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3/14 Pi Day Sale: 20% off all PCBs, 10% off kits through Sunday plus 6 new releases

Pi Day 2019 - Five New Releases

It’s Pi Day, so what better way to celebrate than to launch five new Big Muff Pi-based circuits and have a sale on top of that?

From today (3/14, 1:59 AM GMT) through Sunday at midnight, take 20% off all PCBs and the Halo kit, and 10% off all other kits.


Cygnus Distortion/Sustainer - Cornish G-2Cygnus / Cornish G-2

An extremely expensive Big Muff clone with a meticulously-tuned buffered bypass along with an additional transistor-based buffer stage on the effect input.

Cygnus project page


Polaris Distortion/Sustainer - Human Gear Animato PCBPolaris – Human Gear Animato

Another pricey Big Muff clone, this pedal adds a Rangemaster-based treble booster to the frontend as well as some other tweaks. Most famously used by Chris Wolstenholme of Muse.

Polaris project page


Zelus Distortion/Sustainer - Musket FuzzZelus – Blackout Musket Fuzz

This hot-rodded Big Muff adds a boost to drive the input, a bass blend capacitor, and a midrange control inside the tone stack.

Zelus project page


Osiris Distortion/Sustainer - Pharaoh FuzzOsiris – Black Arts Pharaoh Fuzz

Another hot-rodded Big Muff, this time with a high/low impedance switch, a diode selector switch to go between silicon and germanium, and a high-frequency control inside the tone stack.

Osiris project page


Nexus Distortion/Sustainer - Manx Loaghtan Fuzz PCBNexus – Catalinbread Manx Loaghtan

Based on the Ram’s Head, this pedal swaps out the original tone control with a 2-band Baxandall EQ, allowing control of both bass and treble frequencies independently instead of just one or the other.

Nexus project page


Luna Optical Tremolo PCB - Tremulus LuneLuna – 4ms Tremulus Lune

This isn’t a Big Muff, but it didn’t make the last batch of releases due to a layout error. Updated for the new 125B format, this all-analog tremolo features six knobs for fine control over every aspect of the waveform.

Luna project page

 

Filed under Announcements

A brand new never-before-seen distortion pedal, plus 3 more new releases available today

The stars of the show today are two amp-like distortion/overdrive pedals, one of which has never been traced before and the other of which hasn’t yet been explored by the DIY community yet. Along with these new ones, there are also two re-releases of old projects in the new 125B format.


Vortex - Bouteek Distorter Preamp DIY PCBVortex / Bouteek Distorter Preamp

A reproduction of an obscure and extremely rare drive pedal designed to reproduce Marshall-style high-gain amp tones. This is the first time the pedal has been traced and the schematic made available to the public.

View Project →


Tachyon - Boss SD-2 Lead Channel DIY PCBTachyon – Boss SD-2 Lead Channel

This heavy overdrive is a hidden gem in the pantheon of BOSS pedals, offering creamy lead tones and biting rhythm in an easy-to-use package that is surprisingly complex under the hood, actually resembling the Friedman BE-OD / Dirty Shirley or Amptweaker Tight Metal more than the SD-1 or Tube Screamer.

View Project →


Vector - Deep Blue Delay DIY PCBVector – Deep Blue Delay

With similar frequency bandwidth to a tape unit, this analog-voiced digital delay is a favorite even among analog purists. And it’s much easier to build than a real BBD-based analog delay!

View Project →


Lumin - BBE Sonic Maximizer DIY PCBLumin – BBE Sonic Stomp / Sonic Maximizer

An updated re-release in the new 125B format, this is another classic octave fuzz from the same era as the Tone Machine, but with a much different flavor. Famously used by Pete Townshend.

View Project →


That’s it for today, but keep an eye out next week for a (semi) big announcement related to the assembly/wiring system used in the kits.

Filed under Announcements

Input/output module kits & enclosures now available

If you’ve been building pedals for awhile, you’ve probably found that there are parts of pedalbuilding that you enjoy and other parts that are not so fun. For me, wiring—by which I mean measuring, cutting, stripping, tinning and soldering—always fell solidly into that second category.

Since day one, Aion FX projects have always used PCB-mounted potentiometers and switches to avoid the most tedious type of wiring. A 3PDT breakout board has been available for almost as long, and the new 125B-format projects come with one of these bypass boards as standard. But although wiring was greatly reduced, it was still a part of the process and still not very fun.

A new way to build

With the new kits, one of the major goals was the elimination of wiring. To that end, the 125B platform was designed around wire headers & assemblies and PCB-mounted hardware so that wiring is just as easy and straightforward as any other part of the build. The wire assemblies and headers are now just components like anything else. There’s one way to install them and zero decisions that have to be made.

But there was one problem: the new assembly process was not very DIY-friendly, particularly due to the use of the PCB-mounted DC jack that require a square cutout for the enclosure. Cutting a square hole is extremely time-consuming and not really worth the effort, so until now the assembly system has been exclusive to the kits.

I/O Module Assembled

Introducing the I/O module kit

In order to make this system into something that could be used for other 125B projects, the biggest piece of the puzzle was getting enclosures with the I/O holes pre-drilled. That piece has fallen into place and I now stock these enclosures, so you can now order the I/O module kits and enclosure (available in either black or bare aluminum). Note that you’ll still have to drill the front panel according to the drill template for the project. Pre-drilled enclosures will be coming at some point, but not yet.

Input/Output Module Kit

Does it save time building? Probably a little, especially after you’ve done it more than once, but to be honest, it’s not night-and-day. There’s still work involved in getting everything assembled, it’s just a different type of work. However, it does have one major advantage: standardization—or to put it differently, the elimination of decisions.

