ultimate

Delay Pedal Project

10 March 2013

2013/03/10

After getting back into playing electric guitar more I decided I wanted to use modulation pedals more often in my playing, specifically delay pedals. Delay pedals are a lot of fun when playing alone because they can really fill up the empty space in your playing and make the sound seem “larger” than it actually is. Delay pedals are also very expressive for ambient music; less is more when it comes to playing with delay pedals I believe. They are also neat pedals when you want to get your post-rock on.

Instead of spending a bunch of money and time trying out and buying different delay pedals I figured I’d build my own. Also having not built a pedal in a couple years I figured this would be a good project to get back into pedal building, try out a few new things you know. I decided instead of designing my own circuit or breadboarding a bunch of circuits I’d have some fun and order some professional fabricated PCBs. With nice PCBs of well-known/sounding delay circuits I could build and tweak a few different delay circuits.

I decided to build three delay pedals as well as one reverb for good ambient measure.

The Neptune Delay
Multiplex Delay
Echobase Delay
Tenebrion Reverb

The PCBs are professional made with plated through holes, solder mask and silkscreen. The PCBs and designs come from various sources. All designs are original designs, though some draw on inspiration from other classic circuits. Through following the above links you can learn more about the circuits, controls, designers, etc.

neptune-delay-pcb

Neptune Delay PCB

multiplex-delay-pcb

Multiplex PCB

echobase-pcb

Echobase PCB

tenebrion-reverb-pcb

Tenebrion PCB

 

 

 

 

2013/04/01

As of now the PCBs are all populated and tested. I always enjoy installing the passive parts on the circuit board and soldering them all up. These nice PCBs made this task even easier and more enjoyable. The only thing I don’t like about professionally fabricated PCBs is how hard it is to de-solder components.

While testing all the circuits for functionality and sound I swapped a few components and it was a bit of a pain getting the solder out of the through plated holes. Luckily the amount of de-soldering I had to do was pretty small as all circuits worked right away. I slightly tweaked most of the circuits for sound, mostly filtering mods and LFO/modulation related mods.

The next step is deciding what enclosures these circuits are going in, what hardware they will use, how to drill the enclosures for the hardware and then all the finishing stages of the enclosure.

neptune-pcb-populated

Neptune Delay PCB Populated

echobase-pcb-populated-front

Echobase PCB (Front)

echobase-pcb-populated-back

Echobase PCB (Back)

tenebrion-pcb-populated-front

Tenebrion PCB Populated (Front)

tenebrion-pcb-populated-back

Tenebrion PCB Populated (Back)

multiplex-pcb-populated-front

Multiplex PCB Populated (Front)

multiplex-pcb-populated-back

Multiplex PCB Populated (Back)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013/04/15

The enclosure for all four pedals have been drilled. It was a pain to fit some of these complex circuits into the small enclosures but in the end they all fit (though some are tight!). I think I did a good job spacing out the controls and making sure the controls weren’t too close to the footswitches. There is nothing worse than going to step on a pedal to turn it on and breaking a pot or knob in the process.

Next step is sanding the enclosures smooth to remove blemishes and imperfections. This allows me to get a smooth professional looking finish once I start painting these pedals. Once enclosure sanding is done I can start applying primer to provide the base coat for the colour paint.

delay-enclosures-drilled

Top Left: Tenebrion, Top Right: Multiplex, Bottom Left: Neptune, Bottom Right: Echo Base

delay-hardware-and-parts

Hardware, parts and PCBs for all the pedals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013/04/18

All the enclosures have now been sanded, primed and now I am starting to put the colour coat on the enclosures. Below is a picture of my makeshift paint booth. It is just a large cardboard box with the enclosures hanging from the top.

delay-enclosures-paint

Enclosures for the Multiplex Delay and Echobase Delay being painted.

I also decided to build one more pedal! I am also going to build a Zero Point Super Deluxe (ZPSDX) by Madbean Pedals. This cool delay pedal has a really nice fabricated PCB. It was sold out for the longest time and Madbean just recently got them back in stock so that is why I am getting the PCB now.

Check out the build document for the Zero Point Super Deluxe. It is a seriously cool versatile delay.

Super Point Super Deluxe

zero-point-super-deluxe-pcb

Zero Point Super Deluxe PCB

 

 

 

 

 

2013/04/30

Almost two months in and I have now got the last circuit built and working. The Zero Point Super Deluxe is a feature rich delay that I am very excited to play with more once I have it in an enclosure. The ZPSDX though very complex with its four filtering modes and on-board modulation went together with minimal debugging. The only issue I had with the circuit was a bad 5V regulator. The regulator which feeds the PT2399 delay chips wasn’t delivering 5V under load, the output voltage of the regulator was jumping all over the place.

