Best way to proceed?

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by TeleSlug, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. TeleSlug

    TeleSlug TDPRI Member

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    I've been lurking around for a while and finally joined up. My goal is to build a Champ (5F1) from a kit and would welcome some advice.

    I'm coming from almost zero knowledge, except that as a kid I loved my Radio Shack project kit (anyone remember those?). The past couple months I've been learning about electronics, practicing my soldering skills, and reading tons of info on the internet. I've started playing around with op-amp chips like the LM386 to understand basic circuits, read schematics, etc.

    If you could go back to where I am now, what would you tell yourself to take as your next step?
     
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  2. dunehunter

    dunehunter Tele-Holic Double Platinum Supporter

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    My advice: for your first amp, build a Princeton. You'll read from a lot of people that this is the way to go for a first build and it's a good idea.

    You end up with a Champ that has a tone control AND just as importantly, a chassis that has room to work. The Champ's chassis is really small.

    Also, before you buy anything, follow along in the Shock Brothers posts within TDPRI and see and absorb what others are doing.

    Finally, go to this website:

    https://robrobinette.com/Amp_Stuff.htm

    and study, long and hard. Learn as much as you can from this and other sources before you pick up a soldering iron.

    Good luck! I look forward to reading/following along on your first build thread
     
  3. TeleSlug

    TeleSlug TDPRI Member

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    Thanks, dunehunter for the reply and encouragement. Yes, I have Rob's site bookmarked and am there a lot lately. And I've been reading build threads for months. It's been informative and helpful, especially seeing where people run into problems and then solve them.

    I've seen the arguments for the Champ as a first build vs. the Princeton. It does seem to come down to chassis size and the space to work in. As a gal with a ring size of 4 1/2" I'm thinking this might the one thing with guitar where small hands are a help!

    Does that change the advice at all?
     
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  4. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Huge advantage.

    How's your eyesight? You may want to get a magnifier visor, it can make your checking process much easier.

    My advice: before you start with any project, any at all, practice soldering technique.

    If you can go to your local dump, grab hold of anything electronic, the older the better. (Most everything is made with printed circuit boards for many, many years now, but tube amps are not. PCBs are still useful to practice on. The older gear will have larger parts at least, which are more similar to what's inside a tube amp.)

    Get a feel for how solder joints are made and unmade - it's something that's much harder to describe than it is to practice. The magnifier will be useful for getting a good look at what your results look like and will speed up your progress.
     
  5. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Oh - welcome aboard!
     
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  6. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    I came into this crazy hobby with zero knowledge as well. I would say build whatever you want! What's your dream amp? Build that! Your welcome post to me suggests you already know what you're getting into and can approach the technical unknowns with methodical diligence and patience. That is half the battle. So I don't think circuit complexity should matter too much for someone who is up to the challenge.

    If you want to keep things simpler, do stick with the kits. The design-to-shopping process is at least as hard as the actual build.

    Good luck!
     
  7. dunehunter

    dunehunter Tele-Holic Double Platinum Supporter

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    Well...
    Yes. small slender fingers/hands would be a big help in Champ construction--no doubt. And, I have to admit, my first amp build was a 5F1 and I have...well...big hands/fingers and still managed to get the job done. And...I like my Champ :rolleyes:.

    That being said, if I had it to do over, I'd build a 5F2-A as my first. You give up nothing but gain the tone stack.

    As I said before, I look forward to your build thread, no matter what you choose!
     
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  8. drf64

    drf64 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've built
    both, snd what has been said is true as far as the small real estate space. BUT, I don't really use the tone control on my tweed princeton any way. it's usually always dimed, and the vol in on 12. Good luck!
     
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  9. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Re-reading, I see that @TeleSlug, you have been practicing some soldering. So please excuse my rambling exhortation.
     
  10. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    Build something you would enjoy.

    You're going to have a great time building it, and you know where to come for any help.

    My first build was a Matchless Lightning. I caught the bug and then built a JTM45, then an 18W TMB, then another 18-watter for gig backup, then another JTM45 for a friend, then I repurposed the Lightning (which I never bonded with) into a SuperLight combo. I sold one of the 18-watters, now I'm just waiting for my budget to allow me build something else, maybe a Vibroverb.

    Bunches of fun.
     
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  11. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    Forgot the 5E3 Deluxe.

    Still bunches of fun. If you're a nerd. And I sure am.
     
  12. TeleSlug

    TeleSlug TDPRI Member

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    So great. Thanks for all the responses and ideas. A lot to ponder.

    My eyesight is okay. Mostly I am working without my glasses and have one of those helping hands doohickeys with a magnifier, but the visor sounds like a good move. My solder practice so far has been on PCB and perf boards. Those little chips (like 555s) have teeny connections! Taking my time, I can get joints to look like the "okay" pics on this site.

    Hmmm, I'm not sure what the dream amp is, maybe a VibroChamp? People have called me "detail-oriented," among other things . . .

    And yes, sticking with a kit so I have something to learn about after that first build.
    I have also been called a nerd. ;)
     
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  13. tweedy_woodpecker

    tweedy_woodpecker Tele-Meister

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    All good advice so far. If I would build my first kit again, I would also choose a 5f2a or 5E3.
     
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  14. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    It sounds like you are ready to buy a 5F1 Champ kit & jump in with both feet! Take your time, and be very careful to understand what the instructions are telling you. You have found a great resource with TDPRI. Good luck, have fun, and we will be needing pictures when you are finished!
     
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  15. andrewRneumann

    andrewRneumann Tele-Meister

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    Welcome aboard! Whatever you decide to do, it will be fun. You will probably want to build another amp right away—with every project you learn more and get better.
     
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  16. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Tele-Afflicted

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    Welcome.

    If I could go back to where you are now, I would promise to finish the project, and I would tell myself to take the plunge.

    Have fun with it.

    :D:D:D
     
  17. Mongo Park

    Mongo Park Tele-Holic

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    Build point to point first. That way you will understand how the schematic translates as well better understanding of what is what.
    Cheers Ron.
     
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  18. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    That’s a good point. When I took the plunge, I built a point to point amp, starting with the power supply first and then building from the output tubes back to the input. I think it really made me think about the circuitry, especially the power supply and how one might make it a safer bit of circuitry.

    @TeleSlug, welcome to the site. Nothing is cooler than firing up your own amp and making music through it.

    I had that Radio Shack Kit too. I think I must have got it for Christmas 1976 or so. It is long gone now but I spent a lot of time acquainting myself with electronics with that kit. Great memories.
     
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  19. TeleSlug

    TeleSlug TDPRI Member

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    Thanks @tweedy_woodpecker, @Old Deaf Roadie, and @andrewRneumann for the encouragement and warm welcome. It sounds like amp building is another n+1 situation.

    Do you mean I shouldn't overthink it and not postpone starting for too long?

    It's funny you say that since I am finding it easier to understand point to point and how it matches to the schematic more so than breadboards.

    I loved that thing! So glad someone else remembers that kit.
     
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  20. andrewRneumann

    andrewRneumann Tele-Meister

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    I really enjoy doing Snap Circuits with the rug rats. Anybody else play around with those?

    Once you have everything you need and start in, time will cease to exist and your amp will come to life as if by magic. :D:D:D
     
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