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Roland MKS-70 Upgrade/Modification beta testers wanted
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was silents
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4th March 2013
Old 4th March 2013
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Roland MKS-70 Upgrade/Modification beta testers wanted

This great guy Fred has been working on a CPU upgrade for the MKS 70. I believe there will be extra software envelopes that will be several times faster than the stock ones. He is at the stage where he needs beta testers and has requested same over at the JX Analogs Yahoo group. I thought I'd pass along the info as I know all us Gearslutz are interested in this.

By the way, if you have an MKS-70 or another JX synth, the yahoo group is pretty active and helpful.

rolandjxanalogs : Roland JX Series Analog Synths

Here is a couple of the thread replies:

> Perhaps an overview would be helpful for someone considering upgrading
> their MKS 70? Will you be selling a replacement assigner board or just the
> CPU/ROM and the user will have to replace the CPU chip?

At this point, I have a prototype sound board code which adds 2 envelopes and 3 LFOs. Can assign each one independently to each DCO, VCF, VCA.

> Any other hardware modifications?

Not yet, but it should be possible to add real PWM to the sound boards. On the assigner board, it would be easy to add more sounds in ROM (4 banks total).

> Will you have a utility to convert existing tone sysex to the new CPU or
> will they be compatible?

Yes, the idea is that the new code will update the internal data structures to
the new ones.

> Any idea of pricing?

My intent is not to make money from this. I'd be happy if I get some contribution (to buy a JX10 and adapt the code to it, for example)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

> Will the new envelopes be much higher resolution / snappoer? I see this as
> the greatest shortcoming of the MKS 70, though I don't no how much
> improvement you can get them with the existing processor. If they could be
> full 8 bit values (like the MKS-80 I think), that would be truly awesome.
> Think of the potential bass sounds....

With the 8031, this is not possible. The code is written without using any
timer, and relies on each operation to have a well-defined execution time. The 6 voices are updated one after each others, and some CV are updated twice (with a linear interpolation). The A/D has 12 bits resolution. A complete cycle (update 6 voices + some extra stuff) takes 10ms.

With the new CPU, which runs about 2-3x faster (we could run even faster by
changing the crystal too), I use a timer to achieve the same 10ms update cycle. So I could run ENV3 and ENV4 at, say, twice the speed of ENV1 and ENV2.

About using 8 bits : that would be difficult because of the way that data is
sent to the sound board. Without entering in the details, the 8th bit is used to mark commands. Note that the 7 data bits are converted into a log scale (using a table). The generated envelopes are all log based.

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#2
4th March 2013
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That is awesome. I know I'd like to have this on my future MKS70, whenever that happens.
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4th March 2013
Old 4th March 2013
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I've been following this thread on the JX group. I'm not 100% clear as to whether or not my JX8P would work with this, but it would be really cool if so.
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4th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBlackWave View Post
I've been following this thread on the JX group. I'm not 100% clear as to whether or not my JX8P would work with this, but it would be really cool if so.
I don't think so. In fact I don't think it will work for the JX10 either. It seems the code is specific to the MKS-70 for now. There might have been a reply somewhere that Fred said he'd do it for the 8P and 10 after this is done, but I can't recall for sure.
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4th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by was silents View Post
I don't think so. In fact I don't think it will work for the JX10 either. It seems the code is specific to the MKS-70 for now. There might have been a reply somewhere that Fred said he'd do it for the 8P and 10 after this is done, but I can't recall for sure.
The guy would have a gold mine if he did one for the JX-10's in this world...

I would definitely get an upgrade - and the JX-10 price would skyrocket because it would be a complete monster with faster/more envelopes...
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#6
5th March 2013
Old 5th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by was silents View Post
This great guy Fred has been working on a CPU upgrade for the MKS 70.
Nice project! I'm interested in testing and have some experience in hardware mods.

I hope that extra LFOs are free running, though.
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5th March 2013
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hah, just as I got done upgrading my mks-30, there's an upgrade for the mks-70! if this forms into a proper upgrade kit I'll definitely give it a try, not sure I'm ready to be a beta tester just yet though.
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5th March 2013
Old 5th March 2013
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Hi.

I am the Fred mentioned earlier in this thread. Happy to see that there is interest in my project.

Here are my current plans :
- get the code tested (I already tested many things) on MKS70
- since I got a lot of requests for JX10, I am working on a JX10 version, and I already have a beta image for JX10, although it is less mature than the MKS70 (one obvious reason is that I don't own a JX10... unfortunately).

- once the code is stable, start adding the new features. To be fair, I already have new features running on sound boards, but with a faked assigner (just a PIC micro controller, used to test the sound board code). Adding the new feature support in the assigner (JX) is now easy with the new code. There is not much room in the current sound board (based on 8031 CPU), because the CPU is used at 100%. That's why I changed that old chip with a modern Dallas equivalent (80C320). It runs 2-3x faster (with the same crystal), so new functionalities can be added. I have 4 envelopes, 3-4 LFOs (free running optional for each)... I am now looking, due to popular demand, to have envelopes 3 and 4 running twice faster.

