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This LED Flashlight Will Save You From Darkness and Failure on Your First DIY Pedal
The Ultimate Beginner's Pedal Kit (part 3)
Newcomers to DIY pedal building often fail in one of 3 ways:
Incorrect off-board wiring
Bad solder joints
We’re going to tackle the first two problems in our next post of this series, but what about bad solder joints?
Learning to solder while building a pedal? You’re going to have a bad time.
Every day in the DIY pedal forums I see people asking for help because their first pedal project doesn’t work, and most of these are inevitably caused by poor soldering technique. Luckily many can be salvaged by reflowing the joints - heating the solder, the pad, and the component leg so the solder flows and bonds properly - but not always. Pads that were burnt and lifted off the circuit board, or heat damaged components are unfortunately more difficult to remedy.
If you’ve never soldered before (or maybe you just soldered a couple wires in your guitar once), you need to learn and practice making good joints on a circuit board, and you’re going to make mistakes and have problems. And that’s just fine. It’s how you learn.
What’s not fine? Ruining a costly pedal kit while learning and perfecting your technique. Unfortunately I see people doing this every day because they don’t have a great alternative.
Simple, fun soldering practice kit (+ instruction). Included with your DIY pedal kit.
I used to advise people to buy some perf board or strip board - i.e. plain, blank circuit boards - and some extra resistors to practice soldering before starting their first project. Unfortunately by the time they were on the forums asking for help, it was usually too late to save their first pedal.
A good beginner kit needs to come with something like that. It’s a simple addition that makes such a huge difference.
So of course, the upcoming MAS Effects beginner pedal kits are packaged with a mini project within a project. The soldering practice kit will include…
a printed circuit board (PCB) with a practice area to solder a few dozen joints
spare resistors (two legged components) for practicing
all the parts needed to build a fun LED flashlight: 3 buttons, a battery holder, resistors, and LEDs
And just like the main kit, this mini kit will also have top notch documentation:
Comprehensive, fully illustrated guide that
teaches you to solder, tin and care for your iron’s tip, etc
identifies good and bad solder joints
covers the basics of reading schematics
goes through common troubleshooting and repair
Accompanying video to teach soldering, and walk through building the kit
And this is key. It’s not enough to just practice; you also need to be able to evaluate how you’re doing. The instructional materials will show you everything you need to know. But if you’re still having doubts, we’re setting up a subreddit (r/maseffects) where you can post a pic of your build and get feedback and tips from me and others in the DIY pedal communities.
I’m extremely excited to get these beginner DIY pedal kits into peoples’ hands and open up the hobby and make it more accessible to everyone… and I think this little flashlight practice kit is going to save so many people from the heart-wrenching experience of turning on their first DIY pedals only to find they built an expensive paper weight.
Series: The Ultimate Beginner Pedal Kit
This series walks through the why’s / what’s / how’s going into the creation of a MAS Effects Ultimate Beginner Pedal Kit
Part 3 [this post]: This LED Flashlight Will Save You From Darkness and Failure on Your First DIY Pedal
Part 4 [coming soon]: You WILL Succeed in Your First DIY Guitar Pedal
Part 5 [coming soon]: How Many Enclosure Options is Too Many for the Beginner Pedal Kit?
More? Let me know what you want to see
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