One other huge advantage is simple disassembly. If you need to troubleshoot or modify the pedal, no desoldering is required. Just disconnect the wire headers, unscrew the potentiometers from the front panel, and pull out the main PCB. This makes “rock it before you box it” unnecessary. Go ahead and install it to the enclosure before testing it. If it doesn’t work, it’s extremely easy to get it back out of the box.

So that’s it. Many people who have built the new kits have told me it’s hard to go back to the old way of wiring when building other types of pedals. So I’m really excited to finally be able to share this new system with the broader DIY community!

I/O Module

Filed under Announcements

Three new projects for February

A killer amp distortion and a pair of 1970s octave fuzz pedals to kick off your February.


Tempest - Friedman BE-OD/Dirty Shirley CloneTempest – Friedman BE-OD / Dirty Shirley

A killer amp-like distortion that replicates the tone and feel of the Friedman amplifiers it’s based on. This project combines the features of both pedals for a total of 7 knobs.

View Project →


Vulcan - fOXX Tone Machine DIY PCBVulcan – fOXX Tone Machine

An octave fuzz from the 1970s, originally based on the Fender Blender but with a few tweaks. The Vulcan adds a switch to “fix” the tone control so it works better than the original.

View Project →


Rift - Univox Superfuzz PCBRift – Univox Superfuzz

An updated re-release in the new 125B format, this is another classic octave fuzz from the same era as the Tone Machine, but with a much different flavor. Famously used by Pete Townshend.

View Project →


That’s it for today, but keep an eye out next week for a (semi) big announcement related to the assembly/wiring system used in the kits.

Filed under Announcements

Aion FX Update: What’s ahead in 2019

As 2019 begins, I wanted to look back on last year and then talk about what’s coming.

First, a caveat: I wrote a similar post last year, and about one week afterward I had the initial idea for the kits. Because of this, my projection looking ahead to 2018 was missing some very key information to say the least. But that’s how it goes: all the best things to happen, whether in life or business, are things that you aren’t able to predict!

So with that said, here are the highlights of 2018.

New PCB format

As part of the transition to the kits, I needed to unify my platform. The kits had to be designed in a very specific way to make them as user-friendly as possible, and I didn’t want to have separate layouts for kits and PCB-only projects, so I had to develop a new format for PCBs that would work either as full kits or standalone projects.

This involved moving to the 125B enclosure format and using top-mounted I/O and power connectors. Now, not only are the pedals easier to build with more space inside, they actually take up less space on a pedalboard than a 1590B with side-mounted jacks.

The major advantage to this is that any PCB from now on can easily be converted into a kit without additional design work. I don’t intend to do kits for all of my projects, but it’s good to have the ability to keep an eye out for the most popular ones (which I often am not able to predict) and to be able to put my kit-development effort into the ones that will have the most impact.

Project releases

My big goal this past year was to release 25 projects in 2018. If you count the re-releases and the kits, I ended up at exactly 25. It didn’t look like I envisioned when I wrote that—there were only seven brand-new circuits in the lot—but I’m still beyond thrilled with where things ended up.

In 2018 I re-released a total of 12 old projects in this new 125B format. It was a lot of fun revisiting the classics. Many of them were among the first projects I ever designed back in 2013, and coming back to them with five more years of design experience, I was able to make them better than ever. I approached them as though they were all-new projects, doing new research and re-writing the documentation from scratch to bring them up to the standards of the other new ones.

Many of them have new features, like the Halo (Big Muff) with its mid scoop/flat/hump switch, or the Refractor with the buffer/true bypass switch. And many of them have had features removed in favor of making a more streamlined build without having to go through a complex decision tree to decide which options you want.

I also began doing Mouser parts lists for all of the new 125B circuits, linked from within the documentation. Ordering parts is a breeze, and again, it reduces the number of decisions someone will have to make when starting on a project.

Kits

So, this is the big one of the year. I had the spark of an idea at the beginning of January, and then spent the rest of the month writing notes, brainstorming, and creating a plan that would take the remainder of 2018 to execute.

I didn’t want to do kits if it was only going to be a convenience service where I buy all your parts for you. This is, in my view, what most DIY kits are these days. But even if people wanted to pay me good money for it, that’s not how I want to spend my time.

Instead, my goal was to use it as an opportunity to innovate and do something exciting. For the average DIYer, it isn’t feasible to order parts direct from manufacturers in quantities of 1000+, so they’re stuck using only the parts that are currently available from suppliers like Small Bear. And this becomes a chicken-and-egg scenario here where the suppliers only order parts that the average DIYer would want because it’s less risky. As a result, there’s not much large-scale innovation. With a few exceptions, DIY guitar pedals today are still being built the same way they were 20 years ago.

Aion FX wire assembliesSo with the kits, I wanted to re-imagine how pedals should be built if we weren’t constrained to a narrow list of parts & supplies. For instance, most people share my view that wiring is the most tedious and frustrating part of pedalbuilding. But if I can source a custom-made, pre-tinned wire assembly for around the same cost as a capacitor, it becomes just another component and I can eliminate the wiring step altogether. No more stripping wires and cutting them to length—it’s over. Now you solder the wire assembly to one board like any other component and just snap it into the header on the other board when you’re ready.

Aion FX metal film resistorsOr how about expecting people to learn to read resistor color codes? Again, it’s frustrating, time-consuming and error-prone. But if I’m sourcing all my own resistors, I can find a manufacturer who can print the alphanumeric value on each resistor rather than the color code. And while they’re at it, they can make them 0.5% tolerance and audiophile grade, so they’re not just unique in appearance, they’re actually better quality than any resistors you can buy in DIY quantities from component suppliers.

