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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink The Surfy Bear Fet Reverb

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HELLO EVERYONE.

I think you have seen the memo, but anyway we have only announced that via our main news channel, which is Facebook. So here we are...

The SurfyBear Kit production has almost arrived to an end. We have full availability right now, but we are interrupting the production after the current stock.

Our company will participate at NAMM as you know and we are presenting a couple of new things (everybody is invited to come to meet us in Anaheim in January, by the way). I know many of you, DIY lovers, are not going to like this, but we have taken some decisions for the next future of Surfy Industries and we will follow the path of becoming only complete pedal producers.

The product is not completely discontinued and we will produce more Bear Kits, but not anymore continuously.

So if you were thinking of buying a SurfyBear Kit, this could be your last chance. Do it now.

www.surfyindustries.com

image

Lorenzo "Surfer Joe" Valdambrini
(www.surfmusic.net)

SilverFlash wrote:

Hi Downed_Aviator, That is a great looking build! Welcome to the red toolbox reverb club. I'm especially excited to see that you are using a 5v to 12v USB step up cable to power your unit. You are the first person I've seen use that technology here at SG101 since I posted about it when I built my pedal board. I don't think a 12v USB adapter was available when I built my board. It looks like it was first introduced early this year, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I definitely plan to work it into my Surfy Bear build.

What type of power bank are you using and how long can you power your Surfy Bear reverb with the Songbird FX's Birdcord 5v USB to 12v DC adaptor cable?

First I would like to comment on the 5v USB to 9v/12v step-up convertor cables.

The Surfy Bear FAQ states that the device will run ok on a 9v DC battery, so the 12v cable is not strictly necessary. I do not know what difference running at 9 volts will make to the battery discharge rate.

I bought BirdCord brand cables from Songbird FX in Austria for a few reasons:

1) For me they are a local business and therefore shipping time is quicker.
2) If I had a problem I can deal with them directly.
3) Judging only by product pictures the BirdCords looked more robust, better quality, and thicker cable than cheaper alternatives. I admit that this is a bit subjective.

Having said all that the BirdCord brand is relatively expensive compared to the 99 cent items from China that I found on eBay. So you pay your money and make your choice. The cheap ones might be ok or they might melt and burst into flames ;) I take no responsibility for that.

SilverFlash wrote:

Hi Downed_Aviator, That is a great looking build! Welcome to the red toolbox reverb club. I'm especially excited to see that you are using a 5v to 12v USB step up cable to power your unit. You are the first person I've seen use that technology here at SG101 since I posted about it when I built my pedal board. I don't think a 12v USB adapter was available when I built my board. It looks like it was first introduced early this year, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I definitely plan to work it into my Surfy Bear build.

What type of power bank are you using and how long can you power your Surfy Bear reverb with the Songbird FX's Birdcord 5v USB to 12v DC adaptor cable?

I have rather a lot to say about the power bank.

I use 5 volt power banks that I bought from Wish.com, they seem reasonably priced. For gigging I would advise having some fully charged extras on hand.

These arrive without any manufacturers technical specifications or conformity statements and no markings on the product whatsoever. So I have no idea what battery technology is being used or how many charge/discharge cycles they are capable of. On one of them I managed to break one of the charging points by applying a little too much sideways force and it fell inside the casing. Fortunately there are two charging points provided so I can still use it.

The marketing claims that they can deliver 900000mAh. Pinocchio has nothing on these guys! It also says fast charging, which is true and not true, which I will explain when I discuss battery discharge rates.

The marketing also claims 3 amps maximum output. I cannot verify this but they do the job and I have successfully run the Surfy Bear and some daisy chained effects simultaneously without a problem. For the BirdCord DC convertor cables Songbird FX say that the rated output current of your portable USB battery should be 2.1A or higher. The Songbird FX web site provides some good detailed technical information. They also manufacture and sell rechargeable effects pedals ;)

image

These are larger than most power banks and have four 5v USB outlets, 2 charging points, 1 micro USB and one Apple Lightning socket, which provide some flexibility for charging. They also have an LED lamp.

One very useful feature is a large LED display that shows the percentage battery charge remaining. The display automatically sleeps to conserve power.

I use 3 of the outlets. One to the Surfy Bear via a 5v to 12v step-up cable, and two to a double USB socket mounted on the toolbox lid as auxiliary power outlets. A single USB socket is also mounted on the lid as a charging point for the power bank. Some Velcro keeps the power bank in place.

image

WARNING: I found an issue when running on battery and trying to charge the power bank at the same time. The Surfy Bear lets out a loud squeal like a stabbed pig! Don’t do that.

image

When powered by an external power supply, the Surfy Bear operates normally while the battery is being simultaneously charged from a separate phone charger/laptop USB outlet or whatever without any problem. I mostly run it this way to keep the power bank topped up while it is being used just to provide power to some additional pedals via USB 5v-9v step up cables connected to the aux power outlets. A bit of a clunky arrangement, but it works for me.

