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  1. #1

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    Default Utilizing Gimpod's Custom SDA Boards for 1.2tl Crossover Upgrade

    The following are my comments and observations as they apply to my recent experience utilizing Tony?s Custom SDA Boards for a crossover upgrade on my 1.2tl?s.

    The Boards

    The boards are extremely well constructed. The genius in these boards lies in the design. They are essentially an enlarged version of the original Polk design. Tony didn?t try to reinvent the wheel here. The traces and the component layout pretty much matches the original Polk design. The boards were enlarged just enough to comfortably accommodate all of the larger crossover components (Sonicaps) without any stacking of components or having components hanging over the edge of the board. The boards are very rigid and are not going to flex or vibrate once mounted inside the SDA cabinets.

    I no longer had to dread the thought of using the OEM boards; trying to cram and stack components on that little board that wasn?t designed to accommodate the larger crossover components.

    The Website

    Tony?s website, Gimpod.com, which he built specifically for purchasers of these boards, contains all the information and links that you would ever possibly need.

    I watched the soldering and de-soldering tutorials that he offers. I ordered all of the materials using the part numbers listed on the website. I wouldn?t have known where to start with regards to ordering all the hardware such as stand-offs and pinned headers without this information.

    What impressed me the most was amount of time that it must have taken Tony to redraw the schematics for all the Polk models that this board covers. These are not simply Polk schematics that he posted on his website. They apply specifically to his boards showing all connection points and jumper placements.

    Ordering of Materials

    I was going to put off ordering materials and the assembly of the boards until after the holidays. Well? I had ordered a set of rings from Larry when I ordered the boards from Tony. I installed these rings right after I received them. They made such a dramatic improvement to my speakers that I just couldn?t stop now.

    I ordered all the hardware from Mouser, using the parts numbers provided by Tony, from their website. Piece of Cake.

    I then sent an email to Sonic Craft. In it, I asked for matched pairs of Sonicap Gen I capacitors including two custom values (0.25uf and 13.5uf) and one custom value on the Mills MRA-12 resistors (11.5-ohm). Elliot from Sonic Craft replied back to me. He was able to supply the 13.5uf custom value capacitors, but said that he wouldn?t be able to supply the 0.25uf capacitors. What he offered instead, was a pair of 0.22uf caps that read on the high end. He also said that he didn?t have Mills resistors available in 11.5-ohm and suggested an 11.0-ohm instead. I agreed to everything that he suggested and placed my order. I also ordered 24 feet of Cardas Quad-Eutectic Solder from him. Nice people.

    Getting up the Nerve

    I work every third weekend providing weekend coverage. I had never done any electronics soldering of any kind and decided that this project was no time to learn how to solder on my own. I enlisted the help of a co-worker, an I and C Tech that works the same weekend schedule as I do, to help me solder up the boards. As luck would have it, the hardware from Mouser didn?t show up in time. So, I decided that I would wait another three weeks until the boards were completed. Three long weeks. Ugh.

    I had to use up two weeks of paid vacation, or lose it, before the end of the year. There I was at home. Just me and the boards. After almost 2 weeks of staring at the boards, I said to myself, ?you can do this?. I am an Industrial Refrigeration Mechanic by trade. I have done thousands of solder and silver brazing joints in the 30-plus years that I have been involved in this trade.

    On Christmas Eve, I went down to Radio Shack and bought a 40-watt soldering iron, a soldering iron stand and some copper braid. I bought some ?? 3M Double-sided tape from Ace Hardware. Ready to go.

    Setup and board prep

    The first thing that I did was applying the double-sided tape to all the areas on the boards where the caps and inductors would be placed. I even applied tape to the areas where the small inductors would be located. The only area that I didn?t initially apply the tape to was the C6 Cap location. I held off doing this until after the R3, R4 and R5 resistors were attached to the bottom side of the board and the leads clipped off on the topside of the board.

    I removed both crossovers from the speakers and separated them from the large inductors that they were mounted on.

    For a board holder, I used the box that Mouser shipped the hardware in. It measures 4-1/2?X 6-1/2? X 2?. I cut off the top of the box so it wouldn?t keep getting in the way. It worked slick.

    Populating the boards and soldering

    I decided that I would populate and solder components to the boards in steps. I chose to start with smallest and shortest (in height) components first. I tackled the jumpers first. I used 18-gauge solid copper wire here. You could also use the clipped off leads from the large capacitors for jumpers here as they also appear to be the same gauge size. I didn?t have any clippings yet, so this was the route that I chose. I also decided to completely finish one board before doing the second one.

