Share your knowledge on these two classic MPCs
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By aarb Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:18 am
TL;DR: Might have found a cheap MPC 60 MKII LED upgrade based on someone's s950 post on another site. Also trying to convert/patch the display signal from the MPC 60MKII display to a 7" crappy Chinese tablet(s) I bought in bulk years ago to act as an external display unit. Also, if anyone has the LCD schematics PLEASE post them.



FYI this post is ultra long and sort of like a mix between a diary, DIY-journal, and pleas for advice. But, this post also contains lots of reference links that might be useful to others someday because they were to me... anyways, let's start this.



So, I wanted to seek advice and possibly delve into a conceptual multi-part discussion about MPC 60 MKII/MK2 upgrades that I'm in the process of doing on my own, and also considering getting done once I get the i's dotted and the t's crossed off the board. FYI, I by no means am an experienced electrician, engineer, etc. Just a beatjunkie.

This lock down situation has given me a lot of time to return to my hobbies outside of daily life, which can either be interpreted as a blessing in disguise or curse, especially without cash flow and copious pent-up single man energy. Anyways, I decided **** it and recently upgraded my mpc 60mk2 and my s950 with the HxC gotek floppies and oled floppy screens (which I highly recommend for anyone who has yet to try them).

Those upgrades led me to someone's post on gearslutz (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/electronic-music-instruments-and-electronic-music-production/1262092-pimp-my-akai-s-950-thread-new-display-floppy-upgrade-etc.html), where user: Don Solaris installed a 40x2 character LED backlit screen on the cheap (~$15.00 total in parts, while also getting rid of the noisy inverter and recycling original screws/wires) vs. an ebay seller charging $110+ for the exact same display unit + his “costs”. I’m currently waiting for my "cheap" display to arrive, so I’ll keep you updated on my results (ugh, China post, COVID, trade war).

Since the many people who usually own a 60mk2s also own a s950 with dying backlights, you can also perform the mod with me if you’d like by following this link (no guarantees, but it seems to work according to his post): https://www.ebay.com/itm/5V-Black-40x2-Character-LCD-Module-Display-w-Tutorial-HD44780-Bezel-Backlight/302006321779?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649. If you’re reading this post and the auction has already expired, just type in “40x2 LCD display” on buydisplay.com and there should be different color options available according to your needs. You can likely buy them elsewhere too (super common, apparently), but the end result might not be as cost effective, since most US companies charge more. According to that post, all you need for this mod are a few round plastic spacers to prevent shorting, and some light solder work for the pinouts/ display contrast control via the knob (plus a few other minor things). The pinouts that need to be soldered also need to be angled due to the limited space (right angle/ 90 degrees), but you could read more about that in that post.

That post then led me down another separate but parallel rabbit hole, which was looking for various different replacement display options for my 60. There's currently a sexy one that I found available that 60 owners all likely know about on ebay (https://www.ebay.com/itm/Akai-MPC60-MKII-Negative-Tri-Axis-Black-LED-Display/223468801157?hash=item3407c74c85:g:5osAAOSwjatbz1IO) that is going for $160+, from luxmuzik. The display that they are selling looks very similar in to the Gotek OLED screen mod contrast (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX5blrJYb5w).

The ****'s gotta match the Gotek. But, that price seems steep.

Alternatively, there is a 240x64 display listed on buydisplays.com that a few people have discussed on a mpc 1000 thread (https://www.buydisplay.com/graphic-lcd-240x64-module-display-ra6963-fully-compatible-with-t6963 and the thread discussing it is here https://www.mpc-forums.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=187685&start=15.

Side quest: That led me to a post on this site:https://www.ecalpemos.nl/2018/09/23/new-display-for-akai-vx600/ in which the OP outlines the installation of the above display mod for his AKAI VX600. Here it is possible to see/compare pictures of screen modules bare, both old/new, and more thoroughly. According to their post, "Look on eBay for replacement displays for Akai VX600, S3000 (XL), CD3000 (XL), MPC3000 or MPC60mk2. All these instruments use the same display. Do make sure you get a display with the right connector as the VX600 uses a different one compared to the other machines." That site brought me to this interesting s3000xl thread where one of the posts was someone who purchased from luxmuzik and posted his bare screen (mid way down page 2): https://www.dogsonacid.com/threads/any-character-in-the-akai-s3000xl.792545/page-2.

The pixel density specs of both displays are the same according to AKAI service manuals (240x64) even though the seller on ebay doesn't have the specs listed in their description (at least that's what I manually counted on the screen one by one from their pics), but the only problem I was running into without buying the display is that the two boards have different pin outputs. The plug-n-play one on ebay from luxmuzik going for 160+ is 10 pin outs (1 row of 10 pins) vs. the buydisplays DIY model with 20 pin outs (2 parallel rows of 10pins). I don't have the LCD schematics for the 60 (or yet at least, still searching but it seems impossible), so it's a little bit tough trying to deduce if the cheaper screens would be compatible with some sort of adapter converter like this: https://www.diymore.cc/products/emulator-v8-jtag-adapter-converter-for-j-link-with-8pcs-4-pin-6-pin-10-pin-20-pin-grey-flat-ribbon-data-cable-dupont-wire. I’m currently chatting with buydisplays ebay store’s rep who has been super helpful, but she told me that she needs the OEM spec sheets to give me a solid answer on compatibility due to wiring layouts, so if anyone out there has it that could provide me a copy, I would really appreciate it.

