Roland PMA-5 Internal Battery Replacement

Roland PMA-5

About a month ago I bought a junked Roland PMA-5 Personal Music Assistant from a used music shop here in Nagano-city, Japan. The sales clerk said it worked but that it was placed in the junk area because they were selling it “as is” for $20 bucks. I figured I would try my luck as lately I’ve been scoring well with this particular shop. Well I brought it home and it said the battery was NG or No Good! I opened it up and noticed that the Sony 3V Internal Battery was the kind that was soldered to the PCB board. What was far more alarming was the fact that under the battery carriage that holds the six double A batteries was a “ton” of battery acid. Apparently the previous owner left batteries in the tray for a long time and they leaked. All three PCB boards inside the PMA-5 were pretty much toast as battery acid was all over them. Thus I had to call it a loss, but fortunately I could salvage the touch screen for parts.

Yesterday, I happened to be in the same used music shop and what did I find? Another Roland PMA-5 for $20 bucks sitting again in the Junk bin. Should I try again? Unlike the previous PMA-5 that I bought, this one had the Stylus Pen, Leather looking cover, power adapter, and Manuals. I thought since the Roland PMA-5 looked to be in better condition that I would give it a second chance. The note on the sales tag said it had a “Battery NG” error so it also looked like I would have to change that soldered battery inside.

I brought the Roland PMA-5 up to the counter and I noticed the same Japanese sales clerk approached to help me. He smiled and asked if I was successful with the previous Roland PM-5 that I bought last month. Interesting he remembered. I said “No, the last unit was completely covered with Battery acid on the inside.”. He seemed very alarmed by that and felt that even though he sold it to me “as is”, it was bad in that it potentially was dangerous to sell a product with battery acid problems. So in good faith, he opted to give me the second Roland PMA-5 for free! Amazing! He has sold me lots of gear in the past, so I figured he thought I was a good frequent customer. I very nice gesture I thought. I thanked him and graciously accepted the second Roland PMA-5.

I brought the Roland PMA-5 home and started it up. It worked!! The headphone jack was scratchy and cut out but that was easily fixed by soldering the dry joints that I found inside. Now the headphones work fantastic. I did get a “battery NG” message and noticed that the internal battery was just starting to leak battery acid, BUT, nothing had leaked onto the PCB board yet. I quickly de-soldered the battery which was actually quite easy to do. However, I am now having a problem replacing the battery.

The previous battery was a Sony 3V battery with 3 legs soldered to it. I am not sure how to solder a new battery holder to the PCB board. All the battery holders that I find have “two” legs and not three legs like the original. Does this mean I need to run two positive red wires from the PCB board holes to the one positive battery holder leg? Then run the one black wire to the one negative battery holder leg? I can’t seem to find battery holders with three legs so I’m not sure how I can solder a new battery holder into the Roland PMA-5. It doesn’t make sense to me. I am currently searching for info about this on the internet but it seems not many people have changed the internal battery on a Roland PMA-5 Personal Music Assistant yet…or at least have written about it.

I’ll update this post with my solution once I find it. For now the PMA-5 works fine without the battery. It just means I have to re-calibrate and initialize the unit each time I power it up. It also means I cannot save any styles or songs I create. This is ok for now as it’s quite useful as a “preset” backtrack player. It’s also very entertaining to play around with while I’m watching my kids do their Dancing and Swimming classes. It’s a fun little unit and actually sounds pretty decent. I also feel it would be difficult to program a song in with just the Stylus pen so perhaps it might eventually be ok not to replace the battery, however, it would be nice to have it fully operational at some point. We’ll see.

Stay tuned for updates shortly. – Jim

Roland W30 LCD Backlight Replacement

Roland W30 LCD Backlight
Roland W30 LCD Backlight

After the success of my Yamaha SY77 “Cool Blue” LCD backlight replacement, I decided to see if I could upgrade a few other of my old keyboard if possible. Today I found a Roland W30 “White” LCD replacement backlight for a great price $26.00 on Ebay. There are other options around, but most are asking for $50 or more which I think is a bit much.

The great thing about this “White” LCD replacement, is that it should brighten up the Roland W30’s green LCD considerably. Note that this LCD backlight replacement can also be used for the Korg 01W and Wavestation A/D. I find myself playing in a lot of dark places and with the Roland W30 having a brighter display it should be more fun and less headache to work with. One BIG problem that will still exist is the power converter noise or hum in the Roland W30. I completely eliminated this whine from the Yamaha SY77 by replacing the LCD unit altogether, but I have yet to find the proper replacement hardware for the Roland W30. Until then, this White LCD Backlight replacement I bought from Ebay should suffice regarding the brightness of the display.

