Showing posts with label Theory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Theory. Show all posts

Relay bypass with anti pop system: noiseless and clickless true bypass

Did you like my post about relay bypass? At least I did, and now I use it in almost all my pedals! Thus, they are longer lasting, and we avoid the mechanical noises of a 3PDT. However, I noticed something annoying: the relay bypass makes more "pop" noises than the 3PDT, especially with high gain circuits...

Indeed, relays tend to switch from one state to another much quicker than big mechanical 3PDT switches, which causes the "pop" noises to appear. The gainier the pedal, the more it will amplify the pop and make it louder.

So I adapted a system that I have found on Stompville that suppresses all these noises. Here is the result, with a (very) simple "before and after" video:

Tap tempo tremolo DIY: a complex project!

I am currently prototyping a tap tempo tremolo that I conceived. It is quite a big project, and I have been working on it since nearly 6 months now! Like many guitarists, I really like the warm vintage sounds that you can achieve using tremolo (like in "Bang Bang" from Nancy Sinatra), but also the choppy madness that you can get with square waves, like in "Know your enemy" from Rage Against The Machine, or even weird stuff with high speed tremolos... A really cool effect!

I play regularly in a band, and my point of view is that tap tempo is just absolutely needed for rhythmic effects like delays for instance. Thus, I decided to add one in my tremolo. It is not easy to implement a tap tempo, as you have to use digital circuitry, as we will see later... Here is my current prototype:
DIY tremolo with tap tempo
That is a lot of knobs! You can already notice that there are two footswitches: tap tempo (right side), and the true bypass footswitch that is a clickless relay bypass system! I used the relay bypass system that I conceived, which is completely silent, and more reliable than classic 3PDT true bypass. Indeed, 3PDT footswitches are the main reason for guitar pedal failure. The little switch in the middle of the two LED (bypass LED, and tempo LED) allows you to switch the pedal temporarily. This is nice to add some choppy stuffs while you play!

Relay Bypass: conception and relay bypass code

You might already have heard about "relay bypass", or even used it without knowing it. It a different true-bypass system than the classical 3PDT switch. Instead of using a mechanical 3PDT switch, a soft switch, a microcontroller and a relay are combined to turn the effect on and off.

Relay bypass PCB DIY

 So... Why bother? My 3PDT switch is great, don't you think?

As you may already know, 3PDT switches are the main cause of guitar pedal failure. These switches are not particulary though, and they often break, especially as we smash it continuously with our feet on stage.

A classical high quality 3PDT switch is rated for 30,000 activation cycles. With relay bypass, we use a relay that will play the mechanical role of connecting ins and outs. Relays are usually rated between 10 and 100 millions cycles! Thus, this system is much more reliable.

Moreover, the soft switch that we use to activate the guitar pedals also last longer than a 3PDT, usually around 50,000 cycles! They are also easier to replace, as there are only 2 connections to make with the relay bypass system, and not the full 3PDT wiring.

This blog post will present you how does it work, and how to make your own relay bypass system using a microcontroller, from the beginning to the end! Long stuff (but good stuff?)!

Dead Astronaut FX Chasm Reverb

Remember my Dead Astronaut Chasm Reverb PCB? I finally finished it! I left it quite a long time aside my bench, mainly because I did not have time or money to buy and build all the remaining things that needed to be done. Remember, if you want to have one, you can buy one directly from Dead Astronaut, or buy the PCB to make it yourself.

Here is my build: 
Chasm Reverb Prismatic dead astronaut
I used a prepainted enclosure, with a nice vintage color vibe, close to Surf Green color. With cream knobs of course! I just miss a cream pickguard part to have to most vintage fender look!

As I already said before, it was a fun build to make. The PCB is quite big and components are well spaced, so it is really easy and fun to build it, even for a beginner. I had absolutely no trouble at all. I did a few mistakes with the wiring, which is not a common wiring scheme as the pedal is buffered bypass. Apart from these minor incidents, the pedal almost worked immediatly, nice!
Chasm Reverb Prismatic dead astronaut

There are four potentiometers: volume (to set the output volume), mix (allows you to mix the dry signal with the reverb signal, you can go from a 100% dry to a 100% wet signal), damp (set the overall brightness of the reverb) and decay (set the amount of reverb that goes to into a feedback loop). Indeed, one of the features that make this reverb unique compared to other Belton Bricks reverb out there is that a part of the reverb signal can go through a feedback loop, allowing the reverb to auto oscillate! The switch allows to put the reverb in auto oscillation mode.

