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Messages - rullywowr

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Open Discussion / Pro Tip: Drilling Aluminum Enclosures
« on: July 27, 2016, 11:56:28 AM »
I have been doing a LOT of enclosure drilling lately with my trusty drill press, center punch, 1/8" drill bit, and step bits.  After galling a few older bits beyond repair (and buying a new $20 one at my home improvement store) - I found a tip on the home machining forum regarding drilling holes in aluminum.

Use a small squirt of isopropyl alcohol as a lubricant when drilling.  Any concentration (70% - 91%) should work fine.  This cools the bit and makes drilling go a lot better - especially when drilling lots of holes.  It will make your bits last a lot longer too.

I wanted to drill before I powdercoat and screen print, but I didn't want to use any oil which would screw up the coating process if not removed.  The alcohol is wonderful as it works well and evaporates fairly quickly.  The only downside I can think of is that the small water content in the alcohol may rust your drill press if left in contact with it.

I'm sold on this completely.  I keep a small Harbor Freight plastic wash/squirt bottle near the press now just for this use.  Hope someone out there finds this useful.

It looks like the enclosure wasn't quite prepared properly.  What happens a lot with cast aluminum is that contaminants and gases get trapped in the pores of the box.  When you cure your powder coat (around 400F), these gases come through as bubbles and make "fish eyes" in the powder coat.  The jagged edges are from poor handling before coating. 

The basic process:
1.  Clean (with acetone or other solvent) until no more black stuff wipes off
2.  Pre-Bake - bake for 15-30 minutes at the same temp you will be curing at
3.  Clean again with acetone 
4.  (optional) Sand (or better yet, media blast) the enclosure.  You don't have to do this step but it helps adhesion and makes for a very smooth finish
5.  (optional but recommended)  Warm part in oven
6.  Shoot powder over warm enclosure and bake to cure

All the while you have to ensure no stray fibers from any rags or dust/hair land on your parts before they are cured.  Just like any painting project, 99% is all in the prep work - 1% is the actual shooting of the powder.

I'm working up a tutorial focused on how I powdercoat enclosures which should be done soon.

How Do I? Beginner's Paradise. / Re: Building a Test Box
« on: July 27, 2016, 11:27:28 AM »
Absolutely.  Either the rullywow 3PDT or Barrys' will work just fine.

Once you get a build a test box you will wonder how you lived without it!  Alligator clips work just fine.  I prefer to use push in speaker terminals like these:

I just leave the four wires from the PCB under test (IN/9V/GND/OUT) a bit long, tin them with solder, and they are a breeze to hook up.  Once you verify your effect is worthy of boxing you can trim the wires a bit shorter to install in an enclosure.  If its not "box worthy" you can still come back to it really easily by hooking up the wires.

Yeah, I don't mind 245 solder but I haven't cared for the 951 flux pens when I've used them (the 186 was more effective, IMHO).  In fairness, I haven't tried them in a couple of years and Kester probably has made some improvements since then.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

The 186 does have a better "aroma" than the 951 by far.  Not that you are supposed to be inhaling the stuff...  :o

186 = Maple Syrup
951 = isopropyl alcohol

Tech Help - Projects Page / Re: First Pedal FLOOP!
« on: July 21, 2016, 01:47:17 PM »
It looks pretty good actually.  The wires to the PCBs could be pushed down a bit, so the insulation is covering all the wire.  This is easy to remedy by heating up each joint and pushing the wire until it is flush with the PCB.

I would take the guts out of the enclosure and fix the wires.  Then clip off any extra on the bottom of the PCB.  Be sure to look for any joints on the bottom which may be touching each other.

Also, when you have the guts out, can you confirm that you have the 9V jack wired correctly?  The big lug on the 9V jack is the GND and the little lug farthest towards the outside is the 9V connection in this case.


If you ever order parts from Mouser, you can get a flux pen at the same time.  I recommend the Kester 186 flux pen.

A flux pen IS awesome!

I use the 245 solder and prefer the 951 flux pen as it is also "no clean" and keeps with the "no clean" process.  The 186 is a RMA type flux and while works good, leaves a schticky residue on the PCB if not washed off.


1) What temperature? I know 63/37 melts at 361F, but I assume I will want my iron hotter than that. I use Kester 245 no-clean, if that makes a difference.

I use Kester 245 as well and normally set my iron around 750F.  If you have to solder more than "a three count" then its too long.  I'd recommend a Kester flux pen as well.

