Things that make you say Ouch!

If you find any problems on the site, contact me through Audio Asylum mail.
Please don't bother the web master for this site, they are a friend who is "loaning" me this space. Thanks.

Being a home owner, being into tube audio and being fascinated by things that make you say OUCH led to this site.

Ouch, this color scheme may hurt your eyes!

Ouch, my wallet hurts! I'm a "new" home owner. (It was new when I bought it and my wallet still hurts.)

Advice I received for buying a new house (21k, 7/18/00 update) I didn't follow all of the advice I received, but I was glad I got it. I now wish I had followed more of it. Advice from at least a baker's dozen people is accumulated here. Use your own best judgment on this and any other advise you get. It's a long list, so I've done minimal editing. Caution: Some of these suggestions may not be permitted in the city/state in which you live.

This site has a useful loan calculator: HSH's (Free) Loan Calculator

Ouch, that capacitor just blew the ends off my pliers!
Tubes can hurt you dead.
Don't play with them unless you know what you are doing and respect the danger involved.
I believe OSHA says dangerous voltages start at 50V peak. I've seen co-workers shocked by 24V dc.
First example:
A capacitor was shorted out to bleed it down, unsoldered, and removed from the circuit. The short was removed in the unsoldering process, a thing called dielectric adsorption brought that capacitor all the way back up to it's original voltage. Leave bleeder resistors on the capacitors at all times. Use two parallel bleeders if the capacitor voltage is over forty volts. A bias resistor for a CCS or power-on LED in the circuit can sometimes be the second resistor  (neon bulbs don't work for this, the voltage drop is too high). Not every capacitor will come significantly back up in voltage; however, be careful, it ain't worth getting hurt!

This really is a problem. I survived the shock (450V). I said Ouch and I think it adversely affected my grammar. Now for the last 20 years, I put a pair of jumper clips across the capacitor(s) when soldering operations disconnect the capacitor(s) from the bleeders. On some capacitors, I solder a wire or resistor between the + and the - after I take it out of a circuit.

1. Dielectric adsorption also makes electrolytic capacitors sound bad.
2. A 4.7K or 10K 10W resistor attached to clip leads and three layers of heat shrink over all the exposed metal makes a better discharge tool. Don't forget to clip the sharp points off the solder joints before shrinking the heat shrink.
Second example:
I've seen a little 12W 6000V tube power supply put a hole in a friend's thumbnail. He was lucky: first he lived and second it grew back.
Third example:
I've also seen the arc from a 400W high voltage power supply cut a business card into two flaming pieces. The card was taped to a 3 foot wood dowel to hold it in the arc and the full unused fire extinguisher was 3 feet away in easy reach.
Having said all this, have you checked your fire extinguishers lately?
Do your ground fault interrupters work?
Does your significant other and/or helper know CPR? Link to American Heart Association

I'm not your guardian, you are responsible for your own safety if you try anything I'm discussing or linking to in these web pages.

These design ideas come with negative warrantees,
        if you try them, your warrantee is void!

Manufactures may change their designs over time and some manufactures do not change their model number when the make the change. Before you make a change, make sure your version of your equipment matches the version the change was written for.

This means before you attempt a modification, make darn sure the stock version is working correctly first. If the stock version has a problem, there is a chance the manufacture will fix it for you. If you do anything not in the manual and it does not work, it is your challenge to fix it, not mine nor the manufacture's.

For example: If you hear that putting elephant snot on your circuit will make it sound better, it is your problem to make the circuit work with the elephant snot on it. Nobody, not me, nor the manufacture, is required to touch a circuit with elephant snot on it. Once elephant snot touches your circuit, your warrantee is void. This same concept applies for mods that do not involve elephant snot.

By the way:
1. If you are close enough to an elephant to see its nose without binoculars,
        you are too close for safety!
2. The odds are 10:1 that real elephant snot is a controlled substance.

These design ideas are targeted for experienced tube audio builders.
No kidding. Since voltages over 40 V are involved, you can get in serious trouble even working on a volume control. Don't make yourself a candidate for a Darwin award!
Note: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) will not protect you from a shock that is from the secondary of a transformer!

A GFCI senses that the current going out the 115V hot does not equal the current coming back the 115V cold. When you touch the secondary side of the transformer, the GFCI can't tell you from a light bulb (even though you may be glowing like one.) Because of this, the GFCI does not protect you from shocks from the B+ of tubes. Be careful and live a long active life!

