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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 along with a few others.


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

Which new projects do you want to see in 2017?

2017 is here, and as I mentioned a few months ago, I’m cutting back my hours at my day job so that I can dedicate more time to Aion Electronics. Last year was my best year yet, but with a new house and a new baby over the summer and fall, other than the Lab Series Preamp, I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to devote to new project development.

This year will be different. Now, my first order of business is to get the Dimension C Chorus finished up – and it will be soon. But after that, I’m all ears. It’s up to you!

So, here are the circuits I’m currently exploring. If you could do me a favor and read through them, then check the boxes next to the ones you’re interested in, that will help me prioritize.

New projects for 2017

Filed under News

Refractor (Klon Centaur) back in stock, 20% off through June 22

Refractor restock

The Refractor (Klon Centaur) has been out of stock all this month, but after a few manufacturing delays it’s finally back. It now has a very cool matte black solder mask instead of the previous gloss black.

Until June 22, the Refractor will be 20% off for any number of boards. Enter the coupon code CARDTABLE at checkout to apply the discount!

View the Refractor Overdrive project

Lab Series enclosures

I’m planning to do a limited run of enclosures for the Lab Series L5 Preamp that look identical to the prototype unit shown on the project page. I’ll receive the sample enclosure next week, and if it meets my standards, I’ll send out an email asking for a head count of people who are interested. This will not be a permanent product, just a one-time offering. Stay tuned!

Coming soon: Boss DC-2 Dimension C chorus

Next up in the Pro Collection is the Boss DC-2 Dimension C chorus. I’m building the prototyping unit right now, and it’s hard to say exactly when the project will be ready for release, but I am hoping for sometime in August.

Filed under Announcements

Introducing the “Pro Collection” of DIY projects

Looking for something to challenge your building skills? The Pro Collection is a line of DIY projects designed for the expert pedal-builder who wants something a little out of the ordinary. They are designed like professional pedals with specific assembly techniques and components used, and they also come with artwork files if you want to get the enclosures professionally screenprinted.

L5 Preamp

The Lab Series® was a line of solid-state guitar and bass amplifiers designed by Moog in the late 1970s. They are the product of a few years of research into the sonic characteristics of tube amplifiers on top of Moog’s already-vast expertise in analog audio design.

This project is a replica of the preamp section of the Lab Series® L5 guitar amp, which is where all of the unique character comes from in the amp. In addition to some really interesting filter design work, it also features a unique OTA-based overdrive which has never been used outside of these amps to my knowledge. The result is an effect that is the very definition of “amp-like”… because it is one.

This pedal can be used as a deluxe overdrive effect if the levels are kept low. But it’s more than capable of driving a power amp by itself, and that’s going to be where it shines.

l5pre_pcb_populatedNow for the fun part: Twelve knobs, 80 resistors and 50 capacitors. It’s designed for a 1790-sized enclosure—think Electro-Harmonix “XO” series. It’s not a difficult or finicky circuit, but it’s going to be a lot of soldering and you have to be very careful because one resistor of the wrong value could take a very long time to debug. If you’re willing to put in the time, though, all the information is provided for you to end up with something that looks just like the photo above.

I’ve made a spreadsheet of the parts so you can very easily order most of what you need from Mouser. The remaining items can be obtained from Small Bear or Mammoth Electronics in the United States or any of the major European part stores. There are no “unobtainium” or mojo NOS parts to hunt down.

The screenprint artwork for the above pedal is available for download and can be sent directly to Pedal Parts Plus or modified to taste using Adobe Illustrator. (Note that the text is in black so it can be seen in the PDF. If you’d like to print it as white on a dark enclosure, just tell them to change it to white during the printing process and they can take care of it.)

Next up: BOSS Dimension C

The next release in the Pro Collection will be the BOSS DC-2 Dimension C. This circuit is legendary for two reasons: first, it’s considered by many to be the best analog chorus ever made, favored by guitarists and keyboard players alike; and second, it’s enormously complicated—probably the most densely-packed PCB of any commercial pedal. Because of this, it’s never had a proper DIY clone PCB.