2) Tips? The iron comes with a 1.6mm chisel tip. I've been using a conical "pencil" tip on my 15$ weller for ages. Is the hakko standard good for our purposes? Or should I invest the 10$ and get a replacement.

As Pickdropper also said - its great to have an assortment.  A small chisel tip is good as well as a conical.  I prefer a long screwdriver tip with a small slot.

3) Sponge? The holder has a brass coil cleaner as well as a wet sponge. Is the wet sponge worth using? I know they also sell a silicone rubber "lip" for the brass coil holder, is that useful at all?

Got to go for the brass/copper colored metal cleaner.  Way better than a sponge and you don't have to deal with water.  Also it keeps the temp more stable than dunking it in water each time.

General Questions / Re: Rolling your own vactrol
« on: June 29, 2016, 08:32:49 AM »
It means you can test it in a room with the lights on.  An LDR is sensitive enough in a darkened room that flickering from the TV in a room with the lights off can set it going so you pretty much need to mount it up and close the box to test it.

IU've rolled my own in the past.  Just push the LED into shirnk wrap from one end, and the LDR in from the other.  Shrink the wrap.  i don't think i bothered sealing the ends as I had enough overhang.  Vactrols are way easier.

Bean pointed out one time that you can use BluTak (poster putty) to help test Vactrols in a room with the lights on.

To roll your own, you can simply use some dark shrink tubing.  Some will use a bit of super glue to attach the LDR to the LED.  I am a big fan of using flat top LED for this as the flat surface mates with the LDR perfectly.

Some builds I don't even bother with the shrink tube as it is pretty dark inside one of those enclosures with the lid on.   8)

Open Discussion / Re: Autodesk buys Eaglecad?
« on: June 28, 2016, 12:22:45 PM »
Maybe it's a good thing.  Perhaps they will implement groundbreaking new features such as "CTRL + C" for copy and "CTRL + V" for paste.   :o

Truly, a work of art.  The enclosure is so great. 

Open Discussion / Re: Custom vintage knobs
« on: May 16, 2016, 03:07:59 PM »
I like your approach with the knobs.  The label reminds me of an old-school industrial plate on a AC motor/pump or similar.  Excellent!

FWIW, Sean @ SRC Effects makes great custom knobs and is a cool cat to deal with.

How Do I? Beginner's Paradise. / Re: PCB Cleaning
« on: May 09, 2016, 09:53:08 AM »
IPA definitely works, but it can leave the board sticky after the first pass.  You can get the stickiness to go away, but it usually takes a few passes.

Flux remover gets the flux off more effectively, but it's a little bit more expensive.  I've used this one; it's less expensive than most and still works well:

I agree.  If I do clean PCBs after soldering, I use isopropyl alcohol 91% and alternate with Simple Green to help remove all the sticky stuff left behind.

These days I mainly use "no clean" Kester solder and no clean flux and don't worry about cleaning anything.

Open Discussion / Re: Recording quesrion
« on: April 28, 2016, 12:47:19 PM »
I second Jamstix.  Stupid name but really cool human feel element.  I also have used ToonTrack EZD, however JamStix is really fun once you get the hang of how it works.  I really enjoy having it play MIDI files of songs and tweaking the human feel to see what it does.

Open Discussion / Re: Smallest/flattest DC plugs
« on: April 01, 2016, 11:26:20 AM »
Simple.  Do a search on google for "right angle 2.1mm dc power plug".  Lots of results.

The plug should be 2.1mm ID and 5.5mm OD. 

How Do I? Beginner's Paradise. / Re: New Builder Buying Blues
« on: April 01, 2016, 10:01:51 AM »
Good advice throughout, especially Mike's list. 

I have found that 11mm should be the max height of just about any component in a build (especially caps) if you want the lid to fit on properly in a 1590B. 

As I progressed in building and designing my PCBs, my most recent layouts are designed so the electro caps can be shorter than 11mm..and a bit larger in diameter.  For example, I make the 47uF layouts accept at least 6.3mm dia cap.  With 100uF electros, I try and make my layouts take 8mm diameter caps.   Of course, if you want to use caps which are taller and smaller diameter, that will work OK too.  The shorter caps look neater to me and also have the advantage of being used in baby builds (1590A).  Shorter caps allow neater layouts at the expense of a little more PCB real estate.  Personal preference I suppose  :)

I created a basic document a while back which should help those unfamiliar when selecting parts:

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