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Author Topic: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic  (Read 23144 times)

argibbo

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How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« on: October 07, 2009, 05:39:11 pm »

Hi Chaps

I'm making my own large capsule condenser mic. It's a one off project for my own use. I won't be going into manufacturing or re-skinning capsules! I have already made the body (pic attached) and am now starting work on the capsule. I intend to make a 1" edge terminated dual diaphragm unit similar to the classic AKG. Once done I can proceed onto the all valve (tube) electronics and PSU.

I'm stuck for gold sputtered mylar film (3 micron?) to use. Please can anyone suggest a source or supply me with some to use. I'm happy to pay. As I said this is not a commercial venture just a hand made mic for use in my own personal studio. I have no wish to step on anyone's toes. This is for my own enlightenment and pleasure only.

Also, is there a reference book regarding mic construction I can buy? It would help me to understand better what I'm trying to do.

If you can help please reply.

Kind regards
Andy
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Mike Cleaver

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Re: Gold Sputtered Mylar
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2009, 06:32:57 pm »

I'm pretty sure most capsule manufacturers simply buy the plastic substrate and sputter the gold themselves.
I've never heard of any for sale "pre-sputtered."
Some of the better known "do it yourselfers" who post here may help you with this
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compasspnt

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Re: Gold Sputtered Mylar
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2009, 06:52:07 pm »

Indeed, the microphone companies/capsule manufacturers I have been inside had large, very expensive gold sputtering machinery/paraphernalia.

None would ever allow even one photograph to be taken of theirs.

Maybe someone sells it though.


Alternatively, there's always this...

index.php/fa/13462/0/

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Klaus Heyne

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Re: Gold Sputtered Mylar
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2009, 10:33:30 pm »

...but first, you would need this:
index.php/fa/13463/0/
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
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Klaus Heyne

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Re: Gold Sputtered Mylar
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2009, 12:46:37 am »

Of course, then you'll need this:
index.php/fa/13465/0/
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
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Klaus Heyne

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Re: Gold Sputtered Mylar
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2009, 12:49:59 am »

...soon you'll also need this:
index.php/fa/13466/0/
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
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Klaus Heyne

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Re: Gold Sputtered Mylar
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2009, 12:53:01 am »

...and just in case you went too far, you'll need this:
index.php/fa/13467/0/
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
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Klaus Heyne

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Re: Gold Sputtered Mylar
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2009, 01:00:03 am »

..but if things don't work out, and you get lots of complaints, you'll need this:
(had to remove the picture of a sports plane, due to the copyright holder's concerns

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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
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Klaus Heyne

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Re: Gold Sputtered Mylar
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2009, 01:01:52 am »

... in order to permanently relocate here:

index.php/fa/13469/0/
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
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nob turner

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2009, 02:12:14 am »

i think we now have proof that the economy has hit rock-bottom: klaus has too much time on his hands!
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Klaus Heyne

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2009, 02:30:53 am »

Every schlepp needs a break once in a while. You don't want me to end up here again, do you?:

index.php/fa/13470/0/

(That's me, on the left, during my first stay)
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
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argibbo

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2009, 03:31:16 am »

I'll be the patient next to Klaus by the time I find some mylar!

Gold paint? No problem,
oven?  use it for baking Ampex 456 & PEM468,no prob
plain mylar? no prob,
One of those wooden things women use for embroidery but we use covered in tights as a pop filter? no prob. Got one though can't remember if I fancied the girl whose tights we tore off!.
piston engined plane? bloke at work's got one - no prob,
Uruguay, well, not my first choice of holiday...

but..

A HAIRDRYER? I've not seen one of them for ages. My hair left about the same time as my first wife! Guess which one I miss?

Come on, someone's got some. Please?

Andy, un-sputtered.
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Tim Campbell

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2009, 06:11:45 am »

Since this is your first attempt at building a capsule don't waste hard to aquire gold sputtered mylar. Simply us aluminum metalized 6 micron mylar from a capacitor.

There are a lot of processes to learn before worrying about the quality of the film.
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Fletcher

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2009, 07:20:26 am »

Klaus, what mental institution would you recommend from personal experience?  

I have a feeling I'm going to need one in the very near future and am looking for expert 1st hand opinions.
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
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johnR

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2009, 08:10:32 am »

Andy, there's a lot of interesting stuff here on DIY mic building, including DIY gold evaporation equipment:
http://www.10000cows.com/diyaudio.htm
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argibbo

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Re: Gold Sputtered Mylar
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2009, 09:39:56 am »

Mike Cleaver wrote on Wed, 07 October 2009 17:32

I'm pretty sure most capsule manufacturers simply buy the plastic substrate and sputter the gold themselves.
I've never heard of any for sale "pre-sputtered."
Some of the better known "do it yourselfers" who post here may help you with this

Cheers fo your reply Mike. Can't afford a sputterer. Might have to find some blokes with a scanning electron microscope. They can't see things that ain't been sputtered (and I can't hear them!)
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argibbo

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2009, 09:42:27 am »

Tim Campbell wrote on Thu, 08 October 2009 05:11

Since this is your first attempt at building a capsule don't waste hard to aquire gold sputtered mylar. Simply us aluminum metalized 6 micron mylar from a capacitor.

