SteveF's Pedal Building Journey

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So I thought I would stop hijacking @philtre 's thread and start my own for my pedal building stuff.  

I got some stuff together over the last couple of days and I'm ready to get started.  I've gone down a slightly different route from Phil and started off with a couple of PCB kits from FuzzDog.  To get my soldering hand back in, since I haven't soldered anything more than a pickup swap in years, I thought I'd start with something very simple, so I have knocked up a little tester to allow me to power, switch and get a signal in and out of builds.  

And here it is: 





I forgotten just how fiddly soldering small parts on a PCB could be.  The strip connector at the front is for connecting ribbon cable from FuzzDog direct connect compatible kits, whereas I can use the blue terminals to attach wires from other builds.  The obvious downside of this setup compared to Phil's breadboard system is that there's no pots, so I either have to attach the pots first or double this with a breadboard for pots.   

Nothing exciting so far - next up will be a pedal circuit.  Another PCB kit from FuzzDog. 
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  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 2888
    If you’re finding parts fiddly to keep in place a small blob of blu tac or piece of masking tape is handy to hold things where you want until they’be been soldered in place.

    I connect the pots before testing too especially if you’re building a fuzzdog kit you’ll have pcb mount pots so super easy to install and difficult to get wrong vs pots on vero builds. 
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  • PhiltrePhiltre Frets: 730
    This is great. :-)

    One advantage of the FD tester board that my breadboard tester doesn't have is the stomp switch. I recently finished a pedal build where it was popping when the stomp was switched on and off. Turned out that the output cap was the wrong way around on the layout diagram and I had to swap a cap out. The FD tester board would have caught that before I'd boxed it.

    At some point I want to build a pedal kit with PCB mounted pots, but I'm nervous about lining up the pots with the drilled holes in the enclosure, so I'd appreciate any tips on that.
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Adam_MD said:
    If you’re finding parts fiddly to keep in place a small blob of blu tac or piece of masking tape is handy to hold things where you want until they’be been soldered in place.

    I connect the pots before testing too especially if you’re building a fuzzdog kit you’ll have pcb mount pots so super easy to install and difficult to get wrong vs pots on vero builds. 
    Yep, didn't have any blu tac, so the masking tape has been out already! :) 

    I will be connecting the pots on these kits first, since they are PCB mounted.  I quite like the idea of trying the trim pot/breadboard thing for future Vero builds so I can experiment with different pot values etc. :) 
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191

    Philtre said:
    This is great. :-)

    One advantage of the FD tester board that my breadboard tester doesn't have is the stomp switch. I recently finished a pedal build where it was popping when the stomp was switched on and off. Turned out that the output cap was the wrong way around on the layout diagram and I had to swap a cap out. The FD tester board would have caught that before I'd boxed it.

    At some point I want to build a pedal kit with PCB mounted pots, but I'm nervous about lining up the pots with the drilled holes in the enclosure, so I'd appreciate any tips on that.
    I was a bit worried about that too, but the included Hammond enclosures came predrilled.  The FD kits have a drill template in the instructions but not sure how good it is.  
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  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 2888
    edited April 6
    Fuzzdog’s drill temps are really accurate so you won’t have any problems.  I use his measurements when I’m making my decal once the decal is made I remove the images etc so I have my drill template that way the decal and template will be exactly the same.

    As to lining up pots/switches etc I drill my enclosure



     Put my pots and switches in and tighten them down on the top of the enclosure 




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  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 2888
    Carefully line the pcb on top of everything and check that it’s level then solder one pin of every pot that way you can take the whole thing out as one piece and make sure you’re happy with the fit in the enclosure and if it’s level or not etc.  If you’re not happy it’s easy to reflow the solder on a pin to move the pot about until it’s where you want it to be then just solder the rest of the pins and you’re golden.  


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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Nice! :+1: presumably that only works with a symmetrical layout as it will be flipped?
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  • PhiltrePhiltre Frets: 730
    SteveF said:
    Nice! :+1: presumably that only works with a symmetrical layout as it will be flipped?
    I was just typing in the exact same question. ;-)
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  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 2888
    edited April 6
    Yes but I think I’ve only made 1 or 2 pedals which weren’t symmetrical.  With those I put holes in a cardboard box from the drill template the correct way round and did it that way.

    Hopefully that makes sense.  
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Adam_MD said:

    Hopefully that makes sense.  
    Definitely :) Saves my probable trial and error approach! :lol: 

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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Got a bit more done today before I was dragged away by Mrs F.  Started working on one of my FuzzDog kits, a very simple boost circuit they call the Boner Boost.  Here's the schematic: 




    I got the main part of the board put together: 





    Hooked it up to my little test setup, attached the battery, plugged in the guitar and connected it to my amp, and... It didn't work! :anguished: 

    A condor moment and a quick check revealed that I had the board 'upside down', i.e. I had connected the ribbon cable to the test rig backwards, so the V and G terminals were reversed, so I switched it round and YAY it works!  I only had it plugged into my little Blackstar Fly 3 battery amp as it was handy to have on the table, but this thing seems to have a lot of gain.    Looking forward to getting it all wired up properly and having a go in my proper amps - I reckon it would work ok as a clean boost, but would also break up an amp nicely. I'll report back once it's all finished.  

