July 22, 2012

Building A Clean Boost Inspired By The Deep Blue Delay Buffer

I had modded my deep blue delay clone for a volume control because I heard about volume drop issues, though I have none of them, but I really like the clean boost it gives me.
Unfortunately I barely use the boost because I don't want the volume jump when turning on the DBD. So I thought I'd try the buffers w/ volume mod as a standalone boost, giving me more flexibility for lead boosting, etc.
I extracted the buffer circuit from the DBD schematic including the volume control (which I upped to a 50k to give a little more boost than my DBD clone). The cool thing is, if this is turned to 0 on the volume, it simply acts as a unity gain buffer:

Based on that I drew up a stripboard layout (my first real layout, yay!). The goal was to keep it simple, not pretty, and to fit into a 1590A, because I believe saving real estate on a board on something as simple as a clean booster is of a higher priority. It turned out quite well, and there are no stand-up resistors, which I prefer:
This one is verified and sounds quite good! I really like it! Here is a picture of my finished build:

May 9, 2012

Building A Clone Of The Eternity (Burst)

After having been quite frustrated with my Tubescreamer-like SRV Special that was one of my first builds ever, i decided to give the old TS circuit another try. This time I chose the Lovepedal Eternity (which is a tweaked TS circuit) for several reasons.

The first reason was a discussion on FSB regarding opamps in SIP (single in line) format. Instead of the usual square look with 4 pins on each side, they have all 8 pins in one line, making the IC very compact in vero layouts. IvIark on FSB posted a layout for the Eternity Burst that featured a SIP-8 NJM4558 opamp:

Incidentally, I had all the necessary parts lying around, and since it was a pretty easy build, I decided to give this one a go. The Eternity is basically a TS circuit without input and output buffers and several tweaked values, making it sound fatter and more open. I managed to wire the board, drill the enclosure and finish the pedal in two afternoons. 

I used an Eddystone 1590B-sized enclosure (the original comes in a 125B, which is a bit bigger) and tried to stick to the original knob and LED layout. I like that look a lot.

A couple of interesting points:
  • I found the 500kB pot for the gain to have an uneven spread. The gain would suddenly jump up at around 8-9 o'clock on the dial. I prefer a log pot here (500kA).
  • The pedal is rather bright, i preferred a linear 1M pot for the volume. Because the volume control interacts with the output coupling capacitor, the 500k sounds much brighter than the 1M. The downside to this is, since the Eternity doesn't have an output buffer, it is influenced by whichever pedal comes after it. Because upping the volume pot increases the output impedance (ideally we want a very low output impedance) this dependence becomes more apparent. This is rather annoying so i resorted to using a 500kA and turning the tone knob way down (9-10 o'clock). Some Eternity versions have a 22uF output cap and a 100k pot. I might try that in the future.
I'm planning on finishing the enclosure. I'm not sure which color I'll choose, I guess a burst finish would be nice, but that would be a little difficult. The LED is a 5mm waterclear green superbright. The Eternity also comes in white so maybe I'll try that.

March 1, 2012

Building A Clone Of The Honey Bee OD

A week ago or so, I finished building a Honeybee clone. I went with the madbean pcb (discontinued) and bearfoot version of the circuit. The enclosure is a brush-painted Eddystone in gold/apricot with a adhesive decal and clearcoat on top. Here is a photo after the box was clearcoated. The decal was made full size including the knob, led, and switch locations.

As of yet, it is missing an orange LED and proper bezel that are still in the mail. Sorry for the rip-off font DonneR, but don't worry, i will not give this one away, ever.

Knobs are from Tayda. I prefer them to the originals actually. Those can be ordered here by the way. (TK-1124-6MM). They are 6mm knobs and won't fit the 1/4" shaft of regular alpha pots though. Here is a gutshot. 
That's about as neat as I can go, so far. Notice that I used 1n4148 diodes instead of the 1n4007 the original uses, as I socketed the diodes first while forgetting that the 1n4007 have thicker legs that won't fit the sockets. I might try to tack solder thinner legs to them later on.

