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HOWTO: Installing a USB floppy emulator in a Korg Trinity

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HOWTO: Installing a USB floppy emulator in a Korg Trinity

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:18 pm

After many years the invitable happened and the floppy drive on my Trinity died. I could probably have replaced it but given the floppies themselves are old as well I decided to go the USB emulator route.

Although emulators are available, finding the right one and getting it to work is/was a nightmare so here's the rundown for anyone with a Trinity wanting to do the same.

There may be (and almost certainly are) alternatives to the information below but this is the route I took.

The emulator I installed in the Trinity is a Gotek SFR1 M44-U100K. I've seen these re-branded, and the spacing in the model number varies from place to place but they should all work.

This emulator does not support the Disk Ready signal that a lot of floppy drives used to indicate disk changes. There is another model in the range that does, which is the SFR1 M44-U100K-R (note the "R" at the end) but the Trinity does not work with that emulator if the Drive Ready signal is enabled. It does work if the Disk Ready signal is disabled however, so it's a perfectly valid alternative emulator to use.

When using either of these emulators, it is best to download and install the Ketron Virtual Floppy Explorer utilities. These can be found here at the time of writing (scroll down and look for the download labelled "Scarica il software di gestione per Windows7". The software itself is in English) and consists of a utility to format a USB stick to work with the emulator as well as a utility to transfer files to and from the virtual floppies on the stick.

The version you want is the Windows 7 software (the XP version is a formatter only) and the downloaded file is called FdUsbW7_ketron.exe. It works fine on Windows 10.

The SFR1 M44-U100K supports up to 1000 virtual floppies (numbered 0-999) on a single USB stick, and the SFR1 M44-U100K-R supports up to 100 (numbered 0-99). My advice is to stick to 100 regardless of the emulator model. Also, use a small USB stick - I found 4Gb ones to work well.

Once partitioned and formatted by the Ketron utility, the USB stick should only be written to by the Ketron Virtual Floppy File Explorer and the Korg Trinity itself. Do not use Windows file explorer to drag files onto the stick as this may corrupt it to the point that it cannot even be reformatted.

Regardless of which of the above emulators you are using, you will need to change the jumpers on it before installation such that Drive 1 is selected (the default is Drive 0). To do this, set the jumpers as shown in the picture below:

TrinityTwo.JPG


The above picture shows the SFR1 M44-U100K connected to the Trinity - note that the stripe on the IDE cable is at the end nearest the power connector.

The above jumper settings will disable the Drive Ready signals from the SFR1 M44-U100K-R, but as I said before, the Korg Trinity doesn't work with them anyway and if they are enabled then it won't see the disks on the USB stick.

Once everything is back together again, you can select a virtual floppy number using the two buttons on the front of the emulator (the left does single digits, the right does 10s). There is no decrement button however... to select a lower numbered floppy you have to roll back to disk 00 by incrementing the values and start over.

Once DISK mode has been selected on the Trinity, all being well you should see the contents of whichever virtual floppy you have selected. However at that point you're stuck with that floppy for the duration of the session; the Trinity will not recognise disk changes...

... unless you have the HDR-TRI option installed on the Trinity. If you do, then you can change disk number without rebooting by going into the "Audio Utilities" tab in DISK mode and selecting "Select Mount Mode" from the drop-down menu in the top right of the screen:

trinityMenu.png
trinityMenu.png (21.81 KiB) Viewed 234 times


This will pop up a dialogue box allowing you to select between "HD Only" or "Removable Only" for the hard drive(s) supported by the HDR option. If you set this to "Removable Only" then the Korg will re-evaluate all the drives including the floppy, which makes it recognise the disk change.

It can all be a bit fiddly and daunting to set up, and most Trinity users don't have the HDR option so will have to live without the ability to change disks but hopefully the information above will save someone some headscratching and having a working emulator in the Korg really does breathe new life into it.

With the USB emulator up and running you can save/load as normal from the Trinity, and you can drag files off the USB stick in Windows (Windows Explorer will only see the first floppy) as well as access all the individual floppies via the Ketron software so at least you can back your data up easily.

