Yamaha SW60XG hack lets you use it as a standalone MIDI device

yamaha-sw60xg-hack

This is a Yamaha XG card, the SW60XG to be exact. It’s an audio card for a PC which extends the MIDI standard to include over six hundred instruments. By today’s standards the almost twenty year old card isn’t all that powerful, but it is interesting to see it used as a standalone device.

[Benji Kimba] posted the video overview of his project which you can watch after the break. The image above is found at about 2:35 seconds and about twenty seconds later you get a look at how he patched into the conductors on the edge connector on both sides followed by the MIDI in and out connections. Finally, we get a look at a proper schematic at the four minute mark which details the pull-up resistors, hardware reset circuit, and the optoisolator he added for the MIDI connections themselves.

[Thanks Gnif]

Comments

  1. spikemtz says:

    Killer….

  2. Is there a *TEXTUAL* write-up for those of us who read faster than we listen, do not like to distract those around us, prefer to seek quickly to parts we find most interesting, in general do not like video, etc…?

  3. Bliadddwrwg says:

    I have a DB50XG Daughter card collecting dust I wonder if It could be hacked in a similar way.

  4. Yarr says:

    Are there ROM dumps of the on-card chips floating around? Might make an interesting target for PC emulators…

  5. Alwyn says:

    The DB50XG daughter cards are even easier to make usable. See :

    http://midibox.org/forums/topic/8127-put-waveblaster-daughter-board-yamaha-db50xg-in-a-box/page-2

  6. John U says:

    Wow, blast from the past… Amiga Format magazine did this hack ~15 years ago. I wonder which other cards out there can be used this way?

  7. NewCommentor1283 says:

    impressive…

    i thought me using the on-board(when present) speaker amp chip as standalone amp was clever.
    this is much much better!

    PS: to use the amp chip alone only connect 12v and not the others, then just probe input and jumper to an input jack, then just desolder or cut traces if signal gets eaten up by passives/dsp-output.
    i have seen just ONE card that defaults to having line-in turned on and up before communication with host. dsp often powered by 78L05 and thus the 12v,,, dsp often need very clean local 5v

  8. Oh I love the XG synth engine. I still have my Yamaha CS1x — such a versatile synth even despite its age. :-)

    • Franklin Templeton says:

      I always wanted one of the “Blue Meanies”. I’m hoping to come across a fixer up on CL one of these days. Had to let an ARP go the other day until taxes get back. Keep on playing :)

  9. mastablasta says:

    Ahh nice. I’ve done a similar thing with the Daughtercard version (DB50XG)

    Bringing the ISA card version back to life is impressive. Well Done

  10. MXV says:

    This is pretty cool, It’s nice to hear the old XG sounds again, I should have a SW1000XG lying around somewhere, has anyone’s attempted this with a SW1000XG? If not is it possible?

  11. Benji Kimba says:

    Nice you like it !!!

    Here are some quick answers;

    It took 4:33 because it’s a tribute to the composer and the soundquality, even after 20 years.

    The reset is made because the defaultstate is GM-mode, when playing an XG-midifile, card go in XG-mode, when playing another GM-midifile with no midi-reset command in it,
    card sound sometimes odd, reset put it back in GM/GS mode.

    I think it’s possible for every soundcard with external midi and a microcontroller on it,
    maybe not everything works, only what’s possible via midi.
    Try it ! Disable isa/pci bus, put requested power supply on and find out yourself.
    Card’s like SW1000XG, GUS, Turtle Beach and with Ensoniq chipset deserve a
    second live !!

  12. noko says:

    Where can I download this song? xg-central is not available

  13. Benji Kimba says:

    XG-central is gone. The work on a restart.
    Contact me thru http://www.butterfly-angels.nl and I mail it to you.

  14. Nazo says:

    It’s tricky to do legally (not impossible,) but, for the record, you can actually grab a VSTi plugin that does the S-YXG50 synthesizer, grab the S-YXG50 files (namely you’ll want the 4MiB wave table,) and, in turn, there is a VSTi MIDI driver that works in even the latest versions of Windows here: http://www.mudlord.info/products.html This basically gives you DB50XG functionality. Presumably the SW60XG is better, but not many things can benefit from this anyway. Even back then almost nothing could (basically only people who actually did a lot of MIDI work themselves could benefit.) With this, you can then use the software synthesizer on modern systems even in things like DOSBox (just set it to use the Windows driver.) I’m afraid I couldn’t give you the specifics on how to legally get the VSTi driver — I’ve had it for quite some time now — but presumably this method will continue to give us MIDI for the foreseeable future on x86 devices (unfortunately, it appears to be a precompiled binary — specifically a DLL file — so I don’t think it will ever be possible on a non-x86 system sadly.) IMO this is a much better solution all around for pretty well everyone (does anyone really need the extra functionality of the 60? Modern composers should be using non-MIDI systems by now…) rather than trying to track down one of these and physically modify it or a DB50XG.

    Don’t worry. It is a software synthesizer, but it should run well on anything Pentium 2 class or better surely. I suspect it might be ok on a Pentium 1 as well even.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93,754 other followers