Miles Golden Camel-11AB monophonic digital lo-fi tablehooter with sample rhythm & many demos

This tablehooter from 2003 (keyboard PCB date label) appears to be the direct successor of the absurd Golden Camel 7A  - one of the certainly worst keyboards of the world. Although it has a very similar case, this one doesn't contain the archaic monophonic tooting Yogmei transistor tone generator with sheet metal contacts anymore. Instead it has now 8 monophonic digital preset sounds, 2 note polyphonic demos and the drumpads play now 7 real sampled percussion noises and some rhythm patterns.

In spite of these modernization, the Golden Camel 11AB is still one of the worst tablehooters ever, since (in unmodified state) especially the rhythm of this yelling beast distorts horribly, and there are only 2 volume settings (ear tormenting loud - and louder!). In spite of this the rough digital sounds can be nice for tekkno. (Unfortunately the rhythm CPU of my specimen is faulty and makes mess after half a minute.)

The 7 leftmost keys are fake and do the same like the 4 drumpads. Although the case bottom this instrument has a proud "Miles® - quality certificate" sticker, the hardware of this bad hoax is no quality product at all, but looks like soldered together as piecework in a Chinese concentration camp; like the Golden Camel 7A it is an incredible mess of loose cables, and even the main CPU (a tiny COB module) rumbles loosely around and hangs only on thin wires - ready to make a short circuit with everything that comes in its way. Also the control panel still uses metal contacts of questionable reliability, and the button panel is still fake since all alphabet letter buttons {"A".."L"} on each half are internally connected and do the same. And worst - the yellow "DC 9V" AC adapter jack is still wired parallel(!) to the battery compartment, thus any attempts to use it with batteries inserted, may cause the batteries to EXPLODE (and also the microphone would certainly not survive to be accidentally plugged in here instead of the identical "karaoke" jack below it).

This pile of mess is the original hardware in unmodified state (no joke!). The main CPU hangs on loose, long cables - ready to make a short circuit with everything that comes in its way... Also the rhythm CPU is not held much better by only 2 thin bare wires.
The packaging box tells the model name "GC-11AB" and a different version of the instrument with a "tone" switch ("piano/ organ") instead of the "MIC" switch, no percussion symbols on the leftmost keys and both button panel halves labelled "eight music selected" (like the Golden Camel 7A) instead of "voice" and "demo songs". The box also includes the following wrong and very Engrish misspelled technical data list: The brand name "Miles" (which appears only on the case but nowhere on this box) seems to be a synonym for "Yongmei", that was alternatively used on many tablehooters in the same analogue transistor hardware class like the Golden Camel 7A. Unfortunately the stylish camel logo of the 7A is missing on the 11AB; possibly the lung cancer manufacturer Camel sued Yongmei the ass off because it resembled too much their cigarette box logo.

main features:




Unlike the Golden Camel 7A, the key contacts of the 11AB are no wacky sheet metal switches anymore, but a modern PCB (labelled "MLS11AB  2003/07/16 Zk") with silicone contacts, and also the keys itself are slightly less flimsy now and have plastic hooks underneath against bending them upward. But the rest is still a similar horrible cable- and metal switch mess like inside the 7A. Initially one of the drumpads didn't work by a wrongly mounted contact spring. Bizarre is also that all PCBs are made from different materials.
All Buttons and switches scrape with metal on bare copper traces.
Due to the battery explosion risk by the parallel wired AC- adapter jack, this Chinese thing contradicts the "CE" rules and thus would be theoretically illegal to import into the EU (and certainly USA too). To fix this, solder each a diode into the line from the battery compartment "+" output  to the electronics and from the  AC- jack "+" to the electronics. Initially the rhythm sounded extremely thin, harsh and distorted. To fix this, disconnect at the amplifier the audio cable from the rhythm CPU and then connect it through a 10µF electrolytic cap (+ at the rhythm CPU side) to the amplifier's main CPU audio input. Look at this crude PCB material...

The main voice preset sounds are made from each a static digital waveform with simple volume envelope. The timbres have audible beeping components due to the very low waveform sample resolution, but otherwise they resemble more or less typical filtered multipulse squarewave. They all sound thin and fairly harsh, which likely has also to do with the bad speaker and amplifier. Due to there are no preset sounds listed, all sound names were chosen by me. The "guitar" sounds a bit harsh and its decay phase ends too soon. The "trumpet" plays much quieter than the other presets and has a thin and harsh timbre that resembles bagpipes. The "pipe organ" is the typical multipulse squarewave timbre that attempts to sound like a metal pipe organ rank. The "e-piano" has a clarinet timbre, but starts to fade silent after a second with held notes, and has a little sustain. During decay the timbre turns a bit brighter (like a mild wahwah effect). The "e-bass" has a bit hollow timbre that in the mid range reminds to a banjo and also fades brighter during decay, but the envelope sounds too linear. The "banjo" has a harsh timbre (like intended?) and a shorter decay envelope. The "saxophone" is too harsh in the mid range and a delayed decay phase prevents to play very short notes. The "mandolin" rings with about 8 Hz. Unfortunately the keyboard matrix sometimes skips notes during very fast play, and pressing more than 1 key plays a wrong note pitch (depending on the key combination). A bit bizarre is also that when a key is held down and a lower note is played, the instrument switches to the pitch of the lower note and doesn't end the note before both keys are released. Unlike the Golden Camel 7A, there is no vibrato effect (although claimed on the box).

