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Topics - midwayfair

This is an optical comp with blend. Based on the John Hollis Flatline for the compressor side. The other side is just an op amp clean boost and clean blend using FET buffers. It takes up to 12V input and uses a charge pump for split rail operation to +-12V for some really high headroom. The compression and clean outputs have completely independent volume controls, so they can both be at, above, or below unity.

I'm building a small acoustic pedalboard for a Celtic project me and a friend are starting, and I needed something that would really leave the initial attack unmolested but would also give me a bit more sustain sometimes for airs and stuff (without just washing the whole thing out with reverb). I thought a bit about it and the afterlife had a lot of the characteristics I wanted, plus it was small enough that I could add the clean blend.

Unfortunately, as you can see from the guts, some things ended up going a little less smoothly than I anticipated. I was originally planning on just using the two extra op amp stages for summing, but I couldn't for the life of me get connecting two pin 1s together. Either output was good but if I connected them it distorted like crazy. I know I'm doing something wrong but while I anticipated it to work the same as tying the drains or sources of a transistor together, that wasn't the case at all.

The schematic is a bit of a work in progress. I used an A pot for both volumes, but I think a B pot might be correct for the clean blend, particularly if it ends up being just a 2x boost.
The vactrol is an NSL-32SR3, which is pretty fast for an optical device (5mS) and has really really high dark resistance, so it's a great choice in this circuit.

Some other options I considered:
1. I considered just adding the clean blend to the Diamond, but I've already got an EQ for the board (Source Audio EQ2! Amazing pedal, it's even a tuner and limiter).
2. I believe that it works to put a very large value pot in parallel with C1 to work as a decay control. With a limiting resistor of course. It's hard to figure out what the actual decay time is, though.
3. I'm not completely certain but I think a pot in series with a cap in parallel with R4 is a workable attack control. The other place to put it would be to ground between R4 and R3.

I chose to forgo the extra controls in part because the clean blend makes the attack control kind of unnecessary -- and you can't really get an instantaneous attack anyway, since it's optical -- and in part because I wanted a simple pedal. But also in part because the enclosure was a pre-drilled (for two pots) gift from a friend, and I wouldn't have really had room for the fourth knob.

There's an unused op amp and I'm not certain what to do with it, it seems a real shame to waste it, but since I wanted the boost (and not just unity) for the clean blend, I needed the extra op amp stage.

Charge pump not shown, it's just the normal LT1054 +- voltage circuit. I wanted the extra headroom for safety, and I also just like that everything's biased to ground to minimize switch pops (which the afterlife seems to have a problem with, though it's not completely cured here) and that it becomes really easy to just DC couple everything to avoid capacitors.

oh -- also, I think the two transistors tied together could maybe be BJTs with no change in parts otherwise but I didn't test it.

Open Discussion / Talk to me about DIs
July 18, 2022, 10:56:10 PM
I need to build (or possibly buy) some DIs.

I will have access to phantom power for a couple of them, but I might need to resort to passive transformer for a couple.

Anyone have any suggestions? Projects, common transformers to use, or if this is a better-to-buy situation? I was trying to figure out if a transformerless solution like just using a Schoeps microphone circuit (with like 1M input impedance instead of 1G) would be good for this.
I should build one, I had to use the simulation in Logic to do this.

I had designed a pedal a while back that a friend told me sounded a lot like a RAT (the Mossy Sloth, which was an answer to the question "how many MOSFETs can I fit in a small circuit?"), but it didn't do remotely the same thing. I have more than one pedal that lets me goof up the bias because I was trying to get a tearing sound. Tried a bit crusher, too. A bunch of things sounded kinda close, but it was the RAT that actually sounded correct. Neat.
I lost my wiener* and need to build a new one. I'd like to have gotten the same white textured finish I got from Pedal Parts Plus a long time ago, but they don't have wah enclosures at all.

*Seriously, I lost it. No one that I ever loan stuff to has it and it's not in my house or at my friend's studio. I'm baffled.
Made this video yesterday after a friend told me the chorus on a guitar track sounded really good.
So this happened over the holiday weekend and arrived today.

Sakae Trilogy. The kit's sort of a hybrid of 60s Ludwig/Yamaha/Gretch aspects, with super thin (and really light) maple shells.

Sakae made Yamaha's high-end drums since the 60s and were around since 1925. They went bankrupt last year, got bought by Korg, and their production is being moved to Taiwan. It's heartbreaking, honestly. I got probably the last 22/12/14 kit for sale anywhere and picked up a 10" that's arriving tomorrow from another shop. Tried my damnedest to find the matching snare, but the only ones for sale are on evilbay from Japan for $700+, which isn't happening. I might get one of the other other colors for that but I'm not in a hurry to buy it. I figured it was now or never to get something that's basically one of my dream instruments. And while the Natal I got last year sounds plenty good when I tune it up and records pretty decently, but it's a little too modern sounding to me. This has an older sound but I don't have to deal with all the problems of actually buying an old instrument.

