Behold, shiney giver of electrons! This is one of those projects that had been kicking around in the back of the cranium for a while and came together all at once, mostly by accident. First, in the summer (of ’05) my cousin’s laptop power brick was deemed useless for it’s intended purpose when it caught fire because the ground wire frayed totally and made sparks. I was commissioned to get rid of said power brick. And the following Spring (’06) I took a metalworking class and was required to make a box. Perfecto chronologium. (No, that’s not actual latin for “good timing”.) Continue reading


My Mr. Clean

I ran across the idea (and the schematic) over on a page that seems not to exist anymore, and which was run by a guy named Mike Torchia. (Here’s the archive.org link, as long as that still exists.)

Anyway, I often have needed to switch quickly from a good drive to a lighter distortion and rolling down the volume knob on my guitar is a nusiance – never mind imprecise – and this thing essentially does the same thing with a stomp switch. Here’s the schematic (from Mike’s page):

The capacitor across the pot allows higher frequencies to continue making your sound sparkle instead of loosing all that treble, like when you turn down the volume knob on the guitar.  I have mine turned down a lot to give a lighter drive instead of my normal distortion and it’s a little finicky to set, but I think I may have used a linear taper pot instead of log taper. Ues log tapers for audio, folks!

I Turned A Computer Power Supply Into A Bench Unit, Just Like The Rest Of The World

Yep, that’s all I did. I had extra AT power supplies kicking around and needed more (i.e., didn’t have any) good 12V bench power supply, so I stuck in a switch, banana jacks, a 10-ohm stabilizing resistor, and finished it just in time to spend a few weeks running my Grandmother-in-law’s LCD monitor until she got a new one after the power brick croaked.

But now I have it back and can document it.

I started with an AT power supply because I had a couple kicking around; this particular model is a 230W from Sparkle Industries. Switching is easier with these than with ATX supplies, I just hacked in a big DPST power switch and I was ready to rock. Or Toggle. No parasitic power drain, no extra transistor thingy to make it work.

As you can see the wiring is a little messy. For 5V and ground posts I crammed three or four of the wires into a crimp terminal. The binding posts, handily, have extra nuts on the back end which are perfect for spade lugs.

The 12V line is a female disconnect that just fit on the solder tab for that jack. I also had to jump the fan power from there, the original 5V fan had been copped for something else.

I used a 10Ω, TO-220 load resistor on the 5V rail to stabilize the output like everyone says to. You can see I just screwed it to the case (photo 3) and it works great. Make sure the tab is isolated from the leads before you do the same thing.

The power light you can see in photo four. It’s just the warm glow of an LED stuffed in where it would light things up, without drilling another hole in the case.

And rubber feet complete the build with dignity.

RolyControl – Or, Using An SDE-1000 Rack Delay As A Stompbox

RolyControl is a hack to control the defeat, hold, and tap-tempo, and preset functions of the Roland SDE-1000 rack delay unit. (Great unit.) I built this out of the stomp switches from my Peavey Amp, a box, miscellaneous wire/plugs/jacks, a couple more stomp switches bought from Antique Electronic Supply, some Velcro, the ubiquitous plexiglass, rubber feet, and some wood. The two switches on the Peavey part simply function as Defeat and Hold; the other two control either preset switching or the tap-tempo feature, depending. (Bear with me here a moment, a couple pictures would help but I haven’t got them yet.)

On the back of the Delay unit there are two 1/4″ jacks, one for a preset switching switch (labeled ‘Preset’), and one for a tap-tempo switch (labeled ‘Playmate’, I think). If you have a switch (momentary) connected to only one, that one works great but you can’t access the other. But if you plug them both in weird things happen. I eventually figured out, after a bit trial and error, that with a jack plugged into both you can use one or the other by latching closed (‘shorting’) the switch of the one you don’t want.

