Roger Moore. RIP.

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Best.  Bond.  Ever.  Rest in Peace.

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Boot Fair Find: Yamaha DD-10 Digital MIDI Drum Machine

Released in 1988, the Yamaha DD-10 was aimed at those who wished to annoy the hell out of their neighbours at 2am.  The machine featured 8-bit sounds, with some sounds reused at a different pitch, two-level velocity sensing pads and 26 drum, percussion and sound effect samples.  MIDI In also features, so you can trigger drum sounds with an external device.

Found this recently at a local boot fair.  Fiver.  Contained my excitement so the seller didn’t put the price up.  Boxed with polys and foamy wrapper.  No manual, strap or foot pedals sadly, but hey – what do you want for a fiver?

Another dream item for circuit-bending, as digital delay, resonant filters and other such larky modifications can be added if you know what you’re doing.  Inputs and outputs include External Power Source, Aux Out (L&R/L), Aux Out R, Headphones, Foot Pedal Jack and MIDI In.

98 Auto Rhythms, Power Switch, Volume, Tempo, MIDI Mode, Metronome, Roll, Restart, Stop, Intro/Fill, Manual Tempo.  A small keypad is used to enter numerical data for drum patterns, which is displayed on a 2-digit large LED display.

Haynes Mk1-2K16 Synth Kit *Updated With Build Video*

Yes, the people who bring you those repair manuals for cars, vans and suchlike, have produced a DIY mini synthesizer kit.

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Packaged in a picture-card box (above (which also doubles as the housing for the synthesizer)), the kit contains all the parts and instructions to make your own Stylophone-like synth (without the unnecessary stylus).

The kit contains a pre-assembled circuit board, potentiometer/switch, four micro push-buttons, a blue and green LED, loudspeaker, battery box, a whole metre of wire and a couple of nuts and screws.  The unit is powered by three AA batteries.

My soldering techniques are a source of national humour, and not wanting to ruin the kit (a present from my dear partner) I posted it off to the only person I know who can wield an iron in anger and come out the other side having for the job done quickly and efficiently.  I’m talking about none other than the fabulous Dr Andrew Armstrong, whose BackOffice Shows are the talk of YouTube (any one of those preceding links will take you to the same place – please take the time and courtesy to check out The Doc’s Channel as there’s something in there for everyone, I promise you.  And make sure you subscribe to his Channel too.

Don’t forget to click on any of the images for the BIGGER picture.

The synth kit is based on a processor made by a company called Holtek, a Taiwanese-based semiconductor design centre and provider.  The processors themselves aren’t widely used in the hobby community, and as a result, we don’t really know the type of chip used or its part number.  The source code of the CPU hasn’t been published either, and the manual of the kit only outlines the basic modes of operation.

When assembled and batteries fitted, the synth is operated with your finger by running it up and down the copper track (the manual helpfully notes that breathing on your fingertip first makes a better contact!)

The effects buttons allow for tremelo and envelope modulation.  On the opposite side of the keyboard are buttons allowing for sharp & flat notes.  The envelope modulation is enabled by pushing the lower right-hand button next to the green LED.  The amplitude of the sound signal is periodically changed, and the green LED begins to flash.  The range and speed of the amplitude change can be modified in ten steps by using the same push-button.  Each press of the button advances the effect by one step.  The flashing sequence of this green LED is changed accordingly.  The rapidly flashing LED indicates a rapid change of the amplitude by small amounts.  The the eleventh push of this button, the envelope modulation is disabled and the LED becomes constantly lit once more.

The tremelo button is next to the blue LED.  It changes the frequency of the note played periodically.  The blue LEd flashes this time, and the range of the frequency change can again be modified in ten steps by using this push-button.  The tremelo is advanced one step by each push of the button.  The slower the LED flash, the larger the frequency change.  The eleventh button push, again, stops the LED flashing and switches off the tremelo function.

It’s a nice little kit – well thought-out – and nicely presented in a stiff card box with faux synthesizer sliders and buttons printed on it.  If I ever get competent at soldering (don’t hold your breath) I may have a go at making projects for myself.  Meantime, I really DO suggest you go look at the BackOffice videos on YouTube.

Sincere thanks again to Andrew for his perseverance!

*Update*

Here’s a LINK to Andrew’s build video of the Haynes kit.  Enjoy!

Kraftwerk 3-D Catalogue Live Box Set

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On 26 May 2017, on more formats than I care to mention, Kraftwerk release ‘3-D Catalogue’, a stunning series of album live performances.

Most notable is a 4-Disc Blu-Ray set, featuring live performances of Autobahn, Radioactivity, Trans-Europe Express, The Man Machine, Computerworld, The Mix, Technopop and Tour de France.  Filmed in 3D (2D compatible for those of us still in the 20th century), the discs also feature the tour projections and films.  There’s also a 228-page book stacked with images from the tours.

There’s a 9-LP vinyl set, 8-CD set and two abridged versions of the 3D Catalogue collections.

The Blu-Ray set is going to cost £144.95.  Better get that house remortgaged.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Another landlark has just been reached.  My sincerest thanks to the 72,000+ visitors who’ve viewed my 900 posts 200,000 times!  These figures stagger me – simply stagger me.

I’m most grateful to you, the viewer, for sticking with me through thick and thin.  Thank you to the contributors, subscribers and particularly those who’ve donated to keep the blog going.  Thank you for all the comments, requests for help and information.  Couldn’t have done it without you.

Here’s to another seven years.  Thank you.

Steve

Roland Founder Ikutaro Kakehashi Has Died. RIP.

Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of the Japanese electronic instruments company Roland, has reportedly died at the age of 87.

The legendary instrument engineer founded the Roland Corporation in 1972, and went on to develop some of the most game-changing instruments in history. He was the mind behind the System 700 modular synthesizer, the TB-303 bassline synthesizer, the TR-909, and, of course, the TR-808 drum machine. Though the latter was rolled out in 1980, it has had a profound and lasting influence on contemporary music—specifically in hip-hop.

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