I've got it all tuned up and it honestly sounds awesome, but one thing I didn't expect was for it to physically *feel* different. Like with the Natal the low frequencies weren't there and there was basically no shell resonance. These are the same size for the toms, but I can physically feel the sound in my legs when I'm playing, and I don't even have to be playing that hard.

Close-up of the finish. It's painted, not a wrap, and it looks seriously stunning in person.  [edit: I was wrong about this being a painted finish, this might be the only kit they've ever done that's a wrap]
Open Discussion / NDD
November 11, 2020, 08:10:41 PM
New drumkit day.

Decided it was finally time for me to learn how to play one of these things for real, so I'm diddling my paras and tapping my foot on the halfnote and all that jazz.

Also, I wanted a kit at the house for band practices and recording sometimes, we were using a cocktail kit for that and it was impossible to write parts on that thing.

Natal ash kit in bop size (18/14/12 and 13x5.5), got the shells used for a truly stupid price and new heads on everything as well, and they're the heads I would have bought, so bonus. If you're a real nerd and you want to know how they're tuned: snare - G beater/D snare side, then C and F for the toms (the floor tom's basically at its basement), and A/~Bb for the bass drum. I have a drum tuner that helps put all the lugs exactly in tune with each other so it sounds frigging baller. The snare's a little better than decent but Tim can just bring over the black beauty for recording.

I was EXTREMELY picky about the cymbals (I think I listened to a hundred different rides and almost as many crashes): Istanbul 17" Sultan crash and Meinl pure alloy 20" medium ride. They sound amazing together, but the Sultan is one of the only crash cymbals I've ever heard that I actually like. Top hat is a 1940s/50s Avedis, also obtained for a stupid price. Unfortunately its counterpart is a little warped and was rehammered less than ideally (would be a halfway decent dry crash), so I'm searching for a replacement (I'm using the 14" 'ride' from the cocktail kit as the bottom -- it works better but it's really heavy and sounds a little strange).
Build Reports / FET microphone (K12) video build diary
October 30, 2020, 06:41:55 PM
Thought I'd do something a little different -- a microphone video build diary. It's not quite a build report and not quite a tutorial, but if anyone here is curious about what goes into making a microphone, or just wants to know how they work, it's worth a watch. I go through the schematic and most of the work that needs to be done start to finish, and then conclude with a demo on voice and guitar.

I had a Selmer Buzztone build come back for repairs recently. I had a zener diode regulator in there to knock the voltage down to about 3V:

9V -> 100R - 1N4001 - 1N5817 ->(~3.1v) Circuit

I had the 100R at a 1/4W, but that actually burned up (completely fried, like to the point where it took out a capacitor sitting next to it and disintegrated its leads). I replaced it and noticed it was getting a little hot, so I increased the wattage to a 1W (or 1/2W) and it got a tiny bit warm still but not enough to fear it would burn up.

The circuit doesn't really look like it should draw enough current to fry a 100R at a 1/4W while running on 3V:

I assume that my Zener circuit is the one that's really responsible for the larger current draw.

Anyway, I decided that I'd knock down the voltage a bit with an LED in series with the 1N4001 before it hits the Zener. Adding this has made the 100R barely warm to the touch, so it's saving the resistor, but now I'm worried about the LED, which is the reason I didn't include it in the first place. The LED's current is around 26mA right now, so while it's fine running basically forever on a 1Spot, I'm worried that if someone connects a 12V or higher to it, it's just going to blow the LED instead and the pedal will be right back in for repair.

I can't increase the 100R without the circuit acting weird. I could stick a 470R or something to ground right after the 100R would be better than the LED. This would knock the voltage down to about 7.4V before the LED and leave me 3V for the buzztone circuit, and would survive 12V, but it won't save the pedal if they connect an 18V.

The other thing is that I could instead try to fit a 5V regulator in before the Zener, to knock the voltage down most of the way. I think the LM7805 can survive 18V for a brief period. (It's the ceiling of the operating range according to the datasheet). Is that my best option? Is there anything I can do that I haven't thought of?
I recently started taking voice lessons again. I took them a little off and on a few years ago but decided to be a little more regular about them this time around.

So my teacher is one of my old bandmates. (She was on the early Midway Fair albums.) We ended up not really getting along properly musically so I asked her to leave the band, but she really is a fantastic voice teacher. We've been working on mixed voice stuff since December and it's made almost everything I do sound a little better overall. I was banging my head against the wall trying to get one of my FAWM songs from this year to have the right vocal quality over the last few months, and she basically helped me fix it in 45 minutes, and I got a great take in a single recording session.

