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Drive Belt Fix - Roland Quick Disk PR-100 MIDI Sequencer


I got this Roland PR-100 MIDI sequencer and a pile of Quick Disks for free with my SC-155 Sound Canvas. But the drive isn’t working. Can a drive belt swap fix it? The answer, apparently, is no.


Hey everyone, Future Rees here and welcome to the second channel and my wonderful desk full of MIDI devices and lovely Roland speakers and all the rest of it. And the reason I’m recording this in a bit of a back to front manner is because this thing doesn’t work by the end of this video and I just wanted you to know that because if you’re here for the big triumphant payoff to see this thing working and playing music from Roland Quick Disks and all of that, you’re going to be disappointed and I wanted to be entirely upfront about that.

I could have click baited you, I could have taken you on the entire journey and then let you down at the end, but that’s not what my channel’s all about. So, if you know about these things, please do let me know down in the comments if there’s anything obvious that I’ve missed or anything else I can try to get it working, because I would love to get this thing working.

But yeah, for now, let’s just go on a bit of a journey, see what’s inside this thing, learn a bit about Roland and about the Quick Disk format and a bit about MIDI and all of that, And yeah, do a do a drive belt replacement at the very least. So I will hand you back to past Rees, with that hopeful gleam in his eye, completely unaware of what the next few hours have in store for him.

Yep, I’ve been on the Japanese auction sites again. Well, actually, as a matter of fact, I’ve had these for probably over a year now. Way back during lockdown and all of that nasty business, I sold off a few bits and pieces from my collection, including my original collection of Roland MIDI devices, like my MT-32 and my Sound Canvas and all of that, as featured in my of course, video.

My DOS gaming video, of course reason being that I just needed to free up a little bit of cash and I actually made quite a nice profit on those. So when the time came that I had a little bit more money and wanted to buy them back to do a few more videos on that subject, it was quite an easy decision to make.

So here they are. And I’ve been sitting on these for probably, like I say, probably over a year now, just waiting to do something with them. So this magnificent beast here with all of the sliders on the front is the Roland Sound Canvas SC-155. Now you may have heard of the SC-55, and this is actually just a slightly improved and tweaked, repackaged version of that.

So it’s got some extra sliders on the front to control the volume of the various channels and stuff. And when I bought this, it actually came with a free Roland PR 100 digital sequencer, Never heard of these, and to be honest I hadn’t heard of these weird little Quick Disks that it takes, but it turns out that they’re actually quite popular in music equipment and that kind of thing.

And I thought, well, why not do a little video all about it, and also find out what’s on these disks, because evidently these devices were used together, maybe they were used in a karaoke bar or something like that. I don’t know. But when I originally went to test this, unfortunately the drive wasn’t working and it was making a horrible clicking noise like the like the original drive belt had died.

And I’ve been looking for one for quite a while now and it turns out they’re a bit of a weird size and they’re quite hard to come by. But, a couple of days ago, I found This arrived from a German eBay seller, and it claims to be the correct belt for the Quick Disk drive that is in this very machine. So I thought I would take you on this journey, get the belt changed, and then get all of this rigged up with some nice Roland speakers, and yeah, let’s, let’s see what’s on the disks.

So to actually get into the PR-100 sequencer, we just need to remove these three screws in the back here, in the bottom. And then there’s also the four screws here which hold the actual Quick Disk drive into the unit. Now I was just looking for some information on the history of these and I did want to kind of maybe do a video on Roland MIDI devices and that kind of thing.

And I actually couldn’t find a release date for the original Quick Disks. I know slightly later on they moved to bog standard three and a half inch floppy disks, but yeah, Quick Disk was a Roland proprietary standard, and it’s a three inch disk as you’ve seen. So let’s get this thing opened up, and as I said before, this isn’t the first time I’ve opened this. I did take it apart once to try and work out what size belt it needed.

So hopefully shouldn’t be too many surprises in here, although I do kind of forget what it looks like inside. So we’ll open this very carefully. And as we can see, we’ve got some ribbon cables here, which just attach these, or just electrically connect these top buttons to the main motherboard here, and yeah, you’ll also see, sorry I’m trying to do this in the screen in front of me, there we go, I also didn’t plug the floppy drive back in, because it wasn’t working anyway, so why bother.

