Devil Fish modifications for the TB-303
© Robin and Tina Whittle, Real World Interfaces ABN 29 836 876 922 firstname.lastname@example.org 17 May 2013
Devil Fish User Manual. Devil-Fish-MIDI-Manual.pdf
Manual for the MIDI In System. DF-32-Bank-Mem-Manual.pdf
Manual for the 32 Bank Memory System. midi-options/ Three approaches for Devil Fish MIDI In and Out. This covers the current Devil Fish MIDI In system, the forthcoming extension of this to provide MIDI Out, the MIDIBass 303 MIDI In and Out system and the MIDI In and Out CPU replacement system: Quicksilver 303.
sounds/ Sound samples.
Photos of Devil Fishes. videos/ Videos of Devil Fishes in action.
Prices for customers in Australia and overseas.
TR-606 and TR-808 modifications. ../smem/
32 Megabyte memory boards for Akai samplers.
We have a TB-303 here in excellent condition which is for sale. ../../temp/TB-303-for-sale/
Please contact us if you are interested and we will put you in touch with the owner in the USA.
Today I passed it over to the band. They went mad. Immediately they
locked the studio and started to build sounds. Nobody can stop them now.
They are very happy and they say thank you thousand times!
I want to let you know I am successfully exploring what the Devil Fish
has to offer. And it IS overwhelming... I've owned plenty of
synthesizers before but... I've never imagined a "relatively simple"
synth such as my Teebee will transmute into such a miracle.
Also, I've noted that the Devil Fish is very capable of creating clicky
sounds with low decay values. They can be very useful for percussion
and other things. What's more, the resonance and muffler settings can
get relatively thin sounds, this feature can be utilized to fit more of
the Devil Fish "juice" into the mix. More tracks, more layers, more
I begin realize that it's, in fact, possible to create a lot of
layeristic stuff - create entire soundscapes using only the Devil Fish
and outboard effects.
Oh by the way you probably know this.... You can change MIDI modes and
reset while machine is running so you can turn off/on MIDI reception
during a track, its really neat I use it a lot, as well as running the
Accent Out to an attenuator(Moogerfooger CV processor) and out back into
the Devil Fish Slide In and I can Turn the Att. up and down to turn on
Slide/Gate etc...thats fun also the CV processor has a Square/Triangle
L.F.O which I often use for the CV filter in for rhythmic filter sweeps
and other crazy fast bell like effects when turned up full and I love
using the mod wheel to filter it means I do real dramatic filter stuff
without killing the D.F.'s Cutoff knob and also be able to freak it out
and return to the exact same sound setting.....Endless...........
Sound samples are at: sounds/linxstar/ . Seven years later (2013), from and undisclosed location in the Dandenong Ranges, with
occasional transmissions via YouTube, Linx writes:
and in many other countries, musicians have placed themselves in the care of the Devil Fish.I have at the moment (even as I'm writing this) a convoluted modular
patching arrangement between the Devil Fish and three Moogerfoogers -
CP251 control processor (receiving and sending CV to/from-the Devil
Fish, MF-101 lowpass filter, MF104z delay (which is receiving the audio
out of the Devil Fish and is in a feedback loop, using the delay signal
only to the lowpass which in turn is sent to the DF audio in to filter.
The CP251 is also sending noise to the FM in (there is only the slide
in and accent in not being used). The DF CV out is controlling the
feedback on the Delay. The Accent out is used to trigger the sample &
hold unit in the CP251 and the Gate out is modulating the env amount on
the lowpass. Its creating a percussive acidy snarey rhythmically
changing delay with a twist. I'll record this tomorrow, I probably
should have today as at one point when I stopped the sequencer the CP's
LFO and S&H kept triggering the DF and MF's and it was quite
interesting how it all evolved.
The Devil Fish is a modification to the TB-303 - a synthesiser/sequencer produced by Roland in 1981/82, which has played a crucial role in the development of electronic dance music. A detailed description of the Devil Fish can be found in the User Manual Devil-Fish-Manual.pdf . Features include:
* These three audio signals are connected in the following manner:
The Audio In to Filter signal is plugged into the old 6.5mm mono Mix In socket, on the left of the rear panel. There is an option (see below) for a three position toggleswitch to control this signal.
