vpme.de Zeroscope - DIY Build
The Zeroscope is a small 6hp two-channel Eurorack oscilloscope module made by vpme.de. We have had this kit for some time now and decided it was finally time to jump in and put this little thing together. The kit was purchased at Synthcube and it contained all of the necessary parts to assemble the module.
Since this was an SMD build for the most part, we did not record a time lapse video of it, but decided to share pics of the build instead. We also recommend that you polish up on your SMD technique if you are not familiar these types of modules. Parts are very small and require a very steady hand to finesse things correctly.
We started the build by unpacking our digital microscope and blue tape to hold things in place when soldering.
Using a fine tipped pair of tweezers is also highly recommended. The slightest movement or too much movement when grabbing a component can send it flying before your very eyes. This can be tricky but thankfully the team over at Synthcube provided a few extra resistors and caps in the kit (we didn’t have to use any extras for the build).
Resistors and Diodes
The diodes on an SMD build are much like the diodes on a hole-through build. Their orientation is critical to the build and the module will not work if they are mounted in reverse. We had to use our microscope to see what side had the negative marking on it.
Once this was figured out, we were able to dab a little solder on the mounting pad and then gently press down on the part when reheating the pad. The diode simply clicks into place and then you can tack down the other side with a little solder.
Resistors do not have an orientation so you can mount them in any direction you choose. We try to mount them with the numbers in the correct layout, ie. reading left to right when facing the PCB. Use the same method of mounting the part, by simply placing a dab of solder on one of the pads. Heat the pad up when setting the part and have it click into place. This technique is used throughout the build. When all the resistors have been populated on the Zeroscope, move onto the caps, transistor and IC.
Caps and the other SMD parts
Complete the steps as outlined above to place and mount the other components included in the kit. After you have completed mounting all of the other SMD parts, it is time to flip the board over and begin populating the jacks and pots.
The power header and the 6 pin testing header are up next. An easy way to mount this is to place a dab of solder on one of the pads and then gently click the piece into place as you heat the pad back up. This will allow the header to be held in place while you tack down the rest of the pins.
vpme.de Zeroscope Build Gallery
Jacks, Pots and the 90 degree header
For the jacks and pots, you will flip the PCB over and mount them accordingly. We like to tack down the ground pin of the jacks along the way to help keep them in place when we start lining up the panel. When placing the jacks, you will want to put the white plastic washer on them prior to mounting the panel.
Once this has been completed, mount the 8pin header and make sure it the 90 degree bends line up with the pads on the panel backside. This will help keep the panel and PCB together and it will sturdy up the module quite a bit.
Wrapping It All Up...
At this point, you have a completed module with the exception of the LCD screen and cover. These are the last two things to complete in order to be totally done with the build. The screen has pins on the back of it that line up to the points on the front panel.
If your front panel is connected to the PCB during this step, you will want to separate them so you can solder the little monitor into place. After this has been completed, put the panel back on the PCB and righten down the nuts on the jacks and pots.
Next, place the knobs on the pots and peel the protective covering off the acrylic pieces that were included in the kit. Using the long screws, stack the two smaller pieces of acrylic together and then place the larger one on top of those. This will line up with the holes on the PCB and will act as your mounting screws when you attach the Zeroscope to a case or rack.
Lastly, attach the power cable and fire it up to make sure everything works. If you need to update the firmware on the module, it is included above in the quick link section. Now you can officially say that you have built the vpme.de Zeroscope module to completion. We suggest going through the user manual to learn about the different modes and settings that the module has.
vpme.de Zeroscope - Final Thoughts...
While there are several options out there for an oscilloscope module, the vpme.de Zeroscope is practical and leaves a small imprint. We also have the Waveform Magazine Gateway Oscilloscope and the size comparison is drastic. The Zeroscope is only 6hp and it is easy moved from case to case without leaving giant holes. We also like the layout of the Zeroscope vs the Gateway. It is just easier to use and there is very little to “mess up” when patching through it or when using it.
The Gateway’s LCD screen is clunky whereas the Zeroscope’s is cleaner and easier to read. The downside of the Zeroscope is really easy to spot. The way you have to mount the module by passing through 3 sets of acrylic to get to the rack is a pain in the ass. This could have been reworked and made more practical. Why not use standoffs and keep the LCD mounting screws out of it?
Apart from this, the vpme.de Zeroscope is no Mordax Data Oscilloscope, but it holds its own on size, usability and aesthetics. As for the DIY kit, we highly recommend you know what you are doing before hopping into this build. The SMD parts are small and it requires finesse when installing them.