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Thread: Wooden Eyelet board on "boutique" amp??!

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    Wooden Eyelet board on "boutique" amp??!

    I had to open up a fairly well known boutique builder's amp recently due to what turned out to be a bad solder joint to a channel-switching relay board.

    What to my wondrous eyes did appear but a WOOD eyelet board. Not any kind of neato wood either, more like the thin balsa sheets you can pick up at any hardware store. I could put my finger right through it if I was so inclined.

    The amp works fine and sounds good, but a few things leaped to my mind:

    1) Wood doesn't like moisture. It retains it, and can swell, rot, all kinds of neat stuff. Not exactly what I want in something seeing multiple points of HT.

    2) Mechanical reliability: as mentioned, I could my index finger right through it or easily crack it. Cleary couldn't do that with a plexi or fiberglass board.

    3) Fire hazard. If a screen grid, etc., goes tits up, this whole amp can literally catch on fire and burn to a cinder.

    This is not a cheap amp.

    Am I being silly here, or does this strike you guys the same way?

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    Stray Cap DrGonz78's Avatar
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    I want to see some pictures if possible. We could start building similar amps using an "Old Smokey" chassis.


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    Old Timer tedmich's Avatar
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    Interesting use of wood! Even the Dumble wood grain boards were just printed Formica right?
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    I don't know! I can't tell from all that blue bird poop inside!

    Justin

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    "Wow it's red! That doesn't look like the standard Marshall red. It's more like hooker lipstick/clown nose/poodle pecker red." - Chuck H. -
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    I can't believe that it could be Balsa. I doubt that you can press eyelets into Balsa without it splitting.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    I use wood all the time! I make the speaker cabinets out of the stuff. Can you believe?

    I can't imagine how anyone who would choose to make a circuit board from wood has the savvy to create circuits and amps that anyone would want.

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    "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

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    At least tell us what make/model it is. My guess is it's a Two-Rock, but put me out of my misery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 52 Bill View Post
    I can't believe that it could be Balsa.
    I bet he meant lauan plywood.

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    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    I'm surprised a modern manufacturer would be doing this, but I have seen it before in older stuff.
    Keep in mind that lots of high voltage electric utility poles are wood, albeit with insulators.
    This is what the boards were made of in an early 60's amp from around here. It was not a one off, it may even have been a Celestion kit.
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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    I'm surprised a modern manufacturer is allowed to do this and that it could pass any kind of certification.

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    That's a Johnson Sound Systems amp "Celestion Model" which was a combo sold with (wait for it) Celestion speakers. I have a very similar looking Johnson Monarch. The board seems to be some sort of formica type compound, it looks a little like wood but there's no wood in there!

    This was in regards to Post #8, I just bungled quoting G1 properly.

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  12. #12
    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    And the transformers are also Celestion brand. I think this is why some speculate it may have been some kind of kit sold by Celestion.

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    "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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    Well, I guess it's about using "authentic" materials to accomplish something that was relevant, say, almost a century ago.

    When we "breadboard" a design the roots are in literally sticking nails to a breadboard and building a proto circuit. Nowadays we ofcourse have better tools for that.
    ...Just like we have better materials than wood or formica to build circuit or eyelet boards, or whatever.

    The amp designers / builders who lived that century ago probably would have preferred our modern technology and materials too. But they didn't have a choice back then.

    But as said, it tries to remain authentic to something that was relevant ages ago. Not now.

    But what did you expect from "boutique".

    Boutique = small shop.

    I don't see how that term in any way actually could give clues about product's quality. Truth is, small shops can manufacture poor quality products too.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Well sure boutique has a definition. But it also has a cultural perception that is commonly applied. When I tell someone "Here's mud in your eye!" I don't actually toss mud in their eye (Ok, I do. But that's not the point).

    And if we REALLY want to be authentic we should be forgoing chassis grounds for two prong AC connectors!?! Maybe the guy could see to it that all his amps are delivered exclusively by horse and buggy too.

    I remember that "bread board" was an actual bread board once. I thought it was a clever way for early developers to make a lot of headway before this stuff was commonplace with readily available prototyping materials. And I've never considered building an amp on one because it would be stupid.