Just remember that it's a hobby (even if I design hardware/software for a living), so my availability to work on this will vary !

-Fred
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5th March 2013
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Glad to hear from you.

I'll bump this thread from time to time to get as much ppl as interested as possible.
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5th March 2013
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Id definetly add a little in the pot so you can buy a jx10 ... kickstarter?
Or just PM me your paypal, I havent got much, but if a bunch of us saves a little to your account each month youll soon be there.
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6th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starspawn View Post
Id definetly add a little in the pot so you can buy a jx10 ... kickstarter?
Or just PM me your paypal, I havent got much, but if a bunch of us saves a little to your account each month youll soon be there.
count me in on the donation thing. I'd like an upgrade.
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6th March 2013
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I have a jx-8p I could donate to the cause... if I get the modded board back in return!
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6th March 2013
Old 6th March 2013
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This sounds great! I would love to get more use out of my MKS-70! I have to join in Yahoo Groups and check out the details on this.

One thing I love about vintage hardware is that competent people are doing these upgrades for them. Last summer I upgraded my Juno-60 with Minerva and it's totally awesome!
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7th March 2013
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Welcome to Fred and his great project

As a relatively new JX-10 owner with just OS 2.3 installed (in the past I had a JX-8P that I sold in 1991), I would point out the extreme need of a good sys-ex data transmission between a Librarian and the JX-10.

I'm still waiting to be added to the rolandjxanalogs group and I hope its moderator wakes up, one day

If Fred needs a beta tester, I'd be very happy to help.

p.s. I'd be extremely happy if with a Librarian I could reorganize Tones and Patches without fumbling around with M64-C and PCJXWIN.
Actually I could count on Opcode Galaxy plus MKS-70 Librarian, if JX-10 had the same sys-ex compatibility...
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7th March 2013
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I'd be interested in the the JX10 version. If it works ok, consider one sold.
I'm wondering if this would work in tandem with the JX10 SysEx Edit mod:
JX 10 SysEx Edit
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7th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marino View Post
I'd be interested in the the JX10 version. If it works ok, consider one sold.
I'm wondering if this would work in tandem with the JX10 SysEx Edit mod:
JX 10 SysEx Edit
As far as I know, the Colin Fraser upgraded eeprom lets you just exchange nothing but whole sys-ex dumps through a M64-C.
If you have a PG-800 you can easily program Tones but no sys-ex messages come out from MIDI OUT port.
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7th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolveco View Post
Hi.

I am the Fred mentioned earlier in this thread. Happy to see that there is interest in my project.

Here are my current plans :
- get the code tested (I already tested many things) on MKS70
- since I got a lot of requests for JX10, I am working on a JX10 version, and I already have a beta image for JX10, although it is less mature than the MKS70 (one obvious reason is that I don't own a JX10... unfortunately).

- once the code is stable, start adding the new features. To be fair, I already have new features running on sound boards, but with a faked assigner (just a PIC micro controller, used to test the sound board code). Adding the new feature support in the assigner (JX) is now easy with the new code. There is not much room in the current sound board (based on 8031 CPU), because the CPU is used at 100%. That's why I changed that old chip with a modern Dallas equivalent (80C320). It runs 2-3x faster (with the same crystal), so new functionalities can be added. I have 4 envelopes, 3-4 LFOs (free running optional for each)... I am now looking, due to popular demand, to have envelopes 3 and 4 running twice faster.

Just remember that it's a hobby (even if I design hardware/software for a living), so my availability to work on this will vary !

-Fred
Great projects, indeed, but what about the people who own a PG-800? Will we have to use another editor/librarian that features those extra envelopes and LFOs?
IMHO the first step is to make JX-10 really sys-ex compliant and easy to manage with a librarian, then you could also think to explore unknown terrritories
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7th March 2013
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If you'll need JX10 to test on you can test mine! ^_^ where are you located? if you're close I can drop it by so if you need to test it for a bit...:D
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7th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolveco View Post
I have 4 envelopes, 3-4 LFOs (free running optional for each)... I am now looking, due to popular demand, to have envelopes 3 and 4 running twice faster.
Not that i am going to be whiney or anything, i think it is a fantastic project, and it will add a lot of value to these synths - but if you add extra envelopes, could you please look into the shapes of those too, and maybe model them on some classic envelope shapes rather than "just" making them faster?

And of course, if possible, let the extra LFO's go way up into audio range (several Khz) as well as having both up and down ramps in addition to the already available shapes?
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7th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumphh View Post
Not that i am going to be whiney or anything, i think it is a fantastic project, and it will add a lot of value to these synths - but if you add extra envelopes, could you please look into the shapes of those too, and maybe model them on some classic envelope shapes rather than "just" making them faster?

And of course, if possible, let the extra LFO's go way up into audio range (several Khz) as well as having both up and down ramps in addition to the already available shapes?
The new envelopes have more points (similar to alpha-juno).

Several Khz is not doable, because the LFOs are done in software. Currently, the computation is done every 10ms.

