It’s my pleasure to welcome guest contributing writer Pete Edwards to MAKE! Edwards is a circuit bending pioneer living in Troy, NY. He builds experimental electronic musical instruments for a living through his business casperelectronics. -Becky
I’ve been bread boarding lots of effects pedal circuits lately and have been struggling with the tangle of off board jacks and pots. The audio jacks are especially troublesome since the heavy guitar cables have a tendency of pulling the jack wires right off of the board.
I decided to make things A LOT easier on myself and designed a special board with built in jacks and pots. I loved the board so much that I built 3 more. The main “selling point” of this thing, beside the fact that it securely holds all of your hardware, is the way that the pots are mounted leaving the lugs exposed for easy connection. The thought of designing a circuit without one of these now makes me dizzy.
The project pictured above is a rebuild of the DroneLab drone synthesizer and FX processor. PCBs coming soon!!!* It has 19 pots and 10 switches. It’s too big for the boards I had already built and I knew it would be insane to prototype this thing with loose components, so I made 6 hardware harnesses to hold all of the goods.
Below is a diagram of the harness. It’s made to be somewhat modular. The holes on the top can hold pots, switches, LEDs, etc…. The holes on the back are especially well suited for audio and power jacks and maybe a switch or two.
The harnesses are best made from 1/32″ steel. Aluminum will work too but may be a bit flimsy. The only catch is that you really need a metal bending tool to make these. A drill press is pretty important too. I got a small metal brake NEW for $50. Cheap and oh so useful. I never knew how much a metal brake could improve my life!
* Chris Scully (of Electromagics) and I have been tirelessly working on a new DroneLab design which we plan on releasing as a PCB late October with a parts kit to follow. More info and a pre-order form will be posted at casperelectronics.com in the next few weeks.