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The Modular Thread 2017 Modular Synthesizers
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1771
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void23's Avatar
Well, my first DIY build is just a flaming pile of ... Tried to do a Music Thing Radio Music. I'll pull out the USB microscope tonight and see if I can figure out what went wrong.
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1772
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fiddlestickz's Avatar
Well I have a zero fail rate with DIY, and as long as I never try to build a module it will remain that way..
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Old 23rd February 2017
  #1773
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ImNotDedyet's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by void23 View Post
Well, my first DIY build is just a flaming pile of ... Tried to do a Music Thing Radio Music. I'll pull out the USB microscope tonight and see if I can figure out what went wrong.
Aw man, that sucks!

What exactly happened? I'm assuming you got it powered up and nothing? Or did you get the magic smoke or a pop?

You have a multimeter right? I always do a continuity check on the power header before trying to plug it in. Check the far left (will be either +12 or -12) and the far right (will be +12/-12, whatever far left isn't) If it beeps in continuity mode, there's a short. That's bad. Then do the same with the +12 and the 3 in the middle. (middle three are ground) The front and the back row always appear to be normalled to each other, hence I only check one. (although I ensure they're normalled to each other)

Try posting a pic either here or over at Muffs and see if someone can look at it and see what's wrong.

One thing that's helped me in the past is looking for solder blobs in places they shouldn't be. Try cleaning up any solder blobs on the board with some wick. Also, try re-flowing all of the solder joints. Basically, just touch the joint until it gets hot enough to cause the solder to liquify again.
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1774
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justjools's Avatar
The effect and disappointment of failed projects in the past is so deep and psychologically damaging. I doubt I'll get over it and the fear is enough to keep the thought of trying something at bay. I may overcome it one day but I might need counselling
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Old 23rd February 2017
  #1775
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Kubase's Avatar
Just ordered a Beatstep Pro for hands on twiddle-sequencing. Any users here got any tips, tricks or things to look out for?
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1776
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cane creek's Avatar
 

@void23 Building modules has a learning curve,
If it's your first build then the card reader is a rather fine soldering task.
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1777
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Got in Branches yesterday...man, that's a cool little module. Simple, but lots of fun. Ordered another Peaks as well, because...well...Twin Peaks, eh?

