YAMAHA PortaSound PCS-30   squarewave keyboard with Playcard slot & key lighting

This instrument from 1984 was Yamaha's smallest key lighting keyboard with Playcard System (see Yamaha PC-100). Unlike PC-100, the sound generator here is simple squarewave and resembles MC-3.

The PCS-30 has officially only each 6 OBS preset sounds and rhythms, but by a Playcard trick you can select some more. There is also a simple single finger accompaniment. Beside less features, the behaviour and sound of this instrument is almost identical with the newer Yamaha PSS-160, thus I only describe here the differences.

different main features:

SER.NO. 014565
It contains plenty of ICs for such a small thing, including a standard Z80 CPU?
This is the tape head.



The behaviour and sound of this instrument is almost identical with Yamaha PSS-160. The only difference seems to be the analogue tempo slider, the lack of battery alarm and many omitted buttons. Also the "orchestra" slide switch here does not retrigger held notes but only mutes them when slid to decaying sounds. The "guitar" sound corresponds to "harpsichord" on PSS-160. The rightmost key lighting LED is abused as power and tempo LED during normal operation. After power-on sometimes random LEDs light up. Then they fall dark and a light quickly walks from the leftmost to that rightmost LED and stays there. The instrument makes no sound until this about 3 seconds long boot sequence has finished.

In spite of the many similarities with the PSS-160, the hardware of the PCS-30 is far more complex and employs a separate RAM and ROM IC; the ICs have even function names printed on the PCB. The main CPU is marked "Z80"; so far it is really an ordinary Z80 CPU, it would make it easier to reverse- engineer and emulate the PlayCard data format. The keyboard has a  sheet metal frame like known from other old Yamahas. (I haven't examined the hardware closer yet.)

My specimen from eBay fortunately came with a big stack of additional Playcards from multiple different looking sets (see here), those also work with my other Playcard System keyboards. Some cards show an "arpeggio" slider setting, but unlike Yamaha PC-100, the PCS-30 has neither arpeggio nor this slider.

A 44 midsize keys variant of the PCS-30 was released as Yamaha PC-50 (same case style in white with transposer knob). But possibly it belongs to another hardware class, because the preset sounds {organ, violin, clarinet, piano, harpsichord, vibraphone} and rhythms {march, waltz, slow rock, jazz rock, swing, rhumba} are named differently.

 removal of these screws voids warranty...    
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