Author Topic: Little things that make a big difference  (Read 6846 times)

petesz

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Little things that make a big difference
« on: November 19, 2011, 09:23:14 PM »
Thought it might be good to have an all purpose "things i have learnt by failing first" thread. The majority of my failed beginner builds were due to one or several of these factors. Feel free to add to the list!

* GROUND THE SLEEVES
When testing a circuit outside of the enclosure, or if using a plastic enclosure, or if using plastic isolated jacks, make sure BOTH the input and output sleeves are grounded ie connected together. The madbean wiring document shows only the input sleeve grounded because it assumes the sleeves will be connected together by the metal enclosure!

* SOCKET
When starting, socket all transistors and IC's. This will ensure you dont fry them and also if you happen to put them in backwards, you can easily pull it out and orient it the correct way.

* LED RESISTOR
Remember never to attach an LED straight to positive.. it will burn out and be useless. Always put a resistor (~2-5k) in series with the round side.

*DC JACK
Stay away from the metal DC Jacks, unless you exclusively use plastic enclosures. Buy the plastic Boss style DC Jacks instead.

*USE A PSU FOR TESTING
A battery never gives exactly 9v and will drain over time. Power supply can make a massive difference to how builds sound. Make sure you use a Power Supply when testing builds, or else test your battery!

*RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB
Use a 20-30W solder iron when starting out. Buy decent solder, it makes a big difference. Get a pair of sharp and small wire clippers to trim the excess leads. A solder sucker is also handy. A PCB holder is crucial.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2011, 09:34:29 PM by petesz »
Pete

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2011, 10:11:40 PM »
I'd ammend the list a little... some things we disagree on/ i'd alter/ have more to them/

* GROUND THE SLEEVES
Yes they should probably both ground, try and ground them to the same point though rather than eachother, i.e star grounding, it's just good practice.

* SOCKET
Double edged, socketed transistors (not so much ICs in my experience, but it can happen) can fall out, so you do make your builds more susceptable to faliure. Checking a datasheet vs schematic and using proper anti-static precuation in the case of certain parts (MOSFETs, BBDs etc.) is better to get orientation correct and not destroying it, i've yet to burn out a silicon transistor and I tortured some hard (melted plastic)

* LED RESISTOR
As long as it has a resistor somewhere to limit current it should be fine.

*USE A PSU FOR TESTING
Actually a battery can be a fair better tool for testing, it wont introduce noise, it will be regulated to some extent (an unregulated 9V supply could be 14V, a 9V battery wont be more than 10 most likely) some builds are picky about particular power supplies etc.

*RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB
A high enough temperature iron is a given, 'decent solder' is a broad term, what does it mean? Personally I like the usual 63/37 but some people are more comfortable with unleaded, i've never found one brand to work better over another. Wire cutters are necessary, you can also use nail clippers. I've never used a PCB holder in my life and my pedals have turned out fine, it's not crucial at all, just handy.
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jkokura

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2011, 10:39:14 PM »
Thanks for your input both of you.

By the way, the CLR on an LED can attach to either side. It doesn't matter if it's before or after an LED, so it can be attached to either the round or flat side.

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Haberdasher

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2011, 10:55:22 PM »
spend a few bucks on a good pair of wire strippers like Klein Tools.  don't do like I did and rummage through your dear old Dad's ancient tool chest for a pair, you'll only make everything twice as difficult as it needs to be.

another vote for 63/37 solder.

and also for a halfway decent solder sucker/pump, especially since I can't use braid to save my life.  I paid $8 for my pump- and it's still going strong- so don't feel like you need to rush out and spend $30 on a Soldapult.  not at first anyway.  8)

i've got a suction vise that i use to hold circuits, pots, etc on a regular basis but I've built things without it too. I'm glad I have one for sure, but at the end of the day it may be more of a luxury than a need.

get a set cheap set of step bits (at Harbor Freight for example) if you are planning to drill your own enclosures.

for the clr, use the 4k7 called for in most of the documents if you're using diffused LEDs, but do yourself a big favor: plan on using a 10k-12k if using superbright LED's.  using a 4k7 with a blue superbright can actually be painful to your eyes.  my first pedal was like that and I could barely stand looking at it.
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Scruffie

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2011, 08:32:12 AM »
don't do like I did and rummage through your dear old Dad's ancient tool chest for a pair, you'll only make everything twice as difficult as it needs to be.
That's exactly what I did but my pair have been going strong for years  :D
I don't think they'd really been used prior tough.

