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Old 10th November 2005, 07:56 PM   #1
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Default DIY auto record cleaning machine

Hello DIY dudes and dudettes. I found this forum a few months ago from the guys at AudioKarma, as I'm a member there too. I thought I'd share a little project with you guys and maybe you will find it useful yourself. I got back into spinning vinyl about 2 years ago. All this digital stuff nowadays just seemed to lose the magic of music for me. It was all about better DAC's, HD this, blue-ray that. I just wanted to get back to the music. So I picked me up a Denon DP-62L turntable and a Denon DL-160 MC cart, pulled out all my stored vinyl, and began the ritual of what music is all about - the preparation of the component and the source, the settings that must be made, the maintenance, the cleaning, the angles. Yes, that is what I missed! That is somrthing you can't get from the comatose inducing effects of single pushbutton, remote controlled digital clones. Anyway, as time went by I searched the net for tweaks that I could do to make my ritual a better hands-on experience (hence, I found this forum). One of the biggest tweaks anyone can make is not upgrading the cart, or the tuntable, or even adding an isolation platform (all of these are valid tweaks by themselves), but the best thing you can do to give you better sound from your LP's is --------- to clean them!! A clean record will sound drastically better, and last longer, than a dirty record. The search began for as much information on record cleaners. Nitty Gritty, VPI, Moth - all too expensive. I found Gales page and saw his design for a cool VPI DIY clone and became inspired.

I built my version - the ARK (Automatic Record Kleaner). Catchy, isin't it? It turned out to be one of the best performing and most satisfying projects I've done. It consists of a high torque motor to turn the platter, a 10 amp vacuum cleaner for the suction, a car's windshield wiper pump for the fluid dispenser system, and housed in a box. I'll admit the looks could be improved upon, but this was my first test run only and not the final product - a prototype. So I know that many of us DIYer's would love to build one of these but can't choose a design, much less impliment it. I hope my little project will help you DIYer's to make your own. Total parts cost was less than $60.00 for the fnal version - most parts available at home in your garage. A more detailed step by step description of the whole process can be seen at my website for those interested: www.rycher.net

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Old 10th November 2005, 10:32 PM   #2
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Wow! Looks pretty good. The high torque ice cream machine motor is a great idea (that I may have to steal).
What fluid do you use with it?
Have you experimented with different "scrubbers"?

I am in the process of gathering parts to build a Loricraftish RCM. I have a Nitty Gritty, but it is too loud for the bathroom whhere it sits. Won't do any good to clean records if my RCM makes me deaf

Cody
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Old 10th November 2005, 11:09 PM   #3
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Thanks Reverber. The motor took the longest to think out because I knew that a standard TT motor would not hold under the the pressure of scrubbing and vacuuming. But the ice cream/ ice crusher is perfect. It does'nt even bog down. Lucked out on that one. As for the scrubber, well I think I may have to "upgrade" the present one for a brush type so that it can penetrate deeper into the grooves. Most good 4" paint brushes from Home Depot should do the trick without being damaging on the vinyl. I made it so that I can interchange brushes fairly easily. As for the cleaning fluid, well I use the old tried and true home brew: 3 parts distilled water, 1 part isopropyl alcohol, and about 3 drops Dawn detergent. Works very well. Normally I would use the Stanton record cleaner pad and it's liquid - you know the type, you hold the pad on a turning record. But even after a few minutes of play the needle had collected dust on it's stylus due to it bringing it up from deep in the grooves. After cleaning a record with this machine I can go an entire play and not see any appreciable dust build up on the stylus. To me that's effective cleaning.

Well thanks for the kind words. I just thought I'm make my first post on this site a useful post.
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Old 10th November 2005, 11:12 PM   #4
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Old 11th November 2005, 04:00 AM   #5
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Very good work...