The Audio In to Frequency Modulate the Filter signal is plugged into the old Headphone socket, with the tip of the socket accepting this signal. This means a mono 6.5mm plug can be used for this function.
The Audio Out from Filter signal is driven to the ring of the old Headphone socket. There it can be accessed with a suitable stereo plug, or by partially inserting a 6.5mm mono plug.
To make it easy to use the Audio In to Frequency Modulate the Filter and the Audio Out from Filter, the Devil Fish is supplied with a special lead with a 6.5mm stereo socket and two 6.5mm mono plugs on a Y-lead.
The standard Devil Fish modifications do not include a Headphone output, because the original Headphone socket is used for these two new purposes. There is an option to provide a 3.5mm Headphone socket - see below.
"Devil Fish", Lembeh Strait, Bunaken, Indonesia. © Ken Knezick.
Great photos: www.islandream.com
The optional 32 bank memory system enables switching between banks while a pattern is playing. So the sequencer reads the next note from the same pattern number in the new bank. This enables much more interesting and unexpected results than are obtainable by having the sequence change from one pattern to another, which it only does at the end of each pattern.
Full details: DF-32-Bank-Mem-Manual.pdf .
The optional MIDI In system uses the existing Sync socket, and receives Sync, Notes, Accent (depending on the note's velocity), Slide (from MIDI controllers or tied notes) and Filter Frequency (from a selectable MIDI controller number, defaulting to Mod Wheel). Full details: Devil-Fish-MIDI-Manual.pdf
There is also a special Sync Lead which accepts MIDI In, and provides a daisy-chain of three Sync out connectors to drive, for instance, devices such as other TB-303s or Devil Fishes, TR-808s or TR-606s. See the sync-lead/ page.
By June 2013 I hope to be able to provide a MIDI Out extension to the current Devil Fish MIDI In system. Please see midi-options/ for further information.
New LEDs in Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and White: leds/ .
We suggest all Blue LEDs, except for the Run/Stop LED, in which we install a new Red LED. These are a broader blue spectrum than most blue LEDs, with more violet – a somewhat different colour than the slightly aqua color of most blue LEDs. They are also a good brightness, whereas the ordinary blue LEDs are too bright unless the drive circuits are adjusted.
Replacing pots and switches. The tact switches underneath the 24 buttons almost always need replacing. We install Omron B3W-4050 sealed tact switches. These are sealed against dust and liquids and we expect they will last for many decades. More information about the Omron switches and why we chose them over the alternatives: tact-switches/ (We sell these specially modified Omron switches for people who want to replace the switches themselves: #tact_switch_kits .)
The six small pots along the top of the TB-303 sometimes fail. We can replace the complete set of them with newly manufactured pots from TechnologyTransplant.com. This new batch of pots, from 2010 are the best pots yet. Unlike the original ALPS pots, and most of the earlier pots from TechnologyTransplant, these ones do not have a failure mechanism of cutting the conductive tracks when they are rotated with downwards pressure on the shaft. I dismantle these pots and replace the original friction grease with a lighter grade silicone grease, so the 6 small knobs are very easy to turn.
The Tempo and Volume pots rarely fail, but I can replace them. I usually fix a noisy volume pot by dismantling and cleaning it. The two rotary switches have never failed, in my experience.
I now have a technique for spray painting the parts of the case which are worn around the 6 small pots. Where the markings and silver paint are worn away, I can spray some silver and by hand colour in new markings. Please see the refurb/ page for more on this.
Two further options are:
3.5mm Headphone Socket. In the Devil Fish, the old headphone socket is used for Audio Out from Filter (ring) and Audio In for Frequency Modulation of the Filter (tip).
With this option, the original headphone amplifier, with its 10 ohm drive resistors for left and right channels, is connected to a 3.5mm socket located above and between the Power and Audio Out sockets.
