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Music People Drumfire DF-500 (5-channel Analogue Drum Synth) - Midi-fied

The Drumfire DF-500 is a 5 channel drum synth module.
The 5 channels are identical, with their own Trigger-In and Audio Out sockets.
Each channel is a mini analogue synth drum module, capable of producing a wide range of electronic drum sounds, and since every parameter is defined by a knob, it's highly tweakable.
The 5 drum channels also have their own level and pan pots, and the signals are mixed to a pair of stereo outputs with Left/Right volume control.

Each channel has 9 controls (8 knobs & 1 switch):
SENSITIVITY  controls pickup/trigger in sensitivity
OSCILLATOR DECAY  controls decay time of the synth oscillator
NOISE DECAY  controls decay time of the noise sound
SWEEP  alters oscillator frequency
CLICK (Switch)  adds a click sound to the attack
PITCH  changes oscillator pitch
BALANCE  controls balance between oscillator/noise
VOLUME  output volume to mixer
PAN  L/R balance control, also allow dual output on L/R jacks


Since it has individual audio outputs, the out could be patch back/daisy chain to the next channel's trigger input, so cascading up to a 5 oscillator synth drum sound!
Drumfire is the name of the module, but not a lot of people really know the manufacturer's name. It just say In-Line Effects at the bottom. No logo.
From a post in Hyperreal Music Machine, it's made by Music People Inc. in the USA.

Drumfire DF-500 and C Y

bulletGot this off ebay, from USA, relatively cheap.
bulletI have actually installed a midi trigger to it, so now it's a midi drum module.
bulletIt's a cheap/fast solution to add some electronic synth drums to my setup.
It's capable of doing synth kicks and Kraftwerk style snares, very easy to get Simmons "Boo-Boo" tom sounds, but not so good in hi hats and bad at ding cymbals.

Some Soundz

DF-500 Bass Drum Type of Soundz Bass drums / Toms or those type of stuff.
DF-500 Snare Drum Type of Soundz Snare-ish with the Noise on. Very Simmons.
DF-500 Hi-Hat/Noize Type of Soundz Short Noises, Minimal Synth Osc .
DF-500 Misc/Various Soundz Various electronic Krafty-ish noizes.
DF-500 Test Loop Triggering some simple/basic  drum patterns.



C Y 's Mods on the Drumfire DF-500

I won't go into much details here, cos all i've done is change the voltage input from 110V to 240V, added midi trigger and switched 2 sockets around.
bulletPower & IEC Mains Socket

It came from USA and had 110V and a flying lead.

I put an IEC mains Socket in, and bought a new +/-15V transformer which replaced the 110V only transformer inside.

The original 110V transformer was mounted on the back panel, along with the PSU board. I removed it.
Also added a 9V step-down board i think....(can't remember, this was the done a while ago).

To make the IEC Mains Inlet hole, I use a screwing hand tool, which is an M10 Radius Hand Hole Cutter, 28x21mm (
RS Cat.#543-614 or or 541-501), with matching 10A Snap In PCB Mount IEC 320 Plug Socket (311-8031 or 488-191).

I mounted the new transformer inside the main case:

bulletSocket Location Changes

There were these Footswitch & Headphone sockets located at the bottom of the case - I think the design was for drummers having the module mounted flat, standalone next to their drum kit. I planned to place the DF-500 in vertical position, so these 2 sockets are kinda obstructing.

I removed them, relocated the Footswitch to the back, and the Headphones to the Front.


bulletMIDI Trigger

I bought a Midi Trigger board from Emblab (in Canada) - it's actually nearly the same as their Midi 606 board for the Roland TR-606. But this one has 8 full triggers, configured to give a pulse trigger and also midi channel is not fixed to 6 but fixed to 1.

I simply mounted a midi in socket and soldered the triggers tapping to the Trigger-In jack sockets.

bulletPower Switch & LED

Originally it has an illuminated RED square power push switch. It broke while i was re-soldering the mains to it. So i replaced it with a similar sized switch, but the one i had at the time was not illuminated. So I added an LED, otherwise there's no way to tell if it's switched on or off!

bulletTO DO's

There isn't much to do. It's got most of everything - separate outputs, now it has midi and voltage sorted out.
There isn't much point rackmounting it either - since it has a fair amount of knobs. So I think it'll stay like this now.



Other Links on the Drumfire DF-500...

bullet Hyperreal Music Machine DF-500 text - brief description/ad info-hype
bullet Uzzfay DF-500 page has detailed info on the DF-500 and some PCB images.
bullet The Audio Playground Synthesizer Museum has a Drumfire page, and they dunno the manufacturer's name.
Not a lot of info or links on this thing, really.



Home Synths

Roland TR-606 Roland TR-909 Boss DR-110 Tama TS-305 Drumfire DF-500 Cheetah MD16RP