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Jason's Pickup Winder

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Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Sat Apr 05, 2014 9:55 am

As you may have read in my discussions on pickup flatwork and winder platen design, I've been researching pickup winding and have built my own winder. Jason Lollar's book, Basic Pickup Winding and Complete Guide to Making Your Own Pickup Winder, is a great education, and there is obviously a ton of info online, as well (much of which probably stems directly from Lollar's book). Thanks to the folks here who have participated in my posted discussions and have contributed to my knowledge thus far, particularly David King and John Sonksen.

The concepts and construction of my design is gathered from many examples, but it clearly looks most like the Schatten winder that StewMac sells. Lollar's design includes a second motor for a cam-driven wire guide, but hand-guided winding is plenty good for my purposes. Here is what I started with: a box of sewing machine parts and a pretty little drawing (my 9 year old daughter asked me to sit down and draw with her one afternoon- while she attempted a portrait of the cat, I drew up what I was thinking for the winder). It's not complete, but one more trip to Ace should wrap it up this weekend.
winder box of parts RED.jpg


And so I went about building the box/tower with 1/2" plywood. The red blocks are UHMW plastic. In this picture, the wire guide arm is not yet attached.
winder semi complete right RED.jpg


A view from the other side.
winder semi complete left RED.jpg


What's not seen in either of these photos is the pedal/power jack and switch panel on the back. I was very lucky that this sewing machine (my wife's old machine that broke down) had so many usable pieces that went together in this project so well. Even the 1/4" rod for the wire guide came from the needle shaft.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:06 am

In the platen discussion, we also got into the topic of counters. I don't know how accurate this setup is (what with the issue of "bounce" in mechanical switches), but I think it will work for my purposes (i.e., ham-fisted, scatter-wound hum-wreckers).

The main sewing machine shaft had this cam affixed to it, for transferring power to the bobbin and fabric advancing mechanism in the base of the machine. It made a perfect mount for this neo magnet...
winder cam magnet RED.jpg

... which activates this reed switch (thanks to John Sonksen for the reed switch).
winder reed switch RED.jpg


The reed switch closes a circuit that advances this very simple, battery powered digital counter. The toggle switch on the top is an on/off to stop the counting when not actually winding: when mounting the bobbin or stopping to reverse and fix some errant wraps, you don't want to throw off the count.
winder counter RED.jpg
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:30 am

On to the bobbin platen. I went with a light-weight plexi disc. It's just two pieces glued together with CA. To mount the disc, Lollar recommends tapping a shaft collar for three screws. Again, the Sewing Machine Anatomical Donor provided: this worm gear was tapped for three 3/8" 4-40 machine screws.
winder tap RED.jpg


Getting the disc to run true took a little fiddling, but I got it down to about .05" or less of runout. I discovered that the plexi didn't glue up perfectly flat, so some of that wobble is in the disc itself. I think that's within an acceptable margin of error for my purposes. Heck, when I visited John Sonksen's shop, we wound a coil by double-sticking a bobbin to the turny knob of a whole, unmolested sewing machine!
winder runout RED.jpg


And here is the final picture of construction thus far. I drew a bullseye on the disc to help with centering the bobbin since I didn't exactly get the platen centered on the shaft.
winder platen RED.jpg


There are a couple things I plan to add before I call it complete. When Sonksen let me take a turn at winding the coil, I really had a hard time seeing the wire as it payed out and laid down in the bobbin. I painted a 6"x6" square of plywood flat black, which I will attach to the back of the tower, to provide a contrasting backdrop to the winding coil. Also, the pedal/power jack has an extra lead for the sewing machine light. I might hook up a small socket for a light mounted just under the platen so there is direct light on the coil.

One more thing I want to point out: instead of messing with reversing the motor, the whole tower is reversible! If you want to turn a coil the other direction, simply put the platen on the left, and the counter display box pivots to point the other way. The wire guide arm and the black square are attached with hanger bolts and wing nuts, so they can be removed reattached to face the other way, as well.

I'll probably get out in the shop later today, so I'll post complete pics.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
Posts: 1542
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Location: Portland, OR

Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby David King » Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:00 pm

Jason, try a free harbor freight LED flashlight for viewing your wire. (I use a CFL in a swing arm lamp but it's not quite focused enough). You want it to shine slightly down but towards you from the back so that it reflects off the wire and into your eye. I've found that contrasting horizontal lines on my backboard really helps me keep the wire level on the coil as I wind it.