How does it sound?

I finally invested in proper recording gear (Senheiser e906 and external audio card), so I manage to record something for you! The Chasm Reverb is a deep, spacy sounding reverb, very good sounding with a delay!

The volume potentiometer is useful if you make it oscillate. At max, it is normal volume level, and you can lower it. The Mix is also quite useful, although I do not really like a too wet sound. The oscillation switch is really killer.

You can make the reverb smoother, and create "waves" of sounds, that lush for a quasi illimited amount of time! It is really awesome when combined with a delay! Perfect for ambiant stuff, and you can leave it on on the background.

Circuit analysis

Here is the circuit, from the build document:
Dead Astronaut Chasm Reverb Schematic
If you have already read the circuit analysis of the Rub A Dub Reverb, you can already find some similarities. As most of the DIY reverbs, it uses a Belton Brick, an IC that allows DIYers to make reverbs without having to use a spring reverb tank.

It is divided in several parts:
Dead Astronaut Chasm Reverb Schematic
Let's analyze each part of the circuit.

Power supply

The power supply is a classic one that we can find in many circuits. It provides 3 different regulated tensions:  9V, 4.5V and a regulated 5V.
Dead Astronaut Chasm Reverb Power Supply
The Zener diode (D6) prevents polarity inversions. R22 and C16 forms a low pass filter that will eliminate any 50Hz parasitic voltage ripples remaining from your AC outlet.

R23 and R24 forms a voltage divider that provides a 4.5V tension (VB). It is regulated by C17, a 47uF capacitor that will absorb excess of voltage. This tension is necessary for the OP amps to operate correctly

Then, there is a voltage regulator, REG1, that is a 7805. "78" means that the output tension is positive, and "05" is the output tension, 5V. The regulator is necessary to supply the Belton brick a good voltage. Unregulated voltage could result in damaging the IC that is very sensitive to higher or lower voltage drops, and so requires a regulated tension provided by this small chip that look like a transistor! You will find this kind of regulators in almost every circuit using numeric IC.

JFET switching buffer

This is a peculiar switching schematic that is very pratical here because it allows the use of a buffered bypass setting that make reverb trails possible. In a true bypass setting, the reverb would be cut abruptly when the effect is turned off, whereas here it can slowly decrease
JFET switching schematic circuit
So how does it work?

First, there is an input buffer, formed with R1, C1, R2 and the first OP amp of a TL072. As you can see, there is no resistor in the loop of the OP amp, thus it has a gain of 1. It is just used to transform the low impedance signal from the guitar into a low impedance signal.

Then, ther is the proper JFET switching. Here, JFET transistors are not used like amplifiers, but rather like "on / off" switches (like in computers!). When the JFET is turned on (by supplying 9V through the DPDT switch), it allows the signal to go from the drain to the source: the signal can pass. When a JFET is on, the other is turned off, so the signal either goes to the effect, or to the buffered output. A diode prevent any parasitic signal from the gate to enter in the signal path.

This switching scheme is nice with a reverb: it diminishes "popping" issues, and allows reverb trails, which is super nice with this reverb and its auto oscillating feature.

The Reverb circuit

The reverb circuit uses the Accutronics reverb module, a great integrated circuit that I presented already in the Rub A Dub Reverb circuit analysis.
Here is a schematic of the BTDR-2H that is used in this circuit:
Accutronics BTDR 2H Belton Brick
There are 6 pins on the brick. The two first ones are used for the power supply. Note that the power ground is supposed to be different than the signal ground. In some circuits, that is very important to separate digital and analog ground, and to combine them in only one point in order to diminish noise (especially if you combine digital chips with analog ones like MN3005 that are also in 5V).