Also discovered how incredibly badass using the Benjolin on the FM input on Ripples is...was running some drums through Ripples that way, and it reminded me a lot of the kinds of percussion on the first few Download albums. Because of the way the oscillators on the Benjolin are normalled to each other, even the slightest change to one creates some really interesting changes in sound.
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Old 23rd February 2017
  #1778
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Derp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Accent View Post
Twin Peaks, eh?
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Old 23rd February 2017
  #1779
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Derp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubase View Post
Just ordered a Beatstep Pro for hands on twiddle-sequencing. Any users here got any tips, tricks or things to look out for?
Yeah, first thing's first: When you get it, even if you don't plan on using it with a computer, go ahead and hook it up to the software so you can reprogram it. The base note for CV sequencing is really high and the default clock is some ridiculously high number. Once you get those two fixed, just sit back and enjoy the ride!
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Old 23rd February 2017
  #1780
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Derp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImNotDedyet View Post
It _could_ be that the version you have is from an older version of the circuit and board. Do you notice a square or rectangular area with a couple of holes and usually a circle inside of it, that's not populated on the board anywhere?
No, no vacant spots. I wish the original ad hadn't been taken down, but the builder said he'd changed out a few things (something about WIMA?) so that's probably why I've only got one trimmer. ...maybe?
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1781
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Derp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by justjools View Post
The effect and disappointment of failed projects in the past is so deep and psychologically damaging. I doubt I'll get over it and the fear is enough to keep the thought of trying something at bay. I may overcome it one day but I might need counselling
I know that feel. Apparently I didn't botch up my last experiment too bad according to the manufacturer, but I'm still afraid to sit down and try the Kontact Mic.
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1782
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
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Old 23rd February 2017
  #1783
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Kubase's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
Yeah, first thing's first: When you get it, even if you don't plan on using it with a computer, go ahead and hook it up to the software so you can reprogram it. The base note for CV sequencing is really high and the default clock is some ridiculously high number. Once you get those two fixed, just sit back and enjoy the ride!
Nice one, thanks.
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1784
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ImNotDedyet's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by justjools View Post
The effect and disappointment of failed projects in the past is so deep and psychologically damaging. I doubt I'll get over it and the fear is enough to keep the thought of trying something at bay. I may overcome it one day but I might need counselling
I can relate. And that's why when I started DIY, I started REALLY simple to get a bit of confidence going. Airtennuators first, then the Bastl passive mults, then the Befaco Offset/Attenuverter. Then I moved on to "real" modules after I'd gotten those right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
Yeah, first thing's first: When you get it, even if you don't plan on using it with a computer, go ahead and hook it up to the software so you can reprogram it. The base note for CV sequencing is really high and the default clock is some ridiculously high number. Once you get those two fixed, just sit back and enjoy the ride!
Also, update the firmware. Chances are it's an old version. The newest version seems to be pretty solid, especially with CV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
No, no vacant spots. I wish the original ad hadn't been taken down, but the builder said he'd changed out a few things (something about WIMA?) so that's probably why I've only got one trimmer. ...maybe?
If there are no vacant spots, that would lead me to believe it's a case of the PCB changing. There likely was only one trimmer on the PCB version of your module. WIMA is merely a Film capacitor manufacturer. They're known for making high-quality caps, so the builder likely knew what he/she was doing and replaced lesser quality caps with WIMA.
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1785
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Derp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImNotDedyet View Post
If there are no vacant spots, that would lead me to believe it's a case of the PCB changing. There likely was only one trimmer on the PCB version of your module. WIMA is merely a Film capacitor manufacturer. They're known for making high-quality caps, so the builder likely knew what he/she was doing and replaced lesser quality caps with WIMA.
Yeah, definitely no complaints here. If I can't make it more pronounced, then it's not a big deal at all. It sounds fantastic and lively. The other night I used it, a Pittsburgh Synth Box, Cinnamon, and Aeverb to recreate a synth sound that I used once and missed dearly. It sounded damn close to the real thing. I love this little module. This and Tonestar 8106 will make some magic.
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1786
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zobbo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cane creek View Post
@void23 Building modules has a learning curve,
If it's your first build then the card reader is a rather fine soldering task.
Any recommendations for easy first projects?
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1787
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cane creek's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zobbo View Post
Any recommendations for easy first projects?
Just had a quick look at my rack to see if there were any "Easy" builds however I'm struggling because they are all easy, i think the "easy" comes with time and not the actual build.
If you take peoples advice at their so called "Easy" builds you'll just end up with a load of modules you don't want. Just build whatever you fancy and you will improve with every build.
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Old 23rd February 2017
  #1788
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justjools's Avatar
I've just been trying out my new modules Tides and Dual ADSR. I really like the sound of Tides and to me is much softer, warmer and sounds much better to my ears than Maths which always sounds harsh like it has been overdriven. I do like what Maths does and was using the wave follower on Tides. Lovely Dual ADSR I'm not sure on, Peaks by comparison sounds much more effective and snappier. I was trying it on the filter and wasn't so impressed so not sure about this. The patch was something like R2D2 or computer loading FX you hear on 70's films. I was modulating two sine waves with Tides and Theta LFO going into Amsynths JP8 filter. Sounds lovely and quite vintage I'm making progress and just need to start using some of what I come up with in compositions now.

P.S. I was reading an article with Olivier Gillet from MI saying he likes Ghost Box Records. Which led me here and have been enjoying these:











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Old 23rd February 2017
  #1789
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zobbo View Post
Any recommendations for easy first projects?
I just went and got some crap x-mas star-kit with lots of leds for about 7 euro, that way I got to practise quite alot of soldering points without the stress of breaking anything I actually want
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Old 23rd February 2017
  #1790
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Blackdog128's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
Those are the ones that are dangerous for me. I almost bought a Disting mkIII the other day. It's going to be outmoded soon. I don't even want one. But it's only $125!
(quoted from the bargain shopping thread)

Do we know anything specific about what or when the next Disting will be?

I'm putting together a 60hp rack (against the advice of pretty much everyone here ) to put in between two Mother-32's in a Moog 3-tier 60hp rack. Trying to be efficient (as well as educational) with the hp, the Disting iii is a major candidate. I'll look for a good price, but if the mark iv is going to be a huge improvement i may just hold off.

Other hp-efficient modules i'm considering are Quadnic; Doepfer A-140 ADSR, A-148 Dual S&H; Pico mult, vca, etc.; LxD. Right now i've (just barely) got room for the AJH Minimod Transistor Ladder Filter. Would really like to hear the Quadnic run thru that, but it's 14hp - Pico has a 3hp ladder filter and then i'd have room for a few more utilities. There may be other narrow filters, ADSRs, VCAs - suggestions welcome (but i strongly favor black face modules for this cute little Moog rack ).

Thanks!

Last edited by Blackdog128; 23rd February 2017 at 10:49 PM.. Reason: Correct typos
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1791
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Derp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackdog128 View Post
Do we know anything specific about what or when the next Disting will be?
To my knowledge, we still don't have an ETA on mkIV. Improvements are supposed to be a new processor for new algorithms, a dot matrix display, and the micro SD slot is going to be on the front. Their 'plan' is to add new features to both the mkIV and mkIII as they're created, but I've heard the mkII and mkI were all but abandoned the moment mkIII was announced, so I wouldn't put much faith in this.

For me, a Disting sounds like an excellent idea, but the turnoff for me is that there's a new revision too frequently. Newer and better is good and all, but this leads me to believe that algorithms that could have been refined for the version you have ended up getting abandoned so they could be included on the latest and greatest instead. With something like Disting, who apparently got the idea from Access, you're investing not only in what it can do now, but what it will do in the future. So we all run out and get an mkIV, but mkV will be out next year and our mkIV's will be forgotten, so why bother? A revision every five or six years with huge differences, I can understand. The difference between a Piston Honda mkI and mkII are vast for instance, and there's a seven year difference between revisions.
Old 23rd February 2017
  #1792
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Thanks, @Derp! That's helpful. My initial glass-half-full take is that v3 will still have all the current features even after v4 comes out. Will take me some time to learn what's there already in v3, so not too worried about v4 yet. Actually at my pace i could probably plan to catch up with them at about v5. ;-)
Old 24th February 2017
  #1793
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ImNotDedyet's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
To my knowledge, we still don't have an ETA on mkIV. Improvements are supposed to be a new processor for new algorithms, a dot matrix display, and the micro SD slot is going to be on the front. Their 'plan' is to add new features to both the mkIV and mkIII as they're created, but I've heard the mkII and mkI were all but abandoned the moment mkIII was announced, so I wouldn't put much faith in this.

For me, a Disting sounds like an excellent idea, but the turnoff for me is that there's a new revision too frequently. Newer and better is good and all, but this leads me to believe that algorithms that could have been refined for the version you have ended up getting abandoned so they could be included on the latest and greatest instead. With something like Disting, who apparently got the idea from Access, you're investing not only in what it can do now, but what it will do in the future. So we all run out and get an mkIV, but mkV will be out next year and our mkIV's will be forgotten, so why bother? A revision every five or six years with huge differences, I can understand. The difference between a Piston Honda mkI and mkII are vast for instance, and there's a seven year difference between revisions.
Yes, III is supposed to continue to get new algorithms, some of which will be in IV. The display really isn't a big deal to me. It's only capable of telling you what mode you're in. It does nothing to tell you what knob controls what in that mode or what each of the jacks do in that mode. And if I recall correctly, the display was pretty small so the text had to scroll.

Card reader on the front is very nice, but the reader on the chip behind the plate isn't so bad if you just get one of those card reader extensions.