Other than the faulty voltage regulator there was no issues with the ZPSDX. I did spend some time modifying the circuit though with the help of the excellent project documentation from Madbean. I performed mods for extended delay time, more range on the feedback control and louder repeats when the ghost switch is engaged.

Furthermore I decided to make the modulation toggle switch a footswitch. I still have the modulation switch on the PCB though. With a little modifying of the PCB and toggle switch I turned the modulation toggle switch into a switch that makes the modulation deeper and more chorus sounding; probably going to label the switch “Deep”. The “Deep” switch merely adds a large cap to the output of the LFO to add a bit more depth to the LFO’s modulation.

zero-point-super-deluxe-populated

ZPSDX PCB Populated (Front)

zero-point-super-deluxe-populated-back
ZPSDX PCB Populated (Back). Note the extra cap soldered on is for the “Deep” switch.
zero-point-super-deluxe-enclosure-drilled

Drilled enclosure for the ZPSDX. Note the added footswitch for turning the modulation on and off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013/08/12

I’ve been slacking on this project! The last few months have been busy ones.

I’ve committed myself to learning how to use Inkscape; a free open source graphics program. I must say I initially dreaded learning how to use this particular vector based graphics program but I am actually enjoying it now. It has been a unique learning experience. I am hoping to have all the pedals graphics (decals) completed shortly.

In the meantime here is the Neptune Delay’s graphic in progress…

pdf electronics inkscape pedal graphics decal delay pedal

The Neptune Delay’s graphics being created in Inkscape on a OS X Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013/09/07

delay-project-finished

Family shot

neptune-delay-external

Neptune Delay

echo-base-delay-external

Echo Base Delay

multiplex-delay-external

Multiplex Delay

tenebrion-reverb-external

Tenebrion Reverb

zero-point-super-deluxe-delay-external

Zero Point Super Deluxe Delay

 

 

 

 

 

Half a year after I started this project it is now complete. It was a learning experience having not built a complete pedal in quite a while. I put off designing the pedals graphics for a while as it required learning how to use a new graphics program, something I was not excited about. Once I got the hang of Inkscape the graphics for the pedal’s decals came together fairly quickly. I am pleases with how the decals turned out on all the pedals. I ended up enjoying learning how to use Inkscape and I look forward to designing more graphics in it.

This project exposed me to finishing the pedals a different way than I normally do. Normally I use clear spray-on laquer to cover the pedals and protect them. This finishing technique never really satisfied me, pedals I built were never really that durable and the finish was prone to imperfections like cracking and checking. For this series of pedals I used Envirotex which is a pour on expoxy resin. The product is advertised as being as strong as 5o coats of laquer. Envirotex is the stuff used to coat bar tops to get that nice thick, smooth shinny durable surface.

This was my first time using Envirotex and it was a learning experience, the finish isn’t perfect but now I know how to improve it next time I build some pedals. That said the finish does look really good and is super durable, I am always looking for ways to improve the durability of my builds so Envirotex really impressed me.

Putting together the pedals proved to be fairly easy with the well designed PCBs I was using. Most of the boards had board mounted hardware so final assembly/wiring wasn’t too hard. Unfortunately for the Echo Base I created the decal with the labels the wrong way around. This forced me to not be able to use the PCB mounted pots and I had to resort to handwiring the pots to the PCB. This build’s internals ended up messy and I am not too happy with them. Oh well live and learn…

neptune-delay-internal

Neptune Delay Internal

echo-base-delay-internal

Echo Base Delay internal

multiplex-delay-internal

Multiplex Delay internal

tenebrion-reverb-internal

Tenebrion Reverb internal

zero-point-super-deluxe-delay-internal

Zero Point Super Deluxe Delay internal

 

{ 2 comments }

I am beginning to put together a Marshall 1974x, better known as the Marshall 18W amp. This all tube powered amp will be built in a head cabinet that can be hooked up to an external speaker cabinet of choice. This 1974x circuit won’t be stock though, I am using the 1974x circuit as a platform to try a few modifications and circuit tweaks/ideas. The end goal of the build is to have a low power Marshall JTM/JMP/Plexi type amp. Lots of big fat clear clean tones and sweet harmonic distortion.

The chassis, eyelet board, power transformer, output transformer, faceplate and head cabinet are coming from the good folks at Trinity Amps. The rest of the parts I am sourcing myself.

[you know you want to read more…]

{ 6 comments }

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