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Weller Soldering Iron
Do It Yourself!



Click here for our DIY Magazine Now Online!


  Below are just a few do it yourself projects. Ya know, there was a time when wanting better, higher quality music reproduction in your home meant sitting down with soldering gun in hand. If you wanted something, you had to basically make it yourself. You can also save some righteous $$$ by building your own music reproduction gear.

If you have any questions, or a project you'd like to have posted here, please feel free to e-mail them to me. As a side note, you may also wanna take a look at the Tweak Page.


Gordon Rankin's AV8 tube amplifier project.


DIY Digital Cable which also makes an excellent video cable too!

Click here to learn more.


Save Money By Making Your Own Cables!

Click here to learn more.


Make Your Very Own Vinyl Record Cleaner... cheaply!
Frank Gales shares with us his homemade cleaner. So if you're handy with building things and wanna save yourself a few bucks, please see this article about his cool cleaner.

Click here to see the D.I.Y Record Cleaner article.


Making Your Very Own Crossover Network
Haven't ya ever wondered how to make a crossover. Well, if you don't have the proper program then this www page link below may be just what you're lookin' for. Can't get much easier then this my friends. Enjoy!

Click here to go to the crossover calculation www page.


Make Your Own Pure Silver Interconnects

So ya want one of them there $300+ pure silver interconnects but your bank account sez no way huh? Fear not my friends 'cause here's how ya find silver, prepare it, and make your very own pure silver interconnects. Pure silver can be purchased very cheaply from your local jeweler. The downfall with purchasing your silver this way is twofold. First off, the silver has no insulation and therefore must be either polished/sanded clean to remove oxidation. Secondly, you must seal/insulate the silver after cleaning it. Buying silver from your local jeweler should cost you about $15 for a meter length in a rod form (18-22 gauge wire is fine here). Two lengths are necessary for a simple twisted pair approach or you'll need three lengths for the braided type interconnect approach like Kimber Kable stuff or for making a XLR ended balanced cable.

Here's what cha need:

1) two or three even lengths of silver wire
2) very fine sandpaper (1000 grade or so)
3) polyurethane
4) a pair of XLR or RCA jacks
5) a soldering gun
6) solder (preferably Audio Note or Wonder)

The first step is to lightly sand one silver rod. This is to clean off any oxidation that may have built-up on the outside of the wire itself. Immediately after cleaning one rod is to wipe it clean with a cloth, then immediately paint a thin even coat of polyurethane in a well ventilated room to seal/insulate the silver. Repeat the above steps until all the strands have a single coat of polyurethane. Once all the strands of wire are thoroughly dry from their first coat of polyurethane add five more thin coats of polyurethane to each strand for a total of six coats.

 

Kimber Kable Method
Now comes the fun stuff. You can use three strands and braid them like Kimber does for their RCA interconnects. Kimber uses two strands for the shield/ground and one for the center, positive lead. By marking the positive lead on both ends before you start braiding the rods will insure you don't mess things up. Once all the braiding is done, solder the positive lead on one end to the center pin of an RCA connector. Solder the other two rods to the outer part of the RCA connector. Repeat these steps for the the other end of the cable using another RCA connector. Congratulations, you have just made your very own braided pure silver RCA cable!

 

Twisted Pair Method
Another method is to simply use two silver strands and lightly twist them at a rate of about three twists per foot. Make sure you mark the positive lead before you begin twisting so as not to mess things up. Solder one of the positive leads to the center pin of the RCA jack. Solder the other lead to the outer part of the RCA jack. Now simply repeat this process for the other end of the cable and you're done.

 

XLR Balanced Cable Method
If you're making a cable for balanced application using XLR jacks simply follow the plan like the Kimber Kable method braiding thingie, but make sure you mark all three leads before you begin braiding. Then simply make sure you solder the same end of each wire to the same pin of each XLR jack.

Hopefully this little ditty will bring you the reality that making your own goodies can be fun, enhance your music reproduction system, and save you righteous bucks too! As for me personally, i'm again getting into building my very own stuff and modifying gear as fast as it rolls in here. Keep those irons hot and the solder flowing!


Wanted: Good Pot
No, no, no. Not that green leafy substance but a potentiometer. It never ceases to amaze me how (a) good pot enhances my music/movie/sound reproduction system. On really expensive gear they seem to use a very good potentiometer, yet on the lesser stuff they may leave much to be desired. May i humbly suggest you read on and learn more about what makes a pot tick? Better still, do as i have done for years and avoid using (a) pot!

