First Time, No Experience, Put Up Your Hands.

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by printer2, Jun 18, 2019.

  1. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    A kid wanted to build a Champ with his dad, was looking for advice in another forum I frequent. Almost everybody thought I was dealing the kid a death warrant by electrocution suggesting he come here if no one there wanted him to attempt a high voltage build before getting general some low voltage builds under his belt. Just wondering how many here have got their feet wet with a Champ and did not kill themselves?
     
  2. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    i think it's a precautionary responce , there have been a number of past threads where , the person doing a build had zero expirience with proper soldering techniques , and understanding of the components used trying to build a high voltage tube amp, 500 volt capacitors do pack 500 volts and to inadvertently touch a charged cap while holding ground is a recipe for really bad things to happen including getting electrocuted , the one hand chop stick rule are there for a reason, before makeing an amp i would suggest a few pedal builds to get his feet wet then try an small wattage amp kit once he has been familiarized with the process and trouble shooting protocals , you have to learn the safety rules first before you can run with it. a wrongly installed filter cap can explode

    and alot of the amp gurus on this site will reitterate my sentiments here, with replies like , dont do it if you dont know what you are doing
     
  3. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    I think it's not a good choice of hobby for a child. They're just not developed enough cognitively to be safe doing certain things. I'd put amp building / testing right there with scuba diving - not really "dangerous" if you keep your head on straight 100% of the time, but kids don't have that 100% down often enough. My take.

    I did not build an amp as a kid, but I did a lot of stupid stuff that makes me 100% sure that would not have been a good choice for me.
     
  4. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Friend of Leo's

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    I think it’s only common sense to advise a novice to begin with something non lethal. However I’ve read many posts where they recommended starting with a Champ. We all know that a Champ can kill you as quick as a low powered twin if you’re not careful.
    I got started on this forum with a Weber 5F1 kit that had been started and stopped so many times half the parts were scattered. A friends wife ask me to try and get it running. They ask me because I knew the difference between a cap and a resistor and was generally very cautious. I did get it going in time for his birthday and liked it so much I ordered onefir myself and built it without a problem. That was about 2005 or so and I still have it.
    My eyesight has failed me now a days and I stopped playing with live amps when I blew the tip off a screwdriver with a really dumb kinda move.
    But back to the original question, I think most people can assemble a 5F1 or something like it using elementary precautions and not kill themselves.
     
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  5. Telecasterless

    Telecasterless Friend of Leo's

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    "Kid" could suggest a pretty broad range. He could be 10 or he could be 15.

    I think there's plenty of 15 year olds who could handle such a task. Also, if Dad was involved, you would think there would be an additional level of security.
     
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  6. BobSmith

    BobSmith Tele-Meister

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    Start with a pedal. Work your way up.
    Better learning experience, safer, open to more experimentation (even if you don’t fully understand the circuit), cheaper, faster...
    My 2 centavos
     
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  7. WisconsinStrings

    WisconsinStrings Tele-Afflicted

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    I started with a 5F2A (Princeton). I wouldn't recommend it... starting with pedals would have been smarter. I was also very careful and followed lots of advice from this great forum.
     
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  8. Doorlord

    Doorlord Tele-Meister

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    When my 14 year old turns 15, I'll let him show me how to build a Champ.
     
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  9. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Tele-Holic

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    I agree, it can be done, but not without some level of prep and fore learning. My Dad did correspondence courses to train for a radar base, and at that time all of the training materials and kits came from Heathkit. He was nice enough to let me sit with him and help build each kit. He taught me to solder, and he had ways of explaining and demonstrating to me how electricity would behave when done right, and how it would behave when done wrong. We built the soldering station and the VOHM meter, then we built the oscilloscope, then the radio and finally the color tv (in the days before solid state, it was all tube!).

    So I knew and understood the operation of an o'scope by the time I was 11 years old, and I had the respect for electricity to go with it. He went on to get certified on the radar base, and I went on a few years later to build Heathkit's 100 watt guitar amp, which by that time was solid state. We watched a lot of Nebraska championship football on that color tv, including the "Game of the Century" between Nebraska vs Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day 1971. Several friends came over to watch, as many of the kids in school had never seen a color tv. They acted surprised when I told them me and my Dad built that tv, but I am sure they had no clue what was involved.

    A smart kid of 12 or 13 or older can build a small amp safely IF he is properly educated and prepared before hand.
     
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  10. symbiotic

    symbiotic TDPRI Member

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    Not trying to troll here but, just what would making pedals teach you about safety with high voltage? You could argue that the fact you can't hurt yourself with a pedal might just engender some bad habits, safety-wise. In my mind, either you are or are not ready to deal with the concept of working with dangerous stuff.
     
  11. Telecasterless

    Telecasterless Friend of Leo's

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    Yeah, I had metal shop in 8th grade junior high, so probably about 13? Sure the teacher was around to supervise, but with 20 kids in the shop pouring hot metal into sand casts, cutting sheet metal, spot welding, using acid, he was only hovering when you asked him to come over and help you, otherwise you were completely on your own.

    Responsibility. When your fingers are at stake, you tend to focus a wee bit more.
     
  12. galaxiex

    galaxiex Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    My question would be, what is the kid like?

