Yamaha CS01 MIDI retrofit project: detailed description and pictures

Special thanks to HL Forum member ElSmurf of Belgium for providing a detailed description of his excellent UMR2 MIDI retrofit module installation inside a Yamaha CS01. His words and photos follow.  

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I just finished work on my CS-01, so I thought I’d share the process with you.

My plan was to get the UMR-2 inside of the Yamaha without altering its functioning, so I could still be able to play it as is, with batteries and through the crappy speaker. This is way too much fun to do away with! So when I opened up the synth for the first time, I decided rather quickly that this would be the only place inside the enclosure that had enough real estate :

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This presented two obvious problems though – one corner would have to be cut, and I would have to drill a hole to let the LED housing pass through. Cutting the corner was fairly straightforward but drilling the hole for the LED proved to be more challenging. On the larger version you can see how close the hole gets to one of the UMR’s LED leads.

CS01 Large-2I then attached 3 small bolts with nuts, and super-glued these to the case of the synth.

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They kept the UMR in its place but also provided some elevation so the board sat ontop of the modulation destination slot.

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Here you can see the LED hole alligned with the hole in the UMR. At this point I thought I didn’t actually need the contacts for the program switch, since I didn’t read the manual the whole way through. This obviously made things a little challening when it was time to do the setup! :D

Once the superglue was dry I could unscrew the nuts and remove the UMR to solder the cables.

I embedded the resistor and diode in the cable so it wouldn’t take up too much space.

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Then came the scary part : drilling the hole for the MIDI socket !

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First a 2mm metal drill, followed by a 10mm wood drill, and then a 10mm metal drill.

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Then the big guns…

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Getting that huge 16mm drill to tear up the plastic just didn’t feel right so I felt it was my duty to take some photos to compare the drill sizes…

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I think you need a steady hand to drill in 30-year old plastic, especially considering how close you’re drilling to the edges. But everything worked out just fine.

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Next up was soldering the other sides of the cables to the synth.

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I have little experience with soldering on PCB, I mostly make only cables, so I was happy I had no shorts or burned through anything! After bending the cables everything kind of fit the way it fit before I put in the UMR.

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A little interlude – my screw storage system :

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Then came the hard part of doing the setup procedure. I had to put the synth on 2 small boxes so I could access the keyboard from below and access the UMR to short out the program switch. Which like I said proved to be tricky since the big contacts where gone!

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Luckily everything worked on the first try, so after doing the setup and teaching it the matrix, all I had to do was cut the black cloth that keeps dust out to compensate for the UMR, and put everything back together. This is what it looks like now :

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It took about 10 hours from start to finish, half of that time went in to cleaning – I dismantled the keyboard and cleaned every key separately. Now all I have to do is find my 2 missing slider caps – check the EG!

Building an FL Studio Controller with the MIDI CPU

Highly Liquid Forum member Labelwhore used 3 MIDI CPUs to create an FL Studio controller with 8 slide pots, 16 buttons, and 24 rotary encoders.  The controller is housed inside a Pactec KE-20 enclosure with custom panels laser cut and engraved by Ponoko.

All of the project details including parts list, MIDI CPU configuration files, Reaktor ensemble file and FL Studio dashboard file can be found in the excellent project article by Labelwhore.  Additional discussion can be found in the project’s HL forum thread.



Disappearing Cowboy’s Automated M.O.T. Stage Rig

John Erik King, the sole instrumentalist of Disappearing Cowboy, has created the “Minimalist Organic Tech” stage rig, an integrated system that includes guitar effects and amplification, bass, synthesis, vocal processing, and robot drums. Scripted MIDI messaging provides “scene” control, freeing King to simultaneously perform live guitar, bass, and synth.

M.O.T. Minimalist Organic Tech from Disappearing Cowboy on Vimeo.

King’s description of the system:

  • kick, one actuator.
  • snare, one actuator.
  • ride cymbal, two actuators to account for the high volume of repetitive patterns typically played on cymbals.
  • toms, two actuators, again to account for quarter/sixteenth note repetition.
  • crash, one actuator with a very long throw to really smack the crash cymbal so it stands out.
 M.O.T. Rig
  • bass, mute, and distortion control. (big muff)
  • guitar, Moog LP ladder filter into an eventide stereo digital delay. The stereo output then goes to two different amps with independent mutes.
  • synth, only one string goes to a Roland GR-30, which has its own mute as well.
M.O.T. Batar
  • has three outputs. Bass, guitar, and synth.
  • tuning E (bass string), E,B,E,B,E. (five other strings)
  • top three strings are attached to a modified Bigsby tremolo which creates a relative detune effect.
Because everything is controlled by MIDI, we can shift scenes and tempos for each song, or even in between songs. The vocal delays and guitar delays are in perfect sync with the tempo which the drums precisely adhere to. If the tempo is at 135, everything is locked at 135.
I originally controlled everything with a laptop, but found a karaoke device that plays back MIDI files to use instead.
All the different scenes and transitions are triggered automatically. And the entire set is set up like a playlist. We hit one button and the entire show plays without any foot controllers or input like that of any kind. It’s all automated, with the exception of playing the instrument, of course.


The rig employs two Highly Liquid MSA-P MIDI decoders to trigger drums, route audio signals, switch amplification channels and control effects.  An MPA MIDI decoder is used to automate control of the Moog ladder filter.

The new Disappearing Cowboy album, Revolute, is available from every major online music distribution platform including Amazon, iTunes, Soundcloud, and several others.


Great American Horn Machine Appearing at Detroit Maker Faire July 28-29 2012

The “World’s Loudest Mobile Musical Instrument”, The Great American Horn Machine (YouTube, Facebook), is louder than ever and returns to the Henry Ford Museum this weekend for Maker Faire Detroit.

The machine’s creator, Dana Dolfi, recently fielded an interview with Make. Best quote:

“What inspired you to make the Great American Horn Machine and how long did it take to build?

It’s an evolution. It started out as a display rig for my steam whistle and horn collection. This question kinda makes me laugh because you’re assuming I’m done building it. Heck, it’s just getting started.” (emphasis added)

We can’t wait to hear the evolution continue.  The Great American Horn Machine utilizes Highly Liquid MIDI Decoders for MIDI valve control. Dana goes by the username captofchaos at the Highly Liquid Forum.

MIDI CPU: A DIY MIDI Controller for Everyone

Organists, guitarists, synthesists, DJs and experimenters continue to create unique DIY MIDI controllers using the MIDI CPU. Explore the MIDI CPU forum to find strategies for generating MIDI output from ribbon controllers, breath sensors, foot switches, organ bass pedals, second touch organ manuals, joysticks, accordions, 128-switch pushbutton arrays, light detectors, Hall effect sensors, piezo elements, and lasers.

Have you joined the forum to discuss your DIY MIDI project idea?

Here are some recent highlights from the forum:

VFXcompositor’s concept for a “next level MIDI performance controller”:

DIY MIDI bass pedal projects from Robrolley and ham hands:

Korg Radias foot switch controller by michaelh: