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Author Topic: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard  (Read 10898 times)

Circuitbenders

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Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« on: February 02, 2010, 09:00:22 PM »

So who wants to explain this............?

This Alesis HR16 was sent to me by a guy from the Netherlands. I must have opened up about 100 or more different HR16's in my time and they have all had more or less exactly the same main board. Maybe some slight differences but nothing major.

I opened up this HR16 to discover a main board at least twice the size of the normal board with all the IC's kind of in the same places relative to each other but rotated through 90 degrees anticlockwise. Has anyone else ever seen this board before or do i have some kind of freak on my hands? I would have assumed that this might have been a very early model but the Operating System EPROM is labelled with v1.09 which was around the middle of the production wasn't it? I've got an HR16 ROM labelled 1.07 and i'm sure i've seen 1.10 ones.

Is this a common board in europe?

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Gordonjcp

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2010, 12:39:56 AM »

"REV B1"?  I haven't got an HR16 in bits right now to check, but is that an old or a new board?  I'm guessing it could well be an extremely early HR16 that's been upgraded at some point in its life.
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nochtanseenspecht

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2010, 02:40:31 AM »

hm.. not shure, but it looks like my hr16, but it has been some time that i opened it..
does the midi out work properly ? if it doesn't, it could be an early revision like mine.
there's a mod to fix the midi out tough
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Circuitbenders

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2010, 03:05:51 AM »

 it says REV:AQ actually written in the circuitboard track on the back. I've not checked the midi out, but then i don't think i've ever even used the midi out on a drum machine.  :-\

The board on another HR16 i have at the moment is a normal one and doesn't have any kind of board revision on it which is annoying.

To be honest this wierd board seems like a much better quality board than you usually find in HR16's. Maybe versions for the european market were different. I've noticed you always seem to get that inductor (if thats what it is) up near the power input on models i see from the US or Europe but very rarely on HR16's that were definately originally bought in the UK.

Curious.
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gmeredith

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2010, 07:02:11 AM »

What sort of power socket does it have? If it has a mini-headphone jack type, it's a very early board. If it has the standard concentric DC socket type, it's the standard board. My very early MMT8 has a similar board story.

**EDIT**  from your photo it looks like it has the standard DC concentric socket, so it must be semi-late. Grey casing? I know in the very late greys and in the black MMT8's they had a significantly better board like the one you mentioned. Does it have good buttons, or do they play up? The later revision grey machines and all of the black had the improved button board - from v1.09 in the mmt8 they had this - so your HR16 being v1.09 may also folow the same revision timeline as the MMT8. My guess is that it is a very late grey model, just before they brought out the black cased 16B.

Cheers, Graham
« Last Edit: February 03, 2010, 07:27:06 AM by gmeredith »
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Circuitbenders

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2010, 11:03:50 PM »

The buttons feel a lot better than most models i've come across, and they actually WORK, which is a novelty in an HR16. It is a grey case version but it seems a bit odd that they would have produced a bigger and better quality board lat that late stage in a products life. I would have thought that it'd be the opposite i.e. they start out with a bigger and better quality board and then save money by redesigning it smaller and cheaper. But then who am i to question the mysterious ways of Alesis?
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Circuitbenders

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2010, 08:13:28 PM »

It gets stranger and stranger. Its plainly a very late model indeed as i just pulled out the button board from inside the front panel and theres a sticker saying 'Alesis Quality Control: 3/19/91'.

OK, thats fair enough, its obviously a very late model. What i don't understand is that various places on the net tell me that the Alesis SR16 was first produced in 1990, the year before this HR16 was made  :-\

Alesis emptying the warehouse of spare parts by building HR16's from whatever they have spare? hmmm...........
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Gordonjcp

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2010, 11:08:06 PM »

There's no reason why they would stop building HR16s just because the SR16 is out.
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Circuitbenders

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2010, 11:46:19 PM »

I would have thought theres plenty of reasons, not least that they don't want to be left with loads of HR16's that nobody is going to buy because on paper the SR16 is a far better machine. Doesn't it make sense to stop production of one machine a year or so before bringing out the next one so you could sell off all your stock before the better one came out? Maybe thats not how it works.   :-\

