Poetic Resolution

Day 8! Trying something different for a change of pace.

First, the image comes courtesy of my dogs chewing up my daughter’s homework. She had left it someplace where they could get at it, and while I was out at the recycling center they decided to have a snack apparently. It looks like she was making a song for her class as part of an assignment, but she wouldn’t tell me what it was for.

For why this track is different, well I spent some time digging into Korg Gadget to make a song. It is not my first, but I usually use Gadget as a sound source for the MPC, and this time I decided I would work with it as the main sequencer. I’m actually pretty happy with the results. It is very similar to the Ableton Live arranger style of work, and I can see how you can get something together pretty quickly.

Once I had the tracks and sequences together, I hooked my iPad up to the SP 303 for Vinyl effects, and then recorded the audio into the MPC Live. So technically I used the MPC Live here, but… also not really.

Simple Yet Effective

A simple track for a simple day.

This track is just some loops I selected and put together. Nothing crazy, but I was looking to make something with some different sounds than I usually put together and see what I could come up with.

I’m on the fence about that noise loop chopped up, it adds some interesting ambience to the track, but I think I could have done something different with it.

The track came together as another exercising of just leveraging track mutes with timing correct on. Still need to work on this more, and honestly this is where I also think I’m hitting the limit of the MPC workflow for putting songs together. I might want to go back to using song mode to string sequences together again… we’ll see.

Rockin Mystic

Another track for day six, and way happier with how this came out!

Who said you can only do one track a day max? I had about 30 minutes free and ripped this one. I dig how it came out compared to the other track. I think most of what I like about it is that it’s simpler, and while it is pretty in your face, it doesn’t have quite so much going on.

Lets Grab Lunch

Day 6, and put this together.

This is another Boss SP 303 sampled song, I spent a *lot* of time sampling into the SP 303, and then resampled back into the MPC. There are some things that I like here, but boy was it a lot of work, and honestly, I’m not sure the result was entirely worth it.

I like some of the sounds and how they came out, but I feel like this is not really that great. The Vox probably could use more work to make it different or change over time, and this is where I feel like I’m hitting a bit of a wall with producing exclusively on the MPC right now. Just a bit too much work to pull the audio apart and do something different with it.

I am going to have to think about what I want to do for next steps soon, and which direction to move to for music production.

Big Hammer

Day five of #jampril2021 and still going. Made another drum kit and posted it up on the discord server.

This track was still hitting it into the Boss SP 303 and just recording off more samples for the FX. Definitely getting faster at sampling into the 303 and then resampling back.

Tried track mutes with timing corrects which worked out alright… then doubled up the track and layered in a new track with some additional sounds/enhancements to spice things up. The mix is a bit off, but happy enough with how the track came out.

Running “The Binding of Isaac: Repentance” natively on Intel based Apple Hardware

Alright folks… normally I don’t get into video games on this site, but since Repentance is not going to be supported on Intel based Apple hardware… well I figured I’d write up a tutorial to get you going.

For this “how to”, you’ll need to get Crossover for your Mac. Personally, I bought the $59.95 for one year support. Heck, I used to use this product to play games ten or so years ago, so I’m a bit familiar with it still. I had lapsed from using it because I had been using Bootcamp so much, but I have subsequently stopped upgrading my Parallels VM, and honestly, games run pretty poorly through Virtual Machines, and I didn’t want to be booting into bootcamp to play games.

So… I crossed my fingers, and so far have had plenty of success! Also, I think you can get a 14 day trial license, so you don’t necessarily have to pay money out of the gate. For those of you with M1 processors, I don’t think this will work due to how WINE works, so if you wanted to give it a try I suppose you can, but I’d be shocked if you didn’t need some form of QEMU or other processor emulation as well to get anything to work.

