Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby V3nom » Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:43 pm

There are other mistakes there. The author says that his PCB is 43mm wide, but in reality it's 53mm. One of the diodes is wrong polarized in topwiew picture and some jumper wires are missing.

So, schematics is OK, other pictures are with mistakes.
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby dojoe » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:49 pm

V3nom wrote:So, schematics is OK, other pictures are with mistakes.

Yeah, lots of half-assery on that page unfortunately -- but at least the pinout was accurate ;) The original card dimensions I got from rolandmuseum.de, and jojo helped me measure the contacts once I realized that the info on that page could impossibly be accurate ;)
What's not on the page is that M/R is meant for the write protect switch -- 5V means write enabled, 0V will make the synth report "write protect". Though I admit that intercepting the RAM's write signal is a very effective write protection too :D Also CST is the presence detect pin -- the synth needs to see 5V there to know there's a card plugged.
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby freed » Sat Mar 12, 2016 2:42 pm

Hi.
I'm very interested by this project since it could bring new possibilities to our vintage keayboards and expanders (I own a faithful D-20 with a dead floppy drive).
I also own a Roland U-110 with some sound cards and have always wondered if those cards were somohow compatible with M256 (or M-512 maybe): wouldn't it be cool to have a M-256 card to USB reader so it could be possible to explore M-256 card content from the computer, duplicate data and put new sounds on it? We would then be able to create new sounds (samples) for Roland U series expanders and synths...
I know I am a dreamer ;)
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby madtheory » Sat Mar 12, 2016 3:07 pm

I think an M256 with USB as you propose is kinda pointless, when you can already do what you require with a MIDI sysex editor/ librarian. So send the stuff to your synth, save it to a bank on the card, send some more stuff, save it to another bank, etc.

I think the U-110 issue has been covered a couple of times already in this thread? Check back to the beginning... ;)

The new version of the card works perfectly with my Akai MX-1000 here.

Your rig is on its way back to you soon dojoe! Thanks again for your patience :) Incidentally freed, part of the test jig is a USB reader for the card. But it is a total hack and I would imagine dojoe would not be interested in developing it for normal use when good ol' MIDI sysex already does the job fine!
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby ʝɵʝɵ » Sat Mar 12, 2016 3:07 pm

Custom sample cards have been discussed in the thread before, but it's most likely not possible:
- The wiring of those cards might be slightly different (they should support addressing more memory than regular RAM cards, for example, and they won't have a write-protect line)
- The format of those sample cards is unknown and specific to each synth. You would have to reverse-engineer the sample format of each synth individually (no, we are not going to do this for you).

Also, as madtheory says, there is no USB connection required - we made the cards have multiple banks so that (hopefully) you will never need to connect your synth to your PC for patch exchange again!
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby dojoe » Sat Mar 12, 2016 4:57 pm

I've been thinking about making a USB reader/writer for these memory cards; as madtheory pointed out, my test jig can already do that. The real show stopper is the unavailability of matching card slots. If anyone can point me to a reliable source of inexpensive 34-pin card edge slots with 1.5mm pin pitch, I might be inclined to design the rest of the system -- but I couldn't find a single part that would even fulfill the 1.5mm pitch requirement. And even then, it wouldn't be very user friendly as the slots would sure as h**l be missing the plastic nubs that push back the protective metal shield on the original cards.

Apart from that, modding my card so that it can emulate four 1 megabit ROM cards is so easy that I made RevC to be configurable in that way ;) It's the general unavailability of slot parts that kills the idea. And I have zero intention of entering the ROM cloning business.
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby freed » Sat Mar 12, 2016 7:38 pm

Sorry my bad: the search engine on this board didn't return anything for U-110...found it in page 13 now, that's ok.

My idea was to dump ROM SN-U110 cards, explore data and try to retro engeneer it myself...Sure ROM cloning would be an option, but I was thinking about feeding the ROMpler with original samples.
Edit: U-220 card bus is a bit wider: 19 bits address bus, hence 512KB ROM cards, but other 34 pins seem compatible with the card port you found on a D-20.. You can check it in the service manual, page 7 for the U-220 ( http://www.synfo.nl/pages/servicemanuals.html ).

As I said, that was only a dream.
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby madtheory » Sun Mar 13, 2016 3:46 pm

freed wrote:... I was thinking about feeding the ROMpler with original samples.

