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Building Your Own Effects

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by Texicaster, Aug 27, 2019.

  1. Texicaster

    Texicaster Tele-Afflicted

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    ¡Bueno!

    I fear I have the effects fever and am wanting more and more and lusting after vintage. This will be a battle I can not win on the financial front so I'm thinking it's time to learn how to solder better and get a good rig and maybe a kit or two and then find out the best sources for components and....have fun!

    I have a Weller soldering iron but not happy with it. Being a tool junkie I've learned as with guitars "buy the best and cry once" (which I didn't do with the Weller!!) Looks like a Hakko FX888D comes highly rated and in my budget.

    What would be the coolest first pedal to try? I just read the post about the Dallas Rangemaster and understand it's a simple build. I'm a few years removed from electronics classes in HS. Any good electronic primers to refresh my memories and perhaps be directed towards music and best approaches?

    Thanks,

    TEX
     
  2. Chief101

    Chief101 Tele-Meister

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  3. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Afflicted

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    Check out buildyourownclone.com. They have tons of kits in every price range. Each kit comes with very clear, very detailed instructions. They also have excellent customer support and an online forum full of cool, knowledgeable people.

    I’d start with a really simple circuit like a fuzz or an overdrive.

    Be careful. Pedal building is very addictive :cool:
     
  4. ahiddentableau

    ahiddentableau Tele-Meister

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    A kit for a first time build is not a bad idea. Aion sells great kits with screen printed enclosures and quality components, so if you're going to go kit I'd recommend going that way. Aion is a good seller all around--his documentation is particularly good. BYOC has a solid reputation but I've never built anything from them. For straight PCBs, once you get into the groove, I recommend PedalPCB.com. Worst (or non-existent) documentation in the biz (but he puts his parts values directly on the boards, which is awesome), but good boards, good prices, and incredible selection.

    https://aionelectronics.com/kits/

    https://www.pedalpcb.com/

    As far as information goes, madbean has a great series of .pdfs covering all the basics.

    http://www.madbeanpedals.com/tutorials/index.html

    The madbean forum is also a great place for help, to share projects, etc. Good community there, and Brian sells quality PCBs with good documentation. The stompbox sections of this forum, too, of course.

    http://www.madbeanpedals.com/projects/index.html

    What model Weller to you have? If you have one of the $15 off-the-shelf-at-the-local-Home-Depot model, then buying a better iron is good sense. But if you have a Weller station like the WLC100 then you're not going to do any better with the Hakko. Don't misunderstand me, I own and use a Hakko station and it's the bees knees. And I think there are real advantages to having an iron with a temperature control and some real power (especially if you're going to do wiring on amps or guitar wiring--the extra power makes grounding to pots and plates so much easier). But a lot of people blame their iron when what they're really missing is technique. Not saying that applies to you, but as a general rule, do not neglect taking the time to really learn how to solder. It will save you so much grief in the end (because there is nothing worse in this hobby than troubleshooting a project with a bad solder joint!).

    As far as circuits are concerned, that's entirely up to your preferences, but make sure you choose something on the simple side at first. A rangemaster is simple, but if you go that way, use a kit or make sure you get your Ge transistor from Small Bear (great parts resource). Steve at SBE gives the bias resistor values for the tested units he sells, and that's a big help for a beginner. Properly biasing a rangemaster isn't as easy as you might think, and even a relatively small mistake in setup can really change the tone for the worse.

    Small Bear:
    https://smallbear-electronics.mybigcommerce.com/

    SBE Ge Transistor for Rangemaster:
    https://smallbear-electronics.mybigcommerce.com/rangemasters/

    Other than that, welcome to the habit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
  5. zippofan

    zippofan Tele-Afflicted

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    Welcome to the rabbit hole, come visit Burnt Fingers :D
     
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  6. Texicaster

    Texicaster Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks!

    I needed specifics to get me focussed.

    Yea I have the Weller WLC100. It's probably my technique. I'm a bit rusty and use a flame to solder jewelry all day so gotta have different expectations..

    Yep but it's gotta be cheaper than buying boutique pedals! :D I hope.. .......?
     
  7. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    I have a 2 step trigger Blue Point(made by Weller) that I've been using since 1987 and still works great. It's a bit large, so I got a Pencil type(Radio Shack made by Weller) for the little stuff.
     
  8. Bristlehound

    Bristlehound Friend of Leo's

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    zippofan likes this.
  9. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Afflicted

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    There are abundant options around now; for the iron, if the power is right (and you don't want overkill on pcb) it may be the solder or a need for flux.

    I'm about to embark on a modding journey with my NYC big muff, but in shopping have noticed lots of kits. Once you've done those, I've seen decent pre made boards that would be nice for modding and doing your own enclosures, etc.

    Vintage effects are not cost effective. with the exception of modulation (delay pedals specifically) you can probably get what you're after without buying the "it" pedal in most fronts. But plenty of makers have good pedals to try too, which makes it harder to not keep going.
    Welcome to the rabbit hole?
     
  10. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

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    I'm a bit jaded as I have been soldering things for more than 50 years. I actually don't enjoy it at all compared to playing the guitar or trying to write a tune.