    I'm not going to bother finishing the enclosure just yet - this is a pretty basic circuit and I'm undecided whether I will keep it as yet so didn't want to 'waste' an enclosure that I could use for a better build.  That said, if I do like it, I can always dismantle it and finish the enclosure another time. 

    I've also started wiring up the switching daughterboard and started wiring it into the enclosure but haven't got pics of that yet.  Hopefully get this one finished tomorrow :)  Really finding this enjoyable and a great way to pass time.

    I was also pleasantly interrupted by various posties and couriers throughout the day bringing me all sorts of goodies from bits box, RS and CPC.  Got plenty to be getting on with over the coming days and weeks.  Keeping an eye out for a code for Tayda too, so would appreciate a shout if anyone sees one pop up in case I miss it. 
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  • ThorpyFXThorpyFX Frets: 4164
    SteveF said:
    So I thought I would stop hijacking @philtre 's thread and start my own for my pedal building stuff.  

    I got some stuff together over the last couple of days and I'm ready to get started.  I've gone down a slightly different route from Phil and started off with a couple of PCB kits from FuzzDog.  To get my soldering hand back in, since I haven't soldered anything more than a pickup swap in years, I thought I'd start with something very simple, so I have knocked up a little tester to allow me to power, switch and get a signal in and out of builds.  

    And here it is: 





    I forgotten just how fiddly soldering small parts on a PCB could be.  The strip connector at the front is for connecting ribbon cable from FuzzDog direct connect compatible kits, whereas I can use the blue terminals to attach wires from other builds.  The obvious downside of this setup compared to Phil's breadboard system is that there's no pots, so I either have to attach the pots first or double this with a breadboard for pots.   

    Nothing exciting so far - next up will be a pedal circuit.  Another PCB kit from FuzzDog. 
    top tip for the tester board. Put it in an enclosure, get some quality wire for each of the connections and drill four holes in the enclosure top run the wires through the hole and into the screw connectors. Then take the the four "antenna" add solder 4 crocodile clips to them. label the top of the enclosure and you have a screw less tester pedal that is more robust than having the PCB floating around.
    Adrian Thorpe MBE | Owner of ThorpyFx Ltd | Email: thorpy@thorpyfx.com | Twitter: @ThorpyFx | Facebook: ThorpyFx Ltd | Website: www.thorpyfx.com
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Sounds like a plan :) I had been thinking about putting it in an enclosure but hadn't worked out the best way to do the test leads. 
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  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 2888
    Looks good @SteveF I like the SHO it’s an excellent boost circuit and super simple.
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  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 2888

    ThorpyFX said:
    top tip for the tester board. Put it in an enclosure, get some quality wire for each of the connections and drill four holes in the enclosure top run the wires through the hole and into the screw connectors. Then take the the four "antenna" add solder 4 crocodile clips to them. label the top of the enclosure and you have a screw less tester pedal that is more robust than having the PCB floating around.
     Very sensible tip.  My test box is pretty battered looking now after a few years of being used and abused but still going strong.




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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Nice, will definitely box it up at some point. :) 
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  • PhiltrePhiltre Frets: 730
    edited April 6
    Sounds like you had a good day @SteveF

    Tayda enclosures work at at just under £4 a pop, so you could "waste" a couple of those if needed. My last one was light blue, but I messed up the Envirotex mix and had to scrape it all off and sand it down. A quick respray with a can of Halfords "Kia White" car spray and I was back in the game.

    Tayda just had a 15% discount code finishing on 2nd April. Reckon they'll do another before the month's out. I'll keep an eye out for you.

    BTW - I've learnt more from my cock-ups than when things went perfectly. ;-)
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Quick one on finishing the boxes - for the couple that I have that have come unfinished - If I'm going to spray them, can I just spray some primer straight on, then paint and clear coat or do I need to do anything to the metal first?  I'm not even sure I have bought the right stuff to be honest, I got some Plasti-kote spray paint stuff from Amazon.  I think I'll just be ordering finished boxes from now on with the base colour already on and going from there. 
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  • PhiltrePhiltre Frets: 730
    Primer than a few light coats of paint. Then use clear coat or ET as you prefer. I started with aluminium boxes and spraying them but it's just not worth it. I know @Adam_MD will agree.
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  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 2888
    Philtre said:
    Primer than a few light coats of paint. Then use clear coat or ET as you prefer. I started with aluminium boxes and spraying them but it's just not worth it. I know @Adam_MD will agree.
    100% if you compare the cost of the bare enclosure, paint, primer and the time it takes you to prep then paint a bunch of light coats and sand and spray etc it makes pre powder coated enclosures totally worth the small upcharge.

