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Thread: Beginner, want to build a TAD 5F1 kit

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    Question Beginner, want to build a TAD 5F1 kit

    Hello,

    I'm going to order and build a Tube Amp Doctor (TAD) 5F1 kit:

    Amp-Kit Tweed Champ Style 5F1 Röhren, AMP Kits und Lautsprecher - Tube Amp Doctor

    It's my first amp build. I've done a couple of BYOC effect pedals so far, and plenty of guitar-work (pickup/pots swapping, electric guitar wiring, etc.), but never an amp, and never a tube amp.

    I own a 40W Weller soldering iron, solder, wire cutters, screwdrivers, a soldering pump and desoldering wick, a cheap drill and a cheap digital multimeter .

    I have basic knowledge of what resistors, capacitors and so on are supposed to do (I'm a bit fuzzy on how vacuum tubes quite work though), and I've build myself a capacitor discharging tool out of a couple of alligator clip wires and a 5W 220 kOhm resistor, which I intend to use with a couple of wooden chopsticks, so hopefully I won't get electrocuted.

    My questions, to begin with, are these:

    1. Will a 40W Weller wide-tip (Philips-screwdriver head type) soldering iron do? It's not a soldering station or anyhing, just a plain-old plug-it-in-the-mains soldering iron. Do I need more wattage? Less?

    2. Is there any other essential tool I should have that I don't?

    3. Assume I'm a beginner (which I am). What books/materials would you recommend? I'm not interested in designing and building amps from scratch, all I want to do is to be able to troubleshoot and service my own amps and do robust kit builds. I strongly prefer hands-on stuff, if possible.

    4. If you would be so kind, could you take a look at the pictures they took while building a 5F1 from that kit and tell me if there's anything potentially wrong with that? Something you would do in a different order, perhaps something that's supposed to be connected to ground but isn't, anything at all? Amp Kit: Tweed Champ 5F1 - Amp Kit Projekte - TAD Online Shop

    5. Anyone here built a Tube Amp Doctor kit? If so, how did you find their documentation for the build? People on the Internet say they've received a schematic, a layout picture and a detailed picture of where the mains transformer's wires go, is that what you got?

    Anything else you might want to add that I've maybe left out or is apparent I don't get, let me know.

    Thanks!

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    the high voltages of a tube amp can be lethal. Let a expert doing the job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dodona View Post
    the high voltages of a tube amp can be lethal. Let a expert doing the job.
    Thank you for your post and the warning. Yes, I am well aware of that, hence my mentioning that I've built myself a capacitor discharge tool out of a couple of alligator clips insulated wires and a 5W resistor (insulated with tape). I'm thinking that with not that many capacitors inside a 5F1 and taking the time to discharge all of them and then check with a multimeter I should be safe enough.

    Should things get too messy I will of course revert to having the amp examined by an expert.

    As a sidenote, if everyone would wait around for an expert, when all the contemporary experts retire we'd need to throw away our amps when the electrolytic capacitors die in them. Also, we'd have no Ramones.

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    To my shame, I've discovered this thread: http://music-electronics-forum.com/t6359/ that answers some of my questions. The others are still about specific things about the TAD kit and my tools (or lack thereof) and I appreciate all the answers.

    Here's a beginner-friendly document I don't see mentioned a lot, and one that I find useful:

    The Trainwreck Pages

    And a bunch of links all on one page:

    http://www.freewebs.co.uk/valvewizard/links.html

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    Senior Member chipaudette's Avatar
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    It's expensive, but I really liked this book...

    Tube Amp Books - - TUT - The Ultimate Tone

    It doesn't have high production values, but it's packed with info and it's THICK!

    Chip

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    Quote Originally Posted by chipaudette View Post
    It's expensive, but I really liked this book...

    Tube Amp Books - - TUT - The Ultimate Tone
    Thanks, Chip! It just so happens that I have a friend studying in Canada as we speak, maybe she can find it at a library there and make a Xerox copy of it.

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    Senior Member Regis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motzu View Post
    Thanks, Chip! It just so happens that I have a friend studying in Canada as we speak, maybe she can find it at a library there and make a Xerox copy of it.
    Here's a thought, how about buying it instead of stealing it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Regis View Post
    Here's a thought, how about buying it instead of stealing it?
    Regis, those are strong words and I'd reconsider them if I were you. Going to a library and borrowing a book is not stealing it - it just so happens that none of the libraries in my country carry that book. It is an expensive book, and I'm at a stage where I'm not sure which books I need. Would you fork over $72 for the book + God knows how much for shipping to Europe + customs taxes for a book where all you know about it is a 3-lines recommendation on an Internet forum?

