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

Spring updates (plus free shipping sale)

Spring is here! It’s been awhile since I posted an update, so I wanted to write a note about what’s been happening lately.

Free shipping on 2 or more boards

For starters, through the end of the month (March 31) I’m running a small sale: free shipping worldwide if you order 2 or more boards. Enter the code “SPRINGFREE” when you check out and it’ll be applied. (Note that due to a quirk of the store system, you will still need to choose “Free Shipping” from the select list after entering the coupon.)


Around the beginning of the year I was having trouble keeping the Refractor (Klon Centaur), Cerulean (Bluesbreaker) and Stratus (Tube Screamer) in stock. I’ve got enough on-hand now to last for a long time, so if any of these were unavailable last time you checked, they’re available now.

Cerulean (Bluesbreaker) PCB revision

The Cerulean project has been updated following a couple of reports of bypass switch popping. Apparently this a problem in Bluesbreaker PCBs from other DIY sites as well. More information is available on the Cerulean project page and in the revised documentation, including how to fix this on a pre-revision PCB.

250k dual pots for Nimbus (OD-820) at Small Bear

Steve at Small Bear Electronics has started stocking 250k linear dual PCB-mount pots for my Nimbus (Maxon OD-820) project. (Up until now you had to get the pots from Tayda and do some tedious soldering if you wanted it to be PCB-mounted.)

That’s all I’ve got for now. Thank you for your support!

Filed under Announcements

Building a custom overdrive pedal for Mike Weiss of mewithoutYou

For about eight years now, mewithoutYou has been my favorite band. They’ve been a huge influence on me both musically and personally. This past summer, after I’d been building my own pedals for a few years, the thought occurred to me that I might be able to give something back besides a few dollars every time they come through Iowa. So I got in touch with their manager and asked if I could build a custom pedal for Mike Weiss, their lead guitarist. It was a blank check—anything you want just as long as you’ll use it!

Within a couple of days, Mike sent me an email saying that his main overdrive (a Fulltone Fulldrive 2) had just quit working and he was in the market for a new drive pedal. So all of a sudden I have the opportunity for my pedal to be a big part of my favorite guitar tone by my favorite guitarist. Pretty surreal.

I didn’t want to mess with perfection—a Tube Screamer flavor into an AC-30—so I sent him two TS-based pedals to try out. The first was a single-channel Fulldrive clone and the second was a Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive. After playing with them for awhile, he preferred the LDO, so that was the variant I ended up building. Here’s how it turned out:

mewithoutYou custom overdrive pedal

mewithoutYou custom overdrive pedal

The etching on the front is derived from the Celtic triskelion which goes back a few thousand years. At some point, it was adopted by the church as a Trinitarian symbol and is sometimes seen in Gothic architecture.

I got the pedal to Mike right before they left for their spring tour last week. He’s been playing it every night and sent me a note saying he loves it and it’s working great with his rig. He’s going to try to make a video of it before long, so keep an eye out for more updates.

Here’s how it looks under the hood:

mewithoutYou custom overdrive pedal

I used the Stratus PCB to build it. The documentation for that project include the parts list for a Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive, so there’s nothing top-secret about it. The switch on the left (PCB left, outside right) controls the clipping diodes, which is directly from the LDO. The switch on the right is set up as the “Flat Mids” control from the Fulldrive 2, which reduces the gain and changes the EQ a little.

Anyway, I’m really happy with the way it turned out and excited that I had the opportunity to be a tiny part of the band. This is my favorite custom project I’ve done so far, and I doubt that will change any time soon! (…Unless Mike wants another one.)

Filed under Custom Builds

Aion Compressor on Saturday Night Live with Imagine Dragons

I gave an overview awhile ago of the custom Centaur pedal I built for Wayne Sermon from Imagine Dragons. Not too long after I built that pedal, he wanted to add a compressor to his board and so he ended up with one of mine. I originally thought it was only going to be on his B-rig for smaller shows, but apparently the Grammy Awards and Saturday Night Live count as small. Here’s a shot from “Radioactive” on last night’s SNL:

Aion Compressor on Saturday Night Live with Imagine Dragons

The cameras didn’t ever get too close to the board, but the knobs light up so it’s pretty easy to catch. He had it on the whole time for both songs. The videos are embedded below.

Here’s a picture of his pedalboard that their guitar tech sent me:

Imagine Dragons pedalboard with Aion Compressor and custom Centaur

The compressor is on the top row and the Centaur is the gray one on the bottom. I know he played the same rig at the Grammy Awards last week, so my pedals were onstage there too, but there was too much smoke on the stage to get a good view of the pedalboard. It’s a pretty surreal feeling, to be honest, but it’s very fulfilling to see my stuff being used like this.

Here are the videos of their two performances.

(By the way, Wayne’s guitar was made by a company here in Des Moines called Bilt Guitars. They’re great guys and make a killer product.)

Filed under Artist Sightings, Custom Builds

Custom Centaur pedal for Wayne Sermon of Imagine Dragons

It’s a long story as to how I got hooked up with Imagine Dragons, but last year I got the opportunity to build a custom Centaur clone for their guitarist, Wayne Sermon. He was putting together a new live rig from the ground up and wanted to include a Centaur, but didn’t want to give up the pedalboard real estate for his original unit. I designed a PCB that would fit into a 1590B-sized enclosure and then built the pedal with an almost antique-looking distressed finish. Here’s how it turned out:

Klon Centaur clone for Imagine Dragons

And here’s the inside:

Inside of the Klon Centaur clone built for Imagine Dragons

After I built the first one, he tested it against his real Centaur. He couldn’t hear any difference between them, and this one is about 1/3 the size, so the real Centaur got the boot. He then asked for another one for his secondary rig. So he actually has two of these now.

I later used this PCB design as the basis for my Refractor PCB project. If you want to build one, you can buy the PCBs right here on the site.

Filed under Custom Builds

New blog

Here it is. I don’t plan on posting too frequently, but I wanted to have a place to post news about Aion Electronics, pictures of custom pedals I’ve built for others, and interesting DIY modifications and projects that I’m doing.

I’ll also occasionally post things that other people have made with my PCBs. If you’ve got something unique, special or interesting that you want to share, send me an email—the address is my first name at my domain name (or just fill out the contact form).

More soon. I’ve built a couple of really cool one-off pedals in the past few months that I’m itching to share!

Filed under General