Categories of DIY'ers


I'm puzzled of the DIY "distribution" in what is appealing.

My personal reason (now when I was younger, in the 70's) was to be able to build something with higher performance than the normal stuff had at the time to a reasonable cost. I didn't mind some complexity.

Now (when I'm more experienced) I want to design if I can and build as good as possible but with some sense, good engineering. I find it also the design process important, in fact VERY important, to do something of your own.

I have noticed that my monster overkill phono project is rather unattractive for most DIY'ers, but I have no intention to make "simple" products in order to sell more. My brand is high performance but can I design a high performing and simple circuit I will do that.

I respect all people who want projects which are easy to build and also those who want to sell (and earn money I suppose) pcb's. I do my thing beacuse it's fun. I'll never get rich (let's face it) so therefore I can afford to be "stubborn" and not to release popular and simple(easy) projects. (Please be kind to me Mr The One and Only. Simple can be good ) :bawling:

My design goal is always (nowadays) to make my project easy to build with no trimming and/or matching if possible. If it from work with series production, if 1000 people build myuu amp, everyone should succeed if they follow my component suggestions.

OK, enough of promotion.


What things are for YOU important when you deside to build a DIY project. Let's here it.
there's a certain thrill when you plug it in and it really works. Further, you don't have to compromise on quality the way an OEM does.

When I was a Technician Class ham, nothing better than building a transmitter and getting your first contact on it. When I graduated to General I purchased a transceiver and ham radio wasn't the same fun anymore.

things I don't do anymore: anything having to do with a ladder, plumbing, anything which has to do with the "mains box".

things which I now do: roll my own test equipment, build speakers, build amps, program PIC Micros, program VBasic...and I burn my own PCBoards!


Paid Member
2001-02-25 7:10 pm
Northern Iliinois
OK, I'll come clean ....

When I was younger, maxmium measured performance came first. I didn't think my ears were trustworthy enough and I had extreme confidence that the laws of physics as I understood them would not permit failure - "the spec is all". :joker: Elegant design meant compensating for problematic parameters, so lots of cascodes, feedback loops, feedforward, etc. It was good experience to teach me about stability (you know, the trial by fire thing). As far as using lots of parts, more parts (properly applied of course) meant I knew what I was doing.

My motivation to build my own was two fold; I couldn't afford to buy and I enjoyed the feeling of satisfaction obtained from doing it myself.

Now, I listen first and foremost. If if pleases me, I don't measure it to death anymore. I don't dismiss circuits that have > 0.1% THD anymore as "bad designs", but I do still frown on crazy things like capacitive coupling to loudspeakers. I still like and use op amps, but I've built and listen to discrete designs whose sound pleases me more. I've learned my lesson that attention to details is what separates wheat from the chaff more than topology, designer parts, etc. Elegant design means getting maximum performance with fewest parts properly applied that work synergistically, implying decisions with a lot more understanding, engineering judgement and experience behind them. I really appreciate Nelson's story about spending 20 years understanding and finally figuring out how to properly apply X/SUSY, for example. :scratch: Reliability is more important now too, because I don't have time to do much in the way of repairs anymore (see below).

Over the last five years, I've had to figure out how to build the performance I want very cheaply in almost zero time, because I got married and I still haven't finished training her yet (maybe I got that backwards) :female: :male: . I wish I had the time and equipment to do the caliber of work I've seen from some of you folks. Very inspirational!


2002-01-07 6:02 pm
Re: What I design for.

HarryHaller said:
5.Don't use a couple of hundred parts if a couple of dozen will work.
I'm with Harry.
I'd rather listen to an amp that was full of <shudder> <i>sand</i> than something with a 300B in it. They're so, well, <i>plebian</i>. D<i>aaah</i>links.

There are so many DIY designs and topologies out there that manufacturers can't use due to all sorts of limitations like parts availability, cost, legal liability or perceived market acceptance, but which are capable of much increased performance over what's available commercially.

Driving entropy uphill.

For me, the greatest satisfaction comes from looking around around my rubble-strewn shed (aka the junkbox) and then looking at something that I actually built from that stuff; stuff that would otherwise have become landfill. Often I have made something that cost zero, or at most maybe a couple of dollars. This way I can afford to be as over the top as I want. For example I have an up and coming 50 WRMS per channel class A amp (that I had not mentioned previously) that for filter caps uses a string of 100 x 2200uF 35v caps just because I had them. Also it uses an 85mH inductor in each source leg and these weigh 14kg each :) Cost was zero although I did have to keep them for 10 1/2 years to find a use. When I turn it on soon, satisfaction will radiate out of it and fill the room, and me a the same time. I will be in moderate-fi heaven :angel:

To expand the discussion beyond DIY, in general I appreciate designs that are clever and bold (some would say demented - grin.)

I like designs that show that the designer has a clear idea of what he wants to accomplish, isn't afraid to do things in a novel way, and implements an internal logic that is clear, cohesive and consistent throughout.

As individual criteria, simplicity or complexity per se feel rather meaningless. Rather, I prefer to consider these in relation to the aspirations of the overall design.

regards, jonathan carr

Nelson Pass

The one and only
Paid Member
2001-03-29 12:38 am
I'm with jcarr, but I appreciate simplicity more, particularly
when you have to service the legions of people who will
want to build them.

Also, I haven't seen "Bragging Rights" as a criterion, but I
know for a fact that this is high on the list of the average

Nelson: I think that you are extremely brave in releasing your designs to the general public in the face of the inevitable servicing and handholding issues.

More power and more respect to you. Undoubtedly you are performing a wonderful service for the audiophile community, and are helping to create the next generation of audio designers.

But frankly, I would be scared to attempt what you have done. In my case, I would estimate that were I to publish some of my "cuter" designs, I would get a request for intensive handholding from, oh, over 90% of the DIYers that wanted to build them, based on what I can see of the abilities of DIY builders here in Japan.

When it comes to combining simplicity and stellar performance in a single design, I think that it has a great deal to do with your design and building experience.

For example, I've been doing phono cartridge designs for about 20 years. For the first 10 years, there were many new ideas that I wanted to try out, and much trial and error, and so at first my designs gradually increased in complexity. But over the past 10 years, I think that I have gotten a pretty good idea of what is going on in a phono cartridge, what the issues most likely to affect performance are, and how to deal with them. As a result, my later cartridge designs have decreased in complexity, while managing to handily outperform their more complex predecessors.

But when it comes to circuits, my designs are still increasing in complexity. I think that it will take a minimum of 10 more years in designing and producing circuits before I will be able to create amplifier designs that are simple as well as being innovative and accomplished.

regards, jonathan carr
my preferences?

- to avoid consume the cheap and worthless plastic plunder but put my (little) money in something i trust in.

(a good product in the passlabs class i can´t afford.... most of you will understand)

- to learn and understand by building something. My relation to a thing, whatever it may be, is better the more i understand it.

- to use it.
In this DIY audio case, to listen to music, best at night without light, not to silent, not to loud, best with open door, even if neighbors think i´m mad.