There are a lot of processes to learn before worrying about the quality of the film.


A great idea. Cheers Tim.
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J.J. Blair

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2009, 04:31:49 pm »

Klaus is once again proving that Germans DO in fact have a sense of humor!

Fletcher, I can only comment on five various facilities, from first hand experience, but in four different locations.  So depending on where you are geographically at the time, I might be able to assist you.

Personally, the one at UCSF was my least favorite.  

Oh, and one REALLY important thing to remember, no matter where you wind up: Try to escape BEFORE they give you the thorazine.  
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Sean Eldon Qualls

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2009, 04:57:30 pm »

Fletcher, I can personally recommend Brunswick and South Oaks, both in Amityville. Brunswick for the hard-ass staff and strict rules, and South Oaks for sheer fun.

Met my wife at South Oaks!
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J.J. Blair

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2009, 05:08:17 pm »

Was she staff, or a fellow inmate?  'Cuz if she was staff, you get massive points for that pull!  That's a true feat.
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studio info

They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

andrew lawrence

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2010, 09:34:14 am »

Don't take any notice of this lot!!!!
I live in Coulsdon,PM me I can probably help.
Andy Lawrence
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compasspnt

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2010, 09:52:35 am »

Klaus, I must say that your earlier responses were your all time high point!
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Dale Ulan

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2010, 12:56:17 am »

This is a bit more technical but I've been there, bought the T-shirt, and don't think I'd do it again.

In all seriousness, you could easily purchase a very nice microphone for the cost and time to put together a gold coater - you won't save any money and you'll probably just get frustrated. Then you'll be having to look for a mental hospital. Unless you're really determined to figure it out.

It took me many weeks (maybe a few months?) to get my coater to work - lots of vacuum leaks. And you can't find them easily, a leak can let in literally a few atoms per second of air and that ruins the process. Your vacuum system needs to maintain better than one micron of vacuum - lower leads to less contamination of the gold. That is a pretty hard vacuum, you use a diffusion pump to achieve it. Very few mechanical pumps are capable down there. Actually, you use a mechanical pump to rough-pump the chamber down, and another mechanical pump to 'back' the diffusion pump. If you're interested, look up 'thermal evaporator' on your favorite search engine. I would never recommend to anybody to DIY that project unless you really have to, having done it. My setup cost me at least $2500, using mostly ebay bits. The oil for the diffusion vacuum pump was around $100.

If you do decide to build a vacuum coater, one wrong valve move will make a mess that takes several days to clean up. I now use a programmble logic controller (with safety vacuum switches) to ensure proper sequencing of roughing-pumpdown-deposit-cool-vent cycling.

As a DIY, I'd follow Tim's recommendation. That limits you to edge-terminated capsules but that's fine. There are plenty of edge designs out there. The Stebbings/Debenham/Robinson capsule is quite nice, and it has very good machining instructions. They may seem terse if you're not used to machining - they assume you know something about using a lathe and a mill.
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Dale Ulan
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Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Tim Campbell

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2010, 05:37:17 pm »

Wow, Andy Lawrence (good to hear from you Andy!), Dale Ulan and me all on the same thread. I must be on the wrong forum.

It is possible to remove the aluminum from the edge of mylar with alcohol and a little elbow grease. I'm sure, however, that Andy might be an easier source for you to get your film from.
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SimonC

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2010, 03:35:22 pm »

Hello all,
First time post from long time reader of this great forum.
(took many tries to get the registration to work)

Tim Campbell wrote on Mon, 18 January 2010 16:37

 I must be on the wrong forum.


There are a more right (maybe he means 'better' K.H.) forums ??

Andy, great to see the return of real British tube mic manufacture, I hope to do the same in some far off future.

I have seen the pics of Dale's evapourator, great work !
My background is thin film sputtering, so if you need parts Dale, I know vacuum techs with garages full of 'old stuff'.

My boss is pretty laid back about 'calibration runs' on mylar if things are not too busy.

I am building an etcher at the moment but will have the chance to do some very fancy films later in the year.
Please let me know if this is of interest to any one.

I am working on my own capsule but so far just learning how easy it is to make bad ones. Guess that's how you learn to make good ones.

