[Note: Jameco is currently offering all the parts I used in this video as a perfboard prototyping kit — just add wire & solder. ]

When you think “DIY electronics,” one of the first images that likely comes to mind is of parts and wire soldered to a standard piece of perforated circuit board — and that makes sense. Perfboard is widely used because it’s so versatile. Essentially, it’s just a grid of potential solder-point connections. You can trim it down to just the size you need, or leave extra space for future enhancements, or revisions, if need be.

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In this latest installment of the Circuit Skills video series, I demo my own approach to perfboarding by building a rather unusual guitar effect — the PWM, a design I found in Tim Escobedo’s excellent Circuit Snippets collection.

Pwmschem Cc

(For those interested, I also drew up a more traditional version of the schematic – available here.)

In order to get this thing making sound ASAP, I omitted the stompbox switch and its somewhat complex wiring. However, the optional LFO add-on seemed a bit too good to pass up, so I did incorporate that into my build.

I knew from previous projects that the 40106 Schmitt Trigger IC could make some cool experimental synth sounds. It turns out that the chip also works as a surprisingly sweet distortion pedal, if you’re into that tough & spazzy fuzz-bot kind of sound (which I am). If you need a boost getting started with your layout, here’s a basic diagram of all the on-board connections I made (just much neater than how I actually made ’em)


If you build a PWM, have fun! And do share build pics and impressions in the comments below.

Update: A new version of the wiring diagram (including off-board components) is now available here.