Don't be a stinky burnt out light bulb.
Unplug it, discharge it, measure the voltage on it, then work on it. I mean it!

OUCH! Enough pontificating, now for the design ideas:

The Bottlehead Paramour adventure. (Caution: the mods posted here are not supported by anyone):
These notes and mods are for the original Paramour sold in year 2000 ONLY!
I have been informed some of these changes will BREAK the newer model Paramour kits that are currently shipping.
If you modify the wrong vintage Paramour and break it, you are S.O.L. Bottlehead won't fix it nor will I.

Paramour (non C4S) construction notes, links and corrections to manual (175k, 09/22/01 update)
Pictures of Voltsecond's fairly stock Paramour (99k, 01/01/01)
Home made solid state current source used as a plate load for the Paramour's driver tube. (91k, 01/12/00).
Solid State delay circuit for Paramour and other capacitive input B+ supplies (128k, 02/16/01 update).
Plate and load pictures of stock Paramour with DR P (Damped-Resonance Parafeed.) (137k, 4/26/01)
Paramour_Iron_Upgrades_pg1 (866k, 5/25/01)
The other way to Parafeed a Paramour: The Paramour Cathode Mod (116k, 10/14/01)
Bottlehead Foreplay Preamp (the mods posted here are not supported by anyone):
These notes and mods are for the original Foreplay 1 sold in year 2000 ONLY!
I don't have a clue if they will work in the current production Foreplay. If you break it, you fix it.
A Pseudo Dual Mono Power Supply for the Bottlehead Foreplay Preamp (44k, 1/26/02 correction).
Installing grommets on my Foreplay Preamp's power transformer (22k, 01/12/01 update).
A filament snubber for the Bottlehead Foreplay Preamp [6.3 and 12.6V filaments] (56k, 10/4/00 update).
Adjusting the line polarity on a Bottlehead Foreplay Preamp for minimum noise (12k, 7/24/00 update).
Illustration of how to add multiple outputs to the Foreplay Preamp (43k, 1/3/03).

Foreplay to Headphone Amp modifications <VSAC 2003 Headphone amp> (438K, 11/30/03 update).

A few notes to help debug the Anticipation mod to the Foreplay (9k, 8/20/00).
Extra ohm readings to check when debugging a Foreplay Preamp (7, 12-Nov-00)

Sweet Whispers/Stepped Attenuators (the mods posted here are not supported by anyone):
These notes and mods are for the original Sweet Whispers sold in year 2000 ONLY!
The concepts are the same for what is currently shipping, but the current Sweet Whisper's design has changed so the values given on my web pages may also need to change.
+/- 1 dB Trimmer for Sweet Whispers Attenuator (23k, 7/30/00 update).
Fixing the popping noise when adjusting the volume with a Sweet Whispers Attenuator (6k, 8/04/00).
Single Series Single Shunt Stepped Attenuator + other attenuator ideas (with XLS spread sheet) (364k, 1/25/02 minor update)
My own preamp design built on the Foreplay Chassis (the designs posted here are not supported by anyone):
The Chaperone rebuild of the Foreplay Preamp (119k, 9/02/00).
Chaperone Delayed Current Source (level 4 difficulty) (50K, 15-Sep-00)
The Bottlehead discussion group.
 Bottlehead BBS (0k)
Stereo equipment pictures:
A couple Foreplay preamp pictures (124k, 8/25/00)
Chaperone Pictures (230k, 15-Sep-00)
Pictures of Voltsecond's fairly Stock Paramour [duplicate link] (99k, 01/01/01)
Playing with cables (the designs posted here are not supported by anyone):
CAT 5 Speaker Cables (26k, 6/4/01)
CAT 5 RCA interconnects with pictures (98k, 7/9/01)
Making a RCA shorting/ terminating plug (9k, 1-22-02)
The Right and Wrong way to shorten those long cables. (57k, 7/15/02)
Playing with Ed's HornShoppe Horns (the designs posted here are not supported by anyone):
 Unauthorized Horn Shoppe Horn Tricks (100k 11/21/01)
Tube Power Amp Power Supplies (the mods posted here are not supported by anyone):
The crazy center tap transformer connection for tube audio choke input power supplies (37k, 7/21/00 update).
A way to stack unequal capacitor values to get a higher total rated capacitor voltage (45k, 10/05/00)
How the B+ capacitor and transformer interact in a capacitive input PSU (148k, 12/24/00) (Also known as Doom and Gloom for too big of a cap.)
Solid State delay circuit for Paramour and other capacitive input B+ supplies. [128k, duplicate link]
Rectifiers, why B+ is not 1.4 * V_rms and a bit on snubbers (426K, 21 Oct. 02)
DIY Adjustable 115V Line Transformer / 5 step Variac (19k, 5 Aug 07)
Damping and ringing:
Some causes of ringing in CLC filters and power supplies. (161k, 1/06/01)
Damping ringing in audio and power transformers (148k, 09/22/02)
LC tank Q ver 1.2 (304K, 03/18/03)
Playing with a push-pull amplifier.
These notes and mods are for the K-12Ms amp sold in year 2003 and early 2004 ONLY!
I don't have a clue if they will work in the current production amp. If you break it, you fix it.
S5 Electronics Push-Pull Tube Amp Kit (230k, 20-Apr-2003)
Food for thought:
1 milliamp of unwanted current through 1 milliohm gives 1 uV of unwanted noise.
#21 AWG is 1 milliohm an inch. Think about it.
Ideas from the backs of napkins: untested, unmodeled, sometimes not even a calculator was used to check them out.
Why post them? A sketch is worth a thousand words. Any Dr Pepper stains on the napkins were removed with MSPaint. When they are more than a sketch on a napkin and I am pretty sure they work, I'll move them up with the design ideas.