-Fred
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7th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wavesequence View Post
Great projects, indeed, but what about the people who own a PG-800? Will we have to use another editor/librarian that features those extra envelopes and LFOs?
IMHO the first step is to make JX-10 really sys-ex compliant and easy to manage with a librarian, then you could also think to explore unknown terrritories
For PG800 owner (me included).. I have to find a solution to control the new parameters that I'll add. The new assigner code has a mapping table to each PG800 parameter, so it is easy to rewire a control (could even be made customizable)

For sysex, the current beta image has a new implementation, and the MKS70/JX10 is common.

When I'll add the new parameters, I'll clean the roland implementation (some parameters are sent with 2 sysex message). This is done because Roland made a stupid optimization in software (key mode is a good example : there is a hi-bit and a low byte. I suspect that the hi-bit was added when they implemented T-VOICE and X-FADE modes). There are many examples like this in their code. I cleaned all this, but to remain compatible with the current sysex implementation, I simulate the roland output.
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7th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolveco View Post
The new envelopes have more points (similar to alpha-juno).

Several Khz is not doable, because the LFOs are done in software. Currently, the computation is done every 10ms.

-Fred
Cool with multipoint envelopes (loopable??? *drools a little at that prospect*)
To me the major thing that really has prevented the JX-10/MKS 70 from becoming a sought after classic is that the envelopes just didn't give that snap that you need for many sounds, not just the basses...


And slightly sad that there is no possibility of ultrafast LFO's, but if that is the way the old tech works, so be it

Just out of curiosity, how fast could the LFO's possibly go? 80 -100 hz?
#23
8th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumphh View Post
Cool with multipoint envelopes (loopable??? *drools a little at that prospect*)
To me the major thing that really has prevented the JX-10/MKS 70 from becoming a sought after classic is that the envelopes just didn't give that snap that you need for many sounds, not just the basses...


And slightly sad that there is no possibility of ultrafast LFO's, but if that is the way the old tech works, so be it

Just out of curiosity, how fast could the LFO's possibly go? 80 -100 hz?
About the envelopes : loopable could be done, I guess. It's just more software, and there is plenty of space.

About the LFO : the random/square could reach 100Hz, but not the triangle. (I added 2 sawtooths btw). Again could run this 2 or 4x faster, but reaching a wave that looks like a triangle at 100Hz is not easy with the available hardware. Furthermore, if the voices are not refreshed at a similar rate, there is no real reason to have a faster LFO.
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8th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolveco View Post
About the envelopes : loopable could be done, I guess. It's just more software, and there is plenty of space.

About the LFO : the random/square could reach 100Hz, but not the triangle. (I added 2 sawtooths btw). Again could run this 2 or 4x faster, but reaching a wave that looks like a triangle at 100Hz is not easy with the available hardware. Furthermore, if the voices are not refreshed at a similar rate, there is no real reason to have a faster LFO.
Fantastic, my logic tells me that the saws could probably go as fast too, right?
Because, introducing a fast LFO like on the JP-4 (80 hz i think, is appr. the max) really results in some rather nice dirty sounds

As for the triangle, that one does not dirty up the sound as much as the other waveforms, so speed is not so much of a necessity there, imo.


Anyway, i think it is cool that you are doing this, and although i cannot help you out at this moment, neither with hardware nor financing - if you produce an upgrade for the JX-10 that can be installed relatively easily (preferrably without the need of specialised tools - i.e. tech salary ) i'll buy one off you, no mattter how little i have to spare .

Faster and more envelopes and LFO's + maybe functioning midi would improve that synth so much...
#25
8th March 2013
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This sound very cool. Super mega props to you Fred if this becomes commercially available.
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8th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolveco View Post
About the envelopes : loopable could be done, I guess. It's just more software, and there is plenty of space.
I just want to know do you have option to build the exponential rather than linear envelope?

I believe the internal ones are more on a linear side, so it would be useful that additional envelope has a different shape. Something like a Moog style, ultra sharp exponential slope.
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8th March 2013
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The JX-10 / MKS-70 was an "almost" great held back by slow envelopes, non-free-running LFO, and lack of PWM. If this project can nail all of these, then I will sell my MKS-80 and MPG-80 to get an MKS-70, PG-800, and this upgrade.

Would the new features go on a "Page 2" where the sliders all have different functions?
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MKS-80 should never be sold, when you have one.
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8th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Solaris View Post
I just want to know do you have option to build the exponential rather than linear envelope?

I believe the internal ones are more on a linear side, so it would be useful that additional envelope has a different shape. Something like a Moog style, ultra sharp exponential slope.
Just remember, exponential does not always sound the best

Just because it worked for some sounds in a moog, it does not mean that it works for all sounds in all synths.

At least i have, by experimenting with the envelope shape of the miniak, found that i just as often use a linear shape as an exponential one.


...now, if you really wanted to create versatile envelopes... since this is software you'd simply have to add various curve models for the envelopes that you could select as you go along...

God, the wishlist is so long
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8th March 2013
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Could someone do this for the Oberheim Matrix 6 pls? :(
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