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Add an internal Zip to your ESI-2000

June 15th, 2007 Andrew Martens

Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to pick up an E-mu ESI-2000 sampler (circa 1997) from a local pawnshop for $88 + tax. While it only had 4 MB RAM, it could be easily expanded with 72-pin SIMMs, and already had the “turbo” board installed – giving it some onboard effects, S/PDIF I/O, and another pair of sub outputs. I managed to scrounge up 32 MB RAM for the beast, and put my old SCSI Zip drive into an external enclosure. All was well, but that enclosure had a noisy, noisy fan and it drove me crazy.

An internal Zip drive was originally an option on the ESI-2000 (and ESI-4000), but many people chose the basic version with a floppy drive due to cost. Fair enough! I used the floppy drive to copy a number of sample sets onto the Zip, and then I set out to put my Zip drive inside the sampler. The main problem was finding an appropriate cable. E-mu used to make a particular part, but have since sold off their old B-stock to some other company that doesn’t return my emails. There are two options that I came up with.

  1. this cable will probably do the trick if you removed the bracket; I haven’t tried it, but it looks like it should work fine (though it has an extra connector)
  2. add a Centronics connector to an existing 50-pin SCSI cable

I was planning to go with option 1, but when I was buying some rack rails (see my DIY rack post) at a local shop, lo and behold they had an IDC 50-pin crimp female Centronics adapter! I actually had an appropriate 50-pin cable (missing the Centronics connector), but I had despaired of ever finding the proper part. That is but the beginning of our wonderful photoessay…

This actually didn’t take very long, perhaps an hour from start to finish. I’ve attached IDC connectors onto ribbon cables before, so I knew what I was up against, and had the appropriate tools on hand.

ESI frontThis is your standard ESI-2000 with a floppy drive.

Back openThis is what it looks like from the back with the cover off. You did unplug it first, right? Watch out, the powersupply in mine wasn’t shielded, and you could cause yourself injury. I don’t recommend that anyone do this, insert legal boilerplate here. If you don’t know what you’re doing, just don’t try it.

internal SCSIInternal SCSI cable.

internal floppyInternal floppy connections inside the ESI-2000

DIY beforeHere’s the cable that I had already. You’ll need two connectors plus a length of free cable, which if you’re doing this to an existing cable, you’ll probably want to have one with three connectors (and then you cut the spare one off. The happy little blue thing next to it is our new Centronics connector. Make sure that the cable will be long enough to go from the onboard SCSI connection to the zip drive to the back of the sampler – and that there are connectors in appropriate locations!

line up wiresPop the back off of the IDC/Centronics connector, and very VERY carefully line up the wires of the cable with the little teeth/fingers. You get one chance to do this right, so don’t screw it up. Misalign it, you’ll break the cable in a stupid spot, and possibly wreck the connector while you’re at it. That said, it’s not very hard, just take your time. Once I had it lined up, I used a pair of vise grips to gently crimp each end in place to make sure it held. This picture is in the “partially crimped” state. Also, make sure you have the red strip (pin 1) on the cable matching up with the original SCSI cable from the ESI-2000.

use a viseThen I used a real vise to put some pressure on it for a few minutes. Crimping them fully with vise grips sucks, but this does all the work for you.

trim cableAfter that was done, I trimmed off the old connector with a utility knife.

removed floppyNext, remove the floppy drive, the four screws are accessible from the bottom of the sampler.

tight fitYou’ll need to plug in the SCSI cable and power (and set your SCSI ID!) to your Zip drive before you put it in place. As you can see, it’s a rather tight fit.

new cable installedHere you can see the interior with the new cable folded in place, and installed nicely. The original Centronics plug had an integral nut on it, which was quite nice. I just used a 4-40 machine screw, locking washer, and nut on either side, and that seemed to do the trick.

front workingPower it up, and Lo! it works. How about that! Reassemble it, and you’re done. Make sure you put the original floppy and SCSI cable somewhere safe, in case you ever want to replace them. If you experience any problems, or it doesn’t work, either (a) your original 50-pin cable was bad, (b) you plugged something in wrong (though the connectors are all keyed), or (c) your crimp was unsuccessful. It really shouldn’t be that hard, but it might be worth trying again with a new connector – just place it a bit below the old one and give it another shot.

