This Is The Delay Pedal You Can Build Yourself

If you’re looking to make money in electronics, there’s no better market than guitar pedals and modular synths. The margins are high, and all the consumers are otakus who will spend outrageous amounts of money chasing the next big thing. The products are just one step above audiophile wank with zero oxygen cables, and if your opamp sounds ‘more transparent’, you’re going to make a fortune, never mind how something can sound more transparent, whatever that is to begin with.

If you want to do something really cool, build a delay, because everyone needs another delay. If you want to build the latest in delay technology, just grab a PT2399 chip. That’s what ElectroSmash did with their Open Source Time Manipulator delay. Everything’s right there, all the parts of the circuits are described, and you too can become an effects pedal engineer.

This pedal is based on the PT2399 chip from Princeton Technology, a digital delay chip that can be used with something that sounds like an old-school bucket brigade chip or something resembling a tape echo. As a digital chip, you’ve also got the clean, clear sounds of a digital delay, with just a few tweaks of the circuit. We’ve taken a look at the PT2399 before, but surprisingly not many people are sharing their secrets.

The circuit for the ElectroSmash Time Manipulator is built around the ATMega328, the same chip in the Arduino Uno, with two PT2399s that can be configured to operate in serial or parallel for everything from a slapback echo to a 600ms digital delay. If you set everything right, you can get choruses, reverbs, or some psychobilly flange-ish sounds.

The entire circuit is open, with a board designed in KiCad, the code is right there written in C, and the only hard-to-replicate tech is the PT2399 chip itself, which can be had from the usual vendors for less than a dollar a piece. It’s a great pedal, and be sure to check out the video below.

33 thoughts on “This Is The Delay Pedal You Can Build Yourself

  1. Dunno what the rationale is to make an article about a hack for modular synth fans and/or pedal effects people, and then insult them and their hobbies right in the first paragraph…

      1. My first thought was “Hey – the frist time Mr. Benchoff puts out some words that actually make sense”
        Effects pedals have one important thing in common with oxygen free HiFi crap: The price!

        1. That’s because the good ones require some fancy analog electronics or custom DSPs.

          Surprise, it isn’t easy to pull off a digital signal processor that has sub-millisecond throughput and a good frequency response with low distortion. The PT2399 for example gets worse harmonic distortion as you make the delay longer, because you have to run it at a slower clock rate. It only has 44k or memory in its bit bucket brigade, so for the 600 ms (300 ms) delay your THD is around 1% and it sounds worse than 8 bit PCM audio.

          So you can’t really do things like U2 style long guitar delays with it. It’s just going to break down in digital noise when you loop the output back to the input.

          1. In other words, there’s a reason it only costs a dollar for the chip.

            It’s really meant for reverb effects in karaoke machines and cheap home stereos to adjust the time delay for your satellite speakers by a couple milliseconds. Using it for a guitar or synth effect pedal is a hack in the negative sense of the word, unless your point is to be lo-fi.

          2. Guitars aren’t exactly Hi-Fi. Much of the time they’re dependent on the colorization of the amp and choice of speaker to be acceptable. (It’s why an electric guitar sounds so dry if its connected directly to a sound board.)

    1. always check the author first, this is the standard MO of our resident Hoff. The real question is; Is our Hoff really that jaded and disgruntled or is it all an act?

      Or do you just like to create a hassle, hoff?

  2. First of all; NO electronics market today is more over saturated than the pedals market. So after you add converters, housing, knobs, connectors, power section, graphics, finish and marketing – and still think you can make a killing on 600ms mono delay pedal with no special features, I for one am not going to take your advice. In fact I wouldn’t even let you walk my dog (and I hate dogs!) because you obviously don’t have a clue as to what you’re rambling about.

    1. Omega Wave, Thx for greatly needed advice for would be hobbyists or wannabe pedal moguls. As you pointed out, and I’ll add my own harsher opinion here, the author is either idiotic, naive, or massively disingenuous and potentially harmful, with the opinion stated here. If one wants to do electronics project work, for the learning experience, possible CUSTOMIZATIONS, and FUN, by all means do it, if you also have plenty of free time on your hands. Try to mass produce and go into business? Be prepared to first lose your guitar collection, your house, vehicle, wife or girlfriend, and finally your shirt, unless you come up with something much more cooler and unique than yet another generic, and likely inferior, delay!

