Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Parts ordered

Last night I ordered the parts for my next 3 builds: Red Llama, Lovepedal Kalamazoo, and Xotic EP Booster. I know it's been a long time since I have posted anything good on the blog, but hopefully once the parts arrive I'll be able to post some more. It's kinda funny, I've been feeling a little bored without a pedal project to work on.  

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Continuity tester

I don't really know if this counts as an blog post but I recently made a continuity tester to check if signal is passing through a specific point. The electronics in this really small enclosure were very simple. I just had to hook up a batterie to an LED then have a voltage reducing resistor, pretty simple. So when the LED turns on that means signal is passing through. There are two probes that are the connecting wires, they are alligator clips but I just need to bend some component leads and I have a working continuity tester. One thing odd about this build is that I put a SPST switch inside (not even needed because the two probes is basically an on/off switch). This will really help me throughout the building of pedals because I can check if I have burned anything of mist a spot on drilling the stripboard (especially during this step), just a helpful little thing.

Pretty small enlcosure, even so to have a batterie in it
Pretty small space to work in but I got it done

I drilled the holes necessary for the LED and switch
I used sand paper to give the enclosure a cool finish
 Pretty cool I think
So the wires are coming out of a small hole and I hot glued around the hole to prevent strain on the wire

I didn't really take anymore pics of the thing but it looked good and it does the job I want to do so it was a complete success!!!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Research for next projects

Pretty soon I'm going to be ordering parts for my next projects. Last time I ordered, the total shipping cost was more than the parts. So to make this a worth while purchase I'm going to be ordering enough parts for 3 projects including some components for modding my other pedals. So the three I'm going to be building are:

Lovepedal Kalamazoo Overdrive:
I've seen a lot of videos on the internet and this thing sound incredible. It's a transparent overdrive that has a lot of control over the high en spectrum (which is very useful). This isn't to big of a step up from my last build (Distortion plus) they both have diodes and an IC chip.

Way Huge Red Llama:
I've never heard one in person, but I hear from a lot of people that this is a very sought after overdrive pedals of all time. It's a very unique sounding OD that is actually based off a pedal in the book "Electronic Projects for Musicians" by Craig Anderson (Co founder of MXR I think). The pedal in the book is call the Tube Sound Fuzz. Anyway it looks like a very interesting circuit. It has a CMOS hex inverter, I don't even know what that means but it just sounds cool. This should be a fun build.

Xotic EP Booster:
This booster pedal is based of the preamp section of the echoplex. Many famous guitarists like Jimmy page and Eric Johnson use the echoplex for the magical tonal quality (I hear). It's supposed to give like an extra little umff to your sound. Well, it's not really a gain pedal, but with the volume set high it does give some grind. This will also be my first project with FET's, should be a learning experience.

If you have any question, comment, or concerns, leave them down in the comment section below

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Marshall Guv'nor mods

The marshall Guv'nor was the first pedal I ever bought. And to be perfectly fair it is a very nice overdrive/distortion. I stumbled upon book, made by Brian Wampler, with a lot like I mean  lot of modifications to practically any pedal. Luckly it had the guv'nor on the list. One the the suggested mods are diode changing. The diodes that are originaly in there are red LEDs. Wampler suggested replacing them with 1N4001, the ones I used in the Distortion plus build(see previous posts). Another cool thing about this mod is that it makes the clipping section asymmetrical. There is two types of clipping symmetrical and asymmetrical:

This is a pretty good diagram showing the different kinds of diode clipping. Symmetrical has two diodes in parallel and asymmetrical has 1 diode on one side and two in series on the other side.

Anyways, this mod book says that this mod makes the clipping more responsive to pick attack, what the stock guv'nor lacked in. 

Switching diodes is a very easy way to modify any of your overdrive/distortion pedals that include a diode clipping section. This post will go through the desoldering process and replacing of the diodes with step by step instructions. 

