Archive for the ‘No Tomorrow’ Category

No Tomorrow Update 6

Posted: October 18, 2012 in FX, No Tomorrow
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So, it has been a long while since I have posted anything about the No Tomorrow, way too long.

It has changed a huge amount again since its last iteration, but I think I’m finally getting somewhere with it. I’ve made the circuit a whole heap better, and to be honest it is closer to a whole new pedal than the designs you have seen before. I just understand a lot more about electronics in general than I did when I first started working on this. There are now 2 controls, fuzz and volume (imaginative huh?!). The volume simply controls the output, but the fuzz is a little more complex. Rather than a traditional fuzz face/muff design I have gone for an initial silicon transistor based boost into an opamp. The fuzz control adjusts both the voltage that the opamp runs on (but does not affect its reference voltage), and also the gain of the opamp, which at the same time pushes it harder and starves it of voltage. As the fuzz is increased the difference between the reference voltage and the supply voltage narrows which creates a gated velco-y type effect. It is very different to a typical misbiased splattery transistor fuzz but will sound pretty nasty. It’s certainly not going to be for everyone but I want it to just be one of those pedals that makes me smile every time you hit it on.

Still needs a huge amount of work on the breadboard, but I should have some rough sound samples up soon.

Work on the No Tomorrow is going well. I’ve given it a bit of an overhaul. After looking at quite a few dirt box schematics the distortion circuit is actually unintentionally similar to a heavily modded MXR distortion +.  After looking at the MXR’s circuit I have changed how the gain is set to mimic that… seems much nicer how they have done it and easier to specify an accurate maximum as resistors come in much more frequent values opposed to pots. I have got rid of the lofomofo speaker control and added a boost control to restore any perceived decrease in signal after the lofi filter has done its work. The lofi setting is also footswitchable and features 2 degrees of lofi-ness, which I haven’t quite decided on yet. I’m also using the Jack Ormans big muff tone control again. I have one space left for control, could have either a noise circuit for additional lofi-ness, or a toggle to change the hard clipping diodes between say LED’s and 1N4148’s, or a toggle to change between hard and soft clipping to give the circuit a feel a bit more like an overdrive in soft mode… Who knows, I’ll board it up and give it a test and try and decide for good, hopefully get some videos up too. Here’s another graphics mock up to give you a better idea of controls

And here is a very low res version of the revised circuit. Again I don’t want to uploaded it as it is in an unfinished state and will just cause annoyance for anybody in the future looking to build it. Just to give you an idea though:

No Tomorrow Update 4

Posted: June 21, 2012 in FX, No Tomorrow
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The No Tomorrow is starting to get rolling again, with a few pretty big changes. I’m going to ditch the sample rate reduction, which there is no denying was a major part of the pedal. In reality I’m not loving the distortion/crusher mix at all. In its place is going to be a fidelity control which will blend the distorted signal with the infamous  lofomofo circuit (will probably be modded to some degree), after the distortion, so any amount of lofi-ness will be available. I’m also getting rid of the separate variable high pass and low pass filters and replacing them with the standard Big Muff tone control. So here is a list of the new controls:

  • Gain
  • Starve
  • Tone
  • Volume
  • Mix (fidelity and speaker)
  • Speaker
  • Lofi/midfi toggle control to change the depth of the lofi setting

This pedal is defiantly becoming a very strange beast, but I’m loving the idea of a really lofi distortion, which is something I have been thinking about for a long time. I was heading towards a lofi fuzz route, but I think the No Tomorrow would benefit from that part of the circuit.  I’m also toying with the idea of reducing the hard clipping to soft clipping so that it has more of an overdrive feel to all out distortion, who knows.

Here’s an updated idea of the artwork:

As an after thought I would love make it into a cartridge for the Devi Ever Console II at some point (probably omitting the speaker control and fixing the fidelity to lofi).  Circuit to follow once I have finalised the values.

So this morning I had a brief conversation with Devi Ever over email regarding the Console 2 project. For those that don’t know about Devi or the Console check out the kickstarter here.

Basically the Console is an exciting new platform that is in effect a base unit that takes pedals in cartridge form. This is great as it allows many builders to produce pedals for far cheaper (no 3PDT’s, no input jacks, no 9v input or battery snap, no drilling, no painting etc) and it looks cool. I’d basically commented that when I finally get the No Tomorrow up and running I may do a cartridge version for the console, and Devi was keen to add me to the ever-growing developers list (some great names on there). As it is I’m not going to commit to producing a cartridge of the No Tomorrow – I  don’t even have it up and running yet, but when I do who knows…  The thing is, I haven’t even finalised the features of the pedal, yet alone the circuit, so it is hard to commit to squeezing it all within one of those cartridges. Plus, at the moment I’m finding it hard to dedicate much time to 0xd FX.

Best of luck to Devi with the Console, it looks cracking and there are some great developers on board. I have my personal reservations about it as a gigging tool, but for bedroom and studio use it is looking truly excellent!

No Tomorrow Update 3

Posted: April 19, 2012 in FX, No Tomorrow
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Just a quick update on the No Tomorrow. As I’m moving house I haven’t had much time to spend on this bad boy, but it is progressing nicely when I have had time!

Here’s the latest schematic, admittedly in low res. Once I have got the circuit finalized I will publish a high res schematic.

