Archive for January, 2013

Morse Device listed on ETSY

Posted: January 24, 2013 in General, Morse Device
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I have 1 Morse Device available on my ETSY shop. Check it out here.

I have a small batch of 3 072 buffer pedals in production. These will be in unfinished enclosures and feature a vinyl sticker with the following artwork:

New Decal

They will have blue LED’s and run from a standard negative center 9v supply (no battery). They will be always on, so won’t have a footswitch. Ideal for sitting at the beginning of a chain if you have an all true bypass board or long cable runs, would fit well on one of those all Mooer mini pedal filled boards that everyone seems to be going crazy for these days. They will be priced at £30 including free uk delivery, I’ll put them on the ETSY shop when done or you can contact me directly at if you want to pre-order one.

So, here’s the finished Scallywag! It works pretty nicely, so far I’m treating it as one of those always on pedals, really sounds great clean, and it boosts the drive channel on my amp enough to not need an OD pedal. Because of the filtering (amongst other things) on the tube screamer type pedals (I’m using a Digitech Bad Monkey and a Way Huge Green Rhino) they have a slightly different vibe going on to the Scallywag. I’d say the Scallywag is crunchier, but has a little more output on tap than either of those 2 (mines set at around +24dB of gain).

If I get any interest in this I’ll do a small batch, hopefully looking to get some PCB’s made up if that turns out to be the case.

I’ll do a video soon, but for now here’s some photos…

P1030145 P1030150 P1030140

As a little fun side project I’ve decided to build a foot controller for my Hughes and Kettner Tubemeister 36. This seems an odd move as one of the excellent things about this amp is the fact that is has fantastic midi support, and when I purchased the amp I also bought the companies FSM-432 midi footswitch. With the midi you can control channels, reverb, fx loop and the power soak, while traditional footswitches can control the reverb, channels and fx loop. My beef with the midi is this: when I want to use the amp with analog pedals (as opposed to a multi fx that does it all) I have to lug a huge footswitch around on top of my fx board, and in a band setting I only want 3 sounds (which incidently are the names of the amps channels) clean, crunch and lead, so a midi footswitch is a bit OTT.

My second beef with using midi is that unless I blow a rediculous (atleast 3 figures) amount of cash on some looper/midi controller control pedal I can’t bring analog pedals in and out of the loop at the same time as switching amp channels. While this sounds trivial, it is a bitch when playing live. I’m sick of having to stomp the channel switch, then the overdrive, then the compressor and noise gate all mid song, it’s just too much. I could make do with just stomping twice – the overdrive and the channel, but it is still a bit annoying, plus I want the pedals on that I want on, not just what is convieneient.

So anyway, here’s my design. It has been an absolute bastard trying to fit it all on, but here she is:


Basically, at the heart of it you have an A/B channel switch, where A is always clean B can be either Crunch or Lead. When you engage A the signal is routed through loop A which in my case will have the compressor in it. When you stomp to channel B the signal is routed through loop B which will have a couple of OD’s and a noise gate in there. If you stomp the C/L (Crunch/Lead) switch the tubemeister will change between crunch and lead, but both will use loop B. Kill is a soft touch momentary killswitch, and the pedal also has the 072 buffer built in, which can be toggled on and off. Reverb and FX Loop  predictably control the amps reverb and the amps FX loop. Loop A and Loop B both have a toggle switch that bypasses them, so that want to bypass the pedals in them you don’t have to use a patch cable to cover them up. The area marked V~ will have a pot which can be used to reduce the voltage at the variable dc out socket between 1.6v~ and 9v~ so that not only are you not loosing a space on your DC power brick to this pedal you also get a starvable output to make the fuzzes and overdrives sound crazy. There are LED’s to indicate everything, 9 in total.

So, really this is a stripped down Morse Device, stripped down Bomb Idea, a switchable 072 buffer, and a alternate true bypass looper within a channel swith pedal! The enclosure is a Hammond 1590BB, and believe me it is a real squeeze to get everything in, yet alone in usable positions.