Once I receive and replace the Roland W30 LCD display, I’ll post some photos of before and after. As far as I know I simply need to desolder a couple of pins and the solder in the new replacement LCD sheet. Probably the most difficult or time consuming aspect will be taking apart the Roland W30 to access the LCD display. That was an all day job with the Yamaha SY77…laugh. Nonetheless, it’s kind of fun actually. Nothing beats the raw smell of those old vintage keyboards and synthesizers when you crack open the cases. Yeah right!

Enjoy! – Jim

UPDATE #1: Here is a video found on Youtube of someone replacing the old Korg Wavestation A/D backlight with a new “white” version similar to the one I purchased above. This video will show you the difference roughly of before (green) and after (white). It’s much brighter you can see. Awesome!

Yamaha SY77 Cool Blue LCD Replacement

Yamaha SY77 Cool Blue LCD Replacment
Yamaha SY77 Cool Blue LCD Replacment

Today I successfully managed to install the Cool Blue Replacement LCD into my Yamaha SY-77. Although my former LCD was the stock version and working properly, I was bothered by two significant things. First, there was an annoying hum from the power inverter that was driving me nuts when playing the SY77. The Noise was filtering through the outputs and headphones which was really irritating and it’s a known problem with the Yamaha SY-77 Synthesizer. The second issue was that I could practically not see a thing when playing the synth at night or in a dark club. I had to use a makeshift flashlight to see the stock LCD screen. Thus, I knew it was time to take the plunge and replace the screen with the custom cool blue version as pictured from my synth in this post.

A huge thanks to Derek Cook from Yamaha Forums UK and EX5tech for providing the instructions to replace the LCD. You can find the PDF file that I used at his website here. A couple of things I’d like to point out that I did that are different from the PDF are as follows:

1. I chose to desolder the ribbon lead and header on the original LCD PCB and solder it on the new board. Living in Japan, I figured it would be a nightmare tracking down the necessary replacement cable ribbon and connectors. I became quite handy with the soldering iron after my Juno 106 project, so I decided to try my luck with removing the original ribbon connector. Indeed it was tricky and it took some patience. I used both a Solder Sucker and Copper Wick to remove the solder. Fortunately there wasn’t much solder on the board. You have to wiggle it a bit, but it actually came out nicely due to the pins being right angled. I then took the Solder Iron and cleaned the pins a bit to ensure they would fit the new LCD board.

2. It’s important to note that for the SY-77 specifically, the wire colors are crossed. Naturally one would think RED goes to A and BLACK goes to K when reading the PDF, but it’s actually the opposite. I made this mistake the first time I turned on the synth and noticed no backlight. I then switch the wires and the LCD with backlight powered up beautifully as shown.

3. It took me a total of five hours to get the LCD out of the SY-77 synth, desolder and solder the components, and finally to put the entire synth back together again. It’s a HUGE chore to take that puppy apart, so allow enough time to do things right or you’ll quickly get overwhelmed. It’s actually very easy to take the synth apart, but you definitely need to organize your screws, wires, and all the pieces that you remove.

The LCD is slightly thicker than the original so expect a tight fit, but it should be comfortable nonetheless. I didn’t have to force anything, but I could tell I had very little play left.

All in all, the LCD cost me $42 bucks to get. I used all the wiring and connectors from the stock LCD so I didn’t need any additional parts. Yes soldering is definitely required for this project. The connector alone has 20 pins to desolder and then solder back together again. Plus you have to solder two wires for the LCD backlight power. You also may need to splice the wiring as I did to extend the length as using the original will be too short.

Whether your current Yamaha SY-77 LCD is working or broken, I can’t recommend highly enough to replace it with the cool blue LCD. It’s simply magnificent. It’s super quiet and ultra bright in in the dark. It definitely makes the SY-77 fun and cool to play with and perhaps even increases the value a wee bit.

My only word of advice is to go SLOW! I’m NOT an electronics guru by any means. I only started soldering synthesizers less than a year ago. I just take my time and it also helps to practice on old crappy stuff you don’t use anymore. If anyone has questions, please feel free to comment or send me an email. I’d be more than happy to help.


