Those low profile switches

These look good and come in a few varieties. I tried these out when first saw thinking the would allow a little more space for components. These days I’m not including a battery 🔋 and making batter layouts with two sided boards and space is not an issue.

3PDT Latched Foot Switch – Low Profile – PCB Mount – Long Bushing.

here are specs from Lovemyswitches.com :

The Specs:

3PDT latched foot switch

Low profile

Two hex nuts, 1 spring washer, and 1 flat washer assembly

PCB mount

10,000 cycles

Hand solder temp: 662°F / 350°C for 3 seconds

Dip solder temp: 500°F / 260°C for 5-10 seconds

12mm mounting hole

If it’s not a requirement the blue 3PDT is the better choice it’s got twice the life and costs less: $2.50 vs $3.99. Then there’s the life expectancy of a meager 10,000 cycles. Wow that’s half the estimate for the blue 3PDT. With a smaller body the internals have to be smaller which might account for the shorter life expectancy.

Notice the throw of the plunger is also much shorter than the blue 3PDT. This could also effect the life of the switch. It would also affect the feel.

The hardware is good, it comes with steel washers. The switch action has a short positive throw with a solid snap. These come in both solder lugs or PCB mount.

3PDT Latched Foot Switch – Low Profile – PCB Mount

there was no info available for this I’ll assume it’s the same as the long shaft version above. At $3.69 it’s a little cheaper but still more than the blue 3PDT. The short shaft model seems to come with a plastic washer go figure.

The Fulltone 3PDT

When I got started in the DIY pedal hobby the switches that were available were the Carling DPDT. These were about $9 but didn’t allow for easily wiring an LED and true bypass. Small Bear Electronics started offering a 3PDT switch labeled “Fulltone”. These switches were $13 if I recall.

I suspect that Fulltone really wanted to offer true bypass pedals with an LED and had them made for that purpose. Since demand was nonexistent they probably had to order enough to make the manufacturing worthwhile. I guess Steve Daniels at Small Bear got in touch and gave Fulltone an outlet for excess switches.

I bought two of these around 2000. I’m usually trying to build things cheap as possible so I only bought two. Small Bear was the only place I know of that had these switches at the time. I guess they were popular and Steve Daniels was able to get his own line on the switches because soon after the blue version that everyone is using today became available and the prices started coming down. These days the cost is $2.50 to $5.00 and there are several versions of the switch to choose from.

This Fulltone switch is a little different from the blue version. First it’s labeled Fulltone. Second the body of the switch is made from a harder Bakelite where the blue switches seem to be made of a softer plastic. Fulltone still sells these switches for $16. Here’s what they say about the switch:

3PDT Footswitch

15 years ago I designed and started manufacturing the best 3PDT switch money can buy. I did it because the available 3PDTs sucked… badly.

Both the Blue ones, and the Black ones.

The rest of the world has copied the look of my 3PDT, but they have not copied the construction or quality!

  1. All others use a plastic body… plastic and heat don’t mix. Apply some heat while soldering wires and the terminals come loose resulting in either immediate or eventual FAILURE.Mine is Bakelite, it doesn’t melt.
  2. All other switches use a plastic internal plunger! Plastic flexes, especially if there is a 200-lb person with army boots on top of it. The plunger collapses and pops right out of its socket.Buh bye switch. My plunger is made out of metal.

Before I started making my own I used the very same as everyone else, and spent many hours a day replacing failed footswitches. Now I’m free and life is good.

Sounds like it’s different on the inside! Seems like if you want a better 3PDT you can get it but it will cost you. I’m not sure that at $16 you’ll sway anyone from those blue switches for $3.50 a piece. Not too mention there’s another super premium switch out there for $15.40. More to come on this switch. For myself I’m not making products that need to live up to quality and durability claims so I’m still making things cheap as possible for now.

I couldn’t find a spec sheet for this switch. It might be more sturdy but it’s hard to say what that might add to the life expectancy. I doubt it would last 4 to 5 times the life expectancy of the cheaper blue switches makes it hard to justify the cost. That said of it did last that much longer it might be worth it.

