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Pimp my Akai S-950 thread (new display, floppy upgrade, etc.)
Old 21st April 2019
  #1
Pimp my Akai S-950 thread (new display, floppy upgrade, etc.)



Part 1 - Power connector upgrade & cosmetics
Part 2 - LCD display upgrade and modification
Part 3 - Floppy to HxC Gotek conversion / upgrade
Part 4 - DD & HD floppy to image conversion


Feel free to contribute to this thread with your own mods and findings.
Old 21st April 2019
  #2
Part 1 - Power connector upgrade & cosmetics


Step one: disassemble the unit.

This is the easiest of the mods. For some reason some of the Akai S-950 use a 2 pin power connector which is not compatible with a standard IEC connector and thus our standard power supply cables.


This connector belongs to bin.

You will need a good ole file tool and a soldering iron. Simply remove the old connector. Use a file tool to widen the existing hole and insert the new connector.



You will notice a small board to which the existing connector was soldered to. Add a new wire there and solder it onto the grounding hole pin. In the image above, the new wire is the black one (the one without transparent plastic insulator!), and the location for the soldering point is shown. The length should be the same as the existing two so that you can reach the connector. Then insert the new IEC connector and solder all three wires, with the new wire that you just added going to the middle pin. That's the ground pin connection. So that from now on your Akai not only accepts common IEC cable, but is now grounded properly.


The good thing is that the holes for the screws will fit prefectly. You just need to file the existing connector hole a bit (from all sides!).


With the unit disassembled, you can do some washing now.


And with generic grey matte spray paint, you can restore the knobs to be as new. Just make sure you sand down the existing paint first. Then 5-6 light coatings from a 30cm / 1ft distance will do fine.
Old 21st April 2019
  #3
Part 2 - LCD display upgrade and modification
We're gonna pimp yo momma!

Some people are just greedy. In fact it was one of the ebay listings that made me inspire do a thread like this. Just take a look at these prices for these "kits" and below i will show you what is the actual "kit" in here. It's one single strip connector that cost $0.5 and two wires that are already on your Akai! So someone soldered this strip onto their LCD screen and called it a "S-950 Kit". Very funny!

So, instead of going for this:


Go for this:


Now in order to use your new display you will need to take out the old one and take a look at the strip connector. That is the type you need. It has to be the same shape, bent, rather than straight. Keep in mind, Akai already has everything else to connect the display. The ribbon cable can simply be detached / attached, no desoldering of the ribbon needed, making this super simple modification. You just need to solder this new strip connector and you are done. Make sure you cut the new strip connector to be 14 pins and not 16, else you won't be able to attach existing 14 pin plastic connector to it.


Here it is ladies and gentlemen, this connector is what makes S-950 LCD display "kit".


Make sure to remove the noisy inverter. Your Akai no longer needs it. DO NOT throw away the connector that was attached on the front panel, instead cut the wires exactly as shown above while keeping the connector - you will need that connector later to provide power supply for the LED backlight.


With the new display ready, glue three spacers onto three holes where the original screws went thru. I've made spacers from the voltage regulator spacer but i cut the inner part of it (the one that goes into power regulator). Every electronics store has these insulators, since you need them to insulate your voltage regulator before you screw it to the metal case - else the regulator will short. And don't throw away original screws. Believe it or not, but they will fit perfectly.


As i've promised, original screws fit perfectly. However there is one problem...


We have to put the screws from the back side. In order to do that you will need to unscrew the front metal part of the case and slightly put it at the angle in order for the screwdriver to reach the lower hole of the LCD screw.


Now remember that power inverter connector that i told you to keep? The two wires that it is providing are exactly what we need. They are 0 and +5V power supply for the LCD backlight. You might have to extend these two wires to be able to reach pin 15 and pin 16 of the LCD. Make sure you check with the multimeter which wire is 0 and which is +5V and read LCD specs sheet about which pin requires 0 and which +5V.


Or if you want to go full pimp mode, connect just the 0 wire to the LED power supply pin, and send the +5V to the potentiometer on the back of the unit. The specs is 1k LOG (usually labeled as 1kB). You want to connect it as shown in the image above (left and center pin, looking from below) to apply gradual resistance to dim the backlight. Again, these new LCD backlights are a bit on the brighter side, and this mod lets you dim the brightness and thus largely increase the contrast of the display.


Quick test on the bench shows success. Display's "blue" color is artifact due to camera's color balance. Display is actually white/black. And once you dim it, looks almost OLED like super sharp and contrasty!
Old 21st April 2019
  #4
Part 3 - Floppy to HxC Gotek conversion / upgrade


So i eventually made an order, despite the fact the floppy was working just fine, floppy emulator is a way better solution. Just a few days later, the package was here with HxC modified Gotek drive. Special thanks to Acid Mitch.


The floppy is held by these four screws on the bottom of the unit. Remove them.


Now you need to remove the power supply board in order to reach the back side of the floppy drive. And with it being reachable, detach the ribbon and power connector from the existing floppy drive.


Remove this metal frame from the floppy drive. Do NOT rotate anything. Leave the floppy drive aside and take the new Gotek drive and connect it exactly as the old floppy drive was connected.


The result should look exactly like this.


Insert the new drive into the unit, and connect the ribbon and power connector, then screw in the four screws that hold the floppy drive in place.


And here it is. Floppy out, Gotek HxC in.


Doggo approves Gotek HxC mod!
Old 21st April 2019
  #5
Part 4 - DD & HD floppy to image conversion

So your Akai came with a bunch of DD and HD floppies, you converted them to images, started a Gotek drive only to be greeted with a message saying unformatted disk, or no disk in drive, etc.


The source of the problem is that Gotek HxC does not like having both DD (double density) and HD (high density) disk images on the same USB stick. Even if you set the configuration file to Auto, and use .hfe rather then .img files it just refuses to work. In fact it took me whole day to find the combination that works. But eventually i found a solution to have the content of both DD and HD images on the same USB stick. You will have to do exactly as described in here, else the things just won't work.


A bunch of DD and HD floppies that we will eventually put onto this small USB stick.

First thing you will need a Windows based computer with a floppy disk drive. You will install HxCFloppyEmulator software onto it. You will then insert your Akai floppy and press Floppy Disk Dump. The program might ask you to install an extra driver in here, so install it if it says so. Once the floppy is being read, use Export, and export it as .hfe file. Make sure you label the files sequentially as DSKA0000.hfe, DSKA0001.hfe etc. I suggest you dump first all of the DD disks, then the HD disks into separate folder.


Here are the same floppies in .img format. I used Omniflop on my old WinXP machine to read the floppies because i thought i would use them as .img files. In the end this method just didn't work right with mixed DD & HD content, so i advise you to go directly .hfe export via HxC2001 software. Pro tip: Don't bother with OmniFlop.

Keep in mind what is being described in here applies only if your Akai came with mixed DD and HD floppies. If it only came with HD then you are set already and can write the config file to your FAT32 formatted USB stick, with following settings.


These settings work 100%. Save this config to your USB stick and you're set.

Now comes the tricky part. You will need to use two USB sticks temporarily. This is in fact the only solution that worked. Eventually it will all end on one single USB stick so this is just the temporary phase. Take the second USB stick, make sure it is FAT32, start HxC2001 and make another configuration and export it onto that USB stick. The configuration will differ slightly, instead of AKAI S950 HD set under the Mode, you will have to choose S950 DD. Think of these two USB sticks as two different floppy drives: one is the DD (double density) the other is HD (high density). Hence one will contain only the DD images, while other only the HD images.



Now count the number of DD floppies. Let's say you have 12 of them. That means you will need to generate 12 HD empty floppies. Go into HxC, make sure you have set it to S950 HD and generate an empty floppy image. Please read HxC "Floppy Emulator Software - Step by Step Guide" to learn how to generate an empty floppy image. Make sure to select Predefined Disk Layout for Akai S-950. Once the file has been generated you will need to copy it 11 more times. Pro tip: You can in fact copy them a few more times, because it doesn't hurt to have extra spare few empties for your own sampling purposes, and ONE extra empty that you can archive, so that you don't have to start HxC2001 software each time you want an empty S950 floppy image. Always make sure to label these new files sequentially. For example: Let's suppose you have 15 HD floppies that you converted into images and have put them onto an USB stick. The are labeled DSKA0000.hfe - DSKA0014.hfe, that means you will need to label your empty HD images starting with DSKA0015.hfe and continuing sequentially up. More importantly there can be NO gaps between file numbers. The sequence always must be continuous, ie: 0017, 0018, 0019...



The image above shows that we have two USB sticks. On USB stick one we have DD floppy disk images with appropriate HXCSDFE configuration file that we generated earlier for S950 DD floppies. The second stick contains our HD disk images, with appropriate HXCSDFE configuration file for HD images, plus our new empty images that we just generated (shown in blue), plus a few extra empties (shown in purple color) for our own sampling.