Those are just two examples out of half a dozen to illustrate how I wanted my kits to be different. The broad vision for Aion FX kits is that they should be fun to build, reliable, and professional-looking. The feedback for the kits has been overwhelmingly positive, and has mainly revolved around those three aspects—which means people have caught my vision. It’s been a huge success, and I’m excited to continue innovating in this field.

What’s coming in 2019

Maybe there will be something I didn’t see coming, like this past year. We’ll see. But right now, here are my three major initiatives:

More projects

PCBs are the lifeblood of Aion FX, and as of right now this is my top priority for the year. I currently have around ten new brand projects that are fully designed, with boards in-hand just awaiting their turn in the prototyping queue, so keep an eye out for lots of activity on this front in the next two months. Later this year I’m going to shift my focus away from drive circuits and dive deeper into modulation and other interesting effects.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, I re-released a dozen older projects in 2018. Expect to see more of that too. Eventually my top 70-80% of projects will be updated for the new format. There are a few projects toward the bottom of the list that only sell maybe ten or twenty PCBs a year, and those likely will not see a redesign, but the majority of them will. (Don’t worry—as projects are redesigned, the legacy 1590B versions will continue to be available for as long as people are interested.)

More kits

So far, I’ve released six kits. I expect to release a minimum of ten more this coming year. (Hopefully even more than that, but better to under-promise and over-deliver.)

New website

I intended to do a website redesign last year, but that project got bumped by the kits. This year it’ll happen though. I’ve already mapped out most of it and have a ton of exciting ideas, but it’s just been a matter of priorities.

And a word of thanks

In late 2017, I was able to cut my hours at my day job to focus on Aion as more than just a hobby or side project. 2018 was my first full year devoting 20 hrs per week to Aion, and it was both enjoyable and tremendously successful. Your support has been greatly appreciated and I hope to spend 2019 contributing to the DIY community more than ever before!

Filed under News

Four new projects available today: one brand new, plus three updated versions

Aion FX is finishing off 2018 with four new projects available now.


monad-univox-unidrive-boost-pcbMonad – Univox Uni-Drive

An early booster pedal, famously used by Jimmy Page, that strays a bit into silicon fuzz territory. This is a very easy build with a low parts count.

View Project →


solstice-marshall-shredmaster-pcbSolstice – Marshall Shredmaster

A great mid-gain amp-like distortion with a 3-band EQ, including a Contour control that scoops the mids. The updated version now uses 16mm pots and has a clipping diode selector switch.

View Project →


quantum-ibanez-mostortion-pcbQuantum – Ibanez MT-10 Mostortion

A reproduction of a rare and very expensive overdrive with 3-band EQ that is popular in the Nashville scene. The updated version now uses 16mm pots and has a clipping diode selector switch.

View Project →


equinox-marshall-guvnor-pcbEquinox – Marshall Guv’nor / Drivemaster

A low-to-mid-gain amp-like overdrive with a 3-band EQ. Once again—can you see a pattern?—the updated version now uses 16mm pots and has a clipping diode selector switch.

View Project →


Back in December of last year, I set an ambitious goal to put out 25 new projects in 2018. I’ll have more to say later in an upcoming post about 2018 in review, but I just wanted to mention that with these four new projects releasing today, if you include the six kits, this puts the count to exactly 25!

Filed under Announcements

SALE: 20% off all PCBs and 10% off all kits

Black Friday Sale

PCBs are 20% off and kits are 10% off from now through the end of the day Monday, November 26. No coupon is necessary – the discount will be taken automatically at checkout.

Five new kits

Five new kits are launching today:

New Kits

Quantities are very limited initially due to supply issues with the enclosures, but the remaining quantity is expected in the middle of December. So if you miss out at first, more will be available in a few short weeks!

Filed under Announcements

Win one of the new kits by following @aionfx on social media!

The drawing is now closed. Winners will be chosen and announced soon!

Back in August I launched the Refractor kit. In a few days, I’ll be launching five more, based on the Stratus (Tube Screamer), Cerulean (Bluesbreaker), Graviton (HM-2), Halo (Big Muff), and Azimuth (Zendrive).

In celebration of this, I’m going to be giving away free kits to three different people who follow @aionfx on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

All Aion Kits - Preview

How to enter

  1. If you haven’t already, follow @aionfx on Twitter (https://twitter.com/aionfx), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/aionfx), and/or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/aionfx).
  2. Fill out the form and indicate your username or display name for each of the platforms that you have followed on. You can have up to three entries by following @aionfx on all three platforms. The deadline for this is Monday, November 19 at midnight CST (6:00 AM UTC November 20).
  3. One winner will be randomly drawn from each social platform (one Facebook follower, one Twitter follower and one Instagram follower) on Tuesday, November 20.
  4. If chosen, we will first verify that you are a follower, and if so, you’ll be contacted to choose any kit of your choice from six that are going to be available.

Details

Winners will be chosen from the form submissions, not from the list of followers, so entry in the drawing is not automatic. This is because there are many followers on each of the platforms that are not real people, and also because I don’t want to try chasing down someone who followed me several years ago and may no longer be active.

You can have up to three entries for the drawing, but you can only win once, so if by chance your name is chosen a second time, another drawing will take place.

No purchase necessary. Drawing is valid worldwide except where prohibited by law.

Winners will be contacted on Tuesday, November 20 and the kits will ship out the following week.

Filed under Announcements

Seven new projects available: three brand new, plus four updated 125B versions

Note: Technically three of these launched a few weeks ago, but other than sending out an email I didn’t really publicize it. So if you’re on the email list, only four of these are new.

I’m excited to announce the release of seven new projects. Three of them are new, and four of them are updated re-releases on the new 125B platform.

