Tuesday, August 4, 2015

LackRack - Power and Lights with a modded T.Racks VM-100

This time it will be all about adding a power strip and lights to the LackRack.

A quick word in the beginning:
This blog post is not intended as a tutorial, I wrote it for pure documentation purposes only. 
Do not try this if you do not posses the required technical knowledge and skills. 
The voltages we are dealing with are life-threatening, and improper handling/assembly can further cause heavy damage to property including the risk of fire.

Having said that, I wanted the power supply for my rack to serve as a power strip and to provide a single on/off switch for all the gear. Rack-mountabilitiy would be considered a big plus, and optional light would just be the icing on the cake.

While there are several commercial products that satisfy these needs, constructing a rack out of cheap parts, and then spending a fortune on a reference power conditioner just felt wrong. Furthermore, electricity is absolutely stable where I live, so a simple 19" power distribution strip would do the job without the necessity of a true power conditioner.

Roaming on classifieds again, I found a T.Racks VM-100 that fulfilled my requirements and met the price range I had in mind. The T.Racks VM-100 is basically exactly what I have described above: it is a 19" power strip that bears eight IEC power connectors on its back, has two dimmable lights that can be extended/retracted, has a central power switch with a 10A fuse, plus it sports an additional fancy looking LED volt meter. While I can imagine that the voltmeter can be quite handy in on-the-road conditions, in my home it really just looks fancy. Unfortunately it looks fancy all the time, because it displays the available voltage even when the power switch is turned off. Again, this might be great for gigs, but turned out to be an annoyance in my living room.

Opening the VM-100 quickly revealed the reason for this behaviour:

T.Racks VM-100

As seen in the zoomed picture, the white and black cables (which are the ones that drive the voltmeter) are connected pre-switch:

Pre-switch voltmeter

However, a quick rewiring connected the voltmeter post-switch and post-fuse, and readily solved that issue: the device is now pitch-black when turned off, and only unfolds its full fanciness when being switched on.

Post-switch voltmeter

Not being sure if 10A will be enough to drive all equipment (at the time being they are sufficient), it would be great to transform the volt meter into an ampere-meter, but that is a mod for another time.

Anyway, since a lot of my stuff has wall adapters, I also changed a standard power strip to an IEC version and connected it to the T.Racks:

Schuko version
IEC version

And here is the LackRack in its full glory now:

Hint: a glimpse of one of my next projects is already seen underneath the VM-100 :)

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