Switch for Audio In to Filter. In the Devil Fish, the old Mix In socket is used for feeding an external audio signal into the filter, in addition to whatever amount of the Oscillator is selected by the Overdrive pot. Since this pot can be turned down to zero, it is possible to run the machine without its internal oscillator and have the Filter processing purely an external signal.
With this option, a three position toggleswitch is mounted between the Tempo and Track-Pattern Group knobs. It has three positions:
Audio In enabled.
Audio In disabled
Audio In enabled, but spring return to Mid position
This enables convenient switching of the external signal, including dropping in short bursts of it by pressing the switch to the down position, with the toggle returning to the mid position as soon as the finger pressure is released.
Martin Rothlisberger in Switzerland http://acid.ch makes magnificent Anodized Aluminium cases for the Devil Fish, replacing the ABS silver plastic cases which are now at least 30 years old. AluCases are machined from solid billets of aluminium. No matter how they may be banged around, dropped etc. the case will be practically indestructible, so providing good protection for the TB-303 and Devil Fish electronics for the decades and centuries to come.
Martin has a small stock of partially completed AluCases and will finalize, anodize and apply the epoxy paint to the lettering according to your specifications. There is a wide choice of colours for the anodizing and the epoxy paint. Please see the photos/ directory for images of some AluCase Devil Fishes.
There are extra costs installing the machine in an AluCase, and some extra shipping costs due to the extra weight and the larger carton we use. It takes several months at least to get an AluCase made. It is generally best for the customer to work with me regarding the options they want for their Devil Fish, and then for me to communicate this to Martin, with the final choices about colours and lettering being between the customer and Martin. Generally it is best for the customer to pay Martin directly, but if necessary I can handle the whole project from a single payment. It is best to allow at three months for Martin to complete the AluCase and ship it to Australia.
Martin is a DJ and Devil Fish musician himself. Please see the videos/ directory for him and the Liquid Trolls in action.
Please see midi-options/ for further information on these alternative MIDI In/Out systems:
The Quicksilver 303 CPU replacement from Social Entropy in Texas.
The MIDIBass 303 MIDI In/Out system from Sequentrix in the UK.
Click for larger version.
The Devil Fish is the most dynamic, pulsating, wailing musical instrument I know of. If you and your TB-303 have a sense of adventure, the Devil Fish modifications will propel you into musical territories dark, destructive, delicate, languid, undulating, exquisitely detailed, throbbing, luscious and lurid . . . . . Best of all, the spaces between these extremes can usually be traversed by judiciously turning a few knobs.
Tina's illustration on the Devil Fish job progress book.
Artist Robin Whittle Uniform Bass Code Charles James Linxstar Track Melodic pulsations & knobulations acidtrax2-edit cj03 Devil Fish with Mooger- Fooger Time 1.44 1:06 1:00 2:40 MP3: rw12.mp3 cw-acidtrax2-edit.mp3 cj03.mp3 Linxstar- Devil-Fish- Mooger-Fooger- edit-excerpt.mp3
24 minutes of sound samples are in the sounds/ directory.
Peter in the Netherlands has some MP3s of music he made with his Devil Fish: tek.tekmac.nl
(Translation from Strine: "How much is it?" "Strine" is Strine for "Australian". )
prices-au/ Prices for customers in Australia.
prices-int/ Prices for customers outside Australia.
The basic modification cost includes cleaning the machine and a moderate level of repair work.
There is no extra charge for removing the Kenton CV socket kit. (The Devil Fish performs all the functions of that kit, except that the Kenton kit automatically deactivates the internal sequencer's accent state, and the Devil Fish Version 2.1D and beyond enable a high Slide input voltage to drive the gate, in order to "tie together" notes which have separate Gate pulses.)
If you have a Devil Fish version 1.x (1993) 2.x (2006 onwards) or 3.x then I can upgrade the machine to the current 4.2 version with MIDI. It is not possible to install the MIDI In system with these older Devil Fish circuit boards. This replaces the existing Devil Fish circuit boards, so your machine will have 7 new small black pots with silver lines and three new toggle-switches in the Devil Fish panel, with new CV, Gate etc. sockets at the rear. When the MIDI Out system is finished, I will likewise be able to upgrade these older machines to MIDI In and Out.
