echomancer

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« on: October 29, 2004, 05:53:33 PM »
Hey guys.  This looks to be the forum I've been looking for a LONG time.

I'm a poor recent college grad who loves to record music.  A few years ago, I was suckered into purchasing two shiny DBX386 tube pres, and I have since learned why they always sounded "not so good"...

Anyway, I've decided that perhaps building my own mic pres would be both fun and rewarding.  The problem is, I'm a total noob.  I have some soldering skills, but absolutely NO MEANINGFUL electronics experience (I understand Ohm's law and can more or less read a schematic, if that helps).

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to be amongst such knowledgeable and kind folk!  I have so many questions...  So many things I want to learn...  So many things I want to build!

So, where do I begin?  What's a good project to start with?  What books should I check out?  What should I be doing?!?

Thanks in advance for the replies!


CJ

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2004, 06:13:30 PM »
Welcome to your new prison!
You could start bt reading the Meta threads which can be accessed at the top of the page, second thread down.
 :guinness:
If I can't fix it, I can fix it so nobody else can!
Frank's Tube Page: www.mif.pg.gda.pl/homepages/frank/vs.html
Guitar Amps: http://bmamps.com/Tech_sch.html

Mark Burnley

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2004, 06:25:37 PM »
Hi echo,

Well....here's a link to the Newbie META- a collection of (hopefully!) useful links to get you started:

http://www.groupdiy.com/index.php?topic=349

I think firstly you have to decide your level of commitment to a project-

1st rule of DIY: It's not the cheap option

2nd rule of DIY: It's not the easy option

So why do we do it??

3rd rule of DIY: It's the FUN option!

There are two ways to go, either way the bare essentials are:

1. Soldering Iron- 20-25W
2. Digital Multi Meter (DMM) Cheap ones are fine to start with
3. Selection of hand tools- pliers, cutters, screwdrivers etc.

The easiest and most stress-free way is to go for a ready made kit. Here all the parts are supplied in one package, and the circuit board is ready made. The kits come with a set of plans and step-by-step notes of what to do and in what order, including some info on setting the project up and troubleshooting.

The next step up in complexity is to make a project already designed but gather all the components together yourself from a published list of parts, or just from a schematic. This can be difficult at first before you get to know the suppliers in your area, but more and more people are publishing lists of parts (with order numbers!) which they've put online. The main problem with this build-it-yourself type of project is the PCB. Making your first PCB can be a lot of work, and it is quite expensive to buy all the things you need to get going. But...a lot of the projects people have done in The Lab have become available as a ready-made board. All you have to do is buy the components and solder them onto the ready-made board. Check The Black Market for details.

The most expensive part (and most hassle!) can be the chassis/rack case for a project. This is because they're expensive to buy, and you need to have basic metalwork tools to cut holes for meters, switches, pots etc. Don't let that put you off though- an evening with a power drill and files can be very entertaining  :green:

One of the best things to do is to learn how to solder (if you don't already) on a non-crucial (i.e. not expensive!!) project. Building a small guitar pedal such as a FuzzFace or Rat distortion pedal is a cheap and hassle-free introduction to soldering, component identifying, metalwork etc. And there's no mains PSU to worry about.

(even if you don't play guitar we all know that distortion pedals are just too good to not have around the studio  :cool: )

I'll let other people give you ideas of what to build- I hope you stick around and have a SEARCH of the archives- you'll find a lot of priceless info on all things audio-DIY!

 :thumb:

Mark
O_O tape is life O_O

soundguy

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2004, 06:33:31 PM »
Quote from: "Mark Burnley"


1st rule of DIY: It's not the cheap option

2nd rule of DIY: It's not the easy option




man, if you heed any advice you read on this board, it should be the above regardless of what anyone tell you.

dave

chips are good with dip...

Svart

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2004, 06:36:24 PM »
or to simplify this hobby:

Quick
Cheap
Easy

pick two.


 :guinness:
Welcome to the GroupDIY leper colony! when something falls off, we just replace it with a tube!
occupation: General Electron Mayhem

Alesis X2 information repository:
http://www.theopiumdenproductions.

echomancer

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2004, 07:34:12 PM »
It was suggested that I start w/ a Hamptone JFET kit.  Is that a good place to start?  What about the Seventh Circle Audio kits?