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    "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    FWIW I *still* (46 or more years later) use breadboards made out of chipboard (no, I don't let them get wet) , nails and brass wire.

    I HATE Protoboards, for many reeasons :
    1) when I started in late 60's they weren't even invented yet. (Now Teemu will post some obscure patent from the Southwestern Duchy of Khrakhizschya where a certain Muhammad Ling Popofieff invented it and was used to design the VOX AC 4 prototype or something )

    2) in my learning literature (yellowing "Radio" magazines from the 40's on) they were an *established* method for experimenting

    3) they were quick and *cheap.

    4) most important, you could *solder* parts, they wouldn't move (lots of shorts possible in Protos because of parts long legs) , you could screw heavy large parts to them, including transformers, L shaped front and back panels, tube sockets floating a couple centyimeters on the boards, with legs bent out loke stars (or octopuses) , what's not to like?

    5) they could be transported, more than one amplifier started as a copper spiderweb on a coffee/bar table or chair, on stage, being played (and tweaked) live.

    6) I *still* use them, at this moment one holds a FET version of a full Soldano preamp, other holds a 12V 40/60W battery powered amp (with output transformer and servo driven IRF MosFets for linearity) , a Photometer, an add-on short pritection, a thermal Fan speed controller, etc.

    Besides, anything involving TO220 / 218 / 247 legs or 1N540x or 6A2 or any kind of bridges (beyond W005) or fuse holders or a ton of 'Power" stuff can't be plugged in a Proto anyway (I know some people does, but I pamper mine) so my 20's technology breadboards are still alive and useful.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Yupper! I wouldn't dis anyone for using that technique for developing circuits. I think it's sort of cool and practical that you still do it. But, would you build a customers amp on a wooden circuit board? I imagine the thing in mediocre storage filling with dust, then sitting out in a cold alley behind a bar just condensing and generally becoming "moist" sitting in the truck. Let's get that thing on stage now! Plug it in and play a set The best I can say about that is it'll probably be alright. When I hand an amp over to a customer I like to do better than "probably be alright".

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    "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    Senior Member ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    I dig prototyping on breadboards, too. No chance of UL certification with this one, though!


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    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    Chuck, if it gets wet, you just dry it out over the campfire.

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    "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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    Old Timer Tom Phillips's Avatar
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    So maybe this is all fantasy since the OP never came back with a photo.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Phillips View Post
    So maybe this is all fantasy since the OP never came back with a photo.
    Well "I" wouldn't want to be the guy that pitches a "fairly well known boutique builder's amp" under the bus. I think I'd get over it though Point is, it's alright to be uncomfortable about being the agent of doom for a builder on the world wide web. To put it mildly.

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    "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

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    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    Yeah, I'm sure I don't want pics of MY builds all over the web! Then again, most I've charged was $450. Meh, you get what ya pay for!

    The WWW is not exactly kind to PTP & mixed builds, anyway. Because as clean as a vintage Hiwatt it ain't!

    Justin

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    "Wow it's red! That doesn't look like the standard Marshall red. It's more like hooker lipstick/clown nose/poodle pecker red." - Chuck H. -
    "Of course that means playing **LOUD** , best but useless solution to modern sissy snowflake players." - J.M. Fahey -
    "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    I dig prototyping on breadboards, too. No chance of UL certification with this one, though!

    I *LOVED* the handles

    But now to serious matters: it is considered *cheating* to clean the benchtop as you did, just for pictures.
    Etiquette says you must show it in its natural messy state

    As shown, it's unfair competition to mine and probably a couple around here.

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    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Master Destroyer nosaj's Avatar
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    it looks like striated phenolic board i had some pots that used that with the carbon track laid on it. The guys at antique Radio forum said that's what it was.

    nosaj
    http://antiqueradios.com/forums/view...591&hilit=wood

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    Master Destroyer nosaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    Yeah, I'm sure I don't want pics of MY builds all over the web! Then again, most I've charged was $450. Meh, you get what ya pay for!

    The WWW is not exactly kind to PTP & mixed builds, anyway. Because as clean as a vintage Hiwatt it ain't!

