Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mission Accomplished?

My last post was somewhat like having a giant Mission Accomplished banner strewn across the front of an aircraft carrier. I was still waiting on gold grill vent mesh material to cover the holes in top and back of the amp. I'm glad to say that the amp is officially 100% complete.

I have to say, that gold mesh really clues it up nicely. Dontcha think? I think it is now time to start considering what I am going to do for my next build. I've been focused on doing a Tweed Deluxe 5E3 build. The electronics for that would be much simpler than this build, but the cabinet would be the interesting part. Stay tuned, I'll be ordering parts in the not too distant future!

Mmmm, gold vent grill mesh.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Haskell #001 Complete!

So a bit of soldering, design, troubleshooting, and woodworking over the course of the last 10 months and this is what I've come up with...

She's all done. Well, technically. I still need to track down a bit of gold mesh grill material for the top and back vents, but other than that, I'm ready to call it done.

I plan on getting some really good quality audio recorded in the not too distant future, so stay tuned. Here's one more for your eyes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

99.99% of the way there...

So this past holiday weekend I finally managed to get a few coats of stain and then a few coats of clear onto the cabinet. My brown leather handle and the rubber feet are now enroute from eBay. Here she is...

The Presence knob is missing, but that's because the knobs that are on it suck. I have a set of official Marshall replacements with locking screw, but I'm going to wait on the handle and feet and install all that gear at once to have it complete.

Another thing I did this weekend was I replaced an 8.2K resistor on the tone stack with the originally called for 10K. I'd noticed that when turning the preamp up over 8 that things would start to break up. Swapping in the 10K cleared it all up and now I can stick the preamp all the way to 11 and it's golden. The moment this thing is 100%, I'm going to set up my recording gear and get some nice samples of this thing online.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Temporary Detour

I've been waiting for the weather to warm up for a while now and decided to go ahead and try something out. I ordered an ITS8 pedal kit from General Guitar Gadgets! It's an Ibanez TS808 ("Tubescreamer") clone. It's a very neat, PCB based kit. It comes with everything you need to just fire up your soldering iron and get down to business.

The first thing I did was hit the case with a nice even coat of primer. I'm going to go with a sea-foam green color for the case, and then hit it with a couple coats of clear to keep it protected. I'm thinking about what I may put on it for graphics, I'll probably have a better idea once I get the first coast of paint on it. I figure I'll just stencil some black on there. Here's a look at the kit components.

This will go together quick so keep an eye on things! It's going to sound quite nice pushing through the JCM800 clone for sure!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

95% Of The Way There

I got up early and cranked hard on it today. I'm just gonna insert pictures and talk about what I was doing at the time.

First off, I went ahead and picked up a load of clamps on sale at Canadian Tire today! $9.99 for the 36" and $7.49 for the 24". I also picked up a jigsaw, sander, rubber mallet, and a sweet set of router bits. I cut the top heat vent hole, glued up the finger joints, hammered it together and clamped it up. I put it in my computer room and turned up the heat so things would set nicely.

I then decided to throw the chassis in for a preliminary look. Things looked rough, but nice.

I then broke out my new 1/2" and 1/4" round over bits and started routing everything nice and round. Once I completed that, I went ahead and hit the works with some 100 grit, and then again with some 150 grit, to make things nice and smooth.

Then it was time to put it all together. At this stage I am still lacking rubber feet, a handle, and 5 or 6 coats of dark chestnut stain, and a bit of gold mesh for the rear and top vents. Then all I gotta do is drill some holes in the logo and screw it on. I'm going to start staining tomorrow, but for now check this out. There's a video at the end of the amp going as well, connected to my XXX 4x12 full of Sheffields. Be warned, the audio will suck, it was recorded with an iPhone.