Quote
another vote for 63/37 solder.
I think this'll be a recurring theme in this thread  ;)

Quote
and also for a halfway decent solder sucker/pump, especially since I can't use braid to save my life.  I paid $8 for my pump- and it's still going strong- so don't feel like you need to rush out and spend $30 on a Soldapult.  not at first anyway.  8)
Very good point, I think my solder sucker was 4, it's lasted me all the builds i've done over the past 2 years, the tips a little melted but it's still working, they really are quick and easy and can be a life saver... if for some reason your life hangs in the balance regarding solder being where it shouldn't be...

Quote
i've got a suction vise that i use to hold circuits, pots, etc on a regular basis but I've built things without it too. I'm glad I have one for sure, but at the end of the day it may be more of a luxury than a need.
I just put all my boards on a flat surface, I have an old wooden table matt, makes stuffing boards quick, fill all the resistors, put it on the board, flip it, solder them all and cut the leads off, do so for the jumpers etc. occasionally a resistor or something isn't completely flush but good enough.

Quote
get a set cheap set of step bits (at Harbor Freight for example) if you are planning to drill your own enclosures.
This i've been meaning to do for a long time, drilling is my most hated part and due to my poor drills selection, I usually have to file the holes out by hand with a circular file (a useful tool actually, you can use it to 'correct' misdrilled holes by moving them slightly in whatever direction necessary, the hardwares nut will usually cover the hole if you're careful).



get a set cheap set of step bits (at Harbor Freight for example) if you are planning to drill your own enclosures.

for the clr, use the 4k7 called for in most of the documents if you're using diffused LEDs, but do yourself a big favor: plan on using a 10k-12k if using superbright LED's.  using a 4k7 with a blue superbright can actually be painful to your eyes.  my first pedal was like that and I could barely stand looking at it.
[/quote]
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nzCdog

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2011, 01:18:08 PM »
Use 24AWG Bonded or Solid Core wire.  Don't get the cheap 'tinned/stranded' stuff its horrible to work with

snz728

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2011, 02:14:17 PM »
buy two or more than you need of any cheap parts like resistors, caps, etc because your going to lose or break your last one and curse when you have to go to Radio shack and pay high prices or not find the part you need.

(Currently have a nice build that won't light up cause I am out of 4k7 resistors)

Hey, if you like the pedal you can always use the extra parts to make another for a friend

Micpoc

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2011, 05:47:39 PM »
Use 24AWG Bonded or Solid Core wire.  Don't get the cheap 'tinned/stranded' stuff its horrible to work with

nzCdog, do you have a brand or source suggestion for this?

snz728

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2011, 05:58:17 PM »
I got some of small bear #24 prebond and it's OK
But the insulation can melt easily if you bump it with your iron
« Last Edit: November 20, 2011, 06:02:01 PM by snz728 »

nzCdog

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2011, 06:03:32 PM »
Use 24AWG Bonded or Solid Core wire.  Don't get the cheap 'tinned/stranded' stuff its horrible to work with

nzCdog, do you have a brand or source suggestion for this?

Hey Grigori... Smallbear stocks it... I use this stuff and like it
http://www.smallbearelec.com/Detail.bok?no=85

I've heard some guys recommend this stuff from effects connection also:
http://www.effectsconnection.com/oscommerce/index.php?cPath=29_53

« Last Edit: November 20, 2011, 06:28:29 PM by nzCdog »

nzCdog

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2011, 01:36:50 PM »
I got some of small bear #24 prebond and it's OK
But the insulation can melt easily if you bump it with your iron

Yes, I noticed that myself Steve...  I still really like the SB wire tho, it bends to shape, staying where you want it to...  (so much easier than the nasty cheap Jaycar stuff I was using previously!)  :D

Micpoc

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2011, 02:15:22 PM »
Hey Grigori... Smallbear stocks it... I use this stuff and like it
http://www.smallbearelec.com/Detail.bok?no=85

I've heard some guys recommend this stuff from effects connection also:
http://www.effectsconnection.com/oscommerce/index.php?cPath=29_53



Thanks!

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2011, 04:50:01 PM »
The effects connection wire is nicer than small bear's IMO, but order it through ebay if you are going to get some, ordering through their website has become very risky, and you may not get an order confirmation, or your order at all, then have to wait for paypal to help you resolve the problem.  on ebay you get you money back quicker if something goes wrong.
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gtr2

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2011, 06:31:22 PM »
Just in case someone is reading this that doesn't know.

CLR = current limiting resistor

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keysandguitars

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Re: Little things that make a big difference
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2011, 11:48:02 AM »
I've been using 60/40 solder. What brand of 63/37 do you all use? What's the benefit of 63/37? I'm guessing it has a lower melting point?
I should still be a "diode destroyer"!