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Dismantling, cleaning and reassembling

Kontrol S4

Hello everyone:

I am relatively new to the DJ scene and the


tools of its trade; I am no music professional
(of any sort) but I do enjoy messing around
with music in a number of ways. I have been
spending a significant amount of time reading
and learning in this forum for about 6 months
and I thank the community for their willingness
to share their experience and their assistance.
Recently I purchased a second-hand NI Kontrol
S4 through EBay (sold “as is” with a mangled
USB connector and no power adapter) for a
bargain price of $202 (a bargain assuming that
it would work!). To make a long story short, I
took the plunge and now I am the lucky happy
owner of a fully working S4 (well, at least 99%
working). In my previous readings I had seen
a lot of interest/curiosity from various
members about the “insides” and maintenance
of the controller so I thought that I would
share my experience with dismantling,
cleaning and reassembling it.

WARNING: Obviously, warranty service was


NOT an option for me and you should
remember that opening your controller as I
have done WILL undeniably, irrevocably and
absolutely VOID YOUR WARRANTY! If you have
any warranty coverage still left and your S4 is
giving you trouble, do yourself a favor and
send it in to NI for repairs.

Although the controller did turn-on from usb


power (I used the advice provided by tekki in
the
threadhttp://forum.djtechtools.com/showthr...i
ghlight=broke after I unbent the contacts with
needle nose pliers), it had a number of
problematic issues: broken usb connector,
dirty-sticky surfaces (some sort of sticky liquid
had been spilled on it), many sticky buttons
and poor fader/jog wheels response. The good
news: most of these problems can be fixed
with a good cleaning!

First I removed all the surface knobs and fader


sliders (carefully prying them up with a flat
head screwdriver resting on a piece of cloth to
protect the controller’s surface), then I opened
the back of the unit by removing the 22 screws
(they really do not want you to open it up!, Pic
1), please note that the last of the screws is
hiding behind the NI sticker (once you pop a
hole through that there is NO turning back, no
more warranty!). Inside there are a total of 6
separate boards connected by their respective
wiring: (uppermost: Sound card, bottommost
left: Phones/cue/vol/Mic board, bottom middle:
Replaceable crossfader, leftmost: Deck board,
rightmost: Deck board, middle: Mixer board,
Pic 2). You can easily remove the sound card
board by removing the two knobs from the
back of the unit (input gains) and the two
screws on the inside. I found it to be a good
idea for me to take pictures of the process and
label all the connectors with a numbering
system as I disconnected them so that later I
knew what connector went where… there are a
lot of cables in there (Pic 3)…. The sound card
board is also where the USB connector is
located (Pic 3). I then removed the two
bottom-most boards by removing their
respective screws. The crossfader was
absolutely disgusting (Pic 4), no wonder this
unit had issues…. After removing the three
boards (sound, cuemix and crossfader), then
you can start the process of removing the
deck and mixer boards (Pic 5). Again, NI
does not make this easy at all. Even
though there are a number of screws that
hold the board in place from the inside of
the unit you CANNOT remove any one of
these boards UNTIL you have removed
the pot fasteners from the top of the unit
and you CANNOT remove those fasteners
until you first remove the two metal
faceplates off the decks and the middle
plastic faceplate from the mixer This is
probably the most frustrating and slow
part of the disassembling process. Those
faceplates are attached to the plastic
frame by very stubborn glue. I was able to
remove them with a thin kitchen knife and
lots of patience (Pic 6, you do not want to
rush this, you can end up bending the
metal faceplates or scratching/breaking
the plastic one, patience and manual
dexterity are key, slow and consistent
prying pressure from many different
angles will eventually get them off). Once
those were off, I removed the fasteners
(washer and nut) from each of the pots in
the mixer and then from the two pots in
each deck (Pic 7). At this point I returned to
the back to remove the screws from the MIXER
board. I removed it by first disconnecting the
cable to the left and right jogs (I had to make
sure I labeled those wires since I did not want
to confuse them) as well as the cables to the
left and right deck boards. The mixer board
came off with the four volume faders (these
faders are not replaceable unless you are
willing with unsolder them, Pic 8). Then I
removed the left and right jog wheels by
removing the screws that attached them to the
circular plastic frame. I removed the left and
right deck boards by removing their respective
board screws (each of the locations on the
boards where the board-holding screws are
located is indicated by a picture of a screw
next to its hole (at least that was helpful).
After that I removed all the plastic button
matrices (hotcue/samples and cue buttons, Pic
9). I was able to disassemble the jogs by first
reversing the instructions provided by
photojojo
(http://forum.djtechtools.com/showthread.php
?t=20326 ) and then I turned counterclockwise
the small square board located in the middle
inside the jogs. Those small boards are
attached to a screw and once loose it allows
the two halves of the jog to come apart (Pic
10), once the jogs were open, I was able to
directly clean a bunch of sticky mess clinging
to the inside and the grooved wheels with a
DAMP cloth with warm water and diluted dish
soap (60%water/40% soap).
Part II

