Roland S-330 power cable replacement

Lately my Roland S-330 sometimes hasn’t started when I’ve pushed the power button on the front. I’ve noticed that if I moved the power cable downwards it powered on, although a bit glitchy if I didn’t pull it hard enough. So when I had the S-330 out of rack I opened it up to see if everything looked alright near the power supply. And everything did, the soldering looked perfect. Moving the power cable made it turn on and off. I reckoned there must be some kind of breakage in the power cable, probably where the cable goes of the case.

I've unscrewed the metal plate in which a plastic part is mounted through which the power cable goes.
I’ve unscrewed the metal plate in which a plastic part is mounted through which the power cable goes.

As you can see the cable is run through a bit of plastic that is mounted on a separate metal plate. Removing the plastic was a major PITA, the trick is to rotate it a bit and using a pliers and push it from inside out. After the plastic bit is loose, it’s possible to open it with a flat screwdriver. As you can see in the photo below, the plastic piece has deformed the cable so it looks like a U.

The power cable has been U-shaped by the plastic piece, and it's here the power cable is damaged.
The power cable has been U-shaped by the plastic piece, and it’s here the power cable is damaged.

I bought a new power cable with a Euro plug, the original cable is an old style ungrounded plug.

The old plug (bottom) was an old style ungrounded one, the new cable (upper) has a Euro plug. This is the reason why I bought a new cable and not just cut away the damaged part of the old one.
The old plug (bottom) was an old style ungrounded one, the new cable (upper) has a Euro plug. This is the reason why I bought a new cable and not just cut away the damaged part of the old one.

To start with, I cut away the bad part from the plastic piece.

The plastic piece is modified, it's the part that's cutaway that damages the cable.
The plastic piece is modified, it’s the part that’s cutaway that damages the cable.
The evil part is loose.
The evil part is loose.

The I tried to unsolder the old power cable. That was unsuccessful and the tubing on the brown hot cable was damaged, so I fixed it with some yellow heat shrink tubing. I then cut the old power cable and solder it to the new one. Before I soldered I did remember to run the new power cable through all the bits and pieces that the original cable went through.

I tried to desolder the hot cable (brown one) without success. I damaged the brown heat shrink tubing so I put on some new. The new cable was solder together with the old one.
I tried to desolder the hot cable (brown one) without success. I damaged the brown heat shrink tubing so I put on some new. The new cable was solder together with the old one.
I mounted the new cable exactly as the old one.
I mounted the new cable exactly as the old one.

I powered it up and it worked perfectly. By the way, putting the plastic piece back was an even harder task than to remove it, but with a lot of patience I succeeded. The S-330 is now back in the rack, but before I reassembled it I took some bonus photos of it’s inside. Notice all the custom Roland chips and the HxC SD Floppy Emulator as well as all the different outputs.

Repair photos

Bonus photos

Oberheim DMX parts ordered from Electrongate

I’ve just ordered some stuff from Paul at Electrongate. He’s been very friendly and helpful during our e-mail correspondence.

Here’s a list of stuff that I ordered;

  1. DMX Midi Upgrade with a custom made breakout box, more details to come
  2. Thumbscrews for the lid, those were missing
  3. A new NiCd battery that will be relocated in another position than the original one
  4. A couple of rare Molex connectors that the DMX has on it’s back for CV and trigger
Oberheim eagerly awaiting it's MIDI upgrade to arrive.
Oberheim eagerly awaiting it’s MIDI upgrade to arrive.

Oberheim DPX-1 CPU problem?

In early March this year I bought an Oberheim DPX-1 on eBay. This example had the latest OS and the rare 8 output expander plus a brand new PSU! Unfortunately it was probably dropped on the ground on the journey from the US to Sweden. I was refunded but got to keep it since the buyer wasn’t interested in paying the shipping back to the US.

This night I opened the DPX up to try and find any clue of what was wrong. Not being an electronics expert, I tried usual of way of troubleshooting, namely removing part by part and see if anything made a difference.

The error could simply be described as the DPX not booting. When it’s powered on it immediately shows a strange character in the LCD display and then lits the MIDI CHANNEL, DATA DUMP and ERROR leds. See the video below day I shot when it arrived.

What I did tonight was:

  1. I started to remove the floppy cables and power cables. No difference, Same error.
  2. I removed the cable to the expansion board. No difference, same error.
  3. I removed the OS chips and doing that on a working unit would most probably generate an error. But no difference, same error.
  4. I removed the CPU, and without the CPU it’s certainly guaranteed that nothing should work, but no difference, same error.

