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ChromaTalk Archives: September 2005

Photo Gallery

Chris Ryan [21030691]

I've added a photo gallery to the site, which collects some of the best pictures of the Chroma (and accessories) I've gathered over the years.

Thanks to Vincent Russo [21030433] for the idea.

Tom Klepacki [21030025]

Very nice. Thank you. I'll try to contribute.....

Jesper Ödemark [21010135]

Regarding those who have had a new wood case for the chroma done... Is it just me who would've considered "slicing" down the side panels by the keys a bit?

Think Yamaha CS-series end cheeks and you get the general idea. I think the playing area of the Chroma is slightly "closed" and a true dust collector...

Nice pics!

Ron Joseph [21030042+]


It didn't even occur to me to modify the shape of the casing, although I probably wouldn't have done it anyway.The wood needed to be redone and the people at Cantos and I discussed options from a basic refinishing and patch job on the existing case to the "lets create a one of a kind "case option that I finally went with.We talked out several ideas but in the end I told them to be "creative"and surprise me.I trusted them and they outperformed my expectations.But more importantly,my Chroma was operational at last!

Re: Power Supply Swap

Go to first message in thread, May 2005

Olli [21010284]

hi sandro, hi dave

i am playing with the thought of doing your super upgrade to get midi on board my chroma. how would i have to proceed? has anybody made some PCBs?

thanks you very much in advance

Jesper Ödemark [21010135]

Yes, keep us posted - I'd like that too!

To all users: new CPU board

Sandro Sfregola [21010294]

For those people interested in the CEB upgrade or having troubles with their CPU boards (battery leakage):

David [21030085++] and me are developing a new complete CPU board (a direct drop-in replacement) with the following features:

  • 32 KB program ROM
  • 32 KB of non-volatile RAM (flash RAM, no battery needed)
  • the CEB MIDI interface (plus hardware THRU)
  • (optional) serial I/O for the addition of an alphanumeric display
  • (optional) additional I/O for future use
  • low part count / low power design (take a fraction of the power needed for the original one)
  • very easy to install

We hope that the new board will be finished and tested before the end of the year.

I'm thinking of the opportunity to offer to the non-DIY people the new CPU mounted and tested: we will see.

Best Regards

Jesper Ödemark [21010135]

Splendid news and a great job guys! Keep us posted!

Olli [21010284]

CEB upgrade (was: new CPU board)

hi sandro,
that sounds very intersting. in the meanwhile, i am considering seriously to make the CEB upgrade. has anybody made a PCB so far which i could purchase? thanks you in advance

Murray Macdonald [21030276+]

That would be great. I would likely buy two.

David Clarke [21030085++]

Re: CEB upgrade

hi sandro,
that sounds very intersting. in the meanwhile, i am considering seriously to make the CEB upgrade. has anybody made a PCB so far which i could purchase?

Olli - I'm not aware of anyone else making a PCB; however, as noted in Sandro's original CEB writeup, I did make a circuit board for myself (ref: "Q: Where can I find the CEB and the new firmware?").

As it happens, the board shop that I deal with has a minium order of 2 boards - so I do currently have an 'extra' board.

Alternatively, I can provide the gerber files for the board (and so you could use those to get a board made locally).

Feature-wise the CEB is complete - but given that the CPU replacement board will have a different structure (software-wise). I haven't discussed it with Sandro - but I'm guessing that it is likely going to be preferred that any future software updates/feature additions are made to the CPU replacement code base (as opposed to the CEB).

Jeffrey Koepper

HI I would also buy one,. sounds like a cool project. keep us posted

Olli [21010284]

Re: CEB upgrade

hi david, that sounds great. if you dont need the board... :-) are there any EPROMS to burn? i can solder all components together no problem and install the board but i have no possibility to make the eproms or is that an easy task?

Olli [21010284]

Re: CEB upgrade

david woud you actually advise against the CEB and recommend waiting for the CPU board? i guess its a question of money, too. i suppose that the CPU borad is going to be far more expensive than the 50 USD for the CEB, right?

Jimmy Moyer [21030184]

Another buyer! Thanks!

Vincent Russo [21030433]

same here

Tom Moravansky [21030431]

Good news. I'd be up for either a pre-built one or DIY. Thanks

Tom Klepacki [21030025]

Most likely, I'll need a retro kit, with midi, as well. (Once I open her up!) Will this kit work with the first production run? Mine is #25. My power supply is also shot, but I've read the articles on the 'switching' supplies.