Once I had the entire unit disassembled, I then


cleaned everything that I could:

1) All the plastic knobs, sliders, buttons and


empty plastic frames were soaked in warm
water and dish soap, washed by hand with a
toothbrush and allowed to air dry.
2) All the screws, washers and nuts were
soaked in 99% ethanol alcohol (although I
believe that you could also use 91-95%
Isopropyl as well, the higher concentration the
better since it contains less water and
evaporates faster without residue), rinsed with
fresh ethanol one more time and allowed to air
dry.
3) Every one of the six boards were directly
sprayed with 99% ethanol and washed with
99% ethanol and a toothbrush. (NOTE: since I
had labeled the cables and connectors
previously with a sharpie, I had to be
careful/mindful of where I sprayed/poured the
alcohol since it can erase the markings). There
was a fair amount of a sticky substance on
some of the board’s surface so the toothbrush
was a great help to removed that. I also used
the toothbrush and 99% Ethanol to clean each
of the faders (including the crossfader) on the
outside and the inside without disassembling
them. I used the bristles of the toothbrush to
reach inside the faders from the top opening
while I repeatedly rinsed them with fresh
ethanol alcohol (Pic 11). I did that until I was
confident that there was nothing more that I
could have cleaned. After finishing brushing all
the components of each board (pods, buttons,
etc..) I then rinsed the entire board with more
99% ethanol and allowed the boards to air dry
(Pic 12).
4) As I mentioned earlier, I opened up the jogs
and cleaned them inside and out with a damp
cloth to remove the sticky substance clogging
up the inner surface and its gear surface that I
believe is used to determine jog rotation via a
light sensor (so if you are having poor jog
response this might help alleviate that
problem, Pic 13). I made sure NOT to remove
the lubricant grease found in the middle shaft
(but I could have replaced it with some silicone
lubricant like the one used for SCUBA or
camera o-rings) and to reassemble the jog
before putting them back in their respective
locations. The small square board/sensor on
the top surface I cleaned with 99% ethanol
and a cotton swab.
5) I only cleaned the front metal and plastic
face plates with a damp cloth (warm water and
diluted dish soap) and only the side-up face of
them because I wanted to be able to reuse the
glue still underneath the plates. WARNING:
they are not going to stick with the same
original strength and if you were not careful
during the initial removal you will likely find
some bending on the metal plates which you
can somewhat rectify but it will NOT be just
like it was before the controller was
disassembled.

Once all the components were dried (~4 hours


later since I was using high purity ethanol
which evaporates very fast. But, if I had used
anything else I would have waited much more
time for the boards to dry, at least 24 hours
drying time just to be safe), I then sprayed
each of the pots with a little of DeoxIt D5
contact cleaner while I worked them left-to-
right to facilitate penetration and I also
sprayed inside the faders with two short bursts
of DeoxIt Fader F5 while moving the fader
control to distribute the cleaner/lubricant until
a smooth glide was achieved.
When everything was dry and ready it was just
a matter of reversing the disassembling steps,
making sure to place everything in its original
location (buttons, plastic LED light
accessories), connect the cable bundles with
their right connectors (hopefully), connect the
jogs and each deck board to the central mixer
board BEFORE I attached the middle mixer
board, screwed the jogs back onto their
respective plastic frame, then reattached the
left and right deck board with their respective
screws. After that I reattached the pots to the
main plastic frame with their respective
washer/nuts before I reattached the two metal
faceplates and the middle plastic face plate
with what was left of their original glue
surface. Once all six boards were back in place
and properly connected, I then tested it for
connectivity before closing the unit by
attaching the back case with the 22 screws. All
that was left then was to re-install each of the
plastic knobs and fader sliders.

