Breakfast Audio Bork Bork PCB

Generous Reddit member sent me this Breakfast Audio PCB. It looks like a clone of an Ibanez version of the Super Fuzz. They threw in stickers to, awesome!

I had not heard of this circuit though I was familiar with the Super Fuzz. I found this discussion over at the DIYStompboxes.com forum.

Physically the board is wider than a 125B so it probably needs to be built into a 1590BB. You might be able to get this into smaller box in portrait orientation.

Boss Tonebender how about a Buzzbender?

We’ll call this the BZ-1. What got me started on these Boss rehousings was seeing the Boss Tone Bender TB-2w going for 3k on Reverb.com. These were super cool pedals but not worth more than than the list price of $350. I understand the idea of scarcity and knew there were only 3000 made, but I wasn’t going pay even $350 for a fuzz pedal. So I figured I could make one!

The Burns Buzzaround

If you’re curious about the Burns Buzzaround and how it relates to the Tone Bender check out here articles:

Building the BZ-1

There is always a solution when you can make your own! Since it was hard to get a two knob Boss enclosure, I decided to go with a three knob Tonebender variation. There are a couple to choose from. In the end I decided to go with the Madbean Pasty Face which is a clone of the Burns Buzzaround which is variant of the three transistor Tonebender family. I had read some good reviews of the Buzzaround and hadn’t built one before which made it more attractive.

Getting started

I started with a used Boss DS-1 from Reverb.com. Used these seem to go for about $40. I ordered a board from Madbean and I had most of the other parts on hand. The DS-1 comes with a lot of parts that can be reused: switch, LED, jacks, and the enclosure itself. I pulled everything out and except the jacks. I left all of the original wiring in place since I can reuse it.

The LED is mounted to a small PCB along with two wires. These wires were too short to reach the far side of the enclosure where the switching board will be so I replaced them with longer wires.

I built the Pasty Face circuit board first. I left the transistors off since these need some special selection. The build is pretty easy there are only a handful of parts and there is plenty of space to work.

Since I’m putting this into a Boss enclosure the pots will be mounted off board. I cut a piece of strip board to mount the pots to. This was tight fit using 16mm pots but just makes it. Then I soldered some strips of ribbon cable to the this board and then to the main PCB. I made the ribbon cable a generous length since to allow me to pull the PCB out without having to also remove the pots.

Boss uses an electronic switching and the enclosure is nice the way it is. I wanted the switching to work as it was without adding a 3PDT switch. To do this I used a MadBean Softie PCB. This is a relay switching system that works with a Microcontroller. The microcontroller is triggered by the original Boss SPST switch. The relay is a DPDT that handles true bypass switching, while the microcontroller handles the LED.

This system works pretty well and offers a couple advantages. The relay has a failure rate of 100k cycles which beats the 30k cycles of those blue 3PDT switches. Also, if power is lost, the relay switches to bypass. Overall I’d say this relay switching works well and is easy to install. The downside would that the cost is higher than the mechanical switch, and the parts are harder to get, I had to order relays from Mouser.com.

Choosing Transistors

The circuit uses three germanium transistors. With these old circuits there was a lot of variation with some Devices sounding better than others. I found this great thread with some suggestions about the gain and leakage for each of the transistors:

https://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/index.php?topic=98022.0

All pedal questions seem to lead to answers at DIYStompboxes.com. Great site and community, I highly recommend you check it out.

I have bag of germanium transistors. I got these from eBay and other sources and have been pulling parts from it for a while. What’s left are parts with less desirable values at this point. Luckily the thread above recommends lower gain devices for Q1 and Q2 and I have plenty of these!

In this circuit the first two transistors are setup in a Darlington pair. You can think of the two together as a single transistor with an hfe that is the product of the two. For example if both transistors had an hfe of 10 the pair in this configuration would act like a transistor an hfe of 100. This also multiplies the leakage of the two transistors. Which can increase noise.

Seems like the best choice here is low leakage, and low hfe/gain. Two transistors with an hfe of 50 would be considered low gain but in this configuration as a pair they would have gain of 2500!

Q3 seems like where all of the distortion/fuzz magic happens. From what I read in the thread above a higher gain, hfe 100+, is better here.

I identified three transistors that I thought would be suitable. I soldered some sockets into the board and auditioned the transistors with the back of the box open.

Everything was sounding pretty fuzzy good, so I removed the sockets and soldered the transistors to the board. I left about an inch of leg since I’d need to bend them over to fit everything into the enclosure with the back on. I wrapped the legs and the transistor body (not shown) in heat shrink tubing to make sure nothing shorted when I closed up the box.

What’s it sound like?

Sounds a lot like all those other 60s fuzz pedals but with its own character. The sound is thick and fuzzy. The tone control has a useful range. The sustain control goes from a muffled to tight buzz. Sort of like fuzzy bumblebee to swarm of wasps.

Boss Tonebender how about a Buzzbender? was originally published on Super-Freq

Parentheses Fuzz #5

I think this is #5 I’m losing count. These are so much fun to play the world needs a couple more! I used matte black sand textured enclosure. Which give this a good industrial vibe.

This is a pretty easy build for what you get. The board is a good size and parts are comfortably spaced. All of the pots are mounted to the board making wiring easy. The switches require some work but the pads are well organized.

The only down side is finding FETs and Ge diodes. Luckily D1 and D2 can be replaced by just about any type of type. D7, D8, and D9 could also be any type but Ge will have a noticeable sound to them. Ge diodes here will have a particular sound, not better or worse. If you’re looking for “that” sound you might stick with Ge for these. Otherwise test out any type of diode and use your ears to decide what sounds good here.

The main distortion circuit is based on the LM308 op-amp which are hard to get and can cost $5 or more, that’s a lot for an op-amp. Luckily the part is not critical. You can a few replacements. I used an OP07 which was $0.50 at Tayda.

The PF5102 FETs are hard to get. I used J112 from Tayda successfully.

And, it sounds amazing! This might be for sale check my for sale page.

Parentheses Fuzz #5 was originally published on Super-Freq

Factory of FUZZ (fuzz factory clone)

I’m always looking for the cheapest way to build pedals. I found these boards on OSH Park.com. Besides being a service for prototyping boards it’s also an open source repository of projects uploaded by the community. A board uploaded to OSH Park marked public can be ordered by anyone. The search function is not so great but it is searchable. I spent a day searching OSH Park for stompbox projects and found more than a few things that look worth building.

The OSH Park standard service is $5 per square inch with the requirement that you order three boards, and shipping is free. This usually cheaper than ordering boards from vendors but there is no support. One of the projects I found was a this Fuzz Factory. It looked well laid out and the cost was $7.75 for 3 boards, about $2.50 per board, which was pretty reasonable.

Order some of these boards here: https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/xaBILSTV. Check out my projects page for links to some OSH Park boards I designed. I have documentation here on my site.

With no build Docs you’re on your own. The Fuzz Factory is not a complex pedal and the schematic is readily available. Some OSH Park projects will link to documentation and other do not. This is a good way to level up your skills!

Getting Started

The Fuzz Factory is not a hard pedal to clone. The toughest part is wiring the pots. Getting a board where the pots mount directly to the board is a great help. Here three of the five pots mount to the board and two require off board wiring which makes a pretty easy build.

The Fuzz Factory has only a handful of parts. I soldered everything except the pots and the two germanium transistors. You’ll want to test a few transistors if you’re using germanium to get some that sound best. That said really everything even silicon can sound good in this circuit.

The Enclosure

For the enclosure I used a black powder coat 1590B from Tayda. For the logo and labels I milled the box using a desktop mill. The powder coat is removed to reveal the design. I created the design in Sketch on the computer exported some SVG files and loaded these into the mill.

Switching

I decided to try out a relay switching system. This uses a soft touch momentary SPST switch and some circuitry. I used boards from DIYGuitarPedals.com. Their system uses some discreet logic and a relay to handle switching and the status LED.

