Former Editor-In-Chief of PC Magazine Rocks Out with L-com USB Guitar

May 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

(photo by Bill Machrone)

 

This is quite possibly one of the coolest ways we’ve ever seen our USB adapter used.

 

You don’t have to be a lover of music, lover of all things guitars, or even a lover of techie building projects to appreciate this guy’s experiment (though it’s so well done it deserves more credit than just being a neat experiment).   

 

Bill Machrone, former editor-in-chief of PC Magazine, put L-com’s USB ECF Adapter Cable (part number ECF504-12AAS) to good use when he decided to build a USB enabled guitar. Machrone was well equipped with the necessary tools and experience in electronics to take on the task. Having built both electric and acoustic guitars before also helped Machrone set off to construct this one of a kind instrument.


As part of that design, Machrone had to figure out which USB jack to use.

 

“One of the reasons I went to L-com was because they have such a complete catalog,” said Machrone, “You can find anything, any type of connectivity gear.” Machrone had done a lot of research for this part of the project. He had an idea of what he wanted, but was surprised when he couldn’t find it until hitting the L-com website.

 

One of the reasons Machrone chose L-com’s USB Type A Connector is because it had a polished metalized surface and a compatible square shape that could easily be added into the guitar.

 

“It had a lot going for it in terms of appearance and it was a convenient choice,” said Machrone.   

 

Selecting the USB jack was part of a 10 step process which Machrone outlines in his article for PC Magazine:


  1. 1. Select a guitar
  2. 2. Acquire a Micro USB board
  3. 3. Measure and cut for jack and module layout
  4. 4. Drill your holes
  5. 5. Ready the USB
  6. 6. Wire your interface
  7. 7. Craft a cover
  8. 8. Drill metal for the jacks
  9. 9. Insert the Micro USB board
  10. 9. Finishing touches

 

According to Machrone, there’s one simple explanation why you might want a USB port in an electric guitar: for convenience. With a USB port the guitar will not only rock out like normal, but will also automatically transmit the recording signals to your computer.

 

“It was like a problem solving exercise, deciding how I was going to connect it, adding the head phone jack and listening to myself as the software recorded it,” said Machrone, “It was fun.”

 

Another advantage to building your own USB Guitar is cost savings. If you select an inexpensive guitar to repurpose on your own, Machrone advised, it will most likely be cheaper since USB guitars sell for about $300 nowadays.

 

Above all, the excitement of the finished product makes all the hard work worth it. “Once I had it together, it started working, and that was a thrill,” Machrone exclaimed.

 

Machrone was also pleased with the quality output of the L-com USB jack, how it functioned within the guitar, and its durability. “I can say that it gets nicked and banged around and beat up,” said Machrone. “The last time I looked at the USB jack it was in perfect shape. It’s standing up to the beating.”

 

For the full tutorial on building a USB guitar, visit Bill Machrone’s how-to at: http://machrone.net/usbguitar/

  

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