Tag Archives | vfe

Why We Don’t Make 1 of Everything

Over the last few months, we’ve been releasing a slew of new products. While we still have a few more up our sleeves, I thought it best to quickly state why we aren’t out to make an entry into every effect type. The answer is simple, if there’s already a great product out there that’s worthy of your money (and mine!) then I have no desire to challenge it for supremacy. Here’s a few examples of what I mean,

Dr. Scientist Mini Reverberator & Tremolessence Stereo Trem/Pan

Catalinbread Echorec & all of their Foundation Overdrives

Mr. Black Eterna, SuperMoon, TunnelWorm &, well hell anything Mr. Black puts out is awesome!

VFE Pedals! For every analog effect type that has ever come down the line, VFE Pedals has an offering that is the final say on the topic.

Subdecay. For all things sequenced and modulated, Subdecay just slays the competition.

Caroline Guitar Co. Philippe & Company focus a few unique projects, but man are they special.

So shop around. We won’t be offended if you choose these guys over us.


P3 Power System – Part Deux

Last week I announced that Coldcraft has licensed the P3 Pedal Power technology from DC Voltage Co., to be employed in our future products.  I may have mentioned that I’ll also be offering retro-fits to any previously released products featuring the relay-bypass system as well.  Today’s post is about the P3 System specifically, and how it can make your rig simpler, more reliable and easier to use, expand and change.   Coldcraft Effects is joining an all-star list of manufacturers already using P3, including:

  • VFE Pedals
  • Barber Electronics
  • Fuchs Audio Technology

In a nutshell, the P3 System lets you use TRS Stereo cables to transmit “phantom” DC power to the pedals, while sending the guitar signal in the opposite direction to the amp.  In this post, I’ll be describing two very important components of the P3 System, the Power Station and the Power Splitter.

Power Station

The P3 Power Station, is made by Fuchs Audio Technology as part of their PLUSH line of processors and pedals.  The website description is as follows,

Based on the innovative P3 phantom power technology, the Plush® P3 Power Supply is a self-contained DC power supply, which provides 9-VDC of regulated and filtered DC power to up to 1500 ma (1.5 amps) of pedals.

The Power Station is designed to sit back at the amp, where you use a TS Mono cable from amp input to the Power Station.  The other end of the Power Station would run a TRS Stereo cable to your pedal board, supplying the DC power while bringing the guitar audio signal from board to amp.  This means your board doesn’t need any extra power supplies, adapters or other on board.  It keeps the power transformer as far away from the board as possible, eliminating a lot of noise and hum, as well as any ground loops caused by multiple signal and power lines run throughout the board.

Power Splitter

Of course, the P3 System wouldn’t be very good if it didn’t have the ability to play well with unequipped pedals, so the designers also offer the Power Splitter, also manufactured by Fuchs.  The Power Splitter is essentially the mirror opposite of the Power Station.  It accepts the powered TRS signal from the off board supply, and splits the power from the audio.  This allows the board to use more traditional 3.1mm DC jacks and cables to power other pedals.

It would seem that the DC Voltage Co. has thought of everything with these products and their system.  I encourage you to head over to their site and check out the rest of the applications, including power station-equipped amps, and even P3 powered active guitar pickups.



Anatomy of a Coldcraft Product

As I was building up the first batch of Cascade MkII Overdrives, I took some quick pictures along the way to demonstrate what goes into the construction of each of our products.  Every Coldcraft product sold after January 2013 features the new soft-touch relay bypass.  The Bypass system was designed by Peter of VFE Pedals, and Jack of Jack Deville Electronics aka Mr Black Pedals.  Hows that for some heavy hitters?

DSC_0020Now here’s the skinny.  All our our 2013 products are built using 2 independent circuit boards.  The main effect board is unique to each product and features board-mounted Pots (knobs), trimmers and switches.   This board (dark purple) holds all the circuitry needed for the effect, save for some power filtering and bias voltages.

The 2nd board is the Bypass/IO/Power board (light purple).  This holds the board mount jacks, relay, micro-controller and power filtering and is common to all of our products.  Certain aspects of the board can be customized to provide for different power requirements of some effects.

DSC_0021Here’s a batch of Cascade MkII enclosures about to be assembled.  Starting from the pre-populated PCBs above, the main effect board is first mounted into the enclosure.  The LED is added (and mounted into the Lens), and ribbon cables are soldered to the main effect board.

Lens?  What’s a lens for?

If you look closely at our products, you can see that we aren’t using those big, chrome bezels for our LEDs.  I’ve used them in the past and I just find them to be bulky, expensive and a bit primative.  What I’ve opted for instead is called a LED lens.  This nearly flat plastic piece is inserted in the LED hole, secured with a little hot glue and the LED is firmly locked into it before being soldered to its board.  This lens actually spreads out the light from the LED whereas the bezels tend to reflect and focus it upwards.  I like them.  It also lets us use white LEDs and color lenses if we wanted to.

No back to that ribbon cable.  What’s that about?

DSC_0022As you can see in this next picture the main effect PCB has been installed.  The board is held in by the three 16mm board mount pots, and the alignment is fixed with the LED, and additional 3 trimmers/switches.  There’s also those little ribbon cables sticking up.  Those ribbon connections carry the input/output, LED, 9v, Bias and ground connections between the two boards.  By mounting them first to the main effect board, subsequent assembly is made so much easier.

DSC_0023From here, the Bypass board is attached, upside down, to the ribbon cables.  This allows the 2nd board to simply be “folded over” into place, and secured using the audio jack nut things.  Yes, I said nut things.  Not really sure what to call them.

You may notice the 2 orange wires already soldered to the Bypass board.  These are the only two wires that must be stripped and soldered in this entire pedal.  Stripping and soldering wires is a huge time killer when assembly compact guitar pedals.  It is also the number one area where mistakes are made during production.

DSC_0024Previously, Coldcraft products were made using 3PDT mechanical switches and wiring boards.  The boards minimized wiring mistakes, but they are just as time consuming as wiring without them.  With the dual board system, final assembly is a breeze.  Tonight, I took 8 pedals from empty to fully assembled in less than 90 mins, including break time.  The finished products are ready for testing, numbering (inside back cover) and knobs!

So there you have it.  This batch of Cascade MkII Dual Stage Overdrives will be exclusively available at Chicago Music Exchange in, you guess it, Chicago, IL.  Check them out!


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