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Old 28th October 2005, 06:14 PM   #11
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I have many times gone back and forth wanting to DIY a GC myself and the ones offered on chipamp.com are so inviting, but being someone who has no idea which end of the soldering gun you should hold on to, makes this dream rather monumental to achieve. Honestly, it would really be great if there is a GC kit suitable for DUMMIES like me.

Today, I plucked up my courage and told myself, I gotta get off my butt and do it, so I plonked on to the local electronics shop to find a simple amp kit for starters and to learn how to solder b4 venturing to the GC kits available on chipamps.com. Guess what the local storekeeper said? You are not going to be able to DIY without ZERO knowledge in electronics. So, should I give up my dream of owning a DIY GC?

If there's a DUMMY LM3875 or LM 3886 kit, you bet your last dollar, I'll be in the line if not the first.

Any suggestions where I can find one? For those who have completed their kits from Chipamp.com, can you offer the degree of difficulty that you have encountered building the amp? Feedback from equally INCOMPETENT DIYERs like myself would be most appreciated. I am not willing to give up just yet. I still want my Gainclone.
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Old 28th October 2005, 06:17 PM   #12
indoubt is offline indoubt  Netherlands
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Got an MBA too, so what, I was an Engineer first (and second too)

DIY (or DOM, doing it myself) is sometimes not even that much cheaper than buying commercial but how am I supposed to switch of at night? (well, that is except for the evenings DIT with the Ms.)


Edit: Of course it is helpfull to the total beginners if a good step by step guide is available. Look for kits who have that.
Reading the post above. I don't think that is true, except for wiring main voltages. Even main voltages are not difficult but they are dangerous when done wrong. For the low voltage parts you can blow a few and not loose a hole lot of many. Do wear safety glasses though.

Safetyman: I think you will find the basic LM3875 from chipamps.com quite do-able. There are only very few issues in the guide that are not adressed. I did a couple of those and blew up the first one because I wanted it so bad that I worked on it until 4 o'clock at night. Take your time and I think it work out nicely. If you have a friend that can check your main voltage wiring that would be even better.
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Old 28th October 2005, 06:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by safetyman
I still want my Gainclone.
Why don't you ask for an assembled version?

For additonal small fee any of my kits can be delivered assembled and tested, all needed is connecting a transformer.

If there is more demand for such (assembled) kits I can put the info on my website and call it "GC kit suitable for DUMMIES"

Seriously though, any arrangement can be discussed, and the advice is always given. In some cases, where a person has problems with getting the kit working properly, I even offer to send it back to me for a "repair".
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Old 28th October 2005, 06:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Daniel


Why don't you ask for an assembled version?

For additonal small fee any of my kits can be delivered assembled and tested, all needed is connecting a transformer.

If there is more demand for such (assembled) kits I can put the info on my website and call it "GC kit suitable for DUMMIES"

Seriously though, any arrangement can be discussed, and the advice is always given. In some cases, where a person has problems with getting the kit working properly, I even offer to send it back to me for a "repair".
Peter, thanks for an ultra fast respond. I noticed on your site, I can get it assembled, but part of wanting the GC, I wanted to be able to DIY it myself, so that I may then go onto tweaking or experimenting with it.

Please do not get the DUMMIES like me wrong, we are not trying to be picky or annoying, but for myself, I love all this stuff and especially music and the greatest joy would be able to put one together myself and having it sound good.

Peter, you'll definitely be hearing from me in the not too far future, as I am having the next week off and I have asked a friend to take me thru the first step of soldering. I hope that after a week of soldering a PCB, and learning about diodes, resistors and capacitors, I may be armed with little knowledge to have a go at one of your GC.

All this effort for the love of music and DIY.
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Old 28th October 2005, 06:58 PM   #15
hongrn is offline hongrn  United States
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Safetyman,

I am a former trauma nurse who can resuscitate dead people. I can handle a syringe and stick you blindfolded, but I know nothing about electronics. I started out doing a cheap Velleman 10 watt kit first. If you look at their kits, the instructions are just awsome. The diagrams are clearly illustrated, the transformer is always specified, and once you solder the whole thing together, everything works without hum or buzz. I'm not comparing a million dollar company to kit makers, but a 5 page manual is not that complicated to produce. Don't feel alone, man. I've done 2 sets of speakers and 2 amps, not knowing what a capacitor does a year ago. I'm kind of glad I'm not the only one around here. I think kit makers such as Brian, Peter, Russ, and Jan will open the doors to more of us enjoying this hobby if they make it intuitive for us. Just look at a Velleman instruction manual for kit K8060 for instance.

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Old 28th October 2005, 07:05 PM   #16
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I have some first hand experience here.

Kits take a lot of time. No matter the documentation people who are building kits will call to ask about which parts sound the best and lot's of "what if" scenarios. You also have to continually update instructions as suppliers change and the product changes (always happens over time).

If you don't build margin into the product to cover your time you end up working for a couple dollars an hour. It's very difficult to make a living doing it simply because there are so many people willing to design and give away PCBs and plans. The net result is that the majority of companies who try to do the kit thing eventually get out of it. Most migrate to selling a finished product. Let's do a quick analysis.