But yes, in a small rig, I'd say the Disting is a good choice. You may also want to check out some of 2hp and Erica's Pico offerings.
Old 24th February 2017
  #1794
Gear Maniac
Heya, people of planet modular. I'm looking towards building a 3U rack for some ambient patches. It would be sequenced externally, hence the lack of midi/seq modules. What do you think? Does this rack any sense? I'm a newbie in euro modular, after all. https://cdn.modulargrid.net/img/rack...rid_406776.jpg
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Old 24th February 2017
  #1795
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subdo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubase View Post
Just ordered a Beatstep Pro for hands on twiddle-sequencing. Any users here got any tips, tricks or things to look out for?
Ge the MIDI control center installed on your PC. Make sure you have the latest firmware (earlier firmware was riddled with bugs). The v/o sequencers are set to a super high notes but you can change that in the control center. You'll probably want to set it at the lowest or 2nd to lowest octave. Also if you're clocking a modular you;ll want to set the clock to 1 pulse per step. That will also let you clock the thing from a sampler or DAW with an audio pulse which is much tighter that MIDI. The MIDI sync is still pretty high latency (at least in my rig)

Edit after reading thread: exactly what Derp said
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Old 24th February 2017
  #1796
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subdo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by justjools View Post
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Packing tape. The new answer for rack rash
Old 24th February 2017
  #1797
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ImNotDedyet's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by zobbo View Post
Any recommendations for easy first projects?
I'll repeat my process. I started with RYO Airtennuators. They're not even modules, there are no "real" components to work with, but it's a good start to soldering and putting stuff together, getting some confidence. And they're useful as hell while being cheap as hell.

Next I went with 2 passive mults because again, they're useful as hell and cheap as hell. You'll get some experience with lining up jacks to a panel, etc. There are no components other than the jacks and getting them wired together.

Next I went with the Befaco Dual Offset/Attenuverter as my first "real" module with pots, power, etc. Again, useful and cheap, and it's a whole kit so you don't have to source anything - just follow directions.

Once I'd been successful with those, I felt I could get on to other, "more interesting" modules. The Manhattan Analog mixer might be a good starter project as well, and useful as hell. The Meng Qi DPLPG is a very small and useful little module, but it has pretty much zero instructions and a couple of SMD parts. Once you've got a few modules experience, it's a good add, but probably not to start.

I agree with @CANecreek to an extent - get something you want and just go. But there is the possibility of starting with something that's a bit more difficult and then having the paralyzing fear @justjools talked about, if you happen to mess it up. That's why I started with merely utility modules I can always use and will always need, and won't mind horribly if I screw it up.

I'd avoid multi-board/PCB projects to start, and go with full kits where you don't have to source any parts yourself that go from $50 - $75 or so to start. Smaller hp projects are also probably best, provided the PCB isn't too tight. It's not that multi-board, or even most full kits you can buy are _really_ difficult. It's moreso the fact that the tighter the board or the more components you have to solder, the higher the odds of messing something up. And at least for me, there was (and still is to an extent) a feeling I have to finish it in one sitting, sometimes leading to rushing, half assing it and messing up.

To debug, have a halfway decent multimeter, and you should have one anyways to test the power for continuity before trying to attach it to a rack. They're also actually useful for just general modular as well.

I've DIY'd twenty some of my fifty modules/expanders now including some SMD modules. Before you know it, you'll be doing stuff like the attached. (which sounds flippin fantastic BTW! Really can bring the modular alive! I'm in love)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mummel View Post
I just went and got some crap x-mas star-kit with lots of leds for about 7 euro, that way I got to practise quite alot of soldering points without the stress of breaking anything I actually want
These things are nice for soldering practice. There are some companies that actually sell soldering practice kits as well. These can be good because you can also practice desoldering, without worrying about burning out the pads of something you actually care about. It's taken me a while to get good at using a solder sucker, and using just desoldering braid nearly never gets everything out of the hole if you need to desolder something. And you will have to desolder something, (potentially a many legged thing) eventually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zetroshift View Post
Heya, people of planet modular. I'm looking towards building a 3U rack for some ambient patches. It would be sequenced externally, hence the lack of midi/seq modules. What do you think? Does this rack any sense? I'm a newbie in euro modular, after all. https://cdn.modulargrid.net/img/rack...rid_406776.jpg
Looks good to me man. That would be a nice start for ambient.
Attached Thumbnails
The Modular Thread 2017-20170223_193452.jpg   The Modular Thread 2017-20170223_193520.jpg   The Modular Thread 2017-20170223_194756.jpg  
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Old 24th February 2017
  #1798
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void23's Avatar
I tried reflowing tonight on the Radio Music, but no luck. I've got a loupe coming tomorrow, but I think it's a loss. That said, I really liked how the Thonk kit was packaged and how easy it way to understand the components and the layout. I'm a big Lego fan and it just as well designed as one of their kits. I may try it one more time, after the credit card is paid off at the end of the month.