You see my friends, unless you use only digital sources and have a way of digitally controlling the analogue output of your DAC/preamplifier, your analogue signal MUST pass through some type of potentiometer. Yes, there are quite a few types, sizes, values and quality available. We must first see what the rating is of the stock unit and how it's mounted. Some manufacturers use a circuit board mounted pot whereas others are kind enough to use a stand alone type of part. If it's of the circuit board variety our choices may be a bit more limited unless you are willing to become more inventive/creative.

An ideal pot would be one which acts as a variable very high quality resistor. Yes, the resent photometer idea seems nice, yet to incorporate on in your preamplifier may be harder than a normal tweakaholic (is there such a thing?) can do. Well, our current technology doesn't allow us the privilege of a variable single resistor so what are we to do? Well, there are quite a few places that sell high quality pots as well as what i feel is better. That is, a stepped attenuator.

Let's take a look inside a potentiometer and "see" what makes it tick. Basically a normal high-quality pot consists of a circuit board with a precision signal trace. A metal piece basically scrapes across the signal trace to give us the desired volume level. Simple huh? Unfortunately all's not well in Oz my friends. These types of potentiometers may suffer, among other problems, three downfalls. These downfalls may be the suffering of precision channel tracking, inducing signal noise, and (especially with those nasty traditional carbon track controls) it's value may change over time/usage. So what's a woman to do?

She can go shopping! Shopping for a stepped attenuator that it. A precision attenuator is much closer to that proverbial "variable resistor" than the potentiometer is. Let's look under the hood of an attenuator and see what makes it tick. Well, basically we have quite a few resistors soldered on circuit boards. Sometimes there is only one resistor per channel in the signal path. Other times there may be two resistors. This device basically uses various values of resistors in sequence to obtain a certain resistance value. In turn, this action produces various volume levels. It's the k.i.s.s. method in action.

Another side benefit is that YOU may choose the manufacturer and quality of the resistors. Some of you lucky few can afford silver foil resistors with silver lead-out wires whereas others may be able to afford only the copper foil type. Better yet for us dudes low on fundage, buy the silver foil resistor type in the most used volume setting(s) and skimp out on the lesser used levels! Life IS goooood. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail them to me BEFORE you do ANYTHING.

 The Parts Connection
 2790 Brighton Road
 Oaksville, Ontario
 Canada  L6H 5T4

 voice  (905) 829-5858
   fax  (905) 829-5388

Click here to go to The Parts Connection's www site.

Click here to learn how to make your very own stepped attenuator.


Tubed Electronic Crossover
Well cool dudettes/dudes, we've been blessed by none other than Jean-Michel Le Cleac'h of Paris, France. This cool dude was kind enough to allow us to post ALL the schematics he has recently posted pertaining to tubes electronic crossovers. So if you got your printer ready, please click on the link below and have fun!

Click here to see various schematics of tubed electronic crossovers.


KILLER Speaker Stands On The Cheap!
Kirk Olson sent this to me recently and i felt it's a great idea. HECK, i've even done it! Thanks Kirk for the article!

RE: Ultra-Cheap stands for Ultra-Cheap Speakers

      Anybody ever suggest the old 
 cinderblocks-as-speakerstands trick around here yet?  
 The blocks are heavy, acoustically inert, paintable, 
 and here's the best part: they're REALLY CHEAP!  
 Most hardware stores have 'em for a buck a 
 piece (or less.)
 
      Stack two vertically per side and you've got a stable 
 31" high  7.5"X7.5" platform.  Be sure to use lots of 
 Fun-Tac/Blu-Tac between the blocks and under 
 the speakers (only if you can get it for $2 or less 
 a pack, of course!)
 
      This approach works well for out-of-sight 
 applications (surrounds above and behind a 
 couch for instance) and anywhere the interior 
 design police aren't on duty.  It's also acceptable
for your system in your "utility" room (where $250
Audiophile-grade fillable steel stands might seem a little out of place.)