    That very first solder joint seemed like it took an eternity. Once the first joint was behind me, my confidence level soared and I just took off. First, I finished all the jumpers on the board. I then did the rest of the components in the following order:
    1 ? Resistors on the bottom side of the board.
    2 ? Pinned Headers. I held them in place with masking tape.
    3 ? Small Inductors, 0.22uf capacitor and the resistor that mounts topside.
    4 ? Large Inductors
    5 ? Large Capacitors

    I zip-tied each component as I mounted it to the board. Between the double-sided tape and the zip-ties, those caps and inductors weren?t going to budge. You could turn the board over and not have to worry about the component moving while you were soldering. One comment on the zip-ties: I don?t know if it was the brand that I used (I ordered them from Mouser), but in a couple of cases I had to double-up on the zip-ties to secure the large caps to the board. I used the 6? zip-ties. You may want to use the 8? zip-ties instead.

    Taking my time (and several breaks), the first board took 4 hours from start to completion. I did the second board on Christmas Day. It only took 2 hours.

    Comments on Solder

    I chose the Cardas Quad-Eutectic because of two things: lead and silver. Combine these two solder ingredients together and you?ve got a winner on your hands in terms of ease of use and good bonding.

    If this is your first time soldering, I recommend that you get the highest quality solder that you can get your hands on. I also recommend staying away from lead-free solder until you get some soldering iron time under your belt. Leaded solder has a wider temperature range and tends to flow better than lead-free solder. Your solder choice could mean the difference between success and failure on your first project.

    FYI- I anticipate that ALL lead-bearing solder will be outlawed very soon. I would stock up on it while you can.

    One Addition/Modification to the Board

    Trying to be proactive and plan ahead, I wanted to be ready for upgrading the large inductor in about another month using the Solen inductor that other members have already tried and endorsed. I also wanted to be able to simply unplug the inductor wiring from the crossover board if I ever had to remove the crossover for any reason. So, instead of soldering wires directly to the board, as was done with the OEM boards, I chose to purchase a 3-pin header, a 3-pin plug and the crimp connectors (pins) for the plug. I simply snipped off the center pin from the header and then I ever so slightly elongated the P and R holes on the board using a small drill bit. The 3-pin header slipped right in just like it belonged there. I can now unplug the large inductor from the board. I told Tony about what I had done. He liked the idea and said that he may use it if decides to do another run of boards in the future.

    Hot Glue Removal

    I tried Tony?s recommendation for removing hot glue using rubbing alcohol. All I have to say is ?WOW?! The stuff came right off without a fight. I used 90% rubbing alcohol. I used Q-tips to apply the alcohol and a small pair of needle-nose pliers to pull off the glue. Thank God that I didn?t have to use a knife. I?d still be cleaning up the blood.

  2. #2

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    Mounting the boards

    I purchased the hardware listed on Tony’s website for mounting the boards to the large inductor. I had to end up elongating 6 out of the 8 mounting holes on the tops of the inductors in order to install the screws for the stand-offs. The inductor wiring was too close to the holes to allow the necessary clearance for the screw heads.

    I finger tightened the stand-offs to the screws, not wanting to risk stripping out the nylon threads.

    I used a ?” nut driver handle and a thin-wall socket to run the nuts down after the boards were placed on the stand-offs. I found that a regular nut driver was too thick on the end and created clearance problems when running the nut down between the C1 Cap and the L2 Inductor. I ran the nuts down until they just made contact with the board. Again, I was worried about stripping the nylon threading.

    Installing the Boards

    Reinstalling the boards in the 1.2tl’s was a piece of cake. I just tipped the top of the crossover plate back at an angle and guided the bottom of the board through the crossover plate opening first. Once the bottom of the board was through the opening, I just tipped the top of the crossover plate back upright and the top of the board slipped right through the opening with no clearance problems whatsoever.

    Results

    I experienced an overall instant improvement in sound quality across the board from the minute that I first listened to the new crossovers.

    After 120 hours of burn-in, the sound is incredible. The bass is deep and tight. The mid-range and highs are clearer than I have ever heard before. I’m hearing things in my recordings that I never knew were there before. I can now make out the words being sung by some artists that I couldn’t make heads or tails of before. Even the fades at the end of some songs are now audible for almost another 30 seconds longer than they used to be. Nothing short of Amazing!

