Since buying the house in January, I’ve been sort of consumed with the home improvement projects I’ve always wanted to be able to do. I still have to sit down and write up blog posts for the two big projects I embarked on (workshop/shed and fence), but I recently completed the fence, and have been working on reintegrating myself with society (where “society” is defined as the people inside my house rather than in the backyard).
For a week or so I’ve just spent my free time relaxing and getting used to the feeling of not spending every waking moment out in the sun working on a project. But I’ve never been able to be idle for too long before finding a new project to tackle. In this case, I’ve really gotten excited about revisiting projects I had started but temporarily abandoned as my attention drifted elsewhere.
AX84 High Octane
AX84 High Octane Inside
As the band has been becoming active again too, I started experimenting with amplifier setups and found that my little 10-watt homemade tube amp actually gets (barely) loud enough to be useful in a live band setting, when maxed out and run through both my 2×12 Ampeg cabinet and Wil’s 4×12 Fender cab. So I re-explored an earlier idea, using my Boss Line Switcher pedal to switch between my Fender amp (which is really good at clean tones) and the homemade amp (which is quite overdriven at the levels it needs to be run to be audible).
That worked great, but I had previously been using my Line Switcher as a simple mixer to combine my guitar and my keyboard signals. It was quite overqualified for that job, and so another little project I’d been meaning to build for years was a simple little mixer, the size of a stompbox, that could take the place of the Line Switcher. In order to do that, I had to finally unpack my indoor workshop, which had been neglected the past few months as I focused on outdoor projects. With the workshop unpacked and the workbench functional again, it only took me a few days to build the mixer pedal.
That definitely got me back into the spirit of these electronics projects, and now I’m excited about rediscovering another big project I’d set aside quite a while ago.
I mentioned that the idea of switching between two amps was not a new idea — initially, my plan was to switch between the Fender and another, more powerful amp I was designing. I actually got all the way through the basic design and ordered the $800 worth of parts, including a few hundred dollars’ worth of big, custom-wound transformers and a custom, handmade aluminum enclosure.
Big amp transformers
But I got bogged down while teaching myself AutoCAD in order to design the layout of all the components inside the enclosure, and the project got put on the back burner, and then in the deep freezer. While moving to this new house, I realized that the custom transformers (which are still in the box I received them in) are addressed to my Tree Trunk address, which was two houses ago. That means they’ve now been with me through two moves and still haven’t been used. I opened the AutoCAD file I’d been designing, and realized that it had last been opened on 7/6/2010. Man, does my attention drift.
Amp design in progress
So I’m attacking the amp project again, and while I have to rediscover my fledgling AutoCAD knowledge to complete the design, I think this time I’ll be able to finish it and get started cutting metal. I can’t wait to finally hear what this amp sounds like.