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2004, 08:48:17 PM »
Ah, you are new to this.

echomancer.... you can take this as you will, but I 'am' having a pop at you.

It 'really' gets up my nose that many have no concept of the simple yet human characteristic known as manners. I had manners drummed (and sometimes beaten) into me as a child by all adults around me and it has served me well as I aproach a half century.

You started well with your first post... you introduced yourself and your situation and appear to want to be a part of what is undoubtedly the finest bunch of like minded souls to be found.

You got a welcome from CJ, Mark took 15 minutes out of his day to steer you in his own inimitable way and others have pitched in, but you haven't even the common decency to acknowledge them. WHY?

Tagging 'thanks in advance' is NO substitute for thanking individually those that may or now may not take any of their valuable time to help you.

I realise that this is the internet and not some gentlemens club, but would imagine that it veers more toward the latter than the former and as such, simple manners will tend to take you a great deal further.

peter
http://www.lazpro.com
I reserve the right to not sell to idiots

soundguy

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2004, 09:07:09 PM »
Peter-

you just scored yourself an honorary membership to my gentlemens club.  You should get your complimentary kitten shaver with embossed monogram in the next few weeks after your paperwork is processed.

echo, the hamptone kit or the 7th circle kits are great especially because they have all the metal work done for you, which as you'll learn, is IMO the biggest PITA of any diy project, at least in the beginning.  If you get either of those kits make sure you get the chasis, they both use PCB mount front panel parts and it will be so much easier to finish those projects with the prepunched chasis...

dave

chips are good with dip...

Scenaria

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2004, 10:00:20 PM »
though the 7th circle pres and such have a decent sound... they do cost $$$ as does any decent DIY project...

if you lack in soldering skills.... I would suggest some type of lower cost kit that you can get your chops up on... it doesnt even have to be audio based... it would really suck to fry a 7th cir pre because of a solder bridge or something...

if your ok with soldering on a PCB then you cant really go wrong....

as stated above... dont get in this *cough* "hobby" if you want to get by cheap as it tends to be the opposite... what you might save on building something you spend on meters, irons tools and tears :)

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2004, 10:01:14 PM »
Quote from: "soundguy"
Peter-you just scored yourself an honorary membership to my gentlemens club.
dave


Cheers Dave, but Groucho springs to mind... I'll still take the goodies though...  :thumb:
http://www.lazpro.com
I reserve the right to not sell to idiots


echomancer

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2004, 10:09:17 PM »
My apologies to all for not thanking you.

Cjenrick:  It's good to be here!  Yet another expensive hobby to be a slave to.  I've been through the meta threads (especially the newbie one) but didn't find precisely what I was looking for.  I have however found many interesting threads that have really gotten the creative juices flowing.  Thanks for the welcome!

Mark:  As with anyone new to any project, I don't want to invest heavily only to find that I don't enjoy this.  My heart has been into the idea of DIY pre's for a long time, but I've never found as good a resource as this!  

I've got a decent RadShack dual wattage ironing station (20/40W w/ sponge), a pretty fancy Craftsman DMM w/ a cap and transistor tester built in, and a collection of hand tools used for working on computers.  

Your advice about stages in "hobby development" really ring true.  While spending $300+ on a great kit sounds wonderful and easy, it would probably be best to start with something good but cheaper.  I've really been interested in "transparent"ish amps (like the INA167 referrence design, similar to what is in the MAudio DMP3), and they seem to be "relatively" inexpensive.  After searching, the 2 channel Green amp looks like a great starter project to practice my soldering on and maybe even some "tweaking".  I appreciate your input on the matter.  This was some QUALITY advice.

soundguy and Svart:  I think you were both trying to say the same thing.  I've learned this lesson from other hobbies and activities in my professional life.  This is some very very good advice, and I thank you both.

peter purpose:  This rant was completely unnecessary.  If anything, you could have had the decency to send me a PM about it.  I am an active member of several forums, all of which I can assure you are "the finest bunch of like minded souls to be found".  I certainly didn't want to upset anyone with my first post.  A "thank you" post would have been forthcoming, once the thread had run its course.   If anyone was offended by a lack of a personalized thank you, please see above.  If that is not sufficient, please PM and tell me what I can do to make ammends.  Thank you for the personal attack on my character peter.

soundguy:  I am terribly sorry if you too were offended.  I was very surprised to find the metal work to be one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) challenges.  My notions have been thoroughly turned on their head!  This looks to be a challenging and exciting hobby.  Thanks for the input on these units.  I think I may start "smaller" (the Green amp) though to reduce cost, and increase my experience with this type of soldering.

