#MADETODAY – Bringing a vintage synthesizer back to life

Two of The Edge’s front of house team (and professional musicians), Andy Balzat and Sunny Verma, share how they brought their vintage synthesizers back to life with the help of some youtube videos, tools and soldering.

Testing a ROLAND Juno 106 synthesizer
 
To start with, we had two vintage ROLAND Juno 106 synthesizers – one for studio and one for live use. Both had a ‘dead’ chip. We knew this because when playing, each 6th note either sounded crackly, or had no sound at all.  After some research (like this) it showed we could ‘bring them back to life’ with some solder skills and acetone. Enter, the Fabrication Lab.

What we did:

We opened up the synths to isolate the main circuit board. There are 6 voice chips there.  We removed the circuit board and de-soldered the faulty chips. We were able to identify which chips were faulty by following a “Test Procedure” – built into the synth program.

Fixing a ROLAND Juno 106 synthesizer
 
Fixing a faulty voice chip in a Juno 106
 
Fixing a faulty voice chip in a Juno 106
 
I had two faulty chips, Sunny had 1 faulty chip. So we de-soldered them and soaked the chips in acetone for a few days.  The ceramic coating fell away, and we installed them back into the circuit board. To make things easier, we soldered header pins so we can quickly exchange the chips in different locations. This saves us time and effort!

With testing done so far, it looks like 3 of 3 chips were brought back to life. We also successfully repaired some ‘dead keys’ on the keyboard. We did this using a Circuit Pen, basically like a white-out pen, to repair faulty tracks on the circuit board.

Fixing a faulty voice chip in a Juno 106
 
Fixing a faulty voice chip in a Juno 106
 
Fixing a faulty voice chip in a Juno 106

 
What tools we used:

Overall we used the following materials in the Fabrication Lab:

  • Solder Kit
  • Oscilloscope
  • Voltmeter
  • Clamps
  • Screwdrivers and hand tools

Using the oscilloscope was great! It enabled us to visualise the sounds that a Vintage Synth makes. You can really see the difference between a Square, Saw and Pulse Wave Modulation.

PS. If the Voice Chips didn’t come back to life, we weren’t completely doomed. You can buy a CLONE chip from overseas http://www.analoguerenaissance.com/D80017/ – this was our back up option had the Voice chips not worked after soaking.

You will see in the pics that chips 4 & 5 are larger than the rest – as these are CLONE chips I replaced 3 years ago.

In the end, a few hours spent in the Fabrication Lab meant two reborn synths!

Fixing a faulty voice chip in a Juno 106
 

2 replies to “#MADETODAY – Bringing a vintage synthesizer back to life

  1. Hack Mob

    Should also mention / acknowledge that some help was received from the ‘Hack The Evening’ Mob on Thursdays … 🙂
    Ciao, Bantum Works.

    • Olivia Muir

      Hey there, yes of course! Hack the Evening is an institution here at The Edge – thanks team!

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