Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tone Machine

Hey Guys,
     If you read my WIP post then you are up to date on this, If not here is a short version. Here is a Foxx Tone Machine clone I did for the Madbeans Build of the Year contest. The layout of the PCB was done by Brian at Madbeans and I did the Etched face plate and art work. I love the way this thing sounds! It's very responsive to dynamics and the Octave switch makes it that much funner. Let just be honest here octave fuzzes are the best!!!! Anyways here are some pictures for you to gawk at...haha enjoy.

Hope you guys liked it! I'll post a you tube video soon. Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

BOTY contest build

Hey guys,
     On "the forum" (madbeans) they do a Build of the Year contest. I have 2 projects in the works that I could potentially enter. The first is a collaboration with DMINNER from the forum (see Sonic Nebulizer for reference) and the second is a Foxx Tone Machine that I started working on. The other night before I started populating the board I took pictures of the board and then more throughout the process. So think of this as an Instructional / Work in progress blog post. Here we go.

Step 1:

Here is a picture of the board an build doc. Brian at Madbeans has some of the best most comprehensive build documents that I have ever worked with. I have recently decided to print the build info to use as reference while working n the board. This helps me mark up and make notes on the build during the process. I also grab the enclosure that I plan on using for the build, This gives me an idea for the "art" and size build I am planning.

Doc / Board / Enclosure

Step 2:

Next I read the doc and start to populate the board. There is an order to my madness. I start with the resistors the move on to the Diodes and caps. After I put the parts in place I put a notch on the doc next to the location, rinse and repeat. I do this up until I have the board populated with all the parts. Here are some pictures of that process.

Populated Resistors
Resistors and Diodes

Added Capacitors and Sockets for Transistors

Fully populated with Transistors

Now its time to install the pots and switch. This is an older layout and is not set up for PCB mounted pots so i will have to do some off board wiring, (shudder). I'm not a big fan of off board wiring but i think I have it down to a science at this point. I used to build a lot with strip / vero board when i was first starting out and there is no such thing as PCB mounted pots when it comes to vero. What I do is tin the Lugs of the pots and switch. Then I tin both ends of the wire and solder the wire to the pot or switch. I use a small vice I got from HFT to hold the pot or switch while I solder the wire to it. Here are some pictures to help you understand.

Well that's all I have for now. I'll be updating this probably every weekend until the build is done. Thanks for reading


Update #1

So after getting the board together and ready to test it was about 1:30 am. Needless to say I let it wait until the next time i was in the workshop. I recently went down (last night) and was able to test the board...It didn't work. This is the case more than I would like to admit. I tried the usual check the transistors and diodes, then re-flow the solder and check for solder bridges. Nothing is really sticking out at me either, I tried all the tricks up my sleeve and still couldn't get it to work properly. SO i did what any other Tech would do in my shoes, I ordered a production board lolz. I'm up against a clock here and don't want to miss out on the contest.

So instead of working on the board I decided to finish up the art and hammer out a final layout. Usually with this contest  I try to incorporate a "First" for me. This year its an Etched face plate. These when done right can look VERY professional. I think I nailed it too. I did a 2 tone etched face plate. this means there are 2 colors aside from the color of the PCB there are 2 other colors (so 3 total). I did it on black PCB and used liquid tin to get the silver color on there. I had to tape the PCB after it was etched to paint the liquid tin on but in the end it came out awesome. Here is a picture of what the art looked like in the software before I transferred it to the pcb.

I do use a fairly common program for my art work. Believe it or not I use Power Point. The Image scaling and alignment tools are wonderful. I also don't have the time or patience to learn such an in depth program like Photoshop or Gimp. What I use it for Power point works just fine. Below is a picture of the just about finished face plate. You can see where i painted the liquid tin (the silver letters an boxes) and where the copper was etched away reveling the black PCB material.

Hope you enjoyed the update. I will check back again soon with either the working board i etched or the working fabbed board. Thanks for reading guys!



Hello again,

I've made a ton of progress on this. At first i couldn't get the circuit to work correctly so I ordered a PCB from Madbeans. Then the Madbeans fabricated one didn't work. So I started testing and replacing parts. After a while I figured out that instead of the 100K resistors that the circuit calls for there were 100 ohm resistors in there. One of my parts suppliers must have sent them in error. Oh well lesson learned.

Now that the board was squared away it was time to finally start working on the enclosure. This is the first faceplate I have done so I was still trying to figure out how to affix it to the enclosure. I needed to do this in order to clear coat the whole thing together. So in the meantime I'll drill. What I do every time I build a pedal it print the artwork and use it as a drill template. This method leaves very little confusion. Then as I drill I test fit each component with the corresponding hole. With this one I used an irregular drill patter for the pots and knobs. So this means i had to measure and mark the enclose where the in and out jacks were going to go. It's a bit of a process but in the end, if you take your time then it will come out looking good.

I also decided that while i was drilling I would throw a couple layers of clear coat on the face plate. I use just the Ace Hardware quick drying Lacquer. This stuff works great and I always a nice even finish. Here are a bunch pictures for you.

First I print the artwork again and sized it to the face plate.Then I tapped it onto the enclosure with 3M blue painters tape.

