Saturday, May 17, 2008

Stompboxes I — The Buffalo Box B175

While performing inventory of my parts bins last fall, I came across a couple ancient-looking TO-1 metal cans. I have no recollection of their origin, but the leads were rather short, so I presume I cut them out of a junked radio or similar item, probably when I was a pre-teen. At first I presumed I acquired them at the same time, but it turns out they're from different manufacturers, so maybe not. One was labeled B175, the other was B186. A bit of searching showed they are both PNP germanium transistors intended for audio amplifier use. Word on the street was that should try one in a Rangemaster clone.

I breadboarded the crazy-simple circuit, and the B175 had a higher gain when plugged in, so I chose it for the finished project. I also added a bypass switch and an "anti-pop" 1MΩ input resistor. I assembled it on a Radio Shack "Bug" PCB (276-159) and crammed it in a Bud econobox enclosure. A "vintage" knob controls the gain. The unadorned "natural aluminum" look I used with the LK8SE continues, and is even refined in my choice of functional legend on the unit.

I've never encountered a real Rangemaster, so I don't know if it sounds like one. It does work nicely with the LK8SE for "screaming solo" work. You need to crank up the bass control on the amp to get a crunchy sound, though.

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