Category Archives: Yamaha TX816

Changing battery on the TX-816

Sooner or later the battery will go dead on a TF1 module. It has a standard 3V CR2032 Lithium battery that can be found everywhere. When the voltage drops to low, the TF1 will fail to hold it’s memory and all patches and settings will disappear. Unlike the DX7, each TF1 doesn’t have a cartridge reader, but similar to the DX7 there’s no ROM memory. If you lose or edit the patches, the only way to get the factory patches back is to transfer them by sysex from a computer or another DX7.  The TF1 lits the error led and displays a 4 if the battery voltage is too low.

The error led is lit and the alpha numeric display shows a 4. This means error number 4 = low battery. At the top and bottom you can see the hex screws that need to be unscrewed.
The error led is lit and the alpha numeric display shows a 4. This means error number 4 = low battery. At the top and bottom you can see the hex screws that need to be unscrewed.

As with a lot of synths from the early eighties, when patch memory was a novelty, the battery is soldered to the TF1’s circuit board. So it has to be desoldered to be changed. Then the new battery must be soldered back. One alternative is to put a CR2032 battery holder there instead, then next time no soldering will be required. I chose the battery holder path.

First you have to remove the TF1 module and it’s actually very easy to do. Unscrew two Philips screws on the back, and two screws with 2.5mm hex heads (IKEA style, but smaller) at the front. Then push the card from the back so it pops out of the front. Pull it gently towards you without using any force, it should go smooth.

The TF1 module is nearly out.
The TF1 module is nearly out.

I desoldered the old battery and used a solder sucker to remove the old solder. I then measured the distance between the two holes to approximately 16 mm.

Battery is unsoldered.
Battery is unsoldered.
The space between the battery's legs is 16 mm. Unfortunately I could only find battery holders with 19 mm space.
The space between the battery’s legs is 16 mm. Unfortunately I could only find battery holders with 19 mm space.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a holder with 16 mm distance between it’s pins, 19 mm was all I could find (bought here). Fortunately the pins were quite long, so I managed to bend them inwards enough for them to fit and penetrate the holes.I then soldered the battery holder and put the battery back.

Look closely to see the bent pins (19 -> 16 mm conversion).
Look closely to see the bent pins (19 -> 16 mm conversion).

A quite simple operation. I think it’s worth the extra time and cash ($2) with a battery holder. That time will be spared next time the battery must be changed.

I recommend this site for more info on the TX-816.

Yamaha TX-816 arrived

This mean looking Yamaha TX-816 just arrived! The TX-816 is a monstrous FM synth from the 80’s. It’s actually eight (!) Yamaha DX7s in a 4U rack.

Each “DX7” is called a TF1 module, the TX-816 has eight TF1s. Two cheaper versions were also sold, the TX-216 and TX-416 with two respectively four TF1s. Those were of course upgradable to TX-816 by adding additional TF1 modules.  When new in 1984 a TX-816 cost more than $5000. I payed less than $400 which is a bargain.

This particular unit was used on the big hit “Highland” from the early nineties. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. It was a bargain anyway, got it for a good price since the second module shows error number 4, which actually is no worse than low battery. In other words, the internal battery must be unsoldered and replaced.