Top Secret Guitar Pedal Project

For 5 years, my mate and, for many years, a bandmate, Wayne and I have been working on a top secret pedal idea. Partly we're keeping it top secret because we think it's very cool, partly we're not entirely sure it doesn't breach a patent. When Wayne first suggested the idea, referencing a pedal from the 80s that's not only discontinued, it'a made utterly of unobtainium. It's like some bitter patent troll who hates guitarists, has locked up every single one of those pedals. None even exist on the second hand market.

From what Wayne tells me, I'm not sure it could be a patent issue because, from my audio production experience, our idea is a sidechain triggered noise gate, and I'm pretty sure THAT has so much prior art, in so many variations, it'd probably be impossible to patent. I'm not saying much more about the pedal, or how it works, but we're not far off prototyping a pair of test units. I'm pretty excited.

I've built a few fuzz boxes and overdrives from kits in my time. This is the first time I've had to solve what the output signal requires, in the way of inputs and processes, to create the desired effect. It's also the first time I've designed the electronics and housing from scratch since my 1990s bass amp. Wayne has been like the project manager, and that's been a huge help at keeping me inpired and creating.

Naively, when Wayne first raised the idea with me, telling me of the eradicated-from-history squash box, I thought all I needed was an arduino, a C++ synth library, a trigger and the guitar input. Very naive! Ironically, I'm back at a kind of analog skeleton of the original idea, which initially grew and failed, grew some more and failed, then shrunk onto SeeedStudios Xiao board... Yep, only to fail.

So, why the confidence, this time? A simulation! I've been able to virtually breadboard the analog stages to create a pedal that uses an external pedal for the part that keeps defeating my previous microcontroller-based attempts. And this may make this pedal actually not a patent breach. It's just a sidechain gate. How we use it, is exactly what sidechain gates are used for. What's our sidchain? I'm not saying right now. What's our output chain for? Nup, you don't get it it that easily. No details. Not until, well, IF we launch. IF. I'll let you know some more when the circuit boards arrive and I get a test unit built. Patience young Paduan. Patience.

Credits: PCB artwork was done in Fritzing. Parts have been sourced from Jaycar and PedalParts Australia.


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