A short BYOC technical review for those not sure whether they can!

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by John Phillips, Jan 22, 2008.


  1. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I just built a BYOC pedal kit for a friend of mine - a Vox Tonebender MkII with NOS OC75 transistors - but this is not really about the precise pedal, just about the kit itself. I'd never done one before so I was not sure exactly what to expect. I could actually build one from scratch if I wanted to, but after working out how long it would take me to do the layout and drill the box etc. I suggested he get the kit and I build it for him - and as a test I tried to approach it as if I knew nothing about electronics.

    First, I was impressed by the quality of the parts supplied, especially the circuit board, a very nice quality through-plated job with the component positions and values clearly marked. The jacks are Chinese Switchcraft copies and could have been a little better, but they aren't bad and will do. The pots are minis, but Alphas and good enough quality. All the small parts are decent, and the box is neatly drilled.

    The instructions are excellent and more or less foolproof even if you don't know much about electronics. You will need to know the basics of component coding, but then as long as you can cut and strip wire neatly, solder well (this is going to be the biggest problem really, many of the pads are tiny and you will need to practice to do it well - it's not like wiring a guitar pickup) and are basically careful, you shouldn't have any problems. I followed the instructions exactly to the letter, and never found anything where I thought 'I wouldn't do it like that'. There are perhaps a couple of places where a bit more guidance would be useful (eg using needle-nose pliers to push the transistor leads really fully into the holders), but if you're fairly handy it should mostly be obvious.

    Perfect? Not quite. There's one thing that was missing - no serrated grip washers are supplied with the pots or jacks. This is bad enough with the jacks (it's pretty much impossible to get them up tight enough not to slip, or without risking stripping the nuts), but on the pots it makes fitting them as supplied impossible, since these pots have a locator pin on the front face. If they have a grip washer, it lifts the pot far enough that it's not a problem, but otherwise you will either have to snap off the locators (effective but crude, and still allows the pots to slip) or do what I did, which is to drill the box for the locator pins. If you don't do one of these things the pots will be forced over at an angle as you tighten them up and might be damaged if you don't spot the problem in time. I also added grip washers to the jacks.

    I also added a small piece of adhesive-backed foam strip to the side of the footswitch, to keep the battery jammed in place and reduce the chance of it shorting against the power jack, which it could just possibly do otherwise.

    But apart from that, it was as straightforward as anything I've ever put together from a kit. Total assembly time (including reading the instructions and checking everything, and a quick test afterwards) was about one and a half hours even to my fussy standards of workmanship, although I know that's probably a bit less than it would take someone who doesn't normally do this sort of thing professionally.

    Very highly recommended if you want a pedal like this where originals cost hundreds (even if you can find one).

    And yes, it does sound great - I don't have an original to compare it to but it does sound just like I remember them.
     
  2. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks John for the review. I've always thought they looked very clean and well thought out.
     
  3. bduguay

    bduguay Member

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    I add lock washers to the in and output jacks on all of the builds I do. I've only noticed one made in China jack, the rest were Neutrik. Did your kit not have the tiny holes drilled in the case for the tab on the pots?
    B.
     
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    No... and actually the shaft holes were slightly too large too - not a problem, but a possible indicator the casing was originally intended for a different type of pot (presumably without locators).

    I did also notice that the standoffs don't sit fully on the pot casings - again not a problem, they still stick well enough - so I assume the original pots were full size.
     
  5. sh333

    sh333 Member

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    As I understand it, the new knobs are smaller in terms of skirt and consequently show the guideholes, so Keith has stooped drilling the guideholes on most kit boxes. You just have to break off the tabs with Pliers.
     
  6. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Ha, I used different knobs (small chickenheads) because my friend hated the plain ones, and they cover the holes. But actually it wouldn't bother me if they did show.

    That's really not the best solution though, because it still means the pot can come loose unless you really crank down the nut, which also isn't a good idea. You really need either the tab or a grip washer.
     
  7. pipedwho

    pipedwho Member

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    For mounting pots in my own enclosures, I usually drill an indentation with a hand drill and file down the tabs to match. This way the pot sits in position, doesn't spin loose, and no hole protudes through the casing.
     
  8. theinteriorleag

    theinteriorleag Member

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    I just finished putting together the shredder yesterday and began the eq pedal. They were very easy to follow and understand how to do (the forum is also helpful too).

    My only beef is that I don't have a very steady hand. Soldering some of the components in those tight spaces was tough.

    and a note on the eq, you have to clip the solder down really far for the sliders to clear them. I missed a couple and didn't think to check the clearance on the sliders, so after soldering them on and noticing that some of the sliders didn't move the whole range, I got it straightened out...but that sucked b/c I didn't have any wick or desolder tools.
     
