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Durability of DB25's for a mobile rig
Old 5th July 2017
  #1
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Steamy Williams's Avatar
 

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Durability of DB25's for a mobile rig

I'm about to buy some Bittree programmable bantam patchbays for my home studio, which will also double as a mobile recording rig. Bittree can supply these patchbays with either DB25 or EDAC/ELCO connectors (with 38, 56 or 90-pins). However, I'm struggling to decide which connector to go for. DB25's would definitely suit me better, but I'm a little concerned they won't be durable enough for a mobile rig.

I've been told that on paper EDAC's can withstand far more mating cycles than DB25's, although I haven't seen the specs to back this up yet. On other hand, some of my older engineer friends say they've found DB25's to be more reliable. And Bittree suggested I could reduce wear and tear on the DB25's on the patchbays by using port protectors, which seems like a good idea.

Incidentally, this mobile rig will only be used for guerilla recording projects, rather than capturing live gigs, and I'll be the only person to operate it. The rig will be divided into lots of small rack cases - mostly just 3U and 4U. This is partly to ensure I can lift each of the cases on my own, and also so I can just load what's needed for each project. However, this means that the patchbays will be in a different case from the rest of the gear, so all of the wiring will have to be disconnected for transporting.

I won't be taking the rig out very often though; probably just about once a month to begin with. And even if I get very busy further down the line, I doubt it'll ever be more than once a week. Anyway, I'd be grateful for your thoughts on the durability of DB25's for a mobile rig.
Old 5th July 2017
  #2
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tourtelot's Avatar
A good part of my location 24-track rig uses DB25 connectors that get hooked up every time the rig is built. I, like you are considering, build up the rig from a number of 2U, 3U and at the most, 4U rack cases. It works really well.

Two things about the DB24 connectors that I find. The first is that the cables attached to the connector need, for the most part, to be supported somehow. I use pieces of black theatrical tie-line, attached to the rack in a strategic place, to hold up bundles of 8-pair cable. Very simple to implement. The other is the use of what are called DB25 port savers. Here is a link to one source but they are readily available in many places.

https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=1193

These are sacrificial connectors that keep the actual connector on your devices from wearing out due to repeated coupling and uncoupling of the DB25s.

Other than those two things, I am careful when I connect the DB25s and tighten them down, tight so they don't wiggle around too much, but not so tight as to strip the screws or break off the headers (it will happen to you. It's part of the price of admission) and just treat them respectfully when I pack them away (shells will get dinged if you bang the connectors around). I also have loktite'd (is that a word?) all the headers into the gear so they don't unscrewed and come out with the connector. That will happen too (see above for "price of admission.") All these screw parts are super-fragile and will break and strip easily. It is kind of the only real down-side I find. Some repairs need to be made occasionally. I think there are probably "grades" of this hardware that are tougher but I haven't really researched that part yet.

BTW, I use Elco connectors as well and they are great for the real multi-pair stuff; 24-pair and the like. But all this gear we use has DB25 connectors on it from the start and it seems to me a lot of work to go from DB25 to Elco to Elco to DB25 when a large variety of ready-made cables are available from Guitar Center all ready to go if an emergency arises. I travel with some spares of the really important cables.

I think you will be happy with DB25s until the time that you are setting up and tearing down every day. Maybe then, quicker, larger connectors will be in order.

Doug
Old 6th July 2017
  #3
RPC
Gear Maniac
 

What Doug said. I have Metric Halo ULN-8s, which use DB25s throughout, and the connectors have not been an issue. Make sure the weight of your cable isn't pulling on the DB25 - the twisting force can pop the PCB joint inside the box.
Old 6th July 2017
  #4
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DB25s have worked fine for me, and are a bit more fixable than EDACs. Re wear, how much work will you do with this rig? How often will it get patched? Several times a year? A month? A week? Daily? If the use is very frequent, will you be the only one working it, or will it have to hold together under use by other people who may be tired and pissed off? IE how "rock and roll" does it really need to be? My guess is that for personal use the DB25s will be fine. The "port saver " is a great idea if you really are un/repatching DB25s frequently.
Old 7th July 2017
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steamy Williams View Post
I'm about to buy some Bittree programmable bantam patchbays for my home studio, which will also double as a mobile recording rig. Bittree can supply these patchbays with either DB25 or EDAC/ELCO connectors (with 38, 56 or 90-pins). However, I'm struggling to decide which connector to go for. DB25's would definitely suit me better, but I'm a little concerned they won't be durable enough for a mobile rig.
Just a stupid question. Is there a reason you are looking at the Bittree patch bays rather than the Switchcraft Studio Patch? I find the additional programmable grounds and quick normal switching interface to be a real bonus when troubleshooting.
WRT DB25, we have about 30 or these patchbays in different applications and have never had an issue with them. (We had both Redco and Signex, patchbays, but replaced them all with the Switchcraft bays.) The Audio Accessories bays are great, but the normalizing scheme is a PITA. Fine for the studio, but lousy for the field. The AA bays have an integrated cable management system as well.

As always, YMMV.
All the best,
-mark
Old 7th July 2017
  #6
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loji's Avatar
build these onto the rear rack rails ..

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...iABEgJGC_D_BwE


use them as cable tie-downs for the DB25 strain relief.

an extra :5 min of set-up to tie or ziptie the cable down every day ... but saves all the stress/strain on the DB25 of the unit itself (which is NOT replaceable in most cases ... at least not in the field)
Old 10th July 2017
  #7
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Steamy Williams's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Thanks for all the replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue View Post
Just a stupid question. Is there a reason you are looking at the Bittree patch bays rather than the Switchcraft Studio Patch?
Part of the reason I ruled out those Switchcraft patchbays is because they don't include a grounds-bussed setting, unlike all of the other programmable patchbays from Redco, Audio Accessories, Mosses & Mitchell, and Bittree. However, Bittree are the only ones that offer a programmable switched grounds option (otherwise know as sleeve-normalling), which I want to incorporate into my mic-level wiring.

Last edited by Steamy Williams; 10th July 2017 at 08:25 PM..
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