Schiit Vali Mini (coaster amp)

Fuck it let’s do this. They give you 4 coasters when you order these btw.

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So my first attempt ended up in smoke. My tips below will allude to why. I haven’t verified audio comes out but lights come on and there’s no smoke so it’s progress.

Build tips:

The BOM on Schiit’s website has an error. You need 3 10uf 50V 1206 capacitors, not 2. The Designator column has C3,4,12, but Quantity has 2. You’ll need 3.

Surface mount isn’t that bad. You can use tweezers. Putting the surface mount piece on the PCB and melting solder on the ends worked well enough. With through hole components you’re supposed to heat the joint not the solder. With smt, a technique that worked for me was to put the solder on the surface mount and heat the solder. Eventually enough would melt that it would stick to the coaster and the component.

Buy an extra of every cheap surface mount component. When you open the thing they come in and one goes flying across the room you are never going to find it. When you open the thing they come in and one falls and bounces off your workspace and onto the floor or on your clothes you probably won’t find it. You will lose at least one and then have to pay the $8 mouser shipping fee again.

While the surface mount capacitor direction doesn’t matter, the installation direction of the surface mount diodes (D1-4, D102, D202) does matter. With through hole diodes you get a visual reminder direction matters because one lead is longer than the other. You barely get a reminder here. And these are tiny buggers so you’ve got to really pay attention to detail. Or you may get smoke. For the LEDs there’s like a little green marker on one side of the LED. Notice for D102 and D202 there is a half rectangle around the mounts. The markers go on the closed end. you can see it a little better in real life

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Also for D1-D4, notice the open ended rectangle. If you look really really hard at the diodes there is a very faint line on one end. The end with the line goes on the closed end of the rectangle. There’s no way I can take a picture to see the line on the diode. You’ll need to use a flashlight to see the line.

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Lastly, installing Q1, Q102, and Q202 suck because of their size. If you install all the resistors first, installing these things is much more difficult because of the crowded space. I would install them as soon as you are comfortable with surface mount soldering but after some practice. I would recommend this install order in order to install some resistors that provide good practice and are out of the way of the transistors before tackling the transistors:

  1. R1 and R3
  2. R2, R4, R100, R200
  3. R107 and R207
  4. Q1, Q201, Q202
  5. Other surface mount resistors, capacitors, and diodes
  6. Through hole items from shortest to biggest

Shootout coming with this vs starving student, millett nuhybrid, and an actual vali 2+. Because this hobby should be fun. I mean I can’t believe I made an actual serious detailed post about building this thing.

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ok so i have it hooked up to an iphone lighting 3.5mm cable because I don’t have an rca to 3.5 handy and I really can’t wait to plug this up to a real DAC. Turned all the way up my HD6xx’s are louder than I like. I feel like if I comment more about imaging or bass or whatever is gonna take away from the fun of the damn thing. Is it perfect? No. Does Pharoah Sanders still wail playing with Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra*? Hell yes. If I start to care how congested the imaging is with this, I’ve missed the point.

*Stop reading this and go listen to Promises with Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, and the London Symphony Orchestra now.

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Congrats. It’s nice to see one of these actually completed.

My question is how well it still functions as a drink coaster. The capacitor forest seems to lift your mug so it’s easy to reach, plus keep it warm too. That’s some prescient Schiit!

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So I seriously just bought this on ebay and I’m going to mount the amp in it. I’m going to drill a hole in the back for the power and one in the top for volume. I think the pot will stick out just enough to put a knob on. Looking for ideas on how to pimp it out.
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Ah, 1970s Harvest Gold coasters!

For the ultimate pimped eclectic look and massive over-cooling, add a gaming PC RGB lighting setup. “Harvest” a PC fan glow-ring as a surround for the pot.

[Fast forward to the end for the systems in operation]

Maybe use a vegetable shaped knob from a kitchen timer? Tomato, pumpkin, corn, etc. Either round or pointy veggies would work depending on your preference.


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The tacky knob idea is gold

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You are a freaking role mode!

Love everything about this build.

(But how do you improve on the perfection that is that coaster cozy?)

What about corn cob holders? Size of a standard pot knob, just to swap out the needles.

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Maybe I can drill the magnet out of one of these

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