    So if you don't know that I didn't intend to buy the book once I decided it's worth it, I would suggest that you think twice the next time you hurry to judge a situation and try to brand someone you don't know.

    Have an excellent day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motzu View Post
    As a sidenote, if everyone would wait around for an expert, when all the contemporary experts retire we'd need to throw away our amps when the electrolytic capacitors die in them.
    I agree. At some point you have to jump out of the airplane with your chute and see if your training took.

    Think things through first, then act. Yes, there is a risk, but you minimize that by being careful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JHow View Post
    I agree. At some point you have to jump out of the airplane with your chute and see if your training took.

    Think things through first, then act. Yes, there is a risk, but you minimize that by being careful.
    Thank you!

    I've found this link where people recommend what seem to be many interesting books and websites: I need some books on Building Amps? - The Gear Page , and I thought I'd share that here too, in case anyone else is interested.

    As for the book we've passionately been discussing previously, it turns out that my friend could not find it in any library she has access to in her town, so I won't be able to read any of it, under any circumstances, unless I pay for it first. It's a real shame, because it looks like an interesting book, but with nothing to go by, like a sample first chapter at least, it's a risky and not so cheap purchase.

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    Senior Member fyl's Avatar
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    Going to a library and borrowing a book is not stealing it
    Sure, but copying it in full is counterfeiting, pure and simple.

    KOC spent a lot of time producing this book, he deserves payment for his work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fyl View Post
    Sure, but copying it in full is counterfeiting, pure and simple.

    KOC spent a lot of time producing this book, he deserves payment for his work.
    +1

    You wouldn't go out and steal a soldering iron just because you couldn't afford it would you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fyl View Post
    Sure, but copying it in full is counterfeiting, pure and simple.

    KOC spent a lot of time producing this book, he deserves payment for his work.
    Counterfeiting is copying with an intent to sell or otherwise profit from the copies, usually trying to pass off the copy as genuine (such as money, or handbags). When I specified "Xeroxing" I was hoping to make my intentions clear, in that I only wanted ONE copy, ON PAPER, for my own perusal, with intent to figure out if the book is worth buying.

    Furthermore (and I only mean this hypothetically), I can see no difference of much consequence between my friend borrowing the book from a local library, reading and returning it without paying the author, and the situation where she would have acted as a proxy for me, where I would have read the book, if I never intended to distribute the book to others or make money off it.

    Yes, the author deserves to be paid for his hard work. No, I can't get the book unless I'll fully pay for it, in advance, without any inkling that it will actually help me. Shipping international orders is $25 BTW, and I'd have to pay customs taxes on BOTH the book's price AND shipping. If you'd do that sight unseen in my stead, more power to you.

    So, rejoice! I won't be reading that book, and that guarantees that the author won't be paid by me. Had I read at least part of the book and found it worthwhile, the author would have gotten his money. This way, he won't, and justice will have been served.

    So far, creating this thread on this forum has done this for me:
    1. had someone trying to convince me to give up because I'm not an expert;
    2. managed to spark a discussion wherein I've been called a thief and a counterfeiter;
    3. had me post answers to some of my own questions;
    4. got no replies (other than the book recommendation, for which, in spite of all the diversions, I am still grateful) that answered any of my actual questions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeM View Post
    +1

    You wouldn't go out and steal a soldering iron just because you couldn't afford it would you?
    Proof by analogy is fraud. Obviously it's not the same thing, but if you'd really like to go down that road, I wouldn't pay for a 100W soldering iron when I need a 25W soldering iron either. Fortunately, it's easy to know that a soldering iron will work or not based on specified power, but you can't know that a book will work for you based on anything on it's cover (hence the proverb).

    And I never said I couldn't afford it, but I dislike being swindled on principle. With analogies, you wouldn't buy an expensive guitar without playing it first, would you?

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    motzu,

    no one here is trying to give you a bad time, but posting that you're going to copy a book isn't going to win you any popularity contests either. Sorry if I offended you, that was not my intent.

    That said, there are very helpful and extremely knowledgable people here willing to help.


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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeM View Post
    no one here is trying to give you a bad time, but posting that you're going to copy a book isn't going to win you any popularity contests either. Sorry if I offended you, that was not my intent.
    To be honest, I had no clue that what seemed to me a perfectly innocent statement could trigger such a vehement response. I guess we just have different views on human nature: I prefer either to limit my assumptions or to assume that people will do the right thing, and apparently it was not the case with some of my interlocutors here.