Ouch! No generic sketches on napkins available at this time.
How about a PSpice sketches instead.   Remember, the mods posted here are not supported by anyone:

Speaker/Cable Burn-in Idea (13k, 9/03/00)
Stabilizing bias in a tube amp with a regulator tube in the output's cathode (74k, 12/24/00).

First cut at some Schematic Reading Notes (8k, 1-26-02)

Sketch of a charge pump power supply (32k, 12/30/00)
Catch diode to allow use of a standby switch with inductive input B+ supplies. (7.4k, 01/20/00)

ART DIO mods, a few brief notes (1/2/05 25k [Added CCS layout])

C4S Extended Volts and Amps (216k, 03/31/01)
Should we cascade C4S's in a power supply or use more RC stages to get less power supply ripple? (76k, 10-Sep-01)
CCS for the Compact Amp and other long tail pairs. (303k, 12-Nov-04)
CCS College Curriculum. (23k, 10-Jan-06)

Unity gain Foreplay mods (79k, 04/07/01)
Proposed Anticipation delay mod to reduce turn-on thump (45k, 12/25/00).
Foreplay with a 3 pole low pass (Sallen - Key) (20k, 4/28/01)

Inverse RIAA in a Bud Box (151k, 4/07/03)

Pink Fries: A Pink noise filter for the Hagerman FryKleaner (26k, 7/29/04)

Ouch, Lots of math and mostly theory! My calculator keys are smoking and my brain hurts! Use these design notes at your own risk:
Why we need a 2:1 frequency margin to support a tone burst. (375K, 02/28/04)
Effects of primary inductance on the load line of a SET [A 211 tube is used as the example] (186k, 30-Sep-01)

Choosing a plate load line for a triode. Text ver 1.7 (200k, 7-Sep-03) Spreadsheet V2.11 (24k, 31-Dec-04).

What parts and wires are in the signal path? (8k, 11/16/01 very preliminary - Finishing this page is low on my priority list.)

Push - Pull Load Lines (98k, 31 Dec 04)

Parafeed Excel Calculator including DrP (51K, 1-Feb-07)

Ouch, Cactus Tube Dudes in Arizona talking serious DIY audio type stuff
Apr.    2003, Field Trip #2 to LA
Apr.    2003, Boyd's House, BIG BIG horns (With pictures this time!)
Jan.    2003, Apache Reclamation Field Trip.
Dec.    2002, Dan's House, A homemade Pentode SET
Nov.    2002, Rev Clark's House, Se~ duc~ tion and Turntables.
Sept.   2002, Richard House. (short report.)
July     2002, VoltSecond's house. Short Meeting.
Jan      2002, Rev Clark's House, (with pictures!)
DEC     2001 (Boyd's house, no report.)
Nov     2001 get together (short report)
June    2001 get together
August 2001 get together
May     2001 get together
Ouch, my eyes and arms hurt from spending so much time on the computer!
Useful and Non Useful Links (15k, 7/17/02 update)