If you’re going to follow along, you’re going to need to either use a trial license or purchase a license one way or another for Crossover. Codeweavers makes this supported product, and you can pick it up at https://www.codeweavers.com. Once you’ve purchased your license, you’ll be able to download the software. Personally, the lifetime license seems a bit excessive at nearly $500, especially for Mac users who I figure are not going to have much need for this product once they move over to the M1 and beyond based products. Buyer beware? For me, while I use Linux a lot, it hasn’t really been a primary gaming system for me.

Installing CrossOver

Once you’ve got the file downloaded, go ahead and install it. Personally, I just unpacked the file and copied the application to my Applications folder. Once copied, I opened it up and then added the license through the prompt by logging into my CodeWeavers account. Again, if you’re just going to check out the trial, then feel free to put it into trial mode. Unfortunately I didn’t capture any screenshots for these steps, but it should be pretty self explanatory.

Install Windows Application

The main trick of CrossOver is simulating a Windows environment so that your programs can make API calls out and have CrossOver handle them. So to get CrossOver to do it’s magic we’re going to tell it to install a Windows application along with all the components necessary to actually run it.

Go ahead and click “Install a Windows Application” to get started. You’ll then be brought to the screen below to select an application. I just typed in Steam and then selected the dropdown “Steam” from the list.

This should then bring you to a screen that gives you some information about the application.

Once you believe you are ready to move forward, just click Continue on the bottom right of the window.

You’re now going to see something like the image above. This is showing you all of the additional content that needs to be installed in order to support Steam so that it can run on your Mac. There are going to be a few pop ups that you’ll need to select “continue” or otherwise approve licenses in order to install.

For example, above you can see that I needed to say “Yes” to accept the Verdana font installation.

Similarly I needed to go through the Microsoft XML Parser Setup Wizard to get this content installed inside the bottle for Steam.

Again, assuming you accept the EULA, go ahead and accept it, it is necessary to run Steam. I might have missed a license screen or two, but hopefully you get the idea. I just wanted to make sure you it is clear that this is normal behavior of the CrossOver and Steam installation process.

Installing Steam

If you’ve installed Steam before, all of these dialogues will look familiar. If you’re ready to install Steam just hit Next.


This will lead you to an Updating Steam dialogue box that shows you that it is downloading updates.

When it is done, CrossOver will let you know that the Steam installation is complete.

Running Steam

You should now see a screen similar to what I captured below. This is showing you the applications that you have installed in the Steam bottle. Go ahead and double click on Steam to start it.

You’ll be presented with a screen to either log into an existing account, or create a new account. Either way, get yourself logged in.

Now you’re probably going to see a screen that looks something like below. It looks like you have no games, and when you go to Library you’ll likewise see nothing. I believe that this has been a common and longstanding issue with Steam running through CrossOver for a while now, but I’m not quite sure for how long that it has been an issue.

I tried increasing my window size in an attempt to resolve this. But that didn’t help, the rendering section was still black. To resolve this I tried tweaking a few settings in CrossOver, but none of them ultimately helped. Instead what I did was to go to View and then select “Small Mode” from the dropdown, and suddenly I could see all of my games again. I’m not sure of a workflow to purchase games through the Steam app, but you can certainly purchase them through the webpage if necessary.

Here you can see I have the option to “Install Game”, and assuming you have it in your library, go ahead and install it. Once it is installed, you can double click on the icon in order to start the game.

Below you can see here is my first game getting it running on Mac!

Conclussion

I’m sure there are other ways to get Repentance to work on a Mac, but I wanted to write this up for anybody who might be excited to play the game, but isn’t exactly enthused that Mac is no longer supported. For you, I hold my glass up high, and hope you’re able to get some joy out of the game!

Breathing In

This is day four track… and another one working with the SP 303 to sample and mess with the FX a bit. What did I do exactly? Uh… not sure…

Another track of sampling into the SP 303, and running effects and stuff, and then sampling back into the MPC to make a finished drum kit.

I played everything out with the Track Mute again… but this time used TC. It helped a bit… at least making it more obvious where problems were. Would try again hah.

Where My Boys

Day 3… This track I mostly wanted to mess around with the Boss SP 303 to understand the sampling workflow a bit better.

