7 things I learned building my first DIY stompbox

I just finished this very crude and not entirely DIY analog delay pedal. I didn't do any of the difficult circuit-building bits, I just re-housed a MODboard analog delay circuit in a big 1790NS box with some modifications. Here's what I learned along the way:
1. If you don't have the knack, soldering is a nightmare. Once you have the knack, it's really easy. 'The knack' for me was nothing to do with technique - it was just making sure they tip of the soldering iron was clean. I used Multicore Tip Tinner, a little tub of evil-looking grey stuff from Maplin. Grind the hot iron tip into it, and it comes out all shiny and silver and healthy looking. Then keep cleaning the tip with a damp sponge.
2. Drilling big holes in aluminium boxes is easy and fun if you have a step drill. I bought this scary looking Irwin Unibit 4mm-12mm, which made neat, quick, easy holes for everything I wanted - an LED, switch, footswitches, pots, 1/4" sockets. I just used a normal cordless drill.
3. Even with negligible understanding of electronics, it's easy to modify circuits to be more fun. I added the two momentary switches and the on/off LED just by poking wires into the circuit to see what happened.
4. The only difficult bit is planning. I didn't think to leave space for the pots and the jack sockets around the back. There's plenty of room, but I was fired up to drill some holes so I didn't work out where everything would go. It's fine now with a bit of fiddling and clipping spare plastic off the sockets, but probably doubled the time the project took (to about 3 hours, excluding shopping).
5. There's a lot to buy: now I have a soldering iron, a step drill, a glue gun, a multimeter... my next project will be much cheaper.
6. It's not cheap if you buy everything individually from Maplin: There are £12 worth of foot switches in this box.
7. It's very gratifying to slay a few demons (like soldering and drilling big holes in metal) and then end up with a solid, cool-looking thing that works, doesn't rattle, is unique and makes stupid noises. I'd recommend it to anyone.

I ran maplin out of UV LEDs trying to put a wii sensor bar together. must have got throgh about 30 of them in different shapes and sizes.

Projects are always nice and cheap in the planning stages - because you fail to take into consideration your own ineptitude :)
I think you'll find that wii-mote bars work on IR not UV, at least that's what I've found from my noodlings.
Smells like dub to me!

Good job!
maplin is probably the most expensive place to buy components
Go Tom! Well done and thanks for the words of encouragement for the rest of us.


To really start experimenting, try using a breadboard. It's really fun, and you spare yourself the drilling. Also, rebuilding working circuits on PCB from breadboard ist quite easy.

Good luck,

good job.

were you able to take a photo of the _other_ side of this board? the suspense is killing me here.
Here's the back of the board...

Farnell is a good place to buy cheap electronics bits online, and they deliver quickly too!


haha, this sounds like an advert!
that's fascinating. that board is built around an ASIC made for a Korean guitar products company called Artec.

their site claims it isn't BBD, but it is an analogue delay.

thanks for posting that picture, Tom.
This is why I took A-level electronics :)
Any chance of posting your shcematics? I know you can't post much about the board, but the switches you added are awesome.
Dave, you make me blush.
'Schematics': A momentary switch connecting the pins you can soldered onto in this pic, plus another short-circuiting the pot that controls delay time. If I was doing it again, I'd wire an extra pot into that circuit, so it lets you switch between two different delay times, and maybe put another pot into that feedback switch.
rapidonline are much cheaper than Maplins - Tom Bugs swears by them .

Personally I get my supplies from the insanely cheap http://www.futurlec.com though be prepared to wait 2-3 weeks before getting your parts if you order from them ;)

If you fancy some more advanced projects, devi ever has some on her site: http://deviever.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=204
Praise the Unibit!
Tom, thanks for the quick explanation. I'm suprised it's so simple, because of how awesome it sounds. How do you think something like this would work for guitar?

Nice work Tom! (and, keep that iron fired up if you still want to come along to my London workshop in a couple of weeks time - actually, no need to fire the iron 'cos I bring all that...)

As Drohnwerks says -- Rapidonline! Great in the UK. And Futurlec too (cheap but slow to deliver). Farnell is good, but maybe a bit too much choice for the beginner (confusing!) and I think Rapid is def. cheaper.

All best,
Really shocked more people don't do this. My whole board is homebrew with two or three exceptions. Any one interested should check out 'build your own clone' they sell kits but more importantly great PCBs for cheep.
@tombugs what workshop?, where?, how can I sign up? any info would be appreciated..
You must try the apc (http://www.marmelos.com/atari_punk_console/atari_punk_console_circuit.html) and the cracker box amp from MAKE: they are fast satisfaction, and logical u have to check out www.tonepad.com
Dave - it works best on guitar - the circuit is originally designed to be mounted inside a guitar, so it's very much tailored to that, in terms of impedance etc. I find the effect is a bit weaker than I'd like when using it with high-output sources like synths.
good job man..
My partner over at citizenanalog works for a pedal design company in NYC, he's got some good experience with this sort of fabrication. I'm sure he'd be more than willing to dialogue about different techniques if you decide to do more.
You can wire a switch in parallel with your pushbutton.

It looks annoying in your video trying to hold down those pushbuttons and twiddle at the same time.
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