DIY : How to rack mount a Make Noise 0 Coast in a eurorack case
The Make Noise 0 Coast is a great stand-alone synth, but once it has sent you down the modular rabbit hole lots of people want to know how to rack mount it. I mounted mine in my eurorack case to save some of my limited studio space, powering it the case. Here I’ll explain in detail how to do that.
This is a fairly long and technical post, so while you read why not put on my latest mix (with a 0 Coast flavoured intro)…
Pros of rack mounting
For me this saves some limited studio space. It also makes my small modular setup all self contained in a TipTop Mantis case, and therefore more portable. There’s something nice about having the modular gear all integrated, and patching things in and out of the 0 Coast as part of the whole system rather than a separate box. In my case it’s also powered by the case, meaning just one power supply cable.
Cons of rack mounting
With eurorack power and cases costing what they do, it’s a bit wasteful to use valuable rack space on something that already has its own case and power. The 0 Coast doesn’t fit all cases well (see below) and so requires some work arounds. It also isn’t designed for powering from a eurorack case, which has implications for the rack space it uses and how you power it. Also, you’ll likely void your warranty by taking it apart.
Right now, it works for me. I like having everything together as a single case. However, I’m pretty open to the fact I’ll probably put it back in it’s own case and reclaim the rack space at some stage when I want more modules. If it’s right for you, then below is how to do it. Although Make Noise have commented on some forum posts giving some information on doing this, it’s safe to assume it will void your warranty. That’s your responsibility so proceed at your own risk.
Options for mounting & power
There are a few choices to be made on how you secure your 0 Coast and how you power it. Securing depends on whether your rack has sliding nuts or threaded strips (see below). If you have threaded strips you might want to replace them so you can screw it in securely.
For power, you can choose from several options:
- Use the supplied power adaptor which means you need to leave empty space next to it and plug the 0 Coast directly into the wall. This is the easiest and safest approach.
- Make a power adaptor to convert a eurorack power connector to the DC jack the 0 Coast uses. You still need space next to the 0 Coast but you can cover with a blanking plate.
- Solder a eurorack power adaptor directly to the back of the 0 Coast. The 0 Coast can sit right next to other modules this way.
I used method 1 for a while, but moved on to method 2 to keep things better organised and ditch the extra power adaptor. Method 3 goes beyond the level I wanted to mess with my 0 Coast, so you’ll need to check out the thread on Muff Wiggler for advice on this.
Preparing your eurorack case
You are going to need around 45hp of space in your rack for the 0 Coast itself. I would also recommend another 6hp for the power input if you use the 0 Coast’s wall wart, and 4hp if you make your own eurorack power cable. If you have a full rack, use ModularGrid to figure out where it will fit.
The 0 Coast has holes on the front panel that accomodate the screws for its own case and these can be used to screw it into eurorack rails. However, they are not horizontally spaced using the standard ‘horizontal pitch’. If your case has threaded strips then they won’t line up. I just about lined up one of the top holes and the opposite bottom hole, and some people have used cable ties through the holes to secure the 0 Coast into the rack. If you really want it to be secure and flush with other modules you need to have sliding nuts that can be re-positioned. I took the rails out of my Mantis case, removed the threaded strips from the bottom row, and replaced them with some M3 nuts (like these) for securing my modules. You can then adjust all 4 nuts to securely screw the 0 Coast into the rack.
Disassembling the 0 Coast
First you need to remove all the knobs from the front panel. Pull them straight upwards and they come off. Some were quite stiff, but they do all pull off.
Then remove all of the nuts that sit around the jack sockets, and the washers beneath them. I used a small pair of pliers, but be careful not to slip and scratch the front panel. Put them somewhere safe, like a plastic container or a bowl.
Unscrew the four screws on the front panel, put them somewhere safe.
Remove the front panel, lift it off or turn the unit upside down so it comes away from the case.
The circuit board is fixed to the case with 7 screws. Remove all of these and put them somewhere safe. I screwed them back to the mounting points on the case where they came from so I didn’t lose them.
