Tag Archives: amplifier

Class AB amplifier test


this was an attempt at designing a simple transformer-less class AB amplifier using two BJT power transistors. i setup the USB fan to protect against thermal runaway and cool off the transistors during operation. it took me looking over several schematics to realize that the the emitters of both the PNP and NPN transistors were tied together. the collector of the PNP (TIP32C) is grounded which is obvious! the synapses just weren’t seeing the PNP symbol as upside down. it’s definitely something i’ll have to work on. i’d like at some point to have a nice 40W amp based on a similar configuration.

solid-state tremolo for tube amps…


i’ve have a CBS-era Fender Bantam Bass in for repair that looks like a bowl of spaghetti inside the chassis. it’s a slew of yellow wire spread from one side to the other that resembles the web of a drunken spider. the amp has been modified to include a tremolo, reverb, and an effects loop that replaces the bass channel in the amp. the tremolo circuit was originally a Weber kit, but someone ripped a couple of the pads off the PCB while trying to modify the mod. i just redesigned a tremolo circuit based upon a simple dual opamp LFO using the Weber’s rectifier as a guide to get voltage from the heater filament supply. i attached the output to an “Intensity” pot and wired it into the cathode of the second half of the initial 12AX7.


this is the layout as i was laying my new designed tremolo into the existing circuit.


this is the part of the original Weber tremolo where the last tech (careful with that soldering iron, Eugene!) attempted to modulate of the negative grid bias. though a sound idea, the circuit itself wound up acting more like a compression effect by changing altering the bias when signal was present. also, a solid-state tremolo like this won’t have much of an overall effect on negative grid biasing due mostly to it’s weak output. rails on the LFO is roughly +5.5V resulting in a good 2.25Vpk (1.5Vrms) signal which is hardly enough to be noticeable. i also tend to avoid using trem circuits that re-bias the output stage simply because it does seem to put undue stress on the tubes and surrounding components. it seems more efficient and makes more sense to me to modulate signals while they’re still small.


cleaner and a little more manageable.


and with a fine custom-made panel, the old Bantam looks and sounds more like a ’65 Super Reverb than ever before. granted, not all steps were taken to black-face the amp, but a few value substitutions were made to achieve more of a black-face tone.

no. 5 re-appropriation…


this is a re-appropriation of a Fender Frontman 15-B. it’s one 8″ speaker in a closed cabinet primarily designed as a really cheap bass amp to be included in starter packs. having gutted the amp a few years ago and replaced it with the contents from the No. 5 tube amp project, i got some time to rework the circuit into something more usable.

the additions include a tone stack, second gain stage, and a stand-by switch. the power amp is now wired as a pentode instead of a triode, and i didn’t feel it necessary to have a switch between the two modes. it still needs a little work to keep it from self-oscillating at high volumes. thanks to those guys who run AX84.com for their P1 project. it definitely helped the way i thought about redesigning the amp.

TDA2040-based amp schematic with EQ…

well here’s the first draft of the simplest medium powered solid state design i could muster. TL082 can easily be substituted with a TL072 which is probably better anyhow (i just have all these TL082s laying around). the power supply i’m using more like 14-15V. both ICs should easily be able to handle up to 20V and that would allow for louder operation, but i think 15V is safe. all the resistors are 1/8W minus R20 which is 1/4W.

LM386-based “Esteli” demo by Alex Wilson

an older video, but one i’ve been wanting to post for some time. this is Alex Wilson of Son Cats playing on one of the several cigar-box amps i’ve constructed. this one, in particular, had one of the best sounds during the more work-with-what-is-available days. i thought the video was a great demo of an application best suited for a small 1/2 watt amp. thanks, Alex.

TDA2040 Instrument Amplifier

the need for small and portable amplifiers has arisen mainly by a desire to come up with some sort of all-purpose busking amplifier. here is the first screen shot of the output from the preamp section. the entire amplifier is powering an Eminence Beta-12LTA off of a mere 6V. don’t ask me how. it took a while to find the right combination of resistors for the TL082 to run stable at such a low voltage. it’s also surprisingly loud being that it’s about 26V away from the recommended supply (±16V). i’ll probably be posting a schematic soon.

The Esteli: an LM386N-based cigar box amp

The Esteli: Cigar Box instrument LM386N-based Amp from abram on Vimeo.

Here’s the latest in general purpose amplifiers made from reused parts. The enclosure is an old cigar box for which i have quite an affection as an enclosure. I really do love the sound of wood in both the recording process and amplifiers. In the video, you can really get an idea of how it treats the sound when i open the top.

As opposed to the LightBox, the Esteli has two knobs. The top is for volume and the bottom a 10k pot in the gain look between pins 1 and 8 on the IC. I’d probably recommend a 50k in this configuration, but it does make the amp really loud which i think is better for the instrument side of things. The gain of the amp then floats around 100-200 depending on where the gain is set. For more information, see the LM386 Datasheet.

LightBox prototype

here’s a small battery-powered guitar amp that i’ve constructed from reused parts. the housing is a busted computer power supply (some of which is in the No. 5) as well. i’ve got several options for this little fellow in mind, but, for now, it’s a tiny amp with a mean distortion. lo-fi enthusiasts should contact me if you’d like one custom built.

LightBox Prototype: a battery-powered guitar amp w/ distortion from abram on Vimeo.

No. 5 speaks.

and what a lovely voice it is. even through a Crate speaker (i’m saving the better speakers for when the testing phase is over). overall, i’d say a success for cheap transformers, Radio Shack parts, and a few pieces taken from a busted computer power supply.

audio notes: it was late, and i was annoying enough playing at midnight. the mic is sitting just above the speaker which was laying face up in a milk crate. i’m currently using a 100k audio pot, and i think it would fair better with a 1M. overall though, the amp is surprisingly quiet at mid volume. i still need to drill out the hole for AC connector, but it will come in due time. for now, it’s making sound and that’s a huge first step for me.