Roland MSQ-100 HALF Measure Issue

Roland MSQ-100 HALF ISSUE
Roland MSQ-100 HALF ISSUE

This week I received a relatively mint condition Roland MSQ-100 in the mail that I purchased off Ebay. Usually I have great success with Ebay, but this time around I realized why the seller was off loading his MSQ-100. It is plagued with the dreaded Roland MSQ-100 “HALF” Measure Issue. Once you get that message, it’s good luck getting rid of it. In addition, it pretty much renders the Roland MSQ-100 to a giant brick “retro” paper weight because it’s useless thereafter.

Info on this error message is pretty scarce on the web. I have managed to find a couple of bits and pieces of info but nothing concrete as to how to fix the problem. There is no reset procedure for the MSQ-100. If you power off for more than a day with the adapter unplugged it “should” erase the memory, but for some reason it doesn’t. Currently I’m attempting to try and flood the memory with sync data to see if that might work and will report my results later. This worked for one individual but I’m not sure the details. I also don’t have any .wav tape data to test with and load, but I’ve heard that doesn’t really work. In fact, the HALF measure message prevents me from even using the TAPE function on the MSQ-100.

There is an erase measure function which I’ll detail here, but this doesn’t work either.

Erase
1. Set Mode switch to Load/Play
2. Press Reset
3. Press both Shift + Erase
4. Press Load

Someone I discovered posted a .wav file below but it’s no longer available. They had success loading the file into their “HALF” measure plagued MSQ-100, but it didn’t solve the issue. Here is the info:

I did a tape dump of 2 empty bars, that loaded and verified. It was saved using Tape mode II. (DIP switch 8 off)

http://www.soundpunk.com/downloads/public/patches/msq100-2emptybars .wav

P.19 of the User manual will provide a little background info on the error message:
http://jimatwood.net/MSQ-100_OM.pdf

Here is the Roland MSQ-100 Service Manual that I found for those interested.
http://jimatwood.net/MSQ-100_SERVICE_NOTES.pdf

I noticed that several people have this issue with the Roland MSQ-100. There has been no standard solution found to solve the problem yet. One person actually punched buttons a hundred times and powered their unit on and off several times which miraculously solved the issue. Their confidence in the MSQ-100 was forever shot though. Another spoke of possible dry joint issues which I’m not sure about. Others have experimented with TAPE data and Sync data flooding of the MSQ-100 to jolt or cause a memory full reset.

I’d warn any potential buyers of the Roland MSQ-100 that like most other vintage hardware, the HALF measure syndrome appears to be a known achilles heel. Roland didn’t think to create a RESET procedure for the MSQ-100. On a plus note, beside a nice looking retro paper weight, one could pull the colored buttons to be used with the Roland Juno-60 or Juno-6 if you need replacement buttons.

In the end here, I decided to keep the MSQ-100 and tinker with it a bit to see if I can get it working. It’s such a clean and nifty looking unit sitting on top of my Roland Juno-106. I also got it at a very reasonable price even though I feel a bit ripped that the seller didn’t mention the HALF measure issue. I know for a fact it existed before I received the device so it was a cheap shot by the seller. Nonetheless, that happens now and then on Ebay and if anything it presents a nice topic to share on my blog which seems to help a few others from time to time in solving their issues with vintage gear.

As always, I’ll update this article with news and solutions if any are found with solving the riddle of the mysterious Roland MSQ-100 HALF MEASURE issue.

UDPATE: I believe I have FIXED and found the problem to the HALF MEASURE issue. Read the comments below for UPDATE #3 for more info. It appears the 3-way toggle switch is likely to blame for things getting stuck.

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7 thoughts on “Roland MSQ-100 HALF Measure Issue

  1. UPDATE #1

    I have two new developments with the “HALF” Measure issue on the Roland MSQ-100.

    1. I somehow managed to stop the “HALF” Measure issue from occurring by putting the unit into PLAY/PROTECT mode. I then pushed different buttons such as REAL record, ERASE measure, etc. I basically just pushed different buttons and somehow it popped into Play mode. The “HALF” Measure implies that you are also stuck in Edit mode. Perhaps putting the MS-100 into PLAY Only mode somehow forces it out of Edit mode with the press of any of the function buttons. I thought I tried this before but for some reason it now worked.

    OK, so I’m now out of the “HALF” Measure dilemma. However, I now have a new problem.

    Now when I go to record in Real time for example the following happens.

    1. I press RESET to get me back to measure one.
    2. I check Midi IN/OUT cables to make sure they are connected properly to 106.
    3. Dip switches on back are correctly set.
    4. Juno 106 is set to Mode I and Midi Channel 1 along with MSQ.
    5. Metronome is on and the MSQ-100 is in Play/Record Mode.

    Everything is great!! So…

    I press LOAD and the metronome start counting down it’s two measures. It then starts recording and I play a bass line in real time. I can see the measure advancing to 2, 3, 4, etc. I then press STOP to stop recording. Then I press RESET to go back to measure 1. ( I’ve tried Measure back as well ). Measure 1 appears. Ok, so far so good. It works just like the JX-3P …. but….

