Cheap way to get electronic parts

Use to be if you wanted cheap electronic parts you had to desolder them from old circuit boards. Draw back is with that you end up with a lot of parts with short leads and makes it a bit harder to solder to a circuit board. Once in a blue moon I’ll order a Surprise Box from Electronic Goldmine. I recently got two they were offering for five bucks each and I was able to restock a lot of my inventory of parts. However they also toss in a bunch of crap such as caps that you can tell were ripped off of circuit boards.

90% of the box is passive parts, a few ICs here and there but nothing special. The shipping invoice said 11 lbs and I think I tossed out 4 lbs of junk parts. Still worth it since a lot of the parts got for a dollar a piece from DigiKey and Mouser such as 5watt 1% resistors and macthed pair Transistors.

Don’t go for the RCA surprise box. It’s loaded with Belts and ICs that you can’t find data sheets for and have RCA part numbers on it.


Isolation and Dim Bulb Tester

This tool should be in every Electronics hobbyist’s arsenal. An Isolation Transformer and a Dim Bulb Tester.

I don’t know why I have been holding off on this but I should have done this a while ago. I guess you can call this a One Day build of sorts buts more of an evening waster. I was at Home Depot today to get a couple of things and decided to grab stuff for a Dim Bulb Tester. I had a few things such as the wire and power outlet so I picked up a light fixture, switch and a double gang plastic box. When I got home I decided to toss some Isolation into the mix. I have a couple of Transformers that I pulled from a Guitar Amp. To get a 1 to 1 input/output I just connected the Secondaries together so the Primary of the Second Transformer outputs 110v.
Ignore the 121 out, I ment to say 120v out.

If you think about it it’s double the Isolation lol. But this works just fine and the Transformers are just fine since the Secondaries output the same voltages.

If I just need the Isolation I can always put in an adapter to bypass the bulb.

I crudely put this together by screwing everything down to a piece of wood but all of the connections are covered in heatshrink tubing. I bought some Wago connectors but those connectors don’t like stranded wire very well.

I broke the face plate when I attempted to add a neon bulb as an idiot light. I might mount the light on the mounting tab of the double gang box. For the moment I have a 60watt bulb, I need to get a 100watt bulb.


This is pretty darn heavy with all of that iron from both Transformers. Looking at 30 or 40 lbs total.

Now I can power on a few devices that I’ve been too scared to power up after repairing.

Just a few tips.
Make sure you get a single pole switch. You can use a 3 way but use the common side of the traveler as the output from the switch if you use a 3 way switch. Avoid using Tamper proof receptacles as well. Do not use a Earth Ground if you plan to use isolation. Silver is Neutral and Gold is Live for the screw terminals. White is Neutral and Black is Live when it comes to the wire unless you live in the UK and Europe, I think Brown is Live and Blue is Neutral. Also use a plastic receptacle box. If you want to use Wago connectors get the older lever type and not the push-in type for stranded wires.

One day build – incomplete

I was going to build a Tool wall for the Garage/Shop but I had to spend that on a new battery for the Van. Also by time my Wife got home so I could get a battery it was late in the day. This one day build will be pushed back till next Sunday.

However I did make a holder for my Screwdrivers but drilling ten holes into a 1×2 isnt all that exciting.

Tools Consolidation

Today I was working on the Van and noticed I had to rummage through four tool boxes to find tools to get the task done. I decided to take inventory and purge all of my tools. Like who needs six 14mm wrenches? Should only need two at most. Also too many tool boxes. I can understand a Tool Box for certain things but having one box is perfect in my mind set.

For my next one day build is going to be a small Tool Wall and Storage for items that I use the most and are too big to fit into the Tool Box. I have some left over cabinet veneer boards that will work great. Just make a Walmart run for some hooks and go to town on hanging some Tools. I have a blank wall in the Garage/Shop that will work just fine.

While Purging the Tools I decided to fit my Electronics Hand Tools in as well. However I will keep the screw drivers, tweezers and tweakers at the Electronics Work Bench. Everything else has its own drawer in the Tool Box. I’ll probably take some scrap wood and drill some holes to slip the screw drivers in and mount it on the side of the Desk with some C-Clamps.

