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Thread: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Got an old Cry Baby or Vox wah pedal with no LED? Want to add one? Read on.

    Added bonus - if you want to add a Boss-style power jack to your Vox wah, that's covered starting in post #14.

    I'll put in a big plug here for Small Bear Electronics - a great place to buy everything you need for this (or any) pedal mod.

    Materials

    5mm High-Brightness LED
    #24 AWG Hookup Wire (two colors)
    Resistor, 330 ohm ¼ watt (470 ohm optional)
    1/16” Heat Shrink Tubing
    3/32” Heat Shrink Tubing

    First, you’ll need a hole for the LED. I put LEDs on the left side of the pedal, in front of the output jack, between the switch and the pot. If you’re left-footed, you might want to move it to the right side for better visibility. Either way, make sure you don’t drill into the gusset for the foot-mounting hole.

    Here’s what it will look like when you’re done. Note that this Cry Baby has a 9-volt power jack stock.
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    Last edited by Rich_S; 03-27-2009 at 01:46 PM.
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    Rich Stevens


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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    5mm LEDs fit snugly in an 11/64” hole, but 11/64” drills aren’t that common. 3/16” will do, but the fit will be a little loose.

    Trim back the leads of the LED to about ¼” long and solder two wire pigtails onto them. The cathode (negative) side of the LED is marked by a flat spot on the rim of the LED’s body. I used white for negative and red for positive.

    Before adding the resistor, slip a short piece of 1/16” heatshrink over the red wire. This will be used to insulate the positive LED lead, but don’t shrink it yet. Wait until after the LED is tested. If you don’t put this tubing on now, you won’t be able to slip it over the resistor later. Trust me on that.

    Solder the resistor onto the other end of the red lead. NEVER hook up an LED to power without a dropping resistor. I use a 330-ohm resistor, which gives a very bright light. To save some battery power and reduce brightness, use a 470-ohm resistor.

    Now that the resistor is safely in place, test the LED to make sure you got it wired the right way ‘round. Touch the white wire to the (-) terminal of a 9-volt battery, and touch the free end of the resistor to the (+) pole. The LED should light up. If not, try reversing the battery. If it lights up the second way, you got the leads soldered onto the LED backwards. Unsolder them and put them back the right way.

    Once the LED/resistor assembly is working correctly, it’s time to insulate all the connections. Add a second piece of 1/16” tubing on the white wire, then shrink both pieces over the soldered connections on the LED leads. Slip a piece of 3/32” tubing over the resistor, and shrink it over the solder joint and about ½ of the resistor body. This acts as electrical insulation, and as a strain relief.

    Install the LED in the hole you drilled in the pedal case. If it’s too loose, add a small drop of epoxy or RTV sealant on the back to keep it in place. Don’t completely glue it into the hole – it’ll just make a mess. A little drop where the rim of the LED meets the inside of the pedal enclosure is enough.

    Here, you can see the finished LED assembly, wired, heat-shrunk, installed in the pedal.
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    Last edited by Rich_S; 03-27-2009 at 09:24 AM.
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    Rich Stevens


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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Now, you have to find a source of 9-volt power for the LED. The best place for this is the incoming 9-volt terminal on the power jack. However, this pedal has a board-mounted jack, so the connections are underneath. You could remove the PC board and solder on the bottom, but those board-mounted ¼” jacks are a hassle. Instead, I added my 9-volt wire to the top of the board. There’s a 1K (brown-black-red) resistor connected to the power input jack. When the pedal is powered, check it with a meter – the side closer to the jack should be 9 volts (or a bit more) and the other side should be about 8.5 volts.

    Tin a piece of red wire, then bend a little J-hook in the end. Hook it around the 9-volt lead of the resistor, and tack it in place with a little solder. Run this wire up to the switch.

    This photo shows the board-mounted power jack, and the 1K resistor with the new wire soldered on:
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    Last edited by Rich_S; 03-27-2009 at 10:45 AM.
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    Rich Stevens


    "I am using you; am I amusing you?" - Martha Johnson, What People Do For Fun

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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Next, you need to replace the switch. I used a 3PDT, which gives enough poles to do true bypass AND an LED. The pedal in the photos didn’t use true bypass, so I only used two of the switch's three poles.