    Does he listen when adults talk about safety?
    Or does he "tune out" cuz he's bored of adults "preaching" to him.

    I know I was like that at a young age... but then I got "preached at" a lot....

    If he can listen and understand and heed the safety rules/guidelines then have at it. With an adult to supervise and keep an eye on things.
     
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  13. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

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    My first build was a 5e3, my only prior electronics experience was wiring a few guitars. It went fine, the amp worked on startup and I didn't get shocked.

    I agree that it depends on what you mean by "kid" but if its someone old enough to learn to drive a car, I don't see why they couldn't work on amps with the proper safety precautions. And lets be real, those safety precautions aren't rocket science, nor are they something one learns in the course of building a few low voltage effects pedals.

    Yeah, amps are potentially dangerous, but so are cars, power tools and many other things that most sensible people (and most idiots for that matter) manage to use every day safely.

    FWIW, I believe the dire shock hazard warnings are a bit overblown (and I'm sure saying it is going to piss someone off). There are many, many stories of people shocking themselves on HT caps in amps that they thought were discharged and living to tell the tale. Every confirmed story of death by amp I've heard of (not in any sense all of them, admittedly) seems to have been the result of someone managing to become a path to ground for the mains power rather than running afoul of the high voltage DC.

    Still... better safe than sorry, hand in the back pocket, double check that caps are discharged, etc is all good advice, and it is advice I follow every time. Thanks to that, after three plus years tinkering with guitar amps I'm happy to say I've never been shocked (and after tempting fate by saying that, I'm going to be extremely careful next time I open one up :lol:).

    Anyway, I think the risk of someone jumping right into building an amp rather than starting with simpler projects is more about potential frustration than safety. And even there it is just a matter of being able to judge ones own abilities soberly, anyone with good DIY genes will be able to succeed with all the help that is available here.
     
  14. Jorgen83

    Jorgen83 TDPRI Member

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    My very first project (like first soldering experience) was the Bottlehead Crack tube amp. I probably wouldn't recommend starting with high voltage projects like that (which is only 170VDC, so nothing compared to guitar amps).
     
  15. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Building a pedal would give 2 indicies , one ) proper soldering techniques , two) device orientation , plus proper component layout ,

    when i was in grade 9 electronics , I built 29 of the classes final projects ( 31 students in all ) the final project was a police siren , based on a charging capacitor and the decline of the tone was based on the slow discharge of the capacitor in the oscillator circuit , by changing the cap value I had created a way for my siren to to play mary had a little lamb and portamento , plus i designed and built a 12volt power supply to power this, in escence I created a single oscilator synthesizer , the lessons learned with a Lite project will help to carry him on to larger projects , the same principals apply to any project , weather from a kit or not

    BTW I was moved directly to grade 11 electronics 1/2 way through the school year because of this , that class project was Phase liear type 500 watt SS power amp

    you have to walk before you can run and even now I could Kit a fender style tube amp but there would be a lot of questions before i would try this, ( besides with 11 amps I dont need it)
     
  16. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    A very close fiend of mine from elementary school became a repair tech for high powered radio teleccommunications devices and with 15 years of incident free repaires to equipment that was classified as unfixable, he was able to bring them back to life , his first home project he did in grade 9 in high school was he designed and breadborded a fully fuctioning home PC using a Z8088 microprocessor, he was no slouch to the details needed to be safe , one day at work he inadvetently touched ground with a screw driver while working on a large industrial amp sending about 1000 volts through his system blowing himself off of his chair and spasmed his arm so hard he imbedded the screwdriver 1/2 an inch into the concrete ceiling and sent his heart into palpataions ( he was lucky) one unfocused moment can be detrimental safety first and formost
     
  17. kbold

    kbold Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Yes, but with education, warnings, and constant supervision. Caps can hold a lethal charge for quite a long time after unplugging the mains.

    I would personally ensure anything he touches has had its caps fully discharged before he gets near it. One amp I restored had 770Vdc for the power tubes. I fitted the caps permanently with high impedence resistors to bleed the high voltage when unplugged.

    And get him used to wearing safety goggles. Big caps with big voltages go bang spectaculary if connected reverse polarity.

    I wouldn't like to be you telling the childs parents the grim news.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  18. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    Literally everyone! :lol:
     
  19. kbold

    kbold Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I was overlooking this first sentence, which worries me (the first sentence, that is).
    If he's building it with his Dad, the onus is on his Dad to have sufficient experience and safety concerns.
    Does Dad have any experience??
     
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  20. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Radio builds powered by our delicious 240V?, started when I was around 11. Didn't die, respected the warnings about mains.
    TV repairs and bodges followed. Still not dead.
    Car/motorcycle ignitions. Still not dead.
    SMPSU builds and repairs. Nope, still here.
    Hi-fi/PA amps. Guess what.
    My first guitar valve amp build wasn't a Champ. My second was though :)

    The onus is on the Dad for the main part, with plenty on the kid. How old is the kid?, what experience does Dad have?, does the kid have a basic grasp of what not to grasp?

    It could be a very pleasant bonding experience. One that both parties will remember fondly for years to come, with a workable spud of an amp that has a family story. Everybody starts somewhere. The best place is a text book.

    Know your enemy. In this case, getting zapped. Know how the enemy works, then work accordingly. I'd encourage it.
     
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