Tonefiend DIY Club: Project 1, Part 3

Here are the instructions for Part 3 of our first DIY Club project: building a bad-ass distortion pedal.

In this installment, we transfer the circuit we customized in Part 2 from the breadboard to its permanent home on a piece of perfboard. Once you get the hang of this technique, you’ll find it easy to transform any simple schematic into a working circuit.

Also, just to keep things organized, I’ve created a new DIY Club Page that will always feature the latest versions of all projects, plus other helpful resources. You can access it by clicking the DIY Club image in the right sidebar.

32 comments to Tonefiend DIY Club: Project 1, Part 3

  • BroKen

    Am I missing the link? (Apologies to Sasquatch…) Where is the download link? Thanks.

  • BroKen

    Yay! Finalized my circuit today, and should have the perfboard and enclosure in a day or so. What a sweet, phat-sounding box!Thanks again, Joe

  • Swen

    I can’t get to the instructions. It says I need a Word Press Login.

  • Swen

    Sorry, it still wants a WordPress login.

  • Swen

    That got me there. Thanks.

  • Swen

    I only have the problem if I try to access the instructions from the “All Projects and Links” page.

  • Swen

    I’m here to help 😉

  • hey, check this out from (Barry) at – easy pcb’s for modding or installing 3pdt and dpdt switches.

    board for 3pdt –

    and board for dpdt switches –

    take a look at the examples of use to get an idea of implementation – the dpdt is of particular interest to me because I like modding my own gear so much. The 3pdt board is so easy – it is already etched for true signal bypass, as well as having the option of additional grounding points, and you can directly wire up an LED as well.

    For example, imagine switching up a silicon or germanium fuzz option in one pedal using the dpdt idea here, instead of hardwiring it with one option/sound only (given the many schools of thought on fuzz pedal design and sound, especially when it comes to choosing between these two diodes).

    also – other aussie component sellers – (hey, we have a local digikey!)

    other stuff – question, when connecting points on a perf board, could you do this by using a silver conductive paint pen, rather than soldering/wiring between points?

    also – i know we’re not doing vero stuff, but in case anyone was interested, i found this –

    bring on the fuzz!!

  • BroKen

    I’m with you, drsoda, not really sure what I’m doing yet, but I’m recognizing I might like to switch between two or three options on a box of this sort.

    • joe

      We’ll get into working with switches when we box Project 1, and then again in Project 3, when we add a switchable buffer. The main point: Anytime you can’t choose between multiple options, you can wuss out on making a decision maximize your options by installing a switch.

      I refer you yet again to the always amusing Dano from Beavis Audio Research. Here’s his great piece on switching:

  • BroKen

    So Joe, are we likely to see Part 4 this weekend?

  • BroKen

    Joe, the legs of C3 weren’t quite long enough to span the width of my perfboard from + bus to – bus. Is there any harm or risk in spanning the gap with a short jumper wire? Thanks in advance.

    • joe

      Naw, that should work fine. Just don’t let the wire touch anything it shouldn’t touch.

      Jumpers aren’t a sin. Or if they’re are, they’re an invisible sin, once you box everything up. 🙂

  • BroKen

    Thought I did a pretty neat job in assembling the perfboard version of the circuit, but I’m getting nothing when I run a signal through it. Arrghh! Time to double-check everything and test continuity, etc. Now I know why the techs at work make the big bucks….

    • BroKen

      Halle-freakin-lujah! Logic and common sense told me that, the circuit we’ve been working with for the last couple of weeks is getting pretty familiar at this point, and looked good solder- and connection-wise, whereas the Part 3 resistor-LED combo and the electrolytic cap with my jury-rigged jumper were unknowns to this point. So I unsoldered the resistor with its associated wire, and tried again. No signal.
      Then I unsoldered the e-cap and associated jumper, and tried again. Voila! That phat signal I so enjoyed was back!
      It would appear my circuit is fine as soldered, albeit a little noisy. So I’m just down to re-checking the new e-cap addition, and then the new resistor/LED addition, and hopefully the noise factor will diminish, and everyone will play together nicely.

      • joe

        Well, to be honest, for a noisy-ass distortion pedal like this, you could probably leave off the electrolytic cap and get great results.

        Another alternative: Since the cap simply bridges the positive and negative busses, you could also insert it into the DC jack along with the other necessary connections, which are explained in Part 4. Just connect the short negative leg to the jack’s large negative lug, and the long positive leg to the outermost positive lug, the same one where you connect the red wire from the perfboard.

