Soldering 101 for the Guy From Marketing

Soldering 101 for the Guy From Marketing

So, I'm the guy from Marketing. I've never heard of a film capacitor (is it anything like a flux capacitor?) and to me "resistance" is the thing that keeps shoppers from clicking "Add to Cart".

But Ben was kind enough to offer a course in soldering that even I could understand. After going over the basics, he bravely handed me the keys to a 800°F instrument of death soldering iron. And I was off!

Ok, so I'm not as technically inept as I led you to believe. I'm actually an engineer of sorts – audio engineer to be exact. And I wasn't learning to solder for my health. I wanted to build a new piece of gear for my home studio – the Seventh Circle Audio B16 VCA Compressor, to be exact.

SCA B16 VCA Compressor Kit

Ain't she pretty?

While I dig this piece, I actually think it can be improved ... which is why it's a great project for the Hacklab. We're going to modify the design to include a sub-board that runs an LED gain reduction meter on the front panel. We'll be using this design note from THAT, maker of the VCA chip. Stay tuned for more on this project.

Thankfully soldering isn't rocket science, and I'm picking it up pretty quickly. Ben showed me what a good solder joint looks like, and mine are getting better with each component. The keys for me so far are 1) converging the iron tip and the solder as close to the board as possible, and 2) using just enough solder.

Building my own audio gear will save tons of money in my studio. Plus, there's the satisfaction of recording and mixing on gear that I built. You too can SAVE MONEY and BE HAPPIER with soldering lessons from the SupplyFrame Hacklab! Sorry, marketing reflexes.

Here are some pics of my progress:

Getting started at our humble workstation

Getting started at our humble workstation

Going 3D

Going 3D

OK so they're not exactly "straight".

OK so they're not exactly "straight".

Always room for improvement ......

I'll be back with an update on the B16 mod in the weeks to come.

  1. I was just curious to see how adding LED's for a gain reduction meter went? I'm looking at getting the B16, or a pair, but would really like to have a gain reduction meter especially for when I use my rack for live sound and can't rely on my ears alone in noisy rooms. Any insight is much appreciated.

    Thanks!,
    Matt

    Reply

    • Hey Matt, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, I never got around to doing the LED hack. I do mostly mixing, so I'm able to dial in the compression values by listening and watching the meters in Pro Tools. I think for a live rig you'd probably be better off with a couple of dbx 160A or a 166A (which I have and like okay).

      If you happen to do the LED mod on the B16, please hit us back and we'll post up your adventure!

      Adam.

      Reply

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