Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/PROM

Hardware Projects For The Yamaha SY77

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db7

Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/PROM

Unread post by db7 » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:43 am

I’ve wondered this for a while, and I’ve wondered why no one else seems to have mentioned it yet.

The SY99’s native ability to load user-supplied samples is great. Many of us think it’s the biggest advantage that synth has over the SY77/TG77. But the 77 does natively support custom samples via its Waveform slot, albeit only custom in the sense that Yamaha have approved them for release on a proprietary type of ROM.

So, is there anything stopping us from hijacking that functionality and installing E(E)PROMs or Flash memory on one of the official cards, or a slightly modified clone, and hence gaining the ability to create our own bank of samples on a computer and then slot them into the SY77/TG77?

Sure, this may not be as user-friendly as the method of loading samples into the SY99, at least if the procedure ends up requiring manual programming of a PROM. But many people would be content to do that, so they stand to gain a lot from the possibility. Personally, I’m not worried about having to do a bit of technical work myself. But anyway, if something like EEPROM or Flash were used, there’s probably a way to add a port to the card and write a simple utility for Windows that will arrange samples in the correct format before sending them to the PROM, so less technically inclined users needn’t be excluded.

What does everyone think? I’ll have a look at the schematic for the port and the relevant chips shortly, although I’m not much of a reverse-engineer, so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to distill from it. I’m more interested at the moment in confirmation that the idea is perfectly possible, as I think it is.


P.S. I hope it’s obvious I don’t intend to devalue the SY99 with this idea. Although many people think the ability to load samples is one of its best new features, it has so much more to offer. Personally, I’m only really interested in this possibility because I hope to get a hold of a TG77 soon, and I’d like to have a way to use custom samples on that, which is much more portable than the majestic SY99 ever will be.

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Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by parametric » Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:42 pm

I think I briefly mentioned this to Brian at sector101 many moons ago when I purchased one of his first Sweet16 modules.

The Waveform cards are even rarer than the MCD32/64s, and Yamaha have done a good job locking up the content to prevent "other use".

I would guess the Synths that can use them are equipped with no more functionality than is necessary to access and load the content.

I guess that any ideas in that direction would also be limited to the number of Waveform cards that exist out there - much the same as with the Sweet16.

I think Brian made quite extensive inquiries to identify the plugs and sockets that these card use, but drew a blank.

I think it was concluded that they must be proprietary Yamaha hardware.

Given that limitation, would-be users would be constrained by the availability of "genuine" Waveform cards out there, and also, not have to mind (probably) loosing the existing content of the cards.

From where we are NOW of course, we KNOW its massively useful to load our own samples, but back then, I guess it was a punt that Yamaha was taking on the idea.

Sadly, the huge cost of the cards at the time - and the resultant low sales - gave Yamaha the idea that we weren't really interested in the concept - so it "went away" more or less.

Rehashing the plug and socket to something that is freely available might be do-able, but I suspect most owners would not want to go that route and render their SYs/TGs "non-standard".

I guess it MIGHT be possible to find out the internal format of the samples on the cards - and create some software to to "present" user-samples in the correct format to the card - but again, this would be difficult without being able to obtain the correct socket to mount on an external pcb - to plug the Waveform card into, for programming . . . .IYSWIM.

Its a tantalizing prospect - and very much in the Spirit of these Forums - to try and make a good idea EVEN BETTER . . .

Best Regards

parametric
Alesis Fusion 8SSD AND 6SSD - BOTH are 384Mb/120Gb SSD/Akai ADVANCE61/Yamaha MOXF6/1024Mb Flash Ram/Yamaha SY85/8.5mb vol/1024k non-vol/DX21/Roland MT32/Bachmann double overstrung Baby Grand Piano/Win10 Pro/Ubuntu MATE 15.0.4/iBook G4/Mac OS 10.4.6/ProTools 7.4/MBox2/M-Audio 24/96 Sector101 2x SYEMB06 / 4 x EXM-E3 128MB DRAM Module
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db7

Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by db7 » Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:30 pm

Chris, thanks for the reply. I didn’t know you and Brian had discussed this previously. Are there any previous posts on this site about it? Either way, your reports are interesting.