    C'est la vie.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeM View Post
    That said, there are very helpful and extremely knowledgable people here willing to help.
    I've no doubt that there are. Perhaps it's my fault, in that I've been too generic and need to learn a lot, probably not fun for experienced builders to hold beginners' hands.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeM View Post
    I'm sorry if I've seemed otherwise. Merely trying to defend myself - calmly - against what I feel is more prejudice than reasoned critique. A constitutional right in most countries .

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    Lets see if we cant get this back on track.

    The 5F1 is probably a good amp kit to begin with.

    For a list of recommended tools look here:

    Allen Amplification - Kits Page

    Scroll down below the kit price list to the bottom of the page and you'll see the list.

    I dont think a temperature controlled soldering is necessary, but it is nice to have. I've used either a Weller or an Ungar (40W) for years.

    Does the TAD kit come with any instructions, or is it like a Weber, parts only?

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    Last edited by JoeM; 05-26-2010 at 06:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeM View Post
    For a list of recommended tools look here:

    Allen Amplification - Kits Page

    Scroll down below the kit price list to the bottom of the page and you'll see the list.

    I dont think a temperature controlled soldering is necessary, but it is nice to have. I've used either a Weller or an Ungar (40W) for years.
    Thank you, I've looked it over, and it seems like I'm pretty much covered.
    Excellent news about the 40W Weller.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeM View Post
    Does the TAD kit come with any instructions, or is it like a Weber, parts only?
    I don't actually have the kit now, but I understand that it comes with the schematic, a layout, and detailed drawings of the mains wires hookup. So no, it shouldn't be parts only.

    Until I actually get my hands on the kit, I was looking at these:

    http://www.thevintagesound.com/ffg/s...5f1_layout.gif
    http://www.thevintagesound.com/ffg/s..._5f1_schem.gif

    I can't imagine the TAD documentation will be that much different. They claim the kit is pretty faithful to the original.

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    Here's a beginner-type question, in the schematic and layout, the 1500 resistor (rightmost component in the picture) needs to have it's upper (- side) leg connected to ground (chassis). A 5F1 I've looked inside recently has a solder connection directly to the chassis (which will work I suppose), but I can't figure out in TAD's small picture where the yellow wire supposed to go to ground connects:



    I'm assuming it goes to the ground solder lug of the rightmost input jack?

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    motzu,

    You mentioned in a post above that you have discharge tool, so you're aware of the high voltages in these. At some point you're just going to have to jump in, and if you get stuck ask questions. Follow the diagram carefully and double check all your wiring.

    I dont have one since I dont do many amp kits, but a light bulb limiter is really good to have when you first fire up the amp.

    http://www.geofex.com/Article_Folders/SPO_Test.htm


    More good info here:

    Tube Amp FAQ Index

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    Quote Originally Posted by motzu View Post
    Here's a beginner-type question, in the schematic and layout, the 1500 resistor (rightmost component in the picture) needs to have it's upper (- side) leg connected to ground (chassis). A 5F1 I've looked inside recently has a solder connection directly to the chassis (which will work I suppose), but I can't figure out in TAD's small picture where the yellow wire supposed to go to ground connects:



    I'm assuming it goes to the ground solder lug of the rightmost input jack?
    Looks like it. Where do the other grounds connect?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeM View Post
    Does the TAD kit come with any instructions, or is it like a Weber, parts only?
    Oh, and to answer your question fully, TAD also provides a page with pictures taken for each stage of the build (they do a demo build). The pictures are not very detailed, but they're good enough to help out a lot.

    I've posted the link in my initial post, but here it is again: Amp Kit: Tweed Champ 5F1 - Amp Kit Projekte - TAD Online Shop

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeM View Post
    Looks like it. Where do the other grounds connect?
    The mains ground goes to a solder lug held by one of the screws holding the input transformer:





    I can't really make out where the capacitors go to ground in the TAD pictures though. I assume the TAD layout will make this clearer, if not I'll probably email TAD to make sure. I think the leftmost filtering cap probably goes to ground on the other solder lug connected with the transformer screw - otherwise what's the point of it? The other capacitor, I can't figure out where it's going to ground from the pictures.

    If the question was is it star-grounded, no, it doesn't seem to be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeM View Post
    I dont have one since I dont do many amp kits, but a light bulb limiter is really good to have when you first fire up the amp.

    http://www.geofex.com/Article_Folders/SPO_Test.htm
    Thank you, will definitely look into it.

