Old Machinedrum SPS-1 UW with non-functional midi out

I got this Machinedrum used many years ago. It wasn’t shipped well and got bounced around for sure. The volume encoder has a bit of a wobble and sound drops out if you wiggle it. No big deal. Used it for a few years without ever plugging a midi cable into it. Midi in works, I can sequence things from a daw. Midi out doesn’t seem to work at all. I am just now wishing it was functional.

Anyway I took the thing apart thinking I might try reflowing the midi jacks and maybe the same with the volume encoder. Once I got down to the midi board I see a red wire that looks like it is jumpering from a resister to something else. Haven’t see this wire in any other pictures/videos. Is this an old repair? I thought about removing it and seeing what happened but decided I’d rather have a fairly functional machine than none.

Anyone have any idea what this is accomplishing? I figure there is something wrong with the midi board and someone who has a bit of engineering skill rigged it to work. I am pretty good with a soldering iron but I just read directions and do what I’m told. I might contact elektron about sending it in for repairs and maybe some fresh encoders but money is kind of tight and the idea of shipping my most prized instrument so far away is a bit daunting. Maybe I could swap the midi board out or something.

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Weird. Here is mine.

Huh, mine looks much different inside. Sorry for the crappy phone picture.

If you create a support ticket on Elektron’s website they will very likely give you some good advice on how much you can get working again on a particular budget.

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No luck, they wont work on my mk1 unit. Too old. Anyone happen to have a broken sps-1 uw they would part with for … very cheap? Or know of anywhere to find a replacement midi board? I love my machinedrum but I’m not going to drop a grand a another one if I won’t be able to get it worked on in a few years. Pretty bummed. Maybe I shouldn’t keep lusting after a monomachine.

Anyone know of any technician on the east coast they would trust sending a broken machinedrum to?

Doesn’t seem difficult to remove. One soldering point is enough to test, choose the easiest…

The only thing I worry about is somehow messing up the OS and not being able to restore it. I have a guess that the wire is jumpering over something that died so that the midi in works. Seeing as I would be working on this without the safety net of sending it back to the factory makes me a bit cautious. I almost cut the wire to see what it did then just solder it back together, but if crashes I would be in trouble.

I think I need to be careful with the thing and hope they do release schematics at some point. I’ve used it like this for like 6 years and been very happy. Just recently wished it could talk to my other gear. I’ll post here if I decide to get brave and start cutting wires.

If I killed the midi in I would be bummed. I have been sequencing the machinedrum with grids (topograph) and some euclidean type sequencers in vcv rack, via osc over udp into a m4l device sending midi to the md. Good times.

Doesn’t seem risky. It would have crashed without it before. Ask to a tech eventually…

Im not advocating cutting or re soldering, I would test the Midi out with a mutlimeter, both at the board, and on the pins of the DIN connector, to see if you are getting voltage off the board, first. Make sure you are grounded, and have found the test ground points on the board if you go this route.

However, if midi in does die on you, you can use the audio inputs to trigger 2 (or more) tracks. I actually run my Turing machine straight into the MD to trigger 2 tracks. So all is not lost)


Can you post a high resolution shot of both sides of the board from the top with a lot of light?

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I am trying to finish the project I’m working on before I take it apart again. Just in case. I will take some better pictures of all the boards when I do. Also, not to sound totally inept, but I’m not sure what I would be looking for with a meter. I will have to look into that more.

Thanks everyone!

All off the shelf parts in MK1 units --displays etc can still be purchased from online parts retailers
If they release the service manual for MK1 units --any good tech could in theory keep your unit running forever

No problems! Your best bet is a full on oscilloscope to test, but I figured most folks have a multimeter.

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Sorry for not updating sooner, took me a few weeks to get back to working on it. I looked a bit harder (with a loop this time) at the midi board and there were a few smd parts that looked like they might have cracked solder. I got a bit brave and reflowed them. Also reflowed the mystery red wire and the parts it was attached to. I either fixed a solder joint or scared the machinedrum into getting it’s act together.

Pretty sure this hit the ground hard while it lived with a prior owner many years. Big dent on the corner of the front panel near the master volume knob. That knob also seems to have been replaced with an ‘aftermarket’ pot (it bugs me when people don’t clean up flux). Midi out is now functional again. Pretty happy with myself for not frying everything. Might replace that volume pot since the replacement kind of wobbles a bit.

My guess is that the next time it stops working will be after it goes through some temperature changes. I see more reflowing in the future.

EDIT: I did take the advice of using a multimeter to test the midi jack. Thank you MatthewAllen, that link was very helpful.