The PCB is designed to fit a 1590B or larger enclosure. It requires a few parts which are mostly easily available. The relay is available through Mouser. Erik over at DIYGuitarPedals was generous enough to send me two boards and the relays, thanks again Erik! Check out their web site and their YouTube channel.

The system uses a relay which is an electromechanical switch in a little box. The switch in this case is the RY9W-K. It’s a DPDT but rather than being engaged by a button or lever it’s engaging by an electrical voltage applied to a control pin.

In the picture below you can see the relay has 8 pins. The 6 pins on the left are the switching connections, each row is one switch, the center is the common connection that bridge to the outer connections depending on the state of the switch. Hey those six pins on the left are just like the pins on a regular DPDT switch-. The two pins on the right are the control and ground.


The board, relay, SPST switch, and other parts make up a single assembly that replace the 3PDT switches typically used for guitar pedals. You can see it neatly fits the lower bout of the 1590B enclosure.


Here is what the whole system looks like assembled. This is complete and could be dropped into any pedal replacing the standard blue 3PDT.

How does it work?

Unlike many relay systems that rely on a micro controllers this circuit uses only discreet logic. There are pros and cons to each. Using a micro controller requires some extra circuitry since the Micro Controller runs on 5v. They can be proprietary since someone has to write the software that runs the system. Using a Micro controller you can fit all the logic into an 8 pin DIP and add new features or up date the existing code. Using discreet logic your system can run on 9v, might have fewer parts, and won’t suffer from software bugs.

This system relies on the 4011 quad NAND gate to handle the switching logic. Check out this video for a more in-depth explanation of the switching logic.

Assembling the NAND Bypass board is pretty easy. Easier than making the Fuzz Factory board. It’s got very few parts and there is plenty of room to work. If you wanted to give this type of switching a try this would be a good place to start.

Building and wiring the Fuzz Face

The board mounts the three 10k pots and will accept 9mm or 16mm pots. If you are trying to fit this into a 1590B box in portrait orientation you’ll need to use 9mm pots! The two 5k pots are mounted off board. You could also build this in portrait with all 16mm pots.

I mounted the pots in the enclosure then soldered them to the board to make sure they were perpendicular to the enclosure.

I had some ribbon cable salvaged from an old computer. I used this to wire the off board 5k pots. The board marks the pins 1 and 3. Pin 1 also has a square pad. I used 16mm pots with pins that stick out perpendicular to the shaft. I cut a couple pieces strip board to interface the wires and the pots. This made for some nice clean wiring.

The bottom of the PCB is pretty close the corners of the enclosure. I’ll have to be careful it doesn’t short out there! This was a test fit. I needed to mark the positioning for the power, input and output jacks, then disassemble everything and drill these.

Once I got everything drilled I added some wires and reassembled everything. I realized I needed to move the two pots in the second row inboard a millimeter or two. You can see I had to file the holes a little.

I also installed the switching board. I stuck a little piece of wood to the side of the switch to brace it against the back of the enclosure. There was no way to brace the switch when tightening the nut.


You may have noticed the two germanium transistors are missing. Since these are notoriously inconsistent I decided I wanted to audition a few before selecting which would be used for this project. I have a bag of 40 I’ll test and measure these to find suitable pairs.

I have this TC1 Multi-function Tester. This cost about $17 on eBay. Well worth the money. It tests resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, and more. It will tell you all of the most useful information. It will also differentiate NPN, PNP, JFET, and MOSFET devices, and tell which pin is the base, collector, emitter, gate, source, or drain. Super handy.

Germanium transistors have a high degree of variation. Their hfe and leakage is very inconsistent across devices with the same part number. There is a lot of debate about what hfe values work best for different circuits. Some people like to judge by the numbers others like to use their ears. I’m going to go with a hybrid approach use the numbers to get in the ballpark and then audition by ear.

I measured all of the Germanium transistors in the parts bin, marked each with a number and made a spreadsheet of all the values I measured with the TC1.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10O7FYfs_f0x301CYvcvC7pWFFp8Ld2-e3oANXK-AOtc

This is a Fuzz Factory I built using a board from AionFX, it has a few extra knobs. I used sockets for the transistors. I figure I can plug some transistors into this to hear how they sound before soldering them into the new Fuzz Factories.

