|Any good reason not to build my own amplifier rack? is being discussed in the ControlBooth Sound, Music, and Intercom forum; I looked at the price of the boxes and thought that was a bit high. I just need something to ...|
It depends. You say you can make furniture, but do you have a shop set up already? And what's your time worth? And what about handles, castors, other hardware? Too many unknown variables to say if it's better to buy or build.
"I don't feel it's healthy to keep your faults bottled up inside me." - Bucky Katt
if its for an install location, I'd say go for it, I just finished building a 1/2 pack case for our fly bar systems. Sure its a bit heavier than what we could purchase but its probably 2x as strong, all we have left is spray coating and handles, then figure out which casters we want to use. Considering it took me and someone who built cabinets about 5 hrs, working with scrap lumber to do. It should be easy enough, remember the inside dimension is 19", I had one guy build a case and made the outside dimension 19"
I've been thinking the same thing lately and I've come to the conclusion it is a lot cheaper to build your own rack for permant instals and for travel cases. Lately I've actually been debating on if mounting right into a 1x1 or even a 2x4 would be strong enough to hold heavy equipment such as an amp in place. Then you could also build smaller travel cases to house only a few pieces. That way if you don't need all of your equipment you can just grab the few that apply.
Then your job is easy a box with rails add some paint or stain and blamo a new amp rack.
I do some casual work for a company who make custom flight cases. If you have access to facilities, and are capable of building them, it can be cheaper, especially if you are after something more custom. As an example, one box we made for the symphony orchestra cost around $400 in materials, and $700 labour. That's a large saving just on labour. But, you should consider the cost of your time to build it.
GCP Sound & Lighting
- Many amps should be supported at the front and rear, especially if portable.
- Proper ventilation should be incorporated and unless you plan on never changing equipment, for example possibly moving from front-to-rear to rear-to-front airflow amps, then the ventilation needs to be flexible.
- Support for cable lacing and ties, mounting of loose equipment like power supplies and so on.
- Especially in an installed application, how you ground the rack and equipment can vary for a metal versus wood racks. Do you want to include an internal ground buss bar or other special grounding provisions?
- How far do you need the front rails recessed in order to provide clearance for front panel controls? Might adjustable front and/or rear rack rails be beneficial?
- For a portable rack, how might shippers, transport companies and insurers view a DIY rack?
- Consider not just equipment depth but also depth for any connectors, cable bend radius, etc. and remember that what you are looking at is clear depth from the equipment face.
- EIA-310 specifies 18.312" from center of hole to center of hole on the rails and a minimum 17.72" clear dimension inside the rails and those are the dimensions that really matter. The 19" in the standard relates to the equipment front panel width, not the clear rack width, and to allow for clearances most racks have a slightly greater than 19" clear width. Building a rack with a 19" clear width, especially a wood rack that may vary slightly in width and expand and contract with changing environmental conditions, seems to be asking for problems fitting equipment with 19" wide front panels.
Middle Atlantic, Lowell, Atlas Sound, etc. have spent decades refining their rack products based on feedback from thousands of users, so be prepared for some trial and error experience and the possibility of having to create multiple iterations before you get to something that works as well as you had hoped.
audio, audiovisual and acoustical consultant
I agree that if it's for a permanent install then you're just looking at an open-ended box. I build all of my cable trunks. They're just 22x45 boxes made from 3/4" birch. Casters and handles, no edges, corners, or hinges (lid sits down on the inner frame). Costs about $115 for each one. Any more than that and I'd just buy a "real" case. I just bought an SI Compact and MT Cases is making a case for it for $900. It's tough to pay big bucks for what is really just a box to hold stuff, but when the box has to be just right and the stuff is expensive it's well worth it in the end.
block kits implemented to create desired convection airflow paths. Some of the racks have solid tops but others have vented tops or fan tops and a few are in millwork with 'muffin' fans integrated in the millwork. All of the racks have potential top, bottom, rear and side cable access provisions. Several of the racks have full or partial front doors. And every rack involved is accessible from both the front and rear (either directly accessible or pull out on casters or sliders) and has a rear door or removable access panel. Don't forget to consider how you will access the rear of the equipment and the wiring for service, troubleshooting and future revisions, it's all too easy to make simple repair or troubleshooting procedures much more complicated if you have to remove equipment or filler panels from the rack in order to get the required access.
I'm not saying a DIY rack may not be a cost effective option, but I am suggesting that you consider the many potentially relevant factors that may affect both the initial and long term viability and value of whatever you do for equipment racks.
audio, audiovisual and acoustical consultant
I'll have to post pictures of the case we just built, Waiting on some carriage bolts to put the casters on but most of the work is completed... Yes they are quite a bit heavier and beefier had we gone with purchased, but for our uses and for how little it will leave the building works for our stuff... only downside, it has to be treated like a sub cab, nothing can stack on top but it can stack on others.
Ended up with two "Raxxess" rails ($10). I had some 3/4" maple plywood left over from a project (about 1/2 sheet). I bought some handles at Home Depot.
Net cost $20. Maybe another $20 for the plywood (shop grade, $55/sheet). Took me all of 15 minutes to cut and then cut the rabbets for the sides. Another 15 to glue and assemble.
For our effects units and wireless receivers that live in the sound booth, I picked up two Ikea Rast shelves and some 6U rails. They fit perfectly. Quick easy setup for stuff that doesn't need to move.
RAST Nightstand - IKEA
I know you finished this project long ago, but I was just looking at some very nice racks from R and R cases and thought of this thread, and since you may be adding more rack gear you might consider something like this:
R&R Cases - Racks RCC Series FOH Style
I like the idea of a nicely finished wooden rack with a pullover ata style case. Really good for doing corporate and ballroom work, Nice looking without that rock and roll look.
They also make a console case with a removable wood doghouse assembly that the console rides in. very neat cable dressing with the doghouse.
I'm an analog guy in a digital world---so byte me.
Last edited by wiscolighting; September 27th, 2012 at 12:23 AM.
Load In, Hang, Focus, Program, Operate, Strike, Load Out, Repeat
Security isn't too much of an issue at our facility. The rack in question is a monitor rack and only comes out for concerts. Otherwise it is in the sound closet. Portablity is as issue. I had no idea a monitor amp was quite that hefty. Next year when we add some more stuff to this rack it will get heavier - but it will still live in the sound closet.
As far as built in fans and the like, most of the amplifiers, equalizers and other equipment have quite nice fans. I just have to provide suitable ventilation spaces. I have some fine mesh ventilation screen that I salvaged a while back The next rack that I build is going to have an insert for that.
I'm a frugal sort of person. I have a tendency to make things rather than buy. I also enjoy making things. A rack is just a box - almost too easy.