Brand new projects

Horizon Amp Overdrive PCBHorizon – Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret Mk. I

A recreation of the first version of the Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret (DLS), widely considered to be the best version. This is a killer Marshall-like circuit with true amp-like response. There are no clipping diodes or op-amps in this one, instead using cascaded mu-amps and JFET-based clipping, which more closely resembles the way a tube amplifier generates overdrive and sets it apart from other types of drive circuits.

Horizon Amp Overdrive →

Malacandra Overdrive PCBMalacandra – Xotic AC/RC Booster

This project allows you to build a clone of either the Xotic AC or RC Booster. (These are basically the same circuit but with some minor parts substitutions.) The circuit topology looks kind of like a Bluesbreaker combined with a Tube Screamer, so it’s no surprise that this is a great way to describe the sound. The addition of a 2-band Baxandall control makes it a really flexible tone machine.

Malacandra Boost / Overdrive →

Perelandra Boost / Overdrive PCBPerelandra – Xotic BB Preamp

The BB Preamp is a different animal from the AC/RC Booster. It more closely resembles the Tube Screamer, but with a flatter response. It also has a great deal more gain than the AC/RC Booster circuits while still being sparkly clean at the lowest gain setting.

Perelandra Boost / Overdrive →

125B rereleases

Stratus - Tube Screamer Overdrive PCBStratus – Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer

One of the most famous overdrive pedals of all time, the Tube Screamer needs no introduction. The Stratus includes switch modifications for the clipping diodes and bass frequency.

Stratus Classic Overdrive →

Procyon Natural Overdrive PCBProcyon – BJFe Honey Bee Overdrive

A workalike of one of the original hand-made boutique pedals, originally modeled after vintage Supro amps and noted for its dynamic low-gain tone.

Procyon Amp Overdrive →

Andromeda Natural Overdrive PCBAndromeda – Nobels ODR-1

A unique overdrive pedal with a very rich drive tone that earns it a spot on the pedalboards of many Nashville studio musicians. This one flies under the radar, but many people say it’s their favorite overdrive out of all the Aion projects.

Andromeda Natural Overdrive →

Helios Classic Distortion PCBHelios – Pro Co RAT Distortion

A distortion pedal with a very distinctive and tight mid-to-high-gain character that made it a staple in the rigs of 1980s hard rock bands.

Helios Classic Distortion →

Kit update

Things are still progressing really well for the kits. Typically October through January is my high season for sales, so I’m making a big push to get everything in place before then. It’s a lot to coordinate and I’ve only got one shot at it, so I’m a bit delayed in getting the next set of Refractor kits up for sale, but they’re coming.

I will launch limited runs (10-20) of six different kits in October, based on the Refractor, Graviton, Stratus, Azimuth, Halo, and Cerulean. Then in November I’ll do a bigger release of each of them with far more availability. So either way, if you’re wanting one of them, you won’t have to wait long or worry about them selling out before you have a chance to grab one.

Filed under Announcements

Three new 125B projects available now

A few new (well, relaunched) circuits are available today.


Procyon Natural Overdrive PCBProcyon – BJFe Honey Bee Overdrive

A workalike of one of the original hand-made boutique pedals, originally modeled after vintage Supro amps and noted for its dynamic low-gain tone.

View Project →


Andromeda Natural Overdrive PCBAndromeda – Nobels ODR-1 Overdrive

A unique overdrive pedal with a very rich drive tone that earns it a spot on the pedalboards of many Nashville studio musicians. This one flies under the radar, but many people say it’s their favorite overdrive out of all the Aion projects.

View Project →


Helios Classic Distortion PCBHelios- Pro Co RAT Distortion

A distortion pedal with a very distinctive and tight mid-to-high-gain character that made it a staple in the rigs of 1980s hard rock bands.

View Project →


New projects coming soon

Today is all about rereleases of existing projects, but keep an eye out for brand new projects coming in the next couple of weeks.

Update on kits

A couple weeks ago I announced that Aion would start offering kits. The initial run of 25 Refractor kits sold out in six hours. I thought they might go fast, but not like that!

Needless to say, I’m hard at work preparing to meet demand for this fall. I’ll have another small run of Refractors ready by the middle of September, and then more small runs of other new kits following soon after.

Then, my goal is that by the beginning of November I’m up and running on all of them and able to maintain stock going forward. So if you missed out on the first batch of Refractor kits, you won’t have to wait long.

As always, thank you so much for your support! 2018 has been the most exciting year yet for Aion Electronics. I hope to finish it strong!

Filed under Announcements

Major announcement: Aion FX is now offering kits

Today’s the day. I’ve been teasing it for the last few months, but it’s time for the big announcement:

We’re doing kits.

The first one, the Refractor—based on the Klon Centaur and KTR—is available today.

Refractor - Klon Centaur Professional Overdrive

Why now?

There are a few other companies offering pedal kits, and while I’ve gotten many requests throughout the years, I’ve dismissed it for a long time, not wanting to embark on something this big unless I felt like I could improve on how it was already being done.

But at the beginning of this year, I started to have some ideas on how guitar pedal kits could be rocketed forward into 2018, taking some inspiration from modern manufacturing methods as well as from other similar DIY communities like the maker movement and Arduino—all while staying fully devoted to the accurate reproduction of vintage analog technology.

I also got a pretty big nudge from the L5 Preamp project that came out a couple years ago. Alongside the PCB, I released an enclosure and nameplate to give people the means to make a really professional-looking pedal. These have been in consistently high demand since I started, with each small run of enclosures selling out usually within an hour or two. So this told me that many DIYers cared about aesthetics, not just the inner workings of the pedal.