So tomorrow I'm going to hit it with a fine sanding (by hand) and then start staining it. I figure I'll order some rubber feet and a handle and it should get here within a week. I'm in no big rush now; I'm practically there! Here's that video I was talking about...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Head Cabinet Beginnings

So after letting the pine I bought dry for an extended period of time, I decided that with the nice weather happening today I would go ahead and get some woodworking done for the head cabinet. I made use of my new table saw as well as my router table with finger jointing jig that I got from Oak Park Enterprises. It made the finger jointing part of the endeavor a total cinch.

Above is my router table with finger jointing jig. It's awesome. I still need to pick up some large adjustable bar clamps (I figure a couple 36" and a couple 18" should do) and then I can cut the heat exhaust hole in top of the box, glue and clamp it up, and then move on to cutting the front and back pieces. I've decided that #001 is going to get a few applications of dark chestnut stain when the time comes. Here are a few shots of what I managed to get dry fitted together.

Stay tuned, I'm going clamp hunting tomorrow!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cabinet Design and Logos

It's been a spell since I last updated, so I figured now would be a great time. Since getting the amp all biased and rockin' I've played it a few times and every time it's just fantastic. A couple weeks back I went out and bought a router table with a fixed router in preparation for doing the head cabinet box. I managed to put a design together in Google Sketchup, see below...

Today at work I put together some vector graphics for the logo I want to stick on the amp (and future builds). I bought a clear (future mod, set in face frosted light up logo) 12" x 12" x 1/8" sheet of acrylic and a white opaque piece the same size. Then I did this...

I must say, my employer has got some pretty awesome gear kicking around! Stay tuned, I'm going to buy some pine in the coming weeks to get started on the box!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Biased and ready for a home!

So I got my 1ohm 1W 1% tolerance resistors from Digikey a week or so ago and got the amp biased. The calculations I did showed I should have been running ~37mA through the output tubes. Turns out it was running quite hot at 56mA. So things have been tweaked down to the numbers when you calculate using 70% of max for the tubes (25W max the tubes can do, 70% of which is 17.5W; 17.5W / 475V plate voltage gives the magic number 37mA). Now the tubes should last a bit longer than if I'd left it unbiased :).

More pictures to come soon. I'm starting to accrue the tools required to do the head cabinet, and hope to get started by the end of the month.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Audio Samples!

Don't forget, this amp has yet to be biased, but it still sounds pretty good I think. Here are four samples...

*Update: Samples no longer online. My Linux servers hard disk ate shit.

Amp Sound Samples

Now I need to start tweaking those knobs to start finding those magical sounding places that this amp is sure to be hiding from me. Check out my capacitor discharge device! Resistors and alligator clips for the win!

Still fighting with getting video with good audio, so hopefully the clips tide you over for now. I'm hoping my resistors get here Monday so I can bias this baby. Enjoy!

Windows Movie Maker Sucks

It really does. I was recording some video with a decent cardioid mic on the cabinet running into line in and it sounded really good. Too bad it was so out of sync it was like watching a dubbed Kung Fu movie. So I'm going to try to get that ironed out in the not too distant future, but in the meantime, check out these tubes glowing! Yes, my camera is a piece of shit.

Oh, I also tried recording some video with my iPhone but Steve Jobs didn't equip the thing with a microphone capable of handling how awesome this amp is. I'll try again later this evening with the laptop, and even if the audio/video is out of sync, I'll post it so you can get an earful.

Friday, January 1, 2010

And it sounded like...

So I put in a few solid hours over the past couple days. First I re-did the power section and heaters. Then I put the board back in and got down to business. After a few more hours punched today, I ended up with this...

Yessirree. That power light is ON! After this picture was taken I went ahead and checked all the necessary voltages to ensure that things were functioning as they should, and sure enough, all was well. Next, I unplugged it and discharged the filter caps. I then went ahead and installed the three preamp tubes (JJ Tesla 12AX7) and fired it back up, and they started glowing a nice warm orange. My heart melted. I flicked it off, popped in the two output tubes (JJ Tesla KT77), plugged it in to a 4x12 full of celestions and turned it back on again. The output tubes lit up in unison with the preamp tubes; a beautiful sight indeed. No hum, no squeals, just the smooth sound of a 4x12 cabinet on the receiving end of a 50 watt head. I plugged in my guitar, turned up the preamp and master volumes, and a smile a mile wide hit my face.