What we are doing here is getting 12 HD floppies on which we will save our 12 DD floppies. Because for some reason Gotek does not like having both HD and DD flopy image files on the same USB stick. And this is the source of all the problems, and why we are doing this workaround at the first place.



Now it's our time to start the "conversion process". Our goal is to convert our DD images into HD format, so that we can work with HD images only, because that's how Gotek HxC wants to work, and there aren't many alternatives around. First you will insert the USB stick that contains DD floppy images. You will start the Akai, and load whole disk using DISK / 02 Clear mem & load disk. Once the DD disk has been loaded insert the second USB stick and save the content of your memory onto the HD disk using DISK / 05 Clear volume and save entire memory. And that it pretty much it!

Remove the second USB, insert the first one and repeat the process. Don't forget to choose next disk on your Gotek drive using Next button. In our example we would insert USB stick 1 and load a file called 000, we would then insert USB stick 2 and save onto the file called 015 (shown on Gotek's LED display). Once you finished all DD floppies and they have been saved onto HD images, you can toss away the USB stick with DD images and from now on only use second USB stick which is all HD images.


Doggo approves!
Old 23rd April 2019
  #6
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Bignatius's Avatar


Brilliant.
Old 23rd April 2019
  #7
Deleted cec0d5b
Guest
Great work! Looks really good. Yeah, I had a similar price “wtf” moment when I recently replaced the screen on my S3000XL. Some eBay sellers selling them for £99(!). Got one for £20 in the end and works like a charm.

Ironically, I changed the screen in order to sell it but now that the screen is like new again, it’s staying!
Old 6th August 2019
  #8
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Jiglo's Avatar
Just started reading this thread thanks to whatever17 linking me to it.

I was only going to clean mine, but these mods and the detailed pictures and explanations are really impressive. Thanks for taking the time to make it

Part 1 looks to be within my abilities and would certainly spruce up a couple of old units and improve them.
Old 8th August 2019
  #9
Gear Head
 

Just changed the screen on the S950 and everything is working (thanks Don!) but I have one left over part. It's a metal c-shaped/pacman shaped disc that I don't know where it goes back in. Any clues?
Old 8th August 2019
  #10
Gear Addict
 

I put my IEC connector inside the case which eliminated the need to resize the hole.
Old 8th August 2019
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Seems like a lot of Japanese stuff was not earthed. I read that the hi-fi stuff was like that to avoid ground loops. Safe as long as the double insulation (see that double box logo on the back) never fails or is compromised.
Old 28th October 2019
  #12
Gear Head
Great now I need this done to mine CD3000XL
Old 29th October 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Has anyone replaced their 'PB' switch on the front panel? It's the only thing on mine which doesn't work perfectly and I'd like to fix it...
Old 22nd November 2019
  #14
Gear Head
Put an £3 white on black OLED on that Gotek for Gods sake
Old 23rd March 2020
  #15
Gear Nut
 

This is SO awesome man, I just got a s2800 for so cheap that I couldnt say no! (wasnt looking to pick up a sampler but oh well)

Can you do a s2800 pimp guide? Especially replace the backlight or maybe new screen etc
Old 17th April 2020
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Awesome writeup. Thank you. I especially appreciate your guidance that will help me replace the LCD rather than relying on some overpriced kit. I just purchased a beat up S-950 on eBay. Looking forward to the project despite the likelihood of surprises. Anyhow, it is in transit so I haven't evaluated it yet but it appears at least it powers on. I am thinking, apart from any technical issues, mine will definitely require paint work. You seem very knowledgeable about various aspects of the restoration process. Do you happen to know a matching paint color that replicates the factory late 80's - 90's Akai "greige"? Thanks again!
Old 17th April 2020
  #17
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Siem's Avatar
 

I read there is a mod that allows you to stream audio thru the ADDA converters, anyone knows any details about this?
Old 17th April 2020
  #18
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Siem View Post
I read there is a mod that allows you to stream audio thru the ADDA converters, anyone knows any details about this?
even tho it has a live monitor function, you will have to actually sample audio and play it back (and transpose it) for that s950 sound.
Old 17th April 2020
  #19
Lives for gear
What's the story with the resistor mod on HxC drives to make reading data stable on an s950. I had a bunch of bookmarks save somewhere, but never found a straight ahead answer on how to avoid the BAD DATA error when reading from an HxC
Old 17th April 2020
  #20
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fanriffic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Siem View Post
I read there is a mod that allows you to stream audio thru the ADDA converters, anyone knows any details about this?
Apparently there is ! Someone on here did it with a S900, can't remember who but they did a thread explaining how - 'Capn' Crunch' mod I think.

