Dark Satellites ‘Be Still’ Vinyl Pre-Order

Dark Satellites’ Be Still vinyl is available for pre-order on Bandcamp (click “Buy” below) (you can stream the whole thing, too).

Drew has made an incredibly good record. It’s catchier, it’s heavier, and it’s synth-ier than 2012 Are Here.

If it matters to you, I played drums on “Strange Song,” bass on “Just Dropped Out,” and mastered the album. This is the first thing I’ve ever contributed to that’s been pressed to wax!

The vinyl is a cool gray and taupe splatter to match the cover art, and we should receive it in June. $25 shipped to the lower 48. Drew will break even when every record is sold, basically; we will not profit on this. It is the definition of a labor of love.

Falcon Drive Design Complete

This morning I finished the design for a new pedal, the Falcon Drive.  I’ll be taking reservations for a small run of them soon.

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There it is on the breadboard. Doesn’t look like much, maybe, but it’ll do a nice JFET mostly-clean boost (slight compression, fatness, & edge on the pick attack; nice!), an asymmetric MOSFET/LED overdrive, and a scuzzy Schottky diode drive.

The finished enclosures will be laid out like this, with Kingman-style stamping and finishing. The second footswitch, LED, and colored knob are for a second gain/saturation preset.

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True bypass, quiet switching, extremely high (10M) input impedance and low (3.3K) output impedance are featured to preserve treble and drive long cables. The Falcon has a huge range of useable gain; I love it for everything from always-on unity gain buffer to dimed out.

Video coming soon-ish. Before the reservations are closed, for sure, so you can decide if you (or the guitarist in your life) need one!

Upcoming Dark Satellites & Mars Lights Shows

2016 April 9, Saturday – Dark Satellites at Minibar, Kansas City MO, with Fullbloods and Noah Davis.  9 PM, 21+, $5

2016 April 30, Saturday – Mars Lights at The All Star Rock Bar, Kansas City MO, with Small Waves and The Oldfield Victory.  9 PM show.

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2016 May 9, Monday – Mars Lights at The Riot Room, Kansas City MO, with MUST BE THE HOLY GHOST, Redder Moon, and Via Luna. We play at 8:30 sharp! 7 PM doors, 21+, $8

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2016 July 16, Saturday – Mars Lights at Records With Merritt, Kansas City MO, with Red Cities and Bogusman

Mars Lights & Dark Satellites Shows

2016 February 26, Friday – Mars Lights at the Replay Lounge, Lawrence KS, with Red Cities and Hyperbor.  6 PM, all ages, ?$

2016 March 4, Friday – Dark Satellites at Frank’s North Star Tavern, Lawrence KS, with Braingea and Ask An Adult. ? PM, ? ages, ?$

2016 April 30, Saturday – Mars Lights at The All Star Rock Bar, Kansas City MO, with TBA

Booking: marslightsnoise (at) gmail (dot) com

Kingmen #0001 and #0002 Finished

Over the past two weekends I’ve made progress on my first run of six Kingman pedals, and have finished the first two.  I know #0002, the one I’m keeping, will go into immediate use as Mars Lights continues to record our double LP.

Last weekend was given over to figuring out how to finish the enclosures.  I tried various combinations of paint, stamping, Sharpie, dry sanding, wet sanding, and clear coating.

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Finished enclosures #0001-0006, left to right

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Simple as the Kingman circuit is, there’s no circuit board; just parts mounted to the enclosure, point-to-point wiring, and two capacitors.

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Dry-fitting jacks, switch, LED, and potentiometers

Yesterday I started wiring.  It’s not the prettiest but the connections are solid and it gets the job done.  No one can hear my wiring!

 

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#0002 with its LED working

The first one took two and a half hours, but it worked on the first try.  I consider that a win.

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#0002 alive and kicking!

After getting #0002 running (I numbered based on the enclosures.  Wanted to do something special with #0001 and thought it would benefit from me making and correcting any wiring mistakes on my own) I wired #0001 up today.  #0001 is the only enclosure I painted and will be the only one with black knobs.  Future Kingmen will look more like #0002 with the clear knobs, but without the purple smears.  I learned how to fix that, but thought that since purple is a royal color I would leave mine with the weird blurs.

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Brothers #0001 (left) and #0002

Like I said, not the prettiest at all.  Neither were a lot of great-sounding vintage pedals!  I appreciate today’s beautiful PCB and wiring jobs as much as the next guitar player, but they’re not necessary for a circuit to do its job.

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Gut shot of #0002

What have I learned?

  • How to finish enclosures in a unique way.  None of these first six are exactly how I plan to do them in the future; I learned how to avoid the smearing you see on #0002 (and to a lesser extent on subsequent ones) as I did the very last step.  Future boxes will look similar to #0006 but even cleaner around the stamps.
  • Stuffing PCBs is a very small part of making a pedal!  Honestly if the Kingman had a PCB with 20 components, it would only add maybe an hour or less to the 3 1/2 – 4 hours of labor I put into each of these pedals.  I imagine I’ll get faster over time, but there are limits.
  • Stamping is tricky.  Got to hit the stamp (not one’s fingers) square, hard, and on the intersection of any lines (such as where the three lines of a “K” meet).
  • I’m proud of fitting the input and output jacks on the same side of a mini enclosure, saving players’ pedal board space
  • I’m not done with this run – four more wiring jobs to do – but I’d do it again, and plan to.

Howwwlllllorrible Lyrics

While Drew’s over this afternoon, checking out my work mastering his new Dark Satellites record “Be Still,” please enjoy the track below.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar enough with late-period J.V. All*stars to appreciate this jokey butt-rock take on “Straighten Your Hair” (go listen!) but it is. spot. on. and just gets better as it goes on. It even includes a grunty metal “Ooohhhh!”