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20Feb/1138

M-Audio Axiom 61 Mainboard Replacement

UPDATE: As it becomes more difficult to locate replacement parts for the keyboard, some may despair. But don't give up hope! I have stumbled across a brilliant solution (by a really smart dude). There may be a way to fix your mainboard, but it is rather technical and involves a bit of soldering and knowledge of how to flash an ARM 7 chip: http://community.m-audio.com/m-audio/topics/axiom_pro_61_blue_screen. It's a long thread, but I think it contains enough info to get the job done. If anyone tries this, please drop a note.

A couple of years ago I bought myself an M-Audio Axiom 61 MIDI controller keyboard (first gen). It's a pretty nice little unit, and it provided me with some good usage until one day it decided to just plain not work anymore. I turned on the unit and all I got was a blank blue screen. A few forum searches later, I found some postings where other folks have had similar problems. The possibility of replacing the mainboard was mentioned more than once, and a particularly detailed posting from an Avid support tech revealed that the first generation had issues with the microcontroller failing due to an unspecified grounding issue. So I opened a ticket with Avid. Several fruitless exchanges later, I finally got the number for the Avid Spare Parts Department: (626) 610-2529, Monday–Friday, 9am – 5pm Pacific time. I ordered a new mainboard, and it cost about $47 with shipping. That's a heckuva lot cheaper than buying a new keyboard.

The old card was v04, the new one is listed as v06. Interestingly, on the old board the power regulator did not have a heat sink, but the new one does. My guess is that this is more prudence on the part of the engineers, since those little suckers can get pretty hot. I'm sure they made many other improvements as well, but I'm just banking on having it actually work. I prefer functional equipment.

I set up my work area with a couple of books upon which to rest the ends of the keyboard, to avoid stress on the panel elements. On my poor keyboard a few slider heads got snapped off while it was being stored in the closet, so I took this step to prevent further damage. I have some cups to collect various sizes of screws, masking tape and a sharpie to label the cable leads, and a couple of screwdrivers.

Before starting I took a digital snapshot of the mainboard, