Messages From yamahablackboxes



#640 May 19, 2009

Hey all;

I had a few spare moments moving workshop/studio, so I took a few

photos of the TQ5 for you all. I had a few more minutes at the end, so

for a giggle, I got some sticky labels, and put them all over the

machine so you can read what's what. A bit different to just scanning

the layout page on the service manual.

Also, I scanned and labeled a little corner of the manual to indicate

where I tapped a Click Output. The TQ5 has a Metronome function. It is

always full volume (it's post volume control), and it's only in the

left channel. My very simple mod, as illustrated below, changes that.

I just dropped a socket into the side (lots of room, jack is actually

from a busted Rx5 - those things are a mineable source of good

switched sockets), but you could use anything. It's not a Clock pulse,

but an audio feed. You could take a clock pulse of sorts by taking

signal from output of the first gates, and buffering, but it would

only be 1/4 notes, and although that would have been useful on analog

gear, this has true BPM control. I more use the output to lay down a

separate click track to play along with, even if just to have a meter

flashing a light in time.

---Links-Are-Forbidden--- I still have that uninstalled E! board for Dx7II/FD on eBay at the moment:

Ends 2.5 days from when I write this.



#647 May 22, 2009


Could you scan and upload the TQ5 schematic? I searched the web and it doesn't exist anywhere. The TQ5 boards are too complex to reverse engineer with voltmeters and such.

The sequencer MIDI numbers are in the second half of the English manual. But they are practically incomprehensible. The Japanese TQ5 manual appears to go into much more detail of the TQ5 sequencer section, but who reads Japanese?

I'm in Portland, Oregon, USA, 1000 km north of San Francisco and 300 km south of Seattle, a medium-sized but rather geographically-isolated city on the North American west coast.

I would like to exchange the phone plug headphone jack to a modern 3.5mm mini-jack. The flat area on the TQ5 top left of the digit buttons would be a great place to put a pair or three high-quality slide pots. The current LED display could do double-duty as the display for the controller/editor that is being driven by the slide pots. The area where your metronome output is located could have the miniDIN6 connector for the PS2 keyboard. The microcontroller for the editor/player could monitor the data sent from the TQ5 processor to the LCD display. It could switch between displaying data from the editor/player or the original data sent to the LED display by the TQ5 processor. The MIDI signals from the editor/player (mostly the note on/off messages from the PS2 keypresses) could be connected to the TQ5 original MIDI signal input/output.

The whole thing could run off a small-sized 4 amp/hour (12cm x 6cm x 10cm) rechargeable sealed Lead-Acid 12V battery and be played though an inexpensive boom-box portable stereo (plugged into the Line-Inputs) or through a small portable guitar practice amp like the old Pig-Nose.

This would make a new class of small portable instruments that could be played in the park or city street and not need an electrical outlet. It have the full range of FM synthesizer sounds to complement the acoustic guitars, flutes, and hand drummers that play in the parks and streets.

The rack-mount FM synths are all too big to be hand-carried and require too much power. The small ROMpler synths like the Roland SC33 or the Yamaha MU5/MU15 are, well, too boring with their limited General MIDI voices.

I wish that I could just buy the original Yamaha sound generation YM-series chips and connect them to fast, cheap, and flexible modern microcontrollers. I wish that I were rich, handsome, and smart also.

Thank you,

Alan Probandt



#648 May 22, 2009

Hi Alan;

The schematics are coming.

Bit later today. Been busy, sorry!




#649 May 24, 2009

That sounds really cool Alan! I'd love to go busking with my TQ5!

I have a Yamaha EZ-EG for a controller and a Roland Cube Street

amp. I've been looking to add some type of small battery powered

synth to add to the mix. I've been shopping for a Casio MT-240 for this role but a mobile TQ5 would be much nicer. I'd also thought about using a laptop but there's a lot of worms in that can!



