• WARNING: Tube/Valve amplifiers use potentially LETHAL HIGH VOLTAGES.
    Building, troubleshooting and testing of these amplifiers should only be
    performed by someone who is thoroughly familiar with
    the safety precautions around high voltages.

Getting started with my VERY FIRST project


2010-09-16 9:51 am
Hi Guys!

I'm looking to start off my adventures into DIY audio! I have a limited background in electronics, but i have done a college course a few years back, and i have been doing lots of reading on the "Elliott Sound Products" website, which so far seems to have been a really good resource....

So what do i need to put on my list to get started, the few obvious things to me are:

-oscilloscope?? (second hand ebay job?)
-50w soldering station?

I was looking at having a gentle introduction, so maybe having a go at one of the kits on the Analogue Metric website. Would this be a good start or would you advise a different way?

Much appreciated!

ellipr97 :cheers:
Welcome Ellipr!

Your list looks fine.

What are you planning on building? Power amp, pre amp, etc..

You may want to add Morgan Jone's "Valve amplifiers" and "Building Valve Amplifiers" books to your list.

Two DMM's are not excessive when building amps, perhaps at least one true RMS. Also a pair of clip leads for the DMM are handy and safe when checking high volts in amps, and put one hand in your pocket.

Other sites with kits are bottlehead, John Broskie's site John Broskie's Guide to Tube Circuit Analysis & Design, Triode electronics Triode Electronics Home Page and World HQ, etc etc etc.
Hi Ellipr97

An oscilloscope is handy but not essential.

50 watt soldering iron would be handy for taking components out but maybe a bit too hot for ordinary work. A temperature controlled 25 watt is what I like and I have a 15 watt with a fine tip for more light work.

Welcome to the forum, be warned this hobby can get expensively addictive :D


2010-09-16 9:51 am
be warned this hobby can get expensively addictive :D

Ahh it may be expensively addictive, but where is the fun if you go out and buy a £2000 amplifier and it simply works when you take it out of the box!??!! lol

I have set aside around £200 for startup costs then ~£400 to complete my first project which seems realistic when ive been looking around.....or am i way off the mark?
Is there much difference between a DMM that costs £10 and one that costs £100??

I built a kit using a £5 meter from Lidl. In work I used a very nice Fluke ( £150+ ), it was calibrated for test work so was consistent. I mainly use a meter from Farnell ( £15 ), although it's not a true rms ( I think :rolleyes: ) it does the job.

I could have saved £200 at least if I had found this site first :eek:

A lot depends on what you want to build and the standard of HiFi you want to achieve
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-A compelete kit with all components. "Just add solder"
-A PCB and spec/buy my own component
-A breadboard and prototype a few schematics

I'd say, definitely one of the first two, for starters. If you go for option 2, just ask here if you have any doubts and you should be okay; the remaining difference is then the time it will take you to gather all the stuff.

Option 3 I'd keep for a later time frame 'cause then you probably need things like a high voltage lab power supply, variac, signal generator, dummy load, 'scope, ... and a little hands-on experience, too.

Have fun!


2009-02-02 9:41 am
Is there much difference between a DMM that costs £10 and one that costs £100??

Well yes, low cost multimeters usually boast unreasonably high ratings with vastly underdesigned interior, which sometimes results in loud bangs :D Look at category ratings and if in doubt, pick the meter that fits into higher category as tubes are high voltage devices and you don't want any nasty surprises coming up.

Read more here: Testing, testing

If I had 200 GBP to begin with I'd spend majority of it (75%) on a good quality soldering station (I use Weller WSD81, I am told ERSA has some nice stations at lower price points) and extra soldering tips and quality solder (5%) and some at least semi-decent DMM (20%). Then get a cheapo DMM for low voltage stuff (such as measuring bias / cathode current via drop at cathode resistor) and a set of leads with alligator clips at both ends.

I don't think you can get an oscilloscope to fit into your initial budget but you can go long way without one (I do) and get one later if necessary.