Roland W-30 help needed

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Roland W-30 help needed

Postby JosephGeha » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:47 pm

I am an amateur musician spending some of my spare time playing and recording music for my own enjoyment. My setting consists of a Roland W-30 keyboard/16-track sequencer connected to Yamaha TG-500 sound unit. The W-30 is mainly used as a keyboard and sequencer playing the sounds of the TG-500 through MIDI interface.

Throughout the years I have composed many songs using the sequencer and saved them on W-30 floppy disks. Recently 2 floppies did not load and generated error and I lost many of my compositions.... (can data be recovered somehow?) I am concerned that one day the other floppy disks will fail and I will lose all my compositions. Since the W-30 does not support MIDI data dump, it is not possible to export the sequencer data to a PC or similar.

After a thorough investigation, I came to the conclusion that the only way to safeguard my compositions is to play the songs one by one on the sequencer and record them through MIDI out on a PC with MIDI recording software using a MIDI/USB interface.

Can someone advise me which MIDI software to use in order to record the sequencer data on PC using MIDI out and midi/usb interface? I want to be able to export all 16 MIDI channels and the tempo track for each song and save them in a convenient musical format for later playback or perhaps editing.

Also do you have software that can read a song MIDI data file and then display it as musical notation showing the different MIDI channels stacked?

Any help appreciated!
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Re: Roland W-30 help needed

Postby ShoutingAtSpiders » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:58 pm

Hi,

the first thing to do is backup your existing W-30 disks to a PC. You can usually buy a USB Floppy drive quite cheaply on Amazon. Make sure it's new and test it with some disks you can afford to lose first. Then find a "floppy disk imaging" program somewhere on the internet and use it to create disk images from your precious W-30 floppy disks (make sure the W-30 disks are write protected when you do this, to ensure you don't overwrite them by accident, as some of the disk image software is not very intuitive and it's easy to make mistakes). You can usually find programs for this sort of thing in the retro MSX computer communities and many other places.

If you want to continue to use the floppy drive on the W-30 and need disks, you can buy 1.44MB 3.5 disks and use those on the W-30, but will need to put non-transparent tape (some drives use optical sensors to determine HD disks) over the additional hole on the disk, if you then use it on the PC to write a W-30 floppy image back to the floppy disk.

You may still be able to recover some data from the disks that failed, by making a disk image of your disks with the software that you find. Disk Imaging software usually has an "ignore bad sectors" setting and will still copy the disk, but the bad sector will be filled with rubbish. When you write the disk image back to a non-failing disk, you may find that you can read the important parts of the disk - a long shot, but worth the time, if the composition is important to you. When you have backed up the W-30 disks to a PC, make sure you backup the resulting files again, on to a CD/DVD or even online using Google Drive, Drop Box or something similar! Don't rely on just one backup.

Any MIDI sequencer software should be able to record incoming MIDI data, as that is their main purpose, but you will need to make sure the software is synchronised to the W-30 MIDI clock to get the best results. Some software will automatically divide the different MIDI channels from the incoming MIDI data, into separate tracks too for convenience, but you will need to learn about the software first, as they don't all work in the same way. Most software will also allow you to save sequenced data in the Standard MIDI format, but you might want to check with the software vendor. If you don't want to spend a fortune on something like Cubase, then Reaper is a good start and is quite cheap ($60) but there's a 60 day trial, so you can try before you buy. A free Sequencer that should also do the job is Ardour: http://ardour.org/ but I have never used it. In each of these cases, you may need to recreate the Tempo track. I'm afraid I can't advise on Notation software.

Alternatively, there is SMFW30 http://smfw30.svetlik.be/ I've never used it, but it should allow you to image disks and convert sequences to MIDI, but I don't know how good it is, if it ignores bad disk sectors, or if it handles things like Time Signature changes, or Tempo changes.

Also, the issue with your disks failing may be due to the W-30 drive. The best way to deal with this is to carefully look at the condition of the read/write heads on the floppy drive and gently and carefully clean them with IsoPropyl alcohol and cotton buds, and clean any dust from the inside of the drive. Disassembling the floppy drive completely is not recommended, unless you have experience in doing this, but you should be able to get to the heads by taking the cover off the floppy drive, once the W-30 bottom panel is removed. This could be a good time to replace that backlight and the panel switches! Although, if you've not had much experience with electronics, then maybe get someone who has, to do this part.

Finally, if you are interested, then I've added an SD card drive to my W-30 that acts like a Hard Disk. This required buying the SCSI2SD Card interface for about $60, a 25pin to 50pin SCSI 1 Cable, a Fujitsu MB89352AP SCSI Controller chip for about $5, constructing some sort of case and downloading a disk image of the W-30 For HD/FD/CD Operating System and creating a floppy disk from this, for the W-30 to install the OS onto the SD "Hard Disk". The W-30 will boot from thes SD Hard Drives and is much, much faster than using the Floppy drive. Additionally, you can partition the SCSI2SD into several partitions, so it's like having multiple 80GB Hard Disks, all stored on an micro SD card. If you can also find the Roland Sound CD Images, you can write the CD Images to a SCSI2SD partition and have many new sounds available for writing new stuff. If you prefer to continue with Floppies, you could also replace the W-30 floppy drive with something like a GoTek floppy emulator, but I can't advise how well these work, as I've never used one, but I've seen a few people on the web that have, so just have a search around. You can then use them with a USB stick and copy the floppy disk images you made earlier onto the USB stick and put in the GoTek floppy drive and then load the Sound and Song disks into the W-30 as you would normally from a Floppy Disk.

