This is the build and a follow up to my previous post after sourcing necessary components and parts from Parts Express and GhentAudio. Depending on when you ordered the items, the current COVID-19 situation might mean it will take awhile to arrive. I ordered mine at the early onset of the outbreak and while Part Express arrive as scheduled, GhentAudio needed to resend the order after the first attempt was returned at customs.
1: Power Button Module (Front Faceplate/Bottom Panels). First thing you will want to do is to fix up the front faceplate and bottom panels. I ordered mine with a silver face plate so naturally, I used silver bolts for the front. You should have an allen key that GhentAudio included with the case and that will work fine. Once you have attached the (2) bolts, we will locate the Power Button Module (on PCB) and necessary standoffs and screws. Depending on your kit, mine came with a number of plastic standoffs and (3) brass standoffs. We will need the brass standoffs for ground locations so use the plastic standoffs for the Power Button Module.
There are pre-drilled holes all over the bottom panel. You should be able to locate where the standoff and holding screw needs to go by simply aligning the Power Button Module to its install location. Thread a screw from the underside of the bottom panel to secure the standoff. You will also need to secure the Power Button Module to the front faceplate using (2) screws. While you do want to tighten the screws, no need to over do them. I will however check that the (2) screws to the faceplate are fairly secure given we will be using that button pretty often.
2: Install ICEpower 200ASC and 200AC Modules (align and install). Next thing we should do is to install the ICEpower modules. There is only one way to install them and in one orientation. The larger 200ASC module will be closer to the front faceplate, the smaller 200AC module towards the rear of the case. At this time, note the drill outs on the bottom panel of the case. You may notice (4) drill outs that have aluminium exposed and unpainted. Those will be our grounding points. (2) of these will be under the ICEpower modules. At these locations, make sure you use the included brass standoffs to ground your modules. The other locations will use plastic standoffs.
3: IEC Inlet, XLR Connectors & Speaker Binding Posts (Rear Panel). At this point, we will start populating the rear panel with all the ports and connectors. Before you start, bolt on the Rear Panel to the Bottom Panel of the case.
Start with the IEC Panel Mount Inlet. It will fit in (2) orientations. Whichever way you choose is fine. I like mine in a particular orientation, you might like yours the other way round. After that, screw on your XLR connectors. These go in (1) orientation so not too much guess work. Once you have those installed, start bolting on your Speaker Binding Posts. I would secure these finger tight so they do not ‘rotate’. No need for the spanner and wrench action. Check the markings on the outer side of the rear panel so you know you have these secured in the correct locations. There are markings for Left and Right channels. Black is for Negative, Red is for Positive. Should not be hard but do double check once you are done.
4. Running Power Cables. At this point, we are more than 1/3 into the build. Next we will run the power cables from the Power Button Module on the front faceplate into the rear where the IEC Inlet will be located. Once more, check the wire orientation on the Power Button Module (Red for Live, Black for Neutral) these need to be hooked up similar on the IEC pins so you do not get shorts. Live to Live, Neutral to Neutral.
Locate the Yellow/Green ground wire from your kit. Secure to the grounding point as seen. (1) of the case feet is also installed at the same location on underside. I like to twist my wires (see the red/black wires) together as they run a distance. It is better for cable management and reduces EMI/RFI within the case.
5: Wiring Up Modules. Next, we move on the populating the rest of the wiring harness (most fun part so pay attention). I would start with the Auto On/Off Wiring Harness. It is tiny so the sooner you install that, the lower the chances of misplacing it.
The above is easily identifiable (short thick black and red wires) with both ends terminated with (2) pin connectors. Each end goes on the (2) closest connectors at edge of the separate boards as seen above.
The smaller connector on the left is for LED on the Button. This is terminated to a 2-Pins connector on (1) end, unterminated on other end. The larger connector to the right will deliver mains power to the 200ASC module and terminated to 2-Pins on both ends.