    Conclusion

    All of you SDA owners that are planning crossover upgrades, and have not taken advantage of this offering by Tony, have no idea what you are missing out on. This is a product of extreme quality that has been researched extensively and tested before being released to the CP Community. These boards are a bargain at twice the price.

  3. #3

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    Nice write up, RickTfromAZ.

    These boards are a bargain at twice the price.
    Indeed!
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

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    Very nice write up and I agree with all the above!!! Tony's boards are fantastic and for the record he was in my top two people that should have been CP member of the year. It will be a long time before someone tops this offering here..

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    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut View Post
    Nice write up, RickTfromAZ.



    Indeed!
    Thank you, F1NUT. It's always very encouraging to receive positive feedback from a distinguished member of this club.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toolfan66 View Post
    Very nice write up and I agree with all the above!!! Tony's boards are fantastic and for the record he was in my top two people that should have been CP member of the year. It will be a long time before someone tops this offering here..
    Hi Larry. If I was forced to choose between Tony's boards and your rings, one being superior to the other, I don't think that I could. Neither one of these inventions were simple DIY projects. They took a high level of intelligence on the part of the inventors, a heck of a lot of planning and a great amount of personal drive. My speakers would not be at the level that are without either one of you guys. Thanks again. I really hope that you looked into applying for a patent on these rings. I'm sure that there are some things that are unique to your design, choice or materials and the manufacturing process used.

  7. #7

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    Excellent report-very detailed and thorough. This will help me when I prepare to make my upgrades shortly. - greybeard

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    Sadly it looks like both Larry and Tony closed up shop.
    New polkies will ask about them and it will be like trying to explain how we used to have to actually dial a phone.
    What a shame!

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    Quote Originally Posted by brgman View Post
    Sadly it looks like both Larry and Tony closed up shop.
    New polkies will ask about them and it will be like trying to explain how we used to have to actually dial a phone.
    What a shame!
    Hi brgman. Fearing just that, I purchased a second pair of boards from Tony to have on hand when a pair of 3.1tl's become available locally. I didn't have the foresight to do the same thing with Larry though.

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    Well i'm sure something will break by the time you need them.
    Excellent review of your experience.And i hope you find those 3.1tl's.Great speakers indeed.

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    RickTfromAZ, Quite the wright up very nicely done well thought out and presented. Very impressed.

    Toolfan66, PM me your e-mail address as I have somethings I'd like to send you. BTW you were first on my list for Polkie Of The Year.

    As far as having another run of boards made (Down to my last 2 sets may be 1 left) I'd be willing to do it if there is enough demand, I don't want to get stuck holding a bunch of boards that may or may not sell.

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    How many makes it worthwhile Tony?
    Give us a target.

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    I'm not sure I still have to run the numbers. I may start another thread for orders first to see how many I would need to order. Again I'm just thinking out loud.

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    Thanks for sharing your experience Rick. This is a great resource for those who may be hesitant to try this due to lack of electrical assembly experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by RickTfromAZ View Post
    I tried Tony's recommendation for removing hot glue using rubbing alcohol. All I have to say is "WOW"! The stuff came right off without a fight. I used 90% rubbing alcohol. I used Q-tips to apply the alcohol and a small pair of needle-nose pliers to pull off the glue. Thank God that I didn't have to use a knife. I'd still be cleaning up the blood.
    For electrical work, high purity (greater than 99%) isopropyl alcohol is preferable to rubbing alcohol because rubbing alcohol leaves a residue due to the oils, fragrances and other additives.

    Quote Originally Posted by brgman View Post
    Sadly it looks like both Larry and Tony closed up shop. New polkies will ask about them and it will be like trying to explain how we used to have to actually dial a phone. What a shame!
    These sorts of product offerings are labors of love that can't be sustained due to the time and cost involved. If Larry or Tony had charged for all the time they put in, the cost would have been quite high. As it is, they only made a modest return on their material costs.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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    I am wanting to build a set of 2.3tl crossovers. Any boards left for those?

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    ^ Replied via PM, Last set.

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    Payment sent on the last set. Talk about waiting til the last minute to get them . Now I have to get all the right caps, resistors, etc.