However, removing the CPU, the most important part in a digital instrument, and not getting any other error points to the fact that the CPU might be the problem. I also remember that when I looked at DPX the last time when it arrived broken, the CPU had popped out. What I also noticed now was that one pin of the 64 pins were missing.

CPU is missing pin 1, also known as 'D4'. The CPU will certainly not run at all without this according to a forum member with lot's of 68k experience.
CPU is missing pin 1, also known as ‘D4’. The CPU will certainly not run at all without this according to a forum member with lot’s of 68k experience.

The CPU is a Motorola MC68000P10, a version of the in the 80’s widely used 68k family. I looked it up in the data sheet, and the pin is number pin number 1, named ‘D4’. I asked in the 99musik forum, and someone replied that the CPU most definitely can’t start without D4.

I took a look at some photos taken when the DPX arrived, and in those photos the pin is actually there. However, it could have been very loose then, just waiting to fall off. I’ve looked for the pin in the DPX, but I guess it’s like looking for a pin in a haystack.

I found a Chinese seller on eBay that sells  Motorola MC68000P10s for $8 including shipping to Sweden, I’ll order one of these within the next days and hope that it’ll bring the DPX-1 back to life again. To be continued…

Alesis AI3 arrived

Since I bought the DMX I’ve felt a lack of analog inputs. My current setup has a total of 18 analog ins, 8 on the Behringer ADA-8000 (all with preamps) and 10 on the Fireface (of which 6 have preamps). The Alesis AI3 will add another 8 ones without preamps to a total of 26. The only way to further expand is to buy an analog to SPDIF converter that will add 2 more inputs, a total of 28.

A couple of days ago I found an Alesis AI3 for a good price. I was first looking for another ADA-8000, but they seem to be keepers. I’ve read in several forums that the ADA-8000 actually uses Alesis manufactured AD converters, the same as in the AI3 and I haven’t found anything wrong with them. What differs from the ADA-8000 is that the AI3 has no preamps, even though it’s price is twice the ADA-8000’s. This means that there are no volume knobs and inputs on the front. That also means that I have to patch the inputs on the rear of the AI3 to a patch bay. Anyway, the package arrived today and here’s a view of it before it was unboxed.

The Alesis AI3 came in a familiar kind of box from Thomann, although this AI3 was a second hand. Thomann hasn't  had it for sale for ages.
The Alesis AI3 came in a familiar kind of box from Thomann, although this AI3 was a second hand. Thomann hasn’t had it for sale for ages.

The install was easy, two toslink cables were included so all I did was to connect the in and out of the AI3 to the RME’s ADAT2 in and out. The ADAT1 is used by the ADA-8000. I opened RME’s excellent Totalmix application and named the inputs accordingly.

View of RME's Totalmix software. 1-10 are the analog ins on the Fireface, 11-12 are the unused SPDIF inputs, 13-20 is for ADAT1 which in my case is the ADA-8000 and 21-28 is the AI3.
View of RME’s Totalmix software. 1-10 are the analog ins on the Fireface, 11-12 are the unused SPDIF inputs, 13-20 is for ADAT1 which in my case is the ADA-8000 and 21-28 is the AI3.

Except for the stereo SPDIF input, my RME Fireface 800 is now maxed. The only way to add more inputs is to add one or two more Fireface 800s and chain them together. When it comes to configuring the AI3, there’s not very much to configure. Two buttons on the front are all there is. One is to select whether the AI3 should output the analog ins or the ADAT in to the ADAT out. The other one selects operating level. I actually use -10dBv although it’s the consumer level (+4dBu is quieter). The reason why is that most of my gear has quite low output signals.

The AI3 has two buttons on the front, what to output to the toslink and what level to operate on. +4 dBu is the professional level, and is actually quieter than the consumer level - 10 dBv which is louder.
The AI3 has two buttons on the front, what to output to the toslink and what level to operate on.
+4 dBu is the professional level, and is actually quieter than the consumer level – 10 dBv which is louder.

One interesting thing is that the AI3 needs to have both the in and out ADAT connected for it to sync. Without the in toslink I got a very interesting “bit-crush” sound when the ADA-8000 was turned on. I don’t know why the ADA-8000 doesn’t need an in toslink, but I’ll buy one anyway just to make sure everything is in sync.