So for the past six months, the main thing I have been working on is a master plan for these kits. It required an overhaul of the way I work and the way projects are developed. I said last month that the new 125B platform was the first step toward something big. This is that something. The 125B platform will be shared between the new PCBs and the kits going forward.

I will always offer standalone PCBs of all of my projects. And I’ll continue developing new projects at the same pace—or hopefully even faster. All projects will start out as PCB-only, and only my most popular PCBs will be made available as kits. So the PCB-only projects will remain a big part of what Aion FX is about.

What’s different about them?

Here are my big ambitions for the kits:

  1. Give anyone the tools to build a professional-quality pedal, something that looks like it came off the shelf at a music store.
  2. Make it easy and straightforward, simplifying some of the most time-consuming or complicated parts of pedal building. It’s an exceptionally fun hobby, but it is known for its steep learning curve. It’s about time that curve was straightened out a bit.
  3. Use top-quality components throughout—equal to or better than anything you would find in a commercial pedal.

Those are the broad goals. Here are the specifics on how it’s done.

Professional enclosures

The enclosures are drilled, powdercoated and printed by Disaster Area Designs in North Carolina.

Aion FX Kits - Enclosures

Top-mounted jacks

All kits use top-mounted input, output and DC jacks so they take up the least amount of pedalboard space (even less than a smaller 1590B enclosure with side jacks). They are all PCB-mounted on their own board, separate from the main PCB, for ease of assembly.

Aion FX Kits - Top Jacks

Wire assemblies

You can leave your wire stripper in the toolbox. All kits come with wire assemblies that are already cut to length, so they just need to be soldered to the board and plugged in. This makes wiring simple and foolproof, as well as making it very easy to disassemble the circuit for troubleshooting.

Aion FX Kits - Inside

Premium footswitches

I’ve never seen Taiway 3PDTs used in the DIY pedal scene. They have the longest rated life (50,000 cycles) of any 3PDT footswitch, and they also have much lower actuation force and switch travel than the others. You’ll have a hard time going back to the Chinese-made blue boys after using Taiway. They also have gold-plated contacts and solder lugs for maximum conductivity and corrosion resistance. They’re the most expensive single part in the kit, but it’s worth it.

Aion FX Kits - Footswitches

Exclusive footswitch dress nut

I designed these myself and had them custom-manufactured. They’re made of nickel-plated brass, so they match most of the rest of the hardware. They serve no functional purpose other than to make your pedal look awesome.

Aion FX Kits - Dress Nuts

Detailed documentation

With almost 150 illustrations and diagrams, the documentation for the kits is written clearly and thoroughly, with the goal of lowering the barrier to entry for people who are new to the hobby.

I’ve pored over every last detail, so you don’t have to fill in any gaps on your own.

Availability

The initial release is limited to 25. More will follow as soon as I can. There are a lot of new logistical puzzles to solve with these, coordinating orders from several different suppliers and learning where the bottlenecks are, and I also need to be conservative with cash flow as this gets off the ground. But I hope to have things going pretty steadily by the fall to the point where I can maintain availability to meet demand.

Most of my current audience are intermediate-to-experienced builders—people who know what to do with a bare PCB and who are more than capable of sourcing their own parts. Many of you will no doubt pick one up just because it’s so unique. But, I anticipate that my main audience is going to be people who don’t know about Aion FX yet.

So if you’re interested, hurry and grab one—this initial run will go quickly and it’ll be a few weeks before I’ll have more. But even if this isn’t your thing, please help me out by telling others! These kits are perfect for a beginning builder, so if you know someone who has been wanting to get into the hobby but has been intimidated by the prospect of taking the first step, this is a great way to get started. It was designed with them in mind.

I also plan on having several more kits available by that time as well. Here’s a preview of what’s coming next:

All Aion Kits - Preview

These will be the first five, which you can expect this fall. More will follow in early 2019.


Questions

I already have tons of spare parts. Can I buy a kit with only the unique or specialized parts?

Yes! The kits are available in both “Full” and “Lite” versions. If you check out the documentation, it explains the Full and Lite kits and what is included in each. There is a Mouser parts list specifically for the Lite kits to allow easy importing and purchasing of all the missing parts. The Lite kits are a fair amount cheaper, but will still allow you to get the same end result.

Do you ship the kits internationally?

Yes, but international shipping for kits is much more expensive than it is for PCBs. I’m working with Musikding in Germany to get European distribution from the kits which should cut down significantly on international shipping costs, but that’s not all in place yet.

Will you offer bare, pre-drilled enclosures with the kits if I want to make my own artwork?

Yes. This will be an option early next year.

Filed under Announcements

Six new projects releasing today, all 125B with top jacks

The new 125B design platform

I spent a long time during the first half of this year designing a new foundation that will serve as the basis for new Aion projects going forward. I completely revamped my design process, going through every aspect of project creation, and the first product of that revamping is a new set of design standards for projects going forward. Here’s what it will look like.

  • Unified drill template system for consistency between projects
  • Top jacks (in, out, DC) for all projects
  • Space for a 9V battery where possible
  • Integrated bypass switch boards for all projects
  • Redesigned documentation template

New projects

These new projects are available today. More will be coming very soon.

Graviton Metal Distortion - Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal DIY Project PCBGraviton – BOSS HM-2 Heavy Metal

A brand new Aion project that recreates a favorite among extreme metal guitarists. (Not to be confused with the MT-2 Metal Zone!) The Graviton is a great high-gain pedal that works in many different styles of music besides metal, with a well-rounded tone that is still capable of some very unique sounds.

The most famous use is the Swedish death metal trick where you put all the knobs on 10 and run it into a low-end solid state amp. This was used by a number of extreme metal bands in the 1990s all the way to the present day.

