Allen's Build Log [Completed]

AllenS · 2175

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Offline AllenS

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on: November 06, 2022, 06:16:05 AM
This is my 1st Bottlehead project and see that many post build logs to show progress and also seek advice where needed during the build. This forum and community are great from all I have read and I am happy to become part of it! It was very helpful to follow various techniques people use, so I thought I would take the time to post my fabrication while the transformer bell coating cures!

I have been tinkering with electronics since I was a little one and learned early with my Dad's Heatkit "Look ma, it's a real stereo hi-fi!" that tubes are very hot but building your own stuff is fun and really satisfying. Anyway, here I am decades later still tube rolling and building stuff.

Prep & knowledge. Read lots in the forum here & other places, watched the videos of anyone building or talking about Bottlehead. Focused especially the YT ones where people have no idea what they are doing and have terrible wiring or soldering skills. That's how not to do it. Even with my sparky eng schooling and IT background I learned a few things to apply on the Bottlehead builds. Thanks!

Unpacking and inventory went well and all was accounted for as ordered. I wanted to keep my wood frame and top plate blemish free during the build so I jigged up a foam platform from old computer packing.

Wood. There was a daunting task ahead of me as I know little about wood finishing, staining and final coating. Thankfully my wife has done many wood projects and was there to provide advice & tools but I had to figure this out on my own since alder wood is new to us.

I invested the time between shipping & delivery by testing a few stains and my finishing skills on half-dozen alder switch plates purchased from Lowes. A much cheaper alternative then wasting a nice piece of wood to relegate to the scrap pile with botched staining! After applying the pre-stain conditioner, I tried SamaN water based black and it was much too dark and did not bring out the grain but rather buried it. I settled on Minwax semi-transparent black which gave me the look I was after. Awesome.

Finish coat is Minwax water based polyacrylic satin. This takes time to learn how to apply and takes a lot of patience. It settles the brush strokes very well however is very prone to surface bubbles from poor brush loading technique. Use a cup and not the can edge. Thanks YouTube lady for your help with this product!

After dozens of applications/sanding's on the test bed and a larger piece of low grade pine (unfinished over lit rough sample in pics), I think I have the staining technique down and looking forward to applying to the "production" build. In case someone is wondering why I chose water based finishes, well this time of year it's getting cooler in these parts and I can't do work outside or the garage. This stuff barely smells after application and is well under control with a USB exhaust fan in the window.

Metal. Now this I know about compared to wood! I decided early on that I wanted to stay aluminum industrial like with a black wood finish. My liquid cleaning chemical of choice for this job is rubbing alcohol since it reacts well with aluminum and not as harsh as say acetone to handle.

I polished the tube covers with some heavy cut metal polish and they turned out nicely and a lot shinier then I thought they would for Al.

The backplate was marked up from bubble marks and probably from the cutting mill. Anyway, no big deal, these marks and scuffs were easily removed with a pink scotch brite sponge combo pad and rubbing alcohol. I noticed a nice pattern developing by using a unidirectional rub with the pad. Hummm… That looks clean and even. I broke out some 320 sanding paper, stroked in long front to back over the whole thing. After cleaning off, I used the metal polish and hand rubbed in the same direction. For the top of the plate, very lightly used the pad with alcohol to clean some blemishes but nothing else then repeated the metal polish to remove oxidation. Rince, repeat…. More rubbing with alcohol & clean cloth to remove everything.

The transformer bell is steel. Only so much you can do with bare steel and you gotta do something with bare steel Doc B. says. I cleaned off with Dawn and rubbing alcohol using the scotch brite pad and then used the sandpaper to mimic the top plate vertical finish. Slow, steady and patience… I ended up using a Tremclad clear coating … for some reasons there is no clear satin lacquer within 50Kms around here.

So that's it for this inaugural edition.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2022, 12:11:55 PM by AllenS »



Offline Doc B.

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Reply #1 on: November 06, 2022, 08:15:21 AM
Looking good!

Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President For Life
Bottlehead Corp.


Offline Karl5150

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Reply #2 on: November 06, 2022, 11:15:46 AM
Looks, and sounds like you have a plan for an amp that will look as good as it works. Are you planning on a clear-coat finish on the top plate? Happy building.
Karl

Karl
Downstairs: Planar3>PH-16>Stereomour II>OB Betsy+
Upstairs: RP1>Eros/CD5004>Seductor (2x Monoblocks)>FH3
Office: Modi Uber 2/Sirius>SEX2.1.1>µFonken FF85WK + DC160 subs
BR: FiiO M6>SEX3.0.1>ScanSpeak 10F + TangBand W6 (Mono)/DT770Pro
Garage: X12 streamer>Quicksand>Minimus 77


Offline AllenS

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Reply #3 on: November 06, 2022, 01:57:46 PM
Thanks!

