Can you help me fix my Vestax VRX-2000 vinyl cutter?

Can you help me fix my Vestax VRX-2000 vinyl cutter?

UPDATE

I ended up selling this. So thanks if you had any help to offer, but it’s gone.


Having rested up over the holiday period (and for holiday read all of 2016), it’s now time to get back in the saddle and deliver some fresh content for you lot. But before the onslaught that is NAMM coverage, I’d like to walk you through something that entertained me in the back-end of 2016, and that thing is my Vestax VRX-2000 vinyl cutter. And with any luck, some of you will be able to help me write a final chapter to the story.

Where it started

You may recall that I got a chance to spend a day over at the Vestax warehouse before it closed. And while there, I managed to land myself some outstanding classic Vestax gear in return for an ad deal. One particularly huge box was one of the few VRX-2000 vinyl cutters and a heap of blanks. So I bought a vintage solid oak table for it (which is now my desk) and set about getting it working.

Oh dear. Straight out of the box, it was clear that all was not well. Aside from some missing screws, the platter touched the chassis as it spun. Replacing screws isn’t a big job, but the idea of pulling this beauty apart don’t fill me with joy, but it did feel like it could be a quick fix. Not entirely downtrodden, I returned the VRX back to its box and vowed to return to it at a time in the future.

Fast forward two years

Despite the previously publicised condition, I was getting interest every couple of months. And coming to the end of my semi-sabbatical, I decided to start working on a cleanse of the new Worxlab, and having a couple of people interested, I decided to unbox the VRX-2000 one last time to offer a very clear picture of exactly what condition the VRX was in.

So out it came, and was assembled as far as I could. But then my inner engineer raised his head — next thing I knew I was in my local engineering workshop, sourcing screws, and taking the bottom of the VRX to find out what exactly was going on.The first big issue was to stop the platter from rubbing. Approaching it from one angle, it was as easy as adding a few strips of tape to the spindle to raise it above the body. But that’s a hack, so I ventured off to my nearest machine shop in town with the idea to skim the bottom of the platter off so that it properly clears the chassis.

Can you help me fix my Vestax VRX-2000 vinyl cutter?
Getting the platter milled at AA Engineering in Keighley.

Later that day, and Ali at AA Engineering in Keighley had done the necessary mod, and the VRX platter was spinning smoothly without tape.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNXGnIXgPsc/?taken-by=worxAt the same time, I managed to source a handful of M3 screws to fix the assorted bits and bobs together, and grab a battery for the ioniser. I tested the inputs and outputs to make sure they were working, which they were. At this point, we were more or less ready.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNeduVmgUvm/?taken-by=worx

One more stumbling block — setting the cutting head going, it’s hard to tell if it’s actually moving. And as it turned out, it wasn’t. So I had to disassemble it, and after some liberal application of the screw driver handle, the motor released and started working just fine. See the video above to show the 13 minutes of movement in action.

The next step was to learn how to cut. Given the cost and fragility of cutting stylii, I uncharacteristically read the manual to make sure I was doing it right. Fitting a stylus is a fiddly and worrisome affair — very fine wire is charged and wrapped around the stylus that heats up and makes for a clean cut.

And now we’re cutting. The first cut without audio was OK, if a little noisy. Adding more heat and a tad more weight made for a much deeper and cleaner groove. Result. Now to add music.

Ummm… despite the VU meter bouncing happily, no audio was going through. Relaying this information on the DJWORX Facebook page piqued the interest of some former Vestax people, who told me that I should be able to hear audio coming from the cutting head, which I wasn’t. Not a good sign. The cutting head could be broken, or something inside just isn’t delivering audio.

Can you help me fix my Vestax VRX-2000 vinyl cutter?

So I whipped off the bottom to delve inside the belly of the beast. As is the way of such things, a screw fell out with no clear indication of where it came from, and a few things needed tightening up. But generally everything was clean. But looking closer, I discovered a transformer connected to nothing, a few cables that should be doing something, and a space and screw holes where something should be. Relaying this info back to Facebook, it is suspected that a preamp is probably missing, hence no audio being delivered to the cutting head. But I can’t confirm this as I lack schematics or pictures of the insides of a VRX. A potential replacement was suggested, but at this point I’m out of my depth.

I have traced where everything goes when it leaves the chassis and connects to the cutting head via the ribbon cable. I can trace that and it gives me the possibility to tap directly into the head. I’ve also got the Lathetrolls community involved to see if they can offer help.

Can you help me fix my Vestax VRX-2000 vinyl cutter?
Yay, I’m cutting my first vinyl. Nobody told me about the black candy floss, but at least it means it’s cutting properly.

Where we’re at

Although I had a belly full of fire to get this working, I had to down tools to complete the last algoriddim video, so I put everything away ready to pick it up again in the new year.

So here’s where I’m at:

  • I can cut a deep noiseless groove, but no sound gets to the head
  • I believe that a preamp is missing. I need to confirm this with schematics or photos of another VRX.
  • I want to get it working as a VRX should, but I’d also like to have the option to tap into the cutting head directly via an external high quality audio source , or one built in that can be connected to a laptop.

More than anything, I’m so pleased to have stuck with it and got to this point. And I definitely plan to see it through to the end, and get it to a place where anyone can lay their hands on it and cut vinyl. I’m pretty confident that I’ll sell it when it’s ready and not before. I hate the idea of essentially selling a problem to someone else, and ultimately would like to tick cutting proper vinyl off my bucket list.

Over to you

First thing — can anyone (and by anyone I mean former Vestaxers or people with experience of  VRX-2000s) provide any insight? Schematics or photos would be ideal. If I can get it working as it was designed to by Vestax then I’m happy. Beyond this, does anyone fancy working out how I could talk to the head directly from a laptop? I suspect an external audio interface will be involved which will give control over audio quality too. But the ability to tweak curves live and master on the fly would be ideal.

Gallery

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