I guess years of people giving me tool sets for Birthdays and Christmas Gifts have taken its toll.

Tools I don’t need or want anymore I can put up on Craigslist or Facebook and use the funds towards more stuff for the Garage/Shop.

Also on my Purge I found a few Craftsmen Hand Tools that need replacing. I’ve been hearing horror stories how Sears have been treating people with trading in Hand Tools. Also it’s a hit or miss with Ace Hardware to trade in Craftsmen Tools. So wish me luck on that adventure.


Cheap Chinese KOKKO Mini Distortion Pedal

For another project I was going to cheat a little and use a pre-made Guitar Distortion effect pedal. I bought one from Geek and had to say the shipping for once was quick, I got it with in a week.


Before taking it apart I hooked it up to the guitar and it is the worst Distortion pedal I have ever tried. It’s more of a slight Gain Boost then Distortion. You would have better luck using the built-in Distortion effect that comes with most Guitar Amps.

However for my project this will work just fine.

The construction is pretty well made. Cast aluminum box with non-slip pads for the feet. Uses four machine screws on the bottom to hold things together. There is no battery compartment so you have to use a 9volt DC wall wart. Do not use a switch mode type!

The circuitry is the interesting part. There are two circuit boards. The bottom board looks like the power supply and input / output with the bypass switch. The top board is the effect pedal section that has the Pots, high gain Op-Amp, Transistors and Caps.


The two boards are together with a 10pin header. My guess is the manufacturer can reuse the bottom board for other effect pedals and just have to use a different top board for the desired effect. This also makes the pedal a small foot print and probably saves a little more on manufacturing by spinning smaller boards

The Op-Amp is an LM358 clone, a JRC 4558. That is probably why the Distortion is so weak. Most Pedals I have seen use the classic LM741 or the TL072. Not to mention the typical high gain signal Diodes seem to be red LEDs, typically 1n34 Diodes and 1n914 switching Diodes are used.

If you were to modify the circuit you would want to change out the two SMD red Leds to Switching Diodes and if posible switch out the Op-Amp. Just switching those parts out changes the whole sound of the Distortion Pedal can output.
You could even switch out the little NPN Transistor to change the level if I am correct.

Guitar Modding

Recently the Wife and I went to the FleaMarket and a Crate GX-20M Guitar amp followed me home.

The Amp works great and sure enough I am a bit rusty but I pulled out my old DigiTech Death Metal Distortion pedal. This Pedal has a Love and Hate relationship with me. Sounds great at certain volumes but sounds like crap with other volumes. What the Pedal is lacking is its own Gain control. So I went looking around and came across after reading a few forum threads that there is a way to add a Gain control. Simply rip off a resistor, toss in a 100k pot and a series resistor. I must say it works a treat. This should also work with the DOD brand DeathMetal Pedal.

Here is a link to the guide if anyone cares.

Next with my trusty Ibanez GAX75 is to rewire it and add some switching for in-phase and out-phase the pickups. I currently only have the Bridge Humbucker and a Volume Pot wired up, I got the other pickup lying around somewhere.

Kinda tempted to try building an effect pedal, but with all of my luck I probably don’t have the right opamps in stock.

The follies of owning a new home.

In Today’s world a builder works like the government. They go with the lowest bidder of contractors and you end up with crappy results.

The more I dig into this new house more and more issues arise and it seems the builder only hired contractors that don’t work weekends. I’m a contractor and I work on weekends.

The electrical issue I found in the Attic for one. I would have to miss work for some one to come out and fix it because they don’t work weekends and don’t work past 5:00pm. Another issue is the Toilet in the Kid’s bathroom. For it to flush you have to hold the handle down. I know this isn’t right and the wife called that one in and guess what, they don’t work weekends and not past 3:00pm on week days. To top it off the guy on the phone said “with these new toilets you have to hold the handle”. It’s not,  a cheap toilet for the install and the fill valve is bad. Because if that was the case then the exact same toilet in the master bath would be doing it too.

Once again in my line of work we don’t leave until it is done unless we need to order something and if it’s not on the truck if we are way too far from the warehouse.

So now I face to either fix it myself or lose a hundred dollars of a day’s wage plus spend whatever how much I have to buy in parts to fix the two problems.