      • Dirtbagg

        Broken I was having the same issue. I’ve disconnected C4 and I get a high pitch buss but no guitar.everthing looks good too.

        It turned out I had a bad solder joint on R2 to +9.

        It works now. =)

  • Connor

    Howdy all,

    First, I love this site. I’ve been waiting/looking for something like this for so long. I’ve built 3 and a half pedals by the seat of my pants (tube screamer, some kinda fuzz box, green ringer, and a non-working orange squeeze all from the wonderful but never really LEARNED what I and all those little electronic-y things were doing until now.

    Second, I built the circuit onto the perfboard, and it works (always a nice surprise for me), but there is a pretty loud hum. Any tips or tricks on reducing? This may have been posted somewhere I missed. My current plan of action is to build another but try to solder and connect “cleaner”.

  • Nick

    Gotta say, Joe. This project was a lot of fun and very informative! Laid out and organized extremely well. This was my first build and I’ve been working on it for the past month on the weekends and after work (basically any free time I have that doesn’t go towards my wife, work or playing shows). I had a few frustrating any normal person would. Funniest thing that happened to me was during the breadboard stage. I set everything up perfectly, except I put a 470k ohm resistor where the 470 ohm resistor was supposed to be. Made my amp sound like a Twin Reverb!..not really. Anyways, I boxed it up last night, the light came on..BUT, no sound! Except for really crappy and quiet sound fuzz. My amp volume would decrease immensely every time I engaged the pedal. I knew the perfboard was working I tested in on the breadboard before soldering all the I checked my ground connection since it was the only connection that I was not confident in the integrity of the solder. Snipped the three wires off, stripped them down some more, tied them together and soldered them to the output jack ground instead. BOOM. Worked. Anyways, thanks again Joe! Such a rewarding project! I’ve got a few of my friends doing the same thing but buying your kits from Mammoth! I would have done that if I knew they were there..shows you how much I pay attention hah. :cuckoo:

  • sameer

    Thanks Joe m very much with your project and I have been finished project 1 part #1 but I am unable to get part # 2 pdf file please guide me how to get these

  • marcel duval

    So far nothing works on my part even after part 1i still get a clean sound any explanation why the only way I get somewhat of distortion is putting the transistor backwards the 9volts on the Jennifer am I doing something wrong

  • Joe, will I go wrong if I use 5.6K resistor to protect my LED? It lights up just ok on the breadboard… BTW, how to calculate this R value? I have a feeling this has to do with Ohm’s law, but I don’t know how to apply and I don’t know what the voltage of the LED actually is.

    • joe

      Yeah, a 5.6k is just fine. (In fact, you can make slight deviations from the stock 4.7k value to make the bulb glow a bit brighter or darker.) I’m not sure I understand your other question, but there are many free electronic calculators online (plus some cool iOS and Android apps) for working out common electronic equations. But here’s one simple rule to remember: Two resistors in series have resistance equal to the sum of their values. So if you need, say, a 4.7k, you could use two 2.2k resistors in series for a total of 4.4k, which is within the 10% value tolerance common among such components.

    • Jakub an LED will have a maximum forward current rating and a forward voltage drop. If you know the manufacturers part number for the LED you can look up those two values on the data sheet for the part.
      Typical Red LEDs have a forward drop of around 1.3 to 2Volts at an operating current of up to 20mA (this is high). So to apply Ohms law you need to know the supply voltage you want to drive the LED from. Let’s say that is 9V. The voltage drop across the LED feed resistor is going to be 9V – Vf lets say 9-2 = 7V. If you want to pass 20mA through the LED then R=V/I and in this case that’s 7/20mA = 350 ohms. Most stomp boxes actually run the LED at only 2mA or less and typically use a 4K7 resistor. I=V/R in this case (9-2)/4K7 = 1.7mA. With a modern high brightness LED 2mA or so is often more than enough and the lower you go the less you drain the battery (if you use one).

  • AndrewG

    Thought I’d leave a couple of tips here which have taken me ages to figure out – hopefully useful to others.
    1. My local supplier only had metal DC jacks – but because the outside is positive, then the case is also positive as it screws in against it… 😐 – so make sure the DC jack is plastic!

    2. I could only find a plastic stereo input jack. It had six pins, three along each side – I figured they were paired and could wire to either side. But it turns out that it is switched – so one side is not connected when the lead is plugged in… So make sure to get unswitched. Or if switched, use the correct side.


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