i met J. thru another forum where i had shared video links to some mini battery powered guitar amps i had hacked together . eventually he contacted me and asked if i would build/test then share my feelings on his Stella amp kit . i have no formal training in electronics , but i have done my share of tinkering , hacking and mod-ing stuff over the years . my youtube channel sows a handful of the projects i have done over the last few years . i have been more active in this field due to suffering a back injury that leaves me with more time on my hands . the one thing that John asked was that i would be 100 percent honest in my evaluation , he wasn't looking for any false praise , so i have been brutally honest in my approach to this endeavor . i guess i would classify myself in the advanced beginner stage of this hobby . its really been more trial and error for me , and i have had my fair share of disappointments , failures , things exploding , i even sent a kit back for pro-assistance due to my mis-steps . my nickname here at home is "Mr. Reverse polarity" , i have a theme song for that as well .
This evening i finished the assembly stage of the amp . i tested it out with a few different speakers and power supply's . i can honestly say that the entire experience has been top rate , the product performs very well , and i would recommend this kit to ANYONE who is looking to venture into the exiting realm of diy guitar amping . for the price , especially comparing to what is available commercially and the other kits i have seen on youtube , the Stella amp is an excellent choice . here are some photo's taken during the build process . i plan on doing a video soon , but i still have to mount everything up in a nice chassis , so that will be coming soon . on to the photos :
the package arrived the next day , unscathed , everything was there as well . i was impressed by the quality of the pots
the instructions featuring close up detailed color photographs leave nothing to the imagination .
Stella has two chips , she comes with sockets for each chip . which is fantastic in case of a disaster , a trip to radio shack and a few dollars will get her back in action .
Getting jiggy with my plumbers flux , dont try this at home !
Technique ? who needs it !
Wax on , wax OFF !
Q-tips not included ...
The resistor that is sitting higher is for the gain , i may end up using a slightly different value on this one
You can really notice it ridin high here
the layout isnt too crampt
almost there , i took my time , it was a very smooth build . the photo instructions are a great idea .
i used a larger than necessary gauge wire for the speaker output , or did i?
I got the these shielded cables out of an old VCR , i like using them for inputs , and even for pots . they just look really neat , i think the shielding cant hurt either ...
Stella has 3 pots , gain , trim , and volume
See what i mean about those cables looking neat ? the kit actually came with some very nice rainbow wire , but i am saving that for my daughters .
The board is totally pro , just a joy to work with something this well laid out . everything about it , the labeling , the size of the solder pads , it lent itself to a very clean final product .
the only omission i saw on the board was here , the positive for the LED was not labeled . J. informed me (before shipping) this is not the case on later versions of the pcb . a quick continuity test with my meter showed me the top slot is positive , the bottom the ground .
The long leg on an LED is always the + , i usually mark the neg side w/sharpie before cutting the leads
I used one of those vcr cables for the LED , dont forget the shrink boot !
My version is the external pot mount , it appears that the board has provisions to mount your pots directly on the pcb
my initial quick testing although minimal was successful . i really don't have a decent speaker or a nice chassis here tonight . soon i will have a much more thorough review and a video as well . i am getting my hands on some speakers tomorrow , then its off on the hunt for a special enclosure . i was able to get a fantastic clean tone up to a good amount of distortion , way past overdrive tonight . although it was late and i didn't want to piss off the neighbors / wake up the kids .
It was a treat to have it fire up immediately , with no troubleshooting necessary , and what really impressed me was the clean tone . not to say the distortion was lacking . the down side with a lot of these designs is it is difficult to get a decent clean tone with mini guitar amps . my first impressions are not only is Stella a great value , she also seems to out-perform a lot of her competition . Good work J. i can honestly say it was a real pleasure build this kit . If i had actually purchased this product its safe to say i would feel that i had made the wisest choice with my mini amp kit money . now wait till i get it boxed up with a proper speaker ....