We love featuring DIY DJ technology projects on the blog, and todayâ€™s features is a whopper. An intrepid YouTube user has rewired a set of Technics SL-1200 turntables and added a built-embedded system to play a library of tracks using control vinyl, without an external DVS system like Serato or Traktor. Keep reading to learn more.
Technics Standalone DVS Project
So what even are we looking at here? Itâ€™s a standalone, self-contained piece of DJ gear, much like a CDJ â€“ except itâ€™s a Technics turntable. Hereâ€™s the basic overview of the project:
- This is a DIY project â€“ one of a kind engineered by one person
- Itâ€™s a Technics SL-1200 turntable that can play normal records
- Thereâ€™s a second mode that allows it to play songs off a built-in computerâ€™s SD card
- It has DVS timecode functionality â€“ scratching, spinbacks, pitch shifting all work well
- The controls used are three buttons: Start/Stop, 33, 45.
- No external connections are required â€“ the audio coming out from the Technics
- You can set cue points and loops
Want to see it in action? Thereâ€™s two demo videos on YouTube, but theyâ€™re not exactly cohesive or clear, and are mostly in Russian, so I quickly cut one of them up and added some notes in English so you can follow exactly whatâ€™s happening:
In the original video description, Andrew Anatsky* writes:
â€śHandmade Digital Vinyl System (DVS), built-in [to a] vinyl turntable Technics SL-1200. [It is like] an analog Serato or Traktor Scratch, but is completely autonomous. The computer and the sound card is not necessary. To work [you only need] 2 turntables and mixer. Content is stored on a micro SD cards in the players. It is possible to install two hot cues for each track with automatic saving on the SD card, installing realtime loops.â€ť
With this mod, there are a few different modes and menus:
- Normal: If you turn on the turntable normally, it behaves as you would expect a Technics SL-1200MK3 to
- DVS Mode: Hold down the 45 and 33 buttons while turning on the turntable, and it jumps into DVS mode. In this mode there are three different layers of functionality for the 45/33 buttons, which you can access by holding down on the Start Stop button:
- Song Browsing: Jump forward and backward one track with a single tap, fast forward or rewind by holding, or hold one and tap the other to jump around in your SD cardâ€™s folders.
- Cue Point: You can save and trigger two cue points with this mod.
- Loops: This behaves just like an old-school CDJ â€“ which means itâ€™s Loop In and Loop Out. It doesnâ€™t seem like there is any quantization happening here, so make sure your timing is tight!
More Details + Project Documentation
At the base of this standalone DVS project is this XILINK FPGA board ($45 on eBay) â€“ an embedded system that is designed for audio playback and manipulation. The project is based around using this board as the central brain, but as you can see in the video above, it handles the playback manipulation that you would get from aggressive DJ use just fine.
If you want to take on the task of creating your own version of this standalone digital turntable, there is full documentation here and a complete wiring diagram here â€“ but again, itâ€™s all in Russian and pretty challenging to translate.
Check out another similar mod project for turntable heads: modifying a Technics SL-DZ-1200 digital player for way more precise control.
All photos / video credit to Andrew Anatsky (*for some reason we canâ€™t use Cyrillic letters here, so thatâ€™s his â€śtranslatedâ€ť name)- weâ€™ve been trying to reach them but havenâ€™t had a response. Please email us at email@example.com :)