The guitar signal enters in the third pin (signal ground on the 4th pin), and is "transformed" by the chip in a reverberated sound that goes out at the 5th and 6th pin. The reverbarated sound is not the dry sound + reverb sound. It is just the reverberated sound, so it is kind of peculiar. You have to mix it with the dry signal to make it sound like a reverb.

Here is the schematic of the reverb:
Dead Astronaut Chasm Reverb schematic

So first, there is a MOSFET input buffer, that increase a bit the signal. The signal is then split in two. A part of it stay dry (Dry signal part), and the other is treated by the Belton brick (reverb signal), they are mixed in the end with a mix potentiometer so you can set the amount of dry signal versus the amount of reverberated signal.

The dry signal just goes through this section without being modified, and goes to the mix knob.

The reverberated signal is buffered by an OP amp (TL072), with a gain of one (so no gain basically). A 100pF capacitors in the loop rolls off a bit of highs, and the signal can enter the BTDR2H brick. The signal then goes out from pin 5 and 6 of the reverb. The high are roll off by a low pass filter formed by the "DAMP" potentiometer and C5. For more infos about low pass filters, read my post about the Big Muff tonestack. Thus, you can set the amount of trebles in the reverbarated sound. Then, the reverbarated sound goes through an OP amp in a similar layout than at the entry. The signal then goes to the mix knob.

If that were the only features of the Chasm Reverb, this reverb would be a simple reverb with a tone control. What makes this reverb unique is its feedback loop. A part of the reverberated signal can go in the feedback loop and goes back to the entry of the reverberation circuit. The amound of signal going back to the begining of the circuit is set by the Decay knob and the switch that let you choose between a 47k resistor (a lot of signal goes back: oscillation) and a 100k one (less signal goes back: more a long-decay like reverb). This is really cool because if you set a high decay, a lot of signal can go back in the reverb circuit, and it can actually autooscillate! It also allows to approximately set the decay of the reverb, which is not possible with a standard BTDR2 brick.

After the dry and reverberated signal are mixed with the "mix" knob, there is another knob, that acts as a master volume knob. It is wired as variable resistor, and acts as a classic volume knob. The signal (reverb + dry) can now goes through the output buffer.

Output buffer

The output buffer is a simple buffer using a single OP amp from a TL072 chip.
Dead Astronaut Chasm Reverb schematic buffer
A 100pF in the loop rolls of a bit of highs. If the pedal is off, the dry signal goes through it with a gain of 1 (resistor R16/R13), but if the pedal is on, it has a bit of gain (R15/R16) to compensate the loss of volume due to the Belton Brick, the mix and volume knobs. It is a simple buffer, very transparent because of the high values of the coupling caps (C10 and C13, 10uF) and the use of the TL072.

There it is! I hope that it is clear and that it was helpful! Do not hesitate to ask questions in the comment. If you like this post, thank me by liking Coda Effects Facebook page!

To go further

JFET switching (pdf by Geofex): great explanations about JFET switching, around the classic Boss / Ibanez circuit.
Accutronics BTDR2 official webpage. 
Pedalrig tips about noise, great infos too!
Chasm Reverb official webpage, if you want to buy a built one or a PCB!

Potentiometers and guitar effects

Remember my post about resistors in guitar effects? Let's study another component essential for guitar effects: the potentiometer. It is essential for the main reason that it is one of the two components that allow you to modulate the effect of your guitar pedal, in a continuous manner! Thus, you can choose the final volume of your pedal, the intensity of the effect (gain, mix, delay volume...etc). Lets see what is a potentiometer, how it works, and how it is used in a guitar pedal effects.

The potentiometer: what is it?

A potentiometer simply is a variable resistor! As resistors, its value is expressed in Ohms. Usually, potentiometers have a value between 1k and 10M. If you turn the potentiometer, its value will change. It has 3 lugs, named A, B and C (or 1, 2 and 3, respectively) that you can see on this picture:
potentiometer a b c 1 2 3
It consists of 2 combined resistors. The value between A and C (lets call it Rac) is constant, and equal to the value of the potentiometer (100k for instance), whereas the value between A and B (Rab) or between B and C (Rbc) can vary between 0 and 100k depending on the rotation of the potentiometer. In fact, it is like dividing a resistor in two:
The value of Rab and Rbc varies depending on the rotation of the potentiometer, but Rab + Rbc is constant, equal to the value of the potentiometer, Rac! The symbol used for a potentiometer is this one:
potentiometer a b c schematic
Inside the potentiometer, there is a resistive track. When you rotate the potentiometer, the length of this resistive track varies between the lugs, and you vary the value of the resistance. Here is a gif that I made to make it easier to understand:
potentiometer how it works
So when you rotate the potentiometer to the right, the resistance between A and B increases. When you rotate it to the left, it diminishes.
Inversely, if you rotate it to the right, the resistance between B and C is reduced, and to the right it increases.
In the meantime, the resistance between A and C stays constant, and is equal to the value of the potentiometer !

