New 18 Volt Protocols
Major Upgrade Announcement for our entire lineup:
030712: In the spirit of true commitment to both my C.A.N.I. philosophy (Constant And Neverending Improvement) as well as my OUTLIFE philosophy (that is "my designs will outlive both you and I"), I'm always working on improving any/every aspect of the audio devices and circuits I build for you. That said, soon every single FARNDURK device will be able to operate at 9vdc to 18vdc (nine to eighteeen volts direct current). In between building orders, I've been spending a great deal of my time converting all of our currently offered designs to 18vdc operation. Very soon this change will be completed. To be completely honest, 18vdc operation is only a part of a larger mission. A while ago I set out to improve our designs, the first place I went was our capacitors. Since 2007 we've been using combinations of Tantalum and Aluminum electrolytic capacitors in all of our designs, due to unreliable sourcing issues many of those components were made in ROC (I'd ~cringe~ every time I'd see "CoO China" on the spec paperwork that acompanies the components .. which stands for "country of origin, China"). I set out to change all of that. I'm nearly done with the entire project, which is a big *win* for you!
"I have a 9 volt adaptor, will it still work or do I have to use an 18 volt power adaptor with second generation Farndurk gear?"
Everything still works just fine at 9vdc, so if you have a 9volt adaptor our new 18volt-capable designs will still work just the same way they always did when they were produced at 9vdc maximum. With 18volt max input the units can operate at ANY dc voltage from 9vdc anywhere up to 18 volts. So if you have a 12 volt system (for instance), no sweat. I have several customers that use modular synth gear which operates at 15vdc .. no problem now .. it will work fine with that as well. Whatever .. so long as it is anywhere between 9 and 18 volts DC.
"I have a first generation 9volt FARNDURK unit, can I have it upgraded to 18volt operation?"
YES! .. Absolutely. I'll be posting a pricing schedule applicable to each one of our pre-18volt designs soon, I just need to finish working out the parts and labor costs first. If you can't wait for me to get that finished, just write me and we'll work it out. Jsyk, it requires a completely new pc board so your old one is removed and a brand new pc board is installed. As you can imagine, this is easier to do with some of our designs, and harder to do with other ones. That said, 18volt refits are to be priced accordingly.
The new capacitor protocols that I've employed meet the following criteria:
- Known-Trustworthy brands, MADE IN USA is first choice if possible: Finding quality components that actually meet the published specifications isn't an easy task these days. The United States has .. for some twenty-plus years now .. seen fit to become a nation of brokers, rather than a nation of builders .. we're now ~middlemen~ rather than manufacturers. That philosophy fits in very well with the pattern of greedy "short term profit" priorities that most American businesspeople have adopted over the last two decades. Why actually *work* for a living when one can allow others to work while we sit back and scoop the profits of middlemen? Screw that ~blue collar~ crap! Right? Hells Yes baby .. go USA! We just keep on pumping our money to nations elsewhere while the greedy among us get fatter and fatter. American Capitalism has been rectally gang-raped, violated, and exploited by the greedy-dishonest among us, and in it's present form DOES .. NOT .. WORK for America!). That said, it has become increasingly difficult to locate quality US made components that weren't actually "farmed out" to factories in China (aka "ROC" .. or "Republic Of China"). Many .. if not most .. of these components are quite cheaply made and many times the component does not meet the published specifications for the component. A 10 microfarad capacitor may actually test out to be 7 microfarad of capacitance, or perhaps 13 or 14 microfarad. I've gone to extended lengths to locate vendors that can reliably supply us with the quantities of the types and brand names of electronic components that fit our protocols.
- RELIABLE SPECIFICATIONS: We now use electrolytic capacitors made exclusively by Nichicon (USA), which is our first choice when available. We also use film capacitors made by Vishay and Panasonic, both of whom produce highly trustworthy excellent quality components. We've found that these manufacturers provide trustworthy specifications and the components they offer are of the highest quality. The Tantalum caps we used before were rated at 16vdc +/- 20%. What that means is a cap rated at 16vdc may actually only tolerate 12.8 volts (16 less 20%). Or it may actually be able to handle as much as 19.2vdc. That's IF and ONLY IF the cap actually meets the manufacturer's published specs. I've found that many times caps made by ROC suppliers do not meet advertized specs. Having said that, we used to recommend that our designs be operated at no more than 12vdc. Now that we've have located reliable sources for these excellent quality components and upgraded our entire lineup we have no issues about running our gear at up to 18vdc without any worries about whether or not the caps are gonna blow their guts.