Simon Cunningham
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Unwinder

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2010, 10:11:46 pm »

This thread is too funny. Thanks for the laughter!

Re: making capsules: I've seen Dale's process first hand, and yes, you are probably better off just purchasing a good capsule and focusing on the other stuff. Making a good sounding capsule is very difficult, as far as I've seen.

Also, what is with Uruguay? A Swiss friend of mine wants to retire there. Or did you just randomly think of that Klaus?

Klaus Heyne

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2010, 01:23:53 am »

Not really random. Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and other South American countries were favourite destinations and well-liked hiding places for German fugitives of a certain political persuasion in the not too distant past.
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Klaus Heyne
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ratite

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2010, 01:51:56 am »

Can you not buy pre-sputtered film of chinese manufacture?What is the world coming to...

Oh, and Klaus: prior to running into troubles, you forgot the marketing stage, requiring paid-for pandering producers and precocious pretty girls. The latter, whom you could escape to Uruguay with, I could post, the former would have legal implications.
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Richard Horner
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Jakob Erland

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2010, 02:01:06 am »

Am I right that some of you are deliberately trying to derail the original posters attempt to gain some knowledge on diy'ing microphones?

Or is there something I missed in this thread?

Jakob E.
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Dale Ulan

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2010, 02:09:15 pm »

It might be more that people are venting their insanity after trying to stop air leaks in this....
http://www.10000cows.com/diaphragm-cycle.JPG
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Dale Ulan
10000 Cows Recording Studio
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wrekdahouse

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #30 on: February 10, 2010, 06:38:24 pm »

D. Uwins wrote on Sat, 06 February 2010 00:11

This thread is too funny. Thanks for the laughter!

(...) what is with Uruguay? A Swiss friend of mine wants to retire there. Or did you just randomly think of that Klaus?



Hello, sorry for the off-topic, Uruguay is one of the ultimate paradises of the world, were some of the beaches remain untouched, were nature rules and people are very easy-going. Also it is known as the South American 'Monte Carlo', were all the "wealthy" people of South America go to have their summer vacations...  you can get hippie life or full luxury access..it is a very nice place. A lot of European people also go there for vacation and for living too. Check google earth: uruguay/colonia, montevideo, punta del este, rocha, la paloma, la pedrera, balizas, cabo polonio, oceania del polonio.  nice places...

Also here in Argentina happens the same,
and quoting Klaus:

"Not really random. Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and other South American countries were favourite destinations and well-liked hiding places for German fugitives of a certain political persuasion in the not too distant past."

I find Patagonia and specially Bariloche is very much like Germany, speaking about the morphology of the place, it is very East-German...the mountains, the climate, food, even the architecture is influenced...  there was a lot of construction made by Germans there during "that period" and no wonder they came here- you can tell they felt pretty like being at home...that, plus the covered clearence of their passes sadly made by our government of that time...

curious data (still off-topic): in Uruguay, there is a place 40 minutes from the capital, at the coast, hidden in the woods upon the beach, were you can find a sculpture of an eagle of about 50 meters of wingspan facing the sea, made by a German artist from that era, were he had his atelier in what is the head of the eagle (two floors high at least)...  locals claim that the eagle, yes, that eagle, is looking to a specific point that if you traced it straight on a map, you can reach some place in Germany... it wouldn't be so hard to prove nowadays with a GPS...  I am going to Uruguay soon, so maybe I will check it out.

Again, sorry for drifting off the topic.
Patricio Claypole

Klaus Heyne

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #31 on: February 10, 2010, 07:27:56 pm »

Your narrative will probably start an end run on those hidden Uruguayan treasures by various recording types. Clearly off the topic, but clearly fascinating. Thank you!
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Klaus Heyne
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kats

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #32 on: February 14, 2010, 10:13:08 am »

wrekdahouse wrote on Wed, 10 February 2010 17:38




hidden in the woods upon the beach, were you can find a sculpture of an eagle of about 50 meters of wingspan facing the sea, made by a German artist from that era,




There were some excellent German sculptors from that generation - a lot of grave stones needed to be made during WW1, so it was a decent living as well. My Grandfather sculpted an official war memorial for the fallen German soldiers of WW1. It was a 20ft high statue of St. Peter holding a dead soldier in his arms.
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Dale Ulan

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #33 on: February 14, 2010, 10:35:07 am »

I think I'd almost want to move to Turks and Caicos. Nice and warm, and they wanted to join up with Canuckistan. If Jamaica and a certain country could have come to an agreement in 1884, I might have wanted to visit there. I'd still be in my own country but I would not have to rely on Dave Lennox to keep warm.

