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Syncing a Behringer RD-6 to a Pocket Operator via a Pi Pico

Is it the wrong way to do voltage conversion if it works?

The full title of this should be Syncing a Behringer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine to a Pocket Operator PO-14 Sub with a Raspberry Pi Pico Microcontroller. That’s a bit long, but it’s also descriptive. The RD-6 can be synced via MIDI, but the Pocket Operators do not do MIDI. The RD-6 does have an analog sync in which will trigger at over 2.5 volts, but the Pocket Operators output about 1 volt when they sync with each other.

I’d seen a few ideas and potential solutions online. One involved a DC boost converter, so I tried one but it didn’t work. Another involved using an overdrive guitar pedal, but I don’t have one…

What I do have are a bunch of Arduino boards of various types. I originally grabbed an Arduino Nano with the idea that I could capture the PO-14 output at 1 volt with an analog pin and then output a pulse on a digital pin as a trigger. The Arduino outputs at 5 volts though, and while I don’t mind making a voltage divider, I also had a Teensy LC on my desk, so I tested with that since it runs on 3 volts. And then, since my desk is fairly large, I grabbed a Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller which also runs on 3 volts. I used the same Arduino code on the Pico as the Teensy (thanks to the work of Earle F. Philhower, III).

This is literally all there is to the code. I added an LED which blinks when a pulse is read, and then I just connected the signal wire to the same pin as the LED (and the other to ground) and plugged those into the sync in of the RD-6.

I’m new to all this syncing of musical devices, and this may be the wrong way to do it, but it worked for me. I did try to set the RD-6 as the master device and sync the PO-14 to it, but it didn’t seem to work quite right. The voltage may be a bit too high causing erratic behavior on the Pocket Operator.

Since this works, I’ll probably stick with it unless someone tells me it’s a terrible idea or tells me a better way to do it that is cheap, easy, or involves things I already have.

Enjoy the demo video below!

1 reply on “Syncing a Behringer RD-6 to a Pocket Operator via a Pi Pico”

Hi , What a great idea. I’ve been struggling to get other gear to sync to my pocket operator. I’d love to make this but can’t work out from the photos what connections go where. Any chance you could you post some details of what pins to use on the Pico for each connection , if you get chance . Thanks. Stephen

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