Graviton Metal Distortion →

Refractor Professional Overdrive - Klon Centaur / KTR DIY Project PCBRefractor – Klon Centaur / KTR

An updated version of the Refractor, which now has the distinction of being the first true clone of the Klon KTR. The Buffer / True Bypass switch is now integrated into the circuit. This was one of the most requested features for the Refractor!

While some other Centaur clones have switchable true bypass, they all used a simplified version that left the buffer mode slightly changed from the Centaur. I didn’t want to settle for that, so after a great deal of research, I’m happy to say that I was able to replicate the real thing. To my knowledge this is the first time the KTR’s switching schematic has been published or implemented in any design outside of the KTR itself.

Refractor Professional Overdrive →

Halo Distortion/Sustainer - EHX Big Muff Pi DIY Project PCBHalo – Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi

The Halo has been updated with a new version of the mids control. One complaint I had about the AMZ “Presence” control (which was an optional 4th knob on the original Halo) is that its EQ curve isn’t exactly the same as a normal Muff at any setting. So I turned this into a DPDT switch with 3 modes: mid scoop (the stock Muff setting), flat mids, and mid hump. This way you can get the tonal flexibility without losing the character of the stock circuit.

In addition, it’s been made easier to build a 3-transistor variant such as the Jumbo Tone Bender. To cut down on decisionmaking complexity, I removed the option for the JFET output stage from the Fire Red Fuzz.

Halo Distortion/Sustainer →

Aurora Compressor/Sustainer - Ross / Dyna Compressor DIY Project PCBAurora – Ross/Dyna Compressor

The Aurora gets a few upgrades: first, moving from the CA3080 to the LM13700, which is a dual version of the 3080 that is still in production and very easy to find. Second, adding a new output stage that cuts down significantly on distortion that is produced by the envelope detector. (This is optional, and the original output stage can also be used.) Third, making the Release switch into a knob, and including space for tapering resistors in parallel with the pot so that a more common 500kB pot can be converted into the required value of 150kC.

Aurora Compressor/Sustainer →

Cerulean Amp Overdrive - Marshall Bluesbreaker DIY Project PCBCerulean – Marshall Bluesbreaker / JHS Morning Glory

The Cerulean has undergone some revisions. It still supports any of the Bluesbreaker, King of Tone or Morning Glory versions, with the exception that the option for the MG’s Bright Cut switch has been removed because it’s really pretty useless. (There are already two more treble-focused controls with the on-board Tone knob and the internal Presence trimmer.) So what we’re left with is one switch for Soft Clipping (low, high or none), another for Hard Clipping (low, high or none), and the option to use the Morning Glory’s JFET gain stage at the output.

Cerulean Amp Overdrive →

Azimuth Dynamic Overdrive - Hermida Zendrive DIY Project PCBAzimuth – Hermida/Lovepedal Zendrive

A good first build for people just getting into the hobby. Nothing new in the re-release, but it’s a fantastic-sounding circuit that is at home in any rig.

Azimuth Dynamic Overdrive →

What will happen to the existing 1590B projects?

These 125B projects will not replace the 1590B versions. While I won’t be designing new projects for the 1590B going forward, I expect to keep the existing 1590B projects in stock for the foreseeable future, as long as they continue to sell. Many of the updated 125B versions are different in some way, and there are plenty of people who may prefer the 1590B versions.

Filed under Announcements

SALE: 20% off PCBs July 4-8… and some announcements

Today’s a big day!

I’ve been pretty quiet so far this year, especially after promising to release 25 projects during 2018. I am still planning on hitting that goal – it’s just going to be weighted toward the back half of the year. I’ve been heads-down working on some new stuff for Aion that I’m not quite ready to announce yet. But there’s plenty that I can talk about today.

20% off sale through July 8

Everything’s on sale right now! A 20% discount will be taken automatically at checkout. It starts today and will go through the weekend (5:00 AM on July 9).

Six new projects available today

See the full list of new projects in a separate post.

This is pretty exciting in itself, but even more exciting is that this represents a new generation of projects with a new design platform. All of my projects going forward will be designed for the 125B enclosure, with input, output and DC jacks mounted on the top side of the enclosure. They’ll be easier to build with more space inside the enclosure, while at the same time being more space-efficient on a pedalboard. (A 125B with top jacks is narrower than a 1590B with side jacks, even though the enclosure itself is larger.)

Now, the one caveat to “6 new projects” is that five of them are re-releases of my most popular current projects. But I approached them as brand new projects, so many of them have new or different features that weren’t found in the earlier 1590B versions.

More projects coming very soon

In addition to the six releasing today, several more projects are nearly ready to go. I just ran out of time to fully test them before the sale. Most or all of these should be released next month at the latest once I have time to build the prototypes and write the documentation. Right now it’s looking like three more brand-new ones and three more 125B re-releases of existing projects.

And lastly, another teaser: this is only the beginning! This new generation of 125B projects is the first step in a new initiative that I’ll say more about next month when it’s ready to launch.

But for now… enjoy those top jacks!

Filed under Announcements

International orders are being delayed by 1-2 weeks; new shipping options available

On January 21, the USPS discontinued the shipping method I had been using to send PCBs internationally for the past five years. My shipping service made a special arrangement with USPS allowing people like me to continue using this method at a higher cost by first sending the piece to a centralized shipping facility, where they would then re-label it and send it internationally.

But even aside from the increased cost, the service has been less than impressive so far. On average the shipping facility has been taking a handling time of 1-2 weeks before it sends the package to its final destination. I can handle two days, but two weeks is just inexcusable.

