Tag Archives: eBay

E-MU Emulator II LCD screen change

One thing that sooner of later will die on your EII, if hasn’t already, is the backlight of the lcd display.  There are basically two things that can go wrong: The backlight itself or its transformer.

The backlight The original EII display don’t use leds for the backlight as modern displays do, but another kind of lamp. These can be replaced, but I’ve understood that it’s quite a lot of work, and it’ll definitively die on you again.

The transformer transforms 5V to a much higher that supplies the backlight with power. These kind of transformers often emit a high pitched frequency which can be quite annoying.  Since my transformer didn’t sound at all, I thoguht that this might be the faulty component, and not the backlight itself. The transformer used on the EII is the NEC NEL-D32-46.

The solution is to replace the whole lcd display with a newer one that has led-backlight and remove the transformer. On my EII I suspect someone has been doing some kind of operation on the display before, since the display wasn’t physically connected to the display.

Parts

EII OEM displays can be bought on eBay for a lot of money, and they will die sooner or later. There are also other modern “EII/SP1200 replacement lcd displays” available, but they are way overpriced.

Probably any standard modern 16×2 lcd display will work, but be careful when you look for one that it has the correct dimensions, 84×44 mm. Most 16×2 displays that you find are 80×36 mm, and they a) won’t fit in the standard mounts b) require a new flat cable to be soldered to the upper board. Take my advice and get one in the correct dimensions! There are some lcd displays avaible that don’t have backlight, you don’t want one of those. The lcds with backlight are usually 13.5 mm deep, the ones without 9mm.

I found a suitable lcd display manifactured by “Midas” on the UK eBay for around $30 including shipping to Sweden. They can be found much cheaper on Farnell and RS Components, but they require that you purchase stuff for a minimum amount.  I chose the model with blue background and white characters.  You’ll also need a new hex-inverter chip and two short wires for the power.

  • Midas MC21605A6WD-BNMLW 16×2 lcd display 84×44 mm with backlight, I bought it from here
  • Hex inverter Texas Instruments SN74LS04N (this was strangely enough in a zipper bag included with my EII when I bought it…)
  • A pair of 5 inch red and black wires

Replacing the display

Start by opening the EII and remove the upper board that the display is mounted on. More details on that in the E-MU Emulator II slider pot A replacement post.

First thing was to remove the transformer. I cut the melt glue and then used a solder sucker and some heat to remove it. I then soldered the red and black wire to get 5V and ground from the same place as the transformer did.

Next thing, and probably the most time consuming one, was to desolder the 14 pin flat cable from the old display. First I removed the four nuts so that the display was loose from the board. I then had to use plenty of heat and soldering wick. Because of the heat, the insulation on the flat cable took a hit and split itself, but that was actually not a problem, I see no risk in short circuits.

Next step was to solder the 5V and ground wires to the new display, 5V goes to hole 15 and ground to hole 16. The flat cable’s 14 pins goes to hole 1-14. I then reattached it with the nuts and nylon spacers to the board, it was 100% perfect fit!

Just for fun,  I booted the EII to see if my desoldering action had caused any damaged, but it didn’t! I did see the garbled text in the new lcd that I’ve read about in forums when you don’t have the correct hex inverter.

I turned the EII off and located IC25 on the right lower board, it’s near where the floppy cable connects. Make sure you work the right board and not the left, because there’s an IC25 on the left as well with the same physical dimensions! I removed the original RCA H 506 and replaced it with the SN74LS04N and booted. It worked, and it looked great!

Conclusion

I really recommend doing this switch, the display is very easy to read and also has a good display angle. The hardest part is desoldering the flat cable, other than that the swap is straight forward. Make sure you get a display in the correct dimensions as well, 84×44 mm, and double check that it features backlight.

E-MU Emulator II bought on eBay

I just did something quite crazy – I bought an EII on eBay. It’s said to be working with the exception of the disk drives.  Those could and should be replaced with an HxC anyway. The big challenge will be shipping it to Sweden. To be continued….

Continued: It will be reshipped in a container since it’s larger than USPS allows. Will probably arrive around Christmas. Worth waiting for…

Bonus: someone has re-created “West End Girls” on an EII.  Fantastic!