I have yet to bias the amp as I am waiting on a couple 1 ohm resistors from Digikey. I hope to have them on Monday so I can adjust the flow through the output tubes, and then I'm going to record some video/audio of the amp in action. Make sure you check back here on Monday!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One step forward, and a whole bunch back...

Today I got down to the nitty gritty with the build. I decided to be paranoid and completely disassemble what I'd done so far. The image below is the result.

As I took out components I tested them to ensure they were still working correctly. I also checked the output transformer and choke. The amp fared alright after being employed as a toaster for a few brief seconds the day I fired it up. A few of the notable things that happened during the disassemble were:
  1. I noticed that the standoffs I made were shit.
  2. I discovered that there was a grounding pin on one of the power tube sockets that was cracked off.
  3. I managed to break off a pin on the bias pot.
So, I decided to go ahead and order a few things from Watt's Tube Audio in Florida that I needed to once again complete the build, and I also ordered some original Marshall knobs (set screw style) so I can turn this bitch up to 11 when I get this little order of parts and get it assembled.

I have 11 days off during the upcoming holidays, and hopefully, if my few replacement parts are here, I can spend that time getting this amp screaming through a 4x12. Have faith ye who follow, for it will come to pass that this amplifier will one day be complete and will permanently damage the hearing of it's maker!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


So finally, after enough time to have ordered 10 new power transformers, Triode has finally gotten my transformer in the mail to me. As soon as I get it I plan on getting it in and getting this baby fired up. Keep checking in, I haven't given up!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


So I managed to finish wiring up the amp about a week and a a half ago. I flicked it on, and got smoke and grounds on the power transformer acting like a toaster. I have an RMA in progress with Triode and am awaiting a return form from them. Once I receive that I can return the transformer, get one that isn't toast, and get this baby fired up. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Almost got there!

So, I stuck my face back into the chassis tonight and managed to get about 98% of the way there. All of the chassis components are in, and the turret board is in and soldered to everything it needs to be soldered to. I started putting in the pots and sure enough I realized that I'm short a single 630V 0.1uF capacitor. I checked the order sheet that I sent to Watts Tube Audio, and sure enough, there it is. I needed two. I only ordered one. Sucks. Here's a pic of where I'm at now.

So being pissed off like I am now, I decided to stop for the night. I figure once I have the capacitor, I'll be about 20 minutes away from putting the tubes in and firing it up. Left to be done are all grounds to common ground on the chassis (see loose green wires everywhere), inputs (I need some shielded wire too), and that effing capacitor. Here's another picture of the current state...

Off to watch Hell's Kitchen!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chassis build-up continues...

So I decided to put in a marathon session today. I got up early, popped out and did the couple things I needed to do and then got to work. Here's a pic of the back of the chassis with back faceplate on, and the mains input, fuse housings, and voltage/impedance selectors installed and wired.

I laid the finished turret board in the chassis and took a quick pic as well. Nothing on the turret board is wired in to the chassis yet; I had to leave myself something to do tomorrow :).

I still need to get a couple fuses and some shielded wire to have everything I need to finish off, so I plan on picking that up and charging for the finish line tomorrow.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Chassis Build-Up Begins...

I started building up the chassis for the amp today. The first thing I did was installed the tube sockets. Then I went ahead and installed the transformers and choke.

Once I finished that I decided to make up a couple simple stands out of some wood I had laying around to hang the amp on to make it easier to work on.

I finished out my session today by soldering the leads on to the bottom of the board.

