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Dennis the Menace
Score:
1

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Green Sparkle is the new Green.

Project: Nimbus (Maxon OD-820 Overdrive)
Variant: N/A

Build description

Already did a Klon type pedal before so seeing this pedal listed on the site got me all exited. It’s supposed to be the ‘upgraded’ version of the old maxon 808 circuit using an internal ‘charge pump’ that increases the pedals ‘headroom’ and reduces compression. This pedal can be used as both an overdrive or clean boosts depending on your settings.

Sourcing the correct parts was tricky but I managed to get everything I needed from Small-bear and uk-electronic.de. Both are awesome and quick, however small-bear had very high shipping costs to Europe. The enclosure is from Banzai.de, and while they were very slow to ship the quality is really good!
The B type enclosure is really small and this build is a very very tight fit but luckily I managed to stuff it all in and got it working. The board from Aion is really good and was easy to populate/solder. Instructions are nice and detailed.

This is a nice sounding overdrive that will work very well for juicy lead parts or gritting up a clean channel. For boosting an already distorted channel it cuts the bass a little too much for my tastes (I will try and see if I can mod this) but the added flavor and compression are just right, very transparent drive with a musical voicing that you can blend in with your guitar signal. It’s not very noisy either when engaged. Nice Pedal!

Will update pictures once I get the lettering and artwork done.

Modifications or part substitutions

NOS/Special parts used: 2SK246 from (smallbear), JRC4558D and the tiny ceramic caps (both taken from an old Marantz HiFi Equalizer)
Everything else is as listed in the instructions.
The bypass switching resistor I used is 1M and I have no issues with popping or noise or whatsoever.

Del Pedro
Score:
0

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Lab Series Preamp

Project: Lab Series L5 Preamp

Build description

Here is my Lab Series Preamp. Obviously PCB, enclosure and nameplate are from Aion.
IMO it both sounds and looks good. I think the preamp sounds ok in front of an amp. But I definitely prefer it with a power amp. Nice clean sounds and the distortions sounds quite tube like. I especially like channel 1 with a booster in front.
To be honest I still prefer my tube amps but the Lab Series Preamp really does sound good.

The compressor works as expected. But I don’t like that it is located after the master volume. So you need quite different settings wether you use the preamp in front of an amp or with a power amp. ‘comp trim’ helps a little bit but does not do very much. But you can’t blame Aion as that’s how Moog designed the amp.

Modifications or part substitutions

I used my own parts.

I had quite some trouble to get the preamp running reliably.
I had problems with the power supply. Without op-amps the voltages were fine. But with op-amps the +15V voltage dropped to -0.7V most of the time. This was a ‘latch-up’ error. I fixed it with two 1N4001 diodes at the output of the voltage regulators (parallel to RX3 and RX4). See the datasheets of the voltage regulators or have a look at the picture of my preamp.
I also added two 1 Ohm (2W) resistors to the power jack to drop the voltage a little bit. This dropped the voltage at the input of the voltage regulators from 25V to 19V. So the regulators don’t get as hot.

Then I had lots of problems to find a combination of ICs that work. I strongly recommend to not replace all RC4558s with NE5532s or OPA2134s! I did this a had several problems:
– distortion in channel 2 sounded really bad
– gate like effect in channel 2 when mids where cut
– extremely bad sound of the compressor with high input
When the last two problems occured you could see high frequency oscillation on the oscilloscope.

I finally found a combination of IC that works for me:
IC1: OPA134
IC2: OPA134
IC4: RC4558
IC5: RC4558
IC6: RC4558
IC7: RC4558
IC8: RC4558
IC9: NE5532
IC10: CA3080
IC11: CA3080
IC12: NE5532
IC13: OPA134

Nicko J.
Score:
1

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Most Meticulous DIY yet!

Project: Lab Series L5 Preamp

Build description

Took me almost a day finishing this one out, of course not just in one sitting. Some pots came from different vendors so I had to improvise making: (1) dust seals using heatshrink tube and electrical tape, and (2) PCB mount pins using diode clipped leads. I used male header pins on the 15V and IC10 tests, makes the calibration a breeze. I put sockets for all the semiconductors just to be safe. Using my Sony Xperia XA phone the sound level fell around -10 dB to -11 dB to produce 30mV. Initially I used clear blue LED for the compressor indicator but noticed that it lit drastically and was on all the time, even when the comp was off. Switching back to the recommended red LED fixed it. Set the comp trimmer at minimum. This project is intended for the experienced pedal builder. You have to be very meticulous on each part before soldering them on. Glad to be part of the Aion mailing list and be able to make it on his early bird pre-order list. Hats off to Kevin for making kickass stuff. Keep ’em coming!

Modifications or part substitutions

VOL1 to 2kA
MID1 to 2kA
IC4-IC9, and IC12 to OPA2134
C51-C65 to 220uF, 50V
C40 to 2u2 tantalum

lwatford
Score:
0

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Refractor

Project: Refractor (Klon Centaur / KTR)

Build description

Stuck to the stock build docs, with a handful of exceptions. I used a 6.8 for the tone, and I had a pair of D9E’s that sound great in the pedal. I’ve built a few other klones, and this one might have been this easiest, and with the Switch board it’s even easier! and it sounds great.