Oberheim Matrix-6R

A couple of weeks ago I scored an Oberheim Matrix-6R on eBay. I’ve had a Matrix 1000 before, but we never became friends. It sounded too much techno and too little vintage. Therefore it might sound strange for me to go and buy a Matrix-6, since their guts are nearly the same. The thing that convinced me was the video review by my favorite Japanese guy, Katsunori UJIIE. He really brings out the nice brass and strings this machine is capable of!

Since I live in Europe and bought it from the US (the rack version is quite hard to find in Sweden, I’ve been looking out for one for a while), I turned to a guy I know to convert it from 110 V to 230 V.  I read on his blog that the built in PSU can be switched by doing something on the inside. I didn’t ask him exactly what, but for someone that’s good with electronics, doing the mod should be piece of cake. I suspect it’s something simple like repositioning a wire and changing the fuse.

When I got it back I plugged it in and was amazed by it’s sound! Fantastic brass presets, perfect for a brass guy like me. Compared to how I remembered the Matrix 1000, this sounded like something completely different. Maybe it’s the combination of more vintage sounding presets and the fact that the DCOs on the Matrix-6 aren’t controlled by the same clock.

Compared to the Roland MKS-70 that took two rack units, and really deserved them, the Matrix-6R definitely deserves its three rack units! I still have a JX-10 that has exactly the same guts as the MKS-70, but honestly, I think I like the Oberheim sound better! The JX-10/MKS-70 with their 24 DCOs are technically more advanced, but they are flirting too much with the digital trend of that time. I also find the Oberheim snappier and the filter more characteristic. To sum it up:

Roland JX-10 / MKS-70
Pros:
• 24 DCOs
• Roland chorus

Cons:
• Filter
• Slow envelopes
• Digital sounding presets
• Broken midi/sysex implementation

Oberheim Matrix-6
Pros:
• Filter
• Envelopes
• Vintage sounding presets

Cons:
• 12 DCOs
• 3 rack units (compared to MKS-70 2 or Matrix-1000 1)
• Slow CPU, lots of sysex chokes it

 

Cheap prommer that works (GQ-4X) and one that doesn’t (TOP853)

I’ve had a few readers asking about the TOP853 eprom programmer and how I got it working. The truth is, I never did. Of all eproms I’ve tried, only a few 21V Mitsubishi 2764s have been successfully burnt. My conclusion and advice to everyone – don’t buy the TOP853 – it doesn’t work!

Here’s a quick list of what I tried before giving up:

  • tried several computers
  • different versions of Windows
  • different USB ports (1, 2 & 3)
  • different USB cables
  • a powered hub
  • various older versions of the software
  • modified an USB cable to draw extra current from the computer’s PSU

Unfortunately, nothing helped. I felt liberated the day I put the TOP853 in the trash and ordered a GQ-4X instead. It costs more than he TOP853, but on the other hand it works. I haven’t had one unsuccessful write yet. Other good GQ-4X features is that it supports modern 64-bit OS:es too, the software is in English instead of Chinglish and is frequently updated. I think the manufacturer is Canadian.

The GQ-4X can be found on eBay. Since I’m in the EU (Sweden), the best thing is to order it from another EU country. I bought mine on eBay UK from the seller cus_co_uk

LinnDrum bought

I just scored a LinnDrum on eBay. It’s located in NYC and hasn’t got Midi. My plan is to try to have the seller to ship it to Forat in California that hopefully can add the Midi kit and then send it to Sweden.

Potential Oberheim DX steal

I know, I already got a DMX. But yesterday I saw an Oberheim DX with midi for sale on the US eBay. The highest bid was at $70 with less than two days left. This was a potential bargain!

Unfortunately the seller didn’t offer international shipping according to the ad. So I contacted him like a often do in these situations, and most times they actually can ship abroad. With two hours remaining the price was $128. This guy however didn’t answer my message, which was too bad for both him and me. The auction ended at $285 which is a steal. If he had offered me international shipping he could have gotten $400 from me instead…

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Oberheim-DX-Digital-Drum-Machine-/390609370327

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…

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!)