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VFE Pedals has developed a unique pedal line based on high-pass and low-pass filters + an educational DIY program!
VFE Pedals has developed a unique pedal line based on high-pass and low-pass filters + an educational DIY program!
VFE Pedals has developed a unique pedal line based on high-pass and low-pass filters + an educational DIY program!
92 backers pledged $11,666 to help bring this project to life.

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VFE Pedals new guitar pedal lineup + educational kit

$11,666

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NEXT STRETCH GOAL - $12,500

I will add more knob options if we reach the $12,500 level!

 

 Here's a demo of all 3 prototypes by Mike Hermans!

CUSTOMIZE & PREVIEW YOUR PEDAL AT VFEPEDALS.COM/CUSTOM

I took ALL my experiences from VFE Pedals - product design, customer feedback, building thousands of pedals by hand, troubleshooting problems, managing inventory, playing through the pedals myself, etc. - and used them to create a new pedal format that improves on my previous products in many key areas.

  • Easier to use
  • Top mounted, hand wired jacks
  • Higher quality components (more info below)
  • Greater precision
  • Simpler customization
  • Easier to build
  • Lower price

Standout mid booster

The Standout mid booster is available in two different graphic styles.
The Standout mid booster is available in two different graphic styles.

 

This is the new "flagship" VFE Pedal, and I basically took everything I learned from building the Focus pedal to make a better mid booster. Compared to the Focus, the Standout offers more range, more precision, less noise, and is easier to use. If you haven't experienced what this type of mid booster can do in just about every situation (pre/post, clean/dirty, FX loop, pushing a fuzz pedal, after a resonant phaser, etc.) - you really need to check out the Standout.

  • HPF sets the cutoff frequency of the high pass filter (bass cut). A higher frequency setting results in a more aggressive bass cut.
  • LPF sets the cutoff frequency of the low pass filter (treble cut). A higher frequency setting results in a less treble cut.
  • LEVEL sets the gain of a clean, post-EQ boost circuit. Up to +20dB of clean boost is available through this control.
  • BLEND mixes between the dry and EQ signals. Use this control to adjust the overall intensity of the mid boost.
  • The 6dB / 12dB switch sets the slope of each filter. For example, setting the HPF at 400Hz in the 12dB position, the frequency response would be -12dB @ 400Hz, -24dB @ 200Hz, -36dB @ 100Hz, etc.
  • The "secret" center position of the toggle switch combines a 12dB/octave high pass filter with a 6dB/octave low pass filter.
     

Dragon dynamic overdrive

The Dragon dynamic overdrive is available in two different graphic styles.
The Dragon dynamic overdrive is available in two different graphic styles.

 

Virtually all overdrive pedals use some form of bass cut before distortion, and treble cut after distortion. The bass cut pushes the mids to saturate & drive first, which keeps the bottom end tight & punchy. The treble cut smooths out distortion artifacts (like fizz). The Dragon puts the precise amount of each of these cuts in your hands, and combines them with a dynamic drive engine. This lets you tailor the saturation point to your ear & gear, while preserving dynamic sensitivity - and it can get LOUD!

  • HPF sets the cutoff frequency of the high pass filter (bass cut). A higher frequency setting results in a more aggressive bass cut.
  • LPF sets the cutoff frequency of the low pass filter (treble cut). A higher frequency setting results in a less treble cut.
  • The LEVEL control is passive, and is designed to cut the volume of the massive gain stage to reasonable levels...or you can crank it up and wake your neighbors.
  • GAIN sets the amount of gain in the drive circuitry. More gain = more distortion/saturation = more overall volume.
  • The 6dB / 12dB switch sets the slope of each filter. For example, setting the HPF at 400Hz in the 12dB position, the frequency response would be -12dB @ 400Hz, -24dB @ 200Hz, -36dB @ 100Hz, etc.
  • The "secret" center position of the toggle switch combines a 12dB/octave high pass filter with a 6dB/octave low pass filter.
     

Pinball tilt equalizer

The Pinball tilt equalizer is available in two different graphic styles.
The Pinball tilt equalizer is available in two different graphic styles.