NOTE: The Surfy Bear DIY Kit comes with a type of DC-jack that uses a switch built into the socket that will automatically connect the battery when no external power supply is inserted. The Surfy Industries FAQ states that this only works with center-negative polarity.

I have used these connectors before to add external power options to battery only devices. My power adaptor is center positive, so despite what the FAQ says I just reversed the way I would wire it for center-negative, therefore I am switching the negative side of the power rather than the positive. Doing it this way I still got a small residual reading of less than 1 volt between the disconnected battery negative and the positive terminal (why?). As I have no fear and like to live dangerously I proceeded anyway. No smoke, sparks, or flames, and I am still alive... so far.

Coming next... Power bank discharge rate.

Last edited: Nov 30, 2019 07:54:04

SilverFlash wrote:

Hi Downed_Aviator, That is a great looking build! Welcome to the red toolbox reverb club. I'm especially excited to see that you are using a 5v to 12v USB step up cable to power your unit. You are the first person I've seen use that technology here at SG101 since I posted about it when I built my pedal board. I don't think a 12v USB adapter was available when I built my board. It looks like it was first introduced early this year, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I definitely plan to work it into my Surfy Bear build.

What type of power bank are you using and how long can you power your Surfy Bear reverb with the Songbird FX's Birdcord 5v USB to 12v DC adaptor cable?

I think the best way to test battery duration would be during a full rehearsal at band practice, but I am not in a band and I am not usually playing at home for more than an hour or so at a time. So I just fully charged the power bank, switched on the Surfy Bear and left it running without playing.

I recorded the indicated remaining charge periodically until it was down to 10%. Then I started playing the guitar through it and obtained just over 30 minutes of play time without any degradation of sound as the charge reduced to zero, at which point the whole thing cleanly turned off. I suspect that the Surfy Bear current draw probably varies when actually playing, which could reduce battery time to some extent.

During this test the battery lasted 6 hours and 30 minutes as follows:

1 hour 83% remaining
3 hours 55% remaining
5 hours 26% remaining
6 hours 10% remaining
6 hours 30 minutes 0% (Playing for 30 minutes)

The next issue is recharge time. The marketing for my power bank claims fast charging. This is only kind of true if the power bank is only partially discharged, for example I discharged it to 67% and it took about 25 minutes to fully recharge. When discharged to zero it took about 15 hours to fully recharge. The recharge time was fairly linear with 50% restored in around 7 hours.

So my take away from this is that if you are prepared to recharge overnight then running the power bank down is ok, otherwise you need to keep it topped up periodically. Having one or two fully charged spares on hand seems prudent anyway.

I think you can get useable play time with this and it would be great for things like busking.

For comparison here is some recharge data for Panasonic Eneloop Ni-MH batteries.

image

Hi Downed_Aviator, Wow! Thank you for the very thoughtful and detailed reply. It was great getting a more detailed look at your Surfy Bear build and seeing how you have incorporated USB jacks. The dust cover caps are a very nice touch.

The results of your battery test have convinced me to get a 12v BirdCord step-up cable and experiment with my build. Thank you for the information and the inspiration.

Kudos, again, on your inventive build.

-Tim
MyYouTubeChannel
SSS Agent #777

I visited Skip Simmons to purchase a vintage amp that was in need of some TLC. While there he showed a large pile of stuff that he wanted me to have!! There was some very cool stuff including a Gregory PA head that had seen better days. The cabinet was just the right size to fit a reverb tank in the bottom and my Surfy Bear reverb on top. Over all it is close to the same size a a Fender unit. Thought I'd share a pic
image

Last edited: Dec 05, 2019 22:37:28

SilverFlash wrote:

Hi Downed_Aviator, Wow! Thank you for the very thoughtful and detailed reply. It was great getting a more detailed look at your Surfy Bear build and seeing how you have incorporated USB jacks. The dust cover caps are a very nice touch.

The results of your battery test have convinced me to get a 12v BirdCord step-up cable and experiment with my build. Thank you for the information and the inspiration.

Kudos, again, on your inventive build.

Thanks Smile I think my next project is to make a footswitch that incorporates the dual mix control and reverb colour switch mods.

The jacks are auto accessory USB extension cables from eBay; they come with the optional dust caps in the fitting kit. I used a small Micro USB B male to USB2.0 A female adapter to connect the charging cable to the power bank.

I had no idea this surf scene was such a big thing. I am very late to this particular party and only recently discovered the scene and the amazing Surfy Bear by chance while roaming around the Internet. Since Lorenzo has just announced the end of production for the SB DIY Kit I guess I will be one of the last builders, which is a pity.

I have a vintage Fender Bassman which is great, but until now I was unable to get a good drip reverb sound using effects pedals. I would have loved to also incorporate tremolo into my build, but unfortunately the tremolo kit was already discontinued by the time I learnt about the Surfy Bear.

Now I am hooked and I would not want to be without this FET reverb, so I just bought another DIY kit for replacement parts while they are still available just in case anything goes bad in the future.

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