No, I wasn't planning on it. Perhaps for the next build once I understand the grounding and how everything works.



Offline AllenS

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Reply #4 on: November 11, 2022, 08:14:41 AM
I mistakenly used a wrong solder pad for the 220K resistor on page 31. This was a part substitution item with a much smaller physical resistor then depicted in the picture. It was not apparent there was a hidden solder pad under the larger version though I managed to used it. When I installed it and checked twice (maybe three times :-[)  before soldering then only after in final check I noticed the required on the large resistor was extended to the breg solder pads. I soldered mine one short which is on the same line to the berg pad.

Is this a problem that it is in the wrong pad but still does have connectivity to berg from where it is now. I was not able to see further in the instructions if this was an issue for a later connection on the solder point I used.

Thanks.



Online Paul Birkeland

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Reply #5 on: November 11, 2022, 10:04:05 AM
That's not an issue.  The other solder pads are there for a trim pot for the Kaiju and the Paramount before it, but as you said they have continuity to where they need to go.

Paul "PB" Birkeland

Bottlehead Grunt & The Repro Man


Offline AllenS

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Reply #6 on: November 11, 2022, 10:19:31 AM
Thanks Paul.



Offline AllenS

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Reply #7 on: November 15, 2022, 01:13:59 AM
Starlog: 20221115

Things are progressing on the build. Completed the board work and now working on the coarse and fine grain controls.  Everything has been going well so far and since I am not rushing anything, a few hours here and there is very enjoyable!



Offline Karl5150

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Reply #8 on: November 15, 2022, 06:28:36 AM
Nice board work Allen, and cool photo effects. I've assembled 3 of the coarse/fine gain switch sets. They are a bit fiddly but a very satisfying alternative to volume pots.
Continued success,
Karl

Karl
Downstairs: Planar3>PH-16>Stereomour II>OB Betsy+
Upstairs: RP1>Eros/CD5004>Seductor (2x Monoblocks)>FH3
Office: Modi Uber 2/Sirius>SEX2.1.1>µFonken FF85WK + DC160 subs
BR: FiiO M6>SEX3.0.1>ScanSpeak 10F + TangBand W6 (Mono)/DT770Pro
Garage: X12 streamer>Quicksand>Minimus 77


Offline AllenS

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Reply #9 on: November 17, 2022, 01:36:04 AM
Ya, I am finding it is fiddly but going ok so far. Been a little rough on the leads it appears in the close-ups so probably need to be a little more gentle on the Coarse resistors.




Offline AllenS

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Reply #10 on: November 21, 2022, 06:15:26 AM
Starlog: 20221121

Been lot's of progress on the assembly this week bringing the build to board install stages! Also, applied stain to the base which I think doesn't look too bad for my 1st finishing project.  Hopefully I don't mess up the finish sanding… better wait till the weekend to apply the finish coat where I can apply all in one day.  ;D



Offline AllenS

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Reply #11 on: December 06, 2022, 12:11:38 PM
Finished the build a week ago but not had time to close-out the log! Amp sounds good with my HD820's and hopefully get's better still over time. I'll recheck measures in a few weeks.

I was after a kicked around crate rough look with some wear marks in the cable and power switch area. Was a learning experience with stain & finish and turned out the way I was after for my office.  ;D

Looking forward to SEX3.0 build next when it ships!



Online Paul Birkeland

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Reply #12 on: December 06, 2022, 12:23:13 PM
That's a nice, clean build!

Paul "PB" Birkeland

Bottlehead Grunt & The Repro Man


Offline Karl5150

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Reply #13 on: December 06, 2022, 01:22:02 PM
Well done, and thanks for documenting such a tidy assembly. Enjoy.
Karl

Karl
Downstairs: Planar3>PH-16>Stereomour II>OB Betsy+
Upstairs: RP1>Eros/CD5004>Seductor (2x Monoblocks)>FH3
Office: Modi Uber 2/Sirius>SEX2.1.1>µFonken FF85WK + DC160 subs
BR: FiiO M6>SEX3.0.1>ScanSpeak 10F + TangBand W6 (Mono)/DT770Pro
Garage: X12 streamer>Quicksand>Minimus 77


Offline AllenS

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Reply #14 on: December 07, 2022, 01:34:20 AM
Thanks for the comments... Been a really fun experience.