If your machine is one of the few version 4.x machines without MIDI, the upgrade can be done with the existing circuit boards, to MIDI In or (when I have the system finished) to MIDI In and Out.
Upgrading from MIDI In to MIDI In and Out
If you have a 4.x Devil Fish with MIDI In, I will be able to extend this to provide MIDI Out as well.
In general, we don't sell spare parts. Please see http://technologytransplant.com for many specially manufactured parts for electronic musical instruments, including new battery contacts and battery compartment doors for the TB-303 and TR-606.
Before mid-2010, I replaced the tact switches with the original type, ALPS SKHCAA (now known as SKHCBEA010). These were not sealed against dust. Dust (mainly flakes of skin . . .) gets into the switch and builds up on the contacts, making the switches operate erratically. I installed them with a flexible plastic dust guard, which greatly prolonged their life. Still, after 10 years, some heavily used machines needed their switches replaced again. There are sealed tact switches from ALPS (SKQEAAA010), but I don't like them since they have a higher activation force, a much lower lower "click force" and a much lower "click displacement". Please see tact-switches/ for details.
The only alternative is to use Omron B3W-4050 sealed tact switches. These are pictured above: #pots_switches. These are slightly firmer than the SKHCAAs, and have about the same initial and click displacements – so they have a very good "click" action. The Omron switches have stems which are a little too wide for the TB-303 / TR-606 buttons, so I modify the stems to make them fit the buttons. This is done with a 0.6mm Dremel cutting wheel, with two cuts at right-angle through the top part of the stem.
While we can't guarantee these switches for any particular period, they are very well made and well sealed against dust and liquids. They are specified to have a life of 3,000,000 operations. Dust seems to be the only thing which makes tact switches erratic, and there's no way dust can get into these Omron switches.
The page 303-mods/ discusses how to obtain the Omron switches and how to to modify them so they fit the TB-303 buttons. To support people with the task of replacing these switches, but who do not want to modify the switches themselves, we are now selling Omron switches, with their stems modified to suit TB-303 TR-606 buttons. Each pack contains 25 switches. The TB-303 needs 24 and the TR-606 needs 21. Australian customers please email us. Overseas customers, please use PayPal to send Australian AUD$90 for one pack, or AUD$160 for two, to email@example.com . We will airmail them to you within a few days, so you should have them within two weeks at most.
Tina and I aim for a three week turnaround time between you, the customer, sending your TB-303 and receiving it back as a Devil Fish. However it is best to allow four to six weeks.
Please email us with your requirements and we will reply with the full pricing information, shipping address etc. Please send the TB-303 with a reputable courier company, rather than by the post. DHL, Federal Express and your Post Office's EMS service are all good choices.
The German Postpak service and a similar service from the Belgian Post Office is not a courier service and should not be used. Despite assurances about tracking numbers and someone having to sign for delivery, it will be delivered in Australia as an ordinary parcel. This means it may be left on our doorstep. Ordinary airmail with the recipient having to sign for the package is not secure enough for an item such as a TB-303. Post Offices in many countries deliver their packages not through the Post Office of the destination country, but by various transport companies. Australian truck drivers may not understand instructions in French regarding the recipient signing for the package.
Please send just the TB-303 – no batteries, vinyl carry case, or original styrofoam/cardboard box. Batteries should only be included if you do not want the 32 banks of memory and you wish to retain the existing memory contents, or if you want the existing patterns to be transferred into the Quicksilver 303 system (see midi-options/). Memory contents cannot be retained if the 32 bank system is installed, and I can't absolutely guarantee that patterns will be retained if the memory is not installed, so please write down all important patterns before sending the machine for modification. The patch-sheet/ directory has some PDFs to help with this.
We will ship your Devil Fish via the Australia Post EMS courier service (also known as Express Courier International), which is delivered in North America and most European countries by either DHL or the country's Post Office. There is an online tracking system for EMS packages here . The modifications are very reliable and are guaranteed for two years. We normally insure the package for AUD$2000. No machine has been lost or damaged of the 200+ machines we have shipped to overseas owners since the early 1990s.
Other information at this site
It is generally best to enquire via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We are located in Rosanna, a north-eastern suburb of Melbourne.
Sound Samples These are in the sounds/ directory. Videos There are an increasing number of YouTube videos depicting Devil Fishes, including some live acideee action by Martin Rothlisberger (Liquid Trolls) who makes the AluCases. See the videos/ directory.
Martin Röthlisberber in Switzerland http://acid.ch custom-makes AluCases for TB-303s and Devil Fishes. These are machined from solid billets of aluminium. They are anodized and the engraved lettering hand-painted with epoxy paint. See #alucase above for more information.
Q1: "Can the Devil Fish still make the sounds of the TB-303?"
Yes. See page 7 of: Devil-Fish-Manual.pdf for how to restrict the Devil Fish to the TB-303 subset.
Q2: "Does the Devil Fish have MIDI?"
Yes – MIDI In. I hope to have MIDI Out available in June 2013. Please see the midi-options/ page for more information on this and an two other approaches to providing MIDI In and Out.
Q3: "Do you have any TB-303s for sale, or do I know of any?"
Sometimes. Please contact me if you wish to buy or sell a TB-303 and I may be able to put you in touch with someone. See above: #tb303sforsale .
Q4: "Are you going to make a standalone Devil Fish?"
One day. It is a very big project to do it as well as I believe it should be done.
Q5: "Is it OK if a TB-303 has the Kenton CV/Gate/Slide/Accent/Filter input sockets?"
Yes. Before doing the modifications, I remove the sockets, fill the holes with epoxy, paint them silver and then carefully drill the Devil Fish holes with my template.
Q6: "My TB-303s pots are stiff. Can you replace them?"
The 6 small pots (potentiometers Tuning to Accent) typically are rather stiff. This friction may be reduced if the pots have been used a lot and/or if the pots are warm. The friction in the pot is not caused by the wiper on the carbon track, but by a special part of the shaft rubbing on the case in the presence of high-viscosity silicone grease. By dismantling the pot, it is possible to remove that grease and replace it with less viscose silicone grease, which makes them move relatively freely. However I do not pull pots apart without good reason, because of the danger of damaging them.
Q7: "The TB-303's memory contains precious patterns. Will they still be there after the Devil Fish modification?"
I don't absolutely guarantee this, but I have procedures for retaining Lithium battery power to the RAM chips at all times, so your data should remain intact. Be sure to have four good C cells in the machine when you ship it. Take extra care with the packaging, especially to use tape, packaging or whatever to make sure that nothing can turn the Volume knob to the On condition. That would flatten the batteries. The patterns cannot be retained if the 32 bank memory system is installed. It is best to write your patterns down anyway. See the pattern sheets mentioned in the Other Information section above.
Q8: "Do you install Ultra Violet LEDs?"
No. UV LEDs produce very little visible light and plenty of UV, which may be damaging to the eyes – especially up close with the iris wide open in dark conditions.
Q9: "What about spare parts, repairs to Devil Fishes and TB-303s"
Certain parts are vital for the TB-303 and cannot be obtained from any source other than another TB-303. The problem parts are:
Q10: Other maintenance questions regarding knobs, pots, switches, contamination etc.
Never let anyone spray anything inside any equipment you care for!!! (With the possible exception of isopropyl alcohol if you really know what you are doing.) Many TB-303s have been damaged by people spraying oily and/or corrosive liquids inside them. It is possible to remove the oil – but only be removing some components and soaking the whole PCB in a hydrocarbon resembling petrol.
Please see 303-mods/ for more information.
Apart from the images of aquatic Devil Fishes, and the sound samples by other people, all material in this /rwi/dfish/ section of the web site is copyright 1996-2012 Robin and Tina Whittle. If you would like to use some of this material for your own purposes, please ask: email@example.com .
The photo at the top of this page is different for each day of the week. The photos are Devil-Fish-TB-303-front-panel-00.jpg to Devil-Fish-TB-303-front-panel-06.jpg .
If you wish to link to this site, please link to: http://www.firstpr.com.au/rwi/dfish/ and let me know. I will add your site to the links section.