I put gold on about 120 diaphragms yesterday. A tropical destination sounds good after all of that. Let's see - air leak that took me about two hours to find, a cranky bell-jar gasket seal, one seal suck-in (that can ruin the diffusion pump oil but I guess I was lucky), and two or three diaphragms fell off of the tray into the vacuum grease on the baseplate.
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Dale Ulan
10000 Cows Recording Studio
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compasspnt

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #34 on: February 14, 2010, 01:05:47 pm »

Can't recommend T & C terribly much...very hot, pretty dusty and wasteland-like in places.  It's really the southernmost island group in The Bahamas but we didn't want it. Government extremely corrupt, and were just put on serious notice by the UK.

Where we are, we get a "little bit of cool" at least, and therefor a sense of the seasons, but never below 60 F. And not nearly so hot in the Summer.

I might could find you an office in our building...
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tskguy

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #35 on: April 13, 2010, 11:57:15 am »

Hi all,

I'm new to this forum but have spent time over at the prodigy DIY for a few years now. I have built 4 mics so far 2 tube g7's and 2 ribbons of my own design. I have recently started to TRY and build some capsules as well. Let me be very clear I am not trying to build these to sell!! My goal is to try and provide some other DIY friends a different alternative to whats available for mics. I also am a gluten for punishment and always love a challenge. One thing Ive noticed is that most guys already doing this are for some reason a little secretive about some of the process/ sources of info. Like glue and ring terminals and mylar.  Dale's web site has very good info and I cant thank him enough for what he has provided the DIY community! The hardest part of the process for me has been trying to source the actual evaporated mylar. I was fortunate to locate a source so I am at least able to move forward with drilling some holes with my cnc machine. This thread is interesting to me because of the way the original poster was in some ways dismissed. Why not try and help??

Thanks



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Klaus Heyne

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #36 on: April 13, 2010, 05:28:11 pm »

As forum host I feel compelled to answer why someone's efforts to build a condenser mic is not taken as seriously here as it may be taken at a DIY forum:

This is not a do-it-yourself forum where people exchange knowledge about their experiences of building condenser mics.
This is a forum, as  elaborated in the "Ground Rules", that concentrates on EXISTING microphones, readily available to recording professionals. It also deals with the experiences said professionals have had using professional recording mics.

I personally support the DIY community with lots of free advice and sometimes endlessly long e-mail exchanges about a specific micro-aspect of building. I also beta test microphone products that are nearing release.

But this is not the forum for such endeavours or their discussion. Yours is simply a different sub-category of the microphone community, with different focus and orientation. Hence the somewhat humorous treatment of the thread-starter's quest.

It's the best of both worlds: use each type of forum where it's most authoritative, and you will be ahead.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
www.GermanMasterworks.com

tskguy

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #37 on: April 14, 2010, 11:43:27 am »

That makes sense!  
I was just a little taken back by some of the elitist response by even some of the very well known capsule guys that used be part of the DIY community. This forum is a great place for microphone knowledge and I thank you for it! There is a large amount of info on here. I could read for days...

Eric
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Tim Campbell

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #38 on: April 14, 2010, 01:27:16 pm »

Eric,
I'm not sure what you mean by elitist responses. I just reread this thread and think you may have misinterpreted someone.

I found the replies given by those that build capsules to be helpful and to the point.

If people aren't more forthcoming about the intricacies of capsule buiding it's most likely because the majority of information is garnered empirically and so becomes proprietary.
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Campbell Transmitter
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tskguy

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #39 on: April 19, 2010, 12:20:52 pm »

Tim,
You are right, I chose my words poorly. You and Dale have always been a great source of information, so I humbly apologize for that statement.
I may have been venting some of my own personal frustration in finding info regarding building capsules.

With the help of  your posts and Dales website I have built a few capsules that actually work Smile I am in the process of working with a local company to get some gold evaporated on to some mylar.
Hopefully it will work out.

If I'm successful I would be willing to help out some other DIY capsule builders. What I have found is that most capsule builders and repair folks have gone down the long road of sourcing mylar and find it too valuable to part with.

That being said I have been able to find Mylar completely coated but I have been building a center- terminated design and that won't work for me. I need a 25mm target!  

Eric
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Dale Ulan

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Re: How To make Your Own Condenser Mic
« Reply #40 on: April 19, 2010, 07:35:23 pm »

If you have seen the photos in the Neumann book, that's basically how it's done. The photos on my website also show the masks used to make that round spot. The process of coating diaphragms is surprisingly similar to some of the steps of manufacturing transistors and IC's.

It is true that the people who have figured out how to build these things don't really want to part with the information that easily. It is very much like going to your mechanic and asking for advice on how to fix your car yourself.
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Dale Ulan
10000 Cows Recording Studio
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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