Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Last post was a guide for preparing the board for components. Now we can get started on soldering in all the components. This step in the project is pretty strait forward. But there is a lot you can do to make mistakes, as i found out.

So this is where we left off, some cuts and jumpers.

The first group of components to solder in are resistors. The reason for this is because they are the thinest of all the rest / lower profile. Soldering these first makes it easier to solder the the other components.
It's a smart idea to keep the components in the bags they come in. The bags are labeled with the values of that component so you don't get the values mixed up.
So with no further adieu, let's get soldering!

 One thing that I found helpful during this step is to cross of the component on the layout. This helped me know what I soldered and what needs to be soldered.

Another tip is to prebend the components so you don't put stress on the leads.
So with all the resistors soldered in, it looks a little like this. There is also a socket for the IC. IC sockets are so easy because you can't overheat the sockets.
This is what mine looked like, not to bad!

The next set of components to solder in are diodes, same ish shape to resistors. I had bought a line of individual sockets and was planing on using those on the diodes. This pedal uses 4 germanium diodes. These tend to be heat sensitive. But I took a shot with soldering and socketing and realized that soldering was easier. I soldered the germanium first.
 The next diodes I soldered are silicon diodes, less heat sensitive.

I used a cool looking technique that put the diodes vertically in the board. The reason for this is that the diodes would not fit horizontally. This is a great technique, I strongly suggest it.

The next component are capacitors.
 Pre-bending caps are useful as well, it makes a good fit. The bend technique is like the photo below.
At this point in soldering, the solder side of my board got pretty dense. To make sure there were no solder bridges I ran an exacto knife between the strips.
The last components are the polarized caps because they are the biggest (most of the time)
And now this is a populated board with all the components in it.

 One thing that I found out during the soldering process is that with each component that I soldered in, my technique developed further and further.

Last step is to put the IC into it's socket. Make sure to put in is the right way. But is you don't just get some pliers and take it out of it's socket, the beauty of sockets. The IC also comes with a styrofoam to protect the leads, nice touch Mammoth Electronics.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them down in the comment section below

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The start

So this post today is the official start of building the project. This step is simply prepping the veto board / strip board for components. As stated in the layout (which I will be referring to quite often) you need 13 cuts and 4 links. But before we do any of that you need to cut the strip board to the right size. I did cut it 2 holes bigger just for safety.

So I bought some stripboard from  my local electronics store. I got a big sheet so I can buy once and use this for multiple projects.

Once I got the stripboard, we need to find what dimensions to cut. I printed out the layout on paper so I just have to glance down and check. I would definitely suggest printing it out.

As choice tool for cutting tool I used a small hand saw for quick and pracition cutting. Technicaly you can use any cutting tool like an exacto knife, but this is much quicker in my experience.
So count the rows and columns and mark it with a sharpie. In this case it is 16x13. Not much more to say, just cut till the two points connect.

You might notice that the side are kinda rough. I filed my sides down for aesthetic purposes. You can do so if needed, but not necessary.
As I mentioned, I did cut it 2 rows too big, not a problem, no worry cutting! Anyway, this might cause confusion, so I traced out 16x13 in sharpie. This will help me track the positions of components.
 Since stripboard is just a fancy way of saying that each strip is connected, to fit everything in the smallest dimensions we do need to make cuts. Basically the cuts separates the track so no current passes. On the layout, the cuts are marked with red dots. Copy the positions of those red dots on the stripboard.
  It is important to double check if you have the right positions.

What I did is drilled the black holes with a slightly bigger bit than the size of the holes. Once you drill all of them, you will notice that there is still some copper connecting the the strip. Grab an even bigger bit and drill on the copper strip side until the point when there is no copper connecting the strip. You do not need to drill all the way through, this might cause complications when soldering.

Half way done the prepping!!!

Now for the links. Links connect different strips together so current can pass through multiple strips. Common linking is to the ground. The material I used for the links are just snipped off component leads. Any type of zero resistance conductor will do, but component leads are simple.
 It is good idea to prebend before placing the links in. This will save unnecessary force.

At this point it's a good idea to check if everything is in the right place before you solder.
Once you know that you are completely sure that everything is in the right place, let's get soldering!
I could go all day about proper soldering techniques, but there is plenty of that on the internet. One thing that I do and has helped me in a wet sponge. This cleans the soldering iron tip without burning anything. It's also goo for removing extra solder from the tip.
This is my first experience with stripboard, so I want to do a test run and see how good my soldering skills are. Turn's out I'm pretty good! The soldering skill test really gave me the confidence to move on. I would strongly suggest to practice your soldering skills before attempting to do this project.

If you are ever unsure if you have made any solder bridges, run an exacto knife across the 2 point to be extra sure off the separation.

As the last step in the preparation of the stripboard, we are going to check to see if there is any solder bridges. The way that I do this is to have an LED circuit that is broken and to let the current pass the two wires need to connect. Some multi meters have a function similar to this, mine does not. But this will still tell me if there is any solder where it should not be.

The LED is from a different project. So now I can go around the board and check the connections. If the LED lights up, there is a connection and if it doesn't, no connection. You don't need to do this step throughout the whole project, but I do suggest it for this point so you can track what you did wrong (if it doesn't work) you know that in must be with the soldering of the components.
This is an extra little step that can help in the long run.

Now your board is ready for components!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section below

Get those parts

Once you have finished planning your project go ahead and order the parts you need. Before I ordered my parts I double and even triple checked because it costs a lot to ship to Canada from USA.  Anyway, I ordered through Mammoth electronics( and they are a very audio project supplier. They have all the common IC chips, diodes, switches... that you need to build a guitar pedal. I have taken some pictures of some components like the diodes that I will be using(1N4001 and 1N34A). You probably noticed that I bought an enclosure bigger than you will ever need but this pedal is going to have the works, led, true bypass, dc input jack, so I'll have enough room for everything. I do recommend that you do get a bigger enclosure, if this is your first project, it just makes it easier to fit all things in. Also it's one less thing to worry about.

A good start to any project...research

The start of any good project is the proper research prier to construction. A month ago I finish a building my fist fuzz pedal. It was just a butcher job, but it did work!!!. So I challenged myself to make a better one and this time it would be well thought out and designed. As I stated it the previous post, I gave you a link of this great site that includes layouts on vero board. So originally I thought I would want to do  script reissue MXR distortion plus, but then I thought why would I copy something completely. So I decided to modify the circuit and kinda make it my own. At the time I knew hardly nothing about changing component values to alter the frequency of a low pass filter, or any of that modifying lingo. So I found an article on premier guitar  that is written by the great Brian Wampler, distortion aficionado. Then after looking at this amazing article that goes in depth about this kind of circuit, I found the layout of the "Wampler modded distortion plus" on the layout site I guess what I really wanted to say is that the preparation is really an important step in any kind of project really. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

The beginning

This is the first post of a kinda unique blog. I am a beginner in guitar pedal diy. While I was browsing the internet I really didn't find a true novice showing other beginners how to make a project from start to finish. My first real project, that I will be taking pictures and explaining and all that jazz, will be a Wampler modded Distortion plus. Pretty much a beefed up MXR Distortion plus that is modified to be more interactive. I found this amazing site ( that has vero board layouts and very in depth explanations, very helpful, check it out. So the link above is the layout I will follow. This will be a interesting experience because I am also learning all the tips and tricks myself. Hopefully I'll be able to guide people, in my similar level of experience, through a full start to finish project.