19 Aug 2006

Keeping the Emulator III alive - Part 4: Memory

When I first got my EIII it had been in storage for a few years. When I sampled a sound and played it back it sounded all distorted. This was due to the fact that the memory SIMMs didn't make proper contact with the memory sockets.

I took out the top card out of the card cage which contains the SIMMs. Took out all 16 SIMMs and cleaned the contacts with contact cleaner. I did this as well for all the SIMM sockets. Afterwards everything sounded fine.

The EIII comes in 2 memory sizes: 4MB and 8MB. The early 4MB version uses 16 x 'standard' 30 pin 256KB SIMMs. These are the same SIMMs that were used in the Atari ST. Later EIII models had 4 x 1M simms in the first 4 slots.

Rob from the Emulator Archive once let me know that: "EIII upgrades from 4MB to 8MB have become impossible. You can't get the PAL chips that address the extra memory. You need 2 of them and they are long since obsolete and unfortunately no one has managed to recreate them. We have the binaries from the E-mu Systems vault, but they don't work..."


12 Aug 2006

Keeping the Emulator III alive - Part 3: The Power Supply

I'll try to be short on this one. Just hope that your Power Supply never dies. :-)

While testing all different kind of Hard Disks for my EIII (as explained in Part 1) I must have turned the EIII off and on once too many. At one point the EIII was totally dead. Power Supply had gone.

The Power Supply was made by Power-One, type SPL150-S109. But they have dropped all support for the SPL150-series and refused to provide me details about the power supply.

This is what the technical manual has to say about the power supply: EIII uses a switching power supply. We do not repair these supplies at the factory and do not even have schematics for them.

A technician helped fixing it but we were unable to trace a component, which looks like a transistor and might even be one, labelled Motorola 21407 8835 K. So if anyone knows what this is, please leave a comment.

I was lucky enough to find a second hand EIII power supply, not cheap though, and now my EIII is back up and running.

Here are the voltages from the power supply as described in the technical manual:
Green wire = ground
Orange wire = +12V
Yellow wire = +5V
Black wire = -14.25V to -15.75V
Red wire = +14.25V to +15.75V

Here's a photo of the internal power cable:

As you can see there's also a blue cable which is not described in the technical manual. I can now tell you that this is also a ground wire.


11 Aug 2006

Keeping the Emulator III alive - Part 2: Disabled outputs

A common problem with aging EIII's are non working stereo outputs. If you test the unit, all 16 individual outputs will work but not the stereo ouput.
This is due to a faulty relay switch on the output board. This relay switch will disable the stereo output when the machine is turned off or on to prevent a popping sound through the speakers.
The relay is labelled Aromat DS2YE-S-DC5V and is in a yellow casing.

Solution: Replace the relay switch or bypass it. When you bypass it you'll hear a small pop when the machine is turned off or on but it's nothing major that can destroy you speakers.

The relay switch is the yellow component:

Here's is an excerpt from the EIII Technical Manual showing the output board schematics. The relay switch is the component in the red circle:

Here's a picture of the relay switched being bypassed:

UPDATE 17.02.07:

Dr C., an experienced EIII technician informs me of the following:

The above diagnosis is wrong.

The +5V transits to the board to power the relay by the leftmost flat
cable. Sometimes, it becomes bad.

In order to repair it, make a joint with a piece of wire (yellow if
possible), from one of the yellow cables of the power connector (the one of
the cards cage) and pin 8 of IC3.


10 Aug 2006

Keeping the Emulator III alive - part 1: Internal Hard Disk

I own an Emulator III keyboard and although it's one of the best sounding samplers ever made it's also a high maintenance machine.

I am not a trained technician but found out that I have enough technical skills to keep the EIII going to this day. I'll post my EIII repairs/solutions here so other EIII users can benefit of it. Not that there are that many left. Only 1200 Emulator III's were ever made.

A while ago the internal Hard Drive decided it was time to meet its maker. It was still the original 40MB from 1987. The EIII needs its internal HD to operate. You can boot the machine with a OS floppy disk but the OS still requires a HD to be present on the internal SCSI cable.

Googling for a replacement drive only the Seagate ST51080N is mentioned on EIII related pages and forums. A 1GB SCSI drive that is still being sold for $225.

So I started going through all my spare SCSI drives and here's a list of EIII compatible HD's:

Quantum Trailblazer
IBM WDS-L80 (80MB) - As found in the Apple II si
Quantum ProDrive LT 700MB SCSI - As found in the PowerMac PPC6100
Quantum Maverick ProDrive - As found in PowerMac PPC8500

To format the HD I used the standard interleave setting of 2:1.

It took about 2 hours to get the Quantum Maverick HD formatted and verified. It is essential that you don't abort the verification process (like I did at first). When you do so, you won't be able to copy the OS onto the HD. If you try so, you'll get the Error: "Bank does not exists!".

I also tried more recent SCSI Hard Disk models but they don't get recognized by the EIII. If anyone knows why please let me know.

Here's a picture of the internal HD:


7 Aug 2006

Free Synclavier 9600 only album

Here's a free album made entirely on a Synclavier 9600 system.
The liner notes tells us that:
"This album was performed entirely on the Synclavier Digital Audio System. The output from the Synclavier was recorded straight to DAT via an analogue mixing desk. This is meant to demonstrate the outstanding audio capabilities and depth, clarity and separation of sound on the Synclavier system."

The link was found at this page where you can purchase your own complete Synclavier 9600 system.

All the info was taken from this excellent Synclavier site.
I also suggest this page for an overview of the Synclaviers uniqueness.