    Justin
    Because there is method to the madness you see in our builds

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J M Fahey View Post
    Etiquette says you must show it in its natural messy state

    As shown, it's unfair competition to mine and probably a couple around here.
    I'd bet a lot of benches look like that in the middle of a project. Especially in the design and circuit testing process. I temper my enthusiasm and tidy up before the actual board stuffing, wiring and assembly though. Otherwise I waste too much time re-checking components that are laying around and trying to find my pointy needle nose pliers that slid under the hookup wire rack, etc. A little mess is inherent to brainstorming, I think. But it becomes very inefficient when you've just got a job to perform.

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    "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

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    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    Old Timer tedmich's Avatar
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    Certified genius Jim William's bench

    also Genius Bob Pease's desk


    (not all messes belong to geniuses)

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    I can't imagine how anyone who would choose to make a circuit board from wood has the savvy to create circuits and amps that anyone would want.
    Yeah me either, but like I said, it's a well known builder and the amp does sound good. He also chose to use carbon comps all the way through a medium/high gain circuit to, which I raised an eyebrow at for noise issues, but /shrug.

    The reason I haven't posted a pic is I don't really want to torpedo someone's rep, and it might be obvious from the pics who's circuit it was. It's a hand wired amp and not hard to tell what's going on even from a photo.

    It is *NOT* plywood. It is a thin piece of some kind of wood, no sh*t like the thin pieces you can buy at any hardware store. No idea how he drove the eyelets through without breaking it. It's pretty flimsy and I can easily bend it by pushing a single finger on it. When I first saw it I thought it was cream colored fiberglass board, then when I realized what it really was I had a "holy f*ck" moment.

    I can't imagine how it would pass safety muster for sale of commercial electronics, but there it is.

    It's at least good to hear most folk's reaction was similar to mine. I'll post a pic if I have time tomorrow.

    Also it was not a 'vintage re-creation'. The circuits are not new but by the time they were in use it was on cheap PCBs, definitely not wood, so the use of that material can't be justified by trying to be vintage correct or some such nonsense. Even amps I've worked on from the 50s didn't use wooden boards lol.

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    The few boutique amps I've looked into have left me shuddering. I'm sure that some boutique amp makers do a good, thoughtful, careful job of construction, and not only educate themselves about safety issues but also fret about doing it right. But there are disastrous examples - I've seen a few of these.

    Formal safety requirements have formed much like coral reefs. When notable disasters happen, the pros look at how and why they happened, and add requirements that, if followed, would prevent that last disaster from happening again. It's an intricate, diverse set of knowledge, and self-proclaimed amplifier wizards generally are either ignorant of the existence of these requirements, or worse yet know something about them and willfully ignore them. I suppose that wiring an amp like they did it back in the 50s and 60s is presumed to be good enough; but it's not. There's been a half-century of experience about what electrocutes people and what starts fires that's accumulated since then.

    A wooden circuit board is an OK idea for quick prototyping in a safe, protected environment. It's a disaster in an amp you sell, for many of the reasons mentioned. Electrocuting yourself or burning your own house down is not a good idea, but it's far better than killing other people a few years later.

    Statistics have a way of catching up with you. There is a rising tide of "boutique" amps, including the instant boutique amps where someone builds their first amp from an amp kit, learning to solder along the way, then puts up a web page to sell their new line of amps, noting lovingly that they are hand assembled one at a time, and referring to themselves in the first person plural. With the increasing numbers, one day someone innocent will get killed by one of these instant boutique wonders and the case will hit the courts. It will be ugly.

    And then there's what the selection of materials and techniques says about the builder. Thin wooden panels used as a substrate for high voltage, high(ish) current electrical equipment that can easily produce arcs and thereby fires, when there are materials that are widely and cheaply available which have the same or better electrical performance and won't support flames even when torched amounts to one of sheer naivete, sad misinformation or willful recklessness. Neither of these are good characteristics to have in a supplier of electrical equipment.

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    Amazing!! Who would ever have guessed that someone who villified the evil rich people would begin happily accepting their millions in speaking fees!

    Oh, wait! That sounds familiar, somehow.

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