All that will change in about two months! This is going to be a fun one: I started out with the design rules that 1) it had to be no bigger than the original Boss unit, 2) it had to have all the same functions as the original, 3) it couldn’t use any SMD, and 4) it had to use all flat 1/4W resistors instead of the stand-up 1/8Ws of the original. It also has two different choices for the bypass method.

Stay tuned!

Filed under Announcements

Black Friday / Cyber Monday 2015: 20% off PCBs!

This weekend only, all PCBs (excluding bypass boards) are 20% off! The discount is automatic, so no need for a coupon code. Sale ends Monday, Nov. 30 at midnight (6:00 GMT December 1).

I have a large restock order expected to arrive on Wednesday, so your order may not ship until December 3 if it contains one of the following projects:

  • Refractor
  • Titan
  • Procyon
  • Azimuth
  • Lumin
  • Aurora
  • Halo

 

Filed under General, News

New projects for Valentine’s Day

Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey last week! (If you haven’t done it yet, please do! Here’s the link.) As promised, I’ve got three new projects that are available today. All of these projects have detailed circuit history and analysis on the page as well, so there’s plenty to read about.


Ibanez ST-9 Super Tube Screamer / Cirrus Overdrive PCBCirrus Overdrive (Ibanez ST-9 Super Tube Screamer)

The Super Tube Screamer is a very rare TS variant that was only released in Europe and Japan in the mid-80s and only in extremely limited quantities. It’s a standard Tube Screamer with a semi-parametric midrange boost before the clipping section. Very cool circuit. The STL Super Tube is very similar and you can build either version with this PCB.

View the Cirrus Overdrive project →


Ibanez MT-10 Mostortion / Quantum Distortion PCBQuantum Overdrive (Ibanez MT-10 Mostortion)

The Mostortion was a late addition to the “10 Series” in the early 90s. Similar topology to a Tube Screamer, but it has a 3-band EQ like you’d find on an amp as well as a unique MOSFET op-amp. This one never got a lot of attention but it’s a fantastic circuit. It uses onboard 9mm pots for a five-knob layout in a 1590B.

View the Quantum Overdrive project →


Maxon OD-880 Overdrive Soft Distortion / Quark Overdrive PCBQuark Overdrive (Maxon OD-880)

The Maxon OD-880 was released in 1976 and is sort of a transitional circuit (or hybrid) between the MXR Distortion+ and the Boss OD-1 OverDrive. It has hard-clipping diodes like the Dist+, but also adds an input buffer and a gain recovery stage, and gain is adjusted via a feedback resistor (like a Tube Screamer) rather than the inverting input ground resistor. This project has an EQ switch to control the bass and gain structure as well as a clipping diode switch.

View the Quark Overdrive project →


Micro 3PDT Bypass PCBMicro 3PDT Bypass in yellow

These micro 3PDT bypass boards are the smallest bypass PCBS out there. They were already available in blue, red and white, but now you can get them in yellow as well. This way you can match the color of any of my PCB projects.

View the Micro 3PDT Bypass project →


Restocks are also available for the Nimbus (Maxon OD-820) and Prism (Boss FA-1) projects. The Stratus (Tube Screamer) is currently out of stock, but a redesigned V2 will be available with the next round of releases in about a month. (No more running wires across the board to use the switch mods!)

As always, shipping is only $2 to the United States and $4 to the rest of the world, no matter how many PCBs you buy.

Filed under Announcements

Three new projects for the new year

You may notice that this announcement is surrounded by a brand new Aion Electronics website. More on that in a different post—there are three new projects we need to talk about!


Pearl OD-05 / Fractal Overdrive PCBFractal Overdrive (Pearl OD-05)

I’m super excited about this one. The Pearl OD-05 is a fairly obscure effect from the early 80’s—a TS-type clipping stage with a cut/boost parametric EQ in front of it. It sounds incredible, and you can wrestle tons of great sounds out of it without much trouble… but it’s never been commercially cloned, and it’s never really grabbed the attention of the DIY community. (It doesn’t help that every schematic out there is incorrect or incomplete.)