The word from my shipping service is that these relay facilities were unprepared for the volume of mail that started arriving, and the handling time will improve as they adjust. They have made some good changes in the past 3 weeks in reaction to customer feedback (i.e. strong complaints from many others like me) so I am optimistic that this eventually will get better.

Unfortunately, though, for the time being, I have to set the expectation that international orders using the Flats method may take between 30 and 45 days to arrive, depending on the destination.

What to do about existing orders

This increased shipping time applies to any order shipped after January 21. So if you’ve placed an order under the new system, thank you for your patience and I wish I could do something to speed it up! Please let me know if you haven’t received the order within 45 days and I will send out a replacement.

New international shipping options

Starting today, I am going to begin offering a First Class International shipping option. It’s a fair amount more expensive than the flats method, but should arrive much quicker. Here are the rates:

  • Canada: $9.70
  • Mexico: $12.00
  • Everywhere else: $13.50

You can choose your shipping option at checkout. I’ve also dropped the cost of existing Flat option to $6.00 (from $6.50) – I’m going to eat a little bit of the added cost of shipping to make up for the increased delivery time.

I am still working on some other alternatives for international orders, so I hope to have some better options to offer in the next month or two. But in the mean time, thank you for your patience!

Filed under News

International postage increase effective January 21

Today the USPS is discontinuing the shipping method I’ve been using to send PCBs internationally for the past five years.

The good news is, my shipping service has made a special arrangement with USPS allowing people like me to continue using this method.

The bad news is that in order to do this, they are implementing a new process that requires me to mail the international package to a regional shipping center where they will then label it properly and send it to the final international destination.

This service costs me an additional $2.50 per order, so as a result, I will have to raise my international rate to $6.50 effective today (Sunday, January 21). It’s much better than the alternative shipping options which would have been a minimum of $10 per order, but still, it’s very disappointing.

The other downside is that it will take a few days longer to arrive since it has to go through a relay. Since this is a brand new service from the shipping company, I don’t yet know whether it will add 2 days to the average shipping time or 5 days. I will set expectations accordingly once I know more.

Filed under Announcements

2017 in review, and looking ahead to 2018

As 2017 comes to a close, I wanted to take some time to look back at how things have been going the past year at Aion Electronics, as well as give you a look behind the scenes at what you can expect in the coming year and beyond.

2017 Milestones

Blueshift - Boss DC-2 Dimension C cloneBlueshift release

Perhaps the most exciting thing that happened this year was the July release of the Blueshift, my clone of the Boss DC-2 Dimension C. This was by far the fastest-selling new project I’ve released, which is saying something considering that it is one of the most complex DIY builds available. But many of you rose to the challenge, and I’ve seen dozens of build reports from people who said it went together beautifully and sounds great.

And best of all, the success of the Blueshift (and the L5 Preamp before it) has made it much more encouraging for me to continue the Pro Collection and I plan to develop other advanced circuits to accompany those two.

Donating 10% of PCB sales to Beza Threads

Beza Threads logoStarting in July, I began donating 10% of my PCB sales to an organization called Beza Threads that helps rescue children from forced prostitution and textile slavery in Ethiopia. It’s based on the sale price, so if a PCB costs $10, Beza gets $1.

Change in employment

In September, I dropped to half-time at my day job so I could devote more time to Aion Electronics. I’m now able to spend 20-25 hours per week doing this, where for the past 5 years it’s just been something I fit into my spare time. This is all because of the continued support of the DIY pedal community! I’ve spent a lot of time the past few weeks planning out big ideas for 2018 and beyond with the knowledge that I will have the time to execute on them.

What’s ahead in 2018

Kits!

musikding_logoI’ll make more of a formal announcement early next year, but Musikding has already started carrying my kits in Europe. They currently have 9 of them available, but will be adding many more over the coming months.

In addition, Milk Lizard in Australia is carrying a few of my most popular PCBs, so if you’re a downunder DIYer, you can get much faster shipping by ordering from them— and grab a few parts while you’re at it.

I’m still evaluating my options for kits in the United States, but that is something I do hope to arrange at some point if I can find the right partner.

Project developments

At the end of last year, I sent out a poll asking people to vote on the circuits they wanted to see most. Here are the top results from that poll as well as my current status on each of them:

  • Boss HM-2: Layout completed; currently prototyping
  • Superfuzz: Completed & released
  • Noise Gate: Circuit design finished, currently designing PCB layout
  • Guyatone PS-021: Traced original pedal; currently designing PCB layout
  • Deluxe Big Muff: Layout completed; currently prototyping
  • Boss CE-2: Circuit design finished; currently designing PCB layout
  • EHX Small Stone: Researching. I’ve drawn out the basic schematic but haven’t decided on which mods/features to include.
  • Boss DM-2 Delay: Researching. Schematic is completed like the Small Stone but still some more decisions to be made.

I’ve also finished the design on about ten more projects that are currently on my desk waiting to be prototyped. As I mentioned in the Black Friday announcement, my goal is to release 25 new projects in 2018. I hope to do releases every month on average, so you’ll be hearing a lot more from me this year.

…and a new website

My big initiative for the first half of 2018 is to build a brand new website that fits better with the vision I have for the next few years. There are a couple of specific things that need improvement more than others, such as the projects page (which was originally designed for a max of around 15 projects)—but since I’m a web developer by trade, it’s a lot more fun to just start from scratch than just keep patching things up in perpetuity!

Thank you so much for your support over the last five years. I am very excited to see what 2018 has in store!

Filed under News

SALE: 20% off all PCBs November 24-27, plus 3 new projects

Black Friday Sale

PCBs are 20% off from now through the end of the day Monday, November 27! No coupon is required. The sale excludes bypass PCBs, but the L5 Preamp and Blueshift (Dimension C) are both included.