So depending on what you want to use the potentiometer for, you can wire it differently. If you want the resistance to increase when the potentiometer is rotated to the right, you can wire the potentiometer between B and C:
potentiometer wiring

Thus, you can replace any resistor of the circuit by a potentiometer!

And trimpots?
Trimpots are just "mini" potentiometers! It works exactly like a potentiometer, with 3 lugs, but you have to set it with a screwdriver. It is quite useful to set the value of a resistor (bias resistors for instance), without having to solder / dessolder all the time.

Logarithmic, linear? Mono, stereo?

The potentiometer is characterized by its value (1k, 100k, 2M...etc.), but not only!

The variation of the resistance can be linear or logarithmic (also called "audio"). When a potentiometer is linear, the resistance will vary in a linear way when you turn the potentiometer (thanks captain obvious), whereas a logarithmic potentiometer will vary in a logarithmic way. That means that the resistor will not change a lot at the beginning of the rotation, and the will vary a lot during the middle / end of the rotation.

potentiometer log vs linear

So.... Why should I use a logarithmic potentiometer?

Two main reasons for that:
  1. The human ear functions in a logarithmic way: the volume is perceived in a logarithmic scale! The volume scale (decibel) is in fact a logarithmic scale. It is quite an important detail: from 95 to 96 Db, you have increase the volume a lot! So for a volume knob, a logarithmic can be better, the volume increase will be perceive as linear by our ears!
  2. With a log pot, the parameter will vary a lot in the higher value, which gives you more precision to set the lower values. This can be useful if you want to set precisely the lower settings, for instance with an overdrive: the low drive setting can be set more precisely, which is better if you want to have a low crunch for instance. Using an inverted log potentiometer allows you to set more precisely higher values of the pot.
I would suggest to try it on some circuits, sometimes it really is better!
Potentiometers are named differently depending on this characteristic:
  • "A" = audio = logarithmic
  • "B" = linear
  • "C" = inverted logarithmic 
For example, a linear 100k pot will be marked "B100K":
potentiometer B100k
A logarithmic 100k potentiometer will be marked "A100k"...Etc.

A potentiometer can also be mono or stereo. A mono potentiometer is a standard potentiometer with 3 lugs. When it is stereo, there is 2 resistive tracks inside the potentiometer: it is a "doubled" potentiometer. Thus, this kind of pot have 6 pins:
stereo potentiometer

It is like having two potentiometers in one! They are rarely used in guitar effects, that are mono most of the time, except in specific cases (in the Klon Centaur for instance, a stereo potentiometer sets the mix between the untreated signal and the drive signal). Sometimes it can be useful if you want one potentiometer that sets 2 different parameters in the same time.

Lets see how useful potentiometers are in a guitar pedal!

Typical uses of a potentiometer in guitar pedals

1. Setting the output volume
Most of the time, the output volume of an effect (especially with overdrives) is louder than the initial signal, especially with a boost, or an overdrive with a second gain stage that allows this volume jump.

To set the volume correctly, we can use a potentiometer, wired as a variable resistor. A part of the signal will go to the ground, whereas the rest of it will go outside the circuit. The potentiometer will split the signal in two:
potentiometer volume
The "official" schematic is on the left, on the right I represented the potentiometer as 2 resistors to make it clearer. When you turn the pot to the right, Rab diminishes, and Rbc increase: less signal go to the ground: volume increases!

Note that signal goes in through the "C" (3) lug, so Rbc increases when you turn it to the right, to make it a volume boost and not a volume cut.