View the Fractal Overdrive project →


Ross / Dyna Compressor PCB - Aurora CompressorAurora Compressor (Ross/Dyna Comp)

Another big one—the Dyna/Ross circuit holds the distinction of being the most enduring guitar compressor circuit out there in its over 40 year history. This is a particular favorite of mine, and while this project is not a DIY version of my Aion Compressor, it’s not far off. You can build a spot-on Keeley Compressor clone with this PCB, and it also has a treble switch mod built in so you can get some really cool 60’s jangly sounds with it.

View the Aurora Compressor project →


BBE Sonic Stomp Maximizer PCB / Lumin EqualizerLumin Equalizer (BBE Sonic Maximizer)

This is a DIY workalike of the BBE Sonic Maximizer / Sonic Stomp. It’s based around a state variable filter that splits the signal into bass, mid and treble and adjusts the phase response of each of them before combining them back into one signal. The effect is similar to an equalizer or the presence control on an amp, but not quite the same as either. Based on the Bajaman “Sonic Stump” project, but with the addition of two switches to control the high and low cutoff frequencies as well as a Midrange knob.

View the Lumin Equalizer project →


3pdt_pcb_whiteMicro 3PDT Bypass PCBs in white

Another new color for the Micro 3PDT Bypass PCBs in addition to red and blue. I plan to add yellow in the coming months so that you can get a bypass PCB that matches any project you order from here. These are the smallest 3PDT bypass boards out there and are only $2 each.

View the Micro 3PDT Bypass page →


As always, shipping is only $2 to the United States and $4 to the rest of the world, no matter how many PCBs you buy.

I’ve got a whole lot more up my sleeves for 2015. The new projects aren’t going to stop coming, and in fact I have no less than eight PCBs in the queue just waiting to be prototyped and documented, and four more that are in the design process. Ambitious? Maybe. But there are a lot of cool pedals from the 70s and 80s that haven’t really hit the DIY scene yet that I’m excited to introduce. Keep watching!

Filed under Announcements

More new projects for November

I mentioned in my last update that you hadn’t seen the last of the new projects for the year. Here’s the latest!


Marshall Guv'nor / Drivemaster / Equinox Overdrive PCBEquinox Overdrive / Marshall Guv’nor

Marshall’s first compact overdrive pedal, which was later re-released as the Drivemaster, has a 3-band EQ alongside standard Drive & Volume controls. This PCB uses compact 9mm pots so the 5-knob layout fits inside a 1590B enclosure.

View the Equinox Overdrive project →


Aion Solstice - Marshall Shredmaster PCBSolstice Distortion / Marshall Shredmaster

The Marshall Shredmaster is the drive pedal most associated with Radiohead, being used by Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood on The Bends and OK Computer. Like the Guv’nor, this layout uses 9mm pots to allow for five knobs in a 1590B.

View the Solstice Distortion project →


Aphelion - MXR Distortion Plus, DOD 250Aphelion Distortion / MXR Distortion+, DOD 250

The Distortion+ first came out in 1973 and could be considered the grandfather of modern distortion pedals like the Boss DS-1, Ibanez SD-9 and OCD. It’s a pretty simple circuit, but three switch mods help to keep things interesting.

View the Aphelion Distortion project →


Solaris - Fuzz Face DIY PCB ProjectSolaris Fuzz / Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face

Speaking of grandfathers, the Fuzz Face could be considered the grandfather of the entire stompbox industry, first released nearly 50 years ago. I designed this project to be the end-all Fuzz Face, incorporating every mod I could think of, but without deviating from the legendary tone.