Whatever you do, make sure you always keep good backups!

Kind regards,

Andy.
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Re: Roland W-30 help needed

Postby JosephGeha » Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:05 pm

Hi Andy,

Thank you very much for your detailed post.

Since my last post I have figured out a couple of things. I am going to buy a floppy USB drive.

The old floppy disks I have need to go and a replacement floppy emulator will be in place. I have looked at emulators with USB memory or SD cards and I have opted for he USB memory. I found 3 possible solutions:

Gotech : low cost but it seems that it has bad documentation. Also there is only a 2 segment LED showing numbers from 00 to 99 and therefore I need to keep track of where the files are stored on the USB memory.

Flexidrive: This is an emulator with full LCD front that shows the title and contents therefore it is easier to keep track of where the songs are stored, etc. but it is very expensive about $450.00

Someone called chrispoacher just posted a video of a floppy emulator for W-30 that has full LED display but he did not post yet any details despite several requests. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2dthlqu0Ao)


I also figured out what was wrong with most of my floppies. The central rotating metal part became dismantled from the magnetic tracks and therefore was rotating on is own while the magnetic tracks remained stationary. This was due to a bad glue job by the floppy manufacturer (All of them were carrying the Sony brand name!). Therefore I carefully glued the the 2 parts together and got the floppies to work again. Unfortunately all of them returned a disk error of some sort so I could not recover any information. I have kept them in order to try later 'floppy disk imaging ".

I found out that I had a bunch of 2.0MB DD floppies tucked away in a closet. I tried one of them with the W-30 and it worked fine. So I made a back up of all my important floppies for now.

Your information on sequencing is excellent and has sorted my queries. I was going to buy a "Cubase elements" for $99.00 but it needs an x64 machine. Reaper was my second choice. Since I have Windows7 X32, I searched online for a free DAW and ended up downloading Podium which was recommended by several reviews and I like it. So i will use it for my MIDI data too.

I did learn about SMFW30 but there was no info on the website and it was not possible to join the Forum or contact the owner to investigate more.

Once I order the emulator and the floppy USB I will find the W-30 software V1.1 and make a starting disk as I only have v1.06 now (V1.1 is on the damaged floppies!).

King regards
Joseph
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Re: Roland W-30 help needed

Postby Rasputin » Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:42 pm

JosephGeha wrote:Someone called chrispoacher just posted a video of a floppy emulator for W-30 that has full LED display but he did not post yet any details despite several requests. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2dthlqu0Ao)


Chris Poacher is legit, BTW. I'm pretty sure it's just a Gotek/HxC with an added display. It's not a totally uncommon mod and documentation can be found on how to do this (both flash the Gotek with HxC software and also add the display).

There's someone that sells them on eBay with this exact configuration from time to time, although I don't think they advertisement as just hacked up Goteks.
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Re: Roland W-30 help needed

Postby madtheory » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:07 am

Lotharek/ HxC displays the disk name on a backlit LCD, is easy to install and setup and costs around €110. I have it in a Casio FZ-1, works great.

I prefer the SD version, because the USB sticks out of the keyboard, just waiting to be snapped off.

Impressive work with the floppy disks. I hope you get them back! Sometimes we music tech folk have to be archivists :)
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Re: Roland W-30 help needed

Postby JosephGeha » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:24 am

Thanks for the info. I have been to Gotech website and i did not see a single drive emulator with a full display.
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Re: Roland W-30 help needed

Postby JosephGeha » Sat Apr 28, 2018 2:06 pm

MAdtherory thanks for the tip. But I have been to Lotharek website in Poland and all they have is SD card versions. I did not see the USB memory version with a backlit LCD. I emailed them but received an automatic reply.

Can you please give me a link or similar? My personal preference is for USB.

With regards to floppy I hope to get back just one floppy on which I have saved about 15 midi songs that represent the labour of about 20 years!!

My gear is: Roland W-30 (using it mostly for its 16-track midi sequencer), Yamaha TG-500 (Still awesome!) and Roland MC-300 sequencer
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Re: Roland W-30 help needed

Postby Rasputin » Sat Apr 28, 2018 2:32 pm

JosephGeha wrote:Thanks for the info. I have been to Gotech website and i did not see a single drive emulator with a full display.


That's what makes it a mod. Custom firmware = mod. LED display instead of the standard 7-segment displays = mod.

This is the seller with the pre-modded version of what I'm talking about:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/HxC-Floppy-Emu ... SwUchaSFOT

-or-

https://www.ebay.com/itm/HxC-Floppy-Emu ... 0009.m1982

As you can see, rather similar to a Gotek with HxC software and an OLED display added.
Last edited by Rasputin on Sun Apr 29, 2018 12:22 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Roland W-30 help needed

Postby madtheory » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:23 pm

JosephGeha wrote:Can you please give me a link or similar? My personal preference is for USB.

Ah, there is only a USB C, i.e. connects over USB cable to your PC. Not USB stick. Sorry, my bad.

Why the preference for a USB stick?
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