That blue 3PDT stomp switch


The Specs*: (from Lovemyswitches see my notes below)

  • 3PDT Latched Foot Switch
  • Nickel plated solder lug
  • Two hex nuts, one plastic washer, one lock washer
  • 50,000 cycles
  • 12mm mounting hole
  • Solder temp: 482°F / 250℃ max for 3 seconds
  • 3A 250VAC 
  • 6A 125VAC
  • 4A 30VDC

The specs are pretty good I see these used everywhere. At 50,000 cycles these would last a while. Stories of life in the wild tell the tale of switches going bad but not often enough where consumers cry foul. Imagine you stepped on this for the chorus of every song in a 10 song set. That might be 60 stomps a night, 3 choruses on and off times 10 song. You play 833 sets before reaching the predicted life. It would last more than two years if you practiced your set daily and gigged on weekends. More likely you would use the pedal less often. Figure you used the pedal on the intro and solo for every song on a ten song set you could stomp it 40 times in a night. That would be 1250 stomps pers set. It should last almost 3.5 years. All of us that aren’t wearing out stomp-switches at this rate are not playing often enough!

The hardware is the most mysterious and yawn inspiring. It domes with two skinny hex nuts, a serrated lock washer, and a big white plastic washer. This plastic washer is seen on almost every pedal out there these days. I don’t understand why these comes with a plastic washer? Is there some mechanical advantage, doesn’t seem likely. The, plastic washer just looks cheap if I could get one of these with a metal washer I’d buy that every time.

The switch has positive click and takes a good amount of pressure to activate. I’d say it’s in the same ballpark as the Carling call it 6 to 8 lbs.

Searching the internet for data sheets I found this information from Tayda Electronics which gives the switch a poorer rating.

Rating: 4A 125V AC/2A 250V AC; 4A 30V DC

Electrical
3.1. Contact Resistance: 20mΩ(Max)
3.2. Insulation resistance: 500V DC 100MΩ(Min) 3.3. Dielectrical strength: AC 1500V/minute.

Temperature: Under 100°C for 1 Hour,ametabolic and still works well. 5. Electrical Life: 20000 Cycles at full load.

These specs give the switch a life of 20,000 cycles. Note this is electrical life. The specs above are from Lovemyswitches which may represent the mechanical life, I’m not sure. At 20,000 cycles the life is shorter, less than half the examples above! While that’s significant the life is still pretty long. You could step on this thing once per second continuously for 5 and half hours straight before it would start to get unreliable.

Tayda mix up

I order some parts on 1/4/21 a big box showed up on 1/20/21 and nothing on the box was anything that I ordered. It was all pedal making parts. Including:

  • 5x 125B enclosures
  • knobs
  • resistors
  • caps
  • 2x PT2399
  • 4x TL072
  • LT1054
  • 7805
  • 2N3904
  • LEDs and other diodes
  • pots
  • big bag of jacks

I’m like seriously someone was going to build a couple delays, Klon clone, and some other things, maybe a fuzz and a tube screamer variants. I recognize all these parts. Tayda was very they got back to me the next day and offered to ship my order.

Sadly these are all useful but not the parts I would use. I’d use 1590B over 12B, I would have ordered open jacks. I would ordered different knobs in different colors. All in all it was sort of a windfall.

Carling DPDT 316-B-PP

This is the classic foot switch found in wah pedals and older effects. In the old days this was the switch, 3PDT switches were not available or were very expensive and hard to get. These days these switches are about $10 each! And they don’t have the extra pole for an easy LED indicator and true bypass.

This switch feels solid and industrial. The data sheet says it has a stiff activation of 6 to 8 lbs. and Electrical Life: 25,000 cycles, and Mechanical Life: 100,000 cycles. I’m guessing that 25,000 cycles is important to pedal builders. How long would this last in a pedal? If you stepped on this once per second for 7 hours that would be 25,200 stomps. Probably not going to happen. What if, somehow, you managed to use it on the chorus of every song in a 10 song set you might step on it 60 times, unlikely but possible. You could play 416 such gigs before reaching 24,960 stomps. If you did this gig once a week it would last 8 years.

I’d say it sounds pretty pretty reliable. But not military grade. The construction is a little loose, the lugs are not epoxied in place and wiggle a little. This means it can probably stand higher heat when soldering but also reaches an intermittent functionality sooner than it’s life expectancy would be my guess.

The threaded shaft is tall with lots of threads. It comes with two knurled nuts. Which look nifty but are hard to tighten and seem a little light weight. There are aren’t a lot of tools for tightening these and it seems easy to scratch your enclosure trying to get them tight with a pair of pliers.