The picture is Isaac from the game “The Binding of Isaac”. Cool kid.

To put this together I drove samples into the SP 303 C and D banks. They are much faster to sample on, even though it is still quite slow compared to modern standards. It was a pretty good way to test out the repair job that I did for the pads as well, since I was bouncing around a lot of the buttons, minus the pattern stuff. I’m not sure how much I care to bother with pattern sequencing here when I can just resample everything into the MPC. So I filled up all 16 smart media sample slots between bank C and D… The samples came in between a mix of raw, and sometimes with some effects already running, and I did end up adding effects on the way out back into the MPC as well to make a drum kit.

The majoring of effects used are Isolator, Radio, Bit Reducer, Distortion, and Pitch. I probably used Vinyl as well, but I’ll be honest, for how “legendary” everybody makes it out to be, while a nice effect, I’m not sweating on it yet. So yeah, the sample session was a lot of finding good samples to load in, and then working my way through SP 303 effects to tweak things to where I thought I might want them to go as final sounds on the MPC. Oh and heck… I really need to learn the Mark button better. I mean I totally get what it does, but how it operates I haven’t quite got my head around yet. I did get some good progress though by playing the sample with Mark, and then tweaking the Start/End point with the Start/End/Level(?) button. I am not perfect at this yet, but I am willing to bet that it is a really quick process.

I do suspect though that there is some fun to be had with the Pattern mode on the SP 303, but I just know my way around the MPC so well that I’m not sure I want to bother. I know I should so I can see how it works, but maybe someday.

Anyways… the track is all sampled through the SP 303, and then I sampled hits back into the MPC to make a drum kit. The process wasn’t too bad, and probably spent as much time naming samples as anything. There was the odd part where I tweaked samples enough that they now sounded like something else… so I just named some of them what they reminded me of.

I think the only sound that really got any effects treatment was the Space Horn… I liked it, but it wasn’t sitting well with the rest of the tracks I had played out. I ended up driving this through a few effects like talk box and gated filter to try and get it a little bit more tamed and change the audible characteristics of it. From there, having a 4 bar track I just exploded it and then got to track muting to pull the whole song together. There’s still a few sloppy sections, but I kinda dig the sound 😀

Get On The Freight Train

Had 30 minutes… and knocked out a second quick track for day two. What am I thinking?! I could have saved this for tomorrow!

There isn’t much to this… just roped in some different expansion sounds… the synth and the bass from the MPC Juno sound pack. The drums… I forget. If I remember I will look it up.

Really just knocked this out by laying out the drums and the chords in the drum kit really quick, and then loading up the two synth sounds. I setup pad performer notes at Gb Major just to knock it all out hopefully in tune, and then put it through the ringer of expanding the track to 64 bars and then track muting.

I then did a couple more tracks of just playing out some drum hits live to add a little variety, and whoops… I had a new track.

Boss SP 303 Pad Repair

I bought a Boss SP 303, which was obviously used. It showed up, and it smells like either a musty arcade, or somebody’s basement. Clearly the SP has been in storage for a *long* time, and I’m not sure that the scent is going away. The description for the SP 303 was Very Good condition, but when it arrived some of the pads were shot. Most importantly, the record pad just wouldn’t work at all.

Here you can see that the SP 303 isn’t in awful condition, but it’s also not Very Good by my idea of Very Good. The rust you can see on the bottom leads me to believe that the SP 303 was kept someplace damp, and I may decide to sand blast and repaint the sides to repair it.

Here’s the other side…

Surprisingly the bottom has faired much better, possibly from the rubber feet keep it from getting banged around too much.

At any rate, you’re not here to see what the case looks like I suppose, and I figured this wasn’t the end of the world, and I should be able to repair the pads as long as the PCB traces were still in tact. The device looked pretty simple, and I couldn’t imagine the technology inside it was anything terribly sophisticated.