The percussion is made from grainy low- res samples those sound quite distorted (with unmodified amp mine was extremely harsh and hissy); especially the bongos clip noticeable. The scratch noise sounds like a zip. Both the "snare" and "base" timbre resemble a timpani and could certainly sound quite fat and bassy when the transistorized amp is modified a bit more.

The rhythm is produced by a digitally totally independent separate CPU, and thus can be also started and stopped during demos etc. without interfering with the main CPU in any way. Unfortunately my first rhythm CPU badly suffered of chip cancer; it played semi- random "jungle" rhythms after about half a minute (depending on its temperature) because its internal sequencer freaked out. Thus I later transplanted the intact rhythm CPU from another specimen of this keyboard (which apparently has a bad amplifier because it plays too quiet and distorts badly). With rhythm off, the drumpads play each a percussion sample. Although there are only 4 drumpads, 3 additional percussion can be played by pressing multiple pads together  (e.g.. cl. cymbal + open cymbal = low bongo, cl. cymbal + open cymbal + base = high bongo, snare + base = scratch). Also the leftmost 7 keys are wired parallel and thus do the same like the 4 drumpads. With the 5th (rightmost) drumpad button rhythm can be switched on and off. When on, it plays a monophonic preset rhythm pattern (there is only one) of fixed speed, and the drumpads now play each a different fill-in (7 in total) instead of the 7 percussion sounds. Each fill-in pattern plays 2 times before it switches back to the normal rhythm pattern. There is no tempo control. When a drumpad sound was played before switching rhythm on, the rhythm starts with its corresponding fill-in before the normal rhythm patterns begins. But with my faulty rhythm CPU the pattern made more and more mess and turned into semi- random jungle grooves and drumrolls when the instrument warmed up, and also the fill-ins turned into shorter and semi- random patterns. I first though it were no bug but a feature based on a random number generator, but it turned out that the patterns stay longer stable when I reduced its supply voltage (normally 3.4V, I added a trimmer for this), but at too low voltage (2V and lower) the rhythm distorted and also stopped in the middle of a pattern when cold. (The rhythm CPU is only powered through a voltage divider of a few 100 Ohms and thus anyway didn't turn feelable warm even after long operation.) With rhythm off, my rhythm CPU also started to play quiet click/ pop noises every 2 seconds when drumpads are played with rhythm off. The clicking stops after starting and stopping rhythm again.
The hardware after my upgrade... This is the rewired amp; the electrolytic cap to the right reduces rhythm distortion. The trimmer to the left reduces the supply voltage of my faulty rhythm CPU (which I later removed).
Like the preset sounds, also the demos are switched in a sequence by pressing any of the {"A".."L"} button (those are wired parallel) multiple times. The demos are (unlike the manual keyboard play) 2 note polyphonic and employ the currently selected preset sound for both voices. With the "guide" button the instrument switches into an "any key play" mode, in which you can step through the monophonic main voice of the demos by pressing keyboard keys (the demos play only monophonic here).

The 22 demo musics are:

  1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  2. ?
  3. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  4. Old MacDonald had a Farm
  5. Little Brown Jug
  6. ?
  7. Pop Goes the Weasel
  8. Are You Sleeping?
  9. ?
  10. Happy Birthday
  11. Little Bee/ Hänschen Klein
  12. ? (Chinese tune?)
  13. Mary had a Little Lamb
  14. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star [different version]
  15. Yankee Doodle
  16. ?
  17. Puff, the Magic Dragon
  18. 10 Little Indians
  19. This Old Man
  20. London Bridge is Falling Down
  21. Oh Susanna
  22. ?
Regarding the Yongmei naming conventions, the GC-11AB was possibly also released as MS-11AB or YM-11AB. Possibly the "AB" refers to the main CPU name, thus model names ending on "AB" may hint to the same main CPU. The direct predecessor of this instrument was the Golden Camel 7A. A successor (with also 37 real and 7 fake drumpad keys but more modern hardware) was the Miles 3738. The name "Miles" may be an odd abbreviation of Meisheng, the keyboard division of the infamous company Yongmei (see here for their website). Another such keyboard (with similar cable mess inside) is the MeiKe MK-320B, which has 3 different spellings of its brand name on its case.
 removal of these screws voids warranty...    
back to tablehooters collection