That sounds cool. An alternative might be to figure out the core architecture of the module, and check service manuals of contemporary Roland samplers to see which ones are the same (DAC, transposing, custom DSP chip etc.) the U-110 and 220 especially have a cool sound, but I suspect a Roland sampler might be a better way to get "custom" ROM sounds? IMO a large part of the character is the sounds themselves- mainly Eric Pershing creations AFAIK. There's a thread here with Roland S-50 etc. libraries in Akai and Soundfont format. They sound great in Kontakt, you'd recognise a lot of U-220 sounds in it.
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby dojoe » Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:46 am

freed wrote:Edit: U-220 card bus is a bit wider: 19 bits address bus, hence 512KB ROM cards, but other 34 pins seem compatible with the card port you found on a D-20.. You can check it in the service manual, page 7 for the U-220 ( http://www.synfo.nl/pages/servicemanuals.html )

Wow, 19 bits -- they're re-using the pin that's going to the write protect switch on RAM cards.

I might route those address lines to the MRAM for the production card just for fun, so that if anyone makes a reader/writer, the cards can be reconfigured as 1x4Mbit. Solder jumpers galore! :mrgreen:
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby baz99 » Mon Mar 14, 2016 4:53 pm

dojoe wrote:Wow, 19 bits -- they're re-using the pin that's going to the write protect switch on RAM cards.

I might route those address lines to the MRAM for the production card just for fun, so that if anyone makes a reader/writer, the cards can be reconfigured as 1x4Mbit. Solder jumpers galore! :mrgreen:


I don't know anything about the U220, but at least on the JV-1080 the PCM card slot is physically different than the Data card slot, it's much shorter and the connector pins are narrower and much closer together.
Also the JV-1080 PCM card slot can take PCM cards up to 2MByte (the SM shows 21 address lines).
http://www.synfo.nl/servicemanuals/Rola ... _NOTES.pdf (see page 17)

I don't think it's possible to make a PCM MRAM card that will work in a wide variety of synths like the Data card.
Last edited by baz99 on Mon Mar 14, 2016 5:21 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby ʝɵʝɵ » Mon Mar 14, 2016 4:57 pm

You can definitely physically fit a RAM card into a ROM slot on the U-220 - I've tried it. ;) It does indeed appear to be the same card format.
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby freed » Mon Mar 14, 2016 7:52 pm

Good news indeed. I've been investigating and found that CM-32P and CM-64 sound modules from Roland use SN-U110 cards too (64 integrated PCM sounds + 64 optionnal thru SN-U110 card, U-220 DAC engine + MT-32 Reverb unit).

Still, I couldn't find any edge card connector with 1.5mm pitch... I'm a noob in electronics anyway and only searched the web for a 34 pos. connector... Maybe there are connectors with more positions and 1.5mm pitch that could be used, but didn't find any on the web (hard to find the right words to search for that anyway, no native english speaker here ;) ).
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby dojoe » Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:01 pm

baz99 wrote:I don't know anything about the U220, but at least on the JV-1080 the PCM card slot is physically different than the Data card slot, it's much shorter and the connector pins are narrower and much closer together.
Also the JV-1080 PCM card slot can take PCM cards up to 2MByte (the SM shows 21 address lines).
http://www.synfo.nl/servicemanuals/Rola ... _NOTES.pdf (see page 17)

Whoa, interesting! :shock: That's 40 ROM card pins in the space of roughly 27 RAM card pins, giving me roughly 1mm pitch.

The U-220 is different though; the circuit diagram indicates it's still a 34-pin connector with only 19 address bits. But eventually they apparently had no choice other than increasing the pin count and breaking compatibility.

baz99 wrote:I don't think it's possible to make a PCM MRAM card that will work in a wide variety of synths like the Data card.

You're quite correct on that :( I might still try to prepare the card for PCM compatibility; can't hurt to take what you can get, especially if it's not too much work and doesn't break anything else.

Also looking at this thread, the card has already outgrown any set of use cases I had thought of when I originally planned it. Twice. :lol:
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby dojoe » Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:33 pm

freed wrote:Still, I couldn't find any edge card connector with 1.5mm pitch... I'm a noob in electronics anyway and only searched the web for a 34 pos. connector... Maybe there are connectors with more positions and 1.5mm pitch that could be used, but didn't find any on the web (hard to find the right words to search for that anyway, no native english speaker here ;) ).

You're pretty bang on with "card edge connector". I searched on Digikey again and out of 173739 types of connectors they have, there is one, yes one, with 1.5mm pitch, and that's a 2x15 while we need 1x34 or more.

Not trying to discourage you here, but that's where I gave up and turned to the Bay for a used D-50 slot assembly.
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Re: Custom-built multi-bank Roland M-256/M-512 memory cards

Postby freed » Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:07 pm

Molex has some 170 pos .75mm pitch connectors. Quite expensive for a try (2 wires for 1 pin hack maybe?)
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