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allan

PCB connection issue?

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Hello all,

 

This is my first thread. I recently bought a used Variax 600, and am having a hard time with it. I bought all the necessary accoutrements to hook it up and when I plug it into the Workbench interface I get green lights on the interface. When I plug it into the power supply it switches from Orange (no connection) to green (good connection). However, when I go to open up Line 6 Monkey or Workbench on my laptop, they don't see the guitar connected, only the Workbench Interface. 

 

I took the coffin out and took the whole thing apart, cleaned it, threw some stickers in between where the PCB sometimes shorts with the coffin (although that didn't appear to be the problem) and then reinstalled it after reseating all the connections. Same issue. 

 

I'm in Oahu (no possibility of driving to someone who services these), and am fairly competent with a soldering iron. Really, I could just use some help narrowing down where the issue could be. The potential for these guitars is amazing, and I'd love to get one working, but I am also not disillusioned enough to imagine it will be simple.

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Upon greater research (and I'd been doing quite a bit), I see how this post could be problematic as it comes quite close to asking "How's this thing work?". 

 

I'm honestly down to two options if I can't get this figured out on my own. 1) Send it off to someone who is qualified to fix it. 2) Buy a cheap, working 300 with a crap body and swap in the coffin to this amazingly beautiful 600. 

 

So, if nobody can help me troubleshoot, does anyone know what the closest qualified Variaxuthier is to me (Hawaii)? Or know where I can find a viable replacement coffin?

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If the guitar itself works, and if the interface suggests a good connection.... the guitar is not likely the problem. 

 

This may sound silly, but are you sure it isn't connecting? When you open workbench does it throw an error or does it show the "interface". If it shows the interface... click on it. Does it throw an error, or does the guitar load on the computer. 

 

I ask this because I recall struggling when I first got my 300. The initial error was that I wasn't finished setting up... I needed to choose a connection. Workbench showed my 300 and my HD 500. I naturally clicked on the 300 and it failed to load! I though for sure it was broken, until I clicked on the HD500... then the Variax loaded without a problem. That was very counter intuitive until you really read the screen. It is not asking what you want to connect to, it is asking what the guitar is connecting through. Once you connect once Workbench always uses that connection without asking. 

 

The other possible problem is simply a dirty VDI port. Did the interface come with a nice cable to use... or are you using a standard ethernet cable. The latter requires a CAT5 or CAT5e cable, and an ethernet end does not "lock in" to the guitar securely and often loses it's connection. If it is a proper cable with the interface you may need to clean the VDI output on the guitar. Get some good cleaner (deoxit or siilar... NEVER WD40) and spray the cable end. Insert it several times into the guitar... repeat as necessary. 

 

A basic (non comprehensive) test of the VDI port is to see if it powers the guitar. Take all batteries out of the guitar, plug in the VDI port with the interface and make sure the interface is powered up. Now - plug in a "standard guitar cable" to an amp (not a TRS) and see if you get sound? If you do, the VDI is supplying power so it is "likely" good. (NOTE: The guitar may have a high pitch squeal with this test... that is normal)

 

Good luck!

 

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Don't use CAT6, it's the wrong frequency band. Use CAT5 or CAT5e.

 

 Taking the coffin apart is ill advised, unless you have serious experience with this stuff, and an anti-static mat set-up to do this.

 

Pro Audio Clinic, 73-1270 Kaiminani Dr Suite B-1, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

 

An older product like that will probably have oxidized solder points by now. Leave to someone with a proper set-up for doing this.

 

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43 minutes ago, psarkissian said:

Don't use CAT6, it's the wrong frequency band. Use CAT5 or CAT5e.

 

Thank you for this little piece of information. I made the ill conceived "assumption" that CAT6 would be fine... (I have edited my post)

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In many cases CAT6 would be fine. It's mainly a matter of applications and the

data rate or bandwidth one is operating in. So CAT5/5e is what's used for our products.

 

No worries, most people forget that fact, easy oversight. Had a guy come in with 500 Pro

Rack and an FBV MkII board and had nothing but problems, as soon as I swapped out his

CAT6 for the CAT5e that comes with FBV's,.... all the problems went away, worked great ever since.

 

For example CAT7 for 600MHz, would be overkill and so way outside any data rate we would use,

as to filter out any frequency band we would use, because it's so low for CAT7.

 

I go over this every year at the trade shows and audio engineer conventions with my pal Steve Lampen at Belden Cable.

