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Old April 9th, 2011, 01:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Vibratone/Leslie 16 Build

Picked one of these up a few weeks back:



It's a foam "cheese wheel" baffle, speaker and two-speed motor gutted from an organ. The speaker was a small, oval deal with a pretty crummy guitar tone. The guy I bought it from had wired the motor up with a rheostat and switch, which is really bad for inductor motors like these (burns them out). In the end, I stripped off the hardware and motor and used the baffle as a template for a new cab. I also picked up a 10" Fender speaker from the TDPRI classifieds to replace the oblong one that came with the baffle.

I did a bunch of online research and put together a set of plans for a Fender Vibratone/Leslie 16 cabinet. Ordered some black tolex, grille cloth, metal corners and a handle from Mojo Tone Amp Supply. Borrowed a friend's router and built the cab from 3/4" MDF, and this was the result:



I basically copied the original Fender Vibratone dimensions, except I enlarged the side ports to the Leslie 16 size. The Fender ones just looked too small.

For the internal baffle, this cab basically follows the Fender and Leslie for the wheel placement. I moved the motor to the 6 o'clock position, rather than the original 4 o'clock, because the mounting bracket for this motor didn't enable a vertical arrangement of the motor and wheel in the side-mount location. As it is, I had to unscrew the fast motor shell and rotate the halves by 90 degrees to get things lined up, but it worked out perfectly on assembly.



For the back, I left everything the same as the original:



You can also see that placing the motor in the 6 o'clock position also enables motor tension adjustment with the back panels on.

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Old April 9th, 2011, 01:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Control box

The real changes happened in the control box. The original Vibratone had a wiring harness that spliced between the amp output and the speaker on a combo amp, utilizing a crossover circuit to dump the mid-range frequencies to the Leslie cab and passing the rest to the amp's speaker. For this design, I wanted to be able to use a standard two-button footswitch to toggle the speaker enable and the motor speed. To do this, I utilized a pair of relays to toggle the motor power between the fast and slow motors and to switch the speaker signal between the Leslie cab and my amp.



The relays take 12V for the coil, so I put together a 12V DC supply for them, then used the footswitch to connect the coil ground to activate them. The speaker harness just adds a drop to the control box for the speaker signal from the tip. I scored a Marshall two-button switch cheap from the local shop, cable included. All it needed was a dpst switch dropped in for a momentary-contact and it was good to go.

A bag of parts from Mouser and a trip to Radio Shack later, and I crammed the whole business into a project box thusly:



Little red jewel light and all.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 01:35 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The only other departure was on the front grille baffle. The original Fender design (and perhaps the Leslie, I don't know) had 2 cut outs in the backer board - one sound port at the bottom, and one diagonal port to accommodate the cheese wheel bracket. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why they didn't just move the center baffle back by 1/2", so I did:



So, how does it sound? I'm thrilled. I'm driving it from my Blues Junior, and it just roars. There is a slight volume drop due to the indirect sound path and smaller air space around the front of the speaker, but nothing that can't be resolved with a little more volume at the guitar. At the chorale setting, it produces this shimmering effect that you almost have to A/B with the dry signal to notice. It's a subtle effect that just spreads the sound around the room. Put the Tele on the middle notch with a little delay, and it's heavenly. On the tremolo setting, it's everything you'd expect. With the neck pickup, tone rolled off a little and the volume up to really drive the speaker it's Charlie Hunter territory. With all that air in the cabinet, it wants to be LOUD, and it really fills the room.

Yep, I'm in love.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 02:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Does anyone use a sawing machine motor with the foot pedal for these? Seems like a simple way to get any speed you want.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 03:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Awesome build. I love my leslie 16

Nothing like some swirly goodness
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Old April 9th, 2011, 08:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Leslie 18 and friends..............

mmmmmmm more Leslie Luv:

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Old April 9th, 2011, 09:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Beautiful work!

I have a Leslie 16 I restored with brown tolex and built my own switch box based on the original design.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 07:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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BEAUTIFUL job!!

I've got an old Wurlitzer "Spectratone" leslie made to sit in a little old ladies living room and it sounds great, but wouldn't work so well with anything above a vibro champ...I use a sewing machine pedal to turn it on and off, one speed on mine!
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Old November 9th, 2014, 05:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hi all,

Had to resurrect this since I'm researching/planning my own Vibratone DIY. I've got my stacked motor and ought to have a rotor drum soon. Maybe the OP will see this and chime in, but anyone else's help is appreciated. So tellme if I have this stuff straight...

1. On that control box, is that just a 12v transformer with a mains primary? Do I understand correctly that when the mains are turned on the motor will come on either fast or slow depending on the state of the speed relay?

2. Are those 600v caps (C3 and 4) starting caps for the motors? Do those need to be 600V?

3. The on/off function is confusing me. Is it only directing the signal to/from the speaker? Because I don't see that it starts or stops the motors.

4. The secondary is rectified to DC and is that a voltage regulator (LM7812)? Is that just to better eliminate ripple and sketchy mains supplies?
C2 is a filter cap I see ( I think) for ripple, what is C1?