Scenaria:  Thanks for the input.  When I think about how much one of these kits are, it is kind of scary to realize that one small soldering or component mounting mistake could turn the project into a $300 paper weight...  Can you recommend any other kits that might be available that are inexpensive?  Does anyone make a prefab pcb or kit for the Green amp?  I need to build a PS as well.

echomancer

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2004, 10:16:10 PM »
peter purpose:

If you're the sampe peter as is http://1176neve.tripod.com/, then i am TRULY SORRY to have pissed you off!  This looks like a really cool little amp!

I've got many questions, but I'll ask them after I search the depths of the archives...

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2004, 10:33:28 PM »
Echomancer,
This is a pet peeve of mine and I will more often than not pull anyone up on it.

I'm of an old school where import is placed upon basic human niceties.  

I now applaud your actions.

Welcome to the Lab.

peter

BTW.. I'm not that Peter.
http://www.lazpro.com
I reserve the right to not sell to idiots

echomancer

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2004, 10:35:10 PM »
Quote from: "peter purpose"

I now applaud your actions.

Welcome to the Lab.

peter


WHEW! ;)

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2004, 10:39:25 PM »
:thumb:
http://www.lazpro.com
I reserve the right to not sell to idiots

tommypiper

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2004, 11:59:38 PM »
I think you should choose something you will need or use for your first project.  Most of us end up doing mic pres or DI boxes or something like that fairly early on for this reason.  They don't need to be too complicated and make a very useful addition.  This activity is mix of utility and dreams.

-t
Imagine a wet, slightly chilled from its gas release and decompression, with water droplets condensing, sucking surface tension, slowly sliding down the side, capped by a healthy virgin froth on top..

CJ

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2004, 12:45:08 AM »
if there's a surplus store around, get a bunch of cheap resistors and things and solder them together for practice before you start a project.
shouldn't take more than 10 or 20 joints to get you in the groove.
solder joints that is!
remember when a joint used to be a bad place to hang around?(Hag)

 :razz:
If I can't fix it, I can fix it so nobody else can!
Frank's Tube Page: www.mif.pg.gda.pl/homepages/frank/vs.html
Guitar Amps: http://bmamps.com/Tech_sch.html

echomancer

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2004, 04:02:12 AM »
tommy:  Right now, I've got a burning desire to add a nice quality pre to my VS2400CD recorder, so, I'm thinking of some two channel device (for acoustic guitar and vocals perhaps?) that is as closely matched as possible.

cjenrick:  If only I wasn't trying to find a new job right now  :green:

Thanks for the tips guys!  Keep 'em comin'!

NewYorkDave

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2004, 11:00:10 AM »
If you're really new at this, it's hard to beat a guitar pedal (fuzzbox or some other effect) as a first project. They're usually easy, cheap, fun projects, real confidence-builders. And a good stompbox will always come in handy sooner or later. At the very least, it's good practice before you move on to more complicated circuits involving more expensive parts  :wink:

Scenaria

I'm a noob, where do I start???
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2004, 01:46:08 PM »
if its a pre that your set on then I would perhaps suggest peters green pre... he has PCB's that are made very well... the components are much cheaper compared to the 7th circle... soo if anything goes wrong you wont be out mad $$$ and besides they actually sound pretty decent...

perhaps do the 7th circle ones after the green?

a gtr fuzz box isnt a bad idea either... theres a few benchtop power supplies kits out there... something you could always use...

I think a $75-$250 complete project would be a good range for starters... that way if anything goes wrong it wont break the bank... remember.. if you dont already have em your going to need a basic DMM, iron, and hand tools.. as you go your going to want bigger and better things.. it just happens :\


 

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