Building a Pedal Part 1

Thought it might be a nice idea to spread the love and provide a blow-by-blow account of building a pedal.

The first thing to do is choose a pedal to build. You can buy kits where a PCB and all the components are supplied and you just solder them together, but, hey, where’s the challenge in that? (Well, OK, it is a kind of challenge). But let’s go back to basics, and so here’s the criteria:

  • The circuit will be built using “vero” board, or strip board
  • Components will be sourced from various electronics components suppliers
  • It’ll fit inside of a metal enclosure like the Hammond 1590B
  • It will be relatively simple

The best site for this kind of thing is Guitar FX Layouts where you can find various layouts for all kinds of pedals.

I’ve decided to go for the Death By Audio Supersonic Fuzz Gun.

Here’s a video of it in action:


Going back to the Death By Audio Supersonic Fuzz Gun website the first thing I look for is the date and the tag “verified”. This layout was published 6 years ago to the day in 2012 and it’s tagged as “verified”. This means that it’s tried and tested and so any errors and tweaks should have been ironed out by now. That’s a good start.

So what have we got?

An image of a vero layout and some comments. That’s it!

I always read through the comments to see if there are any gotchas or problems that builders have encountered. Let’s list a few of those:

  • Some discussions around what transistors to use
  • Some discussions around some minor mods
  • Some build errors

So nothing serious. OK, let’s do it!

Here’s the layout:

The first image represents the front facing view of the vero board with all of its components and connections, while the second image represents the back of the vero board but still looking at it from the front (imagine you had x-ray vision). We’ll come back to this later. For now I’ll summarise what there is in the first image:

  • A small vero board measuring 20 x 9 holes (we measure in holes not size)
  • Some components – resistors, capacitors, and transistors
  • Some off-board connections – these are the connections to the power supply (“9V”, “Ground”), a switch (“Sw1”, “Sw2”, “Sw3”), a LED (“LED+”), “Input”, and some potentiometer controls (“Density 1 & 2”, “Density 3”, “Bias 3”, etc)

The three black components are transistors and they are labelled “Q1″, Q2”, and “Q3”. In the rubric it says “Q1 and Q2 are 2N5089, Q3 is 2N5306” – this tells us the types of transistors. The other components’ values are labelled directly in the vero layout, It also says “Switch is SPDT”, but more on that later.

So….I need to make a bill of materials from this layout. I’ll do that now:

Resistors (the cyan things):

2 x 180k
4x 910k
1x 10k
1x 2K2
1x 4M7
1x 750R

Capacitors – there are three types of capacitors here: ceramic (the light brown one), electrolytic (the blue ones) and the brownish red ones. These last ones can be polyester film caps. Here’s what I need:

1x 470pF ceramic
1x 10nF polyester
2x 100nF polyester
1x 330nF polyester
2x 4.7uF electrolytic
1x 100uF electrolytic

And the transistors:

2x 2N5089
1x 2N5306

The rubric lists the potentiometers:

1x 100k linear
1x 50k linear
1x 10k linear
1x 10k logarithmic
1x 100k logarithmic

Actually, that’s 5 potentiometers, or “pots”. I’m not sure these will fit in a 1590B sized enclosure. I’ll come back to that later. Also, the difference between “linear” and “logarithmic”.

There’s also mention of a “SPDT” switch. This stands for “Single Pole, Double Throw”. What does that mean? Fuck knows. I’ll come back to that later…

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