Since the last update I have:

  • Replaced the tone and body controls a high and low control. These basically cut the bass, and cut the highs. I think that I will probably get rid of the high pass filter (lows) and have one tone control which is a low pass filter, there to cut the harsh highs. I may make it active, a bit depends when I have the rest of the circuit up and going.
  • Changing the op-amp used for driving the distortion to a TL061. I tried a load of opamps and I liked the way this one sounded. It responds really well to voltage starving, and the starve  was limited to ~4.5v, which is just before the IC cuts out, at least audibly.
  • The distortion diodes are 5mm red LEDS. I was trying 1N4148, some BAT85 Schottky, 1N60’s, 1N4001’s and to be honest I liked the LED’s best. I think they complement the overall sound well.
  • I have messed around with the sample rate reduction a bit. I haven’t had a good enough result yet to include in  the pedal, but hopefully once I get a bit of time to spend on the circuit and the layout I will be able to get it working well. Although sample rate reduction was the driving force behind this pedal I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up getting dumped in the end. The problem is with these analog ‘bit crusher’ circuits is that you get this carrier frequency (which changes tone with the sample rate) which drones away in the background. Look at the Catalinbread Heliotrope – an awesome pedal, but the carrier frequency is certainly audible, and while I personally class that as insignificant when the pedal is used by itself, it becomes an incredible pain in the ass when you want to use it with a distortion or other gain pedal, and next to unusable with a secondary gain in a live context. And that is the problem with using it here, it is a combination of the 2 effects, and the problem is massively amplified. Who knows, maybe in the long-term I will get it working well enough, maybe it is impossible without reverting to digital, one thing is for sure I’m not clever enough at electronics to get this feature working well at present.

Regardless whether the pedal has sample rate reduction or not in the long run or not, it is going to sound brutal! The starve works really well, and gets some unearthly tones. Who knows the path this pedal will take, in the end maybe I’ll have dual gain sections, each with independent gain and starve controls and full blending. Actually, that could be very cool indeed…

No Tomorrow Update 2

Posted: April 3, 2012 in FX, No Tomorrow
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Work on the No Tomorrow distortion/sample rate reduction pedal is going well, with prototyping starting, er, tomorrow! I have a big box of caps, diodes, op amps, pots and resistors arriving today, and a couple of prototype boards planned out, so it is game on as far as prototyping is concerned!

I have a fairly long list of op amp/diode combinations planned for the gain stage to find something that not only sounds great as a distortion but responds well to being combined with not only the  sample rate reduction circuit, but also the voltage sag feature. It is defiantly a distortion more than a fuzz, but I want it to be able to touch on fuzz territory at lower voltages. The EHX Metal Muff sounds incredible when you reduce the voltage, and get’s pretty fuzzy and velcro-y which is exactly what I am after, but I really don’t want the distortion to sound like that. The tone control is going to take a bit of a tweak I expect and I’m unsure as to how much to limit the sample rate reduction. Certainly for me I like a slightly reduced sample rate which is easily tweakable, but some people might want to drop it right down, which then makes it slightly harder to tweak as the pot is in effect more sensitive. But I also love pedals that have a huge range and allow you to really experiment beyond where most manufacturers allow you. Maybe I should add a high/low toggle ala the Catalinbread Heliotrope, but then most people I have seen using that pedal (including me) don’t use the really low sample rates at all… it is basically going to be one big experiment!

One thing for sure is the voltage sag will be limited much more than that of the Bomb Idea. I am going to set the bottom limit to just within the useable range, probably around 3.5-4v, which really depends on the op amp/diode combination I plump for.

The intention I have for the No Tomorrow is to produce a pedal that can provide a, dare I say it, solid state sounding distortion (not tube territory here!) as a base and then lets you tweak and destroy it into clangy computer territory, which is really the sound I have had in my head for a long time now. I want it to be up to you how much you factor in the destruction, for me I want a subtle undertone of chaos, but I want the No Tomorrow to go further than that if you want it to. I’m not pretending or trying to produce a pedal that can replicate a Dual Rectifier in a box, or provide smooth tube amp distortion, but one that can provide you with that “shit the bed” feeling, which will sing your lead lines.

Progress on the No Tomorrow is coming along really well. I have the circuit drawn up, and vero layouts for the distortion and sample rate reduction modules ready to be populated. Quite a few of the component values will probably change by the time I have finished tinkering with it, but at least progress is under way!

Here’s the circuit, it is very low res as a lot of it is still under scrutiny!

The next job is to try a whole heap of op amp and diode combinations to find the right colour distortion to suit the circuit, and also work out the minimum value for the voltage sag for the combination I decide on so that it stays within a  useable range.

The sample rate reduction side of the circuit is based on the “Analog Bit Crusher” by Colin Raffel at experimentalists anonymous, although I’m not sure how low I want the frequency to go yet. I’m not sure whether to keep the sample rate reduction fairly modest, or to allow a huge range, which will get next to unusable at the lower frequencies. The distortion is something I have cooked up from research and information on the net. I was quite surprised how little is required for a distortion circuit to be honest! The tone control is the improved big muff tone section by the legendary Jack Orman, which is something I may tweak once the distortion circuit is sorted.

Here’s the progress on the overlay for the pedal, no artwork as of yet, but that is on the way! I have changed the names of the controls back to what they really are, after all this pedal is going to be intimidating enough without you guys having to work out what each knob does!

I’m not sure on the colour scheme of the decal yet, a bit depends on the final artwork. When I start building them I’ll probably do an option for a powder coated enclosure with aluminium knobs, and a cheaper unpainted enclosure with plastic knobs for a bit cheaper. As soon as the circuit is finalised I’ll construct a prototype on vero, and then get to drawing the PCB. As these are going to have PCB’s and I won’t be  painting the enclosure myself the price should be pretty good on these, defiantly less than £100, and should have a lead time of around  a week rather than a month.