Projects →

Three new projects

I’m also excited to be releasing three new projects available today!

4ms Tremulus Lune - Aion Luna TremoloLuna / 4ms Tremulus Lune

The Luna Tremolo is an updated & improved version of the classic Tremulus Lune, a DIY project originally developed by 4ms Pedals. The ultimate tweakable tremolo, the Luna allows fine-grained control over almost every characteristic of the LFO which then modulates the signal via an optocoupler. The Luna adds a couple of modern improvements, such as an input buffer to isolate the negative-feedback opamp as well as an external gain control.

View the Luna Tremolo →

Deep Blue Delay PCB - Vector DelayVector / Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay

The Vector Delay is inspired by the Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay, also allowing you to build a Tonepad Rebote 2.5 with a few parts substitutions. In addition, the Vector includes a trimmer to calibrate the Feedback control for infinite repeats, as well as an LED to prevent the delay chip from going into clipping with hot input signals. The definitive PT2399 delay!

View the Vector Delay →

Univox Superfuzz DIY PCB - Rift FuzzRift / Univox Superfuzz

The Rift Fuzz is a clone of the Univox Superfuzz, a classic octave-down fuzz. It allows you to use either a switch or a pot for the tone control, and has a clipping switch to allow you to choose between two different sets of diodes or lift them altogether.

View the Rift Fuzz →

What’s next

Watch for a full-sized year-end update to be sent out in December, but here’s a preview: 2018 will have a minimum of 25 new projects. I’m now devoting around 20 hours a week to Aion Electronics, and while much of the past few months has been catching up, you’ll start to see a lot more from Aion very soon.

Filed under Announcements, General

Blueshift Chorus (BOSS® DC-2 Dimension C clone) now available

You’ve all been incredibly patient.

Only one short year after it was first announced, today I’m excited to share with you the next entry in the Pro Collection: the Blueshift Chorus! The Blueshift is a clone or work-alike of the BOSS® DC-2 Dimension C, which is to many the most revered of the BOSS pedals. It’s easily one of the most compact pedals ever manufactured, taking most of the circuitry from its rack-mounted older brother the Roland Dimension-D (as well as a large dose of engineering tenacity) and fitting it into the standard BOSS form factor.

Blueshift - Boss DC-2 Dimension C clone

This is the first time a PCB has been released for this circuit to the DIY community, and as you might imagine, it’s also one of the most complex projects out there—just as long as you don’t count those insane synth DIYers. The Blueshift fits in a 125-B enclosure, so it takes up no more pedalboard space than an original DC-2. Despite this, it uses all through-hole components, including flat-mounted 1/4W resistors (even the original used standing 1/8W!). The mono/stereo option is preserved, and there are two options available for switching.

As with the L5 Preamp, there is a Mouser parts spreadsheet available so you can easily order 95% of the parts you’ll need for the build.

I am very excited to be able to resurrect this incredible circuit and give you a challenging and rewarding project to occupy your time this summer. And as a little bonus, the Blueshift is on sale for 20% off through the end of the week, along with all other PCBs in the store!

Coming soon: a demo video and an Instructables photo tutorial on putting this thing together.

Filed under General

Independence Day Sale: 20% off all PCBs July 4-9, 2017

Okay, so the Independence Day thing is a bit of a coincidence—mainly it’s a “sorry the Blueshift took so long” sale. But to celebrate the launch of the Blueshift Chorus, I’m giving 20% off all PCBs through July 9 (excluding bypass boards). The discount is automatic, so no coupon code is necessary.

For those of you who have been waiting several months to place an order as I kept telling you over and over again that the Blueshift was probably only 6 weeks away… hopefully this helps out a bit!

Filed under Announcements

Major announcement: 10% of all sales will be donated to Beza Threads

Back in 2009, a friend of mine took a trip to Ethiopia and visited an organization that rescues children and young adults from textile slavery and gives them an education. At the end of the 1-year training and rehabilitation program, they are given their own equipment and are able to go into business for themselves, typically weaving beautiful scarves out of cotton and silk.

My friend came back from that trip with an idea: he could buy these scarves directly from the boys who make them, sell these scarves to people in the United States at a marked-up cost, and use the proceeds to help rescue other types of slaves (including sex slaves as young as 4 years old) as well as raising awareness within Ethiopia of the problem of slavery.

beza-logoThe result was Beza Threads. For the past eight years, Beza Threads has run entirely off of volunteers: shipping orders, speaking at community events, selling products in booths at festivals. My wife and I have been among these volunteers since day one. 100% of the proceeds from the scarf sales go back to Ethiopia in some form, so our administrative costs have covered by donations only. This has been holding back our growth, and we’ve been prevented from taking several opportunities recently due to lack of resources.

While Aion Electronics has been going for five years now, it’s just in the past two years that it’s grown from being just a self-sustaining hobby into something bigger, very nearly a viable full-time job for me. Right now I still have my day job, but I’ve dropped down to half-time there so I can keep innovating with Aion while still having time for my growing family. This is because of all of you, and so I am excited to announce that going forward, 10% of the purchase price of all PCBs will be donated to Beza Threads.

So here’s the other slightly-less-exciting piece to the announcement: After 5 years, I’m finally going to bump up the price of several PCBs. All of my $8 PCBs will be increasing in price to $10, and the L5 Preamp will be increasing to $25. This is a long time coming, as I haven’t raised prices at all since I started back in 2012, but it’s all part of the plan to be able to support Beza Threads and better cover my rising costs. All other PCBs $10 and up will remain unchanged for the time being.

Coincidentally, there’s also a 20%-off sale for July 4 and the week following, so that should take the sting out of things a bit.

Thank you for being a part of this!

Filed under Announcements, General