I really wish I hadn't been so proud of being an autodidact musically, because this really would have just made my early recordings sound better. Like I was always a pretty good guitarist and was a competent vocalist when I started the band, but I can't help but feel that if I'd just sucked it up and gotten lessons (or even better, taken my high school keyboard teacher up on her offer to let me join the choir and get vocal lessons that way), it would have made things easier on the people who had to listen to me stumble my way through.

Write some songs, don't be skeered!
Open Discussion / NGD - my dad got me a present
January 29, 2020, 03:44:55 AM
Handmade by some Japanese luthier. It's a couple decades old, he picked it up off someone locally who had been stationed in Japan a while back and had it made. The picture doesn't do the inlay justice.

It's a short (23.5) scale and a OO size, and the strings are set a little closer than I'm used to, so it feels tiny and sounds kind of small, too. There's a buzz on the open D string (some resonance issue, but I can't find what's actually buzzing -- I can stop it by grabbing the headstock, and it doesn't happen when there's a capo on it or if I'm fretting the same note).
I blew up one of them in my Tone King Imperial maybe a year ago, and killed two of them in my little 5W before I gave up and swapped it out for a Weber solid state thingie. (So I know it's not something I can't find wrong in one of the amps.) Turned on the tone king yesterday and the 5AR4 is going again. I don't play the amp that often and it use to take me years to kill one playing it often.

I don't think Sovteks are crappy tubes, and I'm not really sure what to try instead. I would think that the Tung Sols are made in the same factory and JJs are made in China so not too likely to be more reliable. Anything else out there I should look for?
My band is helping to raise money and instruments for a local charity, Music4More. They restore instruments for school music programs and veterans' music therapy.

It happens to also be Midway Fair's 10th anniversary, and we're splitting the night with an awesome singer, Katie Bowers, and our hosts for the night are Waverly Brewing, which is one of my favorite local breweries.

If you aren't in the area but you have some friends, please help us spread the word.

December 14, 2019 at 7:00
Waverly Brewing
1625 Union Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21211
(443) 438-5765

More details:
I'm OOTL on these. What are my best options these days?

I've been a pretty consistent user of George L's, but I don't like them for cables I have to plug and unplug repeatedly, like from my guitar to board or board to amp. I like the cable size and I know I can solder them to generic ends, but I'd like small ends as well.

Little help? :)
It's two ins, two outs, so basically two separate circuits. Customer would prefer a single-knob solution. Precision dual gang pots are ruinously expensive.

If it was single-in, split to stereo, I could do crossover controls for the tone and a balance control to make up for intolerance in the volume control, but two circuits has me stumped as far as single gang goes.
Bit of a rarity.

Made this for one of my best customers (he also got the Bunny Bender and a couple other pedals from me over the years.) It's an odd little pedal and not exactly what I expected from three transistors, but the name "buzztone" is pretty fitting. I made a few modernizations.

Here's the layout. I'm sorry I don't really have time to redraw a schematic right now, but the gist is:
1. It's NPN instead of PNP.
2. I added polarity protection and filtering to the input. The rest of the power section is a crude regulator in the form of a 3.3v zener to drop the supply voltage to 3.3V, and then a second 1N5817 to drop it the rest of the way to 3V. (You can leave out the second diode if you have a 3V zener; I didn't).
3. I think the circuit sounds far better with the input resistor jumpered, and I added a bypass resistor to the emitter of the first transistor. The latter doesn't actually increase the gain very much, but the first does. I actually used 50KC for the gain pot, but the original did use a 25K linear.
4. I actually had to put my first transistor in backward to get this to work. I think you need a very low-gain transistor, even though the original part number was ostensibly high hfe. So take the notes on the layout with a grain of salt.

Open Discussion / Recording on 100-year-old equipment
August 01, 2018, 01:35:39 PM
This popped up in my YouTube feed. It's a few months old at this point, but he has some other cool videos as well.
Figure there's a few people around these parts nearby ...

I do this coffeehouse thing about once a year, but I've never been able to take a quorum of the band for one before.

We're doing a highly irregular string band config tonight, all trad instruments. I'll play mandolin, guitar, banjo, and maybe some fiddle, Rick's playing bass and whistles and stuff like that, and we'll even get Joe to play some lead guitar.

It's at Mad City Coffee in Columbia, 10801 Hickory Ridge Road, Columbia, MD 21044, and the donations benefit food security in the greater Washington, DC area.
I don't get much time for music these days, but we got invited to play so it's happenin'.

We're playing at Joe Squared in Station North here in Baltimore if anyone wants to stop by and say hi. Show starts at 7 I think, ends by 10.

It was going to be a full band gig, but unfortunately some family stuff got in the way. (Might have some guest vocals from a friend, though!) We might play acoustic again, but I kind of miss playing my electric.