    Remove the old switch and replace it with the new 3PDT switch. It has to go in at an angle because of interference from the pot-mounting lug. Re-solder the three existing audio wires as shown, on the left most pole of the switch.

    Refer back up to the photo in post #2 for a close-up of the wiring.

    Then, hook up the LED. Solder the free end of the resistor to one terminal, and the 9-volt wire from the PC board to the other. These should be parallel to the purple and blue audio wires on the other side of the switch.

    Finally, you need a ground connection for the white wire off the LED. The “sleeve” connection of either signal jack is usually a good place, but these are inaccessible because they’re board-mounted. Instead, I attached my ground to the black wire on the pot. (I was already soldering on the pot anyway, since a dirty, worn-out pot was the main reason this pedal was in the shop in the first place.)

    Finished. Test it out, and make sure the wah and the LED are on at the same time. If not, you messed up something when you wired the switch.

    Here's overview of the whole shebang.
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    Last edited by Rich_S; 03-27-2009 at 09:28 AM.
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    "I am using you; am I amusing you?" - Martha Johnson, What People Do For Fun

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    Cheesesteakologist phil_104's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    VAULT!!!! Epic dude, epic!

    You are officially my hero. Your method seems so simple and comprehensive.

    Now my 535Q is going to be perfect! (as long as the inside is the same, which it should for the switch)

    Thanks a bunch man!
    - Gibson CS ES339 - Gibson Les Paul Trad - Gibson J-200 Standard - Fender Hwy1 Strat - Gibson Captain Kirk Douglas SG - Takamine E-series Acoustic - Fender Blues Deluxe - Fender Excelsior -

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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Check back soon - I have more photos of a Vox wah, which applys to older Cry Babies as well.
    Tra-la-laa, lala-la-laa!
    Rich Stevens


    "I am using you; am I amusing you?" - Martha Johnson, What People Do For Fun

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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Quote Originally Posted by phil_104 View Post
    Now my 535Q is going to be perfect! (as long as the inside is the same, which it should for the switch)

    Thanks a bunch man!
    If it's not, post pics and we'll figure it out.

    You're welcome.
    Last edited by Rich_S; 03-27-2009 at 10:43 AM.
    Tra-la-laa, lala-la-laa!
    Rich Stevens


    "I am using you; am I amusing you?" - Martha Johnson, What People Do For Fun

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    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    this is definitly vault material. lemme know when you are done rich

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    Senior Member B P's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Awesome ! Thx Rich, always wanted one on my 847. I'll be checkin back later for sure.

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    Just A Minion ErikH's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Nice, Rich. I'd like to add an option if I may.

    If you find that the switch pops when engaging it, the LED so the ground side for it and a ground wire run to the switch and connect the positive LED side to +9V.

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    Mojo's Minions lex666's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Thanks Rich,

    That was real cool of you to share with us.

    Time to break out the soldering iron again!
    If I know I'm going crazy, I must not be insane.

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    Cheesesteakologist phil_104's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    So Rich, Bass_Bear, who has my pedal at the moment, was kind enough to snap some pics for me. Looks pretty tricky in there.

    If there is anything that can be done, I would much appreciate your advice.
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    - Gibson CS ES339 - Gibson Les Paul Trad - Gibson J-200 Standard - Fender Hwy1 Strat - Gibson Captain Kirk Douglas SG - Takamine E-series Acoustic - Fender Blues Deluxe - Fender Excelsior -

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    Tone Member Bass_Bear's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    I was taking a look through there (I'm the one with Phil's wah at the moment) and it seems pretty tight. Everything is so clean and minimalistic. I don't fancy myself a music gear tech by any means, I've built a few computers and fixed a few xbox's so I know my way around a circuit board decent, but this is out of my ballpark. For the most part I've been wondering due to the fact that so little wiring is used to make the connections, how would I go about connecting the LED's without slopping up the wiring? Or do I just not need to worry about this?

    J
    Don't let the bottom drop...

