this must be the place....goin strong , yeah baby!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Resurrecting an Ensoniq EPS classic sampler

Join me, for a journey into the world of vintage music electronics repair and modification...

Our subject, the Ensoniq EPS.
Don't know it? Sure you do!!! Ever heard Wu-Tang's 36 Chambers? You've heard this keyboard. It was the precursor to the uber-popular ASR-10.
It's a very characteristic 13-bit sampler beamed to us from 1988. Low RAM in this one (480k) means you gots to get real creative.
Anyway, I was given this keyboard, and immediately dug it. I already had a soft-spot for the ESQ-1, and this is basically like it's sampling brother.
The only problem with these old machines though, is that floppy disks are not much fun, the particular ones for the EPS are very hard to find (DD, not HD!), and they will eventually fail. The HxC Floppy Emulator steps in to replace your thousands of floppies with one, easy to find SD card.

The process:
I backed up all my EPS disks via OmniFlop. This creates a RAW img file, which, as far as I know, is just a byte-for-byte (or close to that) copy of the diskette. The beauty of this format is that the host machines don't need to be able to read it, they just copy the raw data off it. The problem is, you don't know if it's working til you've tried it. I did not anticipate this, and thought the software would read my *.img files easily...not so.
So in the HxCFloppyEmulator software, I can't do 'batch convert' (that expects *.efe files...i've got *.img raw files), I had to do "Load Raw image":
- Load Raw image
- You have to change the settings in this menu.
For 819200 byte images, use these parameters:
Sector per track = 10
Sector ID start = 0
GAP3 lenght = 40
Anyway, that converted all my floppies to images, and at that point, I just hoped it would work.
Finally found the EPS service manual, which helped me remove only the screws I needed to remove the disk drive.
Here are the instructions from the service manual:

Replacing the EPS Disk Drive
1. Remove all cables connected to the EPS, including the power cable.
2. Remove the four (4) screws that fasten the control panel with a 2.5mm hex wrench.
NOTE: These are machine screws.
3. Turn the unit over, top down, and remove the four (4) screws that attach the wheel assembly to the case. See Figure 12 for location of screws. Return the unit to an upright position and raise the control panel. Carefully lift the wheel assembly out of the case.
4. Disconnect the two cables from the Disk Drive, paying particular attention to the polarity. (See Important things to know - the disk drive, page 2).
5. Remove the four (4) screws and star washers that attach the disk drive to the wheel assembly.
6. Carefully slide the Disk Drive out of the wheel assembly. Remove the two (2) screws and star washers that attach the metal plate to the bottom of the disk drive.
etc, etc...

Got that out, got the floppy emulator in, powered up, and CRAP! it WORKED. Couldn't believe it. Scrolled over to the disk image for the OS, and the sumb*tch loaded up like nothing was wrong.
I made the above video while I was doing the upgrade, and then I created the soundtrack from the demo disks that came with the EPS.
So if you've got an old sampler, and floppy disks are holding you back, get over it.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Woolfy Interview, Cosmic Trigger Tonight!

....Special report from certified-homie Hayden Bagot....

Hayden from Flying Turns here. We caught a DJ performance from Woolfy last year during SXSW that left us throttled. He completely stole the show and then got off the decks to drink and dance with us while his label-mates on DFA records pushed on further into disco-house territory. We woke up the next day in pieces but knew we had to bring back the man who has killed parties, released on popular labels (DFA, Rong, and Permanent Vacation), and performed his records with a touring live band to do the business to Austin again. In anticipation of the party this weekend (and because I could) we had a quick Q and A session.

H: Let's pretend you are boxing for the title against George Foreman, What song do you pick to play while you walk out to the ring?

W: This is a very good question Hayden, for me I would choose "tomorrow" from the Annie soundtrack; there's nothing like a good show-tune before an ass whooping. For George I'd choose "Lean On Me" cause that's all he ever did in the ring.

H This is not your first time in Texas, do werewolves prefer Austin's tacos or barbeque?

W: Bar-b-que for sure. I want my baby back baby back baby back ribs. That works for the first question but it would of gone, I want my ribs back baby . . .

H What's your favorite piece of musical equipment and why?

W: My classical guitar, it releases a lot of demons for me; it also cooks me dinner, sends heart warming texts and is a big fan of Dexter.

H: The hard-drive with all your recordings on it crashed last year, have you been busy writing new material?

W: That was definitely a hard time for me, but I took it in stride. I thought I'd be writing make-up to break-up love songs due to my divorce, but it started a new genre of music; post angst computerism. The name of the album;s called KILL KRAFTWERK.

H Do you have any plans in the works to tour the Woolfy Band soon?

W: A lot of offers have come my way recently, but my main man (keyboardist) Dan's band ORGONE is blowing up right now and to start from scratch is a tall order. Chemistry's a fine art in the music biz, anyone?

H: Your release on Whatchawannado is under the name Sir Woolfy. How did it feel being knighted by the queen?

W: It was humiliating. They made me wear a Tudor wig and used a plastic sword. Sean Connery and McCartney were laughing during the whole ceremony, bastards.

H: What is the strangest thing you've ever been asked in an interview? and how did you respond?

W: See question 1.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Zen and the art of tape deck repair

Taken while replacing a broken belt in my Sony TC-K1A Cassette Tape Deck.
Amazing machine! My crappy pictures do this thing no justice.

Not to mention, built-in RCA cords!

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