#650 May 24, 2009


Thank you for the interesting message. I did not know of the existence of the Yamaha EZ-EG. It appears to be similar to the Suzuki XG-1M Unisynth. I had one of those once, back about twenty years ago when I was still going to music stores to learn about what real musicians were buying to be 'cool'. I remember the salesman heavily promoting it at $275 (1987 dollars) to people who appeared to be extremely embarrassed to be even holding it. When it quickly came down to $70 (in a very fast cycle of 'design it, build it by the thousands, promote it, dump it, repeat with something else' typical of Japanese consumer electronics), I bought one and played it for about three months. Then was able to sell it for about the same price. What I remember about the Suzuki XG-1M Unisynth was that one had to press rather hard on the frets to make the electrical connection. Very stiff action for a 'guitar' with no strings. If it were to be re-released, with

lighter action, and at a price of $30, then I would buy one and present myself with it to the public, for their amusement that a grown man would appear with such an absurd-looking toy.

I would play the standard 1970s-era synthesizer rock pieces that everyone recognizes from Classic-Rock FM radio, along with some fast and complex classical solos, then into some multi-layered electronic pieces using MIDI and custom-MIDI controllers that would be impossible for single player to do with traditional instruments. After a short set, I would hand out business cards listing the prices of all the instruments along with a web site with all the technical information, MP3 files of the songs, MIDI files, question/answer forums, and links to others doing the same thing.

I also bought an MT-240 but couldn't get around the tiny key size, which is a strange thing to say for someone promoting a typewriter piano keyboard. It had one very unusual voice that IIRC was like a pan-flute with Leslie. I once fed the GM MIDI file of Tchaikovsky's Arabian Dance from the Nutcracker into it using the 'sitar' voice for the drone drum, the standard flute voice for first flute, and this special voice for double-reed passage. Very ethereal and unique. My MT-240, alas, melted in an apartment fire.

These miniature-sized keyboards are great for young children whose parents wish to have begin music and piano lessons. But most of them seem to be pushing their children into lessons in order mold their child in what the adults believe is the way to fast-track advancement. So they buy a $5000 full-sized piano for the five-year old and force them to submit to expensive lessons and finally a quasi-recital of simple European-classical pieces (another precocious child's "Fur Elisa" anyone?) before moving the poor kid into another fast-track activity. When I used to meet these people, back when I was near them in social class, they would always be stunned and shocked when I would show them the MT-240 and suggest that it would perfect for the musical education of their prodigy.

As an electronics technician, I would as the Chinese engineers that I would work with why they considered it so important that their children master the works of 17th and 18th-century Europeans as opposed to modern Jazz, Indian classical raga, or even traditional Chinese classical music. Not a single one would ever answer the question. It was as if they were embarrassed to encounter a European-American ('white boy' in PC parlance) who would actually be unaware of the innate superiority of this tiny sliver of world culture. I don't ask co-workers about their kid's musical education any more. If they want their children to master Bach and Mozart, then fine, the world's a better place for it. Once a year, I may bring in and demo my custom MIDI controllers and the unique electronic sounds that FM synths make. Knowing full well that they consider this activity to be more a manifestation of a mental disorder than of what they know to be, music. I

don't care any more. Mozart has an airport named for him (Salzberg), so does John Lennon (Liverpool).

Well, sunday morning ramble after several espressos. Thank goodness I don't a full-speed speech-to-text program or I'd burn out the entire web.

We should develop an open-source project to build a very cheap, very flexible-sounding, and very portable synthesizer. There are ICs called FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays) that could, with much skill and imagination, cheaply recreate the ICs used by Yamaha in their late 1980s FM series of synths. These, along with DSPs (digital signal processors) and touch-screens, reprogrammed mouse controllers, and some form of new ribbon-controller, could form the foundation of a $50 synthesizer for 21st century. The first electronic-music instrument using 21st-century technology that came up the consumers, instead of down from the R&D labs of giant entertainment corporations through music stores.

Thank you,

Alan Probandt


Portland, Oregon USA (1000 km north of San Francisco, 300 km south of Seattle); drop by for coffee.> wrote: