Posts Tagged ‘AX-09’

Lucina – Fixed again…

April 1, 2016

Took it apart and sure enough the hinge (both sides this time) on the modulation bar had broken. Installed a spare and I’m good to go again, for now at least. I’m down to only one spare though so maybe I need to start thinking about ordering some more.

Lucina – Broke again….

April 1, 2016

Playing the keytar at an open mic on Wednesday I notice the modulation bar was feeling a bit ‘strange’. Sure enough it fees llike one of the plastic hinges has broken so it’s time to take it apart and replace YET ANOTHER MOD BAR! Good job I order a few spares the last time as it takes them a few weeks to get here.

Hacking all sorts of stuff…

February 14, 2016

So while I am in ‘midi’ mode I decided to revisit the Lucina midi problem. If case you missed it, the Lucina seems to be sending midi ‘note on’ messages for all but the first note, instead of ‘note off’ messages when I release a chord. This only happens periodically but leads to stuck notes and other strange behaviors.

So I decided I’d write a little Arduino program to fix the issue. I was in the middle of that when I decided to ‘just try the Lucina’ with my rack synth. Actually I just felt like messing around and playing a little music.

But strangely I was not seeing, or rather hearing, the problem at all. Now based on recent experience with the cheap usb midi interface I was using it could well be that that was causing me to see crappy data (using Midi OX to view the midi data) so who knows. Maybe there’s a problem, maybe not.

So I pulled out the old FCB 1010 midi controller foot pedal and hooded that up into the system so I have some sort of volume control.

However I noticed flashing leds all over the place. Seems the Lucina sends ‘Active Sensing’ midi message all the time and these screw up the FCB 1010 so I may well end up creating an Arduino based midi box to filter those messages out since nothing uses them anyway. But if  I am doing that I may as well add the code to ‘fix’ the apparent stuck note problem since the box would be in the midi circuit anyway.

 

Oh, and I’ve decided to go with a Beat Buddy drum foot pedal to augment the loop pedal drums, I still need to sort out the Jamman sync timing but the BB seems to be well supported by an active user forum and unlike units made by large companies, the creator of the BB is a smaller outfit and seems to be very responsive to user requests and issues.

 

Well done Roland…

September 13, 2014

I ordered three (just to be safe!) replacement modulation bars from Roland last week, expecting a multi week delay on delivery like previous times but they turned up today.

Maybe they’ve figured out they need to keep these in stock, or maybe I just got lucky!

Either way, I now have plenty of spare mod bars so no doubt the current one will last forever.

Lucina Modulation Bar broken yet again…

September 7, 2014

Sigh… I was busking at a Farmer’s Market on Saturday and part way through the session I thought it sounded like the modulation bar was always on so I took the Lucina apart today to check it and sure enough the ‘hinge’ on the mod bar had broken again, but only on one side which is why it ‘sort of’ worked.

Thankfully I ordered two the last time this happened so I had a spare. Fifteen minutes with the screw driver and everything was working again.

Just for my own reference in the future (and yours too if you care), the Roland part number for the modulation bar is K214812801 and Roland customer support (ha ha) is at (323) 890-3740.

Lucina Fixed (again)…

May 17, 2014

So the replacement mod bars (I ordered two just to be safe) finally arrived so I did the fix today. I was very careful to test everything before I buttoned it all back up but of course I was so busy ‘messing around’ playing that I forgot to actually test the mod bar. Well, you know what’s coming next. Of course it did not work.

Take it apart, look at the old mod bar and there’s a small metal bar (circled in red) screwed to the bottom. Obviously I swapped this over from the original mod bar the first time ages ago but forgot this time.

 

LucinaModBar

So, take it all apart, swap the bar over, try again, good to go. Then I was looking at the picture above (second new mod bar on the left (first is in the Lucina), old on the right) and you’ll notice in the two top yellow circles there are two small bumpers. Well, guess who forgot to swap those over. They stop the mod bar being pressed down to far/hard onto the small contact on the circuit board that the mod bar screws to. So, take it all apart again, swap the bumpers over, put it all back together and finally, it is all good to go.

One of the things I really wish they had done with the Lucina is to bring the octave +/- and sustain jack as switches on the back near where your left hand is so that you could change octave without having to reach over to the front of the Lucina and also have a sustain without having to attach a foot pedal to the thing, which totally destroys any concept of moving around while playing since you have to keep running back to it to operate the sustain, plus it’s another long wire to trip over!

However from a cursory glance (I did not take things apart) I am not sure it would be that easy to connect extension wires to the circuit boards for the octave +/- switches since I think they use small surface mounted components for the contacts.

It ‘might’ be possible to connect something to the sustain plug since it has to be physically bigger but even that looks like a lot of messing. For the sustain I am thinking it might be easier to simple Velcro a switch to the back of the Lucina where I can operate it with my left hand and run a standard cable to the existing sustain jack. At least I’d then have sustain and not be tied to a pedal on the floor.

 

Lucina Modulation Bar broken (again)…

April 22, 2014

I was playing the keytar at a gig the other day and it felt like the mod bar tremolo was always on on the piano sound. While nobody probably noticed it annoyed the hell out of me at the time. So today I was messing around with the loop pedal and I noticed the mod bar was completely stuck on but that I was able to turn it off if I forcibly lifted the mod bar up with my finger. Anyway, it’s obvious it’s broken so I went online to Roland’s web site to order a new one. The last time I did this it was a pain in the butt and this time was no different.

It took ages to find the actual phone number (it’s almost like they DON’T want you to call them) then a stupid long wait on hold, with several pre recorded apologies for the long wait before I got to speak to someone. Now admittedly they were as helpful as they could be but once again there’s a stupid long wait of 4-6 WEEKS for the part and while it still costs $4.60, there’s still a $6 shipping fee on top so I ordered two of the dang things so I’ve got a spare for next time AND I am only paying one lot of shipping.

LucinaModBar2

I cannot believe that after all this time there’s still a multi week wait to get a part that they know must break as it’s about the only part on the keyboard that moves (apparently there’s a new design now as well) so it’s not like this is a surprise to them or anything. Hell I can order stuff from China on e-Bay and get it faster than this. Overall, another fail for Roland!

 

Strap Locks

June 6, 2012

No, this is not some sort of new kinky perversion!

I finally got around to installing a set of Schaller strap locks onto my Lucina ‘keytar’. I had to take a file to the part that fits into the plastic housing on the Lucina because it was ever so slightly too big, but once that was done they bolted up just fine in place of the original strap buttons. And speaking of ‘bolting’, the strap buttons on the Lucina are bolted to the plastic body and there’s a nut on the inside on each bolt and of course that nut is NOT captive. What that means to you is that you have to take your Lucina apart to put the new buttons on, which you have to do because the strap locks won’t fit onto the existing buttons which are of course too big.  There’s a post elsewhere on this blog about pulling your Lucina apart so I won’t repeat it here, just hit the ‘Lucina’ tag over there in the tag list!

Fixed…

October 1, 2010

UPS delivered the part I need for the synth this afternoon so thirty minutes with a screwdriver and the synth is as good as new.

Thanks to Roland for stepping up and helping me to resolve this.

Part is on its way from Roland…

September 29, 2010

Due here Friday (night if I know the UPS guys around here!) so with luck I should be good to go soon after that which is great because we have a gig on Saturday.

Wonder if I can learn Black Magic Woman by then, got it with the music in front of me and it sounds pretty sweet on the Lucina now that I’ve got a handle on using the pitch bend properly.

Roland comes through…

September 27, 2010

Received an email today from their customer support manager letting me know that they had pulled the part from another unit and are shipping it to me.

I certainly appreciate them making the effort for me and I have to say thank you for their efforts. Hopefully the part will arrive quickly and I can get my Lucina back up to spec. I shall however take special care from now on NOT to drop the dang thing!

Roland (lack of) Customer Support :(

September 24, 2010

So I contacted Roland customer support to see what my options are regarding getting the Lucina fixed.

It was NOT a good experience although I cannot really blame the guy on the other end of the phone.

Basically they won’t cover it under warranty even though it’s in the 90 day limit and in my opinion the problem was caused by a manufacturing (design) defect as it occurred after the strap came off, something that should not have happened in my opinion. Seems I could ‘argue’ my case but I want this thing fixed this year so I did not bother as that was going to take to long. I’ll argue that later.