The slightly odd jack arrangement is to allow for the stereo cables going to the amp for channel and reverb/loop to be convienet for hooking into when this is on the left hand side of a pedal board. There should be enough room to use right angled jacks at the top although they may interfeer with the loop A and loop B toggle switches a bit, depending on what ones I use. Basically I’m after a small footprint swiss-army-knife style utility pedal that makes everything more portable.

I’ll post the layout diagram on when it is finalised as well as schematics so people can build their own without any of the faffing. Maybe it is something I would consider building for others (could change the functions of the reverb/fx loop/crunch lead toggles to suit your amp) but it is probably won’t ever be one I make many of because of the high cost of parts most notably a 4PDT footswitch and 3 3PDT toggle switches.

The past few weeks I’ve mainly been working on the op-amp based clean booster I mentioned in my last post. Since then I have made a few tweaks and built up a vero version ready to be boxed up as soon as the enclosure and the artwork arrive. The artwork is a transparent vinyl sticker with a white foreground, which should look great on the powdercoated hammond 1590b’s, I’ve gone for the red one for this version. I’ve also got one of these large aluminium knobs which should feel great to use and look cool. Anyway here’s the artwork:


Here’s the circuit:


And here’s the vero layout, verified by myself!


Pics and videos coming soon…

Over the Christmas break I’ve been pretty busy playing with 2 new pedals I have been working on. The first I have mentioned a few times before – the Square Earth Theory, which still isn’t working too well to be honest. Here’s the schematic I have so far, trying to filter out the popping is proving to be such an enormous pain in the ass you wouldn’t believe. This uses a FET to switch the signal, in the past I used a 4053 and 4066, with OK results. The 4053 worked the best of the 2 CMOS IC’s, set up so that the signal is shunted to the Vref rail, and is also broken, but the FET seems to be the quietest option when set up to allow a slower switch on time as in the schematic. If you have any luck getting this to work better than I have please let me know!

Square Earth Theory

I have also been playing with an op-amp clean boost circuit that uses a charge pump to internally double the +9v supply run the op-amp that does the boosting at +18v which allows a decent amount of headroom before the signal starts clipping when boosting. I’m pretty sure the Klon used a charge pump to get ~18v without at 18v supply, and a clean boost seems like a great application for using a charge pump.

When you talk about clean boosts everyone throws the term ‘transparent’ around as if it is the holy grail, and it kind of annoys me as what most people are really after when they think of a clean boost is an all around ‘tone fattener’, which is far from transparent! Op-amps get discarded as being slightly sterile when used as clean boosts, but I don’t necessarily agree. Mosfets do tend to be slightly ‘warmer’ than op-amps and do other things to the tone as they boost, but I actually really like the way the op-amps stay so clean (especially when you have a the increased headroom that is provided from a larger voltage than the standard 9v) even when the boost is many decibels.

Anyway, here’s the schematic.


The amount of boost the pedal can kick out is set by the trimmer, which sounds great around +24dB (trimmer set to 8k8). This worked well for the pick ups of my PRS Custom 22 as it allowed loads of boost without any clipping. I made adjustable with a trimmer so that it can be adjusted to suit your guitar, as some with really hot pickups, especially active, may clip earlier. The available range is between 9-35dB. This could have been a pot, but I would rather have it set internally and then just forget about it. With the setup I have here the signal is always boosted by x amount, and then attenuated with the volume control. I think it was Jack Orman (who incidentally designed the Mosfet Booster, which is the basis for many commercially available clean boost pedals) who said that this is like driving a car and always having your foot on the accelerator and jamming on the brakes to slow down, which is a great analogy of what is going on here. I opted to do it this way as in practice it felt more natural to me than adjusting the gain when using it. You could substitute the 100k trimmer (R7) with a 100k pot and do away with the volume control to control the gain directly, which, on paper at least, makes more sense (and actually my original plan). If you are thinking about doing this I would consider changing R9 to 510k, R3 to 10k and using a 500k pot, which will give you around +34dB of gain on tap, but not all of which will be clean.

I think I’m going to call this pedal the Scallywag, I’ll get it built up and boxed asap, and may make a small batch.