So my message to you is when buying a new home find out who the sub contractors are and look them up via the BBB or what have you.

One day builds – Workbench

I’m going to try to do some One day builds. Probably once a month I’ll attempt it.

To start things out with One day builds here is a workbench I put together as a multipurpose workbench for the Garage/Shop. I wanted a big bench so I can work on multiple things. I wanted it kinda tall so I can stand or use a bar stool if I wanted to sit. Also sturdiness was key so I went with six legs so I can leave as much as the bottom open to store stuff under it.

It is all construction grade 2×4 studs and two sheets of 4×8 OSB. I wanted Baltic Birch for the top but HomeDepot wants almost $50.00 for one sheet. So of a total of nine 8ft 2x4s and two sheets of 1/2 4×8 OSB ran about $65.00. I used a Miter Saw and an Impact driver with 3 inch construction screws. Took a total of three hours to plan and build.


Total dimensions are 4×8 feet and 37 inches high.

It’s pretty much in the middle of the floor under the main light fixture and has an outlet on the ceiling ment for a garage door opener but I plan to add an extension cable and use it as a drop power line for the bench.

RCA WA-44C Audio Generator

The WA-44C came in the mail today. I cracked it open and took a look around. I even made a punch list and ordered replacement caps and lamp bulbs for it.

The dial control is an odd one. Uses a rubber like ring to move a metal dial disc to move the big ganged capacitor. That rubber ring is hard as a brick. I tried to bring it back to life with some leather cleaner / restore and it some what soften it up but it’s too far gone. I might have to use some washers and PlastiDip and make a new one or retro the dial a bit and make it work like some of the Eicos.

On the inside it looks like some one has worked on it. Some caps have been replaced but the electrolytics are original. The Pilot lamp is dead and there is also a S6 lamp in the oscillator section that is also dead. I pulled the 6×4 Rectifier and all of the tubes light up and the power transformer is in good shape.

In all it needs a recapping, new lamps and fix the tuning dial. Also toss on a polarized line cord. Maybe a fuse and X/Y safety cap as well for added protection.

Until then I will set it aside and finish the RCA scope.

News 2/24/18

The Family and I were weekend warriors. The Wife and Daughter duo painted the Livingroom, hallway and most of the Kitchen while myself and the boys built a wall to turn a Formal Livingroom into another bedroom. The framing and drywall is up but I haven’t put joint tape on and sealed let alone sanded the wall. The middle son is happy since he finally has his own space.

Recently bought a new TV since when we moved something had happened to the old TV. A gray line in the LCD panel formed and with in a month it almost went to the other end of the screen. The oldest step Son said he had seen this before with his Father’s TV and when the “Line” made it to the other side the bottom half of the screen died. With the new TV I also bought a wall mount kit and plan to make a mini how-to guide. All of the guides I have come across lack the proper ways of hanging a TV.

I bought off of eBay a RCA WA-44C Signal Generator. So it will be next item to restore when I finish the RCA Scope. Also for giggles I placed a bid for a solid state RCA WO-505A scope. I Do not know why I placed a bid but I doubt I’ll win.

Speaking of the RCA scope I have been working on. The new knobs came in. The seller lied about the size of the knobs. The Ad said 2 inch but they’re 1 inch. They still work and look nice on the scope. All I have left to do is add the new caps and cross my fingers. I went ahead and tossed in Silicone Diodes with some dropping Resistors until I can find a proper Tube to replace it.

Found a guy on Craig’s List that sells Vacuum Tubes but only in large quantity of 50 or 100 tubes for a $1.00 a Tube. Kinda tempted to buy a set of 50 but the Tube are random and with my luck a bunch of Tubes I doubt I would ever use.

I haven’t started playing with the Pogo Plug yet. Been busy playing Bob the Builder. Probably will start on it tomorrow or next weekend if I am not working on the bedroom wall addition.

After putting up drywall for the Wall I was happy to see some extra 2x4s. The wife asked if I was going to return them and I said nope, Work bench for the shop I replied. Not for electronics but for other things I attend to work on such as wood and metal projects. I am still looking for a Tanker Desk for the electronics bench.