Most Roland guitar amplifiers and many Boss effect pedals require a footswitch in order to be used to their full potential. However, the only branded product is the Boss FS-6 (or FS-5). This is a fine product; high quality, sturdy and very useful. The FS pedals have 2 major drawbacks. The first is that they are expensive. The second, and to me the most important, is that they are HUGE!
This first became an issue for me when I got my Boss RC-3 Loop Station (shout-out to my beautiful wife Angela for the awesome Christmas present). In order to make the most of this looper you need a double footswitch. On a pedalboard, the FS-6 takes up 2 times the space of the Loop Station itself. Well, that dog just don't hunt.
So, I began doing some research, and some shopping, and decided to go my own way. Here is how I did it...
Step 1: Boss FS-6 Clone: Materials
1. 2 DPDT Momentary switches #800-1001, $3.90 ea.
2. 2 SPDT Shorty Toggle switches #800-1008, $1.78 ea.
3. 2 Shorty Toggle switch covers #, $801-T2-0001, $0.30 ea.
4. 1 1/4 in. stereo jack #610-1001, $0.70
5. 1 Enclosure #500-1000, $9.07, with choice of color
From Ace Hardware (if you are bothering to read this article, you likely have these things in your garage):
1. Quality soldering iron
2. Red & Black wire
3. Wire clippers
4. I also highly recommend springing for a soldering station. If you are into this kind of thing you will get your money's worth over time.
Step 2: Boss FS-6 Clone: the Plan
You need the footswitches to be DPDT (Double-pole, Double-throw) and the toggle to be SPST (on-off-on). This allows the footswitch to be switched between 'normally open' or 'normally closed'. My RC-3 Loop Station needs 'normally closed', but since we are trying to make a solid clone, we want it to be able to switch like the FS-6.
The FS-6 itself uses sliding switches, which are elegant, but ultimately very challenging to execute neatly in a home workroom, so it's toggles for us. Be sure you buy the short toggles so they are not in the way when you step on the footswitch.
You also need the DPDT switch to be momentary, meaning that it doesn't latch when you press it. It opens, sends the signal, then closes again. Here we can not match the FS-6. The original Boss can be switched to be latching or non-latching.
Final note on the switches: I recommend the x-wing style soldering lugs for the switch. It gets pretty tight inside the enclosure, so you will need a low profile.
Next, we need a 1\4 in. stereo jack, also called TRS (Tip, Ring, Sleeve) in order to accommodate 2 switches. You can also use this footswitch for a device that only has one lead. In that case, only the switch wired to the tip will be active.
Finally, you need your enclosure. If you are unable to download the real schematic from this site, you should be able to copy over the dimensions and details to some graph paper, or use Visio like I did. I bought my enclosure from MammothElectronics.com, where you can order them already painted. Awesome.
Step 3: Boss FS-6 Clone: Soldering Switches and Toggles
1. Cut wires
a. 2 x 2.5 in. red
b. 2 x 2.5 in. black
c. 2 x 5 in. red
d. 2 x 5 in. black
a. small red to top of switch and top of toggle
b. small black to bottom of switch and bottom of toggle
c. long black to middle of toggle
d. long red to middle of switch
Step 4: Boss FS-6 Clone: Soldering the Stereo (TRS) Jack
a. wrap the end of the two black wires together
b. solder black wires to the Sleeve lug (ground)
c. solder red wire 1 to the Tip lug
d. solder red wire 2 to the Ring lug
Step 5: Boss FS-6 Clone: the Enclosure
First, tape your template to the enclosure with some masking tape. Take your time to make sure it is on perfectly straight. Cover the whole paper with the tape to prevent scratching with your drill.
Drill the holes:
1. Switch holes - 1/2 in. bit
2. Toggle holes - 7/32 in. bit
3. Jack hole - 1/4 in. bit
Don't get crazy with the drill. Use a fast, but controllable speed. Make sure your bit is centered on the schematic. Start slow to make a small dent to guide you in for the big finish. Take it easy. If you botch it here, you will be unhappy, and if you think like me, will soon be ordering up a new enclosure to try again.
Once the holes are drilled, use an air canister and blow out any metal shards. Then remove the tape, and blow out any left over shards. Don't wipe, you don't want to scratch that finish now after having been so careful with the drill.
Step 6: Boss FS-6 Clone: Assemble
Take a close look at the space you have. Plan it out by bending the wires around neatly before actually installing in the enclosure. When you are set, install and tighten down the nuts. Make sure you have the washers in the right place, or you might short out your circuit.
Once installed, have another look at your wires. Arrange them so they are out of the way of each other, and so they look pretty. When you are satisfied, attach the bottom panel and screw it home.
Step 7: Boss FS-6 Clone: Finish
I hope you had fun with this project. I did. Now, plug in and go Rock & Roll.