Upgrade Disklavier from 3.5" Floppy to USB Floppy Emulator

The early disklaviers from 1987 through the early 90s recorded Yamaha's e-seq midi files on 3.5" floppy disks. The pianist could record and playback from these disks or with a computer, store, download or share these midi files, as computers at the time all had a floppy drive and a compatible operating system.

With the demise of 3.5" floppy disks on modern computers, downloading, sharing and reliable storage is an insuperable problem. Also the difficulty purchasing new 3.5" floppy disks limits storage to the owners existing collection of floppy disks which with age are losing data.

The most inexpensive solution is the Gotek floppy emulator which can then be programmed with Kier Fraser's FlashFloppy firmware.

You will need to purchase a compatible Gotek floppy emulator, I chose the SFR1M44-U100K.

It will not work out of the box and once programmed will need either modification to the device or the computer ribbon from the disklavier controller to the emulator. The modifications to be followed are those outlined by Kier for the Yamaha DX7II-FD synthesizer.

I went with modifying the device so I could reinstall the floppy drive if desired without buying a new ribbon. Otherwise buy a new computer ribbon and a 34 pin female connector (you will likely break the connector when you modify the ribbon) and keep the unmodified ribbon for use with the floppy drive should a need arise. Though I did not completely test modifying the ribbon I would advise it. Buying a new ribbon is a very good option as all the modification is in the new or old ribbon which ever you choose to modify. I also modified the emulator with an OLED screen which I highly recommend.

Once the emulator is programmed and you've modified it or the cable you will need to copy three files to your usb storage device: FF.CFG, IMG.CFG and FLOPPY01.IMG.

The CFG files are configuration files and the IMG file is just a binary file of 0s with file size 720KB which the disklavier can format as a blank disk for writing to. Once the disklavier has stored your performances the disk image which is still 720KB can be copied and stored on your modern computer.

However this will only allow a pianist to record and store their own performances on a modern computer. An owner is missing the fun part of playing downloaded pieces or sharing their performances. We want to get back the full function of these quality instruments and that's what this tutorial is about.

So how do we extract those midi files to share or play downloaded midi files. I have written two windows programs one extracts the midi files from an IMG file and the other creates an IMG file from a folder containing FIL (yamaha e-seq midi) files. Download these free versions here.

MX100CreateImg
MX100ExtractMidi

Both these files are zip files containing executables that run in a console. A console can be opened by typing cmd in the search bar next to the windows button which will find the command console which you can click to open.

To create an image file type the command mx100createimg "some folder containing FIL files".

To extract e-seq FIL files type mx100extractmidi "your disk image.IMG".

Make sure your computer knows where to find the executable files by either placing them in a directory in your path environment variable or place the files in a folder called disklavier where you will create your image files from the child directories containing FIL files. Navigate to that directory in the console to use the above commands.

Now if you that sounds like too much work you can get one of these plug and play emulators. The first one doesn't have an OLED screen.