RunOffGroove.com turns 20 years

RunOffGroove.com is one of my favorite sites for original stomp box inspiration and innovation. I built my first projects using the schematics and layouts there. The ideas presented are innovative. I’m very impressed with the UBE Screamer and 22/7. You can find PCB projects for those here! The Ruby and other projects are DIY staples!

New Boards from PCBWay

Just got some new boards from PCBWay.com. These are RunOffGroove’s 22/7.

This is a Big Muff built around MOSFet inverters in place of the Bipolar transistors used in the standard Big Muff. This is a great sounding Big Muff. If you’ve built Big Muffs in the past you should try this one.

The tone control deserves a look. It has three modes: standard mid scoop, flat response, and mid focus.

Rehousing the Boss DS-1

After my last couple projects rehousing new circuits in Boss enclosures I was left with several DS-1 PCBs. These were populated with some or all of the parts! I decided I couldn’t let these go to waste!

If you’re interested to see what was rehoused in Boss enclosures check these out:

Turns out the DS-1 PCB fits the dimensions of a 125B enclosure exactly. Also turns out I just happened to have an orange 125B enclosure! So this was going to have to happen!

First I needed to add a rectangular hole for the power jack, which is mounted to the PCB. I didn’t want to replace this since that would be more work, the current jack works and it would hold the PCB in place nicely.

I started by measuring and marking the location where the hole needed to be. I Drilled out as much of the hole as I could on the drill press. Then I used a couple files to work the hole to the right size and shape. This was not as hard as it looked to do. Took about 15 mins.

The PCB has a buffered bypass along with the DS-1 circuit which also controls the LED. I found this PDF with DS-1 mods over at DIYStompboxes.com. This shows the wiring on PCB along with a lot of mods. Maybe I’ll try some of these later!

I wasn’t using a battery or the other mods so I followed PCB wiring and left out the rest. I just needed to wire the input and output jacks, and the LED.

Speaking of which. The Boss enclosure has a tiny PCB that mounts the led and has a screw to hold it in place inside the enclosure. I didn’t hat that to work with so I drilled a 3mm hole, soldered some wires to a 3mm red LED, added a little heat shrink tubing, then glued the LED in place with some Krazy Glue. Done!

The Boss buffered bypass needs a momentary switch to activate. Luckily I had two of these in my parts bin. The one I used is a two pole DPDT type. But this only requires a single pole. I was worried this switch might be too tall but in the end everything just fits.

Since I used the original Boss pots I also used the original Boss Knobs. I like it when nothing goes to waste!

There is a lot you could do here for mods. The enclosure could also be rearranged. I chose to place everything in as close to the same location as it would be in the original Boss pedal.

Notice the jacks. I placed these just like they are on the Boss enclosure. They are very close to the top. This has the nice side effect of allowing the enclosure to hold them in place as you tighten the nut. Turns out the jacks are at exactly the same height as the Boss jacks. You could chain them with the Boss pedals and those double ended plugs!

What’s it sound like?

Sounds just like a DS-1. It’s the same circuit and parts and no mods. The only thing that has changed is the enclosure and the battery has been removed.

Cost

The cost of this project was minimal. I wanted the original Boss enclosure for another project. I spent $40 on a used DS-1. The PCB was left over, the pots and knobs also. This project gave me a chance to use these left over parts! The enclosure was about $5. Actually the box was free. Last year Tayda sent me the wrong order and this box and the jacks were part of that order.

Weston Audio AD110 progress

This is a 6 voice analog drum module based on the Boss/Roland DR110. I saw this thread over on Mod wiggler. It looked like a fun module that I could get some use out of. Weston Audio has a few interesting Eurorack modules. They offer the AD110 as a kit!

The kit comes with three PCBs, an aluminum front panel, and 4006 shift register chip. The boards are great quality and well marked. The front panel is particularly nice. The documentation is pretty good. There are lots of parts spread across three boards. Luckily the part numbers are number well 1xx for board A, 2xx for board B, and 3xx for board C.

This is a fairly epic project. It’s three bards all through hole parts. Most of the parts are easily available. There a few things that are harder to get. The parts list show more than a few resistors as 0.1% tolerance. These are harder to get but available through Mouser. The hang for me was not all of the values were in stock! That’s another point, som of the values are very specific like 374r, 91k, 158k etc. I had many of the values on hand but there was I lot for this project that I didn’t have.

