Elektron no longer has stock of the display module for the MachineDrum Mk1 and after having received a unit that had been damaged in transit, I was left with little option other than to deliver an Elektron MachineDrum Mk1 replacement display.
The display cover was also cracked and although Elektron didn't have stock of the Mk1 cover, I was told that the Mk2 cover would fit. I contacted the customer and he agreed to proceed.
One of my specialities is vintage synth repair and renovation but I have to admit that it seems a bit weird getting something like a MachineDrume Mk1 in. Having said that, these are like twenty years old, now.
When the unit would 'fail' on switched on, you could still make out something on the display but it was very faint. All the controls worked and there was audio and MIDI so this quite definitely seemed like a display issue. Indeed after some further testing, I discovered that there was an intermittent problem with the contrast control on the original display.
Unable to even source technical information on the original display, I decided to look around for similar 128 x 64 modules. I found several which looked like they would work and was even able to offer the customer a couple of colour options. We both agreed that white-on-blue might be an interesting contrast (pardon the pun) to the original black-on-orange display that many MachienDrum Mk1 users will be familiar with and so I ordered a Winstar 12864A-TMI-VN.
The MachineDrum Mk 1 is a little fiddly to get into. Many screws aren't as accessible as perhaps they should be. Once in however, it's quite easy to disconnect the top PCB or User-Interface Board as it's known and remove the display module.
Once I had the original display disconnected, I could inspect the back and was relieved to discover that it was a bog-standard Winstar, specifically a WG12864A-RYH-VRB.
I couldn't find this part anywhere and believe it to be long obsolete. The fact that I had chosen a similar replacement that's from the same manufacturer however, was reassuring, I have to admit.
I was careful when desoldering the contact strip that connects the display PCB to the UI board as I was hoping I'd be able to reuse it. I can't stress this enough but this kind of job is so much easier and far less risky when using a dedicated desoldering gun, as opposed to a manual, spring-action pump type desoldering tool.
Of course, you don't have to remove the contact strip from the UI board to remove the display. In a way, it's easier but you can desolder from the display-side of the contact strip.
Well assembled, the LCD backlight on the new display is considerably more elegant than the relatively large LED backlight 'box' on the original. On first power up, the display came on full, like the whole thing lit up like a torch and you couldn't see anything! This suggested that the display voltage would have to be adjusted and after a little tweak, things looked much better! 🙂
I was a bit upset for the customer, when Elektron told me that they could only provide a display cover for a Mk2. On the other hand, the replacement Mk2 cover looks so much nicer than a cracked Mk1 cover. Fantastic! Thanks Elektron.
During final inspection and testing, I noticed that one of the output sockets was cracked and the low-voltage input socket was a bit loose so while I had the machine in bits, I decided to changed them.
I now need to give a big THANK YOU to Elektron customer service. They were just fantastic. The person I dealt with was fast to respond to my e-mails, very polite and extremely helpful. I feel obliged to mention this because unfortunately, many companies aren't too bothered when it comes to equipment that's long obsolete. It's very reassuring that Elektron isn't like that. The company obviously appreciates that supporting old gear, gives customers a lot of confidence. Elektron is definitely on my Good Guys list! 🙂
So anyway, I'm delighted to report that my Elektron MachineDrum Mk1 replacement display job worked out really well and that the customer was particularly pleased. A little time-consuming and as mentioned, it was a bit fiddly but well worth it to get this pretty cool sounding drum machine going again.
If you need help with any Elektron products, the Elektronauts forum is a great resource. Please do check it out.
UPDATE - 17th January 2023
It's been a year since I posted this article and I have to say that subsequently, I've seen a lot of MachineDrum Mk1s. Recently however, a customer sent me his Elektron MonoMachine Mk1 with faulty display and cracked display cover.
While I've seen a few MonoMachine Mk1 as well, I thought it would pertinent to make the point that many parts in the Elektron MonoMachine Mk1, including the display, are exactly the same as that in the MachineDrum Mk1. The replacement part that's quoted in this post (Winstar 12864A-TMI-VN), will therefore also work fine in this 'machine' (pardon the pun) and the procedure is the same.
UPDATE - 20th January 2024
Displays arrived this morning so two machines will be going back to happy customers (one in Germany) soon! 🙂