Oberheim DMX MIDI Upgrade Installation

The Electrongate MIDI Upgrade Kit for the Oberheim DMX drum machine adds MIDI capability and 7000 note capacity to the DMX. The kit version can be installed by anyone posessing moderate experience in electronic assembly and soldering. If you don't feel up to the task, you can have the MIDI kit installed professionally by Electrongate for an additional fee.

But if you're ready to give it a try, these instructions will take you through the process, step by step.

Note: These instructions are for MIDI boards with serial numbers of 10-0165 and higher. For older versions, see this link.

Installation: Step By Step

  1. Turn off the power and disconnect the AC power cable from the DMX.
  2. Remove the two screws on the front of the DMX and open the cover.
  3. Remove four screws from the DMX main board as shown below and set them aside. These will be reused later.
  4. Install the four standoffs provided in place of the screws that were just removed.
    (If your DMX is already equipped with a memory expansion board, remove it. The MIDI upgrade board will take its place, with no loss in sequence capacity).
  5. Remove IC 12 (Z-80 CPU) from the DMX main board and set it aside. Your MIDI board comes with a new Z-80 CPU rated for the higher clock speed used by the MIDI interface.
    • Observe IC polarity -- line up notch in IC with notch in socket.
    • IC numbers are printed on the circuit board near each IC.
    • Use a small flat blade screwdriver to remove ICs by alternately levering each end up a little at a time. Keep the screwdriver between the IC and the socket; not under the socket.
    • Be careful not to bend the pins. If you do bend any pins, straighten them out before reinstalling the IC.

  6. Remove IC 20 (74C174 or 40174) from the DMX main board and install it in socket U3 on the MIDI board.
  7. Remove IC 23 (4013) from the DMX main board and install it in socket U4 on the MIDI board.
  8. Remove four RAM ICs and two EPROMs (IC 13, 14, 15, 16 17 and 18) from the DMX main board. Remove IC 2 (74LS42) and IC 3 (4071). These eight parts become surplus and may be discarded.

    Remove the old NiCd battery, which is located to the left of U10. Please recycle the battery properly. After all the indicated ICs and battery have been removed, the DMX main board should look like this:
  9. Locate transistor Q1 (left of IC 12) and using diagonal cutters, snip three leads and discard the transistor.

  10. Here's the tricky part: Using a sharp X-acto knife, cut the indicated circuit board trace as shown below and scrape the solder mask from the circuit trace just behind the cut. (It may help to temporarily unplug ribbon cable G and pull it back to gain access to this area).

    Preparing to make the cut:

    The cut should look like this when finished. It's best to use two cuts about a millimeter apart to make a "V" shaped pass through the trace into the fiberglass board below. Remove the debris from the board.

    Use the edge of the knife to scrape the green coating (solder mask) covering the copper trace as shown. When the shiny tinned surface is visible through the entire width of the trace, you have scraped enough.

    It should look like this when the solder mask is removed:
  11. Tin the bare copper where the solder mask was removed, and solder wire F from the MIDI board to this point.
  12. Solder wire E to the right side of the resistor next to Q1, which was just removed. Make a small "hook" in the end of the wire, and hook it around the end of the resistor when soldering. Be careful that the wire does not touch any traces passing under the resistor.
  13. Plug the ribbon cables from the MIDI board into the DMX main board.
    Cableplugs into
    JB1IC socket 12
    JC1IC socket 23
    JD1IC socket 20
    Notice that JC1 and JD1 flip under the MIDI board in order to reach their sockets. Fold cable JD1 as shown.
  14. Using the screws removed in step 3, attach the MIDI board to the standoffs.
  15. Remove the right side wooden end panel by undoing two screws on the outside, and replace it with the new end panel which has two MIDI jacks installed. If you purchased a matching replacement panel for the left panel, repeat the process on the other side.
  16. If you want to make your own modifications to the end panel, follow these instructions. A plunge router with a 1/4 in diameter bit works well for the cutout if you make two or three passes, cutting a little bit deeper with each pass.
    Alternately, you can use a drill to make the cutout with a series of holes. A 3/4 inch Forstner bit works well for this. You will need to use a chisel to clear the bits between the drilled holes.
    Use the jack plate itself as a drilling guide for the mounting screws. Predrill the screw holes with a 7/64 inch drill bit (test on a piece of scrapwood to make sure this hole size will work with the #6 x 1/2 inch screws provided).
  17. Plug the cable from the MIDI IN jack into connector JPH1 on the MIDI board, and plug the MIDI OUT cable into connector JPG1.

  18. Optionally, you can connect the output jack to the MIDI Thru connector (JPT1) instead of the MIDI Out connector.
  19. Remove the old NiCd battery from the DMX (the large white cylinder just in front of the bass, snare and hi-hat voice cards). Cut the wires at each end, and take the old battery to a suitable battery recycling center (do not put it in the trash!).
    The new lithium battery on the MIDI board will keep your sequences in memory when the power is off and, unlike the old battery, does not require charging, and should last much longer.
    With the addition of the new lithium battery, the warning label on the outside of the case regarding battery charging no longer applies and may be removed. Removal of this label can be done by dampening a folded paper towel with denatured or isopropyl alcohol and placing it on the label for a few minutes. (Don't overdo it -- you don't want liquid running down the front panel). The paper label should become saturated and the adhesive softened enough to peel or scrape the label off with a fingernail.
  20. Double-check the installation and make sure all the ribbon cables are plugged in correctly. Then close the front cover, plug in the power cable and turn on the DMX while holding the ERASE button (this will initialize the new memory).


In case there is a problem with the installation, check for the following common problems.
SymptomPossible problems/solutions
No display
  1. Plug in power cable and turn on power switch.
  2. Make sure the front panel ribbon cables are plugged in properly.
  3. Make sure the MIDI board ribbon cables are plugged in correctly to the right sockets on the DMX main board.
  4. Check the orientation of all ICs that were moved from the DMX main board to the MIDI board. Check for bent pins.
  5. Make sure that the EPROMs were removed from the DMX main board.
DMX works intermittently
  1. Make sure that all the old RAM ICs were removed from the DMX main board.
  2. Make sure all cables are plugged in securely.
No DMX clock or no clock out
  1. Check installation of MIDI board wires E and F.
MIDI not working
  1. Check for swapped MIDI input/output cables.
  2. Check MIDI settings under EDIT parameters.

For further assistance, contact Electrongate by email.