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    Inspiring write up. I may have to dust of my rings and boards and get my 2.3TL's updated. Need to order the components. Thank you for taking the time to detail your install. And thank you Tony for creating such a nice upgrade platform.
    Polk Audio SDA SRS 2.3TL
    Parasound Halo A21
    Parasound Halo P3

    Home Theater
    Polk Audio LS70, CS350LS, LSF/X, S4
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    Onkyo TX-NR808
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    WANTED: Ebony LS90's

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    What kind of wire did you use to run to the large 16mH inductor?
    Also where do you plan on mounting them when you purchase them
    I know DK mounted them on the brace and Larry talked about mounting them on the floor. Do we have any preference?

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    Quote Originally Posted by thejck View Post
    What kind of wire did you use to run to the large 16mH inductor?
    Also where do you plan on mounting them when you purchase them
    I know DK mounted them on the brace and Larry talked about mounting them on the floor. Do we have any preference?
    For the wiring, I asked DK what he used and he said that he used some 10 gauge speaker wire since that is what the wire gauge size of the new inductor is. I used the same. I plan on using the same mounting location as DK also since he tried different locations and determined the brace to give the best sound. Also, pay attention to the mounting bolt and washers that you use. They need to be aluminum as steel will change the value of the inductor.

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    wondering why he put cap c6 all the way up with the solders going a little south of it.

    About half way done with mine including the new solen inducttors on l1 and l2. So far this thing is a breeze

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    Quote Originally Posted by thejck View Post
    What kind of wire did you use to run to the large 16mH inductor?
    Also where do you plan on mounting them when you purchase them
    I know DK mounted them on the brace and Larry talked about mounting them on the floor. Do we have any preference?
    I mounted mine to the floor with no issues, personally I like not having it cramped between the binding post cups and crossover boards. I used audio quest solid copper speaker wire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thejck View Post
    wondering why he put cap c6 all the way up with the solders going a little south of it.
    What are you talking about?
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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    Quote Originally Posted by thejck View Post
    wondering why he put cap c6 all the way up with the solders going a little south of it.

    About half way done with mine including the new solen inducttors on l1 and l2. So far this thing is a breeze
    I take it you've got SDA SRS 1.2TL's if that's the case that cap is not C6 it is suppose to be soldered in at pads A & L and the only reason I suggested tying it down at the C6 position and then running the leads to pads A & L is because that 12uF cap would be a very tight fit between pads A & L and the 2 inductors 0.7mH (I & K) 0.4mH (J & F) plus the 22.5 Ohm resistor at (B & G).

    Hope that makes sense.

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    yeah I am working on the 1.2TL.

    i figured thats the case. i am afraid I might run out of lead on that cap. Ben did my crossover and I am going to reuse the sonic cap from the old board and it might already be precut. I guess I can tie a piece of the led I cut out from some of the new caps and solder them together to extend the lead?

    I cant get my old crossover plate off since I cant find the right allen key. Already been down to Roberts house once to look for a key only to find I got the wrong key back up. arggg.

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    can i buy a piece of hard plastic and use that as a mount plate instead of using the old 16mH inductor?

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    Quote Originally Posted by thejck View Post
    I cant get my old crossover plate off since I cant find the right allen key. Already been down to Roberts house once to look for a key only to find I got the wrong key back up. arggg.
    You need a 9/64" key.

    Quote Originally Posted by thejck View Post
    can i buy a piece of hard plastic and use that as a mount plate instead of using the old 16mH inductor?
    Sure. That would be a much more stable mounting than the old 16 mH inductor.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejck View Post
    yeah I am working on the 1.2TL.

    I guess I can tie a piece of the led I cut out from some of the new caps and solder them together to extend the lead?
    Yes, That should work fine just make sure to insulate the leads i.e.. Shrink tubing.

    I cant get my old crossover plate off since I cant find the right allen key. Already been down to Roberts house once to look for a key only to find I got the wrong key back up. arggg.
    I believe there American standard so go get a set of allen wrench's. There all ways handy to have around.

    Quote Originally Posted by thejck View Post
    can i buy a piece of hard plastic and use that as a mount plate instead of using the old 16mH inductor?
    Yes you could do that to. That's one reason I added the extra mounting holes on the corners.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thejck View Post
    Ben did my crossover and I am going to reuse the sonic cap from the old board and it might already be precut.
    I wouldn't reuse anything he touched.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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    i picked up some plastic clip boards from wally world that i am going to try to cut to see if I can use as supports.

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