So, one could simply make a box for each, with a momentary switch and a latching one, so the momentary switch does what you’d think it would and the other one defeats it and lets you use the other function. That, however, is entirely too convoluted (even for me), because in order to switch functions you have to latch one and unlatch the other, and if you either latch or unlatch both at the same time headaches ensue. (Got all that?)

(Click for full-size)

So naturally, you use one momentary switch to do the function you want and a latching one to select which function the momentary switch will do. Right? Of course right. The basic idea is that you have a latching DPDT switch that, in one position, connects the momentary switch to one jack and shorts the other one. And then when pressed, it reverses the jack connections. The concept is roughly similar to the StompMuter, but a bit different in execution. It works pretty nicely.

That’s two switches. The other two (the one’s that think they’re supposed to be Peavey Amp channel/reverb switches) control Defeat and Hold. Need pictures.

Just to comment on the switches  – I bought the El Cheapo $5 ones (from the link above) and they hold up all right. They don’t have as nice a feel and work OK for general use, but they’re definitely not heavy-duty and may get funky after a couple years of good use.

Boss ManMode Hack

My ManMode hack is pretty simple and, well, hackish, but it works, and Plexiglass and rubber have a sort of elegance all their own. (My personal opinion, of course.) The Boss ME-33 has a ‘Manual’ mode button to allow you to manually control the different effects with the stomp switches, more like a bunch of stomp-boxes instead of banks of patches.


This is pretty cool, except for the fact that to access this mode you have to poke this little blue rubber button with your finger, which involves bending over and taking your hands off of your guitar, which is not as good as stomping on something. Continue reading

The Machine Has Arrived

I moved the big Gravely up from my Dad’s this afternoon, and am now fully equipped to defeat snow. There is power in driving a full sixteen horse-power of Kohler iron through a snow-bank with a snow-thrower of caliber to remove most snow as fast as you care to wish.

This is to “snowblower” what “humvee” is to “truck”; gear drive, cast iron, and built to last.

Hide-A-Grinder Wonder Shelf

In the process of moving to my wife’s grandmother’s place (or rather, as a result), I inherited both workbench and bench grinder from previous generations. How said generations had attached and safely used the grinder is a bit of a mystery because the grinder was just bolted to a loose chunk of 2×8 and I have not bothered to ask the other generation for their wisdom. (I keep forgetting.)

But no matter, said I, for we shall conserve bench space and be ingenious and clever all at the same time! And so I was.

Continue reading

Scrap Wood And A Sound Cart

It all started with particle board. And particle board is bad.

More specifically, it’s cheap and what the old cart we had the mixer and some other sound gear in was made of. It showed signs of failing since I had known it, but finally decided to completely disintegrate one morning on it’s way out of the elevator. And thus I was motivated to actually build the new cart I’d been thinking about. Continue reading

I Build A Monster Bed Frame

After weeks of sporadic planning and plotting, I finally got around to building a new custom bed frame. We’ve been using a Futon for quite a while – got that because it’s multi-purpose and it has been all right. But, not truly excellent as a bed should be.  This is because:

  1. The frame has a rib that makes a lump right down the middle of the bed
  2. The mattress – while a good futon mattress – is a futon mattress (and we still want it to work as a couch!)
  3. Storage underneath was completely maxed out

So, I built a frame that: Continue reading

Score! (The Free-From-The-Roadside-Furniture Edition)

On Tuesday I was on my way to work, about five minutes down the road, when I spotted an orphaned desk chair at the end of somebody’s driveway leaning a little drunkenly on three wheels. The fourth was thoughtfully taped on, though I mostly noticed the “FREE chair” sign, and mostly the “FREE”.  I, naturally, demonstrated to an empty road my car’s braking abilities and stuffed said chair into the back seat.

I don’t usually pick up desk chairs, I already have two good ones. But when a good oak desk chair shows up on the curb – patent 1918, in fairly good condition except for one leg the caster busted out of – I heed my primordial Yankee instinct to save good things from needless waste. That, and I’m pretty sure I heard it calling my name.