Inside the Korg SQ1

The $99 Korg SQ-1 sequencer is a really cool little box that leaves us all desiring a little more. I popped it open to get some pictures of the insides to start thinking of possible modifications.

Nothing immediately interesting on the back of the main PCB.

 The device runs off a Cypress Spansion FM3 32-bit ARM processor, much like the Electribe 2. Since most of the sequencing work is done in the processor, it would be difficult to do any mods that effect the sequencing.


Threw together some quick and simple tunes from Erik Satie.
Pulled MIDI files into Ableton and routed the MIDI to the Prophet and the Eurorack. The rest was just sound design. 

The Gymnopodies use the Mutable Instruments Elements as the lead, STO via Optomix for the bass, and the Prophet '08 does the rest:

The Prophet '08 is doing the same duties in Le Piccadilly, but with a different patch. The lead was done using the STO and the Pittsburgh Waveforms (2 octaves higher). They both have separate AD envelopes and go through the Optomix.

Big Freedia Died For Our Synths

Korg Electribe 2 Teardown

My Electribe 2 might just be my favorite piece of gear. It is now the center of my 'Battlestation'. It has allowed me to stop using my computer and rely on it to control my synths. I connect the USB from the Electribe 2 to a USB hub connected to my iConnectMIDI4+ and it can control all my synths at the same time. Just set each synth to a different channel and you are in business. 
Currently, the Electribe via the iConnectMIDI4+ controls my Eurorack (via Yarns), Prophet '08, Minibrute, MS-20 mini, and Slim Phatty. I also connected my Korg M50 keyboard to the Electribe to use as a master keyboard controller. With this setup, I can record MIDI data to the Electribe via the M50 and play it back to any of the other synths. 
The sounds in the Electribe aren't too bad, but I usually end up relying on the sounds of my other hardware synths. The only time I use all internal sounds is when I am out of the house and using the Electribe via battery power somewhere. I've taken it to the beach and had a fun time watching the waves and programming a surf rock type song. When I got home, I connected the Electribe back to my setup and ditched the internal sounds for analog sounds while still using the MIDI sequencer. All in all. I love it. 

As with the rest of my gear, I just had to pop the Electribe open incase there were some interesting patch points and for just learning about their manufacturing technique. The Electribe was quite easy to open and can be easily repairable.

The knobs come of quite easily. The back unscrews and comes off without a problem. Note that there is a screw in the battery box too. 

There are 3 PCBs in the Electribe. The one directly below is the brains of the operation. The other PCB is the control PCB with the knobs and buttons along with a small jack PCB for the 1/4" jacks.

 After removing the main 'brain' PCB, you can see that it packs a good amount of power.
The DSP used is a Blackfin by Analog Devices and packs a good amount of arithmetic power. Compared to the Sharc DSP used in Strymon gear, the Blackfin is quicker with it's functionality due to it's multiple ALUs and faster clocking (300MHz vs 50MHz), although the Sharc excels in floating point math.
The main processor is a Texas Instruments Sitara Processor (AM1802) ARM9 processor which can pack a heavy punch. The other large chip towards the top of the picture is the SK Hynix SDRAM for the TI ARM9.

 An Analog Devices Quad Buck Regulator (ADP5052) is used in the power supply section.

Flex PCB coming out from the screen connecting to the 'brain' board.

 PCB for the 1/4" jacks.

The button/knob board contains a Cypress (formerly Spansion) Cortex M3 based processor. This chip has 12 channels of 12-bit ADCs, which makes me think it handles all the sampling of the knobs and buttons so relieve the TI chip from some of it's duties.

 The screen and touch panel are definitely repairable; they are loose once you remove the button/knob board.

Scoping and Analyzing a Eurorack Patch

I've used the Saleae Logic analyzers at my past 2 jobs and fell in love with them and their all too simple software. After my experience in an EE lab at Georgia Tech where we used a monstrous Windows based logic analyzer that took 15+ minutes to set up, the Saleae was a breeze. 

After following along with the Pro 8 and Pro 16 releases, I've been lusting after a Pro 8. Up to 8 channels that can be both analog and digital?! Count me in! 

I drove down to the Saleae office in South San Francisco and purchased my Pro 8 from them. Cool guys with a cool product.

I hooked it up to some of our work boards and had the necessary measurements in a couple minutes. Easy peasy.
Besides work measurements, I've been waiting to hook up a Pro 8 to my synths and get timed out analog readings. 

I made a simple patch that ran a clock into René, René's QCV out into an STO. STO sine out into an MMG and out to a mixer. The clock also went to a PEG which created a triangle envelope to control the MMG.
Below is the recording of the clock, QCV out, envelope, and audio output.

I then decided to get a bit more exciting with the patch and slowly modulated PEG's Divide, Skew, and Curve to get some 'cooler' looking envelopes and audio outputs.

Overall, I think it's as cool as I expected. Everyone scopes the audio and envelopes with O-Scopes, but I haven't seen a completely logged patch. 

More to come!