    I'd say get into building effects if you like building things. To understand how electronics works well enough to make intelligent design changes or troubleshoot things that aren't working might take awhile and be quite frustrating. I actually can't believe the number of people who build their own pedals without having an oscilloscope handy.

    Not trying to dissuade you but I think it's one of those things where you'd better enjoy the journey because you may not get to your destination quickly.
     
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  11. DADGAD

    DADGAD Friend of Leo's

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    Definitely a rabbit hole. You will find yourself going on treasure hunts to find parts. Buying old electronics to harvest Germanium, finding surplus stocks of Tropical Fish capacitors, plugs, jacks and 9V battery clips.

    I cannot afford vintage pedals. So, I built my own Tonebender fuzz, Super Fuzz, Fuzz Face and Rangemaster.

    The easiest build is a one transistor copy of the Dallas Arbiter Rangemaster. Be careful soldering Germanium devices. Heat sink the lead with an alligator clip when soldering. Germanium is easily damaged by excessive heat. You can’t be too careful with it.
     
  12. Bristlehound

    Bristlehound Friend of Leo's

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    Boxing the thing up is far harder and more time consuming than building the circuit... and the major cost of a lot of the simple pedals. For the more expensive builds I sometimes think it's best to buy a (say) Joyo or Caline copy of your intended pedal to see if it works with your set up... and then build your own if you're happy.
     
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  13. edvard

    edvard Tele-Afflicted

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    When you're ready to really get your fingers burnt, visit Tayda Electronics. They don't stock germanium devices, vintage caps, or pedal kits. What they do have is common transistors and chips, footswitches, jacks, enclosures, heat shrink, wire, etc. for about as cheap as you can find anywhere, but it's all in one spot. DIYStompboxes.com has an official Tayda coupon thread to keep you informed when they have discounts that typically last for a day or two.
    https://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/index.php?topic=104322.0;topicseen
    I seem to always have the luck of placing an order the day before or after a coupon day... :(
     
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  14. zippofan

    zippofan Tele-Afflicted

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    Just completed this chorus last night:
    NucleonChorusgut.jpg

    A lot of parts compared to a Rangemaster, boost or even most overdrives. Sounded great as soon as I fired it up, bias was nearly spot on.
    There are a lot of great PCB/circuit makers out, could be a golden age of sorts for the DIY'er. If you can't find a board there's Tagboard effects and the pedal building forums for schematics and layouts. Order parts from Small Bear, Tayda, Mouser etc and you'll be making all kinds of effects.
     
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  15. DADGAD

    DADGAD Friend of Leo's

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    Definately a golden age for DIY'ers. Back in 1960, I asked my dad (an engineer for Hughes Space & Com) if it were possible to build an amplifier for my crystal radio. I was 7 years old. He took me to Olson Electronics in North Hollywood and bought me a 3 Transistor EICO amplifier kit. Then he taught me to solder. It kicked off a lifetime career in electronics, sound and music.

    Stores like Olson, Heathkit, Knight and Lafayette are sadly gone. Electronics shop classes in my state's public junior high and high schools ended decades ago. Perhaps a new generation can study and learn electronics through pedal, amp and guitar kit building.
     
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  16. highwayjones

    highwayjones TDPRI Member

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    The DIY I use most is a Bluesbreaker derivative. For starters, I would say check out a COT50 or Les Lius clone. They are easy builds and great pedals to have in your arsenal.
     
  17. MojoTrwall

    MojoTrwall Tele-Holic

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    Pcb mount pot for the first kit and 3PDT pcb board.

    It really facilitate build.
     
  18. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Soldering is all technique. You can use a $7 15watt iron from Harbor Freight and get good results. Tin wires before soldering together, use a stick to hold them down when you pull the heat away. Buy a solder sucker (Amazon $2-$4 range is fine) for when you need to clean up, repair, resolder, etc. Those 'handy clamp' things with the alligator clips is helpful to hold while soldering sometimes.

    I found fiberglass electrical boxes with form fitting face plates at Menard's hardware as inexpensive project boxes.

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Passive-Guitar-Overdrive-Black-Ice/










    .
     
  19. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    The PCB thing has been covered extensively by others but its worth looking at building on veroboard too (maybe not for your first build unless its something like a basic fuzz) but PCB is much easier to work with.

    PCBs have a lot of advantages, theyre compact, easy to solder, designed to fit inside standardised enclosures, usually mistake free. But you may struggle to find certain PCBs for effects but can still be built on veroboard. There are loads to choose from tagboard effects.

    http://tagboardeffects.blogspot.com/p/site-map-new.html?m=1
     
  20. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    This is so true. I hang out more on amp forums, and often encounter folks who want to build to save money, mostly. My response is foremost to enjoy the process, and treat a successful (working, good-sounding) amp as a nice bonus.

    I'm not an effects geek, but I've run big pedal boards, and owned all the usual suspects at one time or another. And I've built maybe a dozen, mostly BYOC kits. Thing is, the builds never sound all that special. I'm sure it's because I would need to spend time tweaking component values, etc. I don't have the background for that, and I don't enjoy the process enough to get good at it.
     
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