Thursday, September 16, 2010

2010 - Midibox Wilba mb-6582

This is something I built, not something I've bought.
It's sounds are generated buy the MOS 6582 chips as found in the Commodore 64.
In this particular synth's case, it uses eight, yes EIGHT of the suckers(you can also use other variants of the chip on this board).

Back in the end of 2008 a buddy of mine and fellow soldering nerd, talked me into embarking on a project that would end up taking more than a year to get to completion. "It's just a couple of chips and a few resistors and capacitors, an easy build. Aside from the chips it's cheap". Yeah, sure. Not the way it turned out for me.

I have no idea how much I've spent on this build, but I estimate around the $600(AU) mark.
The first hurdle was getting the chips. Toby took care of that as he'd been in contact with a guy from the midibox forum. At the time I think they cost about $19 a pop, ok, not too bad in hindsight as they're now over the $50 mark on a certain auction site of some renown. They took a while to turn up and I lost my job in the mean time, it was a few months before I got another secure job and almost sold them as the project just seemed too daunting. As it turned out, I hung onto them long enough to order the boards from

They weren't too expensive considering the end result, but still I think it was more than $100 plus shipping.
Now actually sifting through all of the options and information to build the synth, was what really caused me problems. It was a case of information overload. So many power supply options and different choices for different configurations. There was no all in one build solution. Or so I thought.
It wasn't until near the end of the build that I found the manual. This would've helped earlier on, but I was coming to this project sporadically over the period of a year or so and not inclined to read everything over and over.

I had planned to make the panels myself, but experiments with a nibbling tool had not worked out well and frankly my work area isn't setup fot the kind of precision needed. I ended up getting my panels milled professionally through which cost a bit ($120) but was worth it in the end.
My advice on using the panels from the Midibox site, add holes in the corners for mounting screws through. Using glue to keep your screws in place is too damn hard!

I eventually got it all housed in a bone coloured Pactec PT10 case, which ran up another $50.

The rest of the process was difficult (mentally) as I'd not been getting a heck of a lot of sleep due to having a baby in the house.

For simplicity I've added the following instructions to consolidate all of the information into one place for any who want to venture into the land of SID music.

The documents you need are titled as follows:

2. "Rotary encoders"
3. Base board pdf
4. MIOS Studio midi app
(main page)
(Hex and Sysex files)
(MIOS Studio application)

You need to connect midi in and out on the midibox.

To upload the bios, you need to have a jumper installed on j11 for the relevant core(1-4). You need to upload the bios to each core separately.

To do this, install MIOS Studio, select browse from the hex loader on the middle of the program window (missed this when I was tired). Make sure the core ID is selected for the appropriate core(0,1,2,3) hit start and you should be rocking with your upload.

Once your BIOS is in, you can load the SYSEX vintage bank.

Remember to insulate your LCD's pcb before you attach it, some users including myself have had errors in loading to all cores cause by a short on the control surface.

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