Have Ya Ever Been Too High???
The below ditty was okey doekeyed to be printed here by the writer. Personally, i admit that the less parts in the way of the signal the better. BUT there ARE times when some music is GREAT yet the sound engineer should have been shot (or at least received the death sentence). The circuit below looks sane and safe enough. If ya got any questions please feel free to e-mail them to him. And here we go:

      Here's an ASCII circuit (yechh) of a 'filter' that is
 intended to take the harshness off some sources of sound,
 mostly CD's, and LP's that have an upward response tilt.
 If you are using a Microsoft thing to look at this,
 make sure the font is set to 'fixedsys', otherwise it gets
 mangled. 
 
      I made this circuit since my speakers have an overall
 flat response, compared to a 'desired' response that tilts
 downward. Whether they should tilt down is a good question,
 but it seems that the industry assumes that to be a 'normal'
 response. Also since I sit quite close to the speakers 
 (about 2 meters away), the response gets a bit aggressive.
 
      Anyhow, I use this little circuit a lot, it seems that
 many recordings are too 'hot' for my tastes. It is no way
 as extreme as tone, or bass and treble controls. Simulations
 of the circuit using PSPICE show a fairly benign response,
 with little 'nasty' stuff as the audiophile would see it. 
 
      This circuit should be fed from an impedance not more than 
 1 or 2 kilohms. This is normal for semiconductor amps and
 preamps, but is rather low for tubes. Anyhow, you're not
 likely to encounter tubes in a CD output circuit, except for
 a few wacky brands.  The below diagram is for one channel.  
 You will need to build two for stereo.
 
 
 sw1a . o--------------------------------------------o . sw1b
     /                                                  \
  o-'                                                    '-o
 in        1k      1k      1k      1k      1k              out
        o-.-/\/\/-.-/\/\/-.-/\/\/-.-/\/\/-.-/\/\/-.--o
          |       |       |       |       |       |  |
          |       \       \       \       \       \  |
          |   20k /   20k /   20k /   20k /   20k /  |
          |       \       \       \       \       \  |
          |       /       /       /       /       /  |
          |       |       |       |       |       |  |
          |  .001 |  .002 | .0047 |   .01 |  .022 |  |
          |      ---     ---     ---     ---     --- |
          |      ---     ---     ---     ---     --- |
          |       |       |       |       |       |  |
          |      gnd     gnd     gnd     gnd     gnd |
          |                                          |
          |                                          |
          '------------/\/\/\/\/\/ 50k pot           |
                             T                       |
                             '-----------------------'
 
 
 Capacitors: are in mfd's, 10% or better. use film types.
 
      If you must use ceramics, try to avoid the the hi-k types
(the ones that pack a lot of capacitance in a small pkg. They 
 have very bad drift with temperature)
 
 Resistors 5% or better (you could use 22k instead of 20k)
 
 Switches: low level (gold contact type)
 
           sw1a,b DPDT (switch is shown in bypass position)
 
 Pot: 50 kilohm dual (stereo) log taper. Use the wiper and 
       common, leave the 'input' of the pot open.
 
   The switch (sw1a,b) bypasses the circuit when you don't
 want to use it.
 
      The circuit is basically 5 shelving filters, close 
 enough so that they won't show the 'step' in the 
 frequency response. It offers a response that tilts 
 downward from the lowest frequencies, up to the highest.
 It doesn't cause a lot of phase shift, or anomalies to
 pulse or square wave inputs.
 
      The 'tilt' is controlled by the pot, being minimum (flat)
 at 0 ohms, and maximum tilt at the highest value. A log
 taper will give an audible effect that's roughly proportional
 to the setting. If you use a linear pot, most of the change
 happens at one end of the dial. The circuit will affect the
 overall volume at the max. tilt end of the pot.
   
      Use decent audio jacks - they don't have to be high end,
 but should be something that isn't going to tarnish and give
 intermittent or semi-conducting connections. Most Radio Shack
 stuff should be fine. The case should be made out of metal,
 you need to shield the circuitry from 60 Hz, RF, transients,
 stray audio etc.
   
      Since it doesn't use any power, you shouldn't be able to
 blow yourself up, or get zapped. Don't expect miracles from
 this circuit - it will just tame the aggressive response that
 some half deaf sound engineers like to put on a CD (or even 
 some LP's!).
 
   -Paul

Please click here to mail Paul your questions/comments.


 

May i humbly suggest you see our Tweak Page because it has a few great projects as well.

 

     
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