If I had to do my wire guide over again I'd make the limit gateposts adjustable via threaded thumbscrews i.e. micrometer style. Mine are acetal blocks that slide but it's hard to get them right where I want them, about .020" in from the flatwork or bobbin top and bottom plates. If you have them adjusted right to the edges you'll find that the wire will deform the bobbin and warp the flatwork up at the ends. If you have them set in too far then you'll get an occasional loose wrap that will cause trouble later when it snags on the pickup cover and breaks.
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:32 pm

Yes, I think I'll hold off on the light installation until I have the opportunity to wind a couple coils and see what works best. I have several options to try, including an adjustable arm desk lamp and many LED flashlights. No need to hurry that detail.

Drawing horizontal lines on the black square sounds like a great idea, David! I'm searching the house for a silver Sharpie.

The nice thing about this simple and detachable wire guide arm is that it can be modified (or tossed) easily. The first thing I'll probably end up doing is moving the guide bar closer. If this bar-with-stops design doesn't work well for me, I like this limiter plate used on some of the machines shown on Designed2Wind http://designed2wind.alphalink.com.au/types2.html It's just a square with an aperture cut out, set close to the platen, and the end ferrule of a fishing rod for the wire guide.

Anyways, here is my complete winder machine.
winder complete RED.jpg
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
Posts: 1542
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Location: Portland, OR

Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:00 pm

Today, I rigged up a simple speed limiter on the sewing machine pedal by putting a screw through it to act as an adjustable stop. The power was oddly out this afternoon, and I haven't gotten back into the shop to try it out, but it should work just fine. Thank goodness for cordless tools.

I've also purchased a 1lb spool of poly coated 42AWG magnet wire from Elektrisola through amazon. Y'all GOTTA check that out! I don't know how much magnet wire typically goes for, but a 1lb spool was a couple bucks less than StewMac sells a 1/2lb spool, AND it's free shipping. I figured I'd need as much as possible, as I'm likely going to break and tangle a lot of wire. A 1lb spool of 42 wire is 51313 feet, or over 9.7 miles!!! That oughta keep me busy!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
Posts: 1542
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:05 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby David King » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:34 pm

Jason, I use about a mile per coil on a bass pickup and 4 coils per set. Price for 42AWG is right around $18/lb at retail. You can save a bit if you buy 100 pounds at a time. I probably burned through a couple of pounds just learning how to get the tension right and not wind too fast. You definitely want to use a winding calculator when you are done to make sure that your DC resistance matches up to the length of wire you used. http://www.salvarsan.org/pickups/Coil_Estimator.html
If your tension is too high you can get anomalies like stretching the wire thinner (increasing the DC resistance) or shorting out layers of wire as the insulation is cut through (lowering the resistance and killing your sound).

I have a pile of the rod magnets is you want to mess with those. I was going to order more magnets soon if you want to get in on that action. In the meanwhile you might check out the AddictionFX store on ebay. He usually has sets of all the flavors so you can experiment with the bar types that way.
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:20 pm

My goal with this spool is to wind two hot humbuckers (about 8-9kOhms neck and 12-13kOhms bridge) without throwing too much in the trash. I saw you link that coil calculator on the MEF, and it's pretty cool. I suppose one just needs to learn how to do it, but the idea of scraping an atom's thickness of poly insulation off a hair-width copper wire to test resistance, and then patching it up, sounds like craziness. How would I know if my winding is "loose" or "tight" as described in that calculator? After playing with some different typical bobbin dimensions, it looks like for the untrained hand winder one could take your target resistance and add about 1000 to find an approximate wind total.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:33 pm

And yes, David, I'd happily accept any stray magnets. Is there any truth to what I've read about tonal differences, all things equal, between magetic rod pickups and adjustable (screws) pole pieces? There are humbuckers with rods in both coils, one coil rods and one coil screws, and both coils screws. Seems like the pickups that utilize bar magnets on the back would be easier to a/b - ceramic, Alnico 2-3-4-5, neodymium - than the built-in slugs.

Oh, I just hijacked my own thread with a tangential topic, didn't I.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
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Location: Portland, OR

Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby David King » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:01 am

Jason,

I've never wound a humbucker but I have doubts that you could get that much wire on if you're using 42AWG. You'll probably have to get some 43 but I don't know the dimensions of your bobbins.
For right now you can ignore the minor details of the coil estimator. Gibson used 5000T of 42AWG and that results in a pretty full bobbin assuming that your 42 is in the .0027" diameter range. You'll need to measure the ohms of your wire over 10 feet to get an accurate ohms/per foot. Knowing that you can get the exact diameter of the wire. Or you can measure the wire diameter with a micrometer that reads to .0001". With both those figures you can calculate the insulation thickness which is useful to know when trying to get repeatable results.

