Chop Shop: Building The BYOC Optical Compressor

ChopshopByoc-Optical-CompressorWow… I had originally planned on writing a whole series of posts on my experience building the BYOC OptiComp Optical Compressor –– but the build had so few parts, and was so easy to put together that I think I can cover it all on one shot.

Total build time for me was about three hours. In comparison, I spent at least five hours soldering together the mighty TriBooster. Oh yeah, and BYOC just dropped the price on this kit by $10… it can now be had for $59, which you will agree is an absolute steal once you’ve heard this thing in action.

Populating The Circuit Board OK, so let’s get down to business. First thing is to print up the full PDF directions from BYOC. You’ll want to keep the Parts Checklist handy, because it describes in detail what each of the components looks like, and if you’re like me you wouldn’t know a resistor from a diode if it bit you on the @$$.

Tiny-ResistorsThis step is particularly easy––there are comparatively few parts to solder to the board, but don’t be in too big of a rush. The first step––installing the resistors––is probably the easiest one to screw up.

I say that because the resistors are absolutely tiny, and you can only tell which one is which by deciphering the miniscule color-coded lines on each component (left) and cross-referencing to the checklist. Take your time… I installed one of them wrong, and discovered that there is little I like less than de-soldering a tiny resistor from a printed circuit board (PCB.)

With the resistors in place, follow your printed instructions from BYOC, and in no time you will have your PCB almost completely populated. It should look something like the photo below right.

Printed-Circuit-BoardInstalling The Hardware OK, so now it’s time to install the jacks, potentiometers, and footswitch. This is pretty basic stuff, and if you follow the diagram in your instructions it should be fairly easy sailing.

The input and output jacks, and the footswitch can all be tightened in pretty good, but I wouldn’t tighten down the pots or the power jack too far yet… you may find that you need to adjust them when it comes time to wire everything up.

Jacks-InstalledWith everything in place you should be staring at an aluminum chassis that looks at least somewhat similar to the photo on the left here.

Wiring Her Up As it turns out, this is the tedious part. You really need to take your time here, and make sure you understand the process BEFORE digging in. De-soldering ain’t not fun, so take a good look at the directions, run it through in your mind, and take a look at the photos to get an idea of how this is done.

Real estate is at a premium inside the OptiComp’s little chassis, and that means things can get pretty tight, and more than a little nerve-wracking when sticking a hot soldering gun in there. Just take your time and give it your best. I think this part took me about an hour.

Full-GloryOK, so here’s the BYOC Optical Compressor in all its full glory, right before you slap on the back plate and fire her up…

Hopefully, between the well-written directions from BYOC, and the photo here, you can pretty much make out how this thing goes together.

As you can see, the wiring gets pretty crazy, and it really is pretty tedious, but it’s also a fun challenge to get things soldered together without burning a hole through that purple insulation or accidentally melting the face of your printed circuit board.

Me, I kept the the tedious part interesting by watching (or more correctly listening to,) re-runs on Comedy Central… but that’s just me.

If all went well you should be able to plug a chord into the input jack, hit the footswitch, and see that lovely little LED light up. If all didn’t go well, the pedal will self-destruct in exactly 45 seconds… tick, tick, tick  😉

 Users Cmiller Library Application-Support Ecto Attachments Byoc-Optical-CompressorPlug It In! So there you have it… screw the backplate on, install the little rubber feet and control knobs, and you’re pretty much ready to rock.

Personally, I absolutely love the sound of this pedal… it’s fairly transparent, but even just a few minutes with this thing will show you why many guitarists absolutely can’t live without their compressors.

It may be a subtle effect, but it really does sweeten-up everything just right. Build Your Own Clone has definitely done it again…

I’ll try to post some sound samples ASAP.

Enjoy The Squeeze!