How to Build a Direct Box

Written by jason parnell
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How to Build a Direct Box
You can build your own DI box. (boitier de direct actif image by Sébastien Maurer from Fotolia.com)

Direct boxes are used in live and studio sound to connect high-impedance devices to low impedance input. Direct boxes connect guitar and bass instruments to mixing consoles through the microphone input, usually a high-quality XLR input without any issues of volume, noise and distortion. They most commonly are found in a stage environment, when a snake or separate stage input for instruments is employed to prevent musicians from stringing instrument cables across the venue floor. While many retail options are available for direct, or DI, boxes, you can build your own.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • 25-watt soldering iron
  • Rosin-core solder
  • Wiring pencil

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Purchase or download a direct box circuit schematic from an Internet resource. The schematic is your guide to the construction of the direct box. There are various online resources that explain what the symbols mean if you have no experience reading circuit schematics.

  2. 2

    Use your circuit schematic as a parts list, and purchase the electrical components that are represented in your schematic and a blank circuit board. Purchase the electrical components in an electronics store or Internet retailers.

  3. 3

    Insert your components into your circuit board. Bend the connectors to keep the components in place. Orient the components as displayed in your circuit schematic.

  4. 4

    Solder your components into place by heating the connectors with the tip of your 25-Watt soldering iron at the joint of the circuit board and the connector for one to two seconds. Once the component connector is heated, feed a small amount of your rosin-core solder between the head of your soldering iron and the joint. Repeat this process for all component joints.

  5. 5

    Use the wiring pencil to draw the connections between components directly onto your circuit board as represented in your schematic. A wiring pencil works similarly to a soldering iron, drawing a thin strip of conductive copper directly to your circuit board.

  6. 6

    Use your hand-held rotary tool to cut holes for the input, output and attenuator switch into your project box. Most direct boxes require two 1/4-inch holes for the input and output and a third hole or slit to accommodate the type of switch you purchased.

  7. 7

    Place the audio input, output and attenuator switch of your direct box on the inside of your project box. Fix both components firmly in place by twisting the included bolts from the outside.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have difficulty reading a schematic, then redraw the schematic with pictures of the components in place of the schematic symbols.
  • Always solder in a well-ventilated area due to toxic fumes.
  • Always wear protective eyewear when soldering.
  • Always solder with a clean soldering contact as residue can result in uneven heating and poor connections.

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