So that leaves take it to a repair center (and pay for the repair) or ship it to them (pay for repair and shipping!) or order the part and fix it myself. So I figured get the part and fix it myself. Part is $4.60 BUT they don’t have it. It’ll be 4-6 weeks. That’s just bloody pathetic! I don’t care who you are you should have some spares available when you start to sell a new product.

So anyway I ordered the part. The total cost was $10.60 because they have the bloody cheek to charge me $6 for shipping as well.

I used to like Roland, not so much lately!

Lucina – Yup it’s broken…

September 24, 2010

So I took it apart again this morning, hoping that it would be an easy fix but sadly it is not.

When I looked closer, the two ‘posts’ that I thought the mod bar should screw into are actually part of the mod bar. The bar itself ‘should’ be attached to the posts via what is in effect a thin plastic hinge. That fall has  completely separated the bar from the mounting posts.

This is what it should look like with the bar attached to the mounting posts (I’ve just pushed it into position for this pic, it’s still really broken):

And this is what it looks like now:

While this sucks it is at least still under their 90 day warranty so as soon as they open up shop on the west coast I am on the phone so that I can find out how I can get this repaired. Bad part is that we’ve got gigs coming up soon that I will not be able to play at unless I take my regular keyboard and the whole point of the Lucina was NOT to have to lug all that gear around, plus it looks a lot cooler (to me at least!).

Not in a happy place right now…

Another Lucina Update…

September 23, 2010

OK, I think I have now figured out what is wrong with the modulation bar.  When I had it apart I noticed two screws in it. I thought they were acting as pivots for the bar as there were two corresponding round pieces on the circuit board beneath it. Anyway I was jamming tonight and the bar was annoying the crap out of me and it occurred to me that those two screws probably screwed into the two little pillars below the screws. I thought those pillars were part of the sensor or something but I think what I can see inside of them is the end of the broken of screws. When the Lucina hit the floor the shock must have broken both of those screws which is why the handle moves so much now.

So I’ll have to take it apart, remove the screws from the handle, drill out the end from the pillar thing that they screws go into and see if I can find replacement screws to fit. The screws looked like plastic so I should be able to drill through them then use a fine pick to dig the threaded pars out, or I might see if I’ve got a small EZout in the garage that I can use.

I think that once I replace those two screws it will be OK.

Lucina – Update

September 23, 2010

Well that bar is still a bit ‘wobbly’ although at least the spring return works now. The whole thing just seems ‘loose’. I took it all apart again but could not see any real reason why it would be like that. Maybe it was always that way and I never noticed. I really need to try one at the shop to see if there is a difference.

Oh, and you cannot take this puppy apart too often. These screws in the back are self tappers into the plastic posts in the other clam-shell half. Once you’ve taken then out and put them back in a few times I can see that they would not grip any more. Then you’d need to use slightly larger screws.

So be careful when putting the screws back in, don’t over tighten them less you strip the plastic in the hole that they go into.

How to repair your Roland AX-09 Lucina Keytar…

September 22, 2010

The first question of course is why am I repairing an almost brand new instrument? Well, I was at a jam last week and I was getting ready to play so I picked it up by the strap like I always do. However this time the strap (the stock Roland one that came with it) came off one of the buttons allowing that end of the unit to fall. As it did so it of course, rotated the other button out of it’s strap slot allowing the whole unit to fall onto the floor.

Fortunately there did not seem to be any damage other than a very slight crack to one edge of the clam-shell case of the unit. At least it seemed to play ok and indeed has continued to do so since then.

I did notice however that the tremolo bar, that’s the one that you squeeze, not the touch bar,  just did not feel right after that. It still worked but it seemed ‘loose’ is the only way I can describe it. So finally I decided to heck with it, lets take it apart and have a look.

So the first task is to separate the two clam-shell halves. To do this you need to remove all the LARGER screws from the rear of the case. There are 14 around the edge and five along a recess in the center below the keyboard itself. You do NOT need to remove the smaller screws at all.

Once all the screws are out you can separate the two parts quite easily but be gentle, there are cable connecting the top and bottom parts together on the left side (where the grip is) and they are not very long. I quickly decided that I could not really even see inside there without fully separating the two halves so I disconnected the cables.

