Roland CR-8000 Mod

This drum machine from 1981 is a close relative of Roland CR-78 and TR-808. It has a couple shortcomings, such as no user editable sounds, a Snare Drum with a lot of tone (what is called “Snappy” on 808) but a lack of noise / high frequency content. It sounds like a tom. Also the Hand Clap is low volume, at least on this specimen.

This CR-8000 was modified for individual audio outputs for each instrument group, a louder Hand Clap, as well as couple of potentiometers for Bass Drum and Snare Drum tuning. The BD now has two controls: Pitch and Decay, the SD has two controls: Pitch of the “snappy” portion, and Noise level.

The BD and Clap modifications are taken directly from gumielectronic. The exact changes with component values are listed further down in this article.

When servicing or modifing synths I try to conform to the part of Hippocrates’ oath that states “First, do no harm”. Therefore I made a break-out box, instead of drilling holes in the CR-8000 exterior. Also I left the original parts in place where possible, should someone want to reverse this mod in the future.

The break-out box sticks to the metal back plate of  the CR-8000 with neodyne magnets. The wires are directed through existing vent holes in the back.

The following list is an excerpt from gumielectronics’ extensive CR-8000 modifications. The red markings are the ones I chose to use (since there was a limited space on the break-out box) along with my component selections. The Snare Drum are my own changes, as some of the suggested changes didn’t make that much diggerence. C47 is Snappy Pitch, the changes after Q7 is the SD Noise portion boost.

Snare Drum specifics. The original SD sound isn’t available as it is now, it has a bit more noise content.

Here are a couple of images of the PCB and break-out box internals:

Bass Drum (green wire and some resistors) and Snare Drum Snappy (yellow wire bridging R34):

Snare Drum Noise Boost (red wires) and Snappy pitch (blue wires):

Individual outputs:

Tidying up a bit:


Individual Outputs: The CR-8000 was not designed to have separate outs to begin with. Some things are not ideal because of this. The Clap for example, is a lot lower at the individual output than it is in the main mix. Also the accent effects are not applied to the individual outs, so in some cases the Main out instruments will sound beefier than the indy versions.

BD Decay: The Bass Drum will not have the oomph of the TR-808, maybe because of a shorter trig pulse, or some other envelope characteristic that is different.

SD Decay: Decay of the Snare Drum is hard to modify, unlike the Bass Drum. The mod point called “decay” in gumi’s description doesn’t change the overall decay of the instrument, only the length of the Snappy portion within the (very short) total length of the Snare Drum, and this change is hard to hear to be honest. I think it would take a longer trig pulse to make the Snare longer, but I haven’t tested this idea.


Nevertheless, I believe the changes described here are a significant improvement to the CR-8000.


Toaster with web server

Arduino files download: Sonoff_toaster_timer

This is really not a toaster with a web server, but a toaster that is controlled by a Sonoff Wifi switch, that is running a web server. There were two objectives with this project:

  • To be able to continue using my toaster that had a mechanical problem: It didn’t release the bread when time was up – Instead it continued toasting for ever. This is my second toaster of the same type that breaks. It’s obviously not reliable, but it does take long slices of bread
  • To be able to sequence the toasting like this: Toast-Pause-Toast-Stop. I had previously noticed that the toast quality was increased significantly when I did this manually – The slices didn’t get dry on the outside and wet on the inside. The pause is 30s long, to allow water to steam off of the bread before the last half minute of heat is applied

There are several reasons that I couldn’t use the Sonoff power switch and its control app EWeLink as it is:

  • It doesn’t work without Internet
  • Cloud server issues: Sonoff connects to an online web server to store settings and keep track of time etc. When I bought my 4 Sonoffs they couldn’t connect to the server because it was overloaded (?) and if they finally connected, their behavior was generally unreliable. It went on like that for a week, then I uninstalled the EWeLink app and threw the switches in a drawer for half a year
  • The timing was too inexact. If I recall correctly, the finest resolution is 1 minute
  • Way too limited scheduling: It was not possible to make an On-Off sequence. I wanted something like: On (2min), Off (30s), On (30s), Off. The only option in EWeLink was to turn On or Off at a certain time of the day
  • What happens if the Internet connection breaks while some appliance is on

