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Mission Engineering 529

USB Pedal Power Supply
By Dave Lockwood

Mission Engineering 529

Mission Engineering’s new 529 model is designed to convert the 5V of direct current available from any USB power source into the 9V DC used by most of the world’s guitar effects pedals. This is a subtly different concept to integrated battery-driven pedalboard power supplies such as the Pedaltrain Volto, in as much as the 529 doesn’t have any power of its own: it relies on being connected to a battery or USB charger. Given that such things are now highly affordable and practically ubiquitous, this is not a problem. Indeed, this configuration could be said to confer one great long-term advantage in that the element in the system that must eventually wear out — all rechargable batteries have a finite number of cycles — is readily replaceable when the time comes. You can also decide to always carry a second battery as a backup.

The 529 unit itself is an anodised aluminium box, smaller than most pedalboard power supplies (4.5 x 1.75 x 1 inches), because it doesn’t have to house a mains transformer. There’s a Type-B USB 2.0 input (the square one) for connecting the power source, a Type-A USB socket (the flat one) for daisy-chaining to another 529 box, or powering something else, and five isolated 9V outputs for pedals. Four of these are rated at 150mA, with one rated at 500mA to cater for the higher current demand of many digital pedals, giving a working capacity for a single 529 of 1100mA.

The 529 can be purchased with or without a battery, offering a decent saving if you’ve already got something suitable, and comes complete with a 12W USB mains adapter, short (3’) and long (10’) USB leads, and five standard 2.1mm pedal-power cables.

Most USB battery packs of reasonable capacity will work just fine with the 529 — I tested three different units, including Mission’s own optional ‘Mission-529-Verified’ 10,000mAh battery. Obviously, working time is dependent on the capacity of the battery and the power consumption of your particular pedals, but the nominal 12 hours offered by a 10,000mAh unit should get you through most gigs and the longest of long rehearsals.

Running a small pedalboard from a battery supply not only frees you from having to find a conveniently placed extra power outlet on stage, but is also inherently quieter, as there’s no potential for induced hum from having a PSU mains transformer in close proximity to your pedals, or earth loops to corrupt your signal. I successfully tested that the same noise-free performance was retained when using a standard phone/tablet USB power adapter to feed the unit directly during use, and whilst still connecting a cable to power your board might seem to negate one of the primary benefits of the concept, I’m sure there won’t be a single user that wouldn’t be pleased to know that the option is there should a battery fail, or indeed the user find that they’ve forgotten to charge it!

The supplied USB power adapter is the higher-rated 2.4A type, allowing it to simultaneously power two 529s, but many USB plug-in power supplies are rated at just 1.2A — comfortably enough for any number of analogue pedals, but not enough for a bunch of digital units, or for daisy-chaining 529s. You can also power the unit from a USB port on a computer, although these will often only have a rating of 500mA, which will then become the limit available to power the pedals (USB 3.0 is higher-rated at 900mA)

More ‘alternate power’ options exist now than ever before — I saw several new ones at NAMM — but this one is compact, affordable and as well built and ‘pro’ as all Mission Engineering kit tends to be. Having wanted a mains-free, ‘fly-rig-style’ pedalboard for some time now, it was the future-proofing inherent in the separation of the battery from the distribution box that really caught my attention here, and I bought the review model.

529 only (no battery) $149; ‘Pro bundle version’ (529 plus Mission-validated APC 10,000mAh rechargeable USB Lithium Polymer battery) $199.

529 only (no battery) $149; ‘Pro bundle version’ (529 plus Mission-validated APC 10,000mAh rechargeable USB Lithium Polymer battery) $199.

Published April 2018