I still have to run the bottom of the board connections and the grounding bar. Once that is complete I'm going to start wiring up the chassis components.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Turret Board Components Installed

After I finished putting the turrets into the turret board last night, I went ahead and soldered a few components on and then left it for the night. Today when I got home from work I finished it off...

At this point I believe it is time to start putting the chassis together. I need to pick up a couple capacitor can clamps (for the big black 50x50's) as well as a package of nylok nuts and bolts to secure everything onto the chassis. I should be able to get a good portion of it built up this weekend, so keep checking back.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back in action!

So the day after I left for my little Labour Day excursion my final part order from Watts Tube Audio in Florida showed up. So I went down and picked it up yesterday. I now have everything except tubes and capacitor can mounts. So I decided to get started on the turret board. Here is the board with turret layout being drilled.

The turret board I got is a 12" x 3.125", but the layout I'm using is 11.5" x 3", so I just centered it up on my blank and went at it. Once I completed drilling out the blank turret board for the turrets and the standoff mounts, I grabbed my bag of turrets and my turret pressing tool...

and pressed the turrets into the board. See the video below for the process.

Here is a picture of the turret board with all turrets pressed and standoff holes drilled.

Let the soldering begin!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ceriatone order and more!

So my chassis, face plates, and selectors showed up yesterday and were on hold at the local DHL office. Turns out they were holding it for my pick up and not trying to deliver it at all. I just went and got them after I'd left work for the day.

Today my wire order from Powerwerx also showed up and I now have spools of 25' of 22AWG black, red, yellow, blue, and green teflon coated wire.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Transformers back together... for now.

I just finished putting my transformers and choke back together. I must say, the splash of red paint makes them look pretty good. At least better than the bare metal they showed up wearing.

When the chassis arrives (it is here in town, but has the tracking status "Shipment On Hold") I'm going to end up having to remove one of the sides of the power transformer to expose things to the inside of the chassis, which means I'm going to have some metal work to do on the power transformer housing I choose to use. Snippy snippy!

My Cliff jacks showed up today as well! Go eBay!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Transformers... transform!

So I laid down some primer...

and then some paint...

on the transformer and choke casings. They are now a nice fire engine red. I know that I'll only be using a single side casing for the power transformer, but I figured I do both of them anyways, so I can pick the best of the two once done.

I've started thinking about what I am going to do with regard to some final dressing on the transformers and choke. I think I may do the logo from the top of the page in black. That's all I've come up with so far. Maybe I'll have more ideas when I'm away for my golf getaway this weekend...

The iron has arrived.

My transformer/choke bundle from triode electronics in Chicago showed up today. Check 'em out!

I also picked up some spray primer and some "Banner Red" spray paint as they are a bit bland. My order from Ceriatone has made it to Toronto so far and should be here some time mid next week. I hope that my order from Watt's Tube Audio in Florida gets here next week as well. That way, when I return from the Labour Day holiday weekend, I'll have everything I need to get down to business. Off to the shed!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Today I spent some time getting my workspace ready for the coming weeks. The first thing I did was I went out and got my hands on a tall saddle stool for my workbench. Luckily there is a nice level spot right in front of my workbench so all is well.

I then decided that it would be best to fix the rotted out door jamb and flaky door on the shed. I would like to keep my stuff mine. A trip to Home Depot and $15 worth of wood later and we have a door that closes properly. I still need one more hinge and some form of locking mechanism, but Hurricane Bill is on his way, so it will have to wait a couple days.

Finally, after an hour at that, I decided to take Joe Popp's schematic (see link from post dated August 18th) and tear out all of the electronic components and wires and stuff so I would have a nice clean layout, that I can print off, tape on to my blank turret board material when it arrives, and then drill to my hearts content. Thanks for doing the original in actual size Joe!

The outer 6 bigger "holes" are for standoffs, and the other 60 are where I'll be staking turrets. C'mon parts! Get here now!