Marshall GUV'NOR Plus
 Between my MXR Distortion Plus build (in previous posts) and now, I've gotten a new soldering iron. It's got a controllable wattage knob, not necessary but nice. A huge improvement from my last soldering iron.
Once you have opened up the back of your pedal and spotted the diodes you want to replace, the next step us to desolder. Before you even touch the soldering iron, make sure that your not replacing the wrong diode. Thats why I like using the mod book, it has a visual of the positioning. What I used to desolder is desoldering braid. I know desoldering pumps are a lot more effective, but it wasn't working for me for some reason. So I went back to basics. Anyway, it work out for me very well. If you want to learn how to use soldering braid I'm sure there are many sites on the internet and youtube for that.
 To be honest I am a little disappointed in the pump, but the braid is there for me
Make sure when you do apply your soldering iron you don't overheat the tracks. If you are able to see through the wholes / be able to fit the component through, you are ready for the next step
For the diodes, I am replacing them with 1N4001. The first one is just the single diode. I used the vertical diode technique o fit it in the right holes. Before you solder it in, make sure it's facing the right way. The line on the diode is facing the same way as the line on the schematic is facing. 
You might be able to see the schematic symbol on the PCB in this picture. But it will most likely be there, so put you diodes in the right way
The next diode I need to take out is replaced with two diodes in series. I good technique for soldering these together is bending one in a circle and putting the other one through the hole. This makes for easy soldering. Helping hand really help to hold the diodes in place.
 Make sure the diodes are facing the same way, like the picture below
 Because the holes were origonaly for an LED, I did need to be the diodes in a fancy way. Bending it this way really worked for me. You can bend it in any way, but just make sure the leads aren't touching any other components.
 What I like about this bend, it has a low profile so the excessive amount of wire in this pedal doesn't put pressure on the diodes.
Once everything is in position all you need to do is solder it in. PCB's have a very densely packed board so be extra carful about soldering.

I didn't have a lot of time to test out this mod, but from what I heard and played, it did make it more pick responsive, like the book said. I would say that this is a success

If you have any comments or question please leave them in the comment section below

Sunday, 3 March 2013

MXR Distortion Plus build report

So at this point I'm just going to talk about the challenges I had and other this I leared along the way with this project. About half way through this project I had realized that this was a hell of a first project. I didn't know what I was thinking at the time. But I'm glad I did pick this layout because I learned a lot. So this was my first really project and it turned out great. IT WORKS!!!!! and it sound GREAT. The night I finished it up and tested it I was so happy and high on life.
Anyway, each step along this build, my knowledge of building pedal grew greater. Most of all, my soldering skills got a lot better in the way that I understand what work and what doesn't. When soldering, I learned how to apply the soldering iron in the right way to achieve greater results.
The biggest challenge that came with this project was definetly the amount of wire connecting components. How I overcame this is from planning the placements of the wire and using needle nose plier to bend them in the right way.
I'm really pleased with the outcome. Here are some beauty shots of the pedal
 The one on the left is my previous build, a fuzz

 It fits perfectly with my other pedals

It sounds as good as it looks

If I can give one piece of advise for beginner pedal builders, I would say double check everything before you solder. I know I said this a lot during this build, but I really do mean it. If you are 100% sure of what you are doing, it most likely will work.  Also another thing to point out, this is not a race, take your time and pursue through the tough parts.
I would suggest a little simpler layout and a big enclosure to take out all the troubles of compacting wires.
If you do decide to build this layout, I wish you the best of luck.
Happy soldering

The final step!!!

This is probably the most challenging part of this whole project, well at least for me. The final step is to connect the wires that are attached to the board to the offboard components like pots and switches. I might have exaggerated on this being the hardest part, but it did take a while. For the start of this step I just jumped right into it.

I used my helping hand to hold the board while I solder the first wires
 I'm not to happy about this soldering job
 I would suggest having the wires cut the right length so you can have the neatly bent

 Another soldering job done wrong. I had soldered the wrong wire by mistake, I was in the moment. Anyway, I had to re heat the lug multiple times and this looks messy now. To avoid this, make sure you double check the correct wire placement so you only need to solder once.

 So thats the last wire soldered to the stomp switch

This is the last of the connections, all done. Sorry I didn't take pics along the way, as I said before I got caught up in the moment

 I know, it looks a little messy, but this layout demanded a lot of wires, good thing I got the big enclosure

This was a hell of a first project. I had fun throughout the whole thing

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

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Offboard soldering

This part is a very useful step that makes life, or at least this project, a lot easier. Basically it's soldering everything you can before soldering the wires connected to the board. So for example, soldering the wires of the jacks to the 3PDT switch.

For the offboard wiring, i'll be following this diagram, apparently it doesn't allow noise to pass through the circuit. Anyway, it sound like it's worth doing (
Now this diagram doesn't include a batterie, but with a small modification that can be easily fixed. Instead of having two mono jacks, you need a stereo input jack. For that diagram I used this to help me out (
Other than that I just followed the  the diagram and did everything I could before adding the board.
The point of doing the offboard wiring first is so you can bend the wires into the best position for a nice and neat gutshot.

 Twisting the batterie snap can save some space
 Using component leads are good for making links
 Make sure the wires don't touch any other lugs or get in the way of the cable

 The schematic requires that lugs 2 and 3 of the drive pot are connected. Instead of using a component lead, I used pliers and bent them together then soldered them together. If you do do this, make sure you are still able to get the wire through the lug, like in the picture.
 Well at this point it is for the most part looking pretty clean. It's going to be ready for the board
Needle nose pliers were are really big help throughout this step. They allowed me to bend wires with precision

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