$632
pledged of $2,310pledged of $2,310 goal
8
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, February 7 2015 6:39 PM UTC +00:00
Andrew SilvermanBy Andrew Silverman
First created
Andrew SilvermanBy Andrew Silverman
First created
$632
pledged of $2,310pledged of $2,310 goal
8
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, February 7 2015 6:39 PM UTC +00:00

About

The TS-10/12 keyboards from Ensoniq were capable of reading samples stored by the EPS, EPS16+, and ASR-10 samplers directly, but in a read-only fashion.  Huge sample libraries on CD-ROM or hard drive can still be found from numerous sources.  Unfortunately, the SP-4 adapter required to enable the TS series to use these libraries was never available in great supply, and the availability of used parts from sources such as eBay are extremely limited.  I've had my TS-12 since they were new, but I never had the SCSI adapter!

I therefore decided to investigate the possibility of reverse engineering the board and producing an all-new run, and it turned out to be a relatively simple task.   The complete circuit design can be tediously but easily extracted from the circuit traces visible on both sides of the board, including connections to the hidden inner ground and power planes, using pictures of original units sold on eBay and elsewhere on the net, and correlating the traces to the datasheet of the primary chip on the board, the AM33C93A, as a functional check.  The only other components on the board are the power regulator, the required SCSI termination resistors, power supply filtering capacitors, and the various connectors and appropriate electrical engineering best practices have been used in their layout.

The prototype unit pictured here was successfully completed in November 2014, installed in a TS-12, and is happily loading samples today from a CD-ROM drive procured from Garth Hjelte, the well-known owner of Rubber Chicken Systems, and creator of many sample collections for Ensoniq keyboards.

A blog post I wrote about the prototyping process was picked up by Hackaday, and I received several responses from other folks who were interested in getting one of these for their very own.  Since building these boards and collecting the necessary components one at a time can be very expensive when compared with the deep discounts that come from building a whole bunch all at once, I decided this would be the most efficient way to make the SP-4 Rewind available as a service to the worldwide Ensoniq user community.  I have priced the "reward" appropriately for manufacturing and shipping, at the lowest possible price to cover the costs of the project without attempting to make a profit:  I simply want other TS owners to be able to benefit from my experience so far, and to allow everyone to benefit from the economy of scale that results from batch manufacturing.

I have tested the design in a variety of scenarios, and feel confident of its quality, but you should carefully read the section below about risks and challenges and make sure you understand them fully before signing up.

Risks and challenges

The main risks associated with this project are as follows:
1) Procurement of materials. All materials used in this project can be easily procured from reputable electronics distributors and PCB manufacturing houses, with the exception of the AMD SCSI controller. I have located several sources of NOS ("new old stock") parts for this chip and have every reason to believe that sufficient supplies exist to complete the project in the small volume being contemplated here.

2) Assembly of units. I have worked professionally for a major international manufacturer of well-known consumer electronics for nearly 24 years, and have considerable experience in electronics manufacturing and manufacturing test procedures. Each unit produced will be individually tested prior to shipping to ensure correct function.

3) Installation by you, the Kickstarter supporter. While installation of this device is not much more difficult than installing expansion boards in a personal computer, you should have some experience with using screwdrivers, needle nose pliers, and other tasks associated with installing electronic parts, and be able to follow static-safe installation procedures. Damage during installation is unlikely, but possible through use of excessive force or poor handling techniques.

4) Antique software and additional peripherals. Remember that this project is effectively recreating obsolete technology, and being driven by software written roughly 20 years ago or more. Ensoniq is no longer available to help, but there is a variety of archival information about compatible SCSI CD-ROM drives, ZIP drives, and hard drives that is available on the internet. I will provide as much of this information in printed form as practical, but be aware that it was well understood that not all brands of contemporary (i.e. similarly aged) CD-ROM drives worked properly with Ensoniq's SCSI adapters, and the adapter provided by this project cannot address such issues.

Reliable operation of SCSI-1 devices was frustrating at the best of times, due to the need for manual configuration of device addresses and correct connection of powered terminators only at the ends of the SCSI chain. All original limitations and caveats therefore still apply, and I can only ensure the proper function of the parts supplied as part of this project, and not of any peripherals you choose to connect it to.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 110 or more About US$ 110

    You will receive a brand new, freshly manufactured unit from all new parts, using a carefully reverse-engineered design.

    The original SP-4 was an extremely simple one-chip design (not including the power regulator), with no onboard software of its own. Control is driven entirely by the existing TS-10/12 firmware you already have (and makes the duplication process significantly easier)! SCSI cards for other models were, in contrast, far more complex and expensive to make. Sources for the now-obsolete SCSI controller chip have been located to permit a limited production run of this SCSI adapter.

    Your kickstarter dollars will allow us to provide you with the adapter, as well as the necessary installation bracket and internal cable, along with comprehensive installation instructions.

    With a minimum of 21 backers, we can receive a significant reduction in the cost of parts, most notably, the 4-layer printed circuit board.

    Please note: An Ensoniq-compatible SCSI-1 CD-ROM drive or hard drive, external cables, and other SCSI peripherals are not included! This is just the adapter that will be installed inside your TS10 or TS12.

    Please also be aware that you will be required to unscrew the bottom pan of your synthesizer in order to install the board inside the main chassis. Complete written instructions will be provided. While this is not much more difficult than opening up a computer to install an expansion card, if you are uncomfortable performing this type of work I would recommend not participating in this program.

    Your kickstarter funds will permit the production of a new batch of these cards at the lowest possible cost - purchasing parts and printed circuit boards in higher volume allows everyone to get a better deal in the end.

    The final product also incorporates numerous improvements from my original design pictured here, including greater use of surface mounted electronics for manufacturing reliability, and an improved 4-layer printed circuit board for higher noise immunity.

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Funding period

- (30 days)