5. I learned that the diodes across the relays help with the current changes when they open and close. Are the relays in series with the appropriate switch in the footswitch?

6. How are the relays connected to the 12v DC?. I'm guessing the triangles labeled with the +12 are denote common connections (like the boxed letters in Fender schematics), but are they just connected together via a terminal strip or something??

7. lastly, could the speaker just be run as an extension speaker? This one looks like it's wired in-line ..... Wait... I think I see now:

OFF = essentially a longer speaker cable routed through the leslie..
ON = redirects to the leslie speaker. (Do I have that right??)


Sorry for all the questions. I have a fairly decent grasp on the schematic for my amp so I'm trying to apply that understanding to this. Thanks in advance for any help!!

Cheers,
Bob
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Old November 9th, 2014, 10:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have two Leslie 16's that I had to build the control boxes from scratch. The on switch on the control box starts the motor in the slow speed. I used the secondary from the transformer changed it to 12VDC. That is sent out to the footswitch , and back to the relay to switch between the slow and fast motors. The other on off switch on the footswitch switches between the speaker in your amp and the speaker in the Vibratone/Leslie. I din't have the knowhow to figure out the crossover, so mine is either all amp speaker, or all Vibratone speaker. I had problems in the begining because I wired the relay to start in the fast speed when the control box was switched on, and it didn't have eneough power to start the fast motor from a dead stop. I had to rewire it to start the slow motor when switched on. You can use it as an extension speaker, just plug the male plug into the extention speaker jack on the back of your amp and leave the amps speaker plugged in. The problem is that the motor will be on, so you will have the leslie effect on the extention speaker. On my setup the rotor is always spinning when the Viratone is on.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 12:48 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks ojaverde,

Yea I hear you on having the setup ass all leslie or all amp. I think thats how the OP did it. I've read that the leslie sounds better that way too, not getting drowned out by the amp sitting next to it.

Did you regulate your 12VDC relay supply? (maybe those relays require a regulated voltage?) Or is it just rectified and filtered?

I'll have to get a pic of my motor up for a little help sorting out the wires for the two motors. Maybe it will be obvious once I take a good look at them. Mine was with the 5 pin plug.

So do you have those caps on the motors? And, how did you get the 12V to the footswitch? DO yo have any pics or diagrams of your control box?

Thanks again!
Bob
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Old November 11th, 2014, 03:53 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I don't remember everything. It's been a few years since I did it. I think the caps on the motoors
are to prevent a pop when you switch between them. I'll have to see if I can find a picture.
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Old November 11th, 2014, 04:03 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Oh man... I wish I could un-see this thread.

I've tried most every rotary pedal. I want to like them, but nope. I'm pretty certain if I had one of these beasties I'd be all set, and then some.
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Old November 11th, 2014, 06:32 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Buy a Spin Doctor.....Motion Sound. It will be 5 times cheaper than building your own.
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Old November 11th, 2014, 07:25 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Buy a Spin Doctor.....Motion Sound. It will be 5 times cheaper than building your own.
So you're saying it would cost $2.5k to build your own?

I'm pretty sure you could buy an original Leslie or Fender cabinet for that!
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Old November 11th, 2014, 10:21 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I own a Leslie 147....and I have built one.....You can buy a used MS for a couple of hundred bux....and most of them will be in like new condition.
Building a Leslie is A Lot of work
But I appreciate your math skills.
(the OP did a GREAT job on his btw.....)

Last edited by backline; November 11th, 2014 at 11:21 AM.
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Old November 12th, 2014, 03:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
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connector wires

Here's a pic of my connector, it's a 5 pin config.



The solid insulation wires are for the slow motor, and the braided insulation wires are for the fast motor. Seeing that one pin is shared by 1 from each motor, am I correct in assuming that is the negative connection?

I'd like to test the motor to make sure they work. Would it be alright to use my variac to feed a little less voltage for that? I can turn the shafts freely by hand with no indication of a mechanical problem inhibiting the rotors spinning. Just wondering if using less than line voltage is a prudent step, or unnecessary...

Thanks
Bob
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Old November 12th, 2014, 03:26 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Mr BC,

I've got two salvaged units (drum, motor, speaker, incomplete wiring on both) that have been in my garage and on my project list for longer than I'd like to admit.

If your incoming rotor drum falls through, let me know.
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Old November 13th, 2014, 03:07 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Mr BC,

I've got two salvaged units (drum, motor, speaker, incomplete wiring on both) that have been in my garage and on my project list for longer than I'd like to admit.

If your incoming rotor drum falls through, let me know.
Thanks. I'm pretty sure my rotor drum will come in fine. Spoke to the seller earlier. However, I have a buddy who might be interested in some of those parts.

I was able to check my motors and verify they both work fine (yipee!). I think the slow motors engaged while the fast motor continues to run, so I'll rig up a temporary switch to switch in the slow motor and observe the operation. I read somewhere that the speed reduction comes from the small motor presenting a drag on the large motor, although the small motor's small shaft spinning that tire on the bottom of the large motor provides some effective gear reduction by itself.
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Old December 14th, 2014, 06:35 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I've got a Leslie 16 build of my own going on; does anyone know what the cap value in the crossover is?
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