The RME Fireface 800 shows that both ADAT inputs are used.
The RME Fireface 800 shows that both ADAT inputs are used.
View of RME's Fireface settings. The RME is the Master of the ADA-8000 and AI3. I always record at 24-bit 44.1 kHz. Both ADAT-devices goes to max 48 kHz. Without ADAT units, the Fireface can manage 24-Bit 192 kHz!
View of RME’s Fireface settings. The RME is the Master of the ADA-8000 and AI3. I always record at 24-bit 44.1 kHz. Both ADAT-devices goes to max 48 kHz. Without ADAT units, the Fireface can manage 24-Bit 192 kHz!

 

I had to reorganize the rack to make space for the AI3 and one more Neutrik patchbay (which I haven’t purchased yet. The Roland S-330 and U-220 was moved below the Microwave. I had noticed that the S-330 power cable was a bit glitchy, so I decided to open it up and search for the problem. Read more about the power cable replacement here.

Testing the AI3 before mounting it in the rack.
Testing the AI3 before mounting it in the rack.
The AI3 is in the rack and the Oberheim DMX is back on top where it belongs! I saved a 1U free space for another Neutrik NYS-SPP-L1 patch bay. The reason for not putting the ADA-8000 next to the RME is because both have preamps and tend to get very hot. The patch bays are passive, and the AI3 doesn't get hot either.
The AI3 is in the rack and the Oberheim DMX is back on top where it belongs! I saved a 1U free space for another Neutrik NYS-SPP-L1 patch bay. The reason for not putting the ADA-8000 next to the RME is because both have preamps and tend to get very hot. The patch bays are passive, and the AI3 doesn’t get hot either.

 

Boss DR-110 arrived

I just received the Boss DR-110, a.k.a electronic toy. Very good packaging, condition looked as on the eBay pictures. Serial number 400300. However, when I started playing with it I noticed that only the HAND CLAP had any volume. The other sounds were there, but very quiet.

I posted on the 99musik forum. I shortly got an answer from a guy that never had used a DR-110, but had taken a look at the schematics. He suspected the balance knob, according to the schematics all voices are wired through the balance knob except for the hand clap that goes directly to the amplifier.

dr-110-5-schematics-balance

ALL OTHER VOICES -> BALANCE KNOB -> AMPLIFIER
HAND CLAP -> AMPLIFIER

dr-110-4-balance-solder
The DR-110 has four knobs, from left to right:
TEMPO, BALANCE, ACCENT, VOLUME
As you can see, the BALANCE soldering doesn’t factory

I opened the DR, and guess what, the soldering on the balance knob didn’t look at all like the other ones. Note that the schematics are seen from the top, my photo is from the bottom, that’s why the knobs don’t make sense at the first look.

I’ll have to fix this, to be continued…

Oberheim DMX bargain

Just bought an Oberheim DMX. It was a real bargain, listed at 2000 Danish crowns ($350). I called him and offered him 2500 ($440) if he’d reserve it for me. He had one person that had contacted him before that wanted to buy it, and said he would call me if that person didn’t buy the DMX. At that point I told myself that it most certainly would be sold.

Later that day he called me and said that the buyer didn’t have the cash. So now I was first in line. I jumped in my car and drove to Denmark. Even if the condition wouldn’t be great, or if a voice card would be bad, it would still be a bargain. When I arrived and saw it in real life I couldn’t believe my eyes – it looked mint and worked flawlessly. I bought it for 2500. He told me that people after me in line had offered him 3000 ($530) and more. Very nice seller by the way! He told me that it’s this DMX that is used on this recording. I think the seller is the guy playing the bass in the video.

On the way back I turned on the radio and heard Into the Groove by Madonna. That must have been a sign. Just like when I heard Carrie by Europe when I was driving home with my JX-8P.

The sound is fantastic, very punchy. And extremely present! Already love it!
Now I have to stop writing and Google for MIDI-mods and check if the battery could cause problems.

Boss Dr-110 bought

In my studio I have lots of analog synths, but no analog drum machine. That changed tonight when I scored a Boss Dr-110 on eBay! I wouldn’t say no to a Roland TR-x0x, but since the prices have skyrocketed lately, the Dr-110 is a steal for $100. Have a look at the clip that persuaded me to buy it.

Must say that both machines sound fantastic, and very similar! One thing that scares me is the lack of MIDI, but the positive thing is that I really will have to learn how to program it!

I hope this one survives the trip from Canada over the Atlantic. Otherwise I can always call Dr Beat.

(Hey wait! That’s not a Dr, that’s Linn!)