Rooting the KORG Kronos

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Montag, 28. März 2016

Kronos Keybed Communication

While most knobs, buttons and LEDs on the Kronos are connected to the OMAP , the Keybed with the two switches SW1/SW2 and the Pitch Bend Controller "Joystick" are connected to the PC Mainboard.

The communication between Keybed and PC works via the PC's serial port COM1. This serial port is provided by a 16550A compatible UART inside the mainboard's Super-IO chip (Winbond W83627).

The Keybed sends short (1-4 bytes) commands to the PC when keys are pressed or the analog joystick is moved.

There are some oddities:

  • The serial baud rate is 62500 bits/s.
  • The voltage levels between keybed and PC don't match: The PC is using RS232 levels (-10V/+10V) and the keybed is using TTL levels (0V/+5V). It is a strange thing that the connection even works under those circumstances.
  • The synthesizer kernel module (OA.ko) completely bypasses the kernel's serial driver. There is a minimal serial driver embedded in OA.ko
  • The UART baud rate generator is not used with it's default clock of 1.8461 MHz but with an alternative clock of 24 MHz. The baud rate generator clock is switched using the configuration registers of the Super-IO chip. This is also done by OA.ko.
  • OA.ko also reads the ChipID register of the W83627 and refuses to start if this specific Super-IO chip is not present.
Update: The Kronos 2 mainboard (ASRock IMB-140) has a different Super-IO chip: the NCT6627UD. This is a brother of the NCT6776 which is used on my brand new Supermicro X11SSV-Q. The registers required to configure and use the first UART (COM1) are identical on both chips.

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