    I finally press PLAY on the MSQ-100 and the metronome starts and it just sits on Measure 1. It doesn’t playback what I recorded nor do measures advance forward. It’s as if nothing was recorded in the first place. I then check the available memory and indeed it’s lower, so some sort of data was recorded. I can even forward to different measure I supposedly recorded, but it just won’t play and advance on it’s own.

    Thus my new problem now is it won’t play back anything that I record. ( If I recorded anything at all! ). I’m wondering if the RAM/ROM chip is corrupted or bad. Supposedly the MSQ-100 works similar to the Roland JX-3P onboard sequencer. It’s a pretty simple piece of hardware, but for some reason it’s now not playing back what I record. Strange!!

    Anyways, there is hope to get the “HALF” Measure error erased, BUT you might find new problems lurking after that.

    I’ll update my comments if I manage to get it running. So far though, the MSQ-100 has been a SERIOUS time waster….laugh.

  2. This might be an interesting thing to pursue.

    Msqconvert – the Roland MSQ-100 SysEx software utility.

    Standard MIDI file conversion

    The LauterZeit msqconvert is a simple file translator / converter for Apple OSX platform, allowing you to convert between standard MIDI files and the MSQ-100 ‘Q1’ SysEx format. It works in both directions; you can take a Standard MIDI files [exported from Ableton Live clips or other sources] and convert it to the an MSQ SysEx (System Exclusive) file, or the reverse conversion.

    http://lauterzeit.com/msq/

    http://www.lauterzeit.com/msq/beta/moonlight_msq.syx

    1. Lauterzeit wrote: “Incidentally, I found that both the MSQ-700 and MSQ-100 transmit ‘ALL NOTES OFF’ messages frequently during playback if no notes in the sequence are to be played. Not an issue for some synths, but annoying with others. In the latter case, I use a Roland A-880 to filter those messages.”

  3. UPDATE #2

    After some “LUCK” I managed to now get a couple of bass lines recorded, but it’s VERY VERY erratic. It wasn’t luck that I got it working, rather it was just luck that I got one bass line in there. I can erase and delete, but sometimes the same bass line pops up. Other times it is erased. Very strange behavior with this MSQ-100. I then couldn’t on many occasions record another bass line.

    THEN!! After some extreme frustration I proceeded like a mad man to flip the Play Protect / Play Load switch back and forth violently as if I was going to break it. SUDDENLY I noticed the word “TAPE” appeared when switched to Data Transfer mode. That didn’t happen before. I then decided to try and record again. This time a bass line was recorded perfectly. Could it be that my slider is acting up??? I proceeded to spray some deoxit in there and again vigorously moved the switch up and down. After I let it dry I’ll be curious if that might fix my problem. A three way switch that is not switching properly can definitely cause erratic behavior like this…at least it makes sense to me. We’ll see.

    Note the HALF MEASURE problem now seems to be gone.

    Stay tuned for another update.

  4. UPDATE #3

    FIXED!!!!

    I finally have found the problem. The three way toggle switch ( Play Protect / Play Load / Data Transfer ) was not functioning properly due to oxidation on the switch. I sprayed Deoxit cleaner into the switch and toggled it all three ways up and down about 100 times to work out the kinks. Since doing that I have had absolutely NO ISSUES at all with recording, erasing, deleting, overdubbing, etc. The HALF message is now completely gone.

    My theory is that the toggle switch was not properly switching between Play, Edit, and Data modes. This explains WHY the Half Measure was stuck. It simply was stuck in Edit mode. To get it into play, it needed to be jolted into Play mode by switching to Play Protect. It was only by accident that I realized TAPE mode was not even registering and so after jamming the toggle back and forth that it miraculously popped back on the screen. I then realized it’s the switch that has the problem.

    SO…If you are having “HALF Measure” problems or your unit is not recording properly, then I’m pretty sure that your toggle switch is either dirty or wearing out. There might even be a dry solder joint or loose solder in there. If I have problems at a later date, I may open up the MSQ-100 and check for that, but for now I’m having fun jamming wtih the Roland Juno-106 and MSQ-100. It’s all working beautifully.

    The original owner “might” have had the MSQ-100 in storage for a long time, OR he didn’t use it very much. I am finding with my collection of vintage gear that is DOES NOT sit well. It all NEEDS to be played as much as possible to keep the parts going it seems.

    Hopefully this info will help others with MSQ-100 issues. There definitely is a problem with the switches on these machines, but that’s not out of the ordinary for such an old item.

    Thanks!!

  5. Hi Jim!

    You could try to short C5 that’s in parallel with the gold cap (C1+100R). The gold cap hold the memeory during power off. So shorting C5 discharges C1 over 100R (necessary current limiting resistor). This should prevent you from waiting one day for memory clear…

    Ciao
    Peter

  6. JVC

    Wow, you fixed it! Congratulations! I’m sure other Roland MSQ-100 uses would benefit from this information! Although I’m not MSQ-100 user (I don’t even own any analog synth), I like to see people who are devoted to vintage gears.

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