Three are connected with clips that go into sockets on the circuit boards fastened to the top part of the clam-shell whilst one is a ribbon cable that simply slides into a connector. To disconnect the clipped cables just pull gently on the top or sides of the clip. Do NOT pull on the wires that go into the clip, use a finger nail or small screwdriver if you cannot grip the clip to help remove them. They are not too tight. For the ribbon cable, securely grip the cable near the bottom which is reinforced and just pull it out of the socket on the circuit board. With the cabled disconnected you can separate the two halves of the clam-shell.

The touch pad and vibrato bar are mounted on a sub unit circuit board fastened to the top part of the clam-shell. The board is fastened to the clam-shell by four screws, one in each corner (yellow circles in the picture below). There are two other screws (red circles) that fasten the touch pad to the circuit board. I also removed these although I now know that I didn’t have too.

There’s also a plug (black circle) that connects to the circuit board that I disconnected. With all that done I could remove the sub assembly.

Once I had the sub assembly out it became clear what was wrong with the the tremolo bar. In the center of the sub assembly in the picture above there is a small spring that is circled (light yellow). This is the return spring for the vibrato bar. It hooks onto a couple of small clips, one end onto that metal piece above the assembly and one end onto a small plastic projection on the vibrato bar.  The fall onto the floor must have dislodged the spring so the bar did not return at all when released and just rattled loosely instead. Two sec0nds to reattach the spring and all was well.

Put it all back together and it’s as good as ever and the vibrato bar does feel a lot better too now.

As for the straps, I got a couple of Dunlop Ergo Guitar locks. A cheap and quick fix to the strap problem.

By the way, if you want to replace the strap buttons with some sort of ‘real’ locking guitar strap system then be aware that the strap buttons are BOLTED to the metal frame inside the lower clam-shell case half. This means that to change them you will still need to separate the clam-shell halves and the cables as you cannot really work with the cables still connected, they are just not long enough to get enough separation of the case halves.

The new synth went down great…

August 5, 2010

Took the Lucina to the weekly blues jam, went down great. It’s great to get out from that corner too and actually be a part of the band instead of hiding away. No way you can be shy with that thing.

One thing I found though, and this has happened a couple of times now is that sometimes the material of my trousers will catch the on off switch and turn the thing off. It usually only happens once when I first put it around my shoulders but you’d think, given where the switch is that it should not happen, but it does. Just something I have to learn to live with I guess.

Otherwise it was great fun tonight. I just need to learn how to play now and we’ll be rockin’….

One two three, one two three, one two three…

Roland Lucina AX-09 Review

August 3, 2010

roland-lucina-ax-09

This is my new toy so I thought I’d write a review about it.

First up, it is NOT an Ax Synth. As much as I’d love an Roland Ax Synth I cannot really justify spending twelve hundred or so bucks on what is basically something to ‘mess around with’ at the jam session I go to. Well, not right now anyway, maybe sometime in the future.

However with a list price of $599 this is the next best thing. In fact I got it a deal on it (brand new) and only paid $539 for it before all the ‘extras’ of course. The extras were a new amp cable and a three year warranty and tax of course. In the end I paid $650 and walked out the shop a happy camper!

The only down side is that I promised the wife that I’d sell some of my old equipment to help pay for it, which is not that bad really as I don’t use it anyway.

The old AX series of keytars like the AX-1, AX-7 etc were simply fancy midi controllers so you still needed some sort of synth engine to actually hear anything.

The Lucina (like the Ax Synth) has its own built in synth engine so it becomes a self contained performance instrument.

First Impressions

This thing is cool, AND great fun. It almost makes me believe that I can actually play!

Shoulder Strap

Since I am a tall guy, the supplied shoulder strap is a little short for me but I can work with it for now. I suspect that I shall be getting something a little longer soon though. Since I’ve only ever played a normal keyboard or piano, playing a keyboard in the guitar position takes a little getting used to but I seem to have adapted pretty quickly to it.

Batteries & Power Supply

This thing EATS regular alkali batteries. It takes 8. The manual says they will last about 4 hours and that seems to be about right but 4 hours passes pretty quickly when you are playing this thing. I went and got some rechargeable ones the next day.

You can run it from the provided power supply but then you are tied to a mains outlet and now have at least two cables running from the synth, one for the power and at least one for the amp(can use two if you want stereo). That’s OK for home use but not on a stage or even in a jam session when you want to move around (which is why I got this baby, I got fed up of being stuck in a corner).