It was a day-long DIY project (total of about 6


hours from beginning to end) but now I have a
fully working S4 controller with one exception:
no matter how thorough I clean it, the volume
fader for track A is still acting up, I have
recalibrated everything at least 15 times but
only that one particular fader continues to lag
in response (I can work around it for now plus
everything else on this unit now works 100%)
so I am convinced that it is a hardware issue
(worn-out fader?). If I can find a source for
those alpha volume faders (B10KX2) I would
not mind desoldering the faulty one and
soldering a new one on (maybe by then we can
get our hands on the mini-innofader that
people are taking about but not yet available
to the general consumer). Also, I decided that
I need to mod my controller case to make the
top faceplates easily removable without glue so
that I do not have to deal with the pain (and
the likelihood of damage) of prying the plates
every time I want-to/need-to get to the deck
or mixer boards. I am open to suggestions….

BONUS: So, if you managed to read this far,


first I have to thank you and second you are
probably wondering what happened to the
broken USB connector (Pic 14). Well, from
reading previous postings on this great forum,
from a post by kaleaf in a related thread I
found that it can be replaced
(http://forum.djtechtools.com/showthread.php
?t=8171 ) with some desoldering and soldering
involved. That is what I did. I have no previous
experience with desoldering and very limited
experience with soldering anything (half of
those experiences were not a pretty sight) but
I went ahead and ordered the USB B female
connector part
($1.25 https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13
9) and bought a desoldering tool from Radio
Shack
($12.99,http://www.radioshack.com/product/i
n...ductId=2062731 ), a desoldering braid
($4.49http://www.radioshack.com/product/in..
.ductId=2062744 ) and used a 30Watt
soldering iron I had at home. I watched some
DIY videos from Youtube on proper desoldering
techniques/tools and then I de-soldered the
broken connector from the sound card board. I
used the desoldering pump to remove the
solder from the four central small pins and
used the desoldering braid to remove the
solder from the two larger attachment points
of the old connector to free it from the board
(Pic 15). Once it was removed I cleaned the
area with some 99% Ethanol alcohol, let it dry
and then soldered the new USB connector in its
place matching the location of the pins to the
same as the previous broken connector. All in
all it was actually a relatively straight forward
fix even for someone with limited soldering
experience like me (Pic 16).
Super Bonus: since my S4 did not come with a
power adaptor, I found one that matched the
specs of the original (9V, center positive, at
least 1200mA). For those of us stateside, you
can find a universal AC adapter at your local
Walmart for ~$18.88
(http://www.walmart.com/ip/PowerLine-...-
Port/16778839 ). I bought one and once set up
properly (correct voltage and polarity choices;
it comes with seven different connector tips
but the one that fits the S4 is the largest one)
it works with my S4 controller without any
issues so far (Pic 17). I am happy

For the lawyers among us: if you are


considering opening your NI Kontrol S4 by
trying to duplicate this narrative you would
have to do that assuming all potential damages
to your person and/or equipment under your
own risk and free will since I am not
responsible for any damages and injuries.

I hope this information is interesting to some


of you and I would like to thank all the people
that have previously provided information on
this forum from which I learned a great deal.

There are a couple of things that I should add


to the information previously posted:

A) There are actually seven separate boards


inside the S4, I left out the one that holds all
the pots for the FX units and the deck
gains/master level. It is located on the top-
most section of the unit, just after the mixer
board. It can be removed and reassembled
just like the mixer board (i.e. removing the
front face-plates, then the fasteners for each of
the pots). I actually did not mess with it much
since it looked clean and I think there is plenty
of truth to the old saying: "if it is not broken,
don't fix it". So, I left it alone, just sprayed it
with 99% Ethanol and left it to dry with the
main plastic case.

B) In order to remove the Phones/Cue board


you first have to remove the plastic knobs from
the controls (Cue Mix, Cue Vol and Mix Vol),
then push-in the metal masts to lock them in
their "recessed" state so that they do not
interfere with the board removal and finally
remove the nut around the phone's connector.
The board should easily slide up and out (no
screws holding that board down).

Well, I think that's all for now.