Archive for August, 2012

Rangemaster in an Altoids Tin

And now for something completely different. After running out of Hammond enclosures recently I started to look for other cases to hold pedals. I came across a website that had a small circuit (I think it was an LED light) inside an Altoids mint tin, and I thought “well I could probably fit a circuit in there!” and thus this Rangemaster was born.

A little background first. The Dallas Rangemaster was one of the first treble boosters, and was widely used in the late 1960s and early 1970s by guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Tony Iommi and Richie Blackmore. It’s a treble booster that uses a single germanium transistor (either an OC44 or an OC71) and wasn’t originally a pedal, but a unit that would sit on top of your amp. While the originals are rare and difficult to find, many reissues have been released over the years. In the spirit of the original amp-top unit, I decided to use an Altoids mint tin to build my own version of this classic circuit.

It’s a very simple circuit to build, with 4 caps, 3 resistors, 1 pot, and 1 germanium transistor. I used a NOS OC44 in my build, but I used a socket, so I can swap it out if I’d like to experiment with other germaniums.

Rangemaster vero

Make sure to reverse pot lugs 1 & 3 as the layout is incorrect.

Originally I thought it would be difficult to fit everything into the enclosure, but after measuring I found there was plenty of room for the switch, battery, jacks, pot, and circuit board. Because it is a positive ground pedal I would not be able to daisy chain it with the majority of my other pedals, so I omitted adding a power jack. Without an LED I figured the power draw would be very low, so I’m not concerned with the fact that it’s only battery powered. Here’s what I ended up with.

Rangemaster Gutshot

As you can see there is plenty of room left in the circuit. I lined the bottom of the case with sticky-backed foam, to avoid any shorts. The enclosure is fairly fragile, as these tins are designed to hold mints, not boutique guitar pedals. But as an amp-top effect it works out great.

Altoids Rangemaster

How does it sound? Absolutely incredible. I have a buddy who has a reissue Dallas Rangemaster and we plan on AB’ing it in the near future. I’ll keep you posted on the results, but in the mean time I’ll say that it sounds great with my Strat into a Tweed Champ, very similar to the set-up used by a very well known blues player 😉

Thing-A-Ma-Bob (Atari/Nintendo/Gated Fuzz)

When I first got into pedal building this was one of the first builds I ever made. To be honest, it’s the perfect first build. It has a very low parts count, will fit in a tiny enclosure, and doesn’t require any “mojo” parts that will cost you an arm and a leg. Here’s the vero layout I used (Thanks to FUZZZZzzzz from DIYStompboxes/FSB.org for creating this circuit and sharing the layout)

Thing-A-Ma-Bob Vero LayoutUpon first building this pedal the first thing that I noticed is that it is LOUD. I added a volume control to somewhat “tame” this pedal. I did this by simply adding a 100KA pot to the end of the circuit. Lug 3 connects to OUT, lug 2 to output (on the footswitch) and lug 1 goes to ground.

You’ll have no trouble fitting this board into a 1590B enclosure. Once again I chose not to add a battery snap (no use for it anyways) and you can see how small the circuit actually is.

Thing-A-Ma-Bob Gutshot

It sounds much like an old Nintendo system. It’s gated, dirty, and very “8-Bit”. The one knob acts as a gate. You can have the pedal set wide open and you’ll get oscillating noise but as you turn it up it’ll gate the sound, making it sound sputtery or like a fuzz face with a dying battery. For such a simple build it has some very unique sounds that you wouldn’t be able to get out of other fuzz pedals. It’s not polite sounding, but be warned if you use it at a gig people will ask you “what pedal is that??!?”

Thing-A-Ma-Bob

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