A tilt equalizer blends between a signal path that is bass-heavy (LPF) and another signal path that is treble-heavy (HPF). The Big Muff's tone control is a tilt equalizer, and changes to this EQ circuit accounts for much of the difference in the various versions of the Big Muff. Tilt EQs are often used in mastering applications, as they are great tools for balancing the overall tonal response, both of individual instruments and full mixes. The Pinball is the most flexible analog tilt equalizer in pedal or studio gear format (if you've seen a more flexible one, let me know!).

  • HPF sets the cutoff frequency of the high pass filter (bass cut). A higher frequency setting results in a more aggressive bass cut.
  • LPF sets the cutoff frequency of the low pass filter (treble cut). A higher frequency setting results in a less treble cut.
  • LEVEL sets the gain of a clean, post-EQ, makeup gain circuit. Up to +20dB of makeup gain is available through this control.
  • BLEND mixes between the high pass (HPF) and low pass (LPF) filters. For a brighter tone, turn towards the HPF. For a darker tone, turn towards the LPF.
  • The 6dB / 12dB switch sets the slope of each filter. For example, setting the HPF at 400Hz in the 12dB position, the frequency response would be -12dB @ 400Hz, -24dB @ 200Hz, -36dB @ 100Hz, etc.
  • The "secret" center position of the toggle switch combines a 12dB/octave high pass filter with a 6dB/octave low pass filter.
     


Optional charge pump or 18V power supply

The Standout, Dragon, and Pinball can ONLY be powered by the industry standard, negative-tip, 2.1mm pin, 5.5mm barrel, 9V-18V power supply (not included). The power supply is not included because most of VFE's customers already own a compatible power supply, and I do not want to charge my customers for something they do not need.

Instead, backers have the option to choose between no power supply, charge pump mod, or 18V power supply. You must add $20 to your pledge amount if you want the charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

NO POWER SUPPLY - Simply pledge the minimum amount if you already have a power supply you plan to use with your pedal. Estimated current draw @ 18V is 25ma when off, 50ma when on. The pedals sound best at 18V, but work well with 9V power supplies.

CHARGE PUMP MOD (ADD $20) - Choose this option and add $20 to your pledge to get more headroom with a standard 9V power supply. More headroom = full, tight lows and more overall volume. This option will only work with 9V power supplies.

Optional charge pump daughterboard converts 9V into 20V
Optional charge pump daughterboard converts 9V into 20V

18V POWER SUPPLY (ADD $20) - Choose this option and add $20 to your pledge to get Dunlop ECB-004 18V power supply shipped with the pedal. This power supply has enough current to power several 18V pedals at the same time (daisy chain not included). Warning: not all pedals work at 18V, so please check the manufacturer's specifications before using this power supply with a different pedal. 


Design & Construction

The image above shows the guts of the Standout prototype. For all the gear nerds, here are the components that make up the production model for all three pedals. 

NEW Hammond Enclosure - There are currently two available enclosures with the minimum width (2.38") for top mounted jacks. One is not deep enough for top mounted jacks (1590B), and the other is awkwardly tall (1590BS). I am working with Hammond to create a new enclosure size that is just right for top mounted jacks. This new enclosure size is under development now, and should (fingers crossed) be ready before the end of 2016. This new Hammond enclosure is also available to backers at the $9 and $150 level.

IMPORTANT NOTE - The development time table for Hammond to develop a new enclosure can vary, so ALL dates are estimates based on receiving the new enclosures by the end of 2016. I will keep you posted if there are delays in development of the new enclosure.

Comparison of the new enclosure to Hammond 1590BS (mockup)
Comparison of the new enclosure to Hammond 1590BS (mockup)

Carling switches - Just like my previous pedals, I will be using rugged Carling switches in the new product line. The hand wired momentary footswitch has a solid action with haptic feedback (so you know when you've pressed it), but is much quieter than latching style switches. The low profile toggle switch sits just below the knobs, making it impervious to accidental stomps. It also has a short thread, which means more of the "bat" is accessible - making it easier to use.