This system is used in almost every guitar effect with a "master volume" knob: Fuzz Face, Big Muff, Tube screamer....

2. Gain setting
The gain of an OP amp is usually defined by two resistors (read my post about resistors in effect pedals):
inverting non inverting OP amp 
The gain of the OP amp is defined by R2/R1 (inverting OP amp) or 1 + R4/R3 (non inverting). So if you replace one of the resistors by a potentiometer, you can vary the gain of the OP amp! 
If you add diodes in the loop, the signal will be clipped, making it saturates. The more gain, the more clipping = more saturation! So a pot in the loop can adjust the gain of the pedal

This exactly what we can find in most overdrive circuits using OP amps! Here is an example from the gain stage of the Jan Ray pedal:
first gain stage Jan Ray gain schematic
The 4 diodes will clip the signal and create saturation. A 47pF capacitor will roll off some high frequencies. The gain resistor of the inverting OP amp (R2) is replaced by R4 + a potentiometer.

If you turn the potentiometer, the resistance of R4 + pot increases, and thus it increases the  gain of the OP amp, leading to more saturation!

The same schematic can be find in a Tube Screamer!

3. Replace a resistor in filters to set amount of bass / trebles
High or low pass passive filters allows to filter bass or trebles. A high pass filter let frequencies that are higher than a cutoff frequency pass, whereas the low pass filter let only pass frequencies that are lower than the cutoff frequency:
Low Pass High Pass filter 
High pass filter let trebles pass, and low pass let bass pass. The sound is not cut directly, but diminish rather fastly from the cuttoff frequency. We can calaculate the cutoff frequency with the following formula:
passive filter cutoff frequency formula
So if you make R vary, you will make the cutoff frequency vary, and you will let more or less bass go through the circuit!

Most "Tone" potentiometers (also on your guitar!) use a low pass filter, whith a potentiometer plus a resistor to set the cutoff frequency. Here is an example from the ProCo RAT:
RAT filter schematic
There it is!

So here are some uses with potentiometers... Experiment and try to replace resistors in your circuit to see whether it is interesting or not!

I hope that you enjoyed this post! Do not hesitate to thank me by liking the Coda Effects facebook page!

LPB1 boost

Remember my LPB1 PCBs? I finally built one! As the PCB is quite small, I decided to make my first 1590A build. Here it is:
LPB1 boost clone 1590A
Simple one knob boost, with quite a lot of gain. I used a 2n5088, which provides already quite a lot of gain. It is a simple volume boost, quite transparent that can be used to make your amp saturate a bit more, or to simply increase the volume of your guitar if you use it in your amp loop.
LPB1 boost clone 1590A
This is my first 1590A, and everything went better than expected. I was afraid that I would not have enough space inside such a tiny box to make all the component AND the circuit fit, but it was OK.

Some advice to make it easier:
  • Use PCB mount 3PDT. They are a bit smaller than "normal" 3PDT and let you a bit more space.
  • Use semi-enclosed jack like Lumberg KLBM3 jacks. They are a bit smaller and easier to use than open jacks like the one I used.
  • use 9mm pots.
Madbean pedals has issued a very nice guide to explain you all the tricks and tips about 1590A builds (pdf). I managed to make it, not the most impressive 1590A build ever, but nice though:
LPB1 boost clone 1590A

How does it sound?

Well, it is a simple clean boost. So you can either use it as a volume boost in front of your amp (if set clean), or in the FX loop, or to increase the gain of your amp if you have set it crunchy. You can also use it before a dirt pedal to increase the saturation of it.
I am planning on testing it in front of different builds. I already tried it in front of a Jan Ray build, making it basically a Tim, nice to have 2 gains settings in one pedal. I also want to try it in front of a Big Muff, like in the Musket Fuzz... I think it can fit in approximately any guitar pedal!

Circuit guide

I already did a circuit analysis of the LPB1 booster. However, I realized that sometimes, it is easier for beginners to understand the role of each component with an infographic, like the circuit guide of the Big Muff page.
Here is the one of the LPB1 booster :
LPB1 circuit guide schematic

Let me know if you like this kind of representations, I can try to update old circuit analysis with circuit guides like this one!