Bread Boards [][][]


No...not one of these. One of these. A breadboard in is a electronics prototyping board used to test and design circuits without having to solder components in place.

Breadboards are great, but their adaptability is also what can make them so frustrating to work with . They are basically a blank slate for testing any kind of circuit whether that be a single LED and resistor or a complicated logic network. If you are using a breadboard for a specific kind of electronics testing, in this case guitar amps and effects, there are certain requirements that are going to be constant. It makes sense, to me at least, to spend a little bit of time making a custom breadboard with the ancillary components built in and fixed in place

Pretty much any guitar effect or amp circuit you care to build is at the very least going to require the following components and possibly a few others besides

  • A guitar Input
  • A low Voltage DC Power supply ( i.e 9v Battery or DC adaptor)
  • An on/ff or complete bypass switch
  • an output - to either an amp or speaker (or even another breadboard)

There is nothing that pisses me of more than wires trailing everywhere and falling out all the time, by integrating these features into the breadboard unit you can eliminate a lot of the mess and make a much more useful, less cluttered and more portable unit.













[386]Amp Testing Board [][][] 


Built this on my days off, another prototyping breadboard. 386 circuits can be very temperamental when it comes to component choices and position so I wanted to build a board I can test all the components for an amp build before soldering everything together. Also at the stage where I need to make some firm decisions on pot values and tapers for best functionality of the amp. This board allows me to test and switch values ready for the final design

The board features are as follows

  • Input, Speaker out, on/off switch, DC jack (centre -) and internal speaker.
  • Hardwired Distortion pot (op amp drive), Gain pot (386 gain) and Output volume control
  • Internal (variable voltage divider) hard wired to the back +/- Rails giving me a 4.5 Vref for the op amp
  • 9v +/- hardwired to the front rails
  • 470k (linear) Distortion pot
  • 2k (Audio Log) Gain pot
  • 1k (Audio Log ) Output volume


[Notes] - The 1k (audio) output volume works fine. Roll off a bit steep with little internal speaker but fine with proper guitar cab. The 470k (linear) Distortion pot works ok, good range but not that smooth. Have found and ordered some 500k audio log pots so will give one of those ago when they arrive. The 2k drive pot isn't working that well goes from nothing to all out in the final 1/4 of the pot travel. I think this is because the pot needs to be either linear or reverse log. Again have found and ordered some 2k linear pots (couldn't find reverse log) so will give one ago when they arrive.

Really like the glowing blue breadboard although could have done with using 2 LED's, one at each end,, rather than just one in the middle. Power filter cap needs to be placed as close as possible to the +/- pins on the 386 chip. Mounting it even on the main +/- rails of the board sounds noticeably worse (more digitally sounding artifacts)











Domino box Velcro breadboard [][][]

This is my latest breadboard creation in my unending quest to learn electronics and build my own amplifier circuits. My pedal breadboard is currently in constant booster testing service while my amp testing breadboard is all full of amplifier bits so to accommodate my new obsession with Cab sims and Tone filters I built this from a Domino box. First up will be the 'Condor Cab sim' by which I did try to build once all ready but couldn't get it to work so am gonna seperate all the elements out (Voltage divider, booster, first op-amp & filters, 2nd op-amp and filters) and test 'em separately then out them together on this board.















Pedal breadboard [][][]

Actually made this ages ago but the photos I took at the time were absolutely terrible, been using it quite a lot lately while doing testing for my - 386 Amp [Project] and Card Amp [Projects] so when I had to change the battery I thought it would be an opportune moment to take some photos of the internals. It's pretty simple. On/off power switch ( also switched Jack socket to stop it being accidentally turned on), Mini toggle switch to toggle between circuit and (true) bypass. Input and output jacks. Input and output wires plus + and - battery terminals fed through holes drilled through the breadboard and metal enclosure and hard wired into rails on the board.










Chip amp development board [][][]

This is an amp development breadboard I made up for testing and developing my own 386 chip amp circuit. I have been so impressed with sound Ruby and Noisy Cricket amps, particularly since i have started using noisy cricket through a proper full size guitar speaker. It sounds great, much better than most, if not all of the cheap practice amps i have owned over the years. I even prefer it to my little Blackheart tube amp for low volume practice. As i stated before with my pedal breadboard project, if your going to be working with a particular kind of circuit (in this case a chip based guitar amp circuit) I do think it's a really worthwhile exercise to spend some time making a custom breadboard that incorporates all the features that will be constant throughout.


The features for this board are as follows -

  • The black rocker switch is the power switch. Power comes from either the internal 9v battery or one of the 2 DC adapter jacks in the back. One of the DC jacks is switched and turns off the 9V battery when an adapter is plugged in. The other Jack is controlled by the first (left) toggle switch. This way I can toggle between the 9v battery and and and say an 18v DC adapter for example, or I can toggle between two DC adapters of different voltages to see how the circuit sounds with more or less headroom ( headroom is how much clean volume is available - more Voltage = more headroom = more clean volume)
  • The 2nd (from left) sliver toggle switch, flicks between the 2 black breadboards. These two boards are for the buffer or booster part of the circuit.this way I can A/B test different buffers or boosters. The input and output wires are hard wired in to the top and bottom rails of the board.
  • The 3rd toggle switch flicks between the internal and and external speaker when one is connected or between 2 external speakers when a second speaker cab is plugged in to the 2nd (switched) output jack.
  • The 1st (left) knob controls the input volume and is wired between the buffer/booster boards (black ones) and the white power amp board.
  • the 2nd knob controls the gain (pins 1 and 6 on the 386chip) and is hardwired into the middle of the white board which host the chip/power amp part of the circuit.
  • The chicken head knob is simply a master volume pot to control the output volume.
And there you go, perhaps slightly over engineered but it contains all the constant requirements ( or my constant requirements at least) when test building 386 chip amp circuits. No mess no wires no drama, my favorite bit is that you can make little booster or buffer modules onto a bit of stripboard (veroboard) and just plug them in and swap them till your hearts content without having to fuck about with individual components. If you want see how the whole thing was put together you can see the full - build gallery here.








iPod shuffle breadboard [][][]


This is a breadboard housed in another iPod shuffle case (see iSmokey). Me and my wife had one each, I really wish i could get hold of more of them as i could think of a thousand and one uses. I made this so i could carry test circuits around like a normal pedal and test and tweak till my hearts content.


  • Battery and power leads integrated into board with LED
  • 1/4" input and output jacks hard wired into board
  • on/off switch
  • True bypass switch
The electronics are fairly simple, the positive and negative battery wires are just fed through a hole drilled in the plastic and placed in the +/- rails respectively. The power switch just breaks the battery connection . The input and output jack + wires are fed through another hole in the centre and placed in the top left and right rails with the negative wire connected to ground (- pole on battery) and the bypass switch either routes the signal through the breadbord or 'bypasses' the circuit and sends it straight back out through the output.


With this device I can build the circuit, then put the lid on and take it any where without all the components falling out. The test circuit pictured is the Germanium Fuzz face circuit i used in the fuzz face pedal builds. I can carry it around tweak it with the mini trimmer pot. Play with the transistor selection etc. It just makes life much easier and a lot less messy, and i do fucking hate wires and mess