglasses (makes you look like a total geek) when brushing the stylus on my main arm because the cantilever is pretty well hidden under the body; and a bunch of others. I kind of rotate through them based on the particular application. I'll try to take a photo of them in one place. None are perfect- you trade off higher magnification for difficulty in aiming the thing, and I think if you are doing cartridge set up, it is good to have both hands free (though you can check your work with a higher powered scope or loupe).
    Oh, there's a killer light- handheld, usb charging, that I found on Amazon that I love- it folds, adjusts for lower light if needed, but I agree with @tman53 that good light is essential.
     
  4. motorstereo

    motorstereo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ct.
    I use a pair of 5X magnifying glasses with good results for my final inspection. Another option is an adjustable digital magnifying app on your smartphone.
     
  5. Technics alignment tool.


    [​IMG]
     
    Mlle. Aurora likes this.
  6. Vinylanswer.net

    Vinylanswer.net Active Member

    Location:
    New York,NY
    I had the mint Best tractor and HATED it. Anyway....the 20x and 30x loupes are tough because you have to get dangerously close to the stylus. I found that the 5 or 6.5x folding magnifiers work better without having to sit as close to the Stylus.

    I like this one:
    Carson LinenTest 6.5x20mm Folding... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002EANJRK?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share
     
  7. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    That's the folding magnifier type I was describing above.
     
  8. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    Location:
    Cloverdale,CA
    wear an optivisor then your hands are free to tweek.
     
    IanL likes this.
  9. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    Location:
    Cloverdale,CA
    close for some not for all
     
  10. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Katy, TX
    The one supplied with my Wally Tractor is a 4x/6x/10x. There are only 2 lenses, so I guess 10x is both lenses. But, you get really close to the stylus with that short of a focal distance. I generally just use the 6x.

    If you want to reference the Wally Tractor instructions here's link. I think the Mint Best only has the standard two null points. Wally included more points.
    http://www.simplyblack.net/images/pdf/WALLYTRACTOR_original.pdf

    Make sure you have a lot of light. A lot. Did I mention light helps? Because it helps more than you would think.
     
  11. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    This which is found here

    [​IMG]
    M~
     
  12. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SLEAZY SOUTHAMERICAN CAVEMAN

    My boss at the audio shop aligned it for me ( I bought the TT from him, and he sweetened the deal by tossing in a Shure cart to replace the original) in '95, and it has been like that since. I only replace the stylus every 1000 hs.
     
  13. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK/USA
    I use a 40x loupe (ebay) with the Mint as in the images below. The stylus tip relative to the arc is very clear at this magnification and with focused LED illumination from several directions, always in diffuse daylight, no direct sunlight.

    On Audiomods Series 6:
    [​IMG]

    On Audiomods Series 5:
    [​IMG]

    (note... as in both above, even with 40x I don't have to get excessively close to the headshell/arm to achieve a clear image when looking straight through the lens)
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
  14. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Just a reminder to note, when using a mirror protractor to line up the cantilever, set the anti-skate to zero. Any pull on the arm will cause the cantilever to move a little off-center and cause an error in your setup.
     
    plastico likes this.
  15. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    Yes, I would agree. That's the key. You can actually do most of the work with the 10X magnifier that Yip provides but I have a very small 40x for confirming the final settings/tweaking.

    But Tman is correct very bright, moveable light is the key when you're working with the Mint.
     
    IanL likes this.
  16. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    USB Webcam sensor board hacked into SLR film camera body with lens. The tiny sensor vs 35mm film size turns a normal lens into a microscope. Even 50mm lens from 0.5m away gives an area the size of a pea. LED flashlight head hacked alongside.
     
  17. Remote Control Triangle

    Remote Control Triangle Forum Resident

    Location:
    Las Vegas
    lol...wow. So what webcam sensor board are you using? I have a film camera that I could try this with...
     
  18. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Logitech C270 (720p), or whatever you have around to take apart. Unscrew and remove the original lens (which alone can be internally adjusted to make a "microscope" by adjusting the focus to 1" away). Disable the on-board LED. A webcam that shows live 1080p actually might cost money.

    You can also mount a lens to a hobby box if you have the mad skillz to know the focal distance you want and make your own lens mount. You also need to kill any extra light that doesn't hit the sensor with sealing/black paint/fabric baffles.

     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
  19. IanL

    IanL Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oneonta, NY USA
    This is an important topic.
     
  20. padreken

    padreken Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego
    I’ll have to order one of these and give it a go-I have a Mint as well, and the 30x loupe I have is nearly useless, you have to get it so close to the headshell that it’s practically touching it.
     
  21. Why look for such a simple method when there's a far more complicated and paranoia inducing method to go for?

    Those Matsushita engineers knew plenty about cartridge alignment and performance when they devised their simple tool.
    They deserve much more credit than most people give them.

    I'm a great believer in horses for courses, and my personal preference is to play records to listen to the music impressed upon them.
    I've travelled the protractor/magnifier route, and never been completely happy with the results.
    The cheap and cheerful overhang tool brought calm satisfaction for me.
     
    recstar24 likes this.
  22. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    Location:
    Cloverdale,CA
    Works great it your cartridge is 100% perfect
     
  23. No cartridge is 100% perfect.
    So we're left with a paranoia inducing method, or a simple procedure.

    I know which one wins out for me.
    You can please yourself.
     
  24. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    Location:
    Cloverdale,CA
    Its all simple once you have done it a few times. If I'm mounting a $4000 cartridge I'm not relying on a simple overhang gauge.
     
  25. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK/USA
    As this tread is by someone who has already invested in a Mint protractor, I felt it only fair to help and support him with the relevant advice he seeks, rather than suggest an alternative.

    (although I have used the Mint protractor on both Audiomods arms referred to above (+ Dr Feickert), I only use the Technics gauge on my 1200G... simple & effective. All can produce excellent results though).
     

Share This Page