Toby's Build Log

Greetings! Welcome to my build log. I’m currently in my first year of university studying electronics and I’m interested in embedded systems for multimedia. Through CE I wish to gain the skills to to design guitar pedals and amplifiers from scratch, along with other audio/visual electronics.

I look forward to discussing with you on the forum.

Toby Brown


It’s refreshing to see tomorrow’s engineers on forums like these, so “Welcome”, Toby!

Since you want to learn how to design these types of circuits from scratch, please take heed of this warning: electrical engineering is likely to get hard before it gets easy, and it’s 100 times harder if you fall behind.

Don’t take short-cuts; master the fundamentals by doing all of your homework! I’m an electrical engineer who went to school part-time at night while working full-time, and I can tell you that the students who simply copied answers from others never developed (at least, in university) the intuition needed to be able to design even moderately complex circuits from scratch.

If you put in the hard work up front, you will enjoy the design process and you will rightfully be proud of what you create!


Wow thanks Jeff! I will keep that advice in mind. Look forward to hearing more from you.


There are many things more awesome than holding a moderately complex populated PCB that you did from a blank canvas, but it’s still awesome, so never forget to do a happy dance / celebrate when it happens.

Occasionally you will let out the magic smoke (all chips have it inside) and occasionally you will end up with a PCB that’s “not right” - this means you are learning - if you don’t do these things at least once or twice then you aren’t pushing hard enough.

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One of the first projects I ever build and sold was a very simple guitar pre-amp (I’m pretty sure it was a 741). I’ve never played the guitar so I’ve no idea if it was any good, but other people seemed to like it.

Out of curiosity, given that my foray into the music world was over 25 years ago and things have changed a lot, are you looking to do this with purely analog electronics? Or are you thinking of using microcontrollers to do most of the heavy lifting?

I’m the last person you should listen to for advice, but I’ll offer some anyway - learn to solder and you will be ahead of most of your peers. Beg, borrow and steal test equipment. Don’t be ashamed to use old test gear - if you can work a old 10MHz CRT scope you can use any scope - the same is not true if you start with new-fangled-one-magic-button scope.

Get a decent Fluke multimeter second hand on eBay. Don’t worry about things not being calibrated. I still have an old Fluke 73 that I inherited in 1994 and it still gets used. I also have a fancy Fluke 289, 787 and 8845a multimeters that I couldn’t tell you what all the functions are for. With all equipment reliability and repeatability are the key thing to look for.

Lastly - don’t waste time socialising - once you are an engineer you won’t have, or need, friends (at least who aren’t other engineers). :grinning:

Hi Toby!

I don’t have any wisdom to offer you like these other guys, since I am new into this field; but welcome to the forum! All I can say is that I am envious of you getting the chance to get formal training, so don’t waste it. This is very cool stuff.