Then I use a center punch to mark the holes i need to drill. There are 7 holes in the face of the pedal, 2 holes in the top for the Input and Output jacks, and one in the right side for the DC jack. The weird looking drill bit below is called a "stepper bit". I works amazingly well for cutting nice smooth holes in aluminium. I use this one for bigger components (like stomp switches and larger DC jacks) and a smaller one for pilot holes and smaller components ( such as LEDs and toggle switches).

This is a picture of a "Test fit". So this is what it will look like with all the components installed. Non of these are actually connected inside, I just put extra parts in there to get a feel of how it will look. once it is all together.

 Here is a picture showing you what I use for clear coat. I have a pretty ghetto set up. It is a Webber grease try tin on a box with a plastic cake lid to protect the stuff I paint / clear coat from dust. It works pretty well so I have no need for a fancy painting system.

This is what the face plate looks like after 2 layers of clear coat. NICE!!!

More to come soon guys. Thanks for reading.



More progress made!!! YAY! I affixed the face plate to the enclosure with a very thin layer of epoxy. they applied one final layer of clear coat and let it dry. Once it was dry I started to box it up here is some of the process.

I decided to use an optical bypass board on this build. It eliminates any popping that might happen with a 3pdt bypass switch. The optical bypass uses a DPDT switch and an optocoupler to shunt the pop.

Here is the face plate on the enclosure. There are 2 LED bezels on there but other than that nothing else is in place yet

This is how I start the wiring process (which I hate). I leave the switch board unattached and wire the DC and audio jacks to it then I mount it to the enclosure. It makes it a little easierer but not much.

This is a final gut shot. I will post the face once I get the knobs for it. They are on their way to me now. I hope I get them in time....

Thanks for reading again. I'll do a final build report once it is done.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Welcome to the BROCK!

GET IT! haha! Because Venom's name is Eddie Brock...alright enough comic nerdum.

     Anyways, Here is the Symbiote Fuzz. This is a Fuzz Factory clone that Guitar PCB did. To be totally honest I'm not a huge fan of the layout. The holes for the pot to wire to were too small and close together. This made for lots of off board wiring and cussing. The board is also a bit of a weird size and I had to wedge it in between the switch and the DC jack, Not my favorite but it fit. All in all if I do another one of these I will either use Madbeans Zombi board or design my own. The functionality of the board is exactly the same as a Fuzz Factory and sounds very similar. The controls are as follows:

VOL: Controls the overall volume of the effect

GATE; Squeal control, Think of this as a Noise Gate control

COMP: This kind of compresses the tone. Left for fat right for thin

DRIVE: This is a distortion control. It adds another level of spatter / HATE to the sound.

STAB: This controls the stability of the fuzz. usually pegged and never touched after that.

Many Fuzz fans don't like the Fuzz Factory. This is mainly because the pedal is very squealy if you don't have it set right. I for one like the squealy nightmare like sounds. I will post a video with a few good settings. For now you will just have to enjoy the pictures. Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wu-Tang Clan is for the KIDS!!!

Hey Everyone,
     Here is the Rumble Fuzz! This is a rendition of the "Bumble Buzz" by Jack Whites record label. I did quite a bit of research on this and discovered that the Bumble Buzz is actually a clone of the Kay Fuzztone. The Kay Fuzztone is a vintage circuit that has been duplicated time and time again. Originally it was built in an expression pedal that allowed you to adjust the fuzz level with you foot and adjust the volume level on the side of the enclosure. The circuit has been modified to have anywhere from 4 -1 knobs. This version has "1" knob. I put the 1 in parenthesis because there are actually no knobs. I modified it to have a volume control inside the pedal as a trim pot. My customer wanted a similar pedal to the Jack White one. Jacks pedal has no knobs so this was my solution.
     The Fuzz effect is pretty cool on this pedal. It works well with other pedals and alone. The fuzz by its self is a bit crackly sounding, much like a vintage fuzz would be, and when paired with a distortion it gets pretty thick and spattery. Not quite as spatery as a fuzz factory but still pretty nice. I also noticed that it reacts well with the pickups of the guitar. In the demo I played my Schecter through it but i'm sure using other guitars with single coils or even nicer pickups it would have a very different feel.
      The art and layout were done by me. I grabbed the Wu-Tang bee from a google search and then did the layout on the computer (as I normally do). The enclosure is a stock painted 1590B I got from Hammond. To be honest the quality wasn't what I expected coming directly from Hammond. There was a bit of over spray on the edge where the bottom plate goes on and I had to cut it off with a razor. Once i did that it was fine though. I've been using a new clear coat lately, it's a lacquer finish. It seems to go on a bit more even than the typical rattle can acrylic spray. It also dries a lot faster. Well here are some pictures. I'll post a video demo soon.

Video Time!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Echo Base This is Star FOX

Hey Guys,
     Here is another one I've been working on for a while now. This is a MUSICPCB.com Echobase. It is a hyper filtered hi res delay pedal. There are 2 toggle switches the one under the "speed" and "depth" turns on the modulation feature. This gives the pedal a "fluid" of chorus effect. The other toggle switch turns on the "tails" feature. This will allow the repeats to finish out even if the pedal it turned off. I did the art layout on this one. I've been going back and forth on it for a while and stuck with the original idea I had. Hope you enjoy it.

Video Coming Soon!