All pedals include industrial-grade Carling switches
All pedals include industrial-grade Carling switches

True Bypass AND Buffered Bypass options - All three pedals have an internal switch to select between true bypass and buffered bypass (default = true bypass). The updated switching system uses a non-latching Panasonic relay to turn the effect on/off. When used in true bypass mode, the pedal automatically switches into bypass if power is lost to the pedal. Also included is DualMode option, which sets the footswitch in momentary mode (press & hold = on, release = off) for pulse effects.

Switchcraft 1/4" jacks - The top mounted 1/4" jacks are Switchcraft 111X. These jacks require very low insertion force, and are built to last a lifetime. The enclosed configuration takes up less space, allowing me to mount them on the top edge of the enclosure.

Switchcraft 1/4" enclosed jacks & compact power jack for top mounting
Switchcraft 1/4" enclosed jacks & compact power jack for top mounting

Vimex pots with glass-infused substrate - I was skeptical when Vimex first approached me about their new pots with glass-infused substrate. However, once I got a chance to test the durability of the substrate and silky smooth travel of the pots, I was sold. To increase the life span of the pots, I put dust covers on all single-gang pots and spray all dual-gang pots with Lectricare.

20mm solid metal knobs by Alpha Products - I worked with Alpha Products in California to create custom, solid metal knobs specifically for this new pedal format. The size and weight of these knobs are perfect for dialing in the controls - even with your feet!

Audio resistors by PRP - All of the resistors in the audio pathway (excludes high value drop down or biasing resistors) are made specifically for audio applications by PRP Inc. in Iowa (PR9372 series). This is the type of quality you'd expect from high end studio gear, not a sub-$150 pedal.

WIMA boxed film capacitors - I will use low 5% tolerance boxed film capacitors from WIMA (made in Germany). I have used WIMA film capacitors for many years, and find them to be the best in terms of price vs. performance in the market. The boxed package type is also easier to work with, making each build clean & consistent.

PCB fabrication and assembly by Technotronix - I am a full time teacher now, so I don't have the time to assemble the circuit boards myself. I plan to work with Technotronix in California, as I am committed to supporting US manufacturing. Final assembly and testing will be done in VFE's new shop in Tacoma, WA.


Audio Circuit Design Course

I am excited to lead an audio circuit design course this year at IDEA high school in Tacoma. As part of this course, I will be creating videos and other resources - and making them available to backers at the $19 & $39 levels!


The resources will be developed over the 2016-17 school year, and many of the concepts will be learned through a simple booster DIY kit I've developed for the high school course. This kit will give you hands on experience, and is designed to teach you about the following:

  • Passive components (resistors, capacitors, inductors)
  • Semiconductors (transistors & diodes)
  • Ohm's law & voltage dividers (volume & tone circuits)
  • Soldering basics (includes desoldering)
  • Biasing and voltage basics (clean headroom)
Booster DIY kit comes with all these components
Booster DIY kit comes with all these components
      

A portion of the money pledged at the $1+, $19, $39, $125, $158, and $409 levels will go to support the high school course. These funds will primarily be used to give the students a prototyping budget, so that they can develop a new audio product over the course of the year. The goal is for these student-designed products to be available by spring 2017.


More DIY options!

While I will not have the time to create a full DIY kit (where you do all the assembly) until the summer, I have added a few more DIY options.

Assembled PCB + Custom Pots ($59) - Choose between an assembled Standout, Dragon, or Pinball PCB - full of pre-soldered components. This reward level includes the custom spec Vimex pots, but does not include switches, jacks, wire, or enclosure. ADD $20 to your pledge to get either the charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

This PCB will arrive fully assembled by Technotronix.
This PCB will arrive fully assembled by Technotronix.

