Circuit Skills: Perfboard Prototyping, sponsored by Jameco Electronics

Music Technology
Circuit Skills: Perfboard Prototyping, sponsored by Jameco Electronics
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[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.


18 thoughts on “Circuit Skills: Perfboard Prototyping, sponsored by Jameco Electronics

  1. s-bouba says:

    Hello Collin,

    Thanks for the circuit skills video series, they are all very interesting and helpful.

    I have a question about the second picture (the one with red, green, blue lines) in your post. With which software have you done this schematics? Its looks really nice!


    1. Collin Cunningham says:

      Glad you’re digging the vids!
      I drew up that layout using OmniGraffle –

      1. Adam says:

        Where did you get the stencil set?

  2. Danieldk says:

    I made a 555 timer based PWM today to control Luxeon 1W LEDs for an aquarium.. on perfboard, Would have liked to etch a pcb , but for a once off (proof of concept to my GF) perfboard was great :D

  3. cmartin0 says:

    I am having a hard time figuring out where to connect the jacks, pots and battery to the board. Can you explain or draw it out please?

  4. Matthew Good says:

    Built this really quick last night, and it *mostly* sounds awesome. However, while the effect is engaged, and I’m not playing my guitar, I hear some rhythmic clicks coming through my amp. Just wondering if Collin or anyone else who built the effect has the same thing, or if I need to start another staring contest between my board and the schematic…

    Brief writeup of my build w/ a few pics here:

  5. AH says:

    Hello. There is an error in your traditional schematic, you have two trimpots listed as 100k, the very bottom one should be a 10k instead. Thanks for giving us all this information, I am making this circuit for a school project!

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