Category Archives: Equipment

Korg DDD-1 LCD

So the good news is the Blue LCD I bought on ebay is fully compatible with the Korg DDD-1! The model I went with is the HD44780, although it has slightly different dimensions to the original, so I had to get a bit creative with attaching it to the case. I also had to extend some of the wires from the circuit board so they could reach the solder points.

Unfortunately, my excitement was short lived as I managed to kill the backlight within a few minutes as the voltage was probably too high.

So, after ordering another replacement (Yellow backlight this time), I decided to put an inline resistor on pin 15 to reduce the voltage. A quick google suggested something around 47 ohm should do the trick, but the smallest resistor I had to hand was 100 ohm.

I’m happy to report it all works fine though, and with no annoying whining sound!

I’ve also replaced the main navigation / cursor buttons which are a lot more responsive now. The back-up battery replacement was a bit fiddly, but I’ve done that too 🙂

Hello again!

Hello again, it’s been a while! The last 18 months have seen me buy a new house, move in, move out again, then pretty much rebuild it.

We are finally getting back to normality though, and I now have the luxury of a dedicated studio space in the house (no more shed at the end of the garden!).

Whilst unpacking my equipment, I decided it was time to give some TLC to some of my more aged items.

Korg launched the DDD-1 drum machine in 1986. Built like a tank, it’s sounds have arguably aged better than competitor drum machines of the day such as the Roland TR-505 and Yamaha RX series. You aren’t limited to the 18 onboard sounds either, as it has 4 rom card expansion slots and Korg released a large number of expansions which pop up from time to time on ebay.

It also has an optional sampling board but these are very difficult to find, not to mention cost prohibitive on those rare occasions when one comes up for sale. More usefully though, an enterprising individual has reverse-engineered the rom cards and built an adapter that lets you add your own sounds, stored on EPROM chips.

I have a couple of these adapters myself, and have started burning my own EPROM’s with sounds created on my modular system. Of course, as the DDD-1 is only 8-bit, the samples don’t sound exactly the same as the originals, but this only serves to make them more unique.

I purchased my DDD-1 a couple of years ago, and it generally works fine, but does have a high-pitched whining noise which I suspect comes from the LCD backlight. This isn’t present on the audio outputs though so is something I’ve largely learned to live with.

More recently though, I’ve noticed that the selection slider is a bit tempermental and the plus and minus selection buttons need quite a hard push before they work, which makes it difficult to program. Being over 30 years old, there’s a high probability the back-up battery will soon fail too, so I’ve decided some surgery is in order.

The back-up battery is your usual CR2032 button affair, although in their wisdom, Korg elected to solder this on the board. So I’ll also be fitting a battery holder to make future maintenance easier.

Goodbye Drum Machine, hello Drum Skiff!

Have decided I needed a few more HP’s for drum synth modules, both to expand my sound palette and add extra modulation sources. So, I purchased a Make Noise 104HP Skiff and have just finished filling it up – isn’t she pretty!

Still want to revisit using Arcade buttons as triggers in the future, but for now this is providing a lot of random percussion fun! This is thanks in large part, to the three Erica Synths Pico modules which give a nice mix of controlled and uncontrolled triggers, lfo’s, sample and hold and noise. And all in bite-sized 3HP chunks!

The Bastl Instruments Tea Kick is another of the new modules and it sounds lovely and clear with a real weight behind it, but still very musical too. This is in the new, aluminium styling, rather than the wooden front panels Bastl normally use but it looks amazing.

CV Pal is being used with Max For Live to emulate the Mutable Instruments Grids, and a great job it does at that too! Dead simple to set up too, so will put together a video on that perhaps. You can get the CV Pal in a kit at Thonk for under ÂŁ30 (plus VAT) at the moment, and it’s well worth looking into.

Find out more about the skiff at Modular Grid.

That’s more like it!

Well, I’m pleased to say, the surgery was a success and the DR-110 finally has some kick drum oomph. Lot’s of it actually.

I’ve made quite a few modifications and added a bunch of knobs; there is a Snare Decay, then a Snare fizz/snap mix – lot’s of sound adjustment potential with these two. On the next row we have clap and hi-hat pitch. All four modifications replaced the existing fixed resistors with 47k pots as per the suggestions here

Then a row of switches to increase the clap and snare decay envelopes, making them sound distant and echoey. This was acheived by piggy-backing 2.2uf electro capacitors in series with the original capacitors. I got the idea from this post, but rather than make permanent modifications, I wired them to switches so that I could retain the original sounds too.

And finally, two more switches for Thud 1 and Thud 2 respectively. The first switch puts a 4.7uf electro capacitor across r70, which gives a subtle boost to the kick. The second switch adds a further two parallel 4.7uf capacitors across r70 that gives it a nice 808 like roundness.

I’ll put some before and after loops up in the next couple of days so you can hear the effect for yourself.

Definitely worth buying one of these if you see one for a reasonable price.