What is a good beginner's project?

Ok, you got your soldering iron and nothing is going to hold you back, but you have no clue where to start or what to build. There were others before you with the same questions... read them first.

can anyone help me learn a little about this stuff?

Postby nosignal » 08 Jan 2008, 15:40

hi, i figured all of you would be able to help me with my questions. I've built 4 byoc pedals and I've really enjoyed doing it, but I've been wanting to learn how to understand the schematics and how to lay out my own circuit board, basically i want to learn how to build a pedal completely by myself. can anyone give me some help or directions on how to read and layout schematics. id like to start with a pretty simple schematic, I'm not sure what kind of circuit it would be, but id like some help.

thanks a bunch!
eric
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Postby madbean » 08 Jan 2008, 16:30

There's really two elements to what you are asking. Being able to read a schematic (which takes almost no time to learn) and understanding what it means (well, this takes a bit longer).

For the first part, almost any beginning electronics book, or book specifically about learning how to read schematics will suffice. It will probably take you an hour to read and just a few days of practice to get up to speed.

Understanding what schematics represent takes some more work. That comes down to recognizing patterns. And the patterns are usually broken into groups like,

1) Resistor/Capacitor Filtering: tone shaping and power supply filtering.
2) Decoupling: putting on the electrical "brakes" between different groups in your circuit.
3) Gain stages: using transistors with bias and emitter resistors or opamps with feedback resistors
4) Other signal shapers: such as diodes, which create overdrive or distortion depending on how you use them in your circuit.

Once you master recognizing these patterns you are well on your way to understanding a lot about effects. But, that's just the beginning, of course.

Anyway, try googling "Cook Your Own Distortion" or purchasing Indyguitarist's Advanced Effects Building e-book. It will save you some time and frustration.
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Postby LMJS » 08 Jan 2008, 21:32

I am in the same boat. MadBean hits it right square on the noggin.
I bought the Wampler e-book he mentioned and two of Jack Orman's e-books and for the money I think it was well spent. Both guys write specifically about pedals and both are great technical writers and very good at post-purchase support. That counts a lot these days IMHO.

I really enjoy Dano's stuff (Uncle Beavis), his humour and writing make things easy to understand.

R.G. Keane's The Technology of the (fill in the blank) are very informative and easy to follow. The same is true for the Cook Your Own Distortion that is mentioned on this thread, that helped me in recognizing chunks or sections of schematics and that helps a lot again IMHO.

I really enjoy walkthroughs of schematics, where the designer or analyst follows the signal all the way through the circuit, Frank Clarke does this too and his stuff is easy to read. I was hoping some of the guys on this forum like BajaMan and MadBean and AnalogGuru and some I'm leaving out but only because their names don't spring to mind, could post a few circuit walkthroughs if they have the time. A lot of the old Popular Electronics magazines featured a "how it works" or walkthrough with most of the projects and those are good to read.
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Postby k o y l » 09 Jan 2008, 00:23

Same for me. :)
Where can I find the Indyguitarist ebook ?
I only find already ended auction on eBay... the only one still on sale is the "How to modify your effect pedals"..
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Postby LMJS » 09 Jan 2008, 01:04

K O Y L, go to this website here

http://www.guitartone.net/advanceddiy.htm

Scroll down the page to the bottom and join his newsletter, you then get a decent discount. I paid about $15 dollars for the e-book after the discount.
Brian is a good guy you can also e-mail him directly for details. Be patient, he is sometimes busy so I would recommend going through the website above and following the steps.

brian@indyguitarist.com

You can order the Orman e-books here, both are good.

http://www.muzique.com/ebook.htm

and you can also order his printed newsletter about op-amps and his complete CD of his website and projects and lab notes.

For the money you get some decent information and you are also supporting two guys who offer a lot to newbies and pedal builders through their websites IMHO.
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Postby madbean » 09 Jan 2008, 01:06

http://www.guitartone.net/advanceddiy.htm

I think if you join the newsletter you get a discount of ten bucks on purchasing the e-book, but don't hold me to that. It's well worth $20!

And, I'm not shilling. 8)
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Postby k o y l » 09 Jan 2008, 01:12

Thanks ! I'll do that. :)
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Postby nosignal » 09 Jan 2008, 05:38

awesome! thanks a bunch for the info. ill have to check out those books.
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Postby Brian M » 09 Jan 2008, 09:56

if you want to understand electronics, the first thing IMHO you should learn is ohms law... not just to memorize it, but understnd it in context.

This leads to a good foundation from evertyhing else, at least in terms of analog electronics.

My absolute favorite electronics book is practical electronics for inventors.

The reason i really like it is because it's as simple as possible without being simpler (hmmm einstein) and is not centerened around stompboxes, so you don't let your mind get too wrapped up around stompbox conventions.
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Postby modman » 09 Jan 2008, 13:17

Beginner project on Aron's diystompboxes really is the best way imho. You have to build on perf to learn which components connects how, you have to follow the schematic during your build.

That's why you don't learn building on pcbs or veroboard. Don't worry if you don't understand WHY this connects with that, ... that will come later. If you would build a fuzz face and a tonebender on perf you will notice hey these are quite alike, just and extra transistor. How it works in detail is another matter.