Here I wired up everything in the box. The NAND Bypass board is well laid out and labeled making wiring easy. Input and output jacks go to the input “In Jack” and “Out Jack” and the input and output from the PCB go to the “To PCB Input” and “To PCB Output”. It’s paint by numbers really!

At this point I gave it a test. I the LED worked, and bypass was working. So we’re goo to go. The last step is finding and installing some Ge transistors.

Tested some transistors in the green fuzz factory and decided on 1 and 9 from the spreadsheet. They had numbers that seemed to be the right range and sounded good.

Taco Fry Fuzz #1

The first us out of the way time to audition a couple more transistors and make the second box.

Tested a few more transistors and decided on #60 for Q2 70 hfe, and #21 for Q3 190 hfe. These sound good and we’re very close to the values for the first pedal. Which should make these sound very close.

What does it sound like?

The Fuzz factory is a highly variable fuzz. The sounds range from standard distortion to fuzz into high gain. It’s possible to dial in gated fuzz and zipper sounds. Not all of it useful in many cases. It’s all fun and inspiring.

Boss DRV-1981

This is a clone of the 1981 Inventions DRV rehoused in a Boss DS-1 enclosure. I used the PedalPCB Informant PCB and the MadBean Softie for this project.

The “Boss” DRV-1981

Why?

Good question! I suppose I saw the ridiculous prices people were paying for the Boss Tone Benders that had come out recently and thought I could just make my own. While I was exploring the idea it seemed it was easiest to three knob Boss enclosures. The cheapest pedals seemed to be the DS-1, SD-1, and the BD-1. So building a three knob was the best option. There are many three knob pedals out there. Big Muff, Tube Screamer etc.

I got a little sidetracked and built a Big Muff in a DS-1 enclosure first, see my post here. The second build was this 1981 DRV. I have a board for a three knob Tone Bender and am planning to work on that next.

The process The process was pretty straight forward.

The Boss enclosure is pretty roomy. Figure you can fit anything that might fit 125B sized box into a Boss enclosure. The donor pedal comes with LED, Jacks, much of the wiring already. No need to drill or install these things.

One thing that needs some work is the power jack. The power jack is mounted to the original DS-1 PCB in my build there was no place to mount this. To solve this I used one of those standard DC jacks with a nut. I needed to ream the enclosure to allow it to fit. I added a couple spare washers so the jack didn’t extend too far out of the enclosure.

Switching

Switching is an area that needed some thought. Boss uses an electronic switching system. The system uses a couple JFET transistors to route the signal either through the effect or from the input to the output. Another part of the circuit turns this off or on. There is also buffer.

A side effect of this system is that your signal is always passing through some electronic components unlike true bypass where the signal is essentially traveling through a wire from the input to the output when the effect is bypassed. I’ve never heard any complaints about The Boss bypass. Another potential problem is the signal is lost when power is lost, even when the effect is bypassed.

I used the MadBean Softie which uses a micro controller and an electronic relay. The relay is an electromechanical switch. It’s a DPDT switch that is activated by an electronic signal. This offers a couple advantages. First, it works with the existing switch in the Boss enclosure. Second, when in bypass it acts as true bypass, the signal is essentially traveling through a wire from input to output when in bypass. Third, if power is lost the relay switches to its default state which bypasses the effect. Last, the relay has a failure rate of 100k cycles so it should outlast a mechanical 3PDT switch, which typically has a failure rate of 30k to 50k cycles.

It isn’t all upside. The cost of the Softie PCB was $4 and you’d need an SPDT monetary switch which is another $2.50. That’s $6.50 compared to $2.50 for one of those standard blue 3PDT switches. In this case the Boss enclosure came witch an SPST.

