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!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Let the spending continue!

So I just finished placing an order with Ceriatone in Malaysia for the chassis, face plates, and both the voltage and impedance selectors.

I also just finished placing an order with Triode Electronics in Chicago for a bundled set of transformers and choke. As you can see from the pictures they are Plain Jane and non-finished so I plan on doing some cosmetic work on these babies to make them look really nice.

I also just completed the ordering process for all of the internals from Watts Tube Audio. Now comes the waiting game. I should have most of what I need in a week or so, and should be on track to get the circuit board all done up before the chassis shows up.

I've started to put some thought into what I am going to do for a head cabinet when the time comes to put the assembled chassis in something. One idea I have is to do a nice birch cabinet done in the style of an old plexi stained really dark, with a clear fibreglas piece in the front that would allow you to see the tubes glowing and the transformers. We'll see how it develops as time progresses...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Start of the Journey...

So, here we are. Yesterday marked the beginning of my journey into tube amplifier building. I cleaned out a ton of stuff from my raggedy old shed (it didn't get that way on my watch, I inherited it when we bought this house back in December) and had myself a nice 7 hour fire last night to "take care" of it all. It was mostly wood...

This evening I went out and bought myself a simple 8" Jobmate drill press from Canadian Tire, a power bar and cheap extension cord with a light bulb socket. My shed is now equipped with electricity and a shiny new drill press. Maybe I'll take a picture of it once the new NiMH's I bought are done charging. (edit: charged!)

So here we go. I plan on doing a JCM800 2204 clone for my first build. I'm borrowing Joe Popp's schematic from his JCM Twins build. I went ahead earlier and parted out the entire diagram and am now in the process of putting it all into a spreadsheet so I have an easy way of managing what I've bought and what I have left to buy. Back to the spreadsheet before Hell's Kitchen comes on!