Where to start?

Discussion in 'Burnt Fingers DIY Effects' started by INeedATeleCaste, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. INeedATeleCaste

    INeedATeleCaste TDPRI Member

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    So I've recently began wanting to learn more about effects and stompbox making, but I have no idea where to start on learning about circuit boards and what effects the effect. So I decided to come here and ask you where you got your beginnings and to maybe list some of materials and stuff that was useful for you when you were first starting out. Thank, Peace, and Love.
     
  2. Lunchie

    Lunchie Poster Extraordinaire

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    I am in the same boat. I got the stuff to make a Beavis Board http://www.beavisaudio.com/bboard/ There is a diagram of the stomp box on the site. It looks incredibly useful for testing circuits and playing around with components.

    From there its just a matter of figuring out what you want to build and source the parts. Here are some sites I have found useful so far for diagrams and information.

    http://runoffgroove.com/
    http://www.home-wrecker.com/articles.html
    http://tagboardeffects.blogspot.ca/2012/09/vero-layout-guide.html
    http://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/

    As far as sourcing parts I have been mainly using BYOC for resistors, its like $4 for 200. I have been buying the rest off of ebay in bulk at the moment. Some other sites for components

    http://www.digikey.com/
    http://www.mouser.com/

    If you have experience in soldering it would be best to start off with small easy builds like boosts and fuzz's.

    I am interested in seeing what sites and information others will suggest...
     
  3. kromanomo

    kromanomo Tele-Afflicted

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  4. limbe

    limbe Tele-Afflicted

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    I will always advise anybody who wants to know how to build effect pedals and how they work to buy Craig Andertons book Electronic Projects For Musicians.
     
  5. poiureza

    poiureza Tele-Holic

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    There's a lot to learn.

    My best advise is to learn to the physics of the circuit, not simply use it as a black box like here.
    While the approach in the link is very nice and useful, it only explains HOW it works, not WHY it works.


    Start with learning to read schematics (trust me it's fairly easy), then dig into the components.
    Schematics are all over the place in Google land.

    Most OD circuits (I'm sure you don't want to begin with time FX pedals) mostly involve resistors and capacitors. Their main reason of being is to tune the heart of every OD pedal : a transistor (BJT, JFET, MOSFET, OP amp ... whatever)
    This component (common in every single OD pedal) is the tricky part.
    The best ressource I've found so far is here
    There are also other very informative chapters in the above link.

    You'll have to Google a bit when you encounter a term or component that you don't understand.
    Wikipedia also has useful information regarding cuircuits.

    My second best advise is to focus on ONE type of circuit (or even one specific pedal) when you start.
    I suggest you start with the EHX LPB-1 schematic, it doesn't get simpler.
    There's a myriad of things to learn and you get easily lost when you head in all directions.

    The learning curve gets pretty smooth after the first steps (Ohm's law etc).


    Once you think you're ready for the next step, get a circuit simulator software. Best I've found is here.
    (well not the best actually, but the easiest for starters).
    Play around with components and values and watch the output signal.

    THEN, when you're ready in a couple weeks/months, get a solderless breadboard ($2), some components, wire the thing up and test drive it.
    Max cost for this step (look back, everything up to now was free) is below $20 if you buy cheap.

    THEN, when you're done breadboarding, buy a soldering station and get on it with either a verobard, a stripboard or (ultimate step) etch your own PCB and populate it.


    Either all the above or just get a used DS-1, replace one resistor value and pretend you're a booteek genius.


    PS : The Beavis board looks like an ideal starter package provided it isn't more expensive than sourcing separate parts on your own.
    Now sourcing components IS part of the fun ...
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
  6. seventyeight

    seventyeight Tele-Meister

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    This is awesome advice, all of it.

    I'm in the same position. I found Tonefiend a great help so far...

    http://tonefiend.com/tonefiend-diy-club-projects-resources/

    This DIY forum...

    http://www.ilovefuzz.com/

    And, believe it or not, the Electronics for Dummies book.

    The guys here have also been a great help, answering all my questions. Just get stuck in and get your hands dirty, it's fun if nothing else.
     
  7. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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  8. Lunchie

    Lunchie Poster Extraordinaire

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    I bookmarked everything everyone posted to read at a later time. This is a good thread for the noobs :D
     
  9. Jefe

    Jefe Tele-Afflicted

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    With all due respect, I don't think this is necessarily a good approach to learning how to build pedals. I'm pretty much a "paint by numbers" builder when it comes to the circuitry. I'm terrible with hardcore electronic theory, and yet I am able to build nice, custom tailored pedals. I don't know a thing about the 'how' or 'why' things work, but I know they work. Not everyone is good at understanding electronic theory, and you really don't need to know the theory in order to get started building pedals. If you're interested, you can always learn the theory as you go, or learn it later. Personally, theory to me is like a foreign language, and it bores me to tears.

    If someone has no experience with soldering, and likewise no experience with metal machining, I'd recommend a kit. I have never purchased from either of these companies (I prefer to source everything myself), but they both appear to offer nice kits (and the forum at BYOC is great, just a great community):
    http://buildyourownclone.com/
    http://www.mammothelectronics.com/Guitar-Effect-Pedal-Kit-s/117.htm
     
  10. poiureza

    poiureza Tele-Holic

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    No prob, I understand and totally respect your approach. It's all good.

    I admit my post was about what makes me happy. My excitement and satisfaction comes from understanding and predictings things, probably more so than the actual built. An intellectual rather than material satisfaction if you will.

    Not everyone has to feel that way obviously and I should have given my advice without pushing in that direction.
     
  11. Jefe

    Jefe Tele-Afflicted

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    I can understand that. A lot of the guys on the BYOC and DIYstompbox forums are seriously in to the theory side of things - and obviously, without guys like them (and you), no one would ever invent new circuits, modify existing circuits, etc. I have a tremendous amount of respect for electrical engineers, and anyone who can grasp electronic theory. I'm not one of those people :oops: BUT, I can still manage to build some nice pedals, based on what others have already done before me.
     
  12. limbe

    limbe Tele-Afflicted

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    I agree with poiureza that you learn much more from building a simple circuit like a booster or a buffer than from doing a simple mod (which could go wrong,destroy an expensive pedal and discourage the modder from a fine hobby "Obviously,this isn´t for me")
    To be able to solder good is a must.There is no way around it.
    If you haven´t used a soldering iron before I think you should practise with a veroboard, a perforated board or a circuitboard from something that is discarded ....Get hold of a bunch of resistors or wire and practice,practice and practice.If you take a course,even better.Learn to recognize a resistor and learn the color code that shows the value.For capacitors,learn the markings µF,nanoF and picoF and the relationship.(Sounds easy,but is necessary.)You´ll learn as you go along and there are forums where no question is too stupid as long as you ask politely.(Personally I hate :"Teach me about" questions) and it is a joy to sometimes see a bunch of guys almost climbing over each other trying to help someone who has a problem,is willing to do as much as he can himself, getting the help he needs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  13. kromanomo

    kromanomo Tele-Afflicted

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    I've been dying to do the cigar box amp workshop. Most of us in NYC do not have cars so I have to wait. I'm getting one soon, then I will sign-up right away.
     
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