I thought the Softie worked well. Madbean makes three versions of this board for different sized enclosures. I chose the smallest version that was meant to fit 1590B enclosures. I think I could choose a one of the other boards for the Boss enclosure. The reason the board I chose has a small footprint but mounts parts on both sides of the board making it taller than other boards, which makes it a tighter fit than it would appear.

The Informant/DRV needed three A100K pots. The DS-1 has two B100k and a B20K pot. I could have tried the B100K pots. Since I needed to replace on of the pots I replaced them all.

I used some of those 9- degree PCB mounted pots, two 16mm and one 9mm. I cut a piece of strip board and mounted the post to this. Then ran the wiring from the Strip board to the PCB.

I color coded the wires by the PIN number of the pots to make it easy to get them matched up to the correct holes on the PCB. I just did it alphabetical to make it easy to remember: Brown, Gray, Orange. Notice the center pot is backwards,

Cost

The cost of this project was higher than a typical pedal but not as bad as i was expecting. The cost of the donor DS-1 was the biggest expense. The DS-1 was $40 and it replaces about $10 of other parts. So this was roughly about $30 more than your typical pedal build.

Item Cost
Informant PCB $8
Softie PCB $4
Used DS-1 $40
TC1044 $2
Other parts $6
Total (estimate) $60
DRV-1981 costs estimated

The total cost was about $60 which was not that bad, or at least than I thought it might be when I started. The pedal is pretty solid and works well.

What’s it sound like?

Hopefully like the 1981 Inventions pedal. I haven’t tried one of the originals but this sounds similar to the demos I’ve seen on YouTube. Its a really driven sound with a tight low end. It has a very 80s sound.

The drive control starts at distorted and goes quickly to high gain. I find it sounds best to turn up the Cut control as you increase the gain to “shave” some of the “hair” off as gain increases.

For myself I like the lower range of the Drive control. Everything past 25% (9 o’clock) sounds very similar. I’d like to play with Drive and gain in the future. This might be replacing the Drive pot with a 50k pot, or possibly changing some of the other components to get a more useful feel for this control.

Parentheses Fuzz #4

This is a clone of the Earth Quaker Devices Life. Which is a great octave fuzz.

The foot switches left to right are: Boost, Octave, Bypass,

The knobs left to right: Boost, Distortion, Filter, Volume, Octave. The center top knob is a four position switch that chooses the clipping type.

The circuit uses an octave similar to the Green Ringer info a ProCo Rat like distortion circuit built around a single op-amp followed by clipping diodes to ground. The center top knob chooses one of four clipping diode arrangements.

Check out the build Docs here.

PedalPCB 1981 inventions DRV clone

This is a build of the PedalPCB Informant, it’s a clone of the 1981 Inventions DRV, which is a great sounding evolution of the ProCo Sound Rat. I’d call this a beginner to intermediate level project. The PCB is easy to work with and well laid out with plenty of room to work. The only thing that moves this up from a beginner project is the charge pump. It’s not hard to work with but you do have be careful as these can be blown up easily, there are a few different parts to choose from, and depending on the part number you may need to solder the jumper on the back of the board.

This shares a lot with the Klon but goes further in the drive/distortion range. The DRV and Klon use a charge pump to run on 18 volts. This gives the pedal greater headroom. It also makes it a poor candidate for batteries. They both use a similar clipping architecture with diodes to ground after the op-amp, like a lot of other designs. While the diode arrangement and charge pump are similar the sounds are pretty far apart. The Klon has a deeper mid focused growl and and DRV has tighter sharper mid chunk. It’s the difference between Tom Waits and David Lee Roth.

I used a black powder coated 125B enclosure. I milled the logo and labels into the enclosure with a desktop mill.

Assembly

The PCB is east to assemble and well laid out with plenty of room to work. The pots and LED are mounted to the board which makes for little work wiring and mounts the PCB in the enclosure.

I assembled everything in the enclosure without soldering, fitted the washers and nuts on the pots and bent to LED into position, then soldered the leads on everything.

The docs provide a drilling diagram for a 125B box with the jacks at the top which is a popular arrangement and works well.

