Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nautilus - Building a Mutron III Clone

One of my geek hobbies is building guitar effects. It doesn't cost a lot, it's not too difficult, and at the end of the day you have a new gadget to play with. Over the last few days I've put together a clone of the Mutron III envelope filter. This project is based on the newly released Nautilus PCB from Mad Bean Pedals.

The first step in any build is gathering the parts. For the Nautilus build I had almost all the parts required. I only needed  the two Vactrols that are the heart of the effect, a couple switches and an enclosure to house the electronics.

The build itself is pretty straightforward:

Start with the 27 resistors and 3 diodes - all stuff that lies flat on the PCB.
Then the 14 capacitors, the IC sockets, vactrols and the trim pot.
Switches and Pots

Wiring is always sort of a PITA. The Nautilus PCB is designed to use board mount pots, but since I happened to have all three in stock I decided to just wire 'em up and save a couple bucks.

The Nautilus documentation comes with a drilling template so preparing the enclosure is pretty straightforward. It does generate a lot of aluminum shrapnel so it's best done in a box to contain the mess.

Mark the holes with a center punch

Drill pilot holes

Drill the finished holes with a step bit

Foot Switch Wiring

It's Alive!

Finishing the enclosure is a job for the future. I've built 3 other late seventies effects (Distortion+, Mutron Octave Divider, and a Phase 100) and want to finish them in some sort of uniform/complimentary scheme with matching knobs and so forth.  When I come up with something I'll do a post on etching the enclosures.

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