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Topics - bcalla

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Build Reports / Vibe Station
« on: April 11, 2021, 09:32:31 AM »
This is Brejna's Pangea.  I started it last spring & just finished it.  It lived on my "needs troubleshooting" shelf for many months.  I originally etched the board for the Voicing mod, but I couldn't get it to work.  Then I built the mod on a piece of prototyping board and it still didn't work.  So I shelved it for a while.  When I pulled it off the shelf and spent some time studying it, I realized that I wired the mod wrong.  That was probably the problem with my etched board, too.

And your eyes ARE NOT playing tricks on you - the decal is a bit distorted.  I decided to use up some old clear spray paint rather than my usual Envirotex finish, and I guess I was a little heavy-handed.

Anyway, here it is and it sounds great!

Open Discussion / Glass Guitar???
« on: January 01, 2021, 10:55:20 AM »
OK, this is nuts...  But fascinating!

Building an ENTIRE guitar out of GLASS!

Build Reports / Mimir's Well
« on: December 28, 2020, 01:14:31 PM »
I finally finished my first pedal in about 2 years.  I didn't go back and check my last build report, so it might actually be a little longer.  I did build a couple electronic projects - a clock & a drum machine.   But the 3 or 4 pedals I worked on since my last build were fairly complex, and unfortunately epic fails.  So they wound up on a shelf that is optimistically labeled "Needs Troubleshooting."  Maybe I'll actually try to get them working some day...

A few months ago someone posted a build report for Mimir's Well by MAS Effects.  It looked amazing, so I decided to ignore my fails and give it a shot.

It's all digital and comes with 7 built in patches in one bank, plus it includes another 16 that you can select yourself (2 additional banks of eight).  Since I play both bass & guitar I got 8 additional guitar effects plus 8 bass effects.  And I ordered an extra bank of 8 strange guitar effects that I can swap in if I want to use them.

Cutting the rectangle for the display screen was a PITA, but it came out pretty neat.  However, I now know that I could do it again if I needed to.

Open Discussion / NSSHBD
« on: November 21, 2020, 08:18:11 AM »
New Short-Scale Headless Bass Day!

I have had surgery on both hands, and I suffer from neck & shoulder pain. I can only play standard basses for a short time before something starts to hurt.  The bass I have been using most is a Hofner Verythin.  I've had it for a few years and it's great - it has great tone, 30.5" scale, looks stunning, and weighs 5.5 lbs. (I have 2 other basses that weigh north of 10 lbs.).  However, it has the standard Hofner bridge, which means tuning / intonation is always a compromise.  So I have been on the lookout for a bass that matched a particular set of requirements:

1. Light
2. Short scale
3. 24 frets
4. Intonatable bridge
5. Relatively inexpensive

A couple weeks ago I picked up a Hondo Alien.  It's a headless bass, very similar to the Kramer Duke.  My best guess is that it was made in the 80s, but I wasn't able to find a way to confirm that.  It has an aluminum neck and comes in at 6.25 lbs., slightly more than my Hofner.  It sounds great and is very easy on my hands with a 31" scale.  And, while weird, I think it looks kinda cool.   8)

Open Discussion / I need help solving an electronics problem
« on: May 26, 2020, 11:16:58 AM »
A while ago I bought a couple inexpensive LED strips from Electronic Goldmine that I intended to use to build a light fixture over my workspace.  They are 22" long with 14 SMD LEDs and +/- terminal connectors at one end.  The catch was that the ran on 40v DC, but I figured I'd come up with a way to power them later.  Well, I just got lucky and picked up a 42v wall wart that was intended to power a battery recharger for power tools.

I tested the power supply with one of the LED strips and it worked great.  Too great.  The light is blinding.  I was thinking that I might add a toggle switch to select either or both strips; and either a resistor to set the correct level of brightness, or dimmer (either a trimmer or pot).

So I hooked up a 100k pot to see how much I could dim it.  While turning the pot, I heard it pop & saw it spark.  After tossing the pot in the trash, it occurred to me that the components I buy for building 9 - 18 volt pedals may not be able to handle 42v.

Since my electronics knowledge is pretty much limited to following a build doc, I'm reaching out to see if someone here can guide me.

Should pedal components - specifically pots, trimmers, resistors & toggle switches - be able to handle this?

If not, what do I need to look for?


Open Discussion / Amp Advice
« on: March 03, 2018, 08:21:41 AM »
My friend Al’s wife asked me to help her choose an amp to get Al for Father’s Day.  She wants something he can use for both acoustic guitar and bass.  Al doesn’t perform any more, so it will only be used at home, or on rare occasions to play with a friend.  They live in an apartment so size is a factor.

I was thinking that a small, Class D combo bass amp might be the right choice.  They are manageable from a size & weight standpoint, but I don’t know how an acoustic guitar will sound through one.

Does anyone have any experience with this?  Is this the right way to go?  Any other suggestions?


Build Reports / G'Echo (Echo Base)
« on: January 01, 2018, 12:58:31 PM »
2017 wasn’t a productive year for me, pedal-wise.  I finished exactly one pedal – on December 31.  I started several early in the year (including this one), but they all had problems to troubleshoot so I put them aside.  And then other priorities took over, including learning lots of new music since I have been playing out more often.