Assembled PCB + Full Kit ($89) - Choose between an assembled Standout, Dragon, or Pinball PCB - full of pre-soldered components. This reward level includes the custom spec Vimex pots, switches, jacks, wire, and pre-drilled, bare metal enclosure. All you need is solder & basic soldering tools. ADD $20 to your pledge to get either the charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

Assembled PCB + Full Kit + Educational Kit ($125) - Choose between an assembled Standout, Dragon, or Pinball PCB - full of pre-soldered components. This reward level includes the custom spec Vimex pots, switches, jacks, wire, and pre-drilled, bare metal enclosure. All you need is solder & basic soldering tools. It also includes all the material at the $19 level, plus a simple DIY booster kit designed to teach you the basics of analog audio circuit design. ADD $20 to your pledge to get either the charge pump mod or 18V power supply.


Summary of Reward Levels

Support HS Education - $1 - All money pledged at this reward level (whether you pledge $1 or $1000) will go directly to fund materials to be used in my audio circuit design course at IDEA high school. These funds will be primarily used to fund materials to build prototypes of student-designed audio products. The goal of each student team is to develop one production-ready piece of electronic audio gear (pedal, studio gear, instrument, microphone, speaker, etc.) by spring 2017.

Early access to instructional content - $19 - This reward level will gain you early access to the materials (videos, links, diagrams, worksheets, etc.) I develop in my audio circuit design course. These materials will be released for free in summer 2017, but you can get them as soon as they are created by pledging at this reward level. All money pledged at this reward level (whether you pledge $19 or $1000) will go directly to fund materials to be used in my audio circuit design course at IDEA high school.

Booster DIY educational kit - $39 - This reward level includes all the material at the $19 level, plus a simple DIY booster kit designed to teach you the basics of analog audio circuit design.

Earliest Bird - Pre-Production Run - $109 - Get a custom Standout, Dragon, or Pinball pedal from a pre-production run. Includes your choices of paint color, knobs, and graphic. Preview your custom pedal at vfepedals.com/custom. ADD $20 to your pledge to get either the charge pump mod or 18V power supply. There are two differences between this reward level and the other pedal reward levels.

  • The 1590BS Hammond enclosure will be used, which is about 13% taller than the new enclosure that is under development.
  • This batch will be finished by the end of November, about two months before the other pedal rewards.

Early Bird - Custom Pedal - $119 / $129 - Save an extra $10 in this early bird special! Get a custom Standout ($129), Dragon ($119), or Pinball ($119). Includes your choices of paint color, knobs, and graphic. Preview your custom pedal at vfepedals.com/custom. ADD $20 to your pledge to get either the charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

Custom Pedal - $129 / $139 - Same reward as $119/$129 early bird levels, just without the $10 discount.

Hammond Enclosure - $9 / $150 - Get one of the new, unfinished Hammond enclosures. This reward will be delivered as soon as Hammond finishes development and puts the new enclosure into production. Choose the $9 level if you only want a few (pledge $9 per enclosure), or the $150 level is you want a set of 24 enclosures.

To save you money, shipping for the $150 level will be charged after the enclosures arrive and the exact weight & shipping cost is known. To get a shipping estimate, go to https://postcalc.usps.com - enter the shipping destination (shipping from zip code 98354, if asked), select "Package", and put in a shipping weight of 12 pounds. Again, these specs are estimates, but should give you a ballpark estimate of the shipping cost.


Stretch Goals

$5000 - more graphic options - DONE!
$5000 - more graphic options - DONE!

 

$7500 - more paint color options - DONE!
$7500 - more paint color options - DONE!

 

$10,000 - 6 more paint color options - DONE!
$10,000 - 6 more paint color options - DONE!

 

$12,500 - More knob options!
$12,500 - More knob options!

 

Risks and challenges

Final prototypes have been created and most parts are already in stock. The only question mark is when development of the new Hammond enclosure will be finished. I will send regular updates to inform backers about any potential delays to production.

I have designed dozens of pedals and built thousands of them, so I am very confident that I will be able to deliver all rewards once the new enclosure is ready. Please see the listing for the "earliest bird" option if you do not want to wait for the new enclosure.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1.00

    Support HS education!

    Don't need one of the products below, but still want to support the high school audio circuit design course? Click this option, and every dollar you give will go directly to a student-managed product development budget for this course.