For the experts out there, I was using good quality 63/37 at 650F and, especially after reflowing I've got solder resin everywhere. It was pretty bad every before reflowing. Any tips on solder type and temperature for the next try?

As for the Disting, the one feature I'm looking forward to in the mkIV is the tuner. Don't know if it's worth the upgrade until I see the full algorithm list, but having a tuner in the rack would be really nice. That said, I've got a Mantis I need to fill, so I could always use another.
Old 24th February 2017
  #1799
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ImNotDedyet's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by void23 View Post
I tried reflowing tonight on the Radio Music, but no luck. I've got a loupe coming tomorrow, but I think it's a loss. That said, I really liked how the Thonk kit was packaged and how easy it way to understand the components and the layout. I'm a big Lego fan and it just as well designed as one of their kits. I may try it one more time, after the credit card is paid off at the end of the month.

For the experts out there, I was using good quality 63/37 at 650F and, especially after reflowing I've got solder resin everywhere. It was pretty bad every before reflowing. Any tips on solder type and temperature for the next try?
That's a bummer. Thonk's stuff is really well done. Elby's is as well.

I keep my iron at 650F, and I think I have 60/40, but that shouldn't make that much of a difference. If you're getting solder everywhere, you're likely using too much solder. Try to take solder removal braid and suck up all the spots. Sometimes they can cause bridges between the traces, which could be your issue. Getting that loupe may help you find it.

Out of curiousity, have you taken a multimeter and done a continuity check on the power header? Make sure you get no noise when touching +12 and -12 (far left and far right) with each probe, then make sure +12 and each of the ground pins in the middle three rows don't produce a noise, then do the following with -12 and the ground pins. If there is a noise, that means there's a short in your circuit.

Make sure the polarity on electrolytic caps, (usually a '-' sign on one side of the cap for the negative sign/non positive sign on the PCB) diodes, (match solid line on component to line on PCB) tantalum caps, (longer leg into positive sign on PCB) and transistors (flat portion lines up with flat portion on PCB) is correct as well as LEDs (long leg in square pad and sometimes the little flattened part of the LED matching the flattened part on the PCB) and that ICs and their sockets (usually there's a dip on the PCB to indicate where the rounded out dip at the end of the socket goes, and the IC itself may have a dot or a dip imprinted on it that should go on that same side) are insert the correct way. You may want to look at a picture of a completed build, or a pic of the blank boards to double check.

After removing the solder all over your board, going over it with a loupe to look for cold solder joints (they'll be dull gray, not shiny, silver) and reflowing or adding solder to the cold joints - if your module still doesn't work, try posting pics on muffs. The guys and gals over there are pretty good at diagnosing, merely from pictures. They seem to even _gasp_ know resistor color codes and tell you such and such a resistor is the wrong one.
Old 24th February 2017
  #1800
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Quote:
Originally Posted by void23 View Post
For the experts out there, I was using good quality 63/37 at 650F and, especially after reflowing I've got solder resin everywhere. It was pretty bad every before reflowing. Any tips on solder type and temperature for the next try?
Get some Isopropyl Alcohol, a firm bristled toothbrush and a rag. Spray the (solder side of) board and get it nice and wet with Iso. Scrub it with the toothbrush then pat dry with the rag. You'll probably need to do this at leat 3 times before it stops being sticky from the roisin. At the very least this will give you a clearer view of your solder joints.
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