Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Harnessing Up - Part One

The wait in between coats gets me a good chance to wire up the harness for all the electronics in there. I'm not sure what everything does but I can tell you I've figured out one or two effective ways of directing small electrical pulses from the guitar pickup, through some controls and into a cable which I've hopefully managed to connect to an amplifier (not always the case though). Of course, this time I decided to do something strange to ensure I'd have a host of problems w/ this simple task. For starters, I'm making this a stereo guitar, which means that you can send each pickup to a separate amp. Some people do this using a stereo jack but I, being a crazy fellow, decided to put to go w/ two mono-jacks so I wouldn't have to worry about having stereo cables and a way to split the signal from them. Stereo mode is switchable so I can run it like a normal guitar and flip a switch to split the pickups between the two outputs. Also, instead of having an ordinary pickup selector, I'm making this so I can turn either pickup on or off w/ a switch. Each pickup has it's own volume and tone control and the switching is all done by push/pull pots, keeping the control layout clean and simple despite the advanced and amazing technology behind it all.

The first step of wiring all this stuff up is labeling all the pieces and laying it out in something like the order it's gonna be in when I'm done:

This is one of those things that people tell you to do and but you don't at first because you think it's a load of crap but it really does make things go a bit smoother. I label all the pots w/ a marker so I know what does what and put a little piece of tape on the back of the control cavity cover that tells me what color of wire is for what so I can remember if I ever have to open the guitar up to fix it or change the pickups (and I will). I also try to strip enough pieces of wire so I don't have to stop soldering every four seconds to strip another piece of wire. Of course, even if I spent several hours beforehand stripping wires, I'd still be about ten pieces short as the need for more wires tends to increase as you strip more of them. (This is actually explained by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle but I don't have time to be getting into Schroedinger's Cat and so forth and it doesn't make any sense anyway.) It's also a good idea to clean all contacts w/ some steel wool even though steel wool feels really weird on the fingers and you hate it.

While I was doing all this, I found time to make some pizza, which I then ate:

Fully delicious. There's nothing that gets me more in the soldering mindset than pizza so I got ready and had at it. Remember folks, hot solder can splatter and cause severe bodily harm, especially to the eyeballs so, as always, safety first!

W/o eye protection it would have been really stupid to be waving the soldering iron like this and there's no way I would have lost less than one eyeball. Instead, I survived to solder for a half hour or so before I realized I messed up my design big time. And I think the reason why is obvious from this picture:

OK. Well--I doubt you can tell a single thing from that mess. Basically, I wired it in such a way that if I had both pickups turned off, the amp would hum as if the cable's not plugged into anything, which is no good in high-volume situations. Anyway, I've had enough for now. I'm gonna have at this son of a bitch w/ a multi-meter and a keen sense of logic in the next couple days. Until then, I will just have to be satisfied w/ nothing since it doesn't work.

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