Amplifier: LM4780 Based: Cost of parts for a complete 2-channel kit in low volume (less than 50 units):

Parts Cost for amplifier minus chassis: $50
Parts Cost for Chassis: Anywhere from $50-$200

What could you sell a kit for? I'm guessing the market wouldn't support more than $250-$300 for a complete 2-channel kit. Why... because you can go out and buy boards and parts from a half dozen places and piece it together cheaper.

If you go with a best-case situation and your total cost is only $100 for parts. You then have to calculate how many hours you have in development, purchasing, packing, shipping and sorting and the cost of capital. Calculate the time to do some good instructions and add some time to update them. Calculate how much time you have in customer support. Now... if the kit only cost you $100 in parts and you sell them for $300 (best case, more than likely the $250 price point would be better). Let's say you sell 200 a year (wildly optimistic number, I'd say one a week is a more realistic goal). In the best case you are talking a $40,000/year profit. Of course that doesn't cover any of your overhead. If you take credit cards it's 3-4%, PayPal 4%. You have to calculate the cost of an accountant, cost of capital, setting up a business, packing materials and a place to assemble ship all these kits. Let's just say $5,000 in other cost just to be conservative, I guarantee it will be much higher.

So... our best case is $35,000 of profit. Our worst case? You loose money. From my experience in the market you would be lucky to sell one complete kit a week. That would be at $250 each. From my experience your cost would actually be higher than the $100 I quoted earlier. So a more realistic figure would be $6500 a year in profit.

I have a finished LM4780 based amplifier sitting on the shelf that was aborted because once I did the above math it didn't make sense to bring it to market.
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Old 28th October 2005, 07:16 PM   #17
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For me DIY means a challenge. No challenge no fun. All I can suggest is that maybe some kits are not for everybody?? Don't know how to solder?? Well you better learn. And it's not the responsibility of the person selling the kit. The few selling kits can't hold everybody's hand in the assembly and wiring process. I think Peter sells one completely done, for how much $$$$. Some of you should just buy it and not DIY. Ok done flaming. I really can see where some of you are coming from, but I don't think DIY is for everybody. Example: I just did a head and cam package on my buds 99 Vette. I'm NOT a mechanic just very mechanically inclined. For me it was DIY. Was it easy?? Was a pain in my A$$ at times. But let me tell ya when it's done what a great feeling. And saved about $3000.
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Old 28th October 2005, 07:47 PM   #18
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I'm with you, Bender.

As a kid I built some Heathkits and did some messing about with tube amps built from a schematic.

Twenty some years ago, I bought a Hafler DH500 kit thinking it would be something fun along the lines of the Heathkit stuff. Imagine my disappointment when I opened teh box and found all I had to do was mount a few parts to the chassis and make the power, input and output connections. less than an hour and my fun was over.

That said, it is too bad that the market will not support a company like Heathkit for people looking to get into this hobby. A teenager with no experience could follow the step by step directions Heathkit provided and end up with a working receiver.

Unfortunately there isn't a lot most people are willing to do themselves these days if they can throw a couple of bucks at it instead. If a microwave meal is almost as good as what you could make yourself, why bother? Most people look at me funny when they learn that I like to build my audio equipment - and can't comprehend my answer to their, "Why not just buy B&$#?" Even when listening to my system.
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Old 28th October 2005, 08:10 PM   #19
hongrn is offline hongrn  United States
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Quote:
Unfortunately there isn't a lot most people are willing to do themselves these days if they can throw a couple of bucks at it instead
I think you miss the point Bob. Most DIYers get into this hobby because they want to do it themselves. I've been doing speakers for over a year now. I don't buy ready made boxes. I learned to rout MDF, apply real veneer, and do the xo from scratch. I don't even do other people's projects because I learn faster by making my own mistakes. An amp is a different ball game. A lot of people who have been doing speakers for a long time often have not even done an amp. Amps are much more unforgiving, therefore, dummies like us need better instructions when doing our first kit. Hey, if you have an untapped audience out there, why not go after them by advertising the fact that your kits are easy to assemble, and good results guaranteed the first time around?? Think of the guy who came up with the "For Dummies" series books. He's rolling in cash right now.
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Old 28th October 2005, 08:22 PM   #20
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Well, as an engineer with electronic design experience, including occasional audio amplifiers (although low power voice communications, not hi-fi), I still think number 3 from the original poster's list would be helpful.

I look at a lot of kits (or a lot of circuits, in general) and I always ask myself "what about the power supply?".

I could design a power supply to give me the right rails and enough current without a problem, but it has been useful browsing this site to find out what people have used. Brand names, minimum ratings, where to buy from, and so on. I'm familiar with Hammond, but companies like Avel and Plitron I've never heard of in my day to day job - it's mainly on here. I know how to rectify the transformer output, how to get rid of ripple, how to protect against voltage sag and spikes, but to be honest, linear supplies are not that common any more, and I rarely work with them.

Really, the only two reasons I look at kits instead of just finding a schematic and doing it myself is someone else has done the board layout, and someone else has chosen parts. There are a lot of opinions about what components to use and what to avoid for audio circuits, and that comes from experience I don't have.

It would be very useful to me, as someone with enough electronics knowledge and experience, but just lacks specific DIY audio experience, if the people posting kits through a paragraph in the description that says "I verified this with this transformer and this much capacitance with this type of rectifier".
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