Friday, July 28, 2023

A Small Pitfall of Pedal Building and Assorted Bullshit

It's been a month since my last entry, mainly because of uncooperative weather. June 25th we had (another) series of tornados, which isn't as fun as the Discovery Channel makes it out to be. Since then July has been a month of confused and confusing weather. What might start off as a nice day quickly turns into a potential thunderstorm, or vice versa. Needless to say my once a week pedal build schedule was utterly and royally screwed. So I've decided to cram three builds into the final week of July, just to get some July builds done.

The first build of July was a circuit I tacked on to the already massive list of builds, which is a Landgraff Dynamic overdrive clone. I was unfamiliar with it until I came across the layout, so I decided to throw it together. Turns out, it's actually really good. It's a pretty wide range overdrive with a lot of hidden tones inside. The second build, well that was one I was super excited about that turned into a bit of a pile of shit, at least for now.

The second build of July is an Engineer's Thumb compressor. I'm not trying to throw anyone under the bus here, but the site this particular layout came from is frustrating because the creator likes components to be soldered in standing up to save board space rather than laying them down like every other layout site. I've used quite a few of their layouts, so I can't complain it's just frustrating to make things fit the way I like them to fit is all.

This second build, aside from being frustrating to construct, has made it dawn on me just how frustrating even a completely accurate build can be assessed once it's complete. With the Landgraff Dynamic overdrive I have plenty of internet videos to refer back to and see if my pedal reacts similarly to the video demonstration. However, something like the Engineer's thumb compressor doesn't have quite as much exposure, so a few things that initially made me think the build was completely wrong, are actually supposed to be that way.

For example, there is a ratio control which acts as a blend for the clean and compressed signal. With the ratio control at 0 I believe it's pure clean signal, and unless the volume output control is nearly maxed the volume is nowhere near unity with the pedal being turned off. Once you begin to add in the compressed signal the volume gradually gets quite a bit louder. I would have never known this, unless I found a singular video demonstration of the circuit where the person in question had to have the volume maxed to be unity with the affect being off.

Now, that's not to say I haven't made any mistakes, because I did. I originally had the input cap one spot too high and there was no sound coming through at all. Once that was fixed I continued troubleshooting, but as I previously said I have no guide on how this pedal should react so I'm going purely on what I expect from the pedal, which only makes troubleshooting more frustrating than needed. This is no one's fault, it's just a collective lack of knowledge on any given circuit and its characteristics makes troubleshooting more work.

All that said I'm still not sure this Engineer's Thumb build is living its full potential, but I've seen enough confirmations that this layout works, so I take full responsibility for it not working correctly, if it doesn't. For now I'm going to be putting it into the pile of circuits that need to be looked over and maybe even completely rebuilt, and move on to the third and final build of the month, which if weather cooperates will be put together on one of the final days of July. Then August's builds will start!