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Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

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Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:12 am
by BillB
Hi folks. I was wondering if such a thing exists, something like the top 5-10mm of a jack plug shaft with a cap on top. Obviously you wouldn't want it opening any internal socket connections.

Maybe I'm over-concerned about dust, but it seems to me that it would be a good idea to 'plug' all unused sockets in a studio. I even thought about going into production many years ago, right before the DAW/softsynth revolution. They were going to be called "Pluggits" :crazy: - phew, near miss!

Google searches still don't turn up anything for me - maybe I'm asking the wrong question. Does anyone have any pointers to such a product or diy suggestions? But not Blu-tack! ;)

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:11 am
by DGL.
Neutrik do this range of covers.

Thomann also do a good range of other neutrik covers

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:41 am
by Hugh Robjohns
It's not something I've ever found necessary. XLRs and jack sockets generally have self-cleaning wiping actions when plugs are inserted, so provided they are used every now and again it shouldn't be an issue. Oxidisation will occur regardless of whether there are caps or not, and Deoxit D5 spray every now and again is a good solution if that's a problem.

However, it does make sense to arrange patch bays to be vertical rather than horizontal or tilted at a shallow angle though, as that will minimise dust ingress.

I've not seen 'bungs' specifically for A-gauge sockets, but there are 'bung's for B-gauge sockets:

http://www.canford.co.uk/ProductResources/ig/1810.pdf

These are used normally to prevent accidental plug insertion into 'mission critical' break jacks in patch bays -- but I suspect they will sit well in A-gauge sockets too.

The only sockets I do use protective caps routinely for are fibre-optic ones, such as TOSlink and MADI links, since dust here can mess up the light transmission and cause problems, and there is no self-cleaning mechanical action involved. The better fibre sockets have dust-protective shutters.

hugh

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:00 pm
by BillB
Both - thanks for the answers

DGL - the Neutrik covers seem to be for plugs rather than sockets. The Thomann ones may be OK but it isn't very clear what sizes they are for. However, you set me on a bit of a quest, as searching for rubber caps seems more productive than searching for plastic caps.

Hugh - my main concern is with the upward-facing XLR, Jack and a couple of phono sockets on my Mackie 1202. I thought if I could find suitable covers, I would just cover anything that is upward-facing (synth modules in racks etc) and not in use. I don't know what 'A' and 'B' gauge sockets are - are either of them 1/4" / 6.3mm?

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:30 pm
by shufflebeat
I think this is a genius idea and such items should be included as standard with every live mixer.

Yes, jacks and XLRs have a self cleaning function but prevention in this case would be better in my book.

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:44 pm
by Hugh Robjohns
BillB wrote:Hugh - my main concern is with the upward-facing XLR, Jack and a couple of phono sockets on my Mackie 1202.

Okay -- again, I have a mackie 1402 with the same layout and it has worked trouble free for a very long time now, so I think you're worrying needlessly. However, the obvious solutions are either to use a cloth dust cover when the mixer is not being used (which I do tend to do anyway) or to put spares plugs into all the sockets. In the case of the insert sockets, the action of plugging in will break the socket normalising, so you'll need to solder ignal path.

I don't know what 'A' and 'B' gauge sockets are - are either of them 1/4" / 6.3mm?

Both are 1/4-inch and a very siilar size and shape, but with critical differences.

The B-gauge (also known as PO316) is the professional connector, originally designed for manual telephone exchanges. Built with a tip-ring-sleeve three-terminal construction, but the tip is relatively small and rounded.

The A-gauge is the more familiar consumer headphone plug or instrument type. It has a relatively large conical and angular tip shape, and the ring and sleeve contacts are slightly different sizes from the B-gauge.

The two types are incompatible, and plugging the wrong one into the wrong socket will cause either an intermittant contact or will damage the socket!

hugh

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:59 pm
by grab
Masking tape? Maybe it's not pretty, but you can tape over a lot of sockets before it'll cost you as much as some special plug-in covers.

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:16 pm
by Matt Houghton
Hugh Robjohns wrote:
BillB wrote:Hugh - my main concern is with the upward-facing XLR, Jack and a couple of phono sockets on my Mackie 1202.

Okay -- again, I have a mackie 1402 with the same layout and it has worked trouble free for a very long time now, so I think you're worrying needlessly.

Hi Hugh... I think you've been lucky, or perhaps more fastidious in cleaning your studio than others! I've owned several different VLZ series mixers over the years, and have experienced the same issue as that described a few times, particularly with the insert jacks, which IIRC are hard-wired into the circuit. When they get greasy/dusty the channels can become crackly or interrupt the signal. I didn't have the same problem with the sockets mounted on the rear panel of some models, though.

As you say, it's easy enough to treat with Deoxit and a few plugs in and out of a jack plug, and easy enough to prevent using a dust cover or masking tape. But I can see the aesthetic attraction of dedicated covers if there are some channels that remain permanently unused.

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:59 pm
by Martin Walker
shufflebeat wrote:I think this is a genius idea and such items should be included as standard with every live mixer.

Yes, jacks and XLRs have a self cleaning function but prevention in this case would be better in my book.

I totally agree - I've been a little concerned for some time about my own horizontal (desk-mounted) rack devices whose 1-4-inch jacks are prey to falling dust.

I'm sure there must be something cheap, plastic and suitable for the purpose of we look around.

Anyone?


Martin

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:20 pm
by Richie Royale

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:22 pm
by Hugh Robjohns
Excellent -- problem solved. 8-)

Good find Richie -- I had realised Canford were flogging those.

hugh

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:11 pm
by shufflebeat
grab wrote:Masking tape? Maybe it's not pretty, but you can tape over a lot of sockets before it'll cost you as much as some special plug-in covers.

Can we try to keep sensible ideas and sound economic thinking to a minimum, please?

(Nice one, Grab. I wish I'd thought of that a few years ago).

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:51 pm
by BillB
Thanks All for the links and suggestions.

I spoke to Canford Tech support - very helpful - and they said that the Jackfield stoppers, pointed out by Hugh, are under £2 / pack of 10 (apparently on offer) so I am inclined to get a couple of packs of those. They are B gauge, so not guranteed to fit our everyday A gauge sockets, but unlikely to be a problem.
http://www.canford.co.uk/Products/43-694_JACKFIELD-STOPPERS-Yellow-pack-of-10

The lovely Neutrik rubber connectors are guaranteed to fit whatever plug they say they do, but are about twice the price, so I am inclined to get some of those for my (far fewer) XLR/phono sockets. Just need to think back to my old biology lessons and make sure I get the right male or female covers.
http://www.canford.co.uk/Browse/2002294

Any other suggestions/suppliers welcome. Except sticky-tape-based solutions... dust and sticky = sticky-dust in due course. I think that 'dry' solutions, that lift in and out, will fair better in the long run, and these things are really just beer money. Obviously each to their own!

Thanks again!

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:27 pm
by Richie Royale
I think we all know the real correct answer is, if you have a mixer with spare inputs, then buy some gear until you fill them up! ;)

Re: Plastic caps for jack/xlr/phono sockets to keep out dust

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:34 pm
by BillB
:D I knew I was missing the bigger picture somehow!