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    Senior Member JHow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motzu View Post
    So far, creating this thread on this forum has done this for me:
    1. had someone trying to convince me to give up because I'm not an expert;
    2. managed to spark a discussion wherein I've been called a thief and a counterfeiter;
    3. had me post answers to some of my own questions;
    4. got no replies (other than the book recommendation, for which, in spite of all the diversions, I am still grateful) that answered any of my actual questions.
    Yikes! Don't get offended. To address your concerns:

    I suggested you go ahead and build it yourself - how else would you learn anything.

    I do think that making a xerox of a work in the library for your own personal use is okay - I would not have gotten through graduate school without this technique - many items were hard to find, out of print, or the library only had one copy.

    I agree that authors should be paid for their work, but I also think that in these days of easy reproduction and print-on-demand, there is tremendous price-pressure on content (ask the dying recording companies, ask the dying newspapers, ask the struggling publishing houses (unless you happen to sell textbooks to govt. schools)). TUT obviously inhabits a niche-market, but my suspiscion is that it may be over-priced even for that niche. I dont know, and it's not my problem, but it's possible.

    To address your five orginal questions:

    1. We established the 40W iron is fine. Almost any soldering iron will work here - unless you try to solder directly to the chassis - that will take a bit more heat - but soldering is an ancient skill that was done for years using "irons" that were simply bars of copper heated with a torch.

    2. Basic tools are all that are needed to assemble the kit. I think you said you had a DMM, so you should be good to go. Most important tool is information and knowledge.

    3. As you noted, there are links on the forum where we discussed books and web sites. If memory serves, there was recent thread where we all listed our favorite sites and books. There is a lot of free information out there without paying $75 for a book. In fact in a thread today MerlinB (who has an excellent site called valve wizard, and is the author of his own book) who is a certified VKI (very knowledgeable individual) confessed to never having read TUT. TUT is great, but obviously you can learn all you need without buying TUT.


    4. The TAD pictures are clear and look like a pretty straightforward way to build it. Twisted pairs for the hearters is good, you can take the 1500R to the jack ground, I might use different colors of wire to tell the different parts of the circuit apart (but that makes no difference electrically), other ground points I couldn't see too well on pix, but here is a free article from the above-mentioned MerlinB on how to think about grounding:

    The Valve Wizard


    5. Nope, I didn't build their kit, but it looks like a good reproduction with lots of information provided. If you run into trouble, the forum will definitely be able to help you out.

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    Senior Member fyl's Avatar
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    Counterfeiting is copying with an intent to sell or otherwise profit from the copies, usually trying to pass off the copy as genuine (such as money, or handbags).
    Nope. Copyright is Copyright, counterfeiting is counterfeiting, one book copy or a full container or fake handbags each month.

    Furthermore (and I only mean this hypothetically), I can see no difference of much consequence between my friend borrowing the book from a local library, reading and returning it without paying the author, and the situation where she would have acted as a proxy for me, where I would have read the book, if I never intended to distribute the book to others or make money off it.
    Libraries have agreements in place with authors and publishers. Borrowing books from them is perfectly legal. So are fair-use copies like excerpts.
    Copying a borrowed book or having a friend abroad copy it for you isn't.

    So, rejoice! I won't be reading that book, and that guarantees that the author won't be paid by me. Had I read at least part of the book and found it worthwhile, the author would have gotten his money. This way, he won't, and justice will have been served.
    The usual blah.

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    Senior Member JHow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fyl View Post
    ...So are fair-use copies like excerpts...
    This is true, fair-use will allow you to xerox for research or scholarship, but portions of the work, not the whole shebang.

    The problem is still a pricing issue, however. When you have a situation like you have with digital music, where reproduction costs (which used to be a large portion of the price) are now extremely low, the price must come down. Otherwise, piracy will occur. Once the reproduction costs are accounted for, the remainder is the value of the work - which for digital music, seems to be about 90 cents a song, or thereabouts.

    Ultimately, purchasers vote with their money and pirates vote with their copy machines.

    I think all the OP is saying is that the value of TUT doesn't match his price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fyl View Post
    Nope. Copyright is Copyright, counterfeiting is counterfeiting, one book copy or a full container or fake handbags each month.
    Here's the dictionary definition of counterfeiting: counterfeiting - definition of counterfeiting by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

    You will notice that all the explanations include either pretending that your copy is the original, or the intention to sell it.