    2. Same can easily be said for the Eurorack market as well. It is just insanely idiotic amounts of money for mostly idiotic things. I made 10K the first week of my first run production. I was fine with that until the emails started flooding in throwing money at me for another run. I did that run and then put it up as a walkthru build on a forum that showed how it was really 8 bucks worth of crap with a silk screen and cool knobs lol. Never again. The questions of how will module A affect module B (that I had never heard of) while C watches and wanks in the corner was enough for me to walk away.

      1. The product isn’t the $8 worth of components – the product is you making the thing for people who couldn’t do it even if you were holding the soldering iron in their hands.

        That’s why it sounds a bit silly playing the smart. You just tossed a perfectly good business case – who’s the stupid there?

        1. Also, the reason why there’s a market for these “idiotic things” is because people need them

          All the “proper” manufacturers won’t bother with the simple stuff because the margins are small and some copycat factory in China will immediately do the same thing for less. They want to “add value” and provide “features” which justify shifting the decimal point by one or two places. This means people are having a hard time finding what they really need, which is often something incredibly simple.

          They could DIY, but they lack the skills, the knowledge, the time, and what they really want is just something that is made well, looks nice, and works – if it costs them 10x the component value, who cares? They don’t. Things that look easy on the surface, like putting a switch in a box with two jacks, can turn out into a full working day of trying to figure out what that switch is called and who will sell it to you in quantities of one, and that equals $$$.

  3. Wow I see a lot of new commenters here who had Benchoff’s sarcasm and humor fly right over their heads and took everything he wrote quite literally. I get that tone and humor can be difficult to convey with only text, but come on if something sounds ridiculous then it likely is because the author intended it to be. It’s not a personal physical affront to your beloved hobby or sound financial advice from a hacking site of all things. A little forethought, context and critical reading go a long way to interpret things a stranger writes online.

    1. He’s not doing it for sarcasm and humor. He’s trolling.

      And generating ragebait to drive up pageviews through the comments section – helps with the advertisers because site traffic justifies higher ad prices due to “visibility”.

      Afterwards, these messages will be deleted off and the comments section made to look squeaky clean.

        1. Yeah. It’s largely coming from people who don’t even visit hackaday, because the corporations that pay for the adverts push the cost onto their customers. That’s what makes ad-funded websites unethical – the cost is socialized to third parties who aren’t even aware of what they’re paying for. In the case of generic ads pushed by google and the like, everyone ends up paying – and for what? Clickbait and cheap trolling.

          Moral of the story: if you want money, ask for it. Don’t sneak around to peoples’ back pockets while they’re not looking. The ad-economy is a detriment to everyone involved.

    2. If that’s your idea of humor, only that much more reason to block this site. Imagine wasting your valuable time on a project equally garbage to this attempt on sarcasm!

  4. I actually put one of these together. It was a really fun project with good instructions and components. The only downside was the sounds aren’t amazing. If you are looking for value look at the Line 6 M5.

  5. “The margins are high, and all the consumers are otakus who will spend outrageous amounts of money chasing the next big thing. The products are just one step above audiophile wank with zero oxygen cables, and if your opamp sounds ‘more transparent’, you’re going to make a fortune, never mind how something can sound more transparent, whatever that is to begin with.”

    Man you got that right in Spades!!! As a professional design engineer in a far more demanding arena than the guitar scene, I’ve been fighting against the “magic mojo caps/diodes/opamps/valve types” idea for many years without any apparent takers. They say you can’t fool a fool who doesn’t want to be fooled. In that case guitarists were BORN gagging to be!

    1. If you are actually a “professional design engineer” in such a demanding field, why on Earth are you talking about analog vintage hype in a article that claims to make “a killing” by selling decisively lower quality and lower spec’ed products than a $30 Berhringer pedal? Is it to make yourself feel clever? Trust me, it backfired dramatically but you should go out and try. You will never be able to manufacture it for $30 and it will be so bad that nobody will ever buy it. And degradingly stereotyping millions of people for playing a certain instrument speaks volumes about your character.
      Vintage is super hyped in every fashion, whether it’s cars, watches or something else. The problem with demeaning it is that it’s the buyers who make a killing – in terms of investment.
      So why don’t you just keep your majestic hyper self-righteous superior intellect in your oh-so demanding arena and leave us lesser beings to our passion?

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