- LONG SERVICE LIFE: Minimum of 2000 hours load time (two thousand hours) at 105 degrees Centigrade. Most of your Chino-made electrolytic caps (either aluminum or tantalum) are less than half that load life. The electrolytic caps were the theoretical "weakest link" in the longevity chain of our designs. By upgrading our capacitor protocols we've effectively at the very least DOUBLED the life of any given FARNDURK circuit used in our devices. As far as the film capacitors we use .. those are are rated at 300,000 hours minimum (that's three hundred thousand hours!). These published "load life" specs are often not met by many of the ROC offerings, so even though a given capacitor may be rated at one thousand hours, it may only actually go seven hundred hours before it begins to drift from it's specs, or even fail altogether. The new protocols we've employed not only (at least) double that, but the new caps we've gone too are actually built to advertized specs, and most times actually exceed them in real life use. So a four thousand hour cap will actually go at least four thousand hours before it begins to drift or fail. And remember that the spec is the minimum that the cap will go, or said another way it is "the worst case scenario". With higher quality stuff those minimum specs are usually exceded in actual use. Now keep in mind when I say "2000 hours" that is rated at 105C. What that means is the components rated at 2000 hours service life are rated as such when operated at 105 degrees Centigrade (roughly 260 degrees f). Life in operational environments is calculated by the "Law of Arrhenius". Rule of thumb tells us that for every 10 degrees Centigrade lower than "rated" the cap life doubles. Said another way, if a cap is rated at 2000 hours @ 105C, then at 95C the cap is rated at 4000 hours, at 85C it is rated at 8000 .. on and on. For caps rated at 105C if run at only 45C this works out to be 15 years of service life as the absolute minimum "worst case scenario". Said another way ... 15 years service life is the SHORTEST lifespan to be expected when operated in a 45C degree environment (that's about 120f!) So 15 years of reliable operation while being exposed 24/7 to 120f degree ambient heat! I go to great pains to keep the circuit density of all of my PCBs pretty sparse .. this greatly improves the air-cooling ability of my designs and keeps the internal temps of my pedals at or very near ambient air temp. I also tend to over-engineer my circuits as well, using components over-rated for the job I ask them to perform. All of this mumbo-jumbo comes down to excellent .. and I really do mean excellent service life expectations. It also means that any given FARNDURK design will keep it's tone intact for a very long time. It all is part of my "OUTLIFE" philosophy that is employed in every single thing I design and build. In the end .... YOU win!
- INDUSTRIAL/COMPUTER GRADE TEMPERATURE RATINGS: This particular criterion isn't actually ~new~ around here. We've always used nothing but caps rated at 105 degrees Centigrade in our devices. Consumer grade components are rated at 85 degrees centigrade and have less performance, sloppier tolerances, as well as lower service life than computer-grade caps. Yes, this type of stuff costs me more, and are more difficult to reliably source. But I'm an overkill maniac so the use of high-grade components should be expected of me! :)
- 18 VOLT INPUT POWER COMPATIBILITY: With the use of these better quality components higher voltage power supplies are no longer an issue at all. What this means to you, the user, is that you may use any of the wonderful 18 volt power systems offered these days without any worries or concerns of letting the smoke out of our devices. 18 volt power just makes everything better. You have more input gain tolerance now. This means that the device has more headroom .. a good deal more to be honest. It translates to the device not ~clipping~ when it's hit with higher gain signals. Hot active guitar pickups have less ability to ~clip~ the input stage of (let's say) a compressor. Higher voltages make "dirt pedals" offer more distortion, and it's the kind of distortion that the pedal circuit was designed to make .. not input gain distortion where the distortion comes from the input stage of the pedal being overdriven by a gainy signal. Everything sortof "just works better" at these higher main voltage levels (I'm referring to the 18 volt main power here).
Vibration and mechanical shock .. cap killers!
