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Pickup Winder


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I have just recently thought about winding my own pickups. I have found an old sewing mahcine motor (and pedal), and i was just wondering... how do you attach the actual bobbin to the shaft?

Pics available here:

Motor Shaft

The shaft is approx. 5-6mm in diametre

I was thinking of attaching a small tapered chuck (like a small drill chuck, but with a taper instead of a thread), making a wooden plate to mount the bobbin on, then attaching the block to the chuck via a bolt.

Thanks for any help!

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Are you in the UK?

If you are, I'll send you my Jason Lollar book.

I made mine out of a remote controlled car and some mechano. I used the winder form a rubber band powered plane to count the number of turns. It must be the only Subaru Impreza powered winder in existance. I wanted to scatter wind so it's a lot less complicated than yours :D

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If you want to see what you're in to to build a winder with a sewing machine motor, here's a picture of Jason Lollar's book. It's a bit more complicated than just sticking a bobbin on it.


If you really want to get started winding for really cheap and don't want to spend time building this thing then let me show you my setup (until last year) right here It's a simple hand drill with a sanding attachment. The bobbin is stuck on it with double-sided tape. The paint roller is holding the wire bobbin. One bobbin takes me 15-20 minutes to wind. Right here, is a picture of me in action.

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Hey there...welcome to the forum Mitch72...

I have used strong double sided tape to hold the bobbin on to a perspex wheel. It is vital that the whell spins absolutely true and there is no wobble in the shaft...especially if motorised!

Jasons book is just one idea...and there are some good ideas in their plus templates for pickup bobbins. But his winder, pictured above is just one approach. Also from Australia (as it happens) is this guy who has a site just on winders...designed2wind

He has a whole range of designs including electric drill versions.

I built my own with a sewing machine motor driving a grinder with a bunch of MDF...

The counter is probably the difficult part, but if you can do a little electronics....I used one from Ozitronics (ship worldwide) as D2W describes...but you need to have the guy adjust the chip to allow high speeds...a simple magnet on the wheel and a switch provides the output...

I went a little too far and added a tachometer as well!!!

Back on jasons winder...he uses a sewing machine motor to spin the bobbin and an oscillating fan motor to run the wire backwards and forwards...most people don't have such a system and "scatterwind" by hand as it winds...which is supposed to be superior anyway and how the classic pickups were made. With G&L Leo still used such simple sewing machine devices to do his, even though he had all the experience and payout from fender...

Anyway...plenty of links with the search function in the electronics section proper on pickup winders...to tempt you to seek it out here is a pic of my winder photographed in construction in response to a great thread over there on a lego winder...check it out...


pete :D

Edited by psw
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Thanks for all the info guys, greatly appreicated

to ToneMonkey:

I've decided to see if i can mount a wooden "base plate" to the shaft via a grub screw (dunno how yet though... might have to somehow use a self-tapping screw...), where the bobbin will be either bolted/screwed on, or stuck on with double sided sticky tape as you have suggested. I had thought about the sticky tape awhile ago, and was wondering how fast would the motor be able to go? Im not going to be winding fast, i just... want to make sure it won't fall off halfway through :D

to Phil:

im still scatterwinding it by hand, im just using a motor instead of winding it "manually" with a hand drill.

and to psw:

Yeah, i was thinkin of using a calculator to count the winds: Counter

(basically a calculator with a reed switch hooked up to press the = button)

at least untill i get a better idea... unless this one's fast enough to keep up with the counts :D

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I have another one I used for making things like my sustainer drivers that is a hand winder made from an old film winder I found in the shed. I used a calculator as a counter but it is a little slow...the LCD takes longer to refresh than it is actually able to count...don't go too fast or it will loose counts. A cheaper calculator is better I heard because they typically don't have auto shutdown...that could be really annoying in the middle of a wind if you have to stop to answer the phone or something...d'oh! Otherwise the calculator works ok.

My electric winder can count accurately to over 4000 rpm...but it is practically impossible to wind properly at much over 500 rpm anyway!

You will need something to tension the wire gently. Most, including Lollar's book suggest a folded piece of felt that the wire passes through and pressured by some washers on a bolt with a butterfly nut. In the above winder the wire passes around the right cup hook there from the reel on the floor, between the felt tensioned by the draw handle, then through the other cup hook directly under the bobbin...then guided by hand. (note that this was built for cylindrical shaped miniture sustainer driver coils, not guitar pickups). In the picture of Jason Lollar's winder from the book, the felt is on that long stick above the reel and tensioned by a clamp. You guide the wire by hand generally...but Jason's machine has a rod that moves from side to side to guide the wire...so is a bit more automated. On the designed to wind site, you will see a good idea...he uses some movable guides that prevent the wire overshooting the bobbin completely...this is a great idea cause if it does do that, even by hand...it is likely to tangle and break...

Good Luck... pete

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^If your tensioning by hand, do you just pinch the wire with felt, like what would happen with the bolt/wingnut/washer? I'm sure i've heard of it being done before... just dunno...

I'm making (just need to clean it up a bit, add supports to secure it, etc...) a guide to stop it going off the bobbin. It's basically just a "U" kind of shape:


(The flash kinda mucked it up a bit... part of it looks like it's missing... its just a bit bent and went dark... :S)

I like the idea of the powered guides on there, don't think I'm up to that yet though :D. I might have a look at it and see if I can make mine manually adjustable... it should be ok as it is though.



Edited by Mitch72
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  • 1 month later...

I'll add my two cents, but mind you I'm no authority.

A few years back, probably '98 or so, some professors at MIT teamed up with Lego to produce this big robotics kit, complete with central CPU, light sensors, touch sensors, completely programmable to the user's delight.

Well, I havn't used the thing since I was in High School, but now with an engineering degree I'm sure I'll be able to whip up anything imaginable on this thing. (Back in the day, advanced users would post their creations on lego sites and this thing has limitless possibilities).

This summer, for certain circumstances, I'm back home. First thing I saw in my old room was a robotic arm I made for physics class, complete with light and touch sensors:


(Excuse the dust, it's been 5 years since I've been home!)

Alright, so my plan, is to make a machine with one motor spinning the bobbin on an axis, and another motor controlling where the wire goes, complete with touch sensors, the computer keeping track of the number of revolutions and a light sensor to cut the motors when complete. Also, I'll have some sort of system to keep tension on the wire.

Basically, I'm going to try for a hands-free Lego approach to winding pickups.

Edited by matttheguy
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ahaha. i have made the same robotical arm for my 7th grade math project. cool. Isnt mindstorms great. I made a pickup winder already with one. Works ok, the only problem is ratio. thats going to be hard to do when there are different bobbins to wind. Im sure you have a rotation sensor and tensioning should not be a big problem. Man legos are great. I think i may try to build one with the NXT kit that comes out in August.

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It's great that you were able to use that kind of technology in 7th grade. My has technology advanced! They were teaching us slide rules in our advanced classes, not robotics!

I just graduated last year with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, but I took a couple classes on robotics (real, not just lego!), as required by my department, and the mechanical engineering classes were what built my basis for aeronautics, so the ratio probably will not be something of a trouble for me to program.

I would tell you, monkey, to learn some basic and C++ and program the lego brick using those, it's much more versatile and much more exact than using the mindstorms programming method. Everything becomes much more efficient when using exact numerical approaches instead of computer given commands (which yes, are numerical approaches, but I think you get what I mean!). :D

Building a pickup winder and programming it to wind a pickup flawlessly is the easy part; applying a burst finish - that's where the dragon bites me.

Edited by matttheguy
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