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#150158 - 02/10/12 01:42 AM [Off-Topic] For Eddie and anyone else with a 23 year old Ensoniq
rockstar_not Offline
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Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7241
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
My venerable Ensoniq VFX-SD may finally be giving up the ghost. I'm in a songwriting frenzy right now, and I'm getting loads of funky stuff happening with this thing - primarily related to banging and pounding on the keys. I do know that there's an issue with the main PCBs with this axe. Ensoniq used a huge edge connector between two long rather cantilevered PCBs inside the case. I actually found some pictures of this awhile back and posted somewhere here in PG forums.

I love the keyfeel on this keyboard. I really don't want to give up on it, but I can't take the time to repair it at present either.

-Scott

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#150159 - 02/10/12 08:25 AM [Off-Topic] Re: For Eddie and anyone else with a 23 year old Ensoniq [Re: rockstar_not]
Mac Offline
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Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Describe the fault you are experiencing *exactly* as well as you can, step-by-step and let's take it from there.


--Mac
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#150160 - 02/10/12 09:15 AM [Off-Topic] Re: For Eddie and anyone else with a 23 year old Ensoniq [Re: Mac]
rockstar_not Offline
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Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7241
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
A. upon slightly energetic playing, any one of the following occurs:

the LED panel will either blank out, with one segment of one of the characters looking as if it's receiving all the energy intended for either the whole character or the whole panel

The LED panel will blank totally

The VFX SD will report any one of a couple of keyboard error numbers (I still have the manual and should be able to look these up)

B. This ALWAYS occurs with the failure: midi data is interrupted and 'locked' causing a need to cut the end-to-end audio function of the DAW software, shut down DAW software, shut down audio interface, repower audio interface, relaunch DAW.

I've set the VFX aside for now. I'm down to my M-Audio Oxygen 49, which has the keyfeel of a 10$ garage sale Casio.

I WILL be opening up the VFX to look for mechanically related items - no errors from it when not playing, display is fine, etc. So IMO, I've got some chips that need re-seating, connectors to reseat, etc.

-Scott

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#150161 - 02/10/12 12:41 PM [Off-Topic] Re: For Eddie and anyone else with a 23 year old Ensoniq [Re: rockstar_not]
eddie1261 Offline
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Registered: 04/08/11
Posts: 3907
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
The issue with mine (A VFX that was NOT the sd model) was the keyboard freezing, and that was resolved by hard soldering 14 wire jumpers between the 2 "half motherboards". Your fix may be something similar. My VFXsd that I bought at a pawn shop has never worked. Maybe we could Frankenstein them into one good one....
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If you say "I can't" ..... I'm pretty sure you won't.

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#150162 - 02/10/12 12:42 PM [Off-Topic] Re: For Eddie and anyone else with a 23 year old Ensoniq [Re: eddie1261]
eddie1261 Offline
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Registered: 04/08/11
Posts: 3907
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
And I know of exactly ONE place to get these fixed, that place being in PA, near Philly.
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If you say "I can't" ..... I'm pretty sure you won't.

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#150163 - 02/10/12 02:45 PM [Off-Topic] Re: For Eddie and anyone else with a 23 year old Ensoniq [Re: eddie1261]
rockstar_not Offline
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Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7241
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Quote:

The issue with mine (A VFX that was NOT the sd model) was the keyboard freezing, and that was resolved by hard soldering 14 wire jumpers between the 2 "half motherboards". Your fix may be something similar. My VFXsd that I bought at a pawn shop has never worked. Maybe we could Frankenstein them into one good one....




I had that repair done years ago and perhaps it's failed. It has been over 15 years since I had mine fixed the first time. If that's it, it's definitely user serviceable, though tedious.

-Scott

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#150164 - 02/10/12 04:09 PM [Off-Topic] Re: For Eddie and anyone else with a 23 year old Ensoniq [Re: rockstar_not]
Mac Offline
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Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Scott,

From the reported symptoms I suspect power supply problems, either dried out electrolytic capacitors or possibly a three-terminal regulator is going out or from years of heat has simply desoldered its ground pin.

Inspect the underside of the board under all or any three-terminal regs and resolder if it looks flaky, check the voltages of each and if the DC voltage isn't spot on the voltage for that partigular reg, replace it.

A quick way to determine if electrolytics have dried out is to heat that area of the board and the caps with a hair dryer (NOT a heat gun, hair dryer on high is enough) and then fire the thing up and see if you have better operation. If you do, shotgun those eleclectrolytics with appropriate value and voltage for each one.


--Mac
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#150165 - 02/10/12 07:11 PM [Off-Topic] Re: For Eddie and anyone else with a 23 year old Ensoniq [Re: Mac]
rockstar_not Offline
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Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7241
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Thanks - this won't happen for at least a month, but I will bookmark this thread for future reference.

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#150166 - 02/11/12 02:41 AM [Off-Topic] Re: For Eddie and anyone else with a 23 year old Ensoniq [Re: rockstar_not]
jazzmammal Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 6373
Loc: Redondo Beach, Ca.
This sounds like a similar problem I had with my old Kurzweil K1000. I bought it new in 1987. I started losing sound from random keys and the display was going wonky. I bought a new keyboard and gave that one to a friend who used it as a sound module and controled it from another old keyboard. Finally one day he opened it up and played with a big ribbon cable inside and some of the keys came back. He finally cludged a regular old PC IDE cable and fitted it and it worked.

I just discovered something similar with my 2001 Mercedes CLK430 that I just bought. It has a partial digital readout in the instrument cluster. The pixels are known to go out with that dash as the cars get older. Merecedes wants $900 for a new cluster. Over on the MBZ forum there's a guy who posted nice pics of how to fix it and it involves a similar small ribbon cable with two clips on each end that power the display but those clips are not quite strong enough to make a good solid connection. He took a very small screw and drilled a equally small hole in the board right next to the connector where there's no soldered parts. The screw head gives just enough pressure against the middle of the connector along with the two clips at the ends to insure a good connection and problem solved, the pixels light right up. I mention this because the dealer I bought the car from had to fix my dash as part of the deal and they use a guy who charges $350 and this fix takes maybe an hour and costs what, 5c for the screw? Circuit boards are remarkably simple to fix in some cases. Btw, the instrument binnicle pops right out with two wire hooks that anybody can make.

Mac, you're an opportunist you should check this out. If I wasn't so busy doing taxes I might start a little side business. You have any idea how many Mercedes there are around here?

Bob
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#150167 - 02/11/12 09:17 AM [Off-Topic] Re: For Eddie and anyone else with a 23 year old Ensoniq [Re: jazzmammal]
Mac Offline
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Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
I have indeed had a few keyboards pass over my testbench where a ribbon cable failure of some kind was the culprit. Most times a cleaning of contacts or a simple blanket replacement of said cable is the cure. In the case of the mentioned Ensoniq, desoldering the cable pins and hard soldering the ribbon cable from board to board is the preferred method that lasts. In the case of this particular Ensoniq, it was stated that the ribbon cable had already been hard-soldered at a previous time. If that is still holding up, and no other ribbon cables have failed, the power supply would be the next logical area of investigation for this kind of fault. The good news is that the problem is most likely to be caused by one or the other, going by the number of them I've worked on, which isn't a statistically significant amount, really. The older keyboards are actually built like tanks in comparison to some of the newer ones in this regard, the technology of that era tends to lend itself more favorably to less expensive repairs like the ones mentioned as versus the need for proprietary parts replacement, that't the good news.


--Mac
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