Early Fall Goings On
A hodgepodge of what we're up to at MAS Effects
Boy howdy we’re working on a lot right now. Look forward to some expanded newsletters on each of these in the weeks/months to come, but in the meantime here’s a quick pictorial snapshot on our goings on.
The Expanse: Chameleon Starlight edition
In the next day or two we’ll be making available small batch of The Expanse, with the same great sounds, but a fresh new look.
It has the starlight sparkle of the night sky, and is blue, or teal, or purple depending on the angle and lighting. It’s a gorgeous finish to be sure, and shout out to Obscura for their great work milling and powder coating these beauties.
I also changed its LED from red to blue (although there are 2 available with red LEDs and silver knobs - rather than blue LED and black knobs).
New Holiday Ornaments
This 2022 holiday season we’ll have 2 new additions to our growing collection of Holiday Ornament “Pedal” kits (an ornament kit you build, that’s a playable effect):
Stocking: silicon Fuzz Face style circuit
Gift: auto-wah envelope filter (Nurse Quacky)
This is in addition to our previous offerings:
Tree: lo-fi boost, w/ blinking lights
Snowman: opamp distortion
Bell: green ringer (Tentacle) octave
Shout out to PCBWay.com who’ve become my new go-to for prototyping. The boards are the same quality as any larger commercial runs, and ship SUPER quick, plus you get 10 PCBs for only $10.
Luckily these are pretty simple and don’t require much in the way of revisions, but on some of my projects where I do many pre-release versions, the quick shipping they offer is much appreciated.
Ultimate Beginner Pedal Kits
After the Expanse units are ready to go, and bulk parts are ordered for the new holiday ornaments, all the focus is back to the beginner pedal kits.
At this point, most of the work left to be done is finishing documentation and video guides. These are critically important since this kit is meant to have a 100% success rate (more on that in a newletter coming soon).
Many moons ago I was making a bunch of prototype pedals with OLED screens in them (examples here). Some responded to the audio signal, e.g.
pong you play by moving your paddle with frequency, or amplitude
VU meter or oscilloscope
blinking eyes, or moving mouth in sync with your playing
Some were just static video:
cartoon’ish TV news feed
swirling optical illusions
Unfortunately no matter what I did, these introduced noise into the audio signal. I tried dozens of workarounds to no avail, and until I can get that fixed (a VERY tough problem) they can’t be used in any pedals with active circuits. They could be used in a passive circuit, e.g. an ABY box, or an expression switcher, or fx looper, other utility pedal. But the low prices of these types of pedals ($30-60) means I’d never recoup the cost unless I charged a ridiculous amount for a silly novelty.
I shoved them in a corner of storage and mostly forgot about them.
Until I was putting away the new NES cartridges and stopped to stare at the “OLED screens” box. I have 100+ screens and microcontrollers in there.
Just collecting dust.
It absolutely DOES NOT make sense to bring a long-lived product to market, with custom newly designed circuit boards, further R&D, etc. Especially now that microcontrollers are nearly impossible to find.
But I have 100+ screen modules ready to go. What if I just make 100 utility pedals (loopers, AB or AB/Y, expression preset switchers, etc), and stuck these in them for giggles? It’s not sustainable or practical in the long run….
But 100 peoples’ pedalboards would be pretty cool in the short term. :)
NES Cartridge Pedal Kits
This project (refresher here) is still mostly on hold as we try to get the Absolute Beginner Pedal kits shipped, but I have stocked up on the two key parts that - given the fickle supply chains and ever-disappearing electronics/parts stocks - are absolutely vital to have: edge connectors for the base consoles, and lots and lots of cartridge shells.
Four boxes of cartridge shells, in fact. And some dust covers for fully scratching that nostalgia itch.
If you enjoy building DIY guitar pedals, you may have seen that Electrosmash (electrosmash.com) has been having hosting issues for the past couple months, and currently is completely down.
You can get a full backup at archive.org but it’s pretty slow and clunky. For convenience and posterity I’ve uploaded PDFs of the most popular articles here:
That’s all, for now
I’ll be posting more details about these projects as they unfold, either here on the Behind the Scenes substack newsletter, or in the main mailing list, or on the MAS Effects Instagram.
Anything else you’d like to see? Just let me know.
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Looking forward to adding more to the ornament collection!
I like the idea of adding an OLED screen to my board, especially if it has something space theme to go with the pedals I have.
Most importantly I’m most excited for the NES style pedal
Agree with Jacob, space theme would be awesome. I've been looking to add a passive looper with a wet/dry blend for some time, a momentary switch and OLED would just make it utterly awesome!
All of the projects look way cool, the NES for sure scratching an itch too. Seems like it would be wicked cool and useful in a studio setting!