Wiring

The PCB makes the off board wiring organized and easy to implement. There are two options to choose either buffered bypass or true bypass. The true bypass option removes the effect entirely from the signal chain and the signal passes from the input to the output through a wire. In the buffered mode one of the op-amps is used as a unity gain buffer when the effect is bypassed. I chose the buffered arrangement for this build which is how the original 1981 DRV works.


Cost

Parts for this project are easy to get and common. The thing of note is the charge pump which are about $2 and can be blown if they get shorted. I’ve burned up a few in the past. It’s this charge pump the boosts the 9 volt power supply up to 18 volts.

Running at 18 volts you’ll want to use 1/4 watt resistors and make sure the caps are rated 25 volts or height.

The other parts are pretty common TL072 op-amps and mostly 10k and 100k resistors. You might have all the parts left over from a previous project!



How Does it Sound?

It sounds like ROCK! This is a total ‘80s rock machine. In some ways it has some of the character of a Klon. But the Klon has a deeper/darker mid range and goes from almost clean to heavy overdrive. The Informant/DRV goes a from distorted to really distorted with with brighter mid range and tighter bass.

Here is a video demo:

PedalPCB Informant Demo

This one is for sale on reverb check out my for sale page

Parentheses Fuzz postmortem

What is it

Parentheses Fuzz is a PCB from PedalPCB that is a clone of the Earth Quaker Devices Life pedal, with some mods. Originally designed as a sort of signature pedal for the Band Sunn o))).

What does it sound like?

This thing sounds lightly. It has a distortion, boost, and a switchable octave. The distortion is great, the boost works well, and the octave sounds pretty good for an analog octave effect. The controls provide volume, distortion, tone, boost, and a switchable option for the diode clipping.

What’s in the box?

Internally the pedal is based around the ProCo Rat circuit. The Octave section is similar to the Dan Armstrong Green Ringer, and the boost uses a BS170 MOST al a the ZVex Super Hard On. Not sure how they can up with the design. I wonder if Sunn o))) plugged all of these pedals together and asked EQD to make something that sounded the same or if these were just building blocks?

Costs

This is one of the more expensive projects to make. The PCB from PedalPCB is great, it’s works well, the layout is good, the pots and switch are mounted on the board. But it is also large and costs $18. That makes it the most expensive piece of the whole project by a large margin.

It is also requires 1590XX or larger enclosure. These run about $13. This and the board alone cost as much building a Big Muff in a 1950B enclosure. It also requires three switches 5 pots, and hard to get mini rotary switch. Overall I calculated the costs at about $65! Which is pretty high for a DIY project.

Besides the big ticket items some of the smaller parts are more costly and hard to get.

  • 1590xx enclosure
  • Switches 3PDT x 3
  • 4PDT mini switch
  • PF5102 x 3
  • 1N34a
  • PCB
partcosttotal
1590XX$13$13
3PDT Switches$3 x 3$9
4PDT rotary switch$4$4
PF5102$1 x 2$2
1N34a$0.50 x 4$2
PCB$18$18
knobs$0.50 x 6$3
total$51
here’s a code break down of significant parts.

Here is a cost break down of significant parts. There is jacks, caps, resistors, and shipping.

What about the LM308?

These are hard to get and cost about $5 a piece. Personally I dont think the choice of op-amp will affect the sound of this circuit. All of the clipping happens after the op-amp, and then there’s the analog octave. Maybe my ears have been to too many loud rock shows, I can’t hear the difference. I had some suitable single op-amps on hand so used one of those.

  • LM308
  • OP07
  • CA3130

Let’s talk about those transistors

The circuit uses a few transistors: PF5102, 2N5087, 2N5089, and BS170. Most of these are easy to get and I had them on hand. The PF5102 is FET and these are getting hard to find these days. Tayda had these stocked at the time I was building but they were about $1 each which is pretty high for a single transistor. Some research on the PedalPCB form found some alternative part numbers that were suggested as working. These included:

  • J112
  • J113
  • 2N5457
  • 2N5458
  • BF244

Be sure to check the pin out on any of these they may not be the same!

