I just finished my first DIY effects box, it’s a patchable dirt filter and lo-fi delay with a 555 timer. I didn’t hardwire the PCB’s together so that I could patch them in any order I like or bypass one section completely if need be. This just means I can go filter > delay or delay > filter by patching the in and outs on the top leaving some creative options open. The 555 timer LFO is used to control the cutoff of the filter, it also works as an Oscillator so it can be patched directly into the input of the other modules. The filter can also self-modulate so this little box can make one hell of a noise when you self-patch it.
This is my first attempt at building anything myself and the end result is pretty successful, much to my own surprise! With a basic set of tools you can assemble these kits fairly quickly and customise the build and appearance to your own desire. I used Synthrotek kits for this box which are great for trying some synth DIY, the assembly instructions are really easy to follow and overall they are well documented. You can also try out some circuit bending and mod them to your hearts content.
There are some great DIY sites out there that will talk you through the tools you’ll need to get started – I recommend you don’t skimp on a Soldering Iron and get something of a decent quality. Initially I bought a cheap soldering pencil which broke before I finished the first part of my first build. Get a decent temperature controlled soldering station, it makes all the difference, especially for noobs like myself.
I’ll document the results of my Synth DIY and circuit bending adventures under the name Blood & Wires, maybe one day I’ll be able to sell some of my creations… check out the B&W page for sound demos and videos.