You make a very good point that the physical port might be the biggest stumbling block. I probably didn’t think enough about that. Having not seen any of the cards myself, I assumed the interface used an edge connector, which would be relatively easy to mangle into the right shape. I guess that assumption is incorrect?

It does seem that the idea is very simple, but the implementation could be very tricky. Replacing the ROMs with programmable equivalents is probably trivial, but Yamaha might have exploited that cheapest and easiest way of hindering users from reverse-engineering: using a proprietary physical connector.

Anyway, thanks for the recollections, and I’d be very interested to hear from Brian about this. As well as DrF, synthjoe, or any of our other geniuses. :D

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Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by parametric » Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:38 pm

There's a bit of discussion here, from page 2 onwards http://www.yamahaforums.co.uk/forum/vie ... =56&t=3633 and a few pictures of the WaveCard too . .

parametric
Alesis Fusion 8SSD AND 6SSD - BOTH are 384Mb/120Gb SSD/Akai ADVANCE61/Yamaha MOXF6/1024Mb Flash Ram/Yamaha SY85/8.5mb vol/1024k non-vol/DX21/Roland MT32/Bachmann double overstrung Baby Grand Piano/Win10 Pro/Ubuntu MATE 15.0.4/iBook G4/Mac OS 10.4.6/ProTools 7.4/MBox2/M-Audio 24/96 Sector101 2x SYEMB06 / 4 x EXM-E3 128MB DRAM Module
BRAND NEW DSDD (720k) FLOPPY DISKS FOR SALE - viewtopic.php?f=22&t=9217

Watch out now! take care, BEWARE of the greedy leaders! They'll take you where you should not go - (George Harrison)

IT'S TRUE - "MONEY TALKS" - TO ME, IT MOSTLY SAYS "GOODBYE" ;-)
http://www.chrisnmiller.co.uk/Chris

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Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by shadowmask » Sat Sep 28, 2013 5:57 pm

Believe it or not I have been thinking about this for some time :idea:

I've been looking for a waveform card to experiment on but they are all big £££ on eBay.

I am 99.9% sure I could read out the ROM data and study it somewhat. It could be blown on to FLASH and become a clone card. In fact a 'sweet 16' version could be made containing the code from 16 Yamaha cards.. but then there's that pesky Intellectual Property thing.. :roll:

Do all the ROM cards work over the SY/TG range? If so then the format should be similar and the idea of custom samples may work across the whole range.

Brian
GEAR: SY85 / TG-500 / TG-300 / MOXF6 / FG410 / Supernova II
PROJECTS: SYEMB05, SYEMB06, EXFLM2, EXM-E3, Waveblade, Datablade
WebSite: http://www.sector101.co.uk
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Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by tux » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:30 pm

The waveform cards are the same (i.e. compatible) for the SY55/TG55, SY77/TG77, SY99 and RY30/RM50.
Each card has a capability of 512 KBytes.

AFAIK the SY85 and TG500 cards are not compatible with the older 55/77/99 cards and synths and the older cards don't work in the SY85/TG500.

What I would love to see is an adapter that allows plugging a SD card into a Yamaha wavecard slot, so with a 1GB SD card you could have 2000 virtual Yamaha waveform cards (sort of like the virtual floppy drives that take CF cards) and a way to switch between the virtual cards.


I own 3 waveform cards that I bought for testing purposes when I was writing the 'RM50 manager' program and I have had one of them (that doesn't suit my style of music) for sale in the 'for sale' section of this forum for a long time for a reasonable price (compared to what people ask for it these days on ebay):
http://www.yamahaforums.co.uk/forum/vie ... =22&t=6005

The only problem with this specific card for this project is that it's a RY30 card and therefore also contains programs and drum patterns in addition to the waveforms (when you insert it in a SY/TG synth only the waveforms are visible as the programs and drum pattern data isn't compatible with the SY/TG synths). This might make decoding the data for this project more difficult compared to a plain SY waveform data card.

