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1st build attempt pending .... recommend a book, please.

Discussion in 'Burnt Fingers DIY Effects' started by 41144, Oct 19, 2020.

  1. 41144

    41144 Tele-Afflicted

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    It's all there in the title really ... but sure would appreciate some advice from those that know.

    Getting really bored now with the "current situation", bad weather approaching, so thought I'd have a go at building a pedal and see where that leads.

    Not unfamiliar with soldering or indeed electronics and have gutted/re-done the inside of my guitars a few times - but that's as different again to pedal building I suspect.

    Received wisdom is to start with simple circuits so ... For my first foray I've a mind to have a go at the "Roger Mayer - Axis Fuzz" from jedspeds.co.uk (irony is I hate Fuzz :mad::D) - whose website seems to have good instructions too.

    But, being a bit old school - I still like to have a reference to turn to and so am considering also buying "Electronic projects for musicians - Craig Anderton". (No money really if it's useless and yes I see that it's somewhat outdated - but that's me too!)

    So ... thoughts / advice / alternatives, especially regarding books or even websites to "hold my hand" through the process, ... will be appreciated.

    With thanks ....
     
  2. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Great idea. I was going to say you might want to get a copy of Craig Anderton's "Guitar Player Presents Do-It-Yourself Projects for Guitarists." Not sure how it compares to the one you mention, though, which I think is his original book(?), and might be more studio or keyboard oriented(?). The info in the Projects for Guitarists won't really go out of date for these types of projects. He goes through the basics and starts with simple buffer projects and goes from there. I think he does a decent job explaining what different parts of the circuits actually do, too.

    The new things going on are that it's much cheaper and easier to design and have PC boards fabricated these days. And there are new, better op-amps if you're looking for lower noise, wider dynamic range - but that's almost irrelevant for specific pedals where you want 'the sound' of a particular old opamp or transistor.

    I'd recommend having some good tools (soldering iron, good tweezers, wire strippers, etc. and a decent meter (DVM) for voltage, resistance and continuity checks) and a good space to work in/on. Also, I'd start with breadboarding circuits - much easier to experiment before soldering. And, yeah it's a good idea to start with somewhat known pedal design so you can learn from others. Go for it, expect mistakes and have fun.
     
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  3. Switchy

    Switchy Tele-Afflicted

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    If you check out some articles on electrosmash.com and coda-effects.com , you will pick up on much insightful knowledge.
    The articles explain how many components work and what they do in a circuit.
    You don't have to be an electronics engineer, just have a basic understanding of the function.

    Brian Wampler put out a book on modifying pedals. That pretty much covers everything you need to know.
    You might even find the PDF if you search for it on Reddit.

    And for more technical stuff, you could check out Small Signal Audio Design also a PDF somewhere on the internet
     
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  4. 41144

    41144 Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for the above .... I'm Ok for tools and getting a breadboard to test things out is a good tip too.

    Another Q - as a hobbyist ... for pretty standard stuff not requiring top-down design, like a Fuzz, would you use PCBs (plenty of them about to choose from and costs are ridiculously low really) or Vero(strip) board?

    Reason for asking is using a PCB looks a bit like 'paint-by-numbers' - whereas Veroboard seems more DIY ... or would I just be making a rod for my own back?

    Thanks ...
     
  5. Switchy

    Switchy Tele-Afflicted

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    A basic fuzz is simple enough that you can do it on a vero board. But there is no shame in using a purchased PCB since hundreds of fuzz pedals use essentially the same circuit. Flavors may change due to the transistors and various resistors, capacitors etc.
    So even with a generic pcb, you would be able to experiment.

    Hey, I'm all for going the 100% DIY route, if you're up to, do it. It's a great learning experience.
     
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  6. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I've had good results with Vero board, and I totally agree it makes more sense than designing/ordering custom PCBs unless you're making more than, say, two. I like it far better than the all-holes boards (seems like they require a lot more solder and aren't as clean, at least in my hands).

    It helped when I made a template of a Vero board in a graphical drawing tool (Visio) so I could play with the placement and wiring beforehand. There are some vero board designs out there online, too. Also if you purchase a copy of the Eagle PCB tool it has an autorouter that will do a decent job giving you a head start on efficient wiring if you set it up for a two layer board and single direction on each layer. (The bottom layer is all the copper strips, and the top is wires and components you add.)

    One thing that would be nice is if all components for thru-hole mounting had 0.1 inch pitch pins... alas they don't, so some bending is required in some cases. Another option is to make a pedal-friendly PCB with good mounting options for the big components (jacks, pots, LEDs), and vero or all-holes layout for most of the middle. (There are probably some out there for sale already that fit common housings?)
     
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  7. Commodore 64

    Commodore 64 Friend of Leo's

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    Just get a DIY kit with decent instructions, like something from BYOC :https://buildyourownclone.com/

    Or one of the MOD kits from tubesandmore : https://www.tubesandmore.com/products/kits

    Maybe a Dave Hunter Book, which is a pretty decent first foray into pedals and what they are: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1617131016/?tag=tdpri-20

    Book+ Build concurrently.

    Build a couple kits, then you'll naturally progress to building your own layouts on whatever media you choose (pcb, tags, vero, whatever)
     
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  8. LightningPhil

    LightningPhil Tele-Meister

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    Electronics for guitarists is quite good. Rather depends how deep into the rabbit hole you want to go. The art of electronics is handy to have. Douglas Self’s small signal audio design book is great too. If you manage to chomp through them, you’ll have a great start towards designing pedals from scratch.

    Suggest an echoplex pre amp as a good starting pedal. But it off 18V not 9. Perhaps mod it with a slow gradient high shelf input stage to bring a bit more sparkle (2 resistors and a cap)
     
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