My thoughts on building effects

radiocaster

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I've been making stuff since the 1980s.

I built a couple of kits from PC boards. The boards were bigger and the traces too.

A decade or more later, I made a couple on perforated boards, but not like the new ones that have those copper eyelets. They were just boards with holes in them. Can you still get those? I haven't seen those in a long time.

I really enjoyed that and would like to make some like that again. You just connect the leads of the components and solder. A lot less that can go wrong. I still have a couple of boards, which I can saw to make smaller ones, but my supply is really limited.

Several years ago I started making effects with modern PC boards. Everything is much smaller. I eventually got a huge magnifying glass with lamp and started using solder for SMDs and am getting better at making those, but I really don't enjoy it. I especially hate troubleshooting them, although I don't mind troubleshooting amps.

Also the new boards are covered in an annoying goop which melts when overheated. They obviously do this so you don't get solder on other things when working in miniature like this, and also for industrial solder baths.

I do have a lot of PC boards I bought and I want to finish them. Kind of thinking quitting building that type of stuff after I'm done with them.
 

zippofan

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I've been building since Heathkit was around, I made my test equipment (scope, frequency counter, function generator) and my Hafler stereo (DH-110 preamp, tuner, XL280 power amp), plus mods from the old Audio Amateur magazine back in the 80's and 90's. I also made some perfboard circuits, the perfboards were from Radio Shack, as were the ideas (remember Forrest Mims' Engineer's Notebooks?) The hardest up til now was the Velleman digital tuner and Heathkit SW-101 shortwave receiver. I'd say the Aion Lab Series and Dimension C chorus pedal clones are nearly as complex.

The first pedal kit I built was a BYOC Rangemaster, and the RM circuit is still my favorite guitar circuit, since the BYOC I've built a bunch of variations plus a whole lot of other pedals. My friends wonder what I do with all of them, and a couple of former bandmates bought a few, but I don't build to sell. I'm slowing down now because I've built just about everything I've wanted to try. The latest challenge is 1590A's, I wanted to make all the classic dirt boxes in tiny enclosures, including the Rat, Big Muff, Klon, Rangemaster, and Tube Screamer, the TS is ready to wire now. I have a couple more A sized boards coming from FuzzDog, then I really need to get back to my Tweed Deluxe build, I only wired the heaters so far (third tube amp build/kit).

I've really enjoyed building these little boxes, I know I'll build more in the future, just nowhere near as many.
 

JuneauMike

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decade or more later, I made a couple on perforated boards, but not like the new ones that have those copper eyelets. They were just boards with holes in them. Can you still get those? I haven't seen those in a long time.

I really enjoyed that and would like to make some like that again. You just connect the leads of the components and solder. A lot less that can go wrong. I still have a couple of boards, which I can saw to make smaller ones, but my supply is really limited.

What kind of board is this? Do you just drill holes in it or does it have a screen print of a circuit? Curious.

I've only built from PCB boards so I don't know any better. Vero boards look like a headache. I just soldered my first SMD components this weekend and was surprised how easy it actually was. I'd love to do more of that in the future. It opens up great possibilities where space is at a premium.
 

radiocaster

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What kind of board is this? Do you just drill holes in it or does it have a screen print of a circuit? Curious.

I've only built from PCB boards so I don't know any better. Vero boards look like a headache. I just soldered my first SMD components this weekend and was surprised how easy it actually was. I'd love to do more of that in the future. It opens up great possibilities where space is at a premium.
No, they're boards with holes already in them, no traces, nothing. You put the components in whatever holes and connect them.

Like this
breadboard-100x160mm.jpg

except this is a new one, and has copper eyelets on one side at least, some new ones have them on both sides. Not sure if the above pic has the eyelets or it's the non-eyelet side, but the eyelets look like this:
protoboard-71x94mm.jpg

Personally I'm not crazy about the component wires touching all those metal parts, and the idea of soldering every bit of wire to the board would annoy me, but I did buy a couple of small boards and I might use them.

Or maybe I'll just stick the components on the side with the copper eyelets and connect them on the blank side.
 

WalthamMoosical

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I also started in the 80's, with (copperless) perfboard, making some Anderton EPFM devices. (I still have some of that stuff but I don't know if anyone still sells it.) But pretty quickly I switched to sharpie + dry transfer layouts and etching copper boards, which for larger circuits was overall an easier method. Now most of what I do is on PCBs ... did some Paia kits and now into BYOC. I've bought some strip board but haven't tried it yet.
 

chazo64

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What kind of board is this? Do you just drill holes in it or does it have a screen print of a circuit? Curious.

I've only built from PCB boards so I don't know any better. Vero boards look like a headache. I just soldered my first SMD components this weekend and was surprised how easy it actually was. I'd love to do more of that in the future. It opens up great possibilities where space is at a premium.
vero is simple you mark your cuts drill em put in your jumpers ,etc really easy to design your own all are good but give the vero a shot 20211019_105445.jpg
 

fraser

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Ive used the boards with the copper pads on one side-
I dont mind it. I just put the components on the blank side.

the plain boards without copper on them ive sourced from old electronic gear ive scavenged.
Sometimes youll find a fair sized board with very few components on them to remove.

vero is nice for more complex builds.
And theres a really large database of confirmed layout for it online, which is nice.
You need to be a bit more careful with your soldering and keep everything neat and clean tho.
 

radiocaster

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Perforated boards are good because you can place the components very close to how they are on the schematic, although you get some divergence when you use ICs. I wouldn't do a phaser, but for distortions and fuzzes it's great.