And the diodes

There are a few diodes of different types used here. Two of the diodes are used in the octave circuit D1 and D2. These are listed as GE, they might do better if matched. I read a few suggestions people had good results using 1N5817 diodes here.

The rest of the diodes D3-9 are used for clipping to ground and these could really be any type. Feel free to experiment and use what have on hand for these.

The last diode D100 is used for power supply reversed polarity protection and should be a 1N5817.

Results

I built three of these. The build process was made easy by the great job PedalPCB did on the board. The off board wiring is significant due to the three 3PDT switches, each of these has 9 connections. The wiring is not difficult since the box is so large.

Of the three I kept one pedal and sold the other two on Reverb with an asking price of $200. I got $200 for one and took an offer of $165 on the other. After the Reverb fees I’m keeping 92.3% minus another $0.50. So I got roughly: $336.50. I spent roughly $195! So that left me with about: $141.50. I also have Parentheses Fuzz for my trouble. There is a possibility to cut some costs here but that also takes time energy and some up front investment. I’m just doing this as hobby.

I started the work in November 2020 and sold the second pedal in February 2021. Which wasn’t too bad on turnaround time. I have a few pedals on Reverb that I listed before starting building these that are still on Reverb.

So over all it was worth the efforts but I don’t think I’m going to quit my day job any time soon. I don’t think this is going to pay the rent but it’s not just losing money either. On the contrary it’s financing the next project!

Boss Enclosures

I got the bug to put some circuits into Boss enclosures. Boss makes a really solid pedal. The pedal itself is bomb proof with a nice form factor and circuits are pretty good. The switch has a nice feel to it. You can’t just buy the enclosure to my knowledge, so it seems the only choice is to get some donor pedals for as cheap as possible.

I got the donor pedal in Reverb for about $45.

Turns out Boss pedals keep a high value. Even used on Reverb it’s hard to find even a broken pedal for under $40! You can get a new SD-1 for $49.99 and a DS-1 for $52.99 at the time I wrote this. So that makes this a pretty expensive project when the enclosure is $40 to $50 ! That’s okay this is an experiment.

I’m going to try and not modify the enclosures if I can avoid it. The box is pretty roomy and can fit a good sized PCB as long as the parts in the center have low profile to avoid the jacks.

the Boss on enclosure is pretty roomy on the inside.

The Boss pedals come in a couple formats two knobs, three knobs, or four knobs. The two knob pedals are actually fairly rare and it’s hard to get one these enclosures, and probably buy not a good idea to throw away the working circuit. Three knob enclosures are pretty plentiful and the cheapest, luckily most of the circuits I’d like to put in a Boss enclosure come in a three knob version. Four knob pedals are pretty plentiful but are usually higher priced. Also, the four knob layout puts the pots in a horizontal row. 16mm pots will not fit! You’ll need to use 9mm or 12mm pots.

Finishing the enclosure brings a lot of problems and hassle. First there’s painting. You’d need to remove the rubber pad, paint then glue it back on, and then silkscreen or decals for the graphics. I’m going to avoid all of this hassle and avoid paint. I may use the label maker and just stick a label on it! Luckily the labels on the DS-1 and SD-1 will work of 90% of the pedals you’d want to put into a three knob enclosure.

The pots have a small PCB with a ribbon cable that connects to the PCB.

Switching is an issue. Boss uses an electronic buffered bypass. It switches using a soft touch SPST. I found pictures of someone putting a standard 3PDT switch under the foot pedal, it gets pressed when the lid is pushed down. This didn’t look like a great option. I decided to go with a relay bypass. I’ve seen a lot of DIY solutions for this.

Boss uses an electronic switching and bypass. It’s activity by the switch, it’s a black box in the lower left..

Which pedals you ask? So far I’m considering for three knob pedals:

  • Big Muff
  • 1981 Inventions DRV
  • Tone Bender
  • Klon
  • BJFE Honey Bee

For four knob pedals:

  • Ugly Face

The electronic switching needs a replacement that will work with the momentary SPST switch. I found a PCB for a relay based switching system at Madbean!