If anyone knows of an emulator that the Trinity can use that natively supports recognising disk changes, then I'd love to know about it, although in my case the workaround using the HDR-TRI option does the trick as well.
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Re: HOWTO: Installing a USB floppy emulator in a Korg Trinity

Postby nickle15 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:39 pm

Wow, this is a fantastic tutorial - thanks so much!! I got a Trinity Pro X in December and have had almost no need for the floppy drive (yet) but have considered making the switch to an emulator in order to future proof myself. I really love this keyboard and plan to keep it forever. Thanks for giving your time and effort to create this guide!
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Re: HOWTO: Installing a USB floppy emulator in a Korg Trinity

Postby resistorman » Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:15 pm

Very interesting! I didn’t know such things existed...
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Re: HOWTO: Installing a USB floppy emulator in a Korg Trinity

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Aug 07, 2020 1:52 pm

nickle15 wrote:Wow, this is a fantastic tutorial - thanks so much!! I got a Trinity Pro X in December and have had almost no need for the floppy drive (yet) but have considered making the switch to an emulator in order to future proof myself. I really love this keyboard and plan to keep it forever. Thanks for giving your time and effort to create this guide!

I'm glad it was useful to someone! It's one of those things where getting things set up correctly is a pain until you have the right info, but usually the right info isn't available until after you've done it.

Having all my old floppies safely stored on the PC and USB stick, and being able to access them from the Trinity is definitely a feel-good thing.

I'm going to have a go at installing an emulator in one of my Yamaha SY85s this weekend, although that's a different emulator as it had a single sided 720kB drive as opposed to the more common 1.44Mb format.

resistorman wrote:Very interesting! I didn’t know such things existed...

USB emulators as replacements for floppy drives have been around for a while, but documentation for them is usually abysmal or non-existent. As there were so many flavours of floppy drive not everything is compatible with everything else so they can be very tiresome to get up and running unless you're lucky.

If you have an old device which you like a lot it's definitely worth the effort though.
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Re: HOWTO: Installing a USB floppy emulator in a Korg Trinity

Postby mick.n » Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:23 pm

This is a project I promised to do on my Yamaha EX5 some time ago. Never got around to it, unfortunately.
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Re: HOWTO: Installing a USB floppy emulator in a Korg Trinity

Postby BillB » Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:34 am

Hi Eddy, nice tutorial. I did the same for both my Yamaha SY77 and Ensoniq SQ80, description of the latter here:

https://www.2btech.co.uk/keys-modules/a ... y-emulator

It is more about fitting of the drive and the peculiar issues related to the SQ80’s odd disk format. In both cases I opted to go with a seller on eBay, Chris Poacher, who has a good working knowledge of how to set up the drives, and who supplies drives with tiny OLED screens which allow you to read Bank names etc - if you are wearing your glasses! I seem to recall there was a particular jumper configuration needed on the SY77 to get it to recognise disk changes - I’ll have a look at my emails and see if I can find it, might be useful for your SY85.

A couple of thoughts. As well as the plain vanilla 3-digit display plus 2 buttons, some people have modified firmware/hardware to enable the OLED screen and also to incorporate an encoder knob, which I would imagine makes life easier than the tiny buttons.

It is worth searching Google/ Ebay to see what might be available pre-configured for your synth. I see OLED/encoder drives for Akai samplers, for example, at around £40. It would be well worth the extra £20 or so not to buy a cheap drive and have to configure it yourself.

One company that has done a lot of this is Nailbantov, but at £120-140, they charge quite a premium for their knowledge.

Good luck to everyone who treads this path, it can be quite fiddly, as you found, Eddy. One other thought is that if you want ready access to 100’s / 1000’s of patches in hardware (as opposed to MIDI sysex dump) consider some of the modern memory card recreations. I purchased one for my SQ80 which emulates 16 ram cards (16x80 patches = quite a lot) and another card for Yamaha synths which can be shared between SY77, V50 and TG33. These multi-card devices have a rotary switch to select the bank. They typically cost something over £100, but when you look at the cost of single-bank vintage cards, which are probably technically inferior, that’s not so bad.

The joys of hardware :bouncy: Wouldn’t have it any other way.
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