Vero boards with strips are a pain, you have to completely rethink the layout.
 

zippofan

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Excellent article on pedal building in the Jan Premier Guitar by Aisha Loe, covering the build of a test jig for rockin' before boxing, tool recommendations, and sites to find layouts, boards and some parts.
 

JuneauMike

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Excellent article on pedal building in the Jan Premier Guitar by Aisha Loe, covering the build of a test jig for rockin' before boxing, tool recommendations, and sites to find layouts, boards and some parts.
Got a link?
 

Nogoodnamesleft

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At least you're doing something.

I'm trained in electronics/EE stuff. I had ambitions in the early 90s to do a few music related projects. I thought about it a lot, and even made a few designs of my own circuits. But depression took over. Now I have an anxiety disorder that would probably go off the rails if I tried soldering in the house. I was even really good at soldering in post secondary anyway.

One year I tried to do something with prototyping a synthesizer idea I had. Mouser sent me the wrong components (I ordered a bunch of LM13700 transconductance op-amps and they shipped some quad op-amp or other in the wrong quantity too - they must have mixed up bags in shipping so someone somewhere got a good deal). I never even bothered to contact them or get replacements. I think that's about all the discouragement I needed to go have a nap instead.

I bought an Arduino kit thinking that would be fun but it has stayed in the box for the last 4 years unopened.

So, to anyone who manages to actually follow through, kudos - whether quitting or just getting started.
 

zippofan

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At least you're doing something.

I'm trained in electronics/EE stuff. I had ambitions in the early 90s to do a few music related projects. I thought about it a lot, and even made a few designs of my own circuits. But depression took over. Now I have an anxiety disorder that would probably go off the rails if I tried soldering in the house. I was even really good at soldering in post secondary anyway.

One year I tried to do something with prototyping a synthesizer idea I had. Mouser sent me the wrong components (I ordered a bunch of LM13700 transconductance op-amps and they shipped some quad op-amp or other in the wrong quantity too - they must have mixed up bags in shipping so someone somewhere got a good deal). I never even bothered to contact them or get replacements. I think that's about all the discouragement I needed to go have a nap instead.

I bought an Arduino kit thinking that would be fun but it has stayed in the box for the last 4 years unopened.

So, to anyone who manages to actually follow through, kudos - whether quitting or just getting started.

The best thing I did with regards to pedal building was just to do it. I was anxious about making them work, making them look cool, and even though I am not selling, to be as perfect as possible. I was an EE major for a year and a half, I hate math so being an engineer was out of the picture. I've always messed with electronics though and learned enough from a couple college intro courses and a correspondence course (remember those?!?) in communication electronics to work in an electronics shop repairing comm equipment.

When I left there I kept fooling around with kits and mods (Hafler stereo, Audio Amateur articles etc) until my boys were born. When I wanted to start building stuff again I bought a simple BYOC Rangemaster kit to start, it had been about 10 years since I last built anything, and I finished with a crappy paint and decal job but it worked and sounded great. I refinished it a couple years ago and now it looks almost as good as it sounds.

The scariest part of pedal building for me is drilling holes in aluminum boxes with a hand drill. I should have a drill press but I never figured I'd build as many as I have. I have a few more PCB's I want to make, but I've been procrastinating on a Tweed Deluxe kit for over a year as high voltage gives me pause. I've been shocked by tube amps ('66 Bassman, repairing the power supply), transmitting equipment (RF burns really hurt), TV flyback transformers (father-in-law is an old time TV repairman) and I've built two other tube amps, one PCB the other point to point, so the Tweed shouldn't be any different. It's going to be the winter project since no lacquering pedal decals inside.

A boost kit is a great first pedal project! There are a few including BYOC, FuzzDog, Jeds Peds, MOD to choose from.
 

JuneauMike

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zippofan

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I had wanted to build the Beavis board, but I have a couple little breadboards for messing around. I'm extremely guilty of boxing before testing and have had to take them all back apart again to troubleshoot!
 

loopfinding

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aren't the copper-less ones just for wire wrap and not soldering? that would give me the heebie jeebies of stuff just floating around if you're soldering.

what i do with the copper perfboards is first lay the circuit out in KiCad on a 100 mil grid (the spacing of the perfboard), or get someone's perf layout with spaced traces. then i tape the printed out board to the perf, all lined up. then i cut the traces on the paper out with a razor blade, and mark them on the actual board with sharpie (i guess you could use something a little less toxic than a sharpie for marking the traces, haha). then when it's time to put the components in, i don't cut the component legs, i use the legs as "traces" of the board that i routed, tacking them down at various points.

kind of like this:

thermostat_solder_400x323.jpg


it all takes a little longer, but it has a few benefits: a) the circuit probably won't fall apart, because the legs are still holding everything and tacked to various points even if other points lift, b) i can actually use designators and know where everything is on the board for troubleshooting, and c) if i really like the circuit, i can just send the gerbers of the board to china and have a real board - especially cause i lay them out with 9mm board mounted pots so they're just drop in/secured to chassis at the final assembly.
 
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