How to power an old Creative MIDI keyboard?


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I have an old MIDI keyboard made by Creative. It doesn't have anything other than a "Creative" sticker on the back. There are no model numbers that I can see, so I can't find anything on google.

It's a really basic controler. It has 49 keys and nothing else. No knobs, sliders or buttons. On the left side of the keyboard there are 3 ports: MPC, MIDI OUT and JOYSTICK.

MPC looks like the top left in this image, MIDI OUT is regular MIDI and JOYSTICK is bottom left:



From what I've been able to find out, these ports were made for older soundcards and computers that had these older connections built in. I assume the keyboard also got power this way, so does anybody know how I would power it now? There is no regular power connector and the keyboard doesn't take batteries.

The keyboard looks like this except the black part at the top is only about 1 inch wide as it has no knobs. I can take pictures if anybody thinks it will help, but there's not a lot to it.

 
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happyrat1

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That appears to be a Creative Blasterkey MP3.

The manual is available from Creative's website under support for archived products at this link...

http://ccftp.creative.com/manualdn/Manuals/TSD/2393/Blaster_Key_Getting_Started.pdf

It basically draws its power directly from the old style joystick port on a vintage soundcard. It really doesn't need to use any other connections than the soundcard joystick port.

Refer to page 8 of the PDF for the connection details.
 
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I don't have a desktop anymore so I can't use a PCI card. I've seen gameport to USB adapters, but I doubt they would be able to power the keyboard. I have other controllers but it would be nice if I could get the old Creative running again.
 

happyrat1

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The thing is, the keyboard is not only powered by the gameport adapter, it also relies on it as the interface for the MIDI port as well. Without a genuine Creative Labs legacy PCI soundcard, chances are there would be no drivers that could make it work with anything else.

If you're a hardware hacker at heart, perhaps you could cannibalize it for spare parts, but otherwise if I had that thing in my possession it would be out for recycling this week :)

If you have your heart set on playing MIDI on your laptop then there are all sorts of Direct to USB MIDI controllers out there these days for under or around $100. Just pick one up and write off the Creative to a lesson learned in planned obsolescence. ;)
 
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Ah. I figured I could just supply power through the gameport somehow and then run MIDI data through the MIDI OUT port. It's probably not the best keyboard anyway, since it doesn't have transposition buttons or anything else.

Thanks for the help.
 
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Yes, you'd need to use the matching Creative PCI sound card to connect this keyboard. That is a pretty old piece of gear now, ... these days you can get a contemporary USB compatible key board pretty cheap on Ebay, and it will just plug into your computer with no work or fuss. Don
 

happyrat1

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Well, if you are a hardware hacker, you might be able to research the pinout for the joystick port, kludge together a +/-5V/12V power supply, and IF (and it's a really big IF) if it has enough built in intelligence, use it as a dumb controller for a MIDI module, but not only would it probably not work at all without drivers, but you'd also stand a relatively large chance of frying a $500 sound module in the process.

Like I said, chuck it and get something modern with at least some kind of working warranty :)

You're very welcome,
Gary
 
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Well, I decided to throw good money (albeit not much) after bad and try and get the Creative Blasterkeys keyboard we've been carting around for 20 years or so working... and can confirm that the combination of a USB Gameport adapter (SuperJoyBox7) to power the keyboard and a MIDI to USB adapter to try and get some MIDI input do not seem to work.

I have the same keyboard as the original poster, the original Blasterkeys without the controls above the keys, so it doesn't even have a power LED to acknowledge that it is receiving power.

I hate throwing things away! :)
 

happyrat1

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BTW, the MIDI ports on the Creative Keyboard are intended for use in connecting to external keyboards and modules. Basically it functions as a gameport to external MIDI adapter. Connecting another MIDI adapter to it accomplishes nothing.

Read the manual I linked above for proper hookup instructions.

The joystick connection is intended to make it work with the computer in conjunction with proprietary MIDI routing software and computer generated VSTis.
 
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So it's basically a pass-through connector? I haven't got my head around this MIDI terminology yet... why is it labelled "MIDI Out" then? To my mind it sounds like the MIDI signals you are generating by pressing keys should be coming "out" of that port and going "in" to whatever other MIDI device you connect to it.

I had read the manual you linked earlier, but it didn't enlighten me much. What role would the "MIDI module (External)" in the connectivity diagram have?

Thanks for your input. (Or is that output?) :)
 
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That's a great little primer, thanks. However it only serves to confirm my way of thinking... MIDI out from the keyboard should be recognised as MIDI in by the computer. Am I missing something here?

If that's true, then either my keyboard hasn't survived 20 years of being mostly in a box... or it uses some proprietary feature of the Creative sound card's MIDI/Game port to power itself, something which my USB game port adapter does not do?
 

happyrat1

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OK, lemme try and explain this using my indoor voice.

1) The keyboard is 20 years old and is NOT USB MIDI Class Compliant.

2) The ONLY interface between the keyboard and the computer is the Joystick Port.

3) The MIDI IN and OUT ports on the keyboard are design solely to communicate with other external MIDI devices (keyboards, hardware rack modules, drum machines, etc...)

4) If you'd read all the way thru the last article I linked it would explain that you are beating dead horse trying to get this puppy to run because it relies solely on a proprietary software driver written to interface ONLY with a Soundblaster 16 or Compatible Card running under Windows 95 or possibly 98.

My advice is to mount it on a plaque and use it to decorate your rec room. Either that or else give it to your nephew for parts to use in his next college credit electronics lab assignment.

Either that or else hop into the wayback machine and visit 1995 and wow everyone with the state of the art of open architecture MIDI with a $2000 Pentium computer :)

Seriously unless you have some ancient computer rotting away in your attic, the device is utterly useless to anyone except the most dedicated of hardware hackers who might be able to scavenge the keyboard switching assembly and hardwire it to a modern VA module.

Or else put it up on craigslist and sell it to someone else who really doesn't know what he's getting.

Gary
 
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:oops: I'll go to my room now....

It just so happens... I have an old P-III 733 with an SB Live! which I hadn't powered up for 8 years or so, and this gave me a good excuse to try. Surprisingly the CMOS battery wasn't flat... the clock was only 2 minutes off (ignoring the 7 or 8 hours difference since it was last used on the other side of the planet). Boot drive was dead, but second drive lived on; I did a fresh install of Win98SE, struggled with drivers for a while (no floppy disks... no network (no driver for NIC)... no DVD boot capability) but eventually got the setup up and running. Loaded up LiveWare!, plugged in the keyboard, et voilà! As good as new, and sounds great!

No idea what to do with it now... as you say... frame the whole lot and stick 'em on the wall? But nice to make some classic noises...

Thanks for the tips.

Annihilannic
 
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Hello Annihilannic, i am trying to do the same thing you did : to play with the old creative blasterkey home studio (1997). It looks you have been successfuly made it worked. So my question is, with your old computer and Windows 98, have you also add the SoundBlaster CArd to male it work? Or did simply plugged the keyboard on the computer?
If you ca answer this i would be so grateful, and already hank you for your experience sharing,
See you i hope
 
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Hi Durud. My old PC still had a SoundBlaster Live! card in it, so I just plugged the keyboard into the joystick/MIDI port on that card. You can't normally plug that cable into anything else unless your PC had a game port adapter (for joysticks and steering wheels, but not MIDI devices), but that would be pretty unusual since most sound cards of that era provided the game port.

Hope that helps?
 
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Hello Annihilannic, That was really helpfull. I bought this keyboard without knowing anything about it, and because of your sharing experience i can make it work, i have also some old computer. This is quite funny for me, you already made all the first way, i just have to follow the indications. So really thank you very much, you made it all the way through, ignoring all the desperates voices trying to make you stop.

This was not useless at all, i am french and i honor your will.
See you during an other experiment maybe
 

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