T-REX BINSON UPDATE #3

Summer’s just around the corner here in Denmark. Us Danes always get a little giddy when sunrays take over from what seems to be an eternal solar eclipse, so we felt like celebrating the coming of spring by showing you our newest acquisition. Don’t ask where Lars got it from or how much we paid for it. The seller said “I think it still works…”. Lars said “okay, I trust you”.

Feast your eyes on this piece of… uhm… machinery. It can wind wire on stuff. Much like a pickup winder, only it does the opposite of “scatter wound”. It can be adjusted so that the chosen wire is wound with no gaps in between the windings.  Swiss made in the early 60’s by “Meteor”, this winder is still going strong. It even has a power outlet made of Bakelite on a small wooden frame. That outlet was definitely not made for an iPhone charger, that’s for sure. The whole thing looks like a cross between a WW2 lie detector, an air balloon sewing machine and something out of a “Saw” film.

 The Swiss made, foot-operated winding machine is in the house!

The Swiss made, foot-operated winding machine is in the house!

Mohamad has calibrated it to the 0,1mm thickness of the wire we use, and guess what?
It works!
It even stops by itself when exactly 27,5 meters of wire has been wound onto the drum.
That’s it, huh? Nope. Then you´ll need to grind the winding. Grinding the wire makes it a lot easier for the heads to transfer audio to the drum, because the combined “wire area” is enlarged. Like if you use a paint roller instead of a brush to paint your house. More paint per stroke, right?
Lastly, the wire is secured on each end and “potted” in lacquer that cures after 4 hours in an oven at 140 degrees Celsius.

 Baking the wire in the oven!

Baking the wire in the oven!

Done. We have something we can use now. That’s not to say that sound clips are up in a few days. This winder (and a lot of communication with the guys that grind the wire down to an unfathomably low tolerance) is a tool for research and development. When we know that things work, we need to look for ways to do this on a large scale. Hopefully, we’ll need to make more than just a handful of drums. Maybe this old Pride of Switzerland will be put through its paces when the time comes. We’ll see.

We hope you dig the DIY content as much as we do!
 

T-Rex Binson update #2

Hey everyone

Thank you SO much for the feedback and support! Truth be told, we did not expect this level of kindness and backup from all of you that commented. Thanks for taking the time to share your positiveness and thoughts.

We´ve started  working on the drum/head assembly. One of you mentioned that the adjustments should be kept to a minimum and that´s a tough one. In order for this to sound right, the physical setup must be precise and be wobble-free. No use in adjusting a head only to have it dangle off the assembly after a few gigs. So we are trying to come up with something that will require virtually no maintenance, once set up at the production line. The original suffered from this because the head placement was easy to knock out of position. Like on our tape echos, the best solution would be something that requires setup by us, not the user. So Sebastian is hard at work now trying to come up with a neat solution that applies the correct amount of pressure from the heads, has complete control of head position vert./horiz. and stays put once it´s adjusted. The obstacle is that this is catch 22 - it needs to be able to move, otherwise it´s impossible to adjust for good sound. But things that CAN move WILL move if you touch them right? So you can´t really have one without the other. If we can get it to where it doesn´t move unless you decide for yourself that you really want it to move, we´re golden.
Regarding the footswitch: We already implemented a remote on/off jack. You can use the pedal on the pedal board (that´s one of the "updates" compared to the original) or place it on top of the amp and run a small footswitch box out to the front stage.

As for the pricing, a friend of ours said it best: "It´s not expensive, my dear, it´s just a lot of money for you to spend". A lollipop is one dollar. A flat screen TV costs more than that. Maybe one thousand dollars. Is the TV affordable? Is it expensive? Compared to a lollipop it is, but then again, it´s not a lollipop – it´s a flat screen TV.
This pedal costs a lot of money (read: time) to design and manufacture. It consists of a lot of expensive parts and components. The very nature of it kind of sets the bar for how cheap it can get. More often than not, pricing has to do with what you actually buy. We could easily put it out for 250USD street price, but then we´d have to omit the drum and the heads and make it DSP-based. But it would be “affordable”.
We´re not about to rip anyone off. You´re our customers. But if we spend 100USD on design, parts, manufacturing and shipping, we can´t sell it for 90USD. It´s as simple as that.

Okay, no more money talk.
´Till next time, keep the comments and questions coming.

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Current status on the T-Rex Binson Echorec

In response to all the questions and feedback we've gotten on the Binson Echorec project, we would like to shed some light on where we are and what we can all expect in the future.
We know that spilling the beans prematurely on a product can be a double edged sword: On one side, it´s cool to let everyone know what´s going on and what we´re working on, because it creates communication between us – we get the much needed feedback that can lift a product from “that´s nice” to “I need one of those NOW!”. On the other side, if nothing seems to happen on the project, you start thinking that it´ll never see the light of day and you might feel a bit let down?
Listen, we ALL love gear. Every person involved in this project can´t get it out of their minds because of the nature of the unit. For gear heads and techs, this is just like going to Disneyland. But there´s a financial and a corporate side to everyday life at T-Rex HQ, which has delayed the project. A lot.

So where are we now?
Well, the unit we showed you last year is actually putting out audio. The drum is rotating, the heads are spitting out and sucking up signals and the rats nest of wires, components, pots and switches next to it is amplifying, filtering and switching those signals. It´s not a prototype per se, but something we can use and work on.

What did we spend all this time on?
The simplest answer we can give you is “back engineering”. We've spent a good amount of time and money on finding the right mechanical setup. What functions should be included and how can these be implemented while staying true to what makes a Binson Echorec “tick”? How do we obtain the best wire for the drum and how can it be wound, secured and machined for our use? What properties should the wire have? How do we get a consistent and flutter-free rotation of the drum?
How should the heads be mounted for ease of use/adjustment and what should the specs be for them?
You see, it´s not like these things can be looked up in “Electronics for dummies”. It takes a lot of time doing tests and it takes even longer just to get the parts needed for testing. But this is the backbone of the unit and that´s why we want to hit the bullseye. We´re not just copying an original 1:1, although it should be able to sound like one.

What will the future bring?
As soon as we have a good overview of all the other projects we want to do, we can pick up where we left off and finish it. This will most likely start in the beginning of 2018. And we know what you´re thinking: “Yeah, whatever…just tell us when it´s available for purchase, okay?”. - Sorry, we can´t do that. We don´t want to spill any more beans than we already did, but what we CAN do is to update you all on every step of the way from now on. Kind of like a show-and-tell road movie on the development process. As soon as we have anything worth looking at or listening to, we´ll share it.
Our Christmas wish list for next year? A Binson unit. We promise we´ll behave like good boys and girls should. Then maybe Santa will swing by before his early morning date with Mrs. Santa.

Merry X-mas from all of us at T-Rex!

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