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    New Hammond Enclosure

    Get one of the new Hammond enclosures! This enclosure has a compact footprint, and is perfect for top mounted enclosures. You will also receive the drilling specs I use for my pedals.

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    Early access to instructional content

    You will get early access to all the video and educational content Peter creates for his audio circuit design course. Learn all the basics to start modding, designing, and repairing your own analog effects!

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    Booster DIY educational kit

    You will get a DIY booster kit + early access to all the video and educational content Peter creates for his audio circuit design course. The DIY kit will give you a hands-on tool to learn all the basics to start modding, designing, and repairing your own analog effects!

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    Assembled PCB + Custom Pots

    Choose between an assembled Standout, Dragon, or Pinball PCB - full of pre-soldered components. This reward level includes the custom spec Vimex pots, but does not include switches, jacks, wire, or enclosure.

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    Assembled PCB + Full Kit

    Choose between an assembled Standout, Dragon, or Pinball PCB - full of pre-soldered components. This reward level includes the custom spec Vimex pots, switches, jacks, wire, and pre-drilled, bare metal enclosure. All you need is solder & basic soldering tools.

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    Earliest Bird - Pre-Production Run

    Choose either the Standout, Dragon, or Pinball guitar pedal. The pedal will be built in the taller 1590BS enclosure. See project description for more details. ADD $20 to your pledge for charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

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    Early Bird - Custom Dragon or Pinball

    Choose either the Dragon or Pinball guitar pedal. Your choice of paint color, knobs, and graphics. ADD $20 to your pledge for charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

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    Assembled PCB + Full Kit + Booster Kit

    Choose between an assembled Standout, Dragon, or Pinball PCB - full of pre-soldered components. This reward level includes the custom spec Vimex pots, switches, jacks, wire, and pre-drilled, bare metal enclosure. All you need is solder & basic soldering tools. It also includes all the material at the $19 level, plus a simple DIY booster kit designed to teach you the basics of analog audio circuit design.

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    Early Bird - Custom Standout

    Get a custom Standout mid booster pedal. Your choice of paint color, knobs, and graphics. ADD $20 to your pledge for charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

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    Custom Dragon or Pinball

    Choose either the Dragon or Pinball guitar pedal. Your choice of paint color, knobs, and graphics. ADD $20 to your pledge for charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

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    Custom Standout

    Get a custom Standout mid booster pedal. Your choice of paint color, knobs, and graphics. ADD $20 to your pledge for charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

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    Set of new size Hammond Enclosures

    Get 24 of the new Hammond enclosure. This enclosure size is great for DIY and boutique builders. You will also receive the drilling specs I use for my pedals. Shipping costs will be charged at the time of shipment. See reward summary for more details.

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    Pedal + DIY Educational Kit

    Includes your choice of Standout, Dragon, or Pinball guitar pedal + $39 reward level DIY educational kit + early access to instructional content. ADD $20 to your pledge for charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

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    Pedal + DIY Educational Kit (February)

    Includes your choice of Standout, Dragon, or Pinball guitar pedal + $39 reward level DIY educational kit + early access to instructional content. ADD $20 to your pledge for charge pump mod or 18V power supply.

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    Set of all 3 pedals

    Get a custom Standout, Dragon, AND Pinball. Your choice of paint color, knobs, and graphic for each pedal. ADD $20 to your pledge for each charge pump mod or 18V power supply you want to add.

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    Set of all 3 pedals

    SECOND CHANCE! Get a custom Standout, Dragon, AND Pinball. Your choice of paint color, knobs, and graphic for each pedal. ADD $20 to your pledge for each charge pump mod or 18V power supply you want to add.

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    EVERYTHING - 3 pedals + DIY Kit

    Get a custom Standout, Dragon, AND Pinball. Your choice of paint color, knobs, and graphic for each pedal. INCLUDES charge pump mod or 18V power supply with daisy chain to power all 3 pedals. INCLUDES DIY educational kit + early access to instructional content.

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Funding period

- (31 days)