For us, this is nothing ~new~ that we're doing, but it is certainly worth noting ... read on. Capacitors can fail (open) when subjected to (what we used to call in motorcycle racing) "high speed and constant vibration". Kidding aside, vibration and mechanical shock (as in drop kicking a guitar pedal, or having it fall from the top of your amplifier stack to the stage floor) can kill caps, among other things. Every single FARNDURK design uses a full-floating circuit board to isolate the circuit board from mechanical shocks and vibrations. Just imagine the pounding the lowly distortion pedal sitting on top of a cranked combo-amp is getting! Or the wear-tear put on the internal components from setup and teardown at every gig. The pedal may get dropped or manhandled, or stuffed in a backpack (which gets tossed around all on it's own), or rides in the trunk of your 1977 Pinto that desperately needs new shock absorbers while riding on the freeway or expressway .. or some combination of all of those situations. You get the picture. In all of our designs, the pcb is mounted on it's own set of vibration-damping pedestals and is not mechanically connected to any footswitches, pots (knobs), jacks, or toggle switches in any way .. they are true full-floating pcb mountings. This means that stomping on the footswitches, kicking the pedal around, manhandling the toggle switches and knobs will not transmit any of these *shocks* and otherwise inconsiderate violations to the pcb (or the components soldered to the pcb). That said you have my word that I will n.e.v.e.r. .. e.v.e.r. .. resort to "pcb-mounted technology" where the pots, switches, LEDs, and jacks (!!) are soldered directly to the pcb without using interconnecting wires or leads (imagine the pain inflicted on something made with pcb-mounted tech when it falls "face down" to the floor and all of the knobs and switches take direct hits that are directly transmitted straight to the pc board). You'd be surprised to learn how much of the audio gear sold today is engineered and constructed with pcb-mounted tech. It's primarily used because ~unskilled labor~ may be hired to assemble devices wthout any soldering skills because pcb-mounted designs simply bolt together after the pick-and-place robots have built the entire PCB with all of the jacks, pots, and switches soldered directly to the pcb. All the ~unskilled human assembler~ has to do is plop the populated PCB into place and tighten down a few screws .. done!). Yes, this full-floating design philosophy of mine means that it takes me FAR LONGER to assemble and build my pedals, but it assures me (and you too!) that I won't be dealing with solder joints that have worked loose or on-board components that have given up the ghost due to real world knocking about.
New Serial Number Branding to ~mark~ 18volt designs:
Any and all of these *second generation designs* that utilize 9-18vdc main power will incorprate an all new serial numbering system that is visible from the outside of the unit. Up until we adopted the new capacitor protocols our designs have been serial numbered on the inside of the lower enclosure. The new 18volt units will all have their serial numbers HANDSTAMPED on the outside of the lower enclosure so that the number will be visible without opening up the pedal. We're employing an all new numbering system as well that is totally different from the system we've previously used. So if you buy a used FARNDURK device, if it doesn't have the serial number actually stamped on the bottom of the lower housing .. it is NOT an 18volt unit. If you are doubting the authenticity of a given unit that may be on Ebay or whatever, simply have the seller provide the serial number and then write to us. We keep ridiculously intricate build and birth records of every single unit we've ever sold. We take a couple dozen photos of each and every single unit ever built as well. So if the used unit you're looking at seems kinda ~iffy~ just contact us and we'll be able to verify the unit's authenticity very easily. All we need is the serial number and model name .. it all has to jive to be an authentic FARNDURK. Frauds out there may even attampt to "stamp" some fakey number on the bottom to be able to sell it as one of our 18volt units. They'll never pull it off as long as you contact us with the info. (And don't forget that all of our designs carry a fully transferable limited lifetime warranty ... used or new, it's covered.)
So .. in short ... if it has the serial number actually HANDSTAMPED (just like our graphics are on all of our designs) in the bottom of the lower housing .. it is setup for 18vdc operation. If it does not have the serial number HANDSTAMPED (not written, or "Sharpied") on the bottom of the lower enclosure where it can be clearly seen without opening up the unit .. it is not setup for 18vdc operation. (I'll have pics of the new serial number system soon, it's makes more sense when you see it.)
Pretty simple, yea?
"So I guess this means your prices are going up?"
Oh Hells No. All it means at the end of the day is you're getting a better pedal. That's it. Yes, these components certainly cost us more, but that's not your problem (at least the way I see it). There are two kinds of decisions in this line of work .... "Money things" .. and "business things". This upgrade of ours isn't about us sucking more money out of our customers, it's about offering the best product I can build for you. In the long run it will serve our "business" to do this because it will only serve to shore up our reputation for buiding the highest quality devices we know how to make. I firmly believe in what I call "the circular universe" .. meaning that you get what you give.
To be announced.