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Old 2003-10-23, 21:21
Meffy's Avatar
Meffy Meffy is offline
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 571
Commodore 64? Check. Moog interface? Check. Cue LIGHTNING!!!

Y'all are thinking that Doctor Frankenstein-esque subject line is a joke, right? Not entirely! Read on, friends.

Several threads on this forum have mentioned old-old-school musical fun such as the famous/infamous C64 SID chip and other gaming devices; I brought up the TI Speak 'n' Spell once.

I ought to have said something before now about a rather interesting device that inspired me to register with eBay so I could buy it -- the Moog Song Producer for Commodore 64.

What is it? A MIDI and drum-trigger interface, the nicest I ever saw for C64.

Now, if you've ever seen hardware intended to hook up to a C64, you're used to light-duty plastic cases. That's not what the MSP has. It's built into a HEAVY steel case, infinitely better than Commodore's own stuff.

There's one MIDI in, one thru, and four outs. Two footswitch input jacks. Eight trigger outs (for drums or anything else). For connecting a drum machine, there are clock and disable ins/outs. There's a schematic printed right on the top of the case, clearly labelling every connector and showing a typical lash-up.

It connects to the C64 via a ribbon cable with a game cartridge-shaped plug on one end and a standard DIP header on the other.

The two-conductor connectors are standard 1/4" phone jacks, as you'd expect from a product bearing the Moog brand name. [Bob Moog was no longer with the company that took his name, of course, when this was made :-( ... but even so it's a pretty good box for the bux.]

Comes with several programs, as well as a nice vinyl-covered mini ring binder containing software and hardware instructions, specs, schematics, pictorial diagrams... just about everything you could want in an old-timey setup.

I haven't got a working Commie monitor, so haven't had a chance to hook it up and try the software, but it looks pretty darned amazing considering its antique vintage. If I can ever find a good price on an appropriate Commodore, Magnavox, or Amdek composite color monitor, one of the first things I'll try is this hardware/software combo.

What I'd _really_ like to do is polish up my ancient Mostek 6502 assembly language skills, then try to write software that would let me use the MSP simply as a MIDI interface for controlling the SID chip from a PC (or a MIDI keyboard or whatever) -- as if the C64 were an external synth. Mmmm, low-fi low-tech fun!

If this sounds tempting to any of y'all, please check out eBay. I bought mine for US$35 from an excellent fellow who works at Jamestown Bronze Foundry in New York. He has more of 'em for sale, too.

I was astonished when it arrived; hadn't quite realized what a classy little peripheral it was! You might be able to find the same item for US$25 or even less if you look around more carefully than I did.

Is it going to replace your perfectly preserved DX7? Make you toss that restored Mini-Moog and chuck the Prophet and Juno in the garbage pail? Not hardly. But it's definitely the most impressive C64 peripheral I have ever seen.

Now I just have to find time -- and a display! -- to get the old C64 hooked up again so I can see what can be done with this little gem. Hope the ol' disk drive still works, and the floppies are readable...

Only bad point I've found yet: it has a pretty strong "old electronics" odor. Same smell my Apple IIgs and IIc emit. Probably not such a great fume to breathe, so use it in a well-ventilated place!

owner of Moog Song Producer s/n 1103
Very good Moog Song Producer website

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