Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Eurorack to Oscilloscope Adapter

Here's another very simple adapter. 3.5mm to BNC, to allow patch cables to be plugged into a 'scope.

Required Parts:

Friday, February 21, 2020

DR-55 Battery Backup

I made a simple adapter to run my DR-55 from a wallwart instead of a battery. The DR-55 uses the battery to preserve the pattern memory, and my adapter forced me to remove the battery. So, I added a coin cell that is able to retain the patterns, and leaves room for my adapter.

This modification might still be useful without the wallwart adapter. It lets you remove, or run down your AAs without losing your patterns.
The modification requires:

I chose to replace the battery wires with JST terminated wires. This makes it easy to remove or replace the battery holder. I think it's nice to be able to easily "undo" a modification.

I then soldered a schottky diode in series with the battery. This prevents another power source attempting to "charge", and destroy the CR2032 coin cell. A schottky diode is used for the low voltage drop it offers. This lets the RAM see a higher voltage from the battery, and function longer as the voltage decreases.
The white line of the diode points away from the battery, and the other end is soldered to the red wire. A little heat shrink tubing keeps the diode lead, and wire, from shorting anything.

I attached the battery as shown across capacitor 39, as it bridges the RAM's supply pins.

I closed the machine up and slid the battery holder between the case and PCB. It can also be mounted in the battery compartment with some adhesive foam.

That's it! Make sure the holder is switched to "on" and that you put one battery in it. The holder is made for two batteries, but works fine with just one. In fact, two cells offer a bit too much voltage for the RAM, and may shorten its life.

Breadboard Friendly 3.5mm Jacks

Here's an easy one, breadboard friendly 3.5mm jacks. I got tired of struggling to connect eurorack patch cables and breadboards, so I put Dupont connectors on a 3.5mm pigtail. No soldering required, just crimping.

Here are the pigtail cables , and crimping kit I used.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Williams Defender Sound Disassembly

Here's something different, an in progress attempt to reverse engineer the sound board for the arcade game "Defender" (and others). The sounds are very recognizable, and unique to Williams arcade/pinball machines. They always interested me, so I'm making an attempt to understand them better.

The board is based around a 6808 CPU (relative of the 68000), and a DAC attached to an IO controller. The binary is floating around the web, as is this great disassembler: DASMx. I used it to disassemble the ROM into a code listing, and started commenting it.

Here are the schematics from one of the compatible service manuals:

I was able to use the schematics to figure out the memory map. This helps understand the significance of certain read/writes in the code.
RAM: $0000 - $007F (128 Bytes)
PIA: $0400 - $07FF
ROM: $F800 - $FFFF (2KB)

By loading the ROM into audacity I was able to see some recognizable shapes. These are the waveforms/look up tables stored alongside the code. Some are played directly, while others are used to modulate things like pitch, or volume.

There are some interesting tricks done in the code, and I hope to explain them here one day. Things like dynamically generated delay loops, and something akin to granular synthesis...

Until then, the current version of the commented disassembly lives here.