Keyboard

After playing a regular piano and keyboard I was worried that the three octave keyboard would be too small but in fact, it is fine. You only really play this baby with the right hand anyway and there are octave up and down keys to move the effective range of the keyboard up and down an octave at a time. These buttons are pretty easy to reach as well with either hand so it’s easy to change the keyboard range on the fly.

The keys themselves are pretty standard synth style sprung keys with little weight behind them so at least it’s not tiring to play. Personally I quite like the feel, such as it is.

Sounds

Well, this is why you buy these things isn’t it. Overall I think the selection of sounds is ‘adequate’. That’s a polite way of saying they are not earth shattering.

There are six banks of 24 sounds. Each bank is selected by one of the big buttons below the keyboard numbered 1 to 6 and then you have to scroll up and down the 24 choices to find the voice you want within that bank.

The buttons light up with this cool blue light when they are selected.

The current voice within the bank is shown on a dinky 3 digit seven segment led display. Think 1980’s alarm clock! Basic but it works.

So far I’ve found a few sounds that I like enough to use with songs. You can save up to 12 favorite settings (bank/voice combinations) in two banks of 6 (named A and B). Select the A or B bank and then the selection by pressing one of the 6 bank buttons to recall the setting. I’ve not messed with this yet but I suspect it will make changing settings during a performance pretty easy.

There are also 6 ‘special sounds’. The one I really like is called ‘Jazz Scat’. Sounds a lot like a voice going ‘ooooo’ but with a slight edge to it.

Although the keyboard itself is polyphonic, many of the sounds are mono so no chords which I think sorta sucks. Why not make them all poly and let me just play single notes if I want mono. I am guessing it’s down to limitations of the synth engine but I don’t really know for sure.

As I said earlier, this is NOT an Ax Synth. Although there is a USB connection so you can hook it up to a computer I did not see any mention of software in the manual (I could have missed it though, I have only skimmed the manual so far) but from what I’ve read elsewhere, I think sound editing is very limited. I shall update this when I know more.

Left Hand

The left hand controls consist of a modulation bar and a touch controller for bending notes. I ‘think’ you can change the effects that both of these have. Again, I need to read the manual again to confirm this.

I’ve got fairly chunky hands but I don’t have a problem using the modulation bar and touch controller controls in spite of the fact that you have to put your hand though the hole in the left side to grip the unit.

The are six buttons, a volume knob and a D beam sensor on the left side. To be honest I think the placement of these is pretty poor. You pretty much have to reach over the top of the unit and bend you head over the unit to see what you are doing and use any of them.

I don’t know why they didn’t at least put the D beam sensor on the back where you could use your thumb to control it. I think the Ax Synth is like that.

USB Slot

This has to be my all time favorite feature. Plug a USB drive in here with some mp3 (I think WAV are OK as well) files on it and you can play them though the unit and play along to them.

As you select each file, using one of the buttons on the front panel (which means reaching over the top of the unit and craning your neck to see shat you are doing) and the inc/dec buttons below the keyboard, the unit displays the first three characters of the file name on the dinky little 3 character 7 segment display.

If you’ve ever seen letters displayed on a 7 segment display you will quickly understand that this is pretty much useless. I have found it much easier to simply make the first three characters of each file name a number, 001,002 etc and have a list of what song corresponds to each file number. Plus, by numbering them I can easily renumber them to change the order they show up in as a scroll through them on the display.

User Interface

As already mentions the user interface consists of a load of big rubber buttons that light up this cool blue color when selected and the dinky 3 digit, 7 segment display.

I guess that in order to keep costs down and minimize the number of buttons, many of the actions require that you press several of these buttons in turn to achieve whatever it is you are doing.

Fortunately selecting sounds is pretty simply but for pretty much anything else keep the user manual handy until you’ve used it for a while and learn all the combinations. Or if you’re like me, just accept you’ll never learn it all and just keep the book around.

 

Conclusion

I’m not a professional musician, just some middle aged guy that like to make a noise once in while and have a bit of fun. I don’t regret buying this one bit, it’s the most fun I’ve had with my cloths on for a while (middle age sucks).

If you want to go the whole hog, save up and get the Ax Synth but for plain and simple fun I don’t think you can beat this thing.

I’ll let you know how it goes after my first jam with it later this week.