Now you need to put the front panel and circuit board back together so the 0 Coast resembles a eurorack module. Line the jack sockets and pots up with the front panel, then fix the washers and nuts back onto the jacks to hold it all together. Make sure you tighten these as they are what holds the whole thing together now. Finally you can put the knobs back onto the pots and your 0 Coast is effectively a eurorack module.
Rack mounting the 0 Coast
The module should now just slide into your rack. Depending on how you set up the rack secure it either with screws or with some cable ties through the holes in your threaded strips and those in the front panel.
If you don’t mind having a power adaptor for your case and another for the 0 Coast you can just plug in the power supply it came with and away you go. Some people with wooden cases have drilled a hole in the side for the power connector to go through.
If you’d rather power from the case then read on.
Powering from a eurorack case supply
Up to this point this process is relatively easy and not that risky. Get the power wrong though and you can damage or destroy your 0 Coast so proceed with caution. I highly recommend watching Mylar Melodies’ eurorack power 101 video before proceeding as eurorack power standards can differ.
The 0 Coast can be powered from a eurorack power supply, but it needs the right cable and enough capacity on your supply. Tony Rolando from Make Noise said in this thread that the power supply in the 0 Coast can run off eurorack voltages but the consumption might spike considerably on power up. I’ve got it plugged into a power bus on my Mantis case that is not feeding anything else, and I’m way under the maximum power draw for all my modules. Make sure you have plenty of spare capacity on yours. What is ‘plenty’? I’m afraid I’m not sure, but make sure you’re not close to the full draw on your power supply. If you’re not sure, set up your modules on ModularGrid and it will tell you the total power consumption — compare this to the specs for your supply.
To make the right lead you’ll need a soldering iron and a multimeter to measure continuity and voltages. I’ll point you to what I measured, but your supply may differ and I’d encourage you to take the measurements yourself.
You’re going to need to make a cable that has a eurorack connector on one end and the DC jack the 0 Coast has on the other. I recommend starting with a standard 16 to 10 pin eurorack power cable and cutting the 10 pin connector off, leaving the 16 pin connector that connects to the power supply. You can buy a DC power jack for the other end from Mouser or similar, but I just found an old DC power supply in my drawer of old cables (we all have one, right?) and cut the jack off. I’d recommend using a right angled one to use up less horizontal space.
The 0 Coast needs a positive voltage and a ground. The positive voltage needs to go to the centre of the DC connector, and the ground needs to be connected to the shaft of it. Strip the wires on the DC connector (or use the terminals if you’ve bought a new one) and test them with a continuity tester so you know which connects to the centre and which to the shaft.
The eurorack cable (usually) has -12v connection labelled by a red stripe, which means the wire at the opposite end (on a 10 pin cable) is +12v (see diagram here). The next one is unused, and the next one is ground. Don’t take my word for this — strip the cable, connect it to your eurorack power supply and test the voltage with a multimeter. Locate the wires in the cable that are +12v and ground.
Solder the +12v to the centre of the DC connector you identified before, and the ground to the shaft. If you’ve assembled this from existing cables like me then make sure the connections are insulated from each other with electrical tape. In any case, make sure that the unused wires are not exposed so they don’t short or touch anything else inside the case.
Plug the cable you’ve made into your eurorack power supply and test the DC connector is getting +12v in the centre and is connected to ground at the shaft. Be sure — you could damage your 0 Coast if this is wrong. If it’s wrong go back and check, if it’s working as expected turn the power off and connect your 0 Coast to the DC jack. It should power up with the case fine. If anything seems odd, such as LEDs not lighting or other modules not powering up properly, then turn it off immediately and check.
Apparently it is possible to solder the eurorack connector straight to the back of the 0 Coast, but I didn’t want to go that far so you’ll have to look elsewhere for details on how to do this. This thread is a good place to start.
Make some music
Your 0 Coast is now ready to go. I bought a 4hp Make Noise blank panel to cover the connection and complete my rack. The row of the rack it’s on has just a touch of extra space due to the odd size of the 0 Coast, so there are a few very small gaps between some of the modules. Apart from that it fits well and now I’ve got everything all running from a single case.
That is until the inevitable day when I decide I want to use the rack space for new modules and put the 0 Coast back in it’s own case…