David Clarke [21030085++]

... Will this kit work with the first production run? Mine is #25. ...

The intent will be to have a board that will act as a drop-in replacement (i.e., disconnect ribbon connectors from the old one, put in new one using the same mounting holes, etc. - and away you go).

Insofar as I know all boards (including the early ones) had the same CPU board and software, so the replacement should work equally well for all Chromas and Expanders.

Vincent Russo [21030433]

Will the board still let the Chroma still be compatible with the KMX MIDI box?

Tom Klepacki [21030025]

Insofar as I know all boards (including the early ones) had the same CPU board and software, so the replacement should work equally well for all Chromas and Expanders.

Very good. Keep my e-address.... Advise as to the progress....

Werner Schöenenberger [21010114]

This sound crazy. I am definitely interessted too in an upgrade.

David Clarke [21030085++]

... Will the board still let the Chroma still be compatible with the KMX MIDI box ?


The CEB and the proposed replacement CPU board keep the Chroma port intact and implements its own MIDI interface natively. The user-interface (to set parameters for the MIDI interface, etc.) was implemented in a non-conflicting way with the KMX interface.

Jerry Leonard [21030100++]

I'll be interested in 4 of them when the time comes. Thanks for all your efforts.

Sandro Traversi [21010217]

Great project. I'm interested too.

polaris c-key

Claes von Heijne[16330008]

Anybody who has a Polaris C-key for sale, or knows what other keyboard uses the same type keys. i have a note from a friend thats says the Kawai K1 used the same mechanism, anybody who has more knowledge?

Chroma Featured US Keyboard Mag Oct 05

Vincent Russo [21030433]

Mark Vail features the Chroma in his Vintage Synth column in the Oct. 05' issue.

Chris Ryan [21030691]

Didn't know it was out yet. How did the picture turn out in print?

Vincent Russo [21030433]

It's pretty nice. The article is rather short though. He plugged your photo and the site.

Tom Klepacki [21030025]

I got my copy of Keyboard and read it. Photo is nice. Article is nice, but short. I liked the part about the first 50 Chromas being special, because they were hand-built by the design team. (Mine is #25) (They didn't mention the wood keys...?)

What they didn't say, was that the first 50 were chock full of bugs, and needed many trips back to factory-authorized service centers for free fixes. (Ya gotta love 'em!) I even drove my Chroma one time from Long Island to Woburn in the trunk of a '66 Ford Galaxy for servicing. (NOTHING else would fit in the trunk of the car!)

At that time, at the factory, they had an Apple hooked up to a Chroma and an Expander. They played me a 'Sousa'-type march, in glorious stereo. Didn't anybody else hear that 'rig', and the music? Or was this just a psychedelic 'flashback' moment, for me...?

How about a voluntary current owner's registry, at the web site? I would join. I know that CBS/ Rhodes had, in 1983, a file card box with the mailed-in warrantee registration cards. I saw it. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing Michael McDonald's card in there, too....

Lastly, anybody know where keyboard tech Mike Pinto is? He had worked on my Chroma at the former Thoroughbred Music, in Tampa FL, USA. Mike had gone to Woburn, took training, and had become a certified Chroma tech. He was good. If we could find him, he might be able to work on these wonderful beasts...

Chris Ryan [21030691]

How about a voluntary current owner's registry, at the web site? I would join.

You already have. :)

Tom Klepacki [21030025]

No, I meant, with owners e-addresses, and phone numbers, etc. Voluntarily. So we could talk to each other....

Like Kevin Kelley [21030491+], from neighboring St. Petersburg, who emailed me. I offerred to dupe original patch dumps, manuals, etc. Kevin and I will probably collaborate on restoring our Chromas.

Kevin also knows Mike Pinto/ Chroma certified tech.

Chris Ryan [21030691]

No, I meant, with owners e-addresses, and phone numbers, etc. Voluntarily. So we could talk to each other....

I eliminated e-mail addresses from the registry in the last major revision (last January), to prevent spambots from picking up addresses. However, if anyone wants personal information included with their entries, just let me know. I can entity-encode e-mail addresses, like I have done for article credits etc., which seems to have fooled the spambots so far.

Another possibility is adding a "secret" PHP parameter in registry URLs that only mailing list members know, that would display contact information. I could ensure the robots (even legitimate ones like Googlebot) don't have access.