Update (May 9, 2012): Finally completely finished this pedal. I installed an orange LED and changed the 1n4148 diodes for 1n4004 (i didn't have 1n4007s but they should be identical) and I prefer them to the 1n4148s. The 400X are smoother and compliment this pedal very well. I can see why Björn prefers them in this circuit.

Here's a picture:

February 6, 2012

Building A Klon Buffer

I kept reading the Klon's buffer is the best buffer ever and "makes everything sound better", etc. Curious as I am, i wanted to try this myself. I didn't need to source any parts except a 1590A sized enclosure and some jacks that I bought at a local electronics store. I decided to paint this one too and went with blue metallic. The layout I used came from FSB once again and was made by mcaviel.

My build looks like this:

I can't really say how the buffer "sounds", because it's barely coloring my tone. The most noticable difference is a very very slight volume drop because i used two 1k resistors in parallel instead of a 560k for R5. This won't make much of a difference though because a buffer is not something you switch on and off all the time, hence no footswitch. I probably don't have a large enough effects chain yet for it to make a difference in my signal.
Nonetheless, this is a highly recommend project for beginners because it's so simple. No need to drill for a foot switch and pots, four little holes and you're set. And they don't even have to be aligned. No battery clip nor LED.

Building A Clone Of The Deep Blue Delay

I decided to build something different than a dirt box this time. Everyone raves about delays and I have never played or owned one before. I kept looking for a simple delay with parts that are easy to source and inexpensive. The Deep Blue Delay, a digital delay based on the PT2399 designed by Björn Juhl, the owner of BJFe, caught my eye and I decided to build it. Being a member of FSB I quickly found the thread about the pedal. Being a beginner myself and never having tried building a delay pedal before I decided not to try to make my own layout for now and go with what's already there and build mictester's vero layout (you might've to sign up, not sure).

I also decided it was time to get away from the plain metal-box look of most of my pedals (I have two solid-color-powdercoated boxes, but that's also a bit boring). I thought about spray painting, but that's not a good idea in my apartment. I decided to finish the enclosure with acrylic paint and a brush and try the BJFe inspired look of labelling the box by hand. This is how the box looked after color and clear coats:

I know now that if i don't want this wavey look with the aluminum shining through, i should use a primer. However, in this case that look fit perfectly with the deep-blue, waves, sea, etc. theme. The finished pedal looks like this (this is the one from the header of this blog). I had to cut the vero board a bit and leave out the battery because the layout was pretty big and I wanted to fit it into a 1590B sized enclosure.

You might've noticed that there is a fourth knob that the original doesn't have. This is a volume control. I added a 25kB pot in series with the 12k resistor in the feedback loop, because I heard about a possible volume loss with the pedal in some instances. This proved untrue in my case (in some cases this is probably due to tolerances in the parts combinations), but the volume boost is a nice feature. Turning down the mix knob (taking the delay out of the signal) the clean boost is a cool feature to have. I changed the IC for a TLC2262, which sounds a little bit better on the cleans, but it's not a necessity. Here's the schematic including the mod i did: 

Building this pedal is highly recommend as it is a pretty easy build for a delay and is tons of fun. I sourced all my parts, including the PT2399, from Tayda because they have the cheapest prices and I've never had problems with them.

Update 03.06.13: due to some questions and issues about the stripboard layout, I would recommend to rather build this pedal with the layout Mark from GuitarFX Layouts posted here. It is verified and fits in an 1590B-sized enclosure including a battery.

February 5, 2012

First post

Hello. This is my first entry for this new blog that I made. Lame entrance, I know, but this is in fact my first blog ever. I have never done this before, so don't be too hard on me. 

I started doing this almost two years ago, and have been mostly building dirt pedals which included a few opamp overdrives (OCD, TS, Timmy, Klon), a few boosters (SHO, LPB-1, Rangemaster), and fuzzes (Axis Face Si, Bonamassa FF, Tonebender/Supa Fuzz). 

This blog will document my quest in becoming a better solder jockey and produce neater, cleaner and better pedals, and maybe serve as a warning (ha!) or even help for the beginning to intermediate DIYer that wants to get into building pedals himself.