Mike Flanagan inspired me to finish it by telling me how great it sounds (he’s right!) and giving me a few suggestions to make it fit.  The problem with this one was that I didn’t properly account for the space required for top-mounted jacks.  Then I messed up the board / broke some traces trying to remove components, so I had to order a new board and start over.  I hoped to enter this in the BOTY contest, but in yesterday’s scramble to finish it I broke the only 3P2T toggle switch I had so that it internally shorts out in one position.  Oh, well …

In any case, here is my G’Echo, built from Taylor’s Echo Base.  I included pretty much every documented mod.   On my second attempt I needed to get the board to sit lower so I skipped the board mounted pots.  I also mounted a couple components on the bottom to allow the 7805 to lie flat.  It’s still a tight squeeze up near the in-jack, but it works.

General Questions / Varitone Pedal
« on: October 05, 2016, 09:11:56 AM »
A friend asked me to build him a varitone pedal.  The example he gave was the de Lisle Notch Box Pedal .   The only schematic I can find is Craig Anderton’s passive circuit from his book Electronic Projects for Musicians:

In the book he mentions that there is volume loss through the circuit, which makes something like the de Lisle Notch Box Pedal more desirable.

Does anyone have a schematic for an active varitone circuit?  If not, what would be the best way to couple it with a boost?

NOTE:  Edited post to fix link.

Build Reports / Lab Series Preamp
« on: September 18, 2016, 12:23:54 PM »
I finally figured out why I was getting no compression and re-calibrated the trim pots.  Now I have the opposite problem, but I plan to spend more time calibrating to see if I can find a happy medium.  In any case, here it is.  (Even I can make the interior neat when there are daughterboards for all the connections.)

General Questions / Lab Series Preamp Compressor
« on: September 12, 2016, 06:01:32 PM »
I've got aion's Lab Series Preamp built but I'm having some difficulty with the compressor trim adjustment.

I did a quick sound/sanity check before I made any trim adjustments and the limiter LED seemed to pulse with my picking, but the distortion levels were way off.  I downloaded the signal generator for my phone and followed the instructions for setting the distortion trimmer and the compressor/limiter trimmer and both went perfectly - I was able to adjust to both desired AC voltages.  However, with both trimmers set properly, the limiter LED does not light, nor do I hear any compression.  In fact, with the distortion trimmer set properly, there is no compressor/limiter trimmer setting that gives me any compression.  I've done it several times with the same result.  I know that the build doc says to leave it at the lowest setting, but as I said there is no trim setting that works.

Any ideas as to how to troubleshoot this?

Open Discussion / NVTnRAD
« on: September 01, 2016, 05:46:59 PM »
New Vintage Tuck n Roll Amp Day!!

I just bought one of the same rigs I used in the 60s - a Kustom K-100 head and 2x12 cabinet in turquoise (I think Kustom called this color cascade), both with the original covers. The difference is that my new purchase is in much better condition than the one I owned 45 years ago. It is dead mint!  I posted the serial numbers on a Kustom vintage site to get the exact year, but it is almost certainly late 60s.

I bought it from a music store who bought it from the original owner - he was getting rid of things in his house he didn't need in preparation for his retirement to Florida. He said that he bought it new and never played in a band, so it never left his house. Apparently he didn't smoke either because there are no cig burns on the top (they all seem to have cig burns). He gave up playing after a few years, so it sat under the covers for decades.  The only mark I can find on it is a small scratch near one of the jacks. There is no rust on the handles or castors.

Here it is, in it's turquoise glory:

And protected by the original covers:

Build Reports / Tap Tempo 2'fer
« on: May 21, 2016, 01:28:06 PM »
Best I can tell, I haven't finished a pedal since September.  I have had 5 - 6 in process since then, but no completions.  But finally the drought has ended.   ;D  I finished Drolo's Liquid Mercury and Twin Peaks.  I built them as a complimentary set, with the tap switches adjacent to each other in case I want them in sync.  BTW, hats off to drolo - the layouts are brilliant.

The pair:

The Liquid Mercury:

The Twin Peaks:

Open Discussion / Another New One
« on: April 01, 2016, 01:39:34 PM »
OK, I just posted about a Hofner bass I bought last week (here).  I sold an old mid-70s Aria bass to fund the Hofner.  I retired last year so I made a deal with my wife that a sale would always accompany a purchase.

Then this happened.

When I was in high school (graduated in 1970) there was another guitarist in the band I was in.  We jointly owned a bass and bass amp, and in each song one of us would play bass, the other would play guitar.

I played a white Strat, probably a 68.  Jim played a 1968 Guild Starfire V.  We both bought our guitars new; I sold mine in the early 70s, but Jim hung on to his.  He kept it out on a stand in his office hoping to play it again, but he had hand problems that made it too painful.

Jim texted me the other day that he was selling his Starfire & I could have first shot at it.  The answer was “when can I come get it?”  Fortunately I have an understanding wife, she realized that this was a one-time opportunity to buy something that is a part of my past.

It was pretty dusty and dirty, so I made a first pass at cleaning it when I put on a new set of strings.  It came out pretty good.  Jim babied it, so it has remarkably few dings and scratches for a 48 year old guitar.

I'm definitely going to stop now.   8)

Open Discussion / NBD!
« on: March 27, 2016, 05:59:21 PM »
New Bass Day!  Got a great deal on a Hofner Verythin on CL.  Sold an old Aria bass to fund it.

I'm as happy as a kid with a new toy, even though I'm an old man with a new toy!

Mods / Celeste Rate LED?
« on: February 14, 2016, 05:21:34 PM »
Is there a mod to the Celeste Chorus that would allow an LED to flash with the rate?

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