Sunday, 28 July 2013

Modded Red Llama build report

I've had some time to fiddle around with this beast of a pedal and it is just amazing! In some of my other posts I built a Red Llama for myself and it sounded great, but I don't know why but I this this one just sounds better. I can't put my finger on it. I was jamming with my dad today and I used the pedal. I had the controls at noon running into a clean amp. We were playing Good Times Bad Times and it sounded killer! The bass response was great, very chunky in a good way, and the higher strings were nice and clear. What I love about this pedal is that it's a mix between a fuzz and an overdrive. Because of this magical combo it sounds similar to a tube amp breaking up into fuzzy goodness. The high gain switch is also a great addition. In the down position it's a stock red llama, yet in the up position it unleashes monstrous growl! I can't forget about the volume control. It has so much output that it can punish the front end of your amp, but you can easily get unity gain. Personally I find that all gain pedals sound best when it is above unity gain. So enough of my blabbing, here are some beauty shots of this great looking pedal!

A clean looking inside
I love using these letter stamps on the back plate, I've got the name of the pedal, who it's for, who made it, and the date of completion
I guess I hammered the stamps a little too hard. There are some negative imprints on the back, but I think it looks pretty cool
These rubber feet are great, it keeps the pedal from slipping
The Marshall knobs just look incredible, in my honest opinion

To the left is my original red llama. As I said before, I don't know why but I think the Llama to the right just has a little something extra.
In this build I pretty much triple checked everything but I had the most fun doing it. If you want to read the build report for my other Red Llama, click here. I hope you enjoy these pictures!

Red Llama with mods is being soldered

In my last post I kinda talked about how I was making a pedal for my friend. The pedal I'm making is the Way Huge Red Llama, a personal favourite of mine. But to change things up I made a mod, i'll get into that later. Over the 5 pedals I've made, I've developed some pretty sweet techniques to make life a whole lot easier! And I'll show you some of them in this post

The mod that I made to the circuit was a gain mod. If the 100k resistor that connects to the drive pot increases in value, like to 10M, then the pedal will have a higher gain. Since being able to switch between a stock red llama, which sounds fantastic, and a higher gain llama is very useful, I used a DPDT switch to switch between two resistors. 
Where the 100k resistor would be originally, I have two wires running from those holes to the switch
I used the twisty wire technique cause it looks sweet and takes up less space

I tried to bend the wires in a way that will stop the solder side of the board from touching the switch

For this build I used this trick that I put all the pots and switched on cardboard. This really helped me out so I can solder with more accuracy and I have more angles to work with. It was really simple to take off the the pots and transfer them over to the enclosure.

I enclosure I used is a 125B, so it's not the smallest but it has enough room to fit everything nice and neat
Another trick I learned is to pre solder the link on the 3PDT switch. The result is much cleaner
I have two unsoldered lug cause I need to solder other wire in them
Since I designed the pedal to have a battery, I used some foam to push the battery against the switch. I did this because a battery will move around if it's not secured. And if it moves it might damage the insides.
Now it can hold a battery totally upside-down without falling out. It also doesn't make any sound when you shake the pedal.
This is why I used the cardboard trick. When I take out the pots, I can simply plop it into the enclosure so the only things I need to do is solder a couple wires. It also holds its shape great!
One of the first offboard soldering joints I made was at the DC adapter. Since it is really hard to fit 2 wires into the one hole, I decided to get that out of the way. What I did was put the wire coming from the board into the hole, then I grabbed another wire, not attached to anything, and fit it in. It seamed to work out well.
So the second wire coming from the DC adapter, that was originally not soldered to anything, goes to the bottom sides and....
.... is soldered to LED. In my last couple of post I talk about using a small board to hold the resistor that connects to the LED. This makes sure that it is solid
Here is the finished product. The battery fits nicely

As you can see I used the twisty wire technique again, it looks cool
The upper half of the enclosure looks good, the board is floating pretty well
Usually on my other builds, the DC jack is one of my weak points. This time I think it turned out great!
There is the switch that toggles between low gain and high gain
Now that looks sexy
And the yellow LED to mach the gold Marshall knob just looks killer
I used my letter stamps to label the knobs, volume and drive. When the toggle switch is down it's in low gain
and when it's up it is high gain. Pretty simple, down=low gain, up=high gain
This is the best pedal I have made so far in terms of neat soldering. I'll try and get a build report up by the end of the day, I still need to push the limits of this monster!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Red Llama in the process

This post has some pictures of current build, a Red Llama with mod, for a friend. Because I'm building this for someone and not for myself, I have pay extra attention to detail. Here are some photos and some ways to make sure there is a solid connection between the component and the board.

For all the builds on this site, I use IvIark's layouts. Go check out his site for amazing layouts!
Here is were I started off. I didn't document the drilling and linking of the board because it's not that important. When ever there is an IC included in the circuit, I like to use sockets. These are really useful because out of all the components, the IC has the most chance to get damaged. If this happens, I can simply remove the bad IC and put in a new one without heating up the soldering iron! Unless you use more than the required voltage, 9v from a batterie or power supply, than the chance of frying the IC is very slim.
The IC used in this pedal is a CMOS Hex Inverter (CD4049UBE) which has 16 pins.
With the pins being so close to each other, it is important not to make any solder bridges between the strips. If this happens, you can easily take an exacto knife and score the lines in between the copper strips. To make sure there are no solder bridges, I still cut the lines to be certain, even if the solder joints look good, which they do :P
With all the resistors, I used the volt meter to measure its value. Even though they come in labeled bags, I checked to make sure they are the right resistance and that they work correctly.
Here are some photos of the board with all the components in.

As you can see, everything is nice and neat, just the way I like it.

With ever build, my soldering skills increase tremendously. These are the best solder joints I've ever done!
The mod that I am doing is not to complicated. Simply, the switch can switch between two resistors which as a results increases the gain of the pedal.
To switch between two components, the easiest way is to get a DPDT on/on toggle switch. Them Solder the two components to the outer lugs and leave the two middle lugs blank, like in the photo. Now the two middle lugs will have wire coming out of them that connects to the original placement of the resistor, like in the diagram above.
I soldered the resistors so that they are out of the way and are unexposed.

These are only a few of the many techniques I used to make sure that I soldered the components correctly. I'm trying to put as much care into this project as possible so the friend I am making it for is pleased and impressed with the level of craftsmanship.