Friday, January 11, 2013

Akai S3000 MIDI + SCSI Retrofit

I really like my Akai S3000. It is an oldschool beast of a sampler, and if you know your way around the menu structure, you're able to get complex sounds in very little time.
However, there were a few things that annoyed me a bit. 
Here is what I did:

First of all, I really wanted a second MIDI input. Constantly replugging Midi cables (while crawling in the narrow space behind the rack) is not my idea of fun. I made an addon card based on the Midi Merger (sorry, no direct link possible). It does exactly what the name suggests: it merges two MIDI inputs to a single output. Now I route that output to the MIDI IN of the Akai with a short cable - voila! - two MIDI inputs. (Yes, I know in the first picture the two optocouplers are not yet in their sockets...) Now I can connect my hardware sequencer and my MIDI interface at the same time, and I can use them separately or in combination.

The other major thing was the floppy drive. Juggling all those 1.44MB disks is sooo 90ies, and when I came across an old SCSI Harddisk (Quantum ProDrive with whopping 120MB - that is megabytes) I put it in the sampler. This gave me a bit of an headache, as there is NO documentation for the S3000 on the net whatsoever (only for the S3000XL, which is a different animal). I won't go into detail about the hellish nightmares here, but let me say this: why on earth did Akai decide to use standard SCSI cables, but then they build a sampler that requires them to be plugged in backwards??? We'll never know.) Anyway, after waaaay to much time experimenting and reading obscure forum posts from like 1997 or so, I got it to work by filing off the notch on the cable that (kinda rightfully) forces you to plug it in only one way.

I could have been happy, but there is always a ...but

When you turn on the sampler, it will boot its OS from a ROM, then it will look for an updated OS on the disk, and then boot into that. Only, the old and slow HDD never was ready spinning up at that point, which always gave me a "disk not ready" error. I always had to load the updated OS manually. How annoying.

I added a small 555-based "delayed power on" circuit to the addon card. This handy dandy thing closes a relay after 3 seconds. This relay actually switches the +5V power line going to the mainboard.
When you power on the Akai now the following is happening: power is applied to the harddisk, which starts spinning. 3 seconds pass, the relay (the small orange box on the back of the circuit board) closes with a CLICK. Only now the mainboard is powered on, thus the sampler starts to boot. Because the HDD now has had some extra time to get ready, the S3000 can happily read the OS from the disk and boot into that. READY.
I am also thinking of making the frontpanel detachable like on the S6000, but that is for another day.


Fanu said...


What OS do you have when using the SCSI hard drive?
I just got an old s3200 and I'm trying to make a SCSI CF reaader work but it hangs on boot (I forgot the message but it's something like "waiting for HD" and if I hit SKIP, it doesn't do anything.
I connected it onto the internal SCSI port on the SCSI card.
My OS is 1.0 so I'm wondering if that's the issue.

I removed the SCSI connection and the sampler works normally again.
I'd like to make the CF reader work as a similar one has been proved to work on my MPC2000XL so I know the reader is OK.

You could drop me a reply to

Unknown said...

Hi! About your old TR-505 post... Did you do add anything to your trigger outputs? I can not get them to work correctly if I connect a cable directly from one of the trigger outs (and gnd).

Did you?

Julian Gomez said...

Hi. i m from Buenos Aires, Argentina....i own an Akai S3000XL and i was wondering if its possible to change the 3.5 flopppy disc unit and replace it with a internal iomega zip unit.......
But i cant find any information on the internet/.......hope you can help me
Thanks in advance