OLC Matchbox build experience

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by ibodog, Feb 16, 2009.


  1. ibodog

    ibodog Senior Member

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    Thought I'd relay my experience building the Matchbox kit here in case anyone else tries to build one of the OLC kits themselves. All in all the pedal turned out OK.

    If you order a kit online and pay with paypal make sure you also email OLC so they know to send the kit out. They don't have anything outside of paypal to confirm that they received your order, so when Mark replies back that'll give you a little piece of mind. A parts sourcing problem delayed my kit from shipping for about 1 1/2 weeks. When it did arrive it was missing two trimmers and caps which took about another week to arrive. So about 3 weeks after my order I had all the parts needed to finalize building the pedal.

    All or part of the instructions were written by a "Beavis" and there are some things to watch out for here. The BOM lists a coulple of different values for some items than is provided and shown in the assembly instructions that come later. Turns out the BOM is wrong and the part and assembly instructions are right. Populating the board is pretty straight forward and I didn't have any problems once I had all the right parts. Might be nice if the terminals to go to the off-board wiring were a little bit bigger holes. You'll see why next...

    Wiring up the board to the jacks, pots, and switches is where the real problems start. They start with having you wire up the power jack, in/out jacks, and stomp switch. Problem with that is the pots have to get wired up underneath the jacks, so you'll have to remove the jacks after they're wired to be able to wire the pots. Not such a big deal until when you notice that the instructions have the pots in the opposite order from where they actually fit in the pedal case! Now you'll have to redo your wiring because it makes more sense to orient the PCB 180 degrees for the correct pot placement, moving all of the terminals to the jacks and switch. I lost at least 2 hours to that one and needed more wire than was provided to fix things back up neatly.

    Finally everything was wired up so I hooked up a guitar, amp, and battery to get rockin'! But, no LED or sound when the pedal was switched on. Turns out that the provided TRS jack for the input was not connecting the ring to ground when a cable was inserted. I pulled the input jack and tested it alone with a cable to confirm this. Replaced both in and out jacks with some from Radio Shack and the pedal fired up finally.

    But wait, there's still some problems. The Volume, and Cut knobs are working backwards from the description on the website. For some reason the Master was OK and they mention in a note that the Tone supposed to be opposite the ROG original in this kit. Easy enough to switch the Volume and Cut wires. Now the pedal seems to work as originally intended - the tapers on those 2 pots make a difference to the ease of dialing in a workable tone.

    Good news is that OLC is going to be updating the instructions for the Matchbox and they made good on sending replacement parts and keeping up communication. Hopefully they'll go through their other kits and double check the wiring because I'd like to build some more this year. Probably the Supro and Prof Tweed and maybe the English Channel. I do think it may have been worth it to allow OLC to build the pedal for me because they put a nice finish on the case. I've probably got about 8 hours of labor into this Matchbox and at one point became very frustrated (the wiring and bad jack part).

    How does it sound? Well, a little thinner than I'd hoped. I just traded away a Matchless Hotbox to a fellow TGP'er a couple of weeks before and I was hoping the Matchbox would be an acceptable, smaller replacement. But, it is not. It does have a decent sound of it's own and if I use a pedal as a bass booster in front of the Matchbox it sounds pretty good (using a HAO Sole Pressure). If I get a chance in the next couple of weeks I'll try to put some demo clips up on youtube.
     
  2. scott1568

    scott1568 Member

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    Yeah, I understand what you are saying here. I ordered the English Channel and received outdated instructions as well . This happened to me last spring and it recently happened to someone else on another board. I am surprised that this issue hasn't been corrected yet.

    With all the knobs, etc is a challenging build for sure.
     
  3. ibodog

    ibodog Senior Member

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    How'd the English Channel work out? Does it sound good?

    Yeah, I'd recommend to anyone contemplating building one of the OLC's from the kit to have built a couple of BYOC's and/or have modded and rehoused other pedals before. Wish they'd have an option for including a painted box with the kit.
     
  4. ibodog

    ibodog Senior Member

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  5. scott1568

    scott1568 Member

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    "How'd the English Channel work out? Does it sound good?"

    It does low to med AC30 type gain pretty good. For a really cranked AC sound....no.
     
  6. ibodog

    ibodog Senior Member

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    I finally got to play the Matchbox at a jam session w/full band tonight. It didn't need any help from the Sole Pressure when played into a Visual Sound Workhorse Stallion amp. Worked great for the more chimey rhythm parts. Even did a nice grindy rhythm part with plenty of character. Was thinking of selling this one, but now will keep it! :AOK
     
  7. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    Here are my comments on my OLC Thor build

    This one is from last year:
    I bought a thor kit (marshall superlead) but its sitting unfinished in a box because I gave up trying to build it.

    The problem is that the circuit boards are not labeled(!!) so it becomes VERY confusing/frustrating trying to match components to their respective PCB holes. It also doesn't help that the layout shown in the PDF doesn't exactly match the actual PCB.:FM

    The BYOC kits are a breeze by comparison.


    And my follow up:
    It was EXCRUCIATINGLY difficult to build. The OLC circuit board is not silkscreened with component values like the BYOC boards. This wouldn't be so bad except the pdf instructions depict the board from the original runoffgroove project which is NOT THE SAME as the OLC board and has a different part/hole layout.:bkw

    The pedal I built works fine except for the bass boost which does nothing. I missed something there but I don't have the patience or desire to troubleshoot it..

    As for the sound - meh. I had high hopes but its really not that great and the lack of a dedicated tone control makes it kinda lame IMO.
    I almost went blind checking and double checking traces to make sure the components were hooked up correctly according to the schematic not the layout.

    I prefer the BSIABII by a mile.
     
  8. B_of_H

    B_of_H Member

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    what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger. :)


    I've built a few OLC kits and a few ROG projects. Just keep up the good work and before long you'll laugh at the idea of having to follow instructions.

    the english channel is okay. it really depends on what guitar/ amp you are using but i've kept mine intact for a while now although i've wanted to harvest some parts from it a few times. the slow century was a complete bust for me. Too noisy and not enough definition and punch IMO but it might be perfect for a bedroom player who wants to sound like a shredder with limited skills.
     
  9. ibodog

    ibodog Senior Member

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    I've just got in a 3-knob tone bender board from Tonepad. I'm going to build it up in a Yardbox style with an extra volume knob and a couple of changed components. Then I'll break out my Les Paul and Telecaster and do my best Page impression.
     
  10. dorfmeister

    dorfmeister Member

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    Looking for more on the Matchbox.
     

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