Winner of Name that Ware November 2005!

I’m always impressed that people can derive so much from a single board image and no hints. November’s Ware was my Korg KM-2 Kaoss Mixer, which sits between my decks and my vinyl-to-MP3 converter (Serato Scratch Live, a must-have for DJs). The winner is Mouser, as he gave the most insightful and detailed analysis, even though he did not guess the exact ware (although his general conclusion is correct). As I have noted in the past, correctness of the answer counts for less than the thought process of getting there. bdb also deserves an honorable mention for his cleverness in matching up the rear footprint of the device to derive the exact model number of the ware.

Many people were thrown off by the 40-pin dual-row 0.1″ pitch header in the lower right corner of the picture; the ATA hard drive standard uses an identical connector. However, ribbon cable headers are not unique to the ATA standard, so some caution needs to be applied when trying to identify such a connector. In this case, the connector is a proprietary internal general-purpose I/O header connected to other peripherals within the unit. The connector distinguishes itself from an ATA header through its pinout. A header for an ATA bus has grounds at certain pin locations. In this photograph, one can see that these locations are pinned out as signals, ruling out the possibility of it functioning as an ATA bus connector (or if it is, it is highly non-standard for some arcane reason). Also, the bank of series resistors adjacent to connector is unusual for an IDE/ATA header.

I’ve always found it interesting how each piece of hardware has a certain look and feel to it. In fact, the board has a distinctly Japanese-designed look and feel to it. The tented vias, the color of the solder mask, and the silkscreen styling, along with the component selection, is reminiscent of many other designs I’ve seen come out of Japanese design houses, in particular, the mainboard of my old Casio FX-7000 graphing calculator looked like it was fabbed in a very similar process…and in fact, I just looked up the Corporate History of Korg, and it is a Japanese corporation. It’s always interesting to note how regional biases tend to inform certain design motifs. Check out the HP 2600 N teardown from a while ago, and look at the engine board as another example of a board that smells of Japanese engineering.

One Response to “Winner of Name that Ware November 2005!”

  1. RISc says:

    The first thing I thought when I saw that board was the silkscreen. It is idential to that used on a Epson printer I had. Especially the blue and white on via’s.