    Quote Originally Posted by fyl View Post
    Libraries have agreements in place with authors and publishers. Borrowing books from them is perfectly legal. So are fair-use copies like excerpts.
    Copying a borrowed book or having a friend abroad copy it for you isn't.
    So, if I were to travel there and get a library card and read the book "perfectly legally", then return it and leave with the information, how would that be different than if my friend would have made a copy for my own personal use, I would have read it, and then simply stored (or, if you prefer, destroyed) the book? The library IS being paid in either case, the only difference is that another person reads the book, not the one paying for the library card. Should we make that illegal? Is it? Should we make my friend punch a time card every time she starts and stops reading, so that we can send the police over to her house if she borrowed more books than she had time to read?

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    Last edited by motzu; 05-26-2010 at 08:23 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JHow View Post
    I suggested you go ahead and build it yourself - how else would you learn anything.
    You did, and I appreciate it. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to dismiss your contribution to the thread at all. All I was saying was that my decision to go ahead was, I thought, pretty much established from the beginning, and so whether I should go ahead with the build or not was not an issue at all - unless, of course, I had missed something very important, which didn't seem to be the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by JHow View Post
    here is a free article from the above-mentioned MerlinB on how to think about grounding:

    The Valve Wizard
    Oh yes, I've read that - I had no idea the author was a forum member. I'm a lowly beginner, but I've read several of his articles online and he did definitely send out a guru vibe .

    I'm honoured to be able to share this small piece of virtual real-estate with him - and all of you.

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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHow View Post
    I think all the OP is saying is that the value of TUT doesn't match his price.
    I'm not even saying that, all I'm saying is that I don't know if it matches my price or not - without being able to at least browse through it's pages. Actually I've always (even, or especially, for music - as was your example) paid for stuff I could have easily gotten for free because I thought they deserve the money for doing a good job.

    It's actually what annoys me the most about the book discussion. If I wanted to get and distribute illegal copies of books I'd be out there doing it not debating it on a music electronics forum. It just bothers me that I have to create hypothetical examples and defend myself against 1. something I didn't really say, and 2. for something that's not even possible.

    So please, can we end this thing now?

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    Senior Member JHow's Avatar
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    I think by this point we could have assembled the kit, AND copied two or three library books, and gone home to dinner.

    Here is the thread I was thinking about with book recommendations:

    http://music-electronics-forum.com/t18466/

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    Senior Member fyl's Avatar
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    Here's the dictionary definition
    If it's a free something on the Internet it must be true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fyl View Post
    If it's a free something on the Internet it must be true.
    1. Rather than throwing that down from the height of your perceived position, you could have come up with a definition that contradicts the definition I found. I'm sure that pasting a definition from an Oxford dictionary you've bought would not be copyright infringement.

    2. Your sarcastic comment also applies to everything you posted on this forum, so be careful not to hurt yourself in your arguments.

    Why don't you just get off this thread and go report me to the House of Un-American Activities Committee already. You'll get no more replies from me.

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    Last edited by motzu; 05-27-2010 at 08:51 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JHow View Post
    I think by this point we could have assembled the kit, AND copied two or three library books, and gone home to dinner.

    Here is the thread I was thinking about with book recommendations:

    http://music-electronics-forum.com/t18466/
    Thanks, I see Merlin Blencowe's book gets mentioned a lot, and with good reason - I've read the first chapter on his website and it's really informative. It's now in my list of future purchases.

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    OK, the kit is here, I've drilled all the relevant holes in the cabinet, chassis and eyelet board, populated the eyelet board and started soldering some components.

    No problems so far understading the schematic or layout, but I do have an issue that I didn't really take into account at all, what with all the making sure I won't get electrocuted and trying to figure out how vacuum tubes work. That is, I'm baffled by how the carbon composition resistors are behaving.

    To the point: I've had this bright idea of measuring all the resistors with my digital multimeter, just to make sure that if I need to troubleshoot later I'll know that it wasn't the resistors. So I look at the schematic, the resistor is 22kOhm, I measure it - it's really 23kOhm, within tolerance so OK - and I solder just one leg to the eyelet. I measure again, and now it's 45kOhm.

    By now very careful, I solder only one leg of a 68k resistor on the schematic, in reality 70k. It becomes 85k after this.

    Now, I will openly admit all of my shortcomings as a tube amp apprentice, but soldering is not one of them. I didn't take longer than 2 seconds in contact with the joint, and I've used the 40W Weller that's previously been approved by the nice people of the forum.

    Is this something to be expected of carbon comp resistors? 10%, or within tolerance, is OK, but from 23k to 45k I do believe there's a problem with the resistors.

    Your thoughts on the subject? Thanks!

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