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Sync a Behringer TD-3 to a Pocket Operator

Last year I wrote up Syncing a Behringer RD-6 to a Pocket Operator via a Pi Pico which was more of a “wow, this works!” thing than a good explanation. I say that because a few people thought it was nice, but didn’t quite understand it, or wanted a diagram, so here’s a diagram…

The 1/8″ stereo jack on the left is where you plug in the Pocket Operator, and the 1/8″ stereo jack on the right goes to the device you want to sync up. (A Behringer RD-6 or TD-3 for example.) The ring/red is the audio side of things, the tip/orange is the click/sync signal put out by the PO, and sleeve/black is the common ground.

As previously mentioned, the Pocket Operators are awesome, and they can sync with each other, but can’t always sync with other devices. They put out a 1 volt signal for the sync track (the “click”) and most other electronic devices want something higher, like 2.5 volts, or 5 volts. The Behringer RD-6 wants over 2.5 volts, so you cannot sync it to a Pocket Operator, but now you can with this device!

This basically reads the 1 volt from the Pocket Operator, and then outputs 5 volts that the Behringer RD-6 can recognize as a sync in signal. While the RD-6 has a sync out port, there are reasons you may want to have the PO be the primary and the RD-6 be the secondary. There’s also the Behringer TD-3, which (oddly enough) does not have a sync out port.

A guy named Oscar got in touch and asked if this worked with the TD-3 and at the time I didn’t have one. Well, I have one now, and it works great. And since the TD-3 does not have a sync out port (!?!?) this is the only way (without additional hardware) to sync a TD-3 to a PO.

I built one (using a Nano, not an Uno) and I’m sending it to Oscar to test out. He’ll need to provide a USB power source and a splitter cable to get it working. (He’s got both already. Most Pocket Operator nerds probably do.)

I did make one mistake on this device… I actually incorporated labels into the enclosure. I for “In” and O for “Out” and when assembling it I didn’t notice I had it backwards until testing. Oops! So I just stuck some labels on the top, and now In is on the right and Out is on the left. If I make another, I’ll do it right next time. Oh, I also realized I could probably just build a splitter into it by adding another jack, so I may do that as well. (Though that will increase the size of the enclosure a bit.)

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Triple Trouble (à la Beastie Boys)

In case you didn’t know this, I’m a huge fan of The Beastie Boys and while listening to the song Triple Trouble from their album To the 5 Boroughs I heard this line:

I got kicks on the one, seven and eleven, snares on the five and thirteen

So I programmed it into the Behringer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine and… it sounded pretty good! Of course the RD-6 is based on the Roland TR-606 which isn’t quite the machine that the Roland TR-808 was. I mean, the 808 is famous for many reasons. (By the way, the “TR” stands for “Transistor Rhythm”.)

Hey, I’ve been in bands and heard a lot of music, and yeah, it’s pretty recognizable rhythm. After I posted the video a friend of mine said “Now do it on the Pocket Operator” so I did that, but I incorporated three Pocket Operators, which seemed appropriate. Here it is.

Want more drum patterns? Check out 808.pixll.de

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Battery Powered Behringer RD-6 Drum Machine

I’ve got a Behringer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine and it’s battery powered! I’ve seen a number of video reviews of this machine and the reviewer always seems to say “It’s not battery powered, so you can’t easily take it with you…” But I’m here to tell you that you can take it with you (just like Steve Albini did with his Roland TR-606) and below I’ll show you how.

Here’s what you need! A Behringer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine. Any color will do. Mine is red.

A battery pack that will hold 6 AA batteries. Each battery is 1.5 volts, so 6 of them is 9 volts. (And no, a standard 9 volt battery won’t work due to the low amperage it can put out.) I had some lying around that were like this but some have connectors on them like these. As long as they have bare wires at the end, you’re good. If they do have a connector on the end you may need to chop it off. (More on that later.)

You’ll need a 2.1mm Barrel Power Jack. I usually buy a pack of them. You only need one, so find one, or buy one, or buy a bunch and have spares. (You won’t need the matching receptacle plugs. At least not for this project.)