I ordered parts from mouser and Tayda Electronics. It probably cost me roughly $100+ more for parts. That will put this project in the $150 to $200. Which is about half the $385 asking price for the pre built version. Sometimes you want to be careful with DIY. There are occasions where it’s more cost effective to buy the prebuilt version!

I made a couple part substitutions. There are some diodes listed as ISS133M. I looked these up and it sounds like these are general purpose diodes, I subbed with 1N4148/1N914 types. I also subbed the ferrite beads with the closest equivalent I could get from Tayda.

Morbid Fur

Here is a build of the Morbid Fur fuzz. There were a few errors in my first version of this PCB. All my fault. I had these boards manufactured at PCBWay. com. They do great work and have many options to choose. Like solder mask color. I wrote about their service in more details in a previous post.

This time through everything worked well. This board went together well and fired up the first try!

I followed the off-board wiring scheme used by PedalPCB with all LED mounted to the board, power at the top and the rest of the wiring on the lower edge. All of the wires that go to the switch are on a neat row where the wires can all run parallel to the switch. This arrangement makes wiring a breeze and the layout neat and tidy.

Build your own

You can order boards from PCBWay.com here.

BOM

Part NumberValue
C1 220n
C2470p
C3150n
C4150n
C5470p
C6470n
C7150n
C8470p
C9470n
C10220n
C1147µ
D11n4001
D2LED 3mm Red
D3LED 3mm Red
D41n4742
D51n4742
D6LED
Q1BC337
Q2BC337
Q3BC337
R133K
R282K
R3120r
R4470K
R518K
R61K
R78K2
R856K
R9100r
R10470K
R1110K
R128K2
R1382K
R14120r
R15470K
R1618K
R17RLED ~1K
VOLUMEA100K
GAINA100K

Parts Placement

Wiring

Schematic

Drill Guide

Note! You will need to check the size with your print to make sure it prints to the correct size!

Wiring

A Big Muff without the Tone Stack!

Thonk

I have been planning to work on some Eurorack projects. Turns out it’s hard to find the correct jacks, or at least the PCB mount variety. I got a few on Aliexpress to experiment with I’ll talk about these in a future post.

Turns out Thonk has the jacks I’m looking for. I had to write this post to call them out for a couple reasons. First, Tionk is in the UK and their shipping was fairly reasonable to the US, and second they use recyclable paper shipping stuff rather than styrofoam peanuts and and plastic!

Thanks Thonk! I love these DIY projects but there is a dark side. The amount of packaging trash I end up throwing away is starting to bother me. This time it’s all paper and recyclable!

Shameless Plug…

I entered my PCB design in the PCBWay design contest vote for me!

https://www.pcbway.com/project/shareproject/Super_Frequency_Harmonic_Square_wave_distortion_1.html

This is a PCB for Tim Escobedo’s Ugly Face. Anyone that hasn’t built one of these you should try it. You won’t play it on every song but you when you do people will notice!

Here’s a picture of the board assemble with pots and LED.

Here’s a video of an early build to get an idea of the sounds it makes:

Ugly Face PCB on PCBWay

I designed this PCB for Tim Escobedo’s Ugly Face and had it manufactured at PCBWay. I used Eagle PCB to design the board. The process was not hard with a little research.

I started by finding the PCBWay Eagle DRU file. This tells design rules that PCBWay will accept. This includes the minimum trace size and space between traces. I found .dru file here.

Next I designed my board. I used the auto-router to create a two sided board. Before running the auto-router I loaded the PCBWay Eagle dru.

Next I needed to export Gerber files that PCBWay requires. I’m using Eagle v9. I found a post here with instructions on how to do this. It’s about three steps. Not hard to.

From there I uploaded my files, waited for them to process and placed my order.

The cost was $5 for 10 boards which was very cheap shipping from China was more expensive. They offer several shipping options that range from $12 USPS to $20 DHL. Using DHL the cost was $25 for 10 boards (I received 11) which is $2.5 per board. Not a bad price.

The boards were great quality. The first run came out perfect. Usually the mistakes are my fault. I was on my game and got everything right the first try with this one!

I built this up with red powder coat box from Tayda and some knobs from LoveMySwitches. PCBWay offers several color options, I chose red for this build. With the red enclosure and knobs I had a theme going. So I went with this red 3PDT Switch from LoveMySwitches.