Basically all you care about is number of turns, that's the only relevant number you can control easily. Later when you have a large collection of spools to choose from you can finesse things, changing your tension and turns per layer etc.
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby John Sonksen » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:35 am

Jason, the pickup that we wound the day you were over ended up being just under 12k, and was wound with 43 gauge while the one that I demo'd for you was just under 7k, wound with a similar amount of 42 gauge. I think if you're going to use 42 to get up to those output levels you'll have to make your bobbins taller to get more winds. I think the limitation is screw length at that point, but you should be able to get a little taller bobbin than standard. That said, I'm pretty much planning on 43 gauge for my hotter pups from here on out.
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:54 pm

Ah, lads, but you forget that I'm building my own bobbins! I see on the calculator that vintage Tele and Strat bobbins have 7/16" to 1/2" of clearance between the flanges. Granted, these are for single coil p-ups, but adding even 1/8" more space onto the typical 1/4" clearance will allow for more winds. This will, of course, give me a sound that is not a typical 'bucker, but this is all for fun right now.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby John Sonksen » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:13 am

I didn't forget, I even mentioned it in my comment!
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:20 pm

Jason, your winder looks great! I'm sure it will be a breeze winding pickups with it. It's so much more sophisticated than my power drill contraption. I have an old sewing machine in store that I have planned to build a winder of. Now I guess I'll have to build it. ;)
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:59 pm

Hey, they you are, Markku! Your great examples of winding - low-fi as they might be - really inspired me.

Head on over to your Slum-/Scum-bucker thread: I have questions about using neos in pickups!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
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Location: Portland, OR

Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:05 pm

Right you are, John. Got my wire in the mail today. I'll cut up some flatwork soon, made from some of the laminate you gave me. The calculator will come in handy when considering bobbin height. 3/8" might be enough, but I don't know what a full 1/2" does on humbuckers. It's all a crapshoot at this stage, anyway. The more I research various pickup designs, the more I want to try different things. I'm kind of curious about blade/rail pickups!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
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Location: Portland, OR

Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby John Sonksen » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:16 am

Some quick and dirty math says that a 3/8" bobbin might yield 50% more output, so each bobbin on a bucker with 42 gauge could get up to 5-5.5k, with a net yield for the whole pup being double that? Plus, if you're using eyelets to connect your wires you'll gain some turns over mine there too. You'd be in the high output range in no time, with 1/2" bobbins getting you up to 14k. That said, I think you'll end up paying more for wire per bobbin that way, but hey it's all cheaper than buying some bareknuckle's right?
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby David King » Thu Apr 10, 2014 12:26 pm

Get used to thinking in number of turns. Talking DCR is totally meaningless because no two spools of wire are the same diameter and there can be significant changes in dia from one end of a spool to the other. Also DCR changes dramatically with small changes in temperature.

The beauty of winding your own pickups is that the pickups always work and they always sound great to the ear of the maker regardless of what you do. Most changes are too subtle and the human auditory memory is terrible at making judgements after more than a couple of seconds have passed.
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Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Thu Apr 10, 2014 2:35 pm

John Sonksen wrote:... but hey it's all cheaper than buying some bareknuckle's right?

Yes, by an order of magnitude! :shock:

David King wrote:Talking DCR is totally meaningless...

So, when companies give DCR specs on their websites, are those to be considered within a range (+ or - a few hundred kOhms), or are they checking along the way to get very close?

David King wrote:The beauty of winding your own pickups is that the pickups always work and they always sound great to the ear of the maker regardless of what you do.

Oh, then these puppies are gonna sound UH-MAYZING to me! :lol: I donated my Korean Strat clone to Portland's Rock n Roll Camp for Girls about 10 years ago, sold my Carvin DC-127 about the same time to buy a bandsaw, and ever since the only thing electric around the house has been a 60s Gibson 125-T with a P-90.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
Posts: 1542
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:05 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Jason's Pickup Winder

Postby Jason Rodgers » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:32 pm

Oooooo, wire in the mail.
winder 42awg wire RED.jpg
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
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