DIY Eurorack Modular in an Ikea Rast

kittens love building eurorack synths

kittens love building eurorack synths

This guide is a repurposing of an old facebook post I made because friends kept asking about my diy eurorack enclosure, and the main thing I'd like to accomplish here is showing that you can build a case for your modular for cheap, with absolutely no skills, minimal tools and in very little time.

The main building blocks for this project are the doepfer diy kit and the ikea rast nightstand

The doepfer kit includes everything you need for a 6u, 84hp system: power supply, power brick, distro boards, rails with sliding nuts and the cables to connect these things. Depending on where you're based around the globe it might be cheaper to buy separate parts or similar kits from other vendors, or you might want to pick different sizes or styles for the elements, but some of the principles of the build will still apply.

The Ikea Rast nightstand is discontinued nowadays discontinued in some countries, and that is very unfortunate. It wasn't a very high quality piece of furniture, and it surely won't win awards for its design, but it's dirt cheap and it just so happens to fit almost exactly 6u of standard 19" rack gear and rails, which makes it perfect for any number of studio related builds.

To be honest the Rast is just 4 pieces of wood with a couple of predrilled holes and some bolts to hold them together, you could just as easily diy this part too or have pieces of wood cut to length but, crazy as it may sound, it might be more expensive to source locally.

Here's the full list of materials used in this build

  1. Doepfer DIY Kit
  2. Ikea Rast Nightstand (I used 2, stacked, but it's the same)
  3. 6u Rack Rails and Rack nuts
  4. Eurorack Rackmount Sidepanels
  5. Can of Red Paint (Optional)
  6. About 8 small L brackets
  7. Small box of m3 bolts and nuts, m6 bolts and some small wooden screws from the hardware store

Let's get to the fun part.

Very professional measuring and marking tools there

Very professional measuring and marking tools there

First thing first, I painted the Rast boards red, it made them look a lot better. I applied two coats of paint, no primer, no varnish. Still looks pretty decent years later.

I measured and marked a couple of holes and screwed the rails to the sides of the cabinet with the wood screws. I put them about 1 inch from the edge so that when the modules go in the knobs won't protrude off the face of the rack, but you can move them forward if you want, just know that there's plenty of room depthwise inside the rast rack for even the deeper, old school eurorack modules.

Quick aside, you actually don't need need rack rails and rack sidepanels for an eurorack modular, you can screw the rails straight to the wood, and you might even squeeze some extra hp per row there, but I would recommend using at least some sort of side panels, because it makes it a lot easier to keep the correct distance and alignment between the sets of rails.

The bonus of installing standard rack rails is that if you get bored of eurorack you can take a row or two out and fill your Rast with any kind of regular studio rack gear.

Busboards go in mounted with l-brackets

Busboards go in mounted with l-brackets

I used wood screws to fix the L-brackets to the boards, and m3 bots and nuts to fit the busboards to the brackets, the elements of the doepfer diy kit come with a lot of mounting holes. I used some straight brackets to extend the top brackets and place the top busboards a bit lower, but it's not necessary. The boards are mounted pretty much halfway into the Rast, could have gone deeper but again, there's plenty of depth and I was actually worried about the ribbon cables not reaching the sockets from the front!

That xlr-socket is just a remnant from an old build in which i had mounted the kit into a suitcase and used the xlr as a connector to connect the power from outside. This procedure is detailed in the doepfer diy kit manual if you're interested.

power supply and faston cables

power supply and faston cables

I mounted the power supply at the back of the case and connected it to the distro boards with the supplied faston cables. The connectors are a bit hard to push in at first, and obviously double check that you're making the right connection (ie +12 with +12) but it's hard to go wrong here as everything is clearly marked and quite logically laid out on the circuit boards.

rails, side panels and first modules!

rails, side panels and first modules!

Then it's time to assemble the front panel. I put the sliding nuts into the rails, screwed a module per row to test the distance and then tightened the side panels into the rails. Using actual modules is not strictly necessary at this point but it helps to keep the alignment and spacing between the top and bottom rails correct.

finally starting to come together

finally starting to come together

The front panels fit the rast perfectly, as advertised, so it's time to screw the rack wings into the rack rails and start mounting and plugging in the modules!

Remember to connect the ribbon to the bus board with the red stripe facing down!

this is actually very unsafe for you cat!

this is actually very unsafe for you cat!

Of course I thought I wouldn't need a back panel for the enclosure, and strictly speaking, I don't, but having a kitten around makes any diy project a bit trickier than originally planned. 

At this point the power is still off, so safety inspector cat can doublecheck the connections and the wiring and sign off on the project. We're good to go, time to make some noise.