I milled the enclosure on the desktop mill.

Milling an enclosure with the OtherMill

From there I drilled, wired and assembled the complete box and everything work on the first try! I love it when that happens!

Small Bear is closing down!

sadly Small Bear Electronics is closing down. I have been buying parts from them for what could be 20 years now! My memory is failing me but has to be close to 20 years. They were pretty much the first to provide parts for the DIY stompbox community.

I’m showing this picture of a Fulltone 3PDT switch I bought as Small Bear in the old days before the blue version of this switch was widely available.

PCBWay PCB Service

Tried a new service: PCBWay.com. I used one of the boards I had designed in EAGLE PCB.

PCBWay

PCBWay looks like a larger service with more to offer. They have a lot of options and it’s a bit of a maze to navigate. For your effort they also offer some services not offered by OSH Park.

OSH Park has the convenience of using EAGLE PCB files directly. This is super convenient. PCB Way on the other hand requires Gerber files. You’ll need to export these from EAGLE or KiCad. Luckily the process is not difficult and only takes a few minutes. Follow the guide here:

https://www.pcbway.com/helpcenter/technical_support/Notes_for_Gerber_files_Generated_from_Eagle_9_20.html

For your effort you can choose all aspects of your board’s manufacture. This includes thickness, copper weight, board-type, track spacing, board finish, color, and many other options.

Process

PCBWay’s web site is a little daunting at first. The process of uploading a file asks a lot of questions that OSH Park figures out automatically. It also offers a lot of options not available at OSH Park. For people wanting to have more control over their product this might be a deciding factor.

One feature that PCBWay offers is a review of your designs. Unlike OSH Park PCBWay will mark a board as not compatible for one reason or another and you to revise your work and resubmit. This process is not as painful as it might sound since your order on the site keeps all of the information you have input saving you the trouble of entering it again. You need only make the required changes and enter those.

In my case I had extra information on the Dimension layer preventing them from seeing a clear out of the board. I had to remove some things leaving only the outline of the board on that layer, export and submit the new Gerber files.

Product

The product looks to be great quality. For me the fun option is colors! They offer Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, White, Black, Purple, Matte Black, Matte Green, and none. They also offer white or black silkscreen. This is really great if you want to organize projects by color, feel like setting your product apart by its design, or just feel you need some creative latitude. I chose red for this project it would looked great with the Red and Black enclosures, that is if anyone opened the back of the box.

There are also a lot of other options for solder mask, copper weight, layers, vias etc. I just went with a standard two layer board with 1 oz copper. This is pretty standard. The boards come pre tinned which is great since this makes for even easier assembly. Overall I’d say the board are very high quality.

They also offer panelizing boards. You can do this yourself or they will do it for you if you choose that as an option. Panelizing is the process of connecting boards with little breakaway tabs. This allows you connect related boards together.

Cost

The cost makes an interesting comparison to OSH Park. The cost at PCB Way is much cheaper it was about $5 for 5 boards (they actually sent me 6 though I ordered 5.) The shipping was $20! So the product is cheaper from but shipping from China is going to cost.

Use their quick quote page to get an estimate for a project:

https://www.pcbway.com/orderonline.aspx

Here is a comparison:

For the same project at OSH Park I paid $14.75 for three boards. About $5 per board. Shipping was free. I got three great quality purple boards with bare copper/gold pads.

From PCBWay I got 6 boards for $5. That’s about $0.83 per board. Shipping was $20! So the total cost per board was $4.15. The boards were red (I chose the color) and came pre tinned.

They offer several shipping options. I chose DHL which was $20. E-Packet and USPS would have brought the cost down to $11 for shipping.

Looking at scale ordering 10 boards would have cost me the same $5! With a build time 24hours! At $15 the price goes up to $20. I’m guessing the price is connected to the panel size. Get a quote and check the price for your own projects here:

https://www.pcbway.com/orderonline.aspx

Overall I’d say the experience of working with PCBWay was great. They were easy to work with. The product is high quality. They offer a great selection of options. The website is good but can be challenging, especially the first time you use the service.

You can check your work by uploading it to their Gerber Viewer:

https://www.pcbway.com/project/OnlineGerberViewer.html

With this tool you can upload your Gerber files and explore the layers. You can see what the final board might look like on the top and back with the silkscreen.

Take a tour of their factory