View the Solaris Fuzz project →


3pdt_pcb_redMicro 3PDT Bypass Boards in red

If you didn’t catch my last update, I’ve got micro 3PDT bypass boards available now for only $2 each. The first run was only in blue, but red ones are now available as well. I eventually plan on having yellow and white as well, so watch for those too!

View the Micro 3PDT Bypass project →


As always, shipping is only $2 to the United States and $4 to the rest of the world, no matter how many PCBs you buy.

Thanks for your support!

Filed under Announcements

Four new PCB projects for fall… plus 3PDT bypass boards!

It’s been exactly one year since I started offering these projects and the response has been incredible. Thanks to everyone who has gotten a board (or five), liked it and told others about it! But with all that, it’s also been nearly a year since I released any new projects. No longer! Four new PCBs are now in stock and available on the site, along with two more “mini” projects (3PDT wiring boards).

As always, shipping is only $2 to the United States and $4 to the rest of the world, no matter how many PCBs you buy. Here are the projects:

Boss OD-1 OverDrive / Corona Overdrive PCBCorona Overdrive / BOSS OD-1

A clone of the very first BOSS compact pedal from all the way back in 1977. This was actually the first circuit to use op-amp feedback clipping diodes, predating the Tube Screamer by at least a year, and it’s a great little pedal. It has the standard clipping diode mod, as well as an EQ mod that changes the high-pass filter in the feedback loop which affects the gain structure and low end.

View the Corona Overdrive project →


Chroma Equalizer / Boss SP-1 Spectrum DIY PCB ProjectChroma Equalizer / BOSS SP-1 Spectrum

So I lied—there were actually three “first BOSS compact pedals” that were all released at the same time in 1977. The SP-1 Spectrum was another one in that group. It’s a semi-parametric equalizer with two controls: frequency and balance/mix. This is one of the rarest Boss pedals out there, regularly selling for $500+ on eBay—and this is the only DIY project available anywhere for it.

View the Chroma Equalizer project →


Comet / Boss DS-1 Distortion DIY PCB ProjectComet Distortion / BOSS DS-1

More vintage Boss! After the success of the initial line of compact pedals, the BOSS DS-1 Distortion was released in 1978. The circuit is essentially a mash-up of a RAT, Big Muff and Distortion+, and while the current Taiwanese model (after 1994) is pretty hard to listen to, the original Japanese units were amazing. This PCB supports either the vintage or modern version, and has a clipping diode mod.

View the Comet Distortion project →


Meteor / Ibanez SD-9 Sonic Distortion DIY PCB ProjectMeteor Distortion / Ibanez SD-9

The Ibanez/Maxon SD-9 Sonic Distortion hit the market in 1983. It was originally advertised as a heavier version of the Tube Screamer, but it shares nothing in common with the TS9—it’s closer to the BOSS DS-1 or MXR Distortion+ than anything. This project allows you to build the original SD-9 (which is different from the current reissue) and has switch mods for clipping diodes and midrange.

View the Meteor Distortion project →


Micro 3PDT Bypass PCBMicro 3PDT Bypass Boards

These little guys are the smallest 3PDT bypass boards out there, at only 0.65″ x 0.75″. They makes true-bypass wiring dead simple, and the pads match up directly with all of my PCB projects. Right now they’re only available in blue, but watch for more colors to trickle in this fall—eventually you’ll be able to get one to match whatever color of PCB you’re using. (Switch not included!)

View the Micro 3PDT Bypass project →


3PDT Klon Centaur Bypass PCBRefractor (Centaur) Bypass Boards

If you’ve built my Refractor project or any other Centaur clone, you know the most frustrating part is cramming those resistors onto the bypass switch. Those days are behind you! Drop one of these PCBs onto a 3PDT switch (not included) and it’ll take no time to wire up. These were designed for the Refractor project, and have a black solder mask to match, but they’ll work for any Centaur clone project.

View the Refractor 3PDT Bypass project →


 

That’s what I’ve got for now, but I have a lot of stuff planned for this fall—there will be more projects to come still in 2014. Stay tuned!

Filed under Announcements