MPG-200 v6 DIY Kit

Price: 50 EUR + postage

To buy, email your details to

Payment is through paypal.

About the MPG-200

The MPG-200 is an affordable replacement for the PG-200 synthesizer programmer. It is a protocol translator for vintage Roland synths that use the PG-200 - JX-3P, MKS-30 and GR-700. It translates standard midi CC-messages into the proprietary PG-200 format necessary to control the synths, making it possible to use a DAW, hardware midi controller or other synth in place of the expensive PG-200.

No internal modification of your synth is necessary, as the MPG-200 does a direct translation into the PG-200 data format.

The MPG-200 comes with Midi thru, so you don't have to use a splitter if you want to control both playing and parameter noodling of your MKS-30 from the same midi source.

The MPG-200 is configurable and upgradable through Midi.

Kit

The MPG-200 comes as a build it yourself kit with all the required parts, including a 60 cm long 4 conductor cable (you have to solder the connectors yourself). No enclosure is included but I plan to offer a laser cut enclosure separately later. The MPG-200 is easy to build, having only a handfull of parts. Soldering the cable is a bit tricky but should also be manageable.

Price

The MPG-200 costs EUR 50 + postage. Postage is EUR 7 throughout Europe and EUR 8.5 to the rest of the world, untracked. Multiple MPG-200 may be shipped together for the same price, though I will have to check how many.

Some countries may require tracked/registered mail at my discretion unless you chose to accept the risk yourself. Registered mail is about EUR 28. I will of course inform you of this before accepting your order.

Configuring

The MPG-200 is highly configurable through Sysex. Each parameter is mappable to any Midi CC, and switch range boundaries are individuably mappable for each switch.

A sysex file generator can be found at xonik.no . It lets you tweak the parameters and generate a valid configuration sysex. If you're running Google Chrome you can even run the sysex and update the MPG-200 directly from your browser.

You can map each PG-200 parameter to any CC on any midi channel you like. This is done through sysex, and an online sysex generator is available at xonik.no . If your browser supports WebMIDI you can even update the configuration directly from the browser.

Firmware

Firmware on the MPG-200 can be updated through MIDI, in case I come up with new features or bugs need to be fixed. As with the settings, an online WebMIDI-based firmware updater is found at xonik.no.

Things to be aware of

There are some limitations to the MPG-200. Most importantly: Because it works exactly like the PG-200, it won't let you use midi for playing notes on the JX-3P at the same time as you tweak parameters through the MPG-200 (PS: The MKS-30 has no problem with this). This is simply not possible without modifying the JX-3P, and is the reason why you have to replace the internal CPU / ROM when upgrading the JX with a Kiwitechnics kit. I did make an MPG-200 version earlier that could take control of the "Programmer/MIDI" switch on the back of the JX-3P. However, even if it was possible to switch automatically, a delay of up to half a second after switching between midi and PG-200 was required for the synth to notice the change, making it impossible to mix the two in practice. It also made the MPG-200 firmware incredibly complex as it had to buffer incoming midi to prevent lost commands while in the wrong mode. For this version I chose usability and stability over additional features.

The midi thru does not filter out CC messages for the MPG-200 from the midi stream, so any messages will be forwarded to the MKS-30 as well. This may not be an issue though, but I have not tried flooding the MKS-30 with messages to see how it handles that. I have however left a possibility for adding midi message filtering later - it is possible to disconnect the midi thru from the midi input, effectively making it a midi out port instead, but this will require firmware changes.

The provided cable has only four conductors. The original PG-200 uses six as it needs +/-15V to power the internal opamps. These are not needed on the MPG-200 and are therefore left out. This means that you cannot use the cable to replace a missing PG-200 cable. You CAN however get your own six conductor cable and use the provided connectors to make a PG-200 cable. More info about the PG-200 can be found here.

For the time being you will have to build your own enclosure, or leave the MPG-200 without one. If you choose the latter, make sure you insulate the botton to prevent it from coming into contact with anything conductive, this may short circuit and destroy the MPG-200. I plan on offering a laser cut enclosure in the future.

The MPG-200 does not have any knobs or switches, it is a pure electronical protocol translator. You need to bring your own midi controller.

Haslum, 5th of November 2019
Joakim Tysseng
Xonik Devices