I could donate the card to Brian if he thinks the project is realistic and if that puts me on top of the list to buy one of the SD adapter cards. :wink:
My Yamaha RM50 page
My Yamaha synths: RM50, TG77, TG500, EX5R, CS6R (with PLG150-AN and PLG150-DX)

db7

Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by db7 » Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:25 am

shadowmask wrote:Believe it or not I have been thinking about this for some time :idea:
I should never have questioned that, should I? ;)
I've been looking for a waveform card to experiment on but they are all big £££ on eBay.
tux has very generously offered his, which I hope will be useful to some degree at least. I would like to imagine optimistically that the non-waveform data might be possible simply to ignore, rather than what tux thought that it might hinder your ability to investigate the waveforms. But maybe it could; you guys are the experts when compared to me.
It could be blown on to FLASH and become a clone card. In fact a 'sweet 16' version could be made containing the code from 16 Yamaha cards
Is there a reason that it would be 16? In other words, are you planning to use an 8 MB Flash chip? Or is that not a chip-based limitation and simply because you still have 16-position dials left over? :lol:
Do all the ROM cards work over the SY/TG range? If so then the format should be similar and the idea of custom samples may work across the whole range.
Over most of this very heterogeneous range, yes, as has been said. So you stand to be the hero not only of the 77ers but also a bunch of other folk too! ((i))

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Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by parametric » Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:20 am

Whilst browsing around on the subject of WaveForm Cards - I came across this.

http://electro-music.com/forum/topic-56 ... highlight=

Probably the RX5 is too far back for what we have in mind - The WaveForm card is perhaps of a previous generation - but this guy looks to have have made it happen, and may be worth talking to . . . . ?

He gives a good run-down on what he found and what he has done and includes quite a few pertinent links.

There's no clue to his identity - so one of us would have to join the forum above - to send him a pm - inviting him to come and take a look. I'm happy to do that if required . . .

He clearly offers this project for anyone to make, so I'll attach the .zip here
rx5usb_beta1_706.zip
detailed instructions,pcb, circuit etc
(4.26 MiB) Downloaded 149 times
(Neither Avast or SpyBot S&D report any issue with this file)

There are quite a few files in the archive, including a very clear building instruction pdf. Also some bank files and the Rx5 ROM which may help our cause . . . . ?

The included "Readme" explains all . . . .

parametric
Alesis Fusion 8SSD AND 6SSD - BOTH are 384Mb/120Gb SSD/Akai ADVANCE61/Yamaha MOXF6/1024Mb Flash Ram/Yamaha SY85/8.5mb vol/1024k non-vol/DX21/Roland MT32/Bachmann double overstrung Baby Grand Piano/Win10 Pro/Ubuntu MATE 15.0.4/iBook G4/Mac OS 10.4.6/ProTools 7.4/MBox2/M-Audio 24/96 Sector101 2x SYEMB06 / 4 x EXM-E3 128MB DRAM Module
BRAND NEW DSDD (720k) FLOPPY DISKS FOR SALE - viewtopic.php?f=22&t=9217

Watch out now! take care, BEWARE of the greedy leaders! They'll take you where you should not go - (George Harrison)

IT'S TRUE - "MONEY TALKS" - TO ME, IT MOSTLY SAYS "GOODBYE" ;-)
http://www.chrisnmiller.co.uk/Chris

db7

Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by db7 » Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:28 pm

Chris, that is extremely interesting! I also downloaded all the files, just in case. :D Thanks a tonne for posting that.

It makes me even more encouraged that our local wizards such as Brian can find a way. ((i))

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Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by shadowmask » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:24 pm

The first step has been taken. W5501 Sax 1 card for TG/SY55

https://soundcloud.com/sector101/yamaha-w5501-sax1

This loaded in perfect into the SY85, it would appear the waveform / sample info in the cards will work across the range. Well, - dare I say it - the AWM2 synths that is ;)


Brian
GEAR: SY85 / TG-500 / TG-300 / MOXF6 / FG410 / Supernova II
PROJECTS: SYEMB05, SYEMB06, EXFLM2, EXM-E3, Waveblade, Datablade
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Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by Derek » Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:03 pm

Nice work, Brian :)
Regards
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db7

Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by db7 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:35 pm

So, assuming that I understand correctly, Yamaha never publicised that the cards for the 55/77/99 are compatible with the SY85/TG500, but your test proves that they are?

Anyway, please do let us know what happens next as you progress with this! I would be more than happy to help you test things on any/all of my SY77, TG77, and SY99. I suspect I might have to stock up on a card or two, including some spares. ;) (And I intend to send an MCD64 in your direction soon, too, at long last!)