He keeps me up to date on this stuff, and also writes books on this, check them out on amazon.com, they're very informative,

details even I've forgotten til he reminded me.

 

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1 hour ago, psarkissian said:

Don't use CAT6, it's the wrong frequency band. Use CAT5 or CAT5e.

 

 Taking the coffin apart is ill advised, unless you have serious experience with this stuff, and an anti-static mat set-up to do this.

 

Pro Audio Clinic, 73-1270 Kaiminani Dr Suite B-1, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

 

An older product like that will probably have oxidized solder points by now. Leave to someone with a proper set-up for doing this.

 

I like to think I have some experience with electronics, but yes I think oxidization is likely the issue (judging by the state of the coffin itself). Thank you for the referral, I'll call them.

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As for the cables, I grabbed a brand new RJ-45 cable, workbench interface, VDI cable, and power pedal when I bought the guitar, so I'm quite sure the fault isnt anything outside the guitar.

 

I'm inclined to think that psarkissian was correct about the solder points oxidizing and now just have to convince myself not to attempt to resolder it myself, lol. That should be easy enough, so long as inter-island shipping isn't more than the guitar is worth (which is possible).

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On 4/25/2018 at 4:26 AM, allan said:

As for the cables, I grabbed a brand new RJ-45 cable, workbench interface, VDI cable, and power pedal when I bought the guitar, so I'm quite sure the fault isnt anything outside the guitar.

 

I'm inclined to think that psarkissian was correct about the solder points oxidizing and now just have to convince myself not to attempt to resolder it myself, lol. That should be easy enough, so long as inter-island shipping isn't more than the guitar is worth (which is possible).

So is it simply a connectivity to workbench that's the problem, or does it not make any sound? It could be the output jackplate causing no connectivity to WB - you can still get these I believe, although it may be that you have to order one for Variax Bass, or JTV, and some chisel work inside the 600 jack plate assembly cavity to allow it to fit, as these others are a little longer, and need more depth in the body.

If it's the latter,  have you tried both VDI and jack outputs for signal? There are many points in the chain, where there could be a failure, whether momentary, or permanent. I have two 300s and a 600, all of which have been transplanted into either Strat or Tele clones, all of which have shown odd behaviour at times. They're not getting any younger, and well, they're computers basically, so time is up for them, at some stage, for sure....

It can be frustrating troubleshooting these, as it's not simply pickups, switches and pots... I have been able to swap components around between guitars, in order to troubleshoot, so unless you know someone else locally who owns one, and is happy to allow some temporary component extraction, you'll find it hard going.

My first suggestion is to try swapping the output jack (complete unit), with one you know works, and work backwards from there.

As far as I know, the PCB is no longer available (my mate got the last one i stock,  from one of the online suppliers last year), so you'd be looking at getting a second hand donor, e.g.300, if yours is indeed fried.

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I am having similar issues with a Variax 700 Acoustic and hoping for suggestions on where exactly to suspect a bad solder joint.

 

My guitar is producing no signal/audio when connected via VDI.  It had been intermittent when jiggling the VDI connector at the jack plate using both a line6 VDI and a btpa.com VDI cable but has since stopped producing a signal altogether (thru a PODHD500 to a StageSource L2T). Same situation using an Ethernet CAT5 cable.

Each of the cables did case the green or red LED to glow (depending on whether the model select knob had been pressed). 

I do get a good signal via the 1/4” output both with batteries and powered by the Line6 provided DI box.

The tech that works on my guitars thought the RJ-45 receptacle might have been the cause of the problem when it was intermittent so he replaced the jack plate assembly.  No joy.

It seems it is a bad connection somewhere internal to the Variax. 

Has anyone experienced and solved a similar problem that might be able to suggest how to diagnose where the faulty connection is located.

The tech asked if the manual for the Variax had a wiring diagram but I was unable to find one there or searching the web as well.

I’m thinking that the audio produced while on battery power or when using the DI box means that the control board and piezos are ok.

Any suggestions?

Thanks for your help!

Glenn

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Sorry all, 

 

I've been away for awhile. I was getting no sound and no connection to computer with everything set up perfectly. I even took it all apart, cleaned every piece, checked for bad solders, and put it back together- no joy. I eventually found a replacement coffin on eBay and snatched it up. Problem solved. Would love to know what caused the original issue, but I'm just happy to have it working finally.

 

Tl/dr- replacing the entire coffin assembly fixed the issue.

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