So that’s the Quick Disk drive, and this is looking quite dusty and disgusting inside, so what I’ll do is give that a good clean out before I put it all back together. But for now we shall turn our attention to the actual drive itself. And here it is, and it does look, I mean it does look pretty much like a standard floppy drive, if you’re if you’re familiar with those.

Looks like it should be a case of just taking these screws off the bottom, so let’s take those out. No, there isn’t a disk in there. Okay,

so I’ll just remove these, I think it’s just the three screws on the bottom, and then have a look and see what it looks like inside. And I imagine this is probably chock full of dust as well. No, it’s not, it’s quite clean inside actually. That’s nice.

And you can actually see all of the remains of the old belt. Sometimes these turn to liquid as they get old but yeah, you can see the remains stuck to the - whatever you call these things. I don’t know what you call them. And I don’t know if this might need calibrating as well. So we’ve got a roller there and obviously the belt needs to go around here and into there.

So let’s see if we can try and work this out.

So yes, they are the remains of our original belt. Not much left of it really, and it’s gone. Kind of brittle and hard, so kind of expected. But yeah, they tend to go one of two ways. They either go hard and crunchy like this, or they turn into a horrible sticky goop. So this is definitely the best of the two options that I’ve seen.

Also, there was this, this roller here on the actual motor, which is metal and where the where the belt had stuck to it there was some really horrible corrosion in there so I got in there with some IPA and I’ve just cleaned all of that off. So that’s nice and clean. So now just to work out how to get the new belt on which I think is going to involve removing one or more of these screws so I can feed it through and then hopefully we can get the thing reassembled and our drive will be back up and working.

Ah, spot the deliberate mistake. So literally as I was just putting the last screw in, I spotted that the belt’s actually running on the outside of this this metal bit here. And it looks like it’s supposed to be on the inside of that. That’s not going to work properly at all, is it? If it’s running against that.

So guess I need to take the screws out again and just see if I can tuck that belt under there. But hopefully I haven’t knocked anything out of alignment. It does seem like a fairly logical way to change one of these. I guess we shall see once it’s all back together.

So that is running much more smoothly now, so I’ll get the screws back in and hopefully that should be it.

So that’s the drive all back together, and there’s just one small piece of information that I forgot to mention when I first took this out, and that’s that it’s actually made by Mitsumi. And I know they used to make floppy drives and things back in the day, so probably not a big surprise. But by Potentially useful information if you’re looking to fix one of these yourself.

And it seems that that drive belt is exactly the right size and type for this drive. So that’s a big win. And of course, if you’re looking to get hold of one of those, I will link to that down in the description. No affiliation at all whatsoever with the seller. It just happened to pop up and I thought, oh, I’ve got one of those that needs fixing.

So yeah, hopefully it will do the job.

So just off camera I’ve blasted some of the dust out of this. I don’t actually have my air compressor here at the studio and I don’t have any canned air or anything like that so unfortunately this is going to have to do. It’s not 100 percent clean but it’s a much much cleaner affair than it was when I first tore it down so I’m happy with that for now.

I am going to take this apart again in future and give it a proper once over. It does need a bit of a service and a couple of scuffs and scrapes fixing up. Let’s get the drive back in and finally get it powered up and and see what happens.

Fade to black and add break.

And here we have it! A bit of a cobbled together little setup here. Obviously this is all Japanese stuff, so it all runs on 100 volts. So I’ve got my step down transformer just here, and we’ll just switch that on. That’s not on. Okay, that’s not a great start, is it?

There we go. So I’ve got my 100 volt step down transformer just here, and yeah, this little button here, power distribution strip with American slash Japanese plugs on. Didn’t realise you could buy these in the UK, but there you go, maybe that’s not entirely legal. Who knows? Anyway, here we are. So that’s switched on.