Roland Juno 106 Voice Chips in Reverse? Huh?

Roland Juno 106 Jim Atwood in Japan
Jim Atwood in Japan's Roland Juno 106

Recently I Pm’d an individual on a forum who had success with the Analogue Renaissance Voice Chips. I thought I might be able to find out some additional info about installation or the chips themselves.

Here was my question:


I just recently purchased a full set of Juno 106 Voice Chips from Analogue Renaissance. I live in Japan and had an Ex-Roland tech solder two chips into the board. We have discovered that the chips “possibly” don’t work. It’s unlikely the tech soldered them incorrectly but that’s equally a possibility.

I was wondering since you had success, whether you might have done anything special with the chips before inserting and soldering them into the board. I have the newest version and there apparently is a black plastic sleeve over the pins. We just kept them on and inserted the chip as that seemed the most logical and the tech said no problem.

Did you just get your chips and solder them on as is? I would greatly appreciate any info about anything unusual you might have done to install the chips. The Roland Tech feels certain I got bad chips. I’m trying to be diplomatic but it’s tough for me to argue with BOTH a Roland Pro and what seems to be a very Professional and Successful Chip Designer at Analogue Renaissance. Thus I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place so to speak.

If I can’t get the two existing chips to work, then I’ll likely sell or give away the remaining chips and junk the Roland 106. It’s like an old 73 Volkswagon Bug I used to have in College that did nothing but rip money out of my pocket every month…laugh.

In any event, thanks in advance for any tips. Much appreciated.

The response I got was this ….

They should work out of the box unless –

1. You placed them in reverse
2. The problem is not the chips themselves
3. You have bad chips, which is not likely as AFAIK the guy tests them prior to sending them. Contact and ask him about this.

I greatly appreciated the response. The #2 and #3 response is likely although with #2 I haven’t found anything at all wrong with the main board or wiring. Still looking into that though and doing some meter testing.

With regards to the #3 response, that is quite a stretch. If you look at the pins and the main board one will find that it’s near impossible to get these reversed. You simply wouldn’t be able to solder them into the board UNLESS you inserted them upside down which would become obvious when inserting the board back into the Juno 106. Could this mean then “Reverse Order”? If so there should be numbers on the chips that correspond to the numbers on the main board for each slot. I don’t see any numbers and I also don’t hear anyone else discussing such an issue on the Net. Thus I find #1 to be out of the question.

So far EVERYTHING works on the main board except those Analogue Renaissance Voice Chips and my one Dead Lower Octave ( E ) Key which I mentioned in a previous post.

I appreciate the response from the gentleman above. It only confirms I am dealing with a “mystery” problem other than chips or simply speaking newly acquired bad chips. The mystery continues.

Note there is absolutely NO DEFENSE against “the guy tests them prior to sending them”. Nobody knows! That’s why I have to accept the loss. They could have been damaged in transit, myself, the technician, or anything else for that matter. It’s “word” against “word” on that subject which is the reason why I’ve accepted the loss. I don’t doubt they were tested, but I also don’t have proof that they were. There’s nothing I can do but look for alternatives and continue to research the possible problems.

Stay tuned and have a great weekend.

Analogue Renaissance Juno 106 Voice Chip Clones not working?

Analogue Renaissance Voice Chip in Pouch
Analogue Renaissance Voice Chip in Pouch

Unfortunately, the Analogue Renaissance chips did not work in my Juno 106. This is NOT to imply that the Analogue Renaissance chips were bad in any way, however, I had a very skilled Japanese Soldering expert do the work and after testing the first two installed chips there was no sound. If I rule out the chips and the technician, it could be a board or some other problem. I should say though that the old chips were working on the board ( with the snap, crackle, popping ), before they were desoldered. Currently the board and chips are being tested by the technician to determine the problem. In hindsight I should have only ordered one chip for testing to save some money. Since I cannot “concretely” determine the problem, I feel the problem could be anything from an unknown board issue, soldering issue, or even the possibility of receiving bad chips. I have no idea at this point, but I can’t rule anything out.

Has anyone had to do anything special with the Analogue Renaissance chips before installation? The technician I hired was surprised it didn’t work.

I’ll update my post shortly when we find the solution. Thanks!

Here’s a Juno 106 Repair page I’ve started with some more info and notes. I’ll be updating this page as I progress with the Juno 106.