  9. bduguay

    bduguay Member

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    He 'stooped' drilling the guideholes eh?:D
    B.
     
  10. sh333

    sh333 Member

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    I know where you live and I have two "3' Antichrists" that will sic on my command. You have seen them first hand and I did see fear in your eyes :)
     
  11. ironpyro

    ironpyro Member

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    Is that what you're calling your mt. bikers' hemorrhoid sacks these days, Scott?
     
  12. syxxstring

    syxxstring Member

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    I've built a ton, it's hard not to spend more time painting them than I do building them. If you can follow instructions you can build one. The best thing to do is use a mulitmeter to check the resistors rather than trying to read the stupid bands.
    The delay with the loop is great.
    They are a blast and all the mods make it even cooler, there is something satisfyingly extra cool about a pedal you put together and made desicions on. It can be adicting, you should be warned.
    These were for a friend who a year later hasn't built the pedals, at least they were quickies.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    My rat ( townshend mixed with danger mouse)
    [​IMG]
    My slow gear:
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Zero Point

    Zero Point Member

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    Always have been impressed with BYOC quality. I've built the v.1 Large Beaver, the MKII, the Phaser, and the Mighty Mouse. Very good pedals.

    I don't have ANY of them anymore :p They sold rather fast when I had a bill to pay. (sigh)

    The Phase 90 sounded just like the script logo MXR Phase 90. Actually was a bit DEEPER at full depth :D. I really need another one :p

    The Might Mouse was just perfect for the late 80's/early 90's Rat. Sounded a lot like my fave the Rat 2 from the late 80's.

    The Large Beaver was awesome as well. Triangle Muff. I have a triangle muff, and got it as a stand in for my original. (I ended up building a clone PNP version from scratch myself.)

    I JUST got confirmation on shipment from Canada on a pre-built BYOC Large Beaver new version. The Ram Head. :) Same deal really. I want to have a stand in for an original Ram Head Muff. I'm afraid of breaking these things.

    I wonder, bduguay... think you might have built my new Large Beaver? Hehe... I would have built this one myself as well. But I have not been all that well and did not really have the time to do this one myself.

    -ZP

    P.S.: Dude... I think I speak for hundreds of people the world over when I say "We want a Boss CE-2 clone!" :D
     
  14. sh333

    sh333 Member

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    Hell no, I was referring to the twins :) I have been lucky enough to avoid the roids so far. One guy on our 24 hr race team had a serious abcess boil on his ass during one race though. He dropped out after one lap forcing the rest of us to pick up all his laps. I was ready to lance it for him with a dull spoon as I headed out for my 7th lap. Bastard!!/1!!! :crazy
     
  15. sh333

    sh333 Member

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    Indeed, they went out today via Pony express. I think you will be somewhat impressed with the Beaver. I have onwed at least 40 different big muffs over the years and I was knocked out by the new one. Srsly.

    Let me know what you think once it lands.
     
  16. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Have built the tremolo and phaser. Don't know what else to say other than they are outstanding.
     
  17. cugel

    cugel Member

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    i built the screamer, the mkII, the dd, and the comp
    still have to put a pot in the comp
    all the others are great. the delay aint really my cup, but its quiet and good at what it does, the screamer is a TS what else is there to say
    the MKII is a killer IMHO. I roll WAY back on the tele volume and hit the mkII for outstanding fuzz
     
  18. bduguay

    bduguay Member

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    -ZP
    Yup, that was me. All weekend long I was surrounded by Large Beavers and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty.:crazyguy
    B.
     
  19. Jagsound

    Jagsound Member

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    Thanks John for the run down.

    This should help inexperienced builders (me) to build a better pedal!

    Mainly by reminding people if you need a couple of extra parts to do the job properly, but will have to wait till the next day to get them, it's worth waiting.

    Cheers
     
  20. majorledhead

    majorledhead Supporting Member

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    I received a MKII kit for xmas from the kids. I thought that it was a well laid out, easy to build kit, that sounds pretty good too. This was my first pedal build, but I have built a 5 watt amp and have wired many pickguards together. It took about 3 hours as I built it while watching a football game one sunday. Not wanting to spend the time on a paint job I ending up polishing the plain box to a high sheen and using clear adhesive paper and the color laser jet printer to photo crop a great graphic on the top and my "majorledhead" logo on the side like a carb or skreddy pedal. Well worth the time and money.
     

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