Modifications or part substitutions

C14 6n8

Hink85
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Ultimate telecaster drive

Project: Andromeda (Nobels ODR-1)
Variant: Novels ODR-1

Build description

I built 2 of these stock, one with the OPA Brown Burr 2134, since I had like 14 leftover from my stint at Purdue. The other was rc4558 chips.

I struggled playing my telecaster, even with Lindy Fralin Blues special pickups, simply because it sounds bright and thin. I love thick, clean and articulate notes when I’m playing rhythm parts. This overdrive is a killer with this combo and my Bassman amp. The bass can get out of hand, so you definitely need the bass control. A must build if you play a tele, and want to fatten it up.

CHITO
Score:
2

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THE “WALL OF CRUNCH” PEDAL

Project: Equinox (Marshall Guv'nor)
Variant: The 5mm red LED clippers

Build description

RESISTORS: Yageo 1% metal film – NO value substitution

CAPACITORS: Solid polymers, CDE dipped silver mica caps & a variety of 5% box caps.

IC: TL072

DIODES: 5mm Red LEDs for the clippers & Qznium brand LED as effect ON indicator

AESTHETICS: Small Bear’s light plate. Vvivid brand car wraps & Brother label printer / tapes

EQUIPMENTS: Marshall JVM 205H head / Marshall 1960A cab / Line 6 Flextone II HD amp. IBANEZ S5470Q guitar, ESP JH-600 with EMGs. Only Equinox OD is connected.

TEST RESULTS: This is the first time I heard a pedal effect that can mimic the “Wall of Crunch” of Marshall amps. The Treble, Mid & Bass controls effectively shape the sound of the Equinox.

Thanks to Kevin & the AION staff for an excellent re-design of the Marshall Guv’nor / Drivemaster clone.

Never a Guv’nor user yet? Build the Equinox OD and experience the “Wall of Crunch” of a Marshall rig. A project that’s easy, fun & rewarding. Tell us about your build experience when you’re ready! Thanks.

Surya
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The Insomniac Overdrive (OCD)

Project: Titan (Voodoo Lab Overdrive)
Variant: Straight OCD

Build description

I’ve been using this pedal for about a week now in a jazz combo and a blues band, and it sounds killer. At low levels it adds thickness to those weird add9#13 jazzy chords and cranked it simply rocks. I use it after an EHX souk food. The Klon before OCD combination sounds really good (to my ear). I haven’t built the refractor from aion yet, but I think it will be even better than the soul food. The PCB and documentation quality was top notch. I used parts from smallbear and Mammoth electronics and the 3pdt border from Aion because it’s so much easier. All in all, would recommend 11/10!

RB fan
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Distortion Master

Project: Nebula (DS-830 Distortion Master)

Build description

Maybe not one of the sexier selections, but this one is criminally underrated. Great sounding Marshall-type distortion. This can easily go up against other MIAB offerings that seem to get more attention. Controls, as you would guess, are very interactive; Bass knob can really bring the thump. I think this can do lower distortion/drive settings, but, honestly, that’s not what I’m looking for in a ‘distortion master’. I want loud, somewhat saturated tones without flubbiness or brittle high end – heavy distortion without losing dynamics. That’s exactly what I get from this one.

Modifications or part substitutions

I used stock Si diodes, IC, but I put the softness trimmer on the outside. I did go ahead & double up on the feedback clipping with 2 additional Si diodes with pleasing results.

Ryan C.
Score:
3

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Marshall BluesBreaker MK1v1

Project: Cerulean (Bluesbreaker)
Variant: MK1v1 (early model MK1)

Build description

Smoothed out the overdrive by making the original, original spec (aka MK1v1) for R2, R3, and C2. I also was looking for John Mayer-like overdrive tones and judging by pictures of his BluesBreaker and educated guesses about his rig, he’s likely using v1 specs. It really smoothed out the drive and overall tone for my single coil Stratocasters. It really is a good illustration of a “transparent overdrive” where single notes ring and chords bring out the overdrive.

Modifications or part substitutions

I didn’t trust the 1N914 diodes (the yellow ones) from Tayda since I didn’t see many Google results for 1N914s with yellow bands so I bought NOS ones and put them in the alternative diode section. Instead of putting a switch in, I hard wired the alternative diode section direct to the output block. The presence is dialed all the way down so it’s a short. As true to MK1v1 as I could but with high quality parts and PCB 🙂

Ryan C.
Score:
1

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Klon Centaur (Silver) Clone

Project: Refractor (Klon Centaur / KTR)

Build description

Stock build to the Aion Electronics documentation. Used matched Russian D9E Germaniums. Silver polished case from Tayda Electronics and the oxblood knobs from Small Bear Electronics. The knobs are a little large but they don’t bump into each other when adjusting. I’ll keep looking for smaller knobs. Love the growl out of this thing and the form factor. PCB is top notch!!