Last updated Sun Sep 21 17:01:35 PDT 2008

This may read a little schizophrenic as I'm updating a previous page but the info should be good. Scroll down for the newer stuff if you already looked at this before.

Here are some pictures of Vector T-Strut material. For more information about what Vector sells in the way of t-strut stuff, check out this PDF at

If you look at Vector's info you will notice that they intend for you to slip individual nuts ( special square ones ) in ahead of time. This is annoying to do and also expensive. The nuts wind up costing more then the rails very very quickly. I've found another way...

EuroRack threaded inserts fit! These run about $2ea and are 17" long, threaded with (standard) 2.5mm holes every few mm the entire length. They fit just a little loose but if that bothered you somehow, careful application of a couple setscrews would fix that right up. ( you'll see these later ) I specify 2.5mm here as Doepfer and others use I think 3.5mm rails, but most surplus chassis and places that use EuroRack stuff will have/use 2.5mm.

Here comes what I'm gonna do... Frac standard is 1.5"/Frac-U. So you get 10U in a standard crate. If you throw away the 19" rack rails and mount directly to the wood of your rack, you can fit 2 more U in the same space! In the 20U racks I'm building, this will let me fit 72 Frac-U or 36 standard 2U Modules in the space where only 60/30 fit before.

Costs? Here's the best part... Vector sells the TS600 pack ( Newark stocks with p/n 77B5782, Mouser also stocks ). This is 4 60" rails for around $65US. Add another $24 of Euro threaded inserts and you'll have the module mounting equiv of 6 Paia FracRaks. In the olden days you could buy the actual Paia crates for $20 without top/bottom/back ( $120 for 6 ) but now you have to buy them with all the covers for around $50 ( $300 for 6 ) or you can get the higher quality Blacet crates for something north of $50ea depending on how much other Blacet stuff you buy with them.

Anyhow, here are some pictures for you to ponder.

Just an end-view of the rail. Its plain extruded aluminum 1"x5/16"

Here it is with a threaded insert installed. Off in the fuzz you can see an M2.5-8mm screw inserted. THIS SIZE BOTTOMS OUT! I used this length in this case because it DOES bottom out and keeps the rail from sliding for my picture. UPDATE Further playing confirms that the 8mm screw just fits if you are using thick ( .125" ) metal for your panels. Screws are cheap, buy both sizes.

Another view of the rail, this time with an M2.5-6mm screw inserted. It goes flush with the rail surface and doesn't quite bottom out. This should be just fine for mounting most panels to these rails as long as the panels are 1.5-2mm thick. You would probably have issues mounting Paia thickness panels ( .125" with these screws, but in that case the 8mm should work for you.M2.5-7's would be perfect but I haven't found a source. I ordered these screws from Micro Fasteners. They have a wide variety of screws and stuff and ship quickly.

The Updated Part

Okay, now here's what I've done recently in pictures.

I ordered some 1.25x1.25" u-channel aluminum, which due to the 1/8" thickness leaves a perfect 1" wide inside channel for the t-strut. I then trimmed it down to approximately 5/8" tall, drilled properly spaced holes ( in my case for FracRak ) and then painted it black using Rustoleum "Hammered Finish" paint. If you made your racks wider, you could use the channel without cutting it down. Why U-channel and not plain angle or something? I wanted to support the rail front and rear. Its pretty darn sturdy. Why none spaced for Euro? I picked up 6 6U Euro chassis for around $100 total surplus...

I cut the T-strut down to approximately 19" lengths ( you can see a pile of cut strut to the right of the rack ) then mounted it with a philips screw and a Vector square nut on the front and rear. I used the vector nut because it takes the slightly beefier 4-40 screw. The wooden case is my 3/4" birch plywood rendition of a Raxxess rack. If you've owned one of those, they are heavy and made of press board. This is much much lighter and with screws, glue, and biscuits you could probably park a tank on one. I did have some trouble first go-round keeping them square, but that's a rant for another day.

On the right is a short chunk of t-strut. Out of all this I only wasted 8 pieces this length ( about 3" ). The bolt and nut in the middle are what come in the 44 piece connector mounting kit from Vector. This seems to be the cheapest way to buy the nuts. A nice thing about those bolts, they fit in the slots so they may be usable in some fashion. On the left is what almost caused my permanent insanity... What I decided to do to mount FracRak modules was to cut Euro threaded rail down into two hole sections ( a cable cutter worked great ), and put an M2.5x5 set screw in one hole. You slide it to the appropriate point and tighten the setscrew thus solving the complaint of the nuts sliding around while you try and mount a module. I'm sure someone will come up with a better less sanity-reducing way to do this, but it seems to work for me. Another option is the middle of the t-strut is plenty meaty. You could easily drill and tap a hole there, but that's something I wanted to avoid. Besides, if you wanted to do that, just buy bar cheap bar stock. Drilling and tapping 288 holes is not my idea of a fun time... ( and this is??*snicker* )

Here's a close up of the inserts The top rail has them aligned and tightened, the bottom has them just all loaded in one end before alignment. I made two tools for aligning, one is a stick with nails for rough alignment, the second is a scrap of t-strut with two of the previously mentioned Vector bolts slid to the proper distance and held with nuts. I clamped the bolts in the drill press before mounting and filed the threads off the end so they slide easily into the 2.5mm threaded holes. Now I measure and tighten the first insert, then I use the tool to align and hold all the rest. In the back you can see angle brackets that I will use to mount power distribution boards that will connect to about 50lbs of Power One and Condor linear supplies.

Cellphone photo of the completed racks. Gap at the bottom of the racks is taken up by 2U of 19" rack rails. All little inserts are installed and tightened down.

This is the little alignment tool I made. Scrap of t-strut, two of the Vector bolts slid into the slots head first and locked with nuts. Turned the ends of the bolts down so they are a slip-fit into the threaded inserts. Drilled holes on either side of one bolt so I could fit the hex screwdrive through the tool. Was actually really easy to use.

This method definitely is working however its been a little labor and tool intensive, but fun ( and you always need more tools right?). When I'm done I'll have two racks loaded like the picture above. These racks were internally dimensioned to take standard 19" rails so that's why I had to do all the metal trimming to make things fit, if you started from scratch you could skip large amounts of work I caused myself with that u-channel.

Another insert option that defiantly works is to take a standard euro threaded rail and just break it up into 1" pieces. They slide in and you can jog them around to make holes align properly. That bothered me on some level hence the overly complex method shown above. Whatever works for you! I only want to show that t-strut is defiantly workable for Synth needs. Of course if you use the Euro format, you can just use the threaded inserts natively. As an aside, I found the APW brand rails ( part number 950-202001 ) to be cheaper then Schroff, but harder to source due to company acquisitions and the like.

Why am I spending so much time on this? I needed to take a break from coding or wielding the soldering iron. When I'm done with this I'm defiantly ready to get back to the bench and finish some modules then I'm taking a break and actually MAKING SOME MUSIC! I know, what a concept...

If you have any questions/comments you can find me on the Synth-DIY list, or you can email me or ( all my email addresses go to the same place so it really doesn't matter )

Yeah, I'm the guy that runs and yet didn't bother to put up a page on it for 2 years...