A moment of light in a sad time.
Recorded in June 2003.
A moment of light in a sad time.
Recorded in June 2003.
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, 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 temperamental 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.
Have posted a couple more older remixes to my Soundcloud page, both of which were originally for competitions on the Acidplanet website.
Starting with Bleed Electric’s Birds as High as Planes (ScarKord Remix), which is a pretty frenetic Drum and Bass version with some lovely bass sweeps and a crazy amount of edits on the vocals.
This is followed by a remix of Drowning in Ecstasy by Lords of Acid. My main recollection of this remix is that I really didn’t think much of the vocals, particularly in the verses, so I went full on Cylon with the help of a Vocoder to dirty them up and disguise the cheesy lyrics. Add some Aphex style percussion and an overdriven acid bassline and there you have it!
Just uploaded my Gabriel Rios remix to YouTube, synced to the original video. Did a little bit of a ‘Wizard of Oz’ edit to it as well with a black & white effect. The aspect ratio is slightly out though, but this was a problem with the source video so I decided to leave it as is.
Have posted a few more remixes to my Soundcloud account, two some of you may of heard before and one you definitely won’t have!
Firstly, I’ve uploaded my remix of Jesus Jones‘ ‘Idiot Stare’ from back in 2005. Not much to say about that one other than it was already a good track, and I (hopefully) improved it a little by beefing up the drums.
The second track is a lot more exciting though, and truly a lost remix! The story behind my remix of Gabriel Rios‘ track ‘Broad Daylight’ starts in 2007. I was working for the Digital Agency LBI and one lunchtime, demonstrated to a colleague Paul how I used Sonic Foundry’s Acid software to produce my remixes. He passed me the Gabriel Rios track to see what I could do with it and this is the result.
Ten years on, and it still sounds really fresh to my ears. I should probably have put it out long ago, but better late than never!
Rounding things off is one of two remixes I did of the Amanda Blank track ‘Might Like You Better’ back in 2009.
The other remix was a quick drum and bass remix, but trust me, this was by far the better version. It even has one of my trademark fake endings with bonus acid synths.
I wonder what I’ll find next 😉
Have been working on Max For Live patches to sequence my Drum Skiff.
This outputs three channels of drum triggers (or gates) through the CV Pal module, all perfectly synced to Ableton Live. So I wanted to do something creative with the unused fourth CV Pal output.
I came up with a simple Max For Live patch which outputs a MIDI note at regular intervals ranging from half-notes through to 32nd notes. By using this in-line with the Grids emulation and CVPal controller, it acts as a clock source for the Pico Trigger module giving me lots of trigger options for my drum modules.
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!
I 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. It’s inspired by the Twin-T Resonant Structure as employed in the Roland TR808 Kick, but capable of a much wider range of sounds. It also has a CV input for tuning along with a separate square wave output, so can even be used as a rudamentary bassline oscillator. This is in the new, aluminium styling, rather than the quirky wooden front panels Bastl normally use but it looks amazing.
Along with the Synthrotek DSM, and a bargain priced Tip Top Audio RS808 rimshot module (Which is more flexible than it sounds), I can now get a much wider range of sounds that really compliment my two Taiko modules.
But, that also means I need a more flexible mixer with extra inputs, so the Tip Top Audio Mix Z fits the bill.
As much as I love the self-contained nature of the drum skiff, you can never have enough trigger sources and that’s where the Mutable instruments CV Pal comes in. CV Pal is being used with Max For Live to emulate the Mutable Instruments Grids, meaning I can keep the patterns locked in tempo with my Ableton Live sessions, and a great job it does at that! Dead simple to set up too, so will put together a post on that perhaps. You can get the CV Pal in a kit at Thonk for under £30 (plus VAT) , and it’s well worth looking into.
Well, I’m making rapid progress. Have already built the frame for the Eurorack Drum Machine, based around a repurposed Pittsburgh Modular Cell 48 case, and installed three of the modules.
The Pico Trigger is amazing and really easy to program with the browser based pattern editor which works great from my iPad. 8 patterns can be stored in the module at any one time, even after powering off.
I particularly like the way that each of the 4 tracks has an independent length parameter (1 to 16 steps), great for programming polyrhythmic patterns that change over time.
The arcade buttons aren’t yet functional, but there is a DIY section on the Doepfer website which helpfully explains how to build a manual gate so I’ll start there; just waiting for some veroboard and a 6HP blank panel to be delivered first.
Also contemplating squeezing in a Synthrotek 555 LFO too to add some modulation.
Nearly finished with my rebuild of the modular synth. The Tiptop Mantis Case is full and I’ve also built a second suitcase synth based around modules from Mutable Instruments, Including the ‘Ears’ module which Santa got for me 🙂
So now I’ve turned my attention to building a portable, Eurorack based Drum Machine. Here’s a mock-up of what it could look like…
The core pattern sequencing will be handled through the Erica Synth Pico Trigg module, with the 5 arcade buttons at the bottom allowing me to manually trigger Accent and Choke on the two ALM Taiko modules as well as the Trig input on the ALM Pip Slope.
An ALM PE-1 rounds things off, doubling as a handy 2:1 mixer in addition to EQ duties.