I'd love to do it but remember thinking at the time it was a lot of work / risk for someone with v little experience tinkering around inside samplers.
Old 17th April 2020
  #21
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Acid Mitch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluegreengold View Post
What's the story with the resistor mod on HxC drives to make reading data stable on an s950. I had a bunch of bookmarks save somewhere, but never found a straight ahead answer on how to avoid the BAD DATA error when reading from an HxC
It’s only needed for the sd card HXC emulators sold by Lotharek.
The Gotek emulators with HXC firmware don’t need the mod.
“Bad Data” or any other warning message is not normal. If you had problems loading files the most likely causes would be the cable connected the wrong way round or a problem with your USB stick.
Old 17th April 2020
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Mitch View Post
It’s only needed for the sd card HXC emulators sold by Lotharek.
Exactly what I am referring to. I'm not talking about the Gotek.
Old 17th April 2020
  #23
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Acid Mitch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluegreengold View Post
Exactly what I am referring to. I'm not talking about the Gotek.
HxC units made before 2019.02.10 didn’t supply enough voltage on the read line for the s950 to read data without errors so a pull up resistor is added to give correct voltage.
Units made after that don’t need the mod.
Old 17th April 2020
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Mitch View Post
HxC units made before 2019.02.10 didn’t supply enough voltage on the read line for the s950 to read data without errors so a pull up resistor is added to give correct voltage.
Units made after that don’t need the mod.
Well I am still having trouble with a newer lotharek HxC. It's not every time I try to load an EFE, but it's often. Could it still sometimes work with the cable reversed and just be flakey?
Old 18th April 2020
  #25
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Acid Mitch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluegreengold View Post
Could it still sometimes work with the cable reversed and just be flakey?
With the cable reversed iit's more likely to happen everytime.
Have you tried different sd cards?
Old 18th April 2020
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Mitch View Post
With the cable reversed iit's more likely to happen everytime.
Have you tried different sd cards?
I'm going to take the 950 to the bench soon, fix a couple individual outputs and then get to the bottom of this. With the lotherek HxC SD readers... I think mine should be new enough to not need the resistor, it arrived this year. But I didn't make any request for it to be special for the s950. On the new ones with the problem fixed, is there a way to tell --- ie the resistor is already there or was it a particular board revision?

I was careful to keep the connector in the same orientation when I installed the HxC.

The BAD DATA has been flakey. Some small programs load ok, some others load sometimes and some never load without error. I know the disks I ripped them from are good as my 950 drive was working fine before I did this and I did all the rips myself on a known good computer/floppy drive with no errors...

I'd put a gotek in it, but I don't have any of the OLED displays for them, and I don't know how well shipping from China is working these days... I have the HxC on hand.
Old 3rd May 2020
  #27
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I don't want to make this thread about my s950 floppy replacement woes. I just want mine to be pimped like Don's, but I am having a pain of a time getting the floppy emulator to work. I got some OLED display and installed it in a gotek I had. And tried that -- now with the gotek I always get the message that the disk was unformated. At least with the lotharek it would try to load. The only floppy I can get to fully load from the lotherek is my keygroup disk (very small no samples). My main test disk loads about halfway or less (variable depending on the whims of the akai). I tried putting a pull up resistor for the dataline as recommended elsewhere (both on the gotek and the HxC) no change. My floppy cable is definitely not flipped, but I'm wondering if it might be the problem otherwise. I want to install the old floppy (which was working fine) and double check that it is still good, but I mistakenly put it with a bunch of other floppy drives that I've accumulated will upgrading all these samplers etc and I don't know which one it was!

I thought maybe it might by that my disk rips are bad, but I can't save to the blank akai EFE floppies of the akai forum either.

Anyhow, I'll be able to figure what floppy drive is which tomorrow, but I would relay like to get an emulator working. My experience with the akai floppy emulators has not been as smooth as with other samplers etc. Mone of the threads I've read address the issue clearly.
Old 3rd May 2020
  #28
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I think it's time for Don to get a new camera, all his pic's look it's broken..
Old 3rd May 2020
  #29
Gear Addict
 

@ Don Solaris can you do a thread for the S1100?
Old 8th May 2020
  #30
Gear Head
Anyone used the Rev F from Lotharek? I just ordered one and then came across this thread (@OP, nice work by the way!). Now i'm all nervous about having to make resistor mods. I have no skill and no solder iron regardless...
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