My First Projects

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Lately I’ve been feeling surprisingly competent at this whole electronixs thing. Sure I still melt the occasionally thingy, but that’s just an opportunity to air out the whole place right?

So, with my newfound confidence I thought I might try to troubleshoot some projects from the beginning of my illustrious career. I have a little box at my house filled with stuff I (tried to) build maybe 2011ish. Everything in there was either never completed or was dead on arrival. It includes analog synth modules (never worked), a talkbox made out of a toilet plunger and pcv cap (never finished), a ruby amp (never tested), a volume pedal (works terribly), and two DI boxes (never worked). Also in the box, random mics from antique stores and ebay in need of repair.

I started with the DI boxes as they are the most useful and I shelled out like a hundred bucks for nice transformers. I tried to build these because everyone was like, “you should start with a DI box, they’re so simple you couldn’t possibly fuck it up.” Well hah! I showed them.

Anyway, it probably would have been simple except I decided to add a bunch of features. A basic DI is just an input and output jack wired to a transformer, but I decided I wanted it to be a DI and a Reamp box, AND I wanted a ground/lift switch, and I wanted  attenuation on the Reamp output, AND why not add a RF filter like on the Jenson schematic, AND it needs parallel inputs obviously. At least I didn’t try to add pads, and an output impedance control.

Don Johnson helped me put them together and basically did the physical layout, which is why it’s so damn pretty inside. The chassis was a mult box that I bought from Mike Dixon at the Thurston County Community garage sale and chopped in half. I built them with Don, tried them out, they didn’t work, and then I put them in the box for two years. At the time I had built almost nothing that worked, so when something failed I assumed I was just cursed and there was nothing to be done.

Last week, I opened them up and discovered that (shockingly) I had made some wiring errors. On both units I had switched the neutral and chassis wired at the XLR jack. Additionally the leg of the RF filter the connected to chassis had come off, or perhaps had never been soldered. The whole thing took about 20 minutes to fix. The wood blocks that the transformers were mounted to had also come unglued, so I attached them to the metal chassis with wood screws. I used them on a session last Thursday and they worked great. They will be living in the studio if you should desire their use.

Its nice to remind yourself that you are actually making progress. I think I’ll do the talkbox next. Stay tuned.