Thing to do whilst waiting for pedals to turn up…

… It’s been months since I’ve snowboarded. Last time I did I got concussion falling off a stupid box and split my helmet. I’ve been a bit skint since and so boarding took a dive.

So, being less skint and looking to the future again I’m working on a plan to pass my snowboarding exams to become a teacher. I’ve booked onto the first little step, which is an assessment of my riding to give me a programme to work on to get my riding to a standard that could be considered for the exam. Woo.

I figured I should find my feet a little before I go do that because no-one wants to look like a stunned duckling if they’re trying to pretend they’re anywhere near a teaching calibre. Anyway, nothing beats slope hours for getting your shit together. Also something about fitness, I’m so so so unfit.

Long story short, I did a backwards day. I rode as little as possible regular and everything I could switch. I went on the fast lift switch which involves catching the Poma from behind your back. I got my speed high enough switch to make my eyes water, and spent a good while screaming “back straight”, “get low”, “flex and extend”, “hands in line”, “look where you’re going, not at your feet”, “blah blah blah” inside my head.

I should get to go on a Snow Holiday soon as well. Which would be nice.

I have placed an order for a Fiendmaster (a Dallas Rangemaster spinoff).

It’s a germanium transistor overdrive circuit available via Joe who’s awesome website is over at

I plan to get into designing my own desires at the earliest convenience, but there are a bunch more general principles I need to get into my head before I can really get into that.

Anyway, so far this is an astonishingly cheap way to get access to boutique hardware at silly low prices, since I’m a talented assembler they tend to come out well *smug*.

So, there were a few quiet days in which I did not die.

I did plug the amp in, wedge the black wire of the multimeter into a nook and get on with safely single handedly testing the fear voltages. I had to wait till $Landlord was around because I didn’t know where the breakers for the electrickery were. With his great advice about where the rings were and which were the most expendable I was good to go. We have a NO SUNDAYS rule which I’m entirely content to abide by. Basically if there are no shops open from which we can get the bits to repair whatever we broke then we cannot afford to risk sitting in the dark till Monday. I hear it happened once during Sunday doorbell maintenance.

So, I got some lethal voltages detected in the correct places and found I’d earthed something that wasn’t supposed to be earthed (silly girl) and unearthed it. No components had taken a dive though, I’m going to claim any cooking that I did adds to the sound of the amp.

From there it was a mad rush to get all the rest of the bits forced into the tiny chassis of the “Catamp Catnip V1” as it may end up getting called. Sort of looked like this:

The leg bone is connected to the...

The second valve socket isn’t actually sorted out there, but it’s about 5 components away from completion. 5 components shouldn’t take long to get in thought I, but how wrong I was. They weave around each other in ways that are astonishingly tricky to arrange and to hold for solder. Often with two components entering a post from opposite sides where they can easily drop out whilst you’re holding your iron in your teeth and using an eyelid to poke the solder into the join. Also in order to keep insulation material on the earthing wiring, I ended up using a 4mm long bit of wire for a pin to pin contact. There is probably an easier way to do it than that. Happily I negated the need for a second 4mm wire by double sleeving a resistor leg and sliding that all the way through two pins. *phew*.

On plugging in there was complete silence and some confusion from me. After a couple of hours brain scratching and checking continuity I decided that assumption is the mother of all fuckups and that I should revise my understanding of the pinouts of the input and output sockets.

This got me to the position where I could get a bit of hum out of the amp, but no shreddy guitar sounds. Aboo. Wiggling the valves in the socket (is that sane?) got me some splutter, crackle and radio noises. Which whilst fun were a little disheartening for a tube noob with little debug skills.

Anyway, long story short after a LOT of plugging in and out of valves, VERY close inspection of joints and an hour and a half with some cooling tea and a multimeter I found the solder joint I’d cocked up and fixed it. Valves back in, heaters running and knobs half cranked I nearly blew my face out Marty style:


So, as of today I’m running this guy as a mini half stack, RG550 into a POD1 (in leu of the overdrive stompbox I’m going to be building next) into the G2 amp head, into an Orange PPC 108 cab. It absolutely SCREAMS. I’m going to get my Logic Pro rig together over the next week or so and shove an SM57 in front of this setup and see how large it sounds. It’s LOUD.

Turbo half stack.


So, I write to you from my new sky lair. After having been routed from the safety of my bunker defence.
I had been grumbling that having a soldering iron in one flat and living in the other was a bit of a barrier to getting on with project amp m/ >.< m/ but since I'm writing from the sky lair I'm in the same place as the now cooling soldering iron. So what's been going on? I welded up the power board, then realised I'd left out a resister *facepalm* so I glued that one in right where the bolt which secures the board is supposed to go. Neat job, caitlin. No matter, I'm sure it's quite fixable. It looks like this: (missing resister not shown) Power supply board

Then I got on with connecting up the switches, fuses, all important ground connection and all the earthing wiring for different bits and bobs.

Argh. 240v

At this point, I’m duty bound to plug it into the mains and do some testing for specific voltages at particular points in the chassis and on components, but right now I’m too scared. Updates/death to come.

New bits and stuff.

The new bit would be:

More tool porn.

The new stuff would be:

Scary end

I was struggling to get 12, 13 and 14 mm holes, and as it transpires that this bit which I’d worried about using cuts rounder more easily centered holes than the HSS metal bits, so I’ll probably be using this bit for my next case since it’ll do 6-20mm holes. I’ll still need to get a punch to get the larger holes for valves though.

So, onwards. Things to do: everything involving a soldering iron. These will be done over the weekend.

I need to think hard about cab options now. This is on the cards:

If any of you in internet land have advice for me here I’d appreciate it. Ta.

No real progress to report.

I fixed the earthing points and soldering posts today. I’m a bit stymied by not having the drill cone affair that I need to do the final holes in the case. I could also use a drill stand really, but being in the midst of moving, now is not the time to be picking one up. Things will be a bit slower from here.

I did however get on with familiarising myself with the magic electrickery bits to make the everything at the right voltages and the sounds distorted in the correct fashion. This is most of the power stage. Bridge rectifier in the foreground and two smoothing caps towards the back. Embarrassingly I had to look up for my confidence which end of the caps was the negative end. Of course the thing on there that I wasn’t sure if it was a box marking or random printage is supposed to be a big – sign :/ The rectifier has a little + and – on it 😛

If only my soldering iron were here.

More to come when I’ve got more cutting or soldering tools to hand.

On things happening in a bit of a rush…

…when I’m overexcited.

I’d planned to do a sort of deboxing, I’d half thought about videoing some of the assembly, but after my determinedly careful but ultimately cack-handed drilling I slightly glad I didn’t. Tension pulls things true in some construction techniques and even though everything in this should be 90 degree precision we can overlook that and accept that the holes came out close enough (or far apart enough) for molishment tolerance to get things to fit.

Anyhoooo, long story short: LOOKSIE!

Test fitting

My drill isn’t actually big enough to do a couple of the larger holes which is a pain. I’ll have to figure out different plans for those holes. No matter. Anyway, as always, the next one will be prettier. This one seriously only actually needs to *work* and the crappier it is the more fun it’ll be to look back on when I’m good at this.

I can’t wait to dig out my soldering iron and glue the guts together.

Addendum: I’m not bleeding.