This one hasn’t. Why hasn’t this switched on? Okay, there’s a separate power switch on there. That’s on. That’s all good. I couldn’t find I thought I had original power supplies for both of these, but it turns out I’ve only got one, but I do have a splitter, so I’ve got that connected up via a splitter, and I’ve got, very first appearance on any of my channels, these lovely Roland speakers, as made famous by Clint from LGR, of course.

I bought a pair of these years ago, and haven’t done anything with them, so, yeah, I think if we can get these switched on, I know one of them buzzes, it’s one of the things I need to look at. Oh, okay. Apparently they’re both buzz. Just check the volume levels and

So, with this all hooked up and buzzing away, rather ominously ready to go, I’ll just very quickly explain how this is going to work, in theory, if it does work. So these are both MIDI devices, MIDI of course standing for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and that was a standard that was developed in 1983 by a consortium of musical instrument manufacturers and electronics companies.

And essentially what it boils down to, and I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty of the MIDI spec here, but essentially what it means is you’ve got things like sequencers, like this, and computers that can output a MIDI signal, perhaps most famously the Atari ST, of course, in 1985, which was very popular with Atari fans.

amateur musicians at the time, because it was a very low cost way of doing things, and basically that they output a digital signal which goes to your instrument, which in this case is this little box of tricks which is called a Roland Sound Canvas, and this can basically emulate loads of different, or synthesize loads of different instruments, and pipe those out to the speakers, and this can do multi channel, so it can do all of the percussion and the bass and guitars, pianos, absolutely everything.

Of course, sounds a bit cheesy and a bit 80s, doesn’t it? But that’s all part of the appeal of it. And hopefully the MIDI data on these disks is still readable and still working. And yeah, when I put them in the drive, this, this thing should start outputting that data, but I think without further ado, I’ve kept you waiting long enough.

Let’s have a look and see what’s actually on these disks.

Oh, it says loading on the screen.

Load error. Great start. Okay, it could just be the disk. Let’s try the other side.

Load error again. Okay, that’s not a great start, is it? Let’s just try a few of these disks. I don’t know what condition they’re in.

Load error again.

Yeah, bit of a disappointment that, isn’t it? I don’t really know what to say. I’ve spent the past few minutes digging through forums and just trying to find more information on these drives and there really isn’t much out there. But the overwhelming weight of what I can find is basically just people complaining about them and trying to fix them and being unsuccessful.

And apparently they were quite unreliable when they were new, but obviously now it’s kind of 30 plus years later. BitRot has set in, I mean, these disks are apparently quite quite notorious for just losing all their data over time anyway. They did come included with this, so I kind of assumed that the data on them would be compatible with this, but it may not even be in the right format.

I don’t have another drive to be able to test with, and I don’t even know if this drive’s working properly because I don’t have any known good disks that I can put in it to test it. So Far too many unknown variables here, but yeah kind of a bit of a sad note to end on, really. I would really like to get this working, and I am going to put this video out there.

If you know anything at all about these rolling Quick Disks, please do let me know down in the comments. More than happy to try anything out to try and revive this thing and get it up and running. Ultimately, it was free with this, and if it doesn’t work and it’s not fixable, then it’s not really the end of the world.

It’s not like I bought it. paid a load of money for it or anything like that, but it’s just a cool and unusual thing and it’d be quite nice to see it running and maybe include it in a future MIDI video if I can. But I’m going to have to end the video there, so thank you ever so much for joining me on this journey.

I appreciate it’s a very rare failure for my channel, I don’t usually do this. Kind of show my outright failures like this, but I’ve put so much work into recording all of this today that I thought the, I thought the journey itself was quite interesting to be able to take people on. And if nothing else, of course, I’ve shown you how to change the the drive belt in one of these.

So hopefully that will help someone out there and help you to revive your own drive if that’s what you’re here for. So thank you ever so much for joining me on this video, a bit of an unusual one, but Hey, let me know your thoughts down in the comments. Do you know about rolling Quick Disks? Do you know how to fix them?

Do you want to fix this thing for me? Send me your name and address and I’ll post it to you and you can have a go at fixing it. Whatever. That’s it for now. Thank you ever so much. Bye.

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