I am still enjoying *not* cleaning my CDs before listening... but for the analogue crowd here, would you consider selling these as finished parts, even at a low volume?
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Old 11th November 2005, 08:56 AM   #6
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LOL! Now that's a compliment! Thanks. But really, I love working and tinkering, it keeps my mind busy. I don't really mind making a few of these units for some buddies, it's not really a big deal now that the basic idea has already been implimented. I'd like to do a few more tweaks on my machine before I build the final version. I want to fill in the suction arm so that the amount of air drawn is only as wide as the slit cut on the underside, and not all the way through the wand to the end where right now it's just capped. This should give me quite a bit more suction power. I also want to raise the scrubber arm about an inch more so that I can slide over the present arm other tubes that hold different styles scrubber pads, fiber brushes, sponges, etc, making replacement quick and easy. I also want to add a fluid regulator valve to the fluid hose so you can adjust the amount and speed of fluid going to the record. I also want to refine the fluid dispenser hose a bit more. These are all quick and easy fixes, but I feel they will add a lot to the overall design and ultimate value of the unit. I'm sure that once I fix these small things, and install my unit in a nicer rosewood box that I will have a product that will easily compete with the big boys (actually I'm pretty sure that even right now I have a superior unit than most out there). I don't know what they would be worth to someone if I were to sell them. Does anyone here want to comment on a reasonable price for sale - just for kicking the idea around?
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Old 11th November 2005, 09:56 AM   #7
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I don't see a reservoir for the fluid you suck up from the record. Will that not damage the vacuum motor if you don't filter it out?
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Old 11th November 2005, 02:44 PM   #8
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One isin't needed because of 2 reasons. 1) the fluid is so little that it evaporates while being picked up and traveling down the hose, and 2) the mix of 3 to 1 water/alcohol ratio evaporates much quicker. But I do have a small "water net" that sits inside the "pot" at the vacuum to catch any debris that may make it in. But both the debris and water will be so small that a cleaning every 2 or 3 months would be all that is needed. I'm currently looking at a small cylindrical vacuum that is even more powerful than this one, is smaller, and is a wet/dry system. But it retails for $50.00 by itself - that would bring the total cost of the ARK to about $120.00. Still not a bad price at all. The final version as I see it so far will have some improvements in parts and I'll be getting away from the "home brew" of parts that the cost would surely rise to the $200.00 area. Still not bad at all considering everything that this machine can do and the features that it will have (see my previous post on additions). So far I'm very happy with the performance of this prototype. You know, the more time I spend on the machine the more I realize how complicated things can get. I can make the machine very stramlined and easy or, I can add all the bells and whistles and make a unique one-of-a-kind fully loaded cadillac. Heck, maybe I can make a few different models?

Jimmy
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Old 11th November 2005, 03:50 PM   #9
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That is a really excellent record cleaner. Thanks for the description – you may have saved some people a few hundred, or a few thousand, dollars! I may use some of your thoughts to modify my own Nitty Gritty machine, which I’ve already discovered a few problems with, despite paying a fair bit for it. I might have to build a similar version to yours, and sell my Nitty Gritty – luckily they fetch quite a bit second hand! I’m sure they, or the dealers selling them, are making a pretty good profit.
How does your fluid work with fingerprints? I discovered that the standard Nitty Gritty Pure 2 fluid is absolutely hopeless on getting rid of fingerprints on some of the records I buy, so I usually have to use another stronger fluid first to remove the fingerprints. Of course, Nitty Gritty have now come out with a stronger fluid….
You also have a pretty useful website – I enjoyed your review of power conditioners/protectors. I remember a colleague in my electronics industry saying that when there was lightning in the area, the best idea was to unplug all electrical equipment from power points, as lighting doesn’t respect off switches! Having seen what it can do to electronic equipment, I’d agree with that. I’ve heard some poor, misguided people complain about getting tingles from lightning when they were on a wired phone – they blamed the phone company. I think that I would have been hanging up at the first hint of lightning. I advise my friends and relatives not to use wired phones when there’s lighting in the area – better safe than dead.
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Old 11th November 2005, 10:52 PM   #10
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Default The record cleaner is complete.

Today I finished tweaking the record cleaner and added a few new features. I believe that what I have now is a unit that will give the VPI's a run for their money - easy! For startes, I filled in the vacuum wand so that the suction air is concentrated only on the slit, also I streamlined the vacuum hose taking all tight bends out. This increased suction considerably. I also added a fluid control knob to the fluid motor so that I can control the amount and speed of cleaning fluid going to the record. This is very handy. I also streamlined the fluid hose to remove any tight bends thus giving it a more pridictable flow. All in all this unit SUCKS - literally! It sprays a nice stream of cleaner on the LP, scrubs it down into the grooves gently, then vacuum the dirt, grime, finger prints, and fluid away in about 3 passes. I am mightily impressed. Here are the final pics.
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