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!

Super Frequency

I made some ugly face PCBs back in 2009 and had a couple left over. I built this up when I first got the mill.

The Ugly Face is a DIY classic invented byTim Escobedo way back in the early mid 2000s if I recall. It’s a unique circuit with a surprising sound if you haven’t built this you should give it a try.

Check my OSH Park projects I have a great board for this project the builds easily and works well.

Ugly Face on OSH Park

Just published the Ugly Face v 1.1 to OSH Park. Built and tested, it works well! This is classic DIY project, it’s almost a rite of passage for new DIY stomp box enthusiasts.

The Ugly Face is more of a synthesizer than fuzz pedal. It produces square output from the input guitar signal. You can imagine the internal oscillator running whenever the input signal reaches a threshold. This gives you frequencies above or below the input frequency at the output. The Ugly Face also adds an envelope control to animate the oscillator frequency. The sound is surprisingly more musical than a lot of other “harsh” distortions.

Order some boards at OSH Park and follow the build docs below to make your own.

Ugly face with tone control

The Ugly Face has an interesting set of options. The Threshold knob has to be the most interesting though least useful. Last year I thought I’d add a tone control in it’s place. I wanted to build an Ugly Face and keep it in 1590B sized box. This format makes it hard to fit more than 4 Knobs. I decided to drop the Threshold and replace it with a Big Muff style tone control.

This was a pretty easy project, I already had a PCB and all of the parts on hand. The PCB I had did not have any space for the tone control. The Big Muff tone control requires, besides the pot, fours parts, two resistors and two capacitors. I remembered seeing an article on the Big Muff tone control over at Beavis Audio research where they mentioned soldering all of the parts on to the pot. I thought about this but decided against it. I have been using and planned to use these 12MM pots. Which seemed too small. Plus the box was going to be a little crowded and didn’t want to risk the parts shorting against something.

[picture of 12mm pot]

I decided to mount the tone control on a tiny piece of perfboard.Using small multilayer ceramic caps would make the whole thing fit easily.

[image of perf layout.]

Last was to run the output of the Ugly Face into the tone control before going to the volume.

[Picture the interior of the box]

I decided to do this box in a plush purple fur.

Building an Ugly Face

I built an Ugly Face last week and took some pictures. This uses the Ugly face PCB I made and the typical DIY stompbox parts. I used the alpha 12mm pots in a B sized box. The more common 16mm pots would also work.

 

Distort-o-Matic VI

I’ve been fascinated by the Stompboxology and Stompbox Cookbook projects for a long time. I’ve only built a few and many of the ideas are hit and miss. The concepts presented are compelling none the less.

The Distort-o-matic VI for example, uses a very off the wall concept. The input signal is imposed on a 40k carrier wave. The carrier is a square wave generated by a 555. This signal is then fed to a high frequency transducer. The device has a high frequency receiver to pick up the signal from the transducer. The high frequency signal is filtered to leave the original input signal. Who thought of this? And what was going through their mind at time? This is so nutty!

Not sure what it will sound like. Figure you have to built it and find out. This is where we get to the hit and miss quality of the Stompboxology projects. Stay tuned for some sound samples…

I ordered all the parts to build this thing a long time ago and never got around to building it till now. Joe had the idea that we should explore the 555 and find some new things to do with it. So I dug the Stompbox Cookbook and found the Distort-o-matic VI. I etched up two boards and drilled them.