It’s been a while since I performed the floppy disk upgrade to my ESI-2000 sampler.  As I mentioned in the earlier article the USB floppy drive still partitioned itself out as 1.44MB disks.  This caused really inconvenient load times as the unit had to be babysat.  Enter the hard drive.

Finding a hard drive on the EMU’s compatibility list proved a bit of a challenge.  SCSI drives from the mid to late ’90s are hard to come by these days.  Even the cables are long out of fashion.  Still, that’s where Kijiji comes in handy.  I posted the EMU’s drive compatibility list on Kijiji requesting anyone having a drive that matched get in touch with me.  As it happens I met up with this excellent fellow named Frank.  Not only did Frank have a drive I needed, the Quantum VP32210, he drove it up to my remote location to deliver it.  Not only that he also brought a second drive to use as a spare.  This worked out especially well as the Quantum drive didn’t quite pass the EMU’s format procedure – but more on that later.

As a Computer Guy from the early ’80s I have acquired a pile of old cables.  Unfortunately several months ago I threw out a box full of them as I thought I’d never need them again.  Once again Frank came to the rescue sending me a 50 pin SCSI cable and a 3 way power connector.  More on this cable later too.  I have to say that if it weren’t for Frank this project wouldn’t have succeeded.  Thanks so much Frank!

The first problem I ran into was the power connector.  While the EMU had a mini-connector suitable for a floppy drive the hard drive required a standard old-style PC power connector.  Searching for the conversion cable was fruitless so I ended up making my own.  This involved snipping the end of the EMU’s connector as well as the standard connector.  Making sure I had all the wires in the right place (+5, GND, +12)  I soldered the two parts together and voila – a suitable power connector.  When doing this process I highly suggest documenting everything so you don’t run into problems later on.

IMG_5297 IMG_5298

I used shrink tubing to prevent short circuits or other nasty things from happening to the power connectors.  Don’t use electrical tape as it will ultimately come off and leave a gummy mess.

One IMPORTANT NOTE:  The power supply in the EMU is not covered.  Touch one of the capacitors and it might be the last thing you touch!

I configured the SCSI drive as device 2 and left the termination in.  I figured at this point the job would be a cakewalk.  As it turned out that wasn’t the case.  When connected to the internal SCSI connector the EMU would not even power up.  It would just make a clicking sound.  Switching device IDs, termination, etc… had no effect.  I then removed the motherboard cable to the external SCSI connector connected the internal drive to it and everything powered up fine.  I was able to perform the ESI format under the Disk menu.  The Quantum drive failed this process but the Seagate had no trouble.  The only problem was how to get the samples off the CD-ROM and onto the hard drive with only one connector and no daisy-chain SCSI setup.

As it turned out that wasn’t too much of a problem.  The ESI-2000 allowed me to hot-swap the cables.  In between swaps I would use the Disk menu’s Mount Drive option to rescan the SCSI bus.  First I’d connect the CD-ROM and load a sample bank.  Then I’d switch to the cable for the internal drive, rescan the bus and save the sample bank.  Again, writing things down as I went saved a pile of headaches.  While not a perfect solution it allowed me to transfer all my samples to the hard drive, disconnect the external SCSI cable and leave the internal drive hooked up.

One important note when switching the cables;  do not crank the cable up from the right or left side.  This might cause the pins to bend and weaken them.  You should also not brace your hands on the motherboard.  You could inadvertently break off a component.  Grasping the connector rather than the cable will also help you from loosening the thin SCSI connector wires from the connector itself.  These were lessons well learned from my early days in the PC business that saved me from potential problems during this upgrade.

Setup during sample transfer
Setup during sample transfer
Nicely cabled and ready to close
Nicely cabled and ready to close

So there you have it… another piece of vintage synthesizer gear updated to play another day!