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  1. October 7th, 2007 at 16:53 | #1

    Holy crap! This is such a great and useful article for me since I just bought one of these machines on Ebay. Being able to see inside it and see a zip 100 working in it has been really, really helpful. And the size of these pics is an unheard luxury on normal webpages today! How I luxuriate!!! Thanks.

  2. RC
    October 21st, 2007 at 13:10 | #2

    About to do something similar. Replacing the PSU with a ATX PS and adding a internal HD to my ESI-4000. I had to make my own SCSI cable – did so after reading this article! The ESI cover is modded for ventilation but not chopped up like I’ve seen on Yahoo.


  3. sor
    December 19th, 2007 at 18:44 | #3

    Andrew, if you have the time please let me know how I would go about setting up the scsi ID as I only have a jumper on the back that can be set to slave, slave A and master… and also, I see your scsi drive is powered by the same cable as was the floppy drive…. whereas my scsi drive has that 4 big pin power supply jack…. Thanks a bunch

  4. December 19th, 2007 at 20:39 | #4

    Hi Sor,

    The jumpers on the back of your drive sound like the kind that would be found on an IDE drive, and not a SCSI drive. I have yet to see a Zip drive that uses the large 4-pin molex plug that are typically found on hard drives – both the IDE and SCSI zip drives that I have sitting around both use the small floppy-style plug.

    One could probably make or find a power adapter, but anything that was designed to use the large plug might put too much of a load on the ESI’s power supply. Unfortunately for the jumpers I don’t really have any great advice other than to look around at used computer parts stores for the matching type of Zip drive.

    Good luck!

  5. February 7th, 2008 at 15:28 | #5

    Hi Andrew!
    Could you tell me, with the same process can I make second SCSI ports into my Darwins and E4 Ultra? I cannot get these options.
    And can I build my jaz-drive into a Darwin making the version 4002 from a 4001?
    Thanks, all the best! Jenci

  6. September 23rd, 2008 at 09:31 | #6

    Just read some of the comments. I mod my ESI4000 in 2006 to use CF card(compactflash). It’s small, noisless and cheap ;) I have a microdrive(4Gb) as well. Working perfect, my sampler less heavy than before(no floppy drv just CF card) and don’t have to bring sample cd-s just a little CF card for gigs. Plese see some pictures up there(website). Also some more info on yahoo user group of Emu ESI sampler:

    Good Luck!!!

  7. rodrigo
    October 23rd, 2011 at 11:28 | #7

    hi, does it work if i try to add a iomega internal jaz drive 2gb insteade the zip drive?

  8. Carsten
    October 12th, 2012 at 01:40 | #8

    Hi Andrew,
    thanks for your “how to…”
    Got a Esi 4000 here, want to exchange the floppy versus a internel MO drive (Fujitsu m 2512, 230MB). I got my doubts cause the original Emu floppy power cable got only 3 wires, what is some special in my opinion….don’l like to damaged my MO drive in cause of incorrect voltages….
    Now i see, that you have no problems with your ZIP & the original powersupport comes from the ESI mainboard….that gives me much hope!!!!
    Until my MO has arrived, i’ll see…..
    regards form germany!

  9. December 10th, 2012 at 22:17 | #9

    Hi Andrew,

    I just purchased an ESI2000, but the window reads “ESI-4000 Rev:3.02 RAM: 128M” and for some reason, MY SCSI CD-ROM drive will not read the EIIIX CD-ROM Sample Discs that I bought. What could be the issue?

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