System 100 VCF mystery solved

Alright, not much of a mystery, but have been drawing up some new PCBs over Christmas and wanted to check something on the System 100 (not M) VCF – the original schematic specified a dual 100KA for the resonance potentiometer, but I always suspected it suited a reverse audio pot better.

Here’s a picture from my 102, with the panel flipped down in front of me (so top here is bottom of the panel, just to make it confusing)

System 100 VCF pot orientation

Check the orientation of the embossed numbers on the back of the pots, and compare the (upside down) resonance and HPF pots against the right-way up mixer section (RM, VCO and Ext.).

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Roland System 100 brochure

Roland System 100 brochure

Ages ago I’d read that there were originally going to be more modules in the original Roland System 100 series, but nothing further was released (probably in Gordon Reid’s excellent History of Roland)

I hadn’t seen anything more about this until I spotted this brochure on eBay (long gone now) for the original units, with the following:

Also planned for the near future are: Audio Delay unit, Stereo Phaser, VCO bank, and other units.

…so maybe, 105 Audio Delay, 106 Stereo Phaser and 107 VCO Bank?

I could imagine the delay and the phaser being similar circuits to the equivalents in the 700, but I can’t think how they would have been designed to stack up on the System 100 – the top of the 102 isn’t particularly deep. Maybe this was part of the reasoning that led them to design the 100m?

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System 100 LFO fixing

System 100 102 module VCF/VCA board

While making a godawful racket with the System 100 on Saturday, I switched to PWM on the 102 VCO and the pulse width stayed unmodulated. The LFO light didn’t light, no matter how much I waggled the slider. Hmph.

Should be easy to sort out a broken LFO, right? I’ve built all the bits of a 102 on stripboard, so surely I should be able to fix it?

Fretting that it wouldn’t be as easy as all that, I peered at the schematic.

102 LFO schematic

None of the outputs were working, so I reckoned the problem was in the tri-core, either the capacitor or the op-amp. Just to check, I measured the output of IC301, and it was pinned high.

At this point feeling strangely optimistic, I enlisted the help of my son, who was bored enough to come and watch/help/encourage/take the piss as appropriate. Is dad gonna be able to fix this thing?

I yanked out the CA1458G in IC301 with a desoldering gun:

Dead CA1458

I bunged a socket in, and replaced it with an MC1458 I had in the bits box. So far, so good.

Replacement MC1458 in place

Switched it on, and…

…it worked straight-away. WHOOOP.

I probably should have measured all the voltages and given it a bit of a once-over before I put it all back together, but my son was keen to start making some horrible noises, so I just had time for a couple of slightly wobbly bonus photos: here’s the VCO board – see all the keyboard specific components left unpopulated:

System 100 102 VCO board

and here’s the ring-mod/S&H board

System 100 102 ring mod board

It’s missing the circuit board annotations that my 101 keyboard has, and the soldering on the back is without solder resist (more like earlier System 700s, or my SH-5). The serial number starts with 46, so according to that Boss serial number lookup chart, it was made in May 1976. My 101 keyboard serial is 60xxxx, which works out to be July 1977.

Here’s my Sys101 VCF/VCA for comparison.

System 100 101 keyboard VCF/VCA board

I’ve not gone over the board to see if there are any differences in terms of components; there’s nothing extra soldered on to the back of the 102 VCF/VCA board, which suggests probably not. I pulled out the circuit board for my 104 sequencer recently, and it has a different circuit board layout to the one in the manual, with a load of bodged extra capacitors soldered to the back.

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