Roland 808 synced to MIDI

Reading this week’s ATtiny-themed builds, [Thomas] was reminded one of his coolest builds. His midi808 project used an ATtiny2313 to sync a vintage Roland 808 drum machine to his Logic workstation.

Even though MIDI had been around for a few years when 808s were being made, the CPU in the 808 isn’t exactly up to the task of handling MIDI. Instead, the 808 used an interface known as DIN Sync that was designed to keep 808s, 707s, and 303s in time with each other. MIDI to DIN Sync boxes do did exist, but even the auxiliary equipment to use an 808 is getting hard to find.

The build takes a MIDI signal and passes it through an opto-isolator per the MIDI spec. The microcontroller reads the MIDI signal and passes it out through the DIN Sync port. The DIN Sync protocol is only 24 pulses per quarter note output with TTL voltages, and the project code is easy enough to follow. It’s a nice build for one of the greatest drum machines ever made. Listen to a track [Thomas] made with his new setup after the break.

Comments

  1. dave says:

    Cool project. Funny how the track starts out sounding like a Sir Mix-a-lot track. I think I just had a ‘Posse on Broadway’ flashback.

  2. rasz says:

    embedded soundcloud player doesnt work (opera)

  3. mjrippe says:

    Don’t forget the MC-202 and TR-606 in your DIN Sync list! The TR-909 had both DIN Sync and MIDI.

  4. timbot says:

    I recently built a x0xbox (awesome) which I use for synching both the 202 and the 606 to a machinedrum. Awesome stuff!

    Advice on one forum on how to manage MIDI/DinSync was to buy a 707! Gear bloat!

  5. Alpha says:

    I still use my 727 as a master clock. Put it pattern mode (write or play) and it’ll simultaneously spit out MIDI, DinSync, and even Trig all day long! :)

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