Overall the switch is pretty tall. You could use it on an enclosure with a thick wall like wood. The button can sit up higher than the knobs on the top of a box which might help prevent accidentally hitting the knobs with your foot while stepping on the switch.

Overall rating: 5/10 – not bad if, you have one in your parts bin use it. If you’re buying something new get one of the more modern switches for 1/4 the price and the extra pole. Best used for specialty situations like fixing an old wah, something vintage, or you need an extra long shaft.

Available at smalll bear

I built this Klon clone with buffered bypass which only requires DPDT. I used the carling here. The original Klon Centaur used these carling switches.

22/7 on OSH Park

Built and test this second version of the 22/7 by RunOffGroove.com. Sounds good. This is a great alternative for Big Muff fans. The OSHPark project is public and verified. Check it out on my projects page.

22/7 is a Big Muff built around CMOS inverters in place of the transistors used in the traditional BMP circuit. The CMOS inverters have a tube like sound when over driven.

If you don’t want to build your own this one is for sale on Reverb.

ICBM (op-amp Big Muff Clone)

Here’s a purple sparkle op-amp Big Muff Clone. This fine specimen is for sale on my Reverb shop. If you’re in familiar, the Big Muff circuit is built around 4 transistors for all of the different versions except for one version made in 1978. This version has am similar but unique sound and was built around completely different circuit using op-amps and no transistors. Read more about the op-amp Big Muff here: Kit Rae’s history of the Big Muff.

Haunting Mids Fuzz (clone)

This Haunting Mids clone is on sale on my Reverb shop. If you haven’t heard of Haunting Mids, this is not a clone of the JHS Pedal with the same name, it’s DIY community variant of the Big Muff. It has a great sound and stands on it’s own in the field of BMP clones.

The Haunting Mids Fuzz uses the first three transistor stages of the original circuit but drops the tone stack and output buffer. It also changes up the regular diodes for some more carefully chosen diodes in the clipping stages. What you hear is the raw distortion from the circuit without any filtering.

The original circuit uses a single volume control with an internal trimmer where the Sustain control would go. This was meant to be set and forget. I’ve moved this to outside of the box to give you a little more control and variety of sounds.

Harvesting Parts!

Harvesting parts from these old PCBs. I had this need for a A100K pot and Christmas 🎄 has holding up the deliver from Tayda Electronics. So I started digging through my bin of old projects that never made it into a box 📦.

I didn’t my ideal A100K pot, it would have been 16mm with legs, but I did find a couple 12mm pots which might sub. These have a D shaped shaft which makes them harder to fit for knobs.

While not finding what I was looking for was disappointing, I think I may have raided this bin at an earlier date, I did find some surprises. I found at least a half dozen J201 Fets, and a 4049UBE hex inverters. The J201s are great for stomp boxes and hard to get these days.

There was also a few 3PDT switches and a bunch of 1/4” jacks along with a handful of other things. Switches and jacks can always find some use. Personally I prefer the open frame Switchcraft jacks but these plastic ones are a good second choice.

Stomp box enclosures and shielding

I was trying to up the quality of my builds and thought about shielding and noise. Did a little research on the interwebs and came up with a few tips.

First a little background. High gain circuits often run series of gain stages in series. If you have an input stage of x10 followed by an adjustable stage of x10 to x100 you have a minimal gain of x100 to a max gain of x1000. That’s a lot of gain. Anything that gets into your circuit at the input will also be boosted by x100 to x1000! Think of cable crackles, switch pops, scratchy volume pots on your guitar, and more.

Then there’s the noise in the air from electromagnetic interference. It’s not uncommon for pedals to pick up radio transmissions, remember that scene from Spinal Tap? Or the hum of electronic devices like fluorescent lights.

In many ways the enclosure acts as an antenna picking up electromagnetic noise. But it can also be used as a Faraday cage which can be used to protect the circuit inside from electromagnetic interference from the outside. To do this the enclosure must be connected to ground.

if you have open frame jacks like the Switchcraft jacks the sleeve will make contact with the enclosure. This grounds the enclosure for free. If you’re using those jacks with the plastic body you’ll need to run a wire to the enclosure somewhere.

Is it enough to ground the box? Yeah but in the case of painted boxes or boxes with a powder coat the bottom cover may not make an electrical connection to the main body of the enclosure. I used a drill bit to remove the paint from one of the counter sunk screw recesses. This allows the screw to make contact with back cover and main body of the enclosure.