    Just going off bitsbox prices a bare 1590b is £7.90

    https://www.bitsbox.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=185_187&products_id=2070

    Whereas a red powder coated enclosure is only £11.33

    https://www.bitsbox.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=185_187&products_id=2133

    Unless you particularly like the painting process it’s just not worth it IMO.

    If you want something a bit special head over to Banzai who have a ton of different colours for about £11 each though it’s worth buying a few at a time as postage is about £7 or £8.

    https://www.banzaimusic.com/Enclosure-B-Antique-Gold-Bulk.html

    And my personal favourites black sparkle and vintage orange sparkle
    https://www.banzaimusic.com/Enclosure-B-Black-Sparkle-Bulk.html

    https://www.banzaimusic.com/Enclosure-B-Vintage-Orange-Sparkle-Bulk.html


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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 4764
    I’ve always sanded down aluminium boxes before painting with primer. Then a quick wipe with IPA (isopropyl alcohol, not the beer) to get rid of any greasy fingerprints.
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Philtre said:
    Primer than a few light coats of paint. Then use clear coat or ET as you prefer. I started with aluminium boxes and spraying them but it's just not worth it. I know @Adam_MD will agree.
    I agree already! :lol:  The FuzzDog kits I bought came with a bare enclosure before I spotted finished ones on other websites.  I have already got a couple of powder coated ones for my first two Vero builds.  I think I'll stock up from Tayda or somewhere when I put an order in. 
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    So, I finished this off this morning, or so I thought... 

    Here's a pic of the guts and some, er, temporary graphics... 







    Hooked it all up with my amp to test and it's great, works fantastically as a boost with the expected crackle on turning the knob (transistor rebiasing?) but the LED is always on. :confounded: 

    I'm sure I've just done something stupidly simple. 
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  • PhiltrePhiltre Frets: 730
    edited April 7
    I assume the board attached to the stomp has connections that break from +V to the CLR? Is the stomp on the right way round?

    Edit - maybe the wire coming from the main board to the LED pad should be the other pad? LED right way around as well?
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Philtre said:
    I assume the board attached to the stomp has connections that break from +V to the CLR? Is the stomp on the right way round?
    As far as I can tell.  The instructions said pins to be horizontal and everything else working as it should.  Although my fault finding was momentarily complicated until I realised that the LED failed as well. 

    Philtre said:

    Edit - maybe the wire coming from the main board to the LED pad should be the other pad? LED right way around as well?
    Nope definitely that one.  That's coming from the CLR to the +ve of the LED.  The -ve side of the LED should be switched out as far as I can tell. 

    The switch does this: 



    So in the upper position, the first column connects the input to the boost circuit, the second column connects the boost circuit to the output and the third column connects the LED -ve to ground. 

    In the lower position, the first and third columns connect the boost circuit straight to ground and the middle column connects the input straight to output.  The LED should have no -ve at this point but it does.  I have somehow shorted the top right and middle right pins of the switch, which remain connected regardless of the switch position. I suspect a solder connection underneath the switch daughterboard. The way the switch tags come through the board leave a fair amount of space, so I think I probably filled the void with too much solder. 

    A pic of the daughterboard atop the switch from my other kit so you can see what I mean.  



    I guess I'll desolder the switch so I can get under it to clean it up and replace the LED. 

    As an aside, the pedal sounds great.  :lol:

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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Like you say though - mistakes help you learn.  I now know exactly what the FD 3PDT switching daughterboard is doing :lol: 
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  • PhiltrePhiltre Frets: 730
    If the LED has blown did it get wired not connected to the CLR? The CLR is on the main board, right?
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    Philtre said:
    If the LED has blown did it get wired not connected to the CLR? The CLR is on the main board, right?
    Yes it is and it was connected to the CLR, the +ve wire is coming direct from the CLR to the LED.

    The LED was fine to begin with for 20 mins of playing, I'm not sure how it failed.  Would wiring it up backwards break it?  I used a new battery clip when I started doing the faultfinding which is wired to a power adaptor type plug but I didn't realise it was +ve centred instead of negative until nothing was working! :lol: While testing I've been using another one croc clipped to the legs and it has been working fine.  If wiring it backwards wouldn't do it then no idea! 
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 191
    edited April 7


    Sure enough... 

    So I managed to wreck the little board taking it off (oops), but the boost circuit itself is fine so I'll just take the opportunity to practice wiring it up normally.  
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  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 2888
    I have some of those fuzzdog 3pdt boards I’m never going to use if you want another one @SteveF?  If you let me know I can pop it in the post for you today I’m going to post some pedals around 5 so I’ll be there anyway.  
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