CV-to-MIDI stripboard thing

That stripboard project is more or less done, although there’s a bit of debugging still to do. It’s a sort of a mini-Roland OP8M – maybe an OP2M, effectively, allowing the MC-4 to control a MIDI synth.

I did a demo of it for a mate, I think he was a bit mystified. Here it is – I got slightly carried away, as usual.

It’s the usual MC-4 syncing a TR-606, with the out-of-tune big black modular bass synth being the System 100M clone, and the parpy MIDI’d up thing being a JX-3P.

It takes CV1, CV2, gate, and MPX from the MC-4. (MPX is a digital signal and is either on or off for the duration of the step).

One switch selects the octave for the base note, and the other switch is for selecting what happens when it receives an MPX signal from the MC-4.

Position one of the MPX switch selects sending CV1 to a different MIDI channel (so you might get a different sound), position three sends CV2 to the same channel (so you get a second note), and in the middle it’s effectively off and just uses CV2 for velocity.

My JX3P doesn’t do velocity, and is only responding on MIDI channel 1 in the video above, so we get this muting effect when switching to “cv1 diff ch”.

I fret about the timing, as always. I’d buffered the CV signal before it hits the ADC to get a low impedance, but it still takes a fair number of samples before I get something reliable. My Poly61M definitely seemed a bit late when triggered from it, but there’s every chance the MIDI in that is just slow.

Anyway it’s working well enough for now, although there’s a minor bug that needs sorting. It should give me different options when I do my long-winded MC-4 jams.

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JX3P keyboard fixing

After a quick attempt to fix my Midiverb II again (and failing) I pulled the JX3P out again to have an attempt at fixing the dodgy octave.

Thinking that it was possibly the keyboard decoder, I replaced IC45, which took a fair amount of time to do it cleanly with the desoldering vacuum.

JX3P - removing IC45

While I’ve got the board out…

Crinkly JX3P circuit board

not sure I really like the look of these crinkly paths on the back. Anyway onwards.

Changing IC45 made zero difference, so it wasn’t that. And anyway, I could see the signal appearing on the connector on the keyboard. It took me a while to work out what was going on, and it definitely made it easier yanking the keys out.

JX3P keyboard diodes

This is part of the dodgy section of the keyboard, and it looks a lot like my unhappy Poly61M from the same time. The rubbery circular things are pressed down by the keys – inside the dome is a carbon disc that presses down onto the board and completes the circuit.

One side of the switch connects to the top of the diode below it, with the other half connecting to the decoder IC45 via the keyboard connector at the far side. Pressing the switch should make the signal from IC45 appear on the other side of the switch (the top of the diode).

I can’t believe you’ve got this far, but aaaaanyway, the signal wasn’t coming up on the diodes for the broken section.

The soldered track on the far right here should have given the game away

JX3P keyboard connector and track fix

…essentially the track had failed for some reason. Scratching out the soldermask from either side of the break and soldering a wire across it sorted it. It wasn’t actually super-obvious where the break was from just looking at the track, it took me a couple of test scratches to work it out.

There was also one intermittent key which just needed the rubber switches refitting, and that was sorted too.

I still have lots of screws missing (in the JX, that is…), and the transformer hums like an electricity substation, but at least it all works now.

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Glitching Wasp keyboard fix

edp wasp inside

Bastard thing. It mostly works now, except when it doesn’t.

Ages ago, after moving house, I got my Wasp out to have a go at MIDI-fying it, and found that it would glitch when holding a note, as if it was flickering quickly between the held note and one much lower down.

Since then the Jasper clone was announced and released, I’ve got mine up and running in the last week, and that seems to work ok (although the VCA envelope sustain gets louder as a key is held down, which isn’t quite right). But the keyboard triggers absolutely perfectly, so it gives me a chance to compare it to my old Wasp.

Jasper (Wasp clone) all done bar the shouting

I noticed irregular pulses on the 4013 at IC44 on both Q and Qbar (labelled NOTE_READ and VCA_ENV_TRIG on the helpfully labelled Jasper schematic). I didn’t trust the Q-to-reset link, so I recreated that on a breadboard and linked to it, still the same. Checked the connections, my soldering might have been wonky – all OK. I replaced the CD4013 with a HCF, supposedly has Schmitt trigger inputs, so could be more forgiving of noisy inputs. Nope.

After much fretting all I had left was to strap a ceramic 0.1uF capaacitor across ground and +5V on IC44, and… it was much less glitchy. I added a couple more (fairly randomly) in the keyboard circuit, and then the glitches stopped.

And only then did I have a look at the 5V line on one of the non-decoupled ICs:

EDP Wasp - noise on the 5V rail

…which doesn’t look like it would much help. The Wasp uses a couple of NE555 timers at heart of the oscillators, and they have a tendency to smash the power rail. Only as far as I could tell the glitch wasn’t at its loudest next to the 555s, so I suspected something else.

Now I’ve put it all back together, I realise that 3.36µs works out to about 297KHz, which is in the same ballpark as the frequency of the master oscillator, which is supposed to run at 250KHz. Next time I open it up I’d be tempted to put a capacitor across 5V and ground on IC11 and see if that quietens it down.

Anyway with the glitch gone, I dared to start celebrating, and then found a different, intermittent problem – G and G# would play the notes B and C. Pressing the keyboard slightly harder seemed to bring the problem on, so it seem likely it was a dodgy solder joint, and I tracked it down to a dodgy connection between IC31 and IC30 – reflowing the joint on IC31 fixed it.

Very occasionally still F# will play a slightly inbetween lower note, but I’ve spent way too long staring at this as it is – I’m calling it done for now.

As a postscript, if you have a knackered or badly behaving Wasp, I had a look around for some help on fixing the keyboard and there was some interesting stuff in this post and comments on the Clacktronics post on the Wasp, but that’s about it. Now there’s a new generation of Wasps springing up in the form of the Jasper clone, the Muffwiggler DIY section might throw up some new help.

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