Tom Klepacki [21030025]

Thank you for taking the time to educate a dummy! (LOL)

David Clarke [21030085++]

Chris - it'd be interesting to get a web site statistics dump in a month or so to see how/if the Keyboard article affected site traffic.

Chris Ryan [21030691]

Yes, I will be watching this. However, most Keyboard readers will probably be entering the URL manually; perhaps a few will click a link on if the article appears there. When a URL is typed in to get to a site, there is no referring site string in the server log files. So I won't be able to differentiate those who got the URL from the magazine and those who typed it in from any other source, or used a browser bookmark. We'll see if the number of visits increases significantly. But it does vary from month to month anyway. For instance, September has been slower than August, I would guess because people are busy at this time of year, but I'm not sure.

Another problem is that it's not clear for what period of time the article might have an impact. Subscribers have begun to receive the October issue of Keyboard, but I'm not sure when it will be appearing on news stands, and whether this will be more or less simultaneous across North America (or beyond, if it's available). And then it's difficult to know when people will read the article. Many will immediately; but some might read it in November, for instance.

Also, I have the feeling that Keyboard is not as popular as it once was; many of the long-time editorial staff were laid off a few years back, and Electronic Musician and Sound On Sound seem to be more widely available now.

When it was the "site of the month" in Electronic Musician magazine (February 2000 issue), I just had counters, no log files; but I don't remember seeing a significant spike in visits. Some, but not many; this surprised me. On the other hand, the mention was "hidden" on the letters page.

All that said, I will post a sum of the site visits for the few months surrounding the release of the magazine, later this fall.

Chroma on eBay

Chris Ryan [21030691]

Item 7352599608. No bids yet, "buy now" price of US$3333.33 (!). Description hasn't been posted yet.

This is Jason Creek's Chroma, 21030668 (he is the former owner of 21030526; see also Photo Gallery: eBay 921407914 for a shot of an Expander Jason had for sale in 2002).

Tom Klepacki [21030025]

Thanks... I've booked-marked that auction.... And will watch. Gawd, I hope he gets his money!!!! That would benefit us all....

Jesper Ödemark [21010135]

Nice one - beautiful condition, late serial and all those accessories...

Wanted: Chroma Expander

Vincent Russo [21030433]

Looking for a Chroma Expander relatively good condition, fair price, good home.

Ben Vehorn [21030757]

Not sure what you consider a fair price to be, but the last time I looked Big City Music had one for sale on their website. Though I think much of their vintage stuff is overpriced, Roger (the owner) is excellent to deal with and his customer service is top notch.

Vincent Russo [21030433]

yah, $1600 is a bit much for us : )

Chris Ryan [21030691]

I think you'll be hard pressed to find an Expander for much less, unless it's trashed. They're very rare and very desirable. And I don't have one yet. :)

New to list, looking for Chroma Case

Mike Jaynes [21030638+]

Hi all;

I am new to the chroma list and would like your help to find a flight case for a Chroma. I have found a Chroma, but need a way to ship it. Thought someone might have a case with bad foam that they just don't need anymore. Or maybe I can pay some one to use their case. I can pay to have a custom one made or even build a crate myself, but I thought I would check with you guys first. I am in the calif foothills, but will pay to ship from wherever.

Thanks for keeping the analog flame alive, I lost interest in synthesis when the digital wave broke over the land, but now I'm back.

Jesper Ödemark [21010135]

I'm too far away for you, but I can help by saying that my Chroma made it well here in a bad-rott-foam-case since it was housed in a black plastic bag inside the case. So don't hesitate to help Mike even if your case is "suffering".

Good luck Mike - the Chroma is worth some extra trouble!

Mike Jaynes [21030638+]

Hi again;

I have ordered a custom case for the Chroma so I won't be needing an old flight case. I figured it would be worth having for the new (to me) keyboard. Thanks to all for your support.

Vincent Russo [21030433]

Hi Mike, please share who your getting the case from and how much for the rest of us to know.

Mike Jaynes [21030638+]

Hi; I bought the case from Hybrid Cases in Holbrook NY. I got the ebay price of $149. I do not know the ultimate quality of the case until I see it and it has been shipped across the US with a Chroma in it. This is a custom fit case with recessed hardware and foam lining. I suspect it will be OK for intermittent use, but is not as heavy duty as say the "Anvil" cases.

I will report again after I have seen how the product performs in use.

Vincent Russo [21030433]

Were having a flight case built for out PPG 2.3 which needs to be shipped from the tech back east and paid $295 plus ship.