New PCBs

I had a few new PCB projects manufactured. Here are three projects I had been working on. These were drafted up in Eagle. I had these made at PCBWay.com.the cost was about $45 for 30 boards. I order 10 of each of three designs, they sent me 11 of each, which was a pretty reasonable deal, less than $1.50 per board the quality is very great, and you can choose the colors!

Joe Davissons Vulcan is a silicon transistor Overdrive that sounds great. It’s an original circuit with a unique design. It sounds great. Easy to build and uses common parts. This is an update of the first version I did of this PCB. See my projects page. It fits a 1590B.

Tim Escobedo PWM takes your guitar signal and turns it into a square wave. It proves control over the duty cycle of the wave. It also has a modulation circuit that animates the rate and depth of the width of the wave. This is an update of the first design that had a few flaws. This project fits a 1590BB.

Nicolas Boscorelli Tremolo-matic XXII. Nicolas Boscorelli published a news letter called Stompboxology way back around 2000. This is before the boom in stompbox builders. He also published a book called the Stompbox Cookbook. Then disappeared. No one has heard from him since. He missed his opportunity. If he had been publishing in the last few years he would have found a huge audience for his work.

This is a tremolo from the “Going Discreet” issue of the Stompboxology news letter. This issue was all about building with transistors. This fits a 1590BB.

Tim Escobedo’s PWM

PWM

Tim Escobedo was this wildly creative force in the early DIY Stomp Box community. His circuit snippets page was had a lot of really great ideas. One of the ideas there was the PWM, which stands for pulse Width Modulation.

This circuit converts your input signal into a square wave and varies the amount of on and off time or duty cycle of the wave.

I had these boards manufactured through PCBWay.com. The quality is great. Ignore the bad silkscreen that was my fault. The cost was $5 USD for 10 boards which is very reasonable.

I designed this board to fit a 1590B enclosure in landscape. The cutout is for the power jack. I thought it would work well… After getting the boards I realized I would have trouble getting 500k 9mm pots that mount at 90 degrees. I going to have rethink this project. I also botched up the silkscreen. This is going to need a second try.

22/7 PCB Order

I just got these PCBs in the mail from https://www.pcbway.comPCBWay.com. I’m impressed with the quality. This is an update of my my 22/7 PCB. I made a couple small improvements.

The 22/7 is a CMOS based Big Muff. A very cool and innovative circuit by RunOffGroove.com. Did I mention they just turned 20 years! If you like the Big Muff but would like something a little different try this.

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.

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

Work in progress

I always get into something for a while, then need to take a break. There are a few hobbies I always seem to come back to. Pedal making is one of these!

I dug out a few of the boards I started before the last break, and ordered a few more. Sat around soldering the last couple days and here we are!

PedalPCB Parentheses Fuzz

Here are three PedalPCB Parentheses Fuzz. I made a few of these before and they sound really great. This is a clone of the EQD Life pedal with a couple mods. If you’re looking for one I’m going to sell these when they are done. Currently I’m wringing on parts. That mini four position switch is hard to get. Seems like PedalPCB is the only place that has these.

assorted PCBs in progress

First are three Fuzz Factory boards. Next are three Haunting Mids Fuzz. This is the first version of a PCB i designed. I’ll post a project for this once I’ve tested it. First on the bottom row are two Nobels Overdrives. These are AionFX Andromeda PCBs. Next is a left over Vulcan, and last is a Big Muff board from Madbean. I’m going to build this using the green Russian spec.

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.

New work in progress

A nice opamp big muff PCB 
Mad bean Shark Fin. Based on the maestro filter sample and hold. I’m obsessed with this circuit, I’ve built several versions of it and own some boutique iterations.
Ooh look an ugly face, this is another effect that had become a minor obsession. I’ve built more than a few of these. 
Mad bean zero point mini.  

Okay so, here we take a look behind the scenes at the pile of unfinished work. This picture was taken inches the left of the previous images. 

Fuzz Factory – OSH Park

Just soldered the first of three Fuzz Factory PCBs from OSH Park. Fired up on the first try. The board didn’t come with documentation, I had reverse engineer the board against the schematic to verify part numbers. Here is the schematic I used:

fuzz-factory

I used some AC128 transistors for Q2 and 3. The random choices from the lot sounded alright. I built this first board with sockets for the transistors for testing. I can test transistors on this board, if they sound good I can solder them into the other boards.

I like this board, the layout has pads for 16mm or 9mm pots. The width fits the narrow dimension of a 1590B box, which gives you the option to arrange the box in landscape like the original, or in portrait, like most standard stomp boxes. The Stab and Volume pots are mounted off board. While this adds some wiring, it saves cost by making the board smaller, OSH Park charges by the square inch, it also provides flexibility in how the box can be arranged. Hats off to the designer. Hats off to mr vex also.
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Osh Park PCBs

IMG_1158.JPGI just received this order from OSH Park. I order four boards. You are required to buy three copies of each board you order. The cost is $5 per square inch for 2 layer boards (with 3 copies of your board included in that price). Which is not bad, if the boards are small it’s a deal. For example, the SHO was $3.20 for three boards! The Fuzz Factory boards, were $7.75 for three, still a good deal. The Haunting Mids boards were just under $5 each, and the Zeke Bass Distortion was about $8.50 each.

Of course getting boards for designs that people upload with little info can be chancey. There should be more options on the site to comment, and mark boards as verified. Looks like not all projects are shared. User decide to share a project. Hopefully people make an order and test it before sharing.

The quality of the boards is great. A couple things I noticed. There is no solder mask. The pads are gold plated, which is nice. I find the solder mask easier to solder with. Look at the first image. You can see the backside of each of the four boards. Notice the board in the upper right. The pads are fairly small. I think, this is the default pad size in Eagle PCB. It’s not easy to solder, It’s not super difficult either. The two on the left have a more generous pad size. This size makes for a better soldering experience.

I’ll post again when build these boards…

For reference here are some links to the boards I ordered here:

https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/JtR27cHU

https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/xaBILSTV

https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/KE0blXBg

https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/nsJTeQK0

 

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OSH PARK

This is a really cool service that manufactures open source PCB designs. You can order any of the open source designs on the site. Most of the stuff is not stompbox oriented. It takes a little google-fu to search up stompbox projects. You can also upload your own designs.

You have to order 3 PCB minimum for each board you order. The orders seem to get ganged with other orders so it sounds like your order doesn’t get printed immediately. That said the prices seem very reasonable.

https://www.oshpark.com/

I just placed an order for a few PCBs. I’ll post again when the order comes in…