Mozilla Web Browser 1.6 (27-Jun-04) This is a FAST browser. I have only tried it as a browser so far, so I can't speak for how its other functions work. It looks a bit like Netscape 4.x. It will let you block pop-ups and set animated .GIFs to only run one time! Mozilla is not 100% bug free, but neither are any of the other browsers out there. I also like the tabbed window function where you can have several web pages open at once. The download manager works nice too. I was able to download two huge files at the same time with out errors and they downloaded FAST. Try it at your own risk. A friend recommended Mozilla to me and when I tried it out, I was glad I did.

Virtual Moon Atlas (6-Sep-03) This is a cool program that lets you navigate the craters of the moon. If you download and install all the moon surveys and the program itself, the program will automatically index images from the lunar surveys to where you clicked on the map of the moon on the screen. Hey, tubes aren't the only thing that glows in the dark that is fun to look at.

Ouch, that resembles me! This is the best junk e-mail chain letter I've ever seen.  (Don't send me any jokes or SPAM! I get too much both real and junk mail as it is.)
 Marbles e-mail story (5K, 7/20/00 update)
Ouch, my project doesn't work. How do I get help!
There are hobbyist forums out on the web where, you sometimes can find help there. But buyer beware. You are getting something for nothing and you may get less than what you pay for. It is helpful if the person helping you shares the same values as you have when it comes to safety and sonics. It is even better if they have higher standards. ;-) What sounds good to "person A" will be different to what sounds good to "person B".

A pattern I have noticed that I both like and worry about at the same time is newbies that have solved a problem pointing to solutions out to other newbies. This takes a load off the more experienced tweakers (good), but there is a definite possibility something "bad" could be overlooked.

A local HAM may be willing to help you fix a circuit. DO NOT under any circumstance, even if baited, say that parts, wires and cables sound different.  If you do, they will at best laugh at you, tell you to get the heck out of their sight and to stop breathing their air. At worst . . . I don't even want to think about it. Most of them will let you get by with saying you "like tube distortion better."

Physics teachers are a recent idea I've had, but I have not tried any out. I know my high school physics teacher would have jumped at the chance to solder on a circuit (for the price of a pizza and a beer.) Not all physics majors can solder worth a hoot, but they usually can spot a miswire. Safety tip: Give them the pizza and beer after they've finished soldering.

Sometimes there is a technical type person at a stereo or TV shop (even automotive sound shops) who may be willing to help or who knows a local audio nut who can help. If they tell you to bug off, just quietly leave and try someplace else.

The medium pt font demo area:
Notes from a friend: Times New Roman is default in Netscape and is compatible with all browsers. Helvetica is default in IE. Arial Fonts turn to Helvetica on Macintoshs. San Serif Fonts read the best on the web, but are easier to read on paper. Veranda is fairly common. Papyrus is not very common. Tahoma and cityblueprint look neat, but aren't easy to read. Trebuchet is easy to read, but looks sterile.  Microsoft distributes Arial, Arial Black, Comic Sans, Courier New, Georgia, Impact, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana and Webdings (<-WebDings to the left).

Navigator does not always display Comic Sans, MS Sans Serif, Wingdings. Navigator likes courier but not courier new.

This page is under construction and realistically, always will be (Ouch).
Please download the page if you want access to it forever (6 Sep 03 last significant update).
Pages by VoltSecond

1. I don't always change the link dates for minor changes.
2. Because a few of you have asked: No, I'm not employed by Bottlehead.
3. I do not do custom work for free nor for hire, but I have been known to chase a muse or two.
4. The mods and ideas posted here are not supported by Bottlehead nor by me.
If it doesn't work, please learn how to fix it, and enjoy the journey.
5. I accept Audio Asylum Email from registered inmates only.
6. Sorry, I can't fix the, .com and .net sites at this time. I'm keeping them parked for the moment so a shady character doesn't do something with them to make me say OUCH (or worse.)

 VoltSecond's Web Site Usage 4th Quarter 2002.

Since mid 2003, my time to play with audio has been cut a factor of 100. Sometimes for days at a time I can't find time to read my audio based email. I don't see this changing any time soon. I'm leaving these pages up for now with the hope I'll be able to get back to them some time in mid 2008.

  (<-- This will bring you back to this page.)