 The project, Sonoff controlled by a local web page

The Sonoff contains an ESP8266 processor that does most of the work. Most importantly it has Wifi capabilities, which is why it’s used in many “Internet of Things”-applications. It’s possible to run a web server on the ESP8266, and have the user interface on a web page control the ESP8266 program. So in my case it serves a HTML / Javascript page with five buttons and a simple progress bar. The buttons select one of three “Toast Sequence Programs”, a “One-Shot 30s Toast Program” or the “Immediate Stop”. The shortest toast program is for white bread that is a bit dry, the longest is for dark bread that is frozen.

The Stop button doesn’t fit on my medieval iPhone 5 screen

New firmware, Arduino,

To upload firmware to the ESP8266. I used Arduino IDE 1.8.1 and a USB-Serial TTL converter. I followed these instructions for wiring:

Sorry, the power cord just popped off

There was also info on what libraries needed to be installed, how to set up an ESP web server, connect to Wifi and more. A good place to get started.

Maybe not randomnerdtutorials, after all

I soon realized that the code on randomnerdtutorials would be dangerous for this project. It works something like this: When you click a button on the web page, a new page is loaded. Appended to the URL is the name of the button that you clicked. This is a common way to pass data between html pages. The problem is that when the toast program is finished, it’s quite possible that you still have this page (with the button name) loaded in your web browser. Which means that if you reload the page (which can happen automatically in many situations, ie on a computer restart) the toaster will start again.


Then I found this page: that demonstrates using AJAX XMLHttpRequest techniques to do calls without reloading the page. It was a better fit for my needs in many ways:

  • URL doesn’t change when you click a button
  • During development, the HTML code is kept in a well-formatted separate header file. When uploaded to ESP, the HTML is stored in Flash memory using the Arduino Flash memory routines. When the program runs, the HTML is read in to RAM when needed. Many examples online that do this use the SPIFF file system instead of Arduino Flash memory routines. SPIFF requires separate manual uploads from the computer to the ESP. I didn’t want to learn that in this project, I already had too many things that could go wrong
  • CSS styles in the header – I knew I didn’t want to download online (Bootstrap or similar) CSS definitions to my ESP at runtime. Because then it will fail if there’s no Internet connection. One of the reasons to do this project to begin with, was to make it suffice with a local network

The circuits4you code is a bit hard to understand, partly because there are about 10 different variables and handlers with similar names, partly because of the involved parallel code structures in HTML, Javascript and C. That’s why people hate web development. Also there were some small errors in the code :) Anyone who has done some HTML can probably spot this one:

server.send(200,”text/plane”, ledState); //Send web page

It’s not like we’re going to send an airplane to the web server. Also, data stored in Flash memory can’t be read into a C String variable like this:

String s = MAIN_page; //Read HTML contents

I changed it to:

String s = FPSTR(MAIN_page);   //Read HTML contents

Here’s the finished ESP8266 code, which is actually an Arduino sketch. It could be optimized a bit, and the States and Steps could be better clarified but still

And here’s the code for the HTML page. It needs to sit in a file called index_html.h next to the main sketch file


Upper Left is the Sonoff. The Green Led shows the state: On for Toast, Flashing green for Pause

Helpful links

Reprogram Sonoff Smart Switch with Web Server

ESP8266 ajax – update part of web page without refreshing

ESP8266 Timer / ticker examples

Doepfer MCV4 Mod for Roland SH5

It seems Doepfer cut some corners when designing the MCV4 MIDI to CV interface. Firstly the MCV4’s gate voltage is to low to drive the Roland SH5 gate input. This can be remedied by opening up the interface to move a jumper, and then replacing the 9v power supply with a 12 volt one. After that the MCV4 controlled the SH5 gate and Pitch CV as expected. But it had no effect on the filter at all. That is because the output from the DAC isn’t buffered, and the DAC itself cannot drive the load of the Filter CV input. An MCP6002 OpAmp was connected as a basic voltage follower to buffer the Note Velocity output.