Basically this (Power LED Wiring Harness) is where it starts to get a little tricky and you want to whip out your soldering iron. We will use only 2 wires on Connector #2. Pin-3 is not used. Here is where my gripe with GhentAudio begins. The cable insulation colors of included wiring harness do not match up. You could trim/splice solder them together in the middle as they are. Or if you are OCD as I am, you might unpin them using a tiny flat head screwdriver and repin them correctly (Red to Pin-1 on the 200ASC #2 connection point). Basically, try and match up wire colors. We need to do the following:
- Splice (-ve) on Power Button Module to Pin-2 (middle) on JST Connector #2.
- Splice (+ve) on Power Button Module to Pin-1 (left) on JST Connector #2.
Next, we start on the 8-Pin Connector J3 on the ASC board. We will not be using pins 4 & 5 here so you can go ahead and cut them or unpin them totally (recommended). I had some spare external shielding from my Belden Speaker Cables. Decided to use some of these for shielding and cable management.
Prep Pins 1-3 on J3. Pins 4-5 are unused. We will come back to Pins 6-8 later. You will splice these form the 200ASC board, spliced to a 3-Pin connector to be wired on to the 200AC board. There is only (1) wiring harness with 3-Pin JST connector on (1) end left in the kit. The other end is unterminated.
The wiring hookup and splice order is actually very straightforward. The reason it may appear complicated is due to the differently color-coded wires on both connectors. As seen above, I had purple, white and red on one and white, grey and red on another. Totally mess up your mind if you are not used to this. To avoid confusion, I recommend you unpin and repin the wires if you can and as much as possible so they match up. See the splicing order below.
- Splice Pin-1 on 200ASC connector the Pin-1 for 200AC Connector
- Splice Pin-2 on 200ASC connector the Pin-2 for 200AC Connector
- Splice Pin-3 on 200ASC connector the Pin-3 for 200AC Connector
6: Wiring/Soldering XLR Connectors. Already 2/3 done at this point. Pins 4-5 are unused. We will be using Pins 6-8 on the 8-Pin J3 connector on the 200ASC board. Pins 6-8 will connect to (1) channel on (1) XLR connector. There is another 6-Pin connector at J5 that runs from your 200AC board (Pins 4-6) to the other XLR connector. Before we proceed further, remember this. 200ASC Module (larger board) will connect to the Right Channel. 200AC Module (smaller board) will connect to the Left Channel.
The XLR connectors included in the GhentAudio Case are ‘Female’. There are 3 gold plated soldering cup-pins namely Hot, Cold and Ground. From left-to-right, the 1st Wire on the connector is Hot. The middle wire is Ground. the last cable is Cold. We will need to solder them correspondingly to the image below (see ‘Female’ to the right).
As you remove the insulation on the wires, you will notice a red and white cable. There is no black ground cable. In its place are strands of shielding (silver) wires. Twist the shielding wires together; these will form your Ground wire and be soldered to Pin 1 above. As in any proper soldering work, pre tin your wires. Doing so will most definitely hold your ‘Ground’ together.
Double check on your JST connectors. Make sure that the order is the same for your kit. Unpin/Repin the XLR wires if you need to. Solder the wiring from the 200ASC board to Right Channel. The ones from the 200AC board goes to the Left Channel. Once done, you are left with just the remaining Speaker Signal Cables to solder. It should not be too hard to figure out what you need to do next – you are almost done.
One end of the speaker wires includes JST connectors you will install on the boards. The other end is unterminated and your need to solder to the speaker binding posts. Follow the color codes. Black to Negative, Red to Positive. Your only challenge here is handling the rather short cables so some patience is required. Soldering on brass is not exactly easy so it might help to apply some flux and build up a small pot of solder at your soldering points.
At this point, you are done (almost). All you need to do is route the internal wires properly, try and keep power cables away from input/signal cables as best as you can. Crossing them can lead to unwanted interference. In a small half-width case, it is not always easy. Explains why some manufacturers use standard width casing for their component.
I spooled up the additional runs of unused wires with provided velcro ties that came with the kit. I eventually removed those wires after testing the amplifier was working as it should.
Once you are satisfied with your cable management, install the Top Panel of the case and secure with the remaining screws/bolts. You may have a few spares which you can store somewhere in case you need them. Hook it up to your system and enjoy your DIY ICEpower 200ASC/AC Dual Monaural Class D Power Amplifier.