    Quote Originally Posted by phil_104 View Post
    In extreme cases though, herbs and talking to imaginary friends don't always cut it.
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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Man, what Jim Dunlop won't do to avoid having people with soldering irons assembling their pedals. We will come back to this 535Q thang in a bit; but first, a Vox 847. Old Cry Babies are almost exactly the same.

    First things first – note the power jack on this Vox. The client wanted a normal, Boss-style power jack so he didn’t have to mess around with adapters. Installing the jack is pretty easy, except for hogging out that ½” hole in the aluminum. I use a big “Uni-Bit” step drill to get close, then finish it to fit with a repairman’s reamer, and de-burr it with a hand-held countersink.

    The LED is in the same spot as on the Cry Baby.
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    Last edited by Rich_S; 03-30-2009 at 08:01 AM.
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    Rich Stevens


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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Here’s how the power jack is wired up. The red wire from the battery clip was hard-wired into the quick-connect to the board, so I had to cut it and insert the new power jack in the middle. Note the heat-shrunk splices in the two red wires. The wire from the battery goes on the right side of the jack. The power from the external supply comes in on the center (top) terminal, and is spliced to the remaining bit of red wire going into the board connector. Finally, the DC common connection (grey wire) is made from the left (vertical) terminal on the jack to the “sleeve” connection on the audio output jack.

    Note that the center incoming power connection has an extra wire – this is the supply going off to power the new LED.
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    "I am using you; am I amusing you?" - Martha Johnson, What People Do For Fun

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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Same LED setup as before, except the white negative wire from the LED is running back to the audio output jack’s sleeve (same place as the grey power wire in the step above).

    Note also that this pedal uses true bypass – the audio wiring takes up both the right side and center poles of the switch. The LED switching is on the left.
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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Viola! A simple, old-school Vox pedal with a power jack and LED. Comparing the amount of open space in this pedal to Phil's 535Q makes my head hurt.
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    Last edited by Rich_S; 03-27-2009 at 01:27 PM.
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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    If you haven't seen this, here are the three wahs I worked on this week.



    On the left, my personal, modded-all-to-hell old Cry Baby. No board-mounted jacks in this old thing.

    Center, my Boss' Vox, as featured above. I put in the power jack, LED, and true bypass.

    On the right, my Boss' Cry Baby, also featured above. This one just needed the LED and a new pot.

    He also has a RMC Picture wah. I put in an LED and replaced its busted stomp switch a few weeks ago. Modding pedals might seem like a boring hobby to some folks, but let me tell you... drilling a hole in your boss' $235 wah pedal is plenty exciting.
    Tra-la-laa, lala-la-laa!
    Rich Stevens


    "I am using you; am I amusing you?" - Martha Johnson, What People Do For Fun

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    HomeGrownToneBrewologist Rich_S's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Here's what I would do with the 535Q.

    First, make sure there's room for a 3PDT in place of the existing switch.

    Second, carefully trace the pattern on the little PC board on the back of the switch, and sketch how the four wires in the ribbon cable connect to the six terminals on the switch.

    Next, unsolder the ribbon from the old switch's little PC board. Slice the ribbon apart into four separate wires as needed. Re-solder them onto the new 3PDT switch per the sketch. Test the pedal at this point to make sure it still works.

    Finally, mount the LED as described previously. You might need to find a different location for the LED - that corner of the 535Q looks pretty crowded in the pics. Either remove the boards & stuff before you drill, or be reeealleeey careful you don't run your drill through something vital and complicated.
    Last edited by Rich_S; 03-27-2009 at 01:40 PM.
    Tra-la-laa, lala-la-laa!
    Rich Stevens


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    Kablamminator ratherdashing's Avatar
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    Default Re: By Request: How to Add an LED to Your Wah

    Thanks for this thread Rich!

    I was already planning on putting an LED in my BYOC Wah, but I had planned on putting it on the top, not the side. I like the side-mounted idea.

    Also, I was either going to bezel mount it, or use some epoxy to glue it to the inside of the case. Even with the 11/64" hole, I'd be concerned that a wayward foot at a gig would knock it back into the case. Is this concern unfounded?

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