Important! All of the barrel jacks I’ve purchased have positive in the center and negative on the outside of the barrel/sleeve. In the world of musical things (well, guitar pedals at least) negative is on the center/tip, and positive is on the outside of the barrel/sleeve.

Here’s the back of the RD-6. You can see the symbol showing negative in the center/tip. Note that it also shows 300 milliamps. A 9 volt battery is 500 milliamps, so it will work for a while, but not long. The power supply Behringer gives you is 670 milliamps, but it’s not a battery, it plugs into a wall socket.

Right so we need to… reverse the polarity! Luckily it’s as simple as switching the wires around. Normally red is positive and black is negative, but we’re switching those. Make red negative and black positive.

Here’s mine. Now, it’s worth noting that I checked all of this with a multimeter. I’d advise you to do the same. Double check your work. If you don’t know what you’re doing, ask someone for help. This probably voids your warranty, and I cannot be held responsible for what you do. On with the show!

Oh, you’ll also need batteries! Any AA batteries will do, but rechargeable are preferred, at least by me. I’m a fan of the Eneloop rechargeable batteries. I’ve got some I bought ten years ago that still work. Grab a charger and 4 batteries and, um… 4 more because you need a total of 6 batteries.

Okay, stick it all together and you get a battery powered drum machine. Boom. Tsk. Boom. Tsk. I haven’t testing how long a set of batteries will last, but I’ll add that to the list of things to do.

Now, it’s not as nice as internal batteries that are built into the case, and if I actually use this on a regular basis I might think about adding in some hook & loop to attach the battery pack to the side. It might be better to use two 3 AA battery packs wires together, since those would have a flat back that could be attached to the RD-6.

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

Hello! Check out the post Sync a Behringer TD-3 to a Pocket Operator for additional info, including a diagram.

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!

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RPM Challenge: Done

Frenetic Stereoear

It’s done… Once again I’ve completed the RPM Challenge, to record an entire album in just 28 days.

There were a lot of ups and down this year, as usual, but by February 27th, I’d recorded 13 songs, mixed and mastered them and burned a CD.

Once again I feel that the songs may not be that good, but being forced to play, record, use Logic, and actually make something really helped me to learn new things, and have some fun in the process. For me the frustration isn’t in getting it done, but doing it well. Out of the 13 songs, there’s bit and pieces I like, and maybe one or two songs I think are strong, but overall, I’m really starting to feel that trying to make 10 good songs (or 35 minutes of good music) is tough… really tough… and I’m walking away this year not convinced I’ll do it again. Of course I probably think that every March.

New this year is a Fender Stratocaster I picked up used from the one of the guys in ZyFy. Having a good guitar really helped out. My bass is still the old Ibanez I’ve had for about 20 years. I’d love to have a Fender bass someday, but for now, the Ibanez is fine. I’m also running the guitars into a Behringer Xenyx 802, and from there into the Firewire FCA202. This seems to work well, and I now use the 802 for output from my Mac as well, running into an old pair of Bose speakers I’ve not found any other use for. So if nothing else, I’ve now got a kick-ass audio system in my office.

So anyway, the album is called “Frenetic Stereoear” and rather than just post all the songs here, I’m thinking of publishing them one at a time, with some commentary of each one. That should be fun…

Oh, I should also explain how I make these songs. It’s all improvised, and I don’t learn the songs at all, I build them as I go. I will typically find some drum tracks I like (or build them out of individual instruments) and then hit record in Logic and play along to the drums with either the bass or guitar until I find a riff (or bassline) I like. Once I’ve got something in place, I may do a few additional tracks, and maybe drop in some background sounds, then do a basic level mix and move on. I honestly kick these things out in about an hour, give or take a little. Most of these songs have just one or two parts, no distinct changes in percussion, and no vocals. This is part of the problem… I’d like to get beyond these simple songs. I felt I did a bit with Navasio in 2009 since I only did 5 songs, but I’d like to be able to spend more time on less songs and make them better. Maybe I’ll just record 4 or 5 songs next year and not actually do the “RPM” part of the challenge.