(Orig Nov/1992, rewrite Nov/2002)
I once had an Ernie Ball Volume Pedal. Actually, I had two of them. One of them was stock, the other I crimped in a capacitor for foot controlled tone and volume of my electric bass and guitar.
When times got tight and I had to eat, I had to sell them, which I truly regret...a lot of good gear had to be sacrificed to eat.
It was made out of a hunk of aluminum, and was awesome. I designed the Volume Pedal in the same vein, as if you can FIND an original, you know someone died or needs food or rent. They lasted forever, quickly and easily replaceable pot, dial cord, springs, the rest was basically bulletproof.
ANYWAYS, this recreation in wood works well. No schematic is given as it's too simple. The main concern is the placement of the pot bracket and/or pivot bracket(s). Depending on the placement, you can get full travel or hair short on either end, whichever you need.
The pot shaft should be of the long type, and made of metal, not plastic! The little screw-set dialcord guide is made of brass, steel, plastic, molded epoxy, Alumilite or even wood, if you are that good. (some have reported using little wooden spools with great success)
DO NOT ATTEMPT to wrap the dial cord around the bare pot shaft, or you will be let down, you NEED that guide on the shaft...wrap it around the pot guide three times, and around the pivot(s) one time to get the proper 'travel' of the pot.
The dial cord I snagged out of a stereo that I was discarding, and this is also where the springs and the pivot guide(s) came from as well. Dial cord is a thick string that does not stretch as much as normal string, and is a bit waxy, adding some beeswax or parafin on it can cause it a better grip on the pot guide. Anything other than true dial cord will not give the proper results, go to a radio repair shop and ask for a yard (meter) of dial cord. You -will- want spare.
The springs on the ends of the dial cord should be strong, to remove any and all slack in the cord, and once tied should be waxed, varnished or even a dab of glue or even fingernail polish on the dial cord knots will keep them from slipping off. You need at -least- one spring to remove slack.
The eyelets started from a bent nail to screen door hook eyelets, to those tiny picture-frame eyelets, I ended up using a screw to hold the spring ends down, as I wore out the rest!
The pivot guide and pot brackets were made from pipe strap at first, but they kept bending too much, so I took metal L brackets and a drill to make brackets. I had to move the pot and pivots several times to get this work right, so until you find the magic sweet spot, don't mount it permanently. I also used some nylon stand-off washers to make sure metal doesn't grind against metal, and a piece of a plastic lid forced over the pivot shaft assured that it would stay there. I used cut-off pot shafts from other projects for the pivot axels, and the pivots that originally came with the dial cord from the radio wore out too quickly, so when I replaced the cord, I also added new guides made from brass rod shorts I had lying around.
The guides were drilled down the center, then ground with a dremel held in a vice while the guide was slowly spun by hand against a metal V bracket to assure it was perfectly round, then buffed to a satin finish. I then drilled and tapped a setscrew hole, and the screw was a machine screw with the head cut off, and slotted with a jeweler's saw.
The 'bumpers' can be anything from pencil erasers to self-stick rubber feet, or a bead of silicone sealer where indicated would also give desired results. I have tried them all on the same pedal, the one that lasted longest was the stick-on feet.
The pedal pivot is really trick, based on the same principle of a watch band clip. Use either copper or steel (pref'd) tubing with steel points that slip into a pair of bearings that I stole out of a skateboard wheel. The bearings are countersunk into the inside of the wooden box, and a coiled steel spring pushes the steel points into the bearings.
BE SURE to drill a smaller diameter hole in the side to push in with a piece of coat hanger to remove the pedal for mods and/or repairs. I used a steel spring to to press out the steel points from the tubing. I ran several months on thin copper tubing, it failed on me by dissolving, and I replaced it with steel tubing and it has worked fine for years...dont forget a dab of grease on the spring and the points to avoid the tubing from dissolving.
The steel points were pieces of threaded rod with the threads ground off, had I known they sold plain steel rod in the diameter I needed, I would have used THAT instead...hindsight bites.
This can also make a -very- good base for a wah pedal, may require shielding with copper tape or shielded wires to a small shielded box with the rest of the circut inside. You can also put in a push button switch on either end with a self-stick rubber foot to switch your effect in and out. The sky is the limit with this pedal!
The pictures are NOT TO SCALE, meaning if you make one based on this idea, the same size as the pic, you will be VERY miffed as it is *O*B*V*I*O*U*S* that on paper it doesn't work! The pics should pretty much tell the whole story rather well, and if you have any questions, you know where ta find me 😉
The design has changed slightly, but still remains functional, the pedal pivot design is now a solid block of aluminum with a hole in the length with the spring and steel points inserted directly, and mounted to the bottom of the pedal, which is a steel plate now.
I learned that this can also be used for an e-drum kit's hi-hat pedal, but it needs a spring return -- Done.
What if you had a piezo type input? No Prob. Can it control the stick hat pad as well? It sure can, Now 😉
The HiHat Pedal II has a mini snap switch with a roller actuator, this is to switch the hat stick pad from open to closed. When you aren't touching the pedal, it is normally closed. When you push the pedal a hair down, it switches to closed hat stick pad, and still gives you some freedom of travel before you give it a bit of a stomp and it hits the piezo trigger to do a foot hat sound.
If you prefer, you may be able to use another snap switch in place of the piezo, check with the manufacturer of your module to see if this is possible, so you don't damage your sound module.
It takes a tiny bit of self adjustment, but it quickly becomes a breeze to adapt to the heel being raised a hair and foot control to get a realistic (believeable) hat sound, which is what you are after in the first place 🙂
The HiHat Pedal runs along the same methods of the volume pedal, with a shorter travel, so be sure to adjust the cord pivot(s) and pot to where you get the best results, as even building a second one will yield tweaking, I have learned. A snap switch can also be added to switch the stick hat pad if your sound module requires it.
Thanx again, Xan, for your contribution!
Xan's website is http://xan.dune.net
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