Anyway, in theory Alesis only made the HR16 in 87 and 88. It was replaced by the HR16B in 1989

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gmeredith

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 02:13:52 AM »

Quote
I would have thought that it'd be the opposite i.e. they start out with a bigger and better quality board and then save money by redesigning it smaller and cheaper

They started out with the smaller cheaper board because it was smaller and cheaper and they THOUGHT it would be ok, which it turned out not to be. My very early mmt8 board is almost cottage industry made - that thin, almost-see-through fibreglass PC board with copper tracks that you can get from Rat Shack as a blank and etch yourself...

They did the new board because of all the factory recalls and customer complaints about faulty buttons on both the HR16 and MMT8. Since they already had a business product lifetime schedule planned for X amount of years for this product to bring in Y amount of income, they had to continue with the improved product or else stray from the business plan timeline and so lose even more money. The SR16 would have also been a part of this plan and so was meant to fit in as the successor at a certain time Z of the timeline and not before or after, to maximise profit. A tricky business, "business".

The thing that is also of interest is that at that time Alesis were one of the first electronic instrument companies to pioneer the whole automated integrated board and components manufacturing method. I have an Alesis 1622 mixer of that same era - all the knobs and sliders are actually just carbon tracks on a big PC board, and the actual plastic knob or slider has on its underside the electrical contact for the carbon track. So there are no real potentiometers in it. It's all made on a PC board. Which then lends itself perfectly to cheap robotic production line manufacturing, which made it by far the cheapest and highest spec 16 channel mixer of its day. Too bad 20 years later that the carbon tracks are wearing out on it now and I can't just pull out a slider pot and replace it. Nowadays many of the companies like Behringer have made this sort of manufacturing practice commonplace. They don't fix warranty jobs - they just give you a new one because it cost them so little to make its cheaper than fixing them. And the customer now does the Quality Control which used to be part of the manufacturing process, in order to bring the sales price down on the item.

Cheers, graham

« Last Edit: February 04, 2010, 02:31:43 AM by gmeredith »
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hoffy

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2010, 12:16:09 AM »

I have one of those. I bought mine second hand in Australia (hello world!). I thought it was a little strange that all the diagrams i'd seen of Alesis machines on the net was different but didn't think twice about it. I've never used or opened any other hr-16s...

Cheers!
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Circuitbenders

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2010, 03:35:30 AM »

Any idea of the date on yours?

I've modded this one and everything is more or less exactly the same patchbay-wise, although for some reason pins 24 and 22 of the sound ROM's seem to be switched around on this version compared to the more common board. I've not checked the pinout of the ROM chips but checking out what the pins actually connect to with a meter showed an exact swap.

I'd normallly use pin 24 and leave 22 disconnected, but that was plainly shorting something out and crashing the thing so i used pin 22 instead an everything is fine.
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gmeredith

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2010, 01:03:48 AM »

I presume you have already, but just in case, have you checked out the Yahoo HR16 group?:

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/HR-16B/

There are lots of resources there, including the HR16 service manual, mods like ROM stacking, changing the ROM sounds to your own, etc. My guess is that you would already know of it, but for anyone else who hasn't, it's a good place to get modding info from.

Cheers, Graham
« Last Edit: February 05, 2010, 01:05:30 AM by gmeredith »
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hoffy

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2010, 12:45:57 PM »

Mine has this sticker too- I don't know if it's from the inside or outside but the date is 1989.

Quote
It gets stranger and stranger. Its plainly a very late model indeed as i just pulled out the button board from inside the
front panel and theres a sticker saying 'Alesis Quality Control: 3/19/91'.


Also, you asked me for the date when it was made. How do I find that out?
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nochtanseenspecht

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Re: Alesis HR16 - totally different mainboard
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2010, 03:32:15 AM »

anyone knows if hr16 rom chips available somewhere ?
i have both the hr16 and the hr16b, so it would be nice to stack both roms in the 16b and sell the other..
there's a bit to many drummachines around the place  ;)
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