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.

This Old Synth acquires the exclusive rights to Synthfools Opto-key for MiniMoog project

As a tech I’m increasingly frustrated with the chore of trying to restore the (oxidized) key contacts on the MiniMoog to full operation, and unless it is frequently played the issue of “squirelly keys” comes back. I have been installing Opto-key for my customers which removes the key cleaning cycle, AND adds simple note-on/off  MIDI.

I was concerned and saddened to hear that Kevin Lightner at Synthfool could not continue the Opto-key project  as it addresses the biggest reliability/playability issue with the MiniMoog, and have negotiated with him to transfer ownership here.

Once the on-hand materials such as circuit cards arrive I will commence building the product to Kevin’s spec and make it available for sale.

As I’m also a software developer with experience in embedded systems I plan to enhance and support Opto-key moving forward. I’m really excited by this!



MTG Pro One Turbo CPU

Turbo CPU

I’m generally against modifications.  I have seen too many vintage synths spoiled by badly drilled holes that hold fragile switches, connected through an “umbilical cord” to undocumented perf-board based mods made decades ago, and then more wires soldered to the circuit boards. Working on the gear becomes difficult as these wires are holding the case to the cards, and of course wires fatigue and come away, and you have a challenge as to where they once went, and how the mod is supposed to work.


CV WiringI do see the benefits of a good MIDI implementation, and I have come across a couple of MIDI kits where the designers have come up with good clean designs that can be unplugged for service. In this entry I talk about the Turbo CPU upgrade kit from MTG (Music Technologies Group). Grant runs the MTG and I have found him responsive, friendly, and helpful so recommend doing business with him.

In a different post I will talk about a nice MIDI solution for the Roland TR-808 from another vendor.

Installed MIDI interface cardAll of the instructions are available to download from MTG (http://www.musictechnologiesgroup.com/index.html), so you can see what is involved. I’m on the list of experienced installers and would be happy to implement this for you, but note that I am not a reseller so you have to purchase the kit from MTG. Turbo CPU a simple removal of the CPU and install of the Turbo CPU module.

Drilling holes for MIDII think most folks would be interested in the MIDI interface which for a solid installation does mean drilling the base of case to mount the MIDI interface card, and the back of the case for the MIDI connectors.

I prefer the look of the MIDI connectors squeezed between the lettering, and made some identification labels for the MIDI ports squeezed between logosMIDI ports. Both customers for this kit wanted the MIDI interface, plus the “DIY” CV interface which adds a tiny MCP4728 chip to the v2.00 MIDI board (I was fortunate that the MCP4728 was pre-installed on one unit, but had to order it from Mouser for the other.

Alternative MIDI connector mountingFine soldering skills are required to install this chip as it is surface mounted, so ask Grant if you can have a card with the MCP4728 pre-installed when you order :-). The DIY CV interface gives you MIDI control over 4 CV wires and is a great addition that requires no trace cutting or case butchering, so I like it!

MIDI interface with plug connected CVFor my implementation of DIY CV I installed a connector at the MIDI interface card for the 4 wires so it could be disconnected for service.