Last night I upgraded my Juno-60 with the MDCB60 midi kit from D-tronics. Even though I prefer not to use midi, there are situations where midi is nice to have, for example when doing quick sketches that you want to save, or try different sounds without manually having to play the same sequence over and over.
The DCB port
The Juno-60 was an upgraded version of the Juno-6, with the main difference that it had memory section, just like it’s main competitor Polysix. Another addition was the DCB port, which was Rolands predecessor to midi. Remember, this was back in 1982 and midi was first introduced in 1983. Before midi, Roland had DCB, Oberheim had it’s own proprietary protocol etc. Too my knowledge, only the Juno-60 and some of the Jupiter 8s had DCB . The JX-3P was the first Roland synth with midi, so DCB didn’t live more than a year or two. We should be thankful that the manufacturers actually managed to agree on the midi standard, that still lives 32 years later, even though it has its flaws.
Luckily, DCB is quite primitive and therefore simple to convert to midi. The MDCB60 only adds note on/note off, so there’s no pitch bend, program change, arpeggiator sync etc.
The installation was very straight forward:
Open the Juno
Remove the DCB-connector from the back
Cut one zip tie so the DCB-connector reaches outside the synth
Unsolder all wires
Insulate the green and purple wires
Solder the wires to the MDCB60
Screw it to the back of the Juno-60
Add a new zip tie
Solder the wire from the MDCB60 to the gate pin on the Juno-60 board for 5V power
There’s a video here describing the installation, however, they seem to take the 5V power from another place than the gate pin.
The installation took less than an hour in total, and it worked straight away! I recommend this kit if you need basic midi on your Juno-60.
I just got added in the waiting list for the Organix JX-3P MIDI Expansion Kit. The JX-3P already has midi, but the Organix kit adds some features. The one I need the most is the ability to use the PG-200 and midi at the same time (this isn’t possible when standard). Another cool feature is that the PG-200 will send midi CC’s, and the JX-3P will receive midi CC’s. This is extra valuable for those who don’t have a PG-200 and want to use a standard midi controller like a Behringer BCR-2000 or Korg nanoKONTROL. Since the JX-3P is from 1983 it can’t even receive midi sysex!
Today I did two things on my DMX that should have been done long ago.
First task was to solder in a new battery. The old battery was removed a couple of months ago, but I never put in the new one (bought from Electrongate). Since I don’t think it’s a good idea to solder the new battery in the same spot due to possible leaking disasters, I soldered two new wires. The battery was then placed in the bottom right corner and insulated with tape.
The next thing to do was installing the Midi upgrade from Electrongate. My Midi upgrade was actually a special order – normally you place the Midi jacks on one of the walnut side panels. I didn’t want to do it for two reasons;
I prefer to have all connections at the rear and second
And most important – mine are mint. It would be shame to drill in them
So I mailed Paul, the owner of Electrongate, asking if it was possible to get the Midi jacks in a breakout box instead. To avoid drilling holes, Paul made a special cable that goes from the Midi board to the 12-pin Molex that was used for triggering. Then the breakout box was connected to the trigger Molex. A very neat solution – the trigger in functionality was sacrificed – on the other hand I don’t need it when I have Midi.
Installing the kit is fairly straight forward, there’s an excellent guide with photos that is very simple to follow (so I didn’t take any photos). My DMX had the memory upgrade board, in the guide the upgrade is performed on a non memory upgraded DMX, so there were some differences, however – they are pointed out in the text. The Midi board replaces the memory upgrade board and a bonus is that the Midi board actually upgrades the memory as well.
The installation procedure is mostly about taking chips from one place (the main board or memory board) and putting them on the Midi board. I recommend having both an IC puller and a small flat screw driver for this. The hardest part of the upgrade is soldering two tiny wires (“E1” and “F1”) to the main board. It was hard because in one case you have to solder the wire directly to a copper lane, in a very tight place. Another challenge is to cut the copper lane next to it, and then avoid soldering the wire over the cut so that the cut isn’t cut anymore.
I’m not a soldering expert, but if you know someone that can do it for you, or if you live close to Paul, pay him to do it for you! It took me a couple of hours, and I wasn’t very comfortable cutting and soldering on such an old expensive piece. On the other hand, doing such stuff is the best way to learn.
I took the DMX back to the studio and connected the Midi – it worked flawlessly! Even though the DMX is very fun and easy to program, it’s just more convenient to have Midi. I really feel that I have to modify my Boss DR-110!
Some time ago I purchased the JX-10 Sysex Enhanced ROM from Colin Fraser which makes the JX-10 respond to sysex the same way the MKS-70 (the rack version of JX-10) does. It’s only £15 including postage to Europe, so no need to hesitate. Remember to buy it directly from Colin, not from other sellers on eBay. Colin has put a lot of work into this!
Note that you have to have an M64-C cartridge to be able to load the original patches with sysex, the firmware upgrade won’t change that. When the patches are on the memory cartridge they can be copied to the internal memory.
The new EPROM arrived in a static bag attached to an important note informing that inserting the EPROM the wrong way will damage it. It also had a non-clickable link to the installation instructions.
I did exactly as in the instructions, but with the following three exceptions:
I checked the versions before and after by pressing H while turning on. This was most for fun.
I unscrewed the two screws underneath before the ones on the sides (note: in Colin’s instructions the screws underneath are described as “two larger bolts” – on my JX-10 they were screws).
I did actually not have to loose the flat cable. It was long enough to give the space needed for the ROM swap.