Tell us wat you would like to build.

more links here: (one sec)
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Postby k o y l » 09 Jan 2008, 13:40

modman wrote:Beginner project on Aron's diystompboxes really is the best way imho. You have to build on perf to learn which components connects how, you have to follow the schematic during your build.

That's why you don't learn building on pcbs or veroboard. Don't worry if you don't understand WHY this connects with that, ... that will come later. If you would build a fuzz face and a tonebender on perf you will notice hey these are quite alike, just and extra transistor. How it works in detail is another matter.

Tell us what you would like to build.

more links here: (one sec)

Yes I plan to do this as well.

I've only read the Indyguitarist book very little so far but it already looks like it the stuff I needed.. That's a great book. 8)

Ps: glad to see a belgium neighbourg here.. I'm from Lille in France.
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Postby nosignal » 10 Jan 2008, 05:12

i didnt really have a specific pedal in mind that id like to build i just wanted to try something pretty small and easy as a beginning step, ive got a bunch of resistors laying around at my house, so putting them to some use would be nice :D
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Postby madbean » 10 Jan 2008, 06:15

When it comes to laying out a circuit for PCB, it takes practice and more practice. I learned a lot from analyzing some of the Tonepad PCB's, so when it came time to do them I had a good idea of where to start. I bought RG Keen's book on PCB design from smallbear, but I found that I had figured out a lot of that information already just by doing it.

It really isn't too hard to lay out boards logically and consistently, but the challenge is making them as small as possible (with as few standing resistors and jumpers possible) within that framework.

The King of Klones PCB I did recently only took a couple of hours to get a workable layout. But, being a perfectionist, I spent another 6 hours or so tweaking every way I could think of until I was happy.

Basically, you have to be a bit obsessive :D
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Postby k o y l » 10 Jan 2008, 13:13

madbean wrote:
Basically, you have to be a bit obsessive :D

Haha.. don't worry about this ! :twisted:
:D
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Postby drmathprog » 10 Jan 2008, 13:53

GaussMarkov's tutorials are very helpful and very well written.
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Postby nosignal » 14 Jan 2008, 01:39

I've been reading on guassmarkov's site, I'm learning lots of new stuff, i think I'm going to get a breadboard to start trying to put a circuit together with a simple schematic, i was thinking about a green ringer, just because it seems like a small build and it doesnt have potentiometers, anyone have any ideas of other simple builds i could start with?
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Recommended first build for an absolute beginner.

Postby seziertisch » 24 Mar 2008, 19:50

Hi, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions regarding what would be a good first build (including board etching etc.) for an absolute beginner? Ideally this would be something relatively simple, and by simple I mean something which would be easy enough to troubleshoot should anything be wayward in the workmanship.

I am also intending to maybe order a kit from maybe OLC or BYOC. I know that's not really building it yourself, but my interest in this is just to improve my understanding of how pedals work, learn some electronics, some building skills and ultimately probably give a lot of what I build as presents to friends.
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Re: Recommended first build for an absolute beginner.

Postby saemskin » 26 Mar 2008, 01:09

I would recommend you buy one of the simpler kits from BYOC. The documentation he provided is nice and step-by-step, and you get all the parts in one shot. As a rookie I remember trying to pick out the right parts was a real pain. This will give you a better idea about the parts you need right off the bat.
I see his opto-compressor is on sale for 60$
http://www.buildyourownclone.com/opticomp.html

As long as you take your time, work carefully and neatly, follow the instructions exactly, you shouldn't have any troubles at all. Pedals really aren't that hard to build. :thumbsup
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Re: Recommended first build for an absolute beginner.

Postby minor7th » 26 Mar 2008, 01:26

saemskin wrote:I would recommend you buy one of the simpler kits from BYOC. The documentation he provided is nice and step-by-step, and you get all the parts in one shot. As a rookie I remember trying to pick out the right parts was a real pain. This will give you a better idea about the parts you need right off the bat.
I see his opto-compressor is on sale for 60$
http://www.buildyourownclone.com/opticomp.html

As long as you take your time, work carefully and neatly, follow the instructions exactly, you shouldn't have any troubles at all. Pedals really aren't that hard to build. :thumbsup

Without going into the myriad of pedals available that are suitable for first time builders or specifically endorsing BYOC, I see your first order from them includes a partial 'confidence booster' kit. I'd go for that and build it first too.

OK- it also depends on what you want to build. If you want to get solderin' and get playin', then a kit or at least a PCB is a good place to start. Usual suspects include GGG, Tonepad, etc. If you want to start from scratch, the world is your oyster!

Also decide what is is you want to build- it makes it more enjoyable. If you like treble boosters, build a treble booster. Alternately, it may be one of those things that no one else will notice, but it's sure useful- an AB switch, for example.

On the other hand, for a first project, don't do a P90 phaser, or a neovibe, or... :D

Be at one with your sound. Let it talk to you, and then you will know what to build. And at all times remember- solder on, braid off.
m7 [smilie=vibes.gif]
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My first build. What should I start with?

Postby TheBlackCrayon » 22 Jul 2008, 15:05

So I'm gonna jump into the world of building effects, mostly just for myself and close friends. I'd like to ask you guys that have some experience. What is the easiest build, something good to start with? I'd like to start with an overdrive. It can e anything, I'm just wanting to get my feet wet here. If you guys could point me in the right direction I'd appreciate it very much.
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