Design made pretty

The new amp is not going to live with me… it’s being made for a friend.

Topology-wise, it will be a push-pull running fixed bias, ultralinear, just like the previous one. Except it’ll be running EL84s on the output instead of KT88s. And the plate voltage will be 300V instead of 560.

So we’re looking at realistically 12-15 watts, which for the intended usage will be ideal.

Owing to this one having a phono stage which includes a cathode follower, we have some fairly rigourous requirements for the power supply:

  • B+ of 300V for the output stage with some hefty reservoir capacitance
  • 2 X separate 280V rails for the phase splitter (DC-coupled, hence the slight voltage drop needed)
  • A separate 300V rail for the phono stage
  • 2 X 250V rails, heavily decoupled to avoid signal feedback through the B+

That’s just the high voltage side. On the low voltage side this amp needs

  • 6.3V for the EL84s
  • 12.6V for the input and phase splitter and cathode follower. This rail needs to be elevated … the 12.6 vac needs to be standing on around 60 VDC to avoid exceeding the Vhk on the follower. (I figured the other valves on that supply wouldn’t mind an elevated heater supply too much either)
  • 25 VDC for the heaters on the two phono input valves (12AX7s with heaters in series to absolutely minimise the mA)
  • And last but not least a minus supply of about 20V for the fixed bias

As with my previous amplifier, there’s a delay start circuit with a 555 timer and a relay which turns on the HT after about 30 sec from power-up, to allow all the cathodes to be at operating temperature before B+ is applied.

Since I’m challenging myself to build this amp on a small chassis, I decided that the power supply needed to go on the smallest board I could get it on. The design I sketched out in the last entry was the inspiration for the final layout for the board, see below:

Board design… single-layer and NO topside links

Once the design was done, it was time to employ my primitive stone-age PCB manufacturing technique: Print design onto plastic sheet, finely sand copper-coated board, apply plastic sheet face-down to board, then iron it! (Seriously… with a clothes iron).

When all the image is transferred to the board, the board is rinsed then placed into a tray of etchant solution to dissolve away the uncovered copper.

Leaving us with a nice board ready for drilling. The transfer is usually not 100% with this technique, but can be easily touched up with the soldering iron

Out of the etchant, ready for drilling

After the board is drilled it’s a case of assembling the components and soldering them on, with a board of this nature I like to start with the smallest/lowest components first (resistors) and work up in size.

The finished product