RD1000 mod

I want to modify a Roland RD1000 and turn its keyboard to full pressure sensitivity

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I was raised with Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis. But I'm disappointed by the MIDI protocol which is very limiting. I want to play a note and have its character changed by the pressure of each key.
No aftertouch, which is general.
Each key must have its own position/pressure sensor.
All 88 keys.
Sampled at 16 bits, 1000 times per second.
That's 176KB/s, or "almost" the CD bandwidth (this leaves 100 bytes for marks/synch).
So instead of using a lousy MIDI serial interface, I can use TOSLINK tranceivers and process the data on a FPGA...

It's one of those ooooooold projects, stuck in the back of my mind, that had to be presented here. I think I was considering such a hack before Y2K.

I've always felt that MIDI is a lousy system, great in the 80s but we're in 2016 damnit.

More than 10 years ago, I found a PK13 pedal that I wanted to re-fit with analog sensors but couldn't figure the best sensor. I played with optical but I had too many problems. But now, I'm much more experienced.

2 years ago I found a RD1000 for almost nothing... All I needed : heavy touch, very hackable, but damn it's so heavy and large !!!

It's not a high-priority project but I will not give up :-P

My rough calculations showed that the bandwidth is almost equivalent to an audio CD so the TOSLINK digital interface is perfect for transmission. Raw data must be sent first to a touch processor that filters the data stream. Then commands and parameters are fed to a bank of oscillators. Nice DSP project...... FPGA will be handy :-P


Roland RD1000 Service notes : brief but detailed mechanical and electrical details of the keyboard and frame.

Adobe Portable Document Format - 6.70 MB - 04/07/2018 at 20:50


  • Keyboard type, old vs new

    Yann Guidon / YGDES04/08/2018 at 10:12 0 comments

    I uploaded the RD-1000 Service Manual and noticed a detail in the first pages. There are 2 types of contacts.

    I have not opened the HEAVY case (44kg) so I don't know which kind is installed. However the manual helped me estimate/evaluate/anticipate the design of the position sensor. For example, it is clearly mentioned that one PCB has 40 contacts and another has 48, with a total of 88 contacts (everything adds up nicely).

    The mechanical system is both heavy and easy to hack : screws everywhere, enough space to include my own stuff...

    But I still don't know what sensor I'll use.

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