That is to be continued.

Moreover, I came across VGA mod posts people were posting with their mpc 3000s. It's an exciting idea, but can it be done with a 60mk2? It should be known that this 3000 mod has been very well documented with numerous screen compatibility issues, and apparently only certain older ugly HP monitors tend to work well for mysterious reasons. So, this is really a long shot.

However, assuming that the side journey guy's post from above is correct, in that both machines use the same screen (3000 & 60mk2), would it be possible to perform the same mod on a 60mk2, and not just with any screen, but a 2014 7" Allwinnner Chinese tablet screen (https://www.ebay.com/i/173873482805?chn=ps&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-117182-37290-0&mkcid=2&itemid=173873482805&targetid=885527514878&device=c&mktype=pla&googleloc=9031026&poi=&campaignid=9248523526&mkgroupid=93042740079&rlsatarget=aud-622027676388:pla-885527514878&abcId=1141156&merchantid=101696049&gclid=CjwKCAjw8df2BRA3EiwAvfZWaNswI1My6m7ib5LctgKEzr3FYj6Al1DRAFbTg_tiEj4iTuc6lSNIrRoChEEQAvD_BwE?

My theory is that it's just a matter of getting the correct display signal transferred/ board to convert the signal so that both the MPC LCD and the Outboard LCD communicate properly. As far as the tablet displays go, I bought them in bulk to resell years ago (didn’t go as planned), but they're just sitting around and are useless otherwise, so breaking/bricking them isn't an issue. This article puts my theory into picture form: https://developer.toradex.com/knowledge-base/generic-rgb-display-adapter-board.

Following that article, there is a seller offering a Raspberry Pi display kit https://www.ebay.com/itm/7-inch-7-Raspberry-Pi-3-LCD-TFT-Display-HDMI-VGA-Monitor-Screen-Remote-control/124209125744?hash=item1ceb70d970:g:~6IAAOSwhVxaEsrY which I would hope may solve the display conversion issue. Given that there are so many various display output options available it would be a blind shot to try it out. Unfortunately, my 7” displays are connected with 60 pin ribbon cables vs the 50 pin (TTL) TCON ribbon cable in the ebay listing. But, honestly for 20-25 bucks I’m not opposed to trying it out.

The main reasons on why I’m gambling on this mod potentially working are that: ebay seller luxmuzik’s listings in their store for both the 60mk2 and 3000 among other similar older instrument models all have the exact same part listed in the pictures (could just be unintended negligence on seller’s part for listing the same display unit pictures in each separate listing, unless the displays all actually are the same, and possibly with varying connections. This of course is not meant to slander the seller if they went out of their way and out-of-pocket to manufacture the part listed itself, but with all the lock down stuff you start to get suspicious and with the other older post from the guy with the VX600, it started to get me thinking.

Please, if you’re as curious as me, or want to join along in this journey and chime in, I am all ears! For some reason, it seems that either someone is hoarding the 60mk2s in bulk like TP, or its owners have become a senile bunch and are content with the fact that it still powers on/ collects dust. There are barely any detailed posts available especially for potentially newer mods, and it really sucks for the younger 60 crowd because everything available is either expensive or hard to find. Unfortunately, I know just enough to not know enough, and so I'm sort of picking up things as I go by reading new/old threads along the way. So yeah, my case is specific to Chinese tablet LCDs from 2014 with 60 pin ribbon cables because I really want to make some use out of them, but I feel like this can really open up a plethora of alternatives if people are still willing to mess with their 60's and the output options that could exist, in theory.
By vout Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:07 pm
Regarding LCD displays - the S950 and a lot of other gear use standard displays with built-in controller chips, so they are easy and cheap to replace with off-the-shelf types. BUT, the MPC60 uses a rare type of display without an onboard controller chip (Akai used these in several products) - the controller is on the motherboard. The only way to get a modern replacement (with LED backlight or OLED) is to get them custom made. This is why the replacements you see for sale now are so expensive.

It is possible to modify some older displays to remove or bypass the controller chip so they can be made to work with the 60, I did this a while ago on my first MPC60, but it was a lot of work.
By masapp Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:48 pm
vout wrote:Regarding LCD displays - the S950 and a lot of other gear use standard displays with built-in controller chips, so they are easy and cheap to replace with off-the-shelf types. BUT, the MPC60 uses a rare type of display without an onboard controller chip (Akai used these in several products) - the controller is on the motherboard. The only way to get a modern replacement (with LED backlight or OLED) is to get them custom made. This is why the replacements you see for sale now are so expensive.

It is possible to modify some older displays to remove or bypass the controller chip so they can be made to work with the 60, I did this a while ago on my first MPC60, but it was a lot of work.


Hello Vout,

are you willing to share how you went about modifying the LCD screen for 240x64 lcd screen please?