Beware that the image shows an unsuccessful experiment with a TL072, that has a different pin configuration.

Don’t use this image as a guide for connecting the MCP6002!

Kawai R-100 MIDI-Controlled Mod

A mid-80’s drum machine, modified for MIDI-controlled sound chip selection, circuit bending and pitch. Any MIDI sequencer or keyboard can be used. No changes are made to the exterior of the machine.

The Kawai R-100 drum machine classic was modified using an Arduino Nano, the “R-ROM Switcher” and a HC-SR08 board. The Nano reads incoming note data on MIDI channel 2 to control the HC-SR08 and ROM Switcher board. Incoming MIDI data can

  • Control the playback pitch of the entire machine
  • Select sound ROM chip
  • Control a couple of the circuitbend connection points

The pitch mod: The HC-SR08 is a development board for the Analog Devices AD9850 Direct Digital Synthesis chip. The output DDS frequency is controlled by The Nano, reading MIDI notes and pitch bend. The output square wave is used as a clock signal for the R-100’s Address Generation Unit. This means that when the Kawai R-100 tries to play any sound, the rate at which the sound sample data bytes are found in memory is set by the 9850 output.

Actually this can be done without the HC-SR08, only using a pwm output on the Nano. This is how I originally tested the idea. But while this would work fine for very low pitches, the closer you’d get to the R-100’s original pitch, the less pitch resolution you would get. Since I wanted to be able to play it in a resolution of semi-tones (or even cents, using pitch bend) I had to use a higher resolution clock generator :)

The circuit bend: There are pre-made circuit bend points in the ROM Switcher pcb. It’s sufficient to have the Nano connecting these points to ground, they don’t need to be interconnected. To get back to non-circuit bent sound, the Nano pins are left in a floating state. The sound quality of the bends are much like a comb filter or phaser.

The ROM chip selection: To enable one ROM chip, the original ROM-Switcher connects the Output Enable (or possibly Chip Enable) pin of that chip to ground. Others are in HIGH state. A very simple task for a microcontroller.

Instruments for exhibition – Control Surface

Two unusual electronic instruments that were part of a greater ensemble, built for an exhibition in China. Idea and hardware by Daniel Araya. Programming and I/O-electronics by 9bit.

The MIDI Control Surface

The Control Surface is a Standard MIDI Interface compliant unit, built to interface with a MAX MSP patch on a host computer. The Control Surface has about 40 faders, knobs, switches, touch controls and a status LED that is controlled from within MAX MSP.

Testing the first of the eight really nice capacitive touch controls

This is testing MUXes and SPI port expansions on a CNC-made prototype PCB. MIDI on the Arduino Uno was only implemented as “MIDI over USB”, since it was not to be connected directly to other MIDI-capable instruments, only to a computer running host software.

Boxing it…

Instruments for exhibition – Metronomes

Two unusual electronic instruments that were part of a greater ensemble, built for an exhibition in China. Idea and hardware by Daniel Araya. Programming and I/O-electronics by 9bit.

The Metronomes

Three metronomes were built, one master and two slaves. The tempos of the slave units are synced to the master but the beat patterns that they play differ. The pattern generation algorithms used are mostly Euclidean Polyrhythms of varying lengths and “densities”. Thank’s to Wouter Hisschemöller’s page for cutting my firmware dev time.

The master unit features a tempo knob, sync-to-slave output, metronome beep, metronome light flash, DMX output.

The slave units feature a pattern length knob, pattern density knob, sync-to-master input, metronome beep, metronome light flash, DMX output.

Analyzing a DMX signal

DMX sync test

Wrapping it up