I wouldn’t try this at home unless you know what you are doing (ie powering it on without the case on), but below you can see I took it apart while trying to test things out, and you can see it is just two PSB boards, so yeah, it’s not too bad. My initial guess on why the pads were not working was because either the contacts on the PCB were oxidized or otherwise dirty, or the pads themselves had the conductive material worn off of them.

To just try out a few things, I moved the sheet around and positioned different pads over different parts that weren’t working. Notably, the B bank button, and record were not working. I took some rubbing alcohol to the circuit board, and I ended up getting a lot of graphite off of the contacts. Likely this was from the pads, but it’s also possible that the contacts are coated with a graphite paint or something. I’m not sure, and didn’t bother to find a service manual or anything that might describe it. So for what is coated on the PCB traces, your guess is as good as mine.

Taking the SP 303 Apart

Yeah here’s the picture of the bottom again. Before you can get the case off you’re going to need to take these 5 screws off. These five screws hold the top and bottom halves of the case together.

Here you should be able to find the two screws on the back, and these hold the lower PCB that has the brains of the SP 303 to the back of the bottom part of the case. So before you can proceed remove these two screws as well.

My SP 303 didn’t come with the SmartMedia face plate cover, so you might need to remove these two screws as well. As you can see, I just have an exposed SmartMedia card… *shrug*. The two screws are on the bottom of the SP 303… but just take a look for yourself.

Once you have the screws off, the SP 303 should open up pretty easily. Go slow as there are ribbon cables connecting the two PCBs together, but it should not come apart hard. From here you’ll be able to see the five screw holes/mount points from the bottom of the SP 303 PCB.

Once you have the two halves separated you’ll see that there are eight more screws you’ll need to remove. Hint: One of the screws is under the plastic plate. You’ll also want to make sure that you put that metal piece back on that is in the top left screw. I suspect that this is for grounding or something, but I didn’t spend much time figuring out what function it provided. Just make sure you put that metal tab and plastic shield back in place 😀

Once you’ve removed all the screws, you can now pull the SP 303 PCBs out of the top half of the case to expose your pads.

At this point, it’s probably a good idea to do whatever cleaning you were planning on doing. Scare off the dust bunnies, knock back any grease or beer. Whatever you find that shouldn’t be there can go. I’d suggest using rubbing alcohol for this cleaning process as it dries quickly and is less likely to cause you issues with conductivity or causing rust when you put the SP 303 back together.

Pad Repair

In my case, upon close inspection, I could see that the graphite or conductive material was broken and worn out on some of the pads. So I figured I’d give CaiKote 44 a try. It’s fairly expensive, but 1g of this silver/carbon based “paint” should last you a good while. I did find that the included swabs were a bit messy to work with even though I soldiered on. If I did this again, I’d probably choose to use some small paint brushes instead because the cotton became a bit painful to have to keep trimming so that it wasn’t getting the contact solution all over the place.

Even though only a few of the pads were non functional, I decided I would just apply the CaiKote 44 to all of them while I was inside so I would be less likely to have to come back again later to do this. The package says it dries in about 15 minutes, and gives some curing instructions with a bulb, but I figured I’d just let it dry out for the day.

In the above picture you can see that I got paint all over the place as well. Just to be save, I scrapped the excess paint off with my Swiss army knife. It flaked off very easily and I ended up with the paint being applied only to the pads. I then carefully powered on the SP 303 while it was still outside of the case, and tested the pads. A few of them were still behaving a bit off, or required a bit more force than I expected.

To fix this, for a couple of the PCB traces I just used a graphite pencil and drew on top to see if that would help. Below you can see for the Bank B pad (SW35) I just drew on top of it. I got a bit outside of the contact traces, but I did get a magnifying glass to make sure I didn’t short anything. I would save this as a last case solution, because honestly, these traces look like they should work.

Conclusion

Well I am now able to use the SP 303 as intended, and as far as I can tell, all of the buttons now work. So anything that comes out of it that sounds poor is likely my fault, and not the SP 303’s fault.

If I have any problems with the CaiKote 44 flaking off I’ll definitely make sure to update this post, but for the time being it has definitely been holding up.