Opto-Key Project is here, and the builds started

Opto-KeyKevin’s Opto-Key build environment has transferred from Synthfool to This Old Synth. The components, software, circuit boards etc. arrived on Wednesday afternoon. Two days of work later I have Opto-Keypartially completed 5 units. Time to get a components order submitted so I can complete them! I did purchase the very last of unit built by Kevin and have begun testing using it in my MiniMoog; exciting times!

CHD MIDI Upgrade for the Roland TR-808

CHD TR-808 MIDI ModWhen writing about the MTG TurboCPU upgrade I promised to put a blog entry up for a really nice and non-intrusive MIDI mod for the Roland TR-808, and here it is. The thing I really like about this implementation is the degree to which they went to make in non-intrusive (i.e. drilling holes!).


CHD TR-808 MIDI ModIt comes complete with a printed manual of step-by-step instructions, and supporting CD.

For the MIDI connector the existing Din-Sync connector is removed, along with its In/Out switch. A new connector that includes MIDI In/Out is fitted (a special adapter cable is supplied. The switch is replaced by a 3 way one, In/MIDI/Out.

CHD TR-808 MIDI ModThe “umbilical cord” for triggers and power is socketed at the controller end, so for service it can be unplugged and the TR-808 will still work (so this is not a CPU upgrade/replacement like TurboCPU).


CHD TR-808 MIDI ModOnly one hole needs to be drilled, and it is for a MIDI active Led and sits in the Start/Stop switch, under the yellow label. Awkwardness here is that they specify a metric drill, and for accuracy a CHD TR-808 MIDI Modwoodworking one is probably best. I’m sure you could get by with a slightly larger US drill and use a band of shrink-wrap tubing or some-such to tighten the fit. Of course you could ignore this step and just know that center switch is MIDI on!

Be sure to keep the parts removed such that the TR-808 can be put back to standard if need be. Here is a link to the CHD TR-808 MIDI kit. I may well contact CHD and offer to distribute this in the USA.

E-Mu SP-1200 Noritake Display

SP-1200 Noritake DisplayMy customer Aaron, was fed up with the poorly back-lit display on his black re-release SP-1200, and wanted to have the Noritake CU16025-UW6J display from Digi-Key fitted. They are expensive, and being glass, fragile; but they are bright and clear so a good upgrade.


SP-1200 Noritake DisplayUnfortunately the display is smaller than the aperture in the circuit board, and an attempt at notching out mountings was made to no avail. The display is also thicker than the original and spacers are SP-1200 Noritake Displayneeded to move it down. After several attempts I decided to make 3mm deep adapters on the 3D printer, and this gave me a stable mounting that I could squarely align the display on. You also have to make an adapter cable as the pins are reversed.

SP-1200 Noritake DisplayThe next issue was that the display character area was smaller than the original, and it did not have a bezel. This looked bad, andSP-1200 Noritake Display the glass was exposed. Thankfully I had an 80×2 line lcd filter lens in my parts bin and could cut that to size. It covered the ugliness nicely, and protected the display. Aaron was happy! Final job was to open all switches and drum pads to clean them and restore playability.