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Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by shadowmask » Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:41 am

All 41 samples in the card were correctly assigned to 4 waveforms with all the key ranges in the correct order. I was surprised that it worked at all so it appears there is a standard format for all the waveform cards which are recognised by the SY/TG range. Before the samples could be used the SY85 needed to load the card into the internal memory first. The card could be removed and the samples still worked although they had a little key symbol beside each sample number and could not be saved or SYSEXed out as the SY stated they were protected. As the SY/TG 55 & SY/TG77 have no sample memory they must play the samples from the card memory live.

At the start of the ROM dump there are 4 large blocks of data - I guess one for each waveform assignment. Also I suspect that the W5501 card I have is actually a rebadged SY77 SAX 1 card as there is a text string at the start of the Rom dump stating "W7701" rather then "W5501"

Brian
GEAR: SY85 / TG-500 / TG-300 / MOXF6 / FG410 / Supernova II
PROJECTS: SYEMB05, SYEMB06, EXFLM2, EXM-E3, Waveblade, Datablade
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Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by AJay » Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:20 pm

I always suspected that the 77/55 series Waveform ROM cards were identical. However their respective companion Voice Data cards certainly aren't but that doesn't matter for this purpose. The SY85/TG500 card sets only work on those units but the 77/55 series do work on the 85/500 (tested personally).

Brian, I have a few questions:

(1) Is the SY able to read the waves from the EPROM card you made, without problems?
(2) Did you open the wavecard to read its ROM chip or did (could) you access it via the wavecard edge connector?
(3) Do you reckon that you could make an SRAM wavecard prototype that can be written to via the card edge?
(4) Re: points 2 & 3, do you think you could build a wavecard edge hardware interface/adapter for the Teensy USB interface?

I'm willing to help out on the wavecard ROM format so that it could be possible to create new wavecard ROM images to be written to the SRAM card via the Teensy USB device. The idea is that if you could make the hardware side work I may be able to add the generation of new Wavecard 512KB ROM images to a software utility that I plan to write for the SY85/TG500 involving samples. The only worry is whether the wavecard sample parameters are obfuscated or not. However, the success by the guy that did the RX5 card program gives some hope that they're not.

It would be really great for SY99/85/77/55 and TG500/77/55/RM50 users to be able to use new waveforms on cards, as the official Yamaha ones are only 8 cards in total plus 3 for the 85/500 which is a very small selection, compared to the Roland U series which had loads and even the Korg M1/O1/T had more choice. Would be especially useful for SY77/TG77 users as those only have 4MB sample ROM with the wavecard slot being the only way to get new samples into them.
Last edited by AJay on Sat Jan 18, 2014 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hack the Wave card slot/format to enable custom samples/

Unread post by shadowmask » Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:52 pm

AJay wrote:(1) Is the SY able to read the waves from the EPROM card you made, without problems?
(2) Did you open the wavecard to read its ROM chip or did (could) you access it via the wavecard edge connector?
(3) Do you reckon that you could make an SRAM wavecard prototype that can be written to via the card edge?
(4) Re: points 2 & 3, do you think you could build a wavecard edge hardware interface/adapter for the Teensy USB interface?
1. The SY read the EPROM without problems with the SAX1 waveforms playing as they should.

2. I read it out using the card connector from an SY77 attached to an EPROM reader
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... 0c6fa8729d

3. I guess it could be done but each user would need the mating connector and the Teensy to make the whole thing work. The Teensy is available but the mating connector not be available anymore without pulling it from an SY / TG. This leads on to 4...

4. I have a couple of Arduino ATMEGA256 cards in a box to experiment with. What I had in mind was a finished card with 256Kx16 Flash or SRAM, an SD card holder, and the ATMEGA chip reading the BIN file from the SD card and writing it to the FLASH / SRAM IC. This way the whole emulator is on one card - all the end user needs is an SD card and the BIN files.

That's the plan for now.. all I need to do is find those Arduino boards again..


Brian
GEAR: SY85 / TG-500 / TG-300 / MOXF6 / FG410 / Supernova II
PROJECTS: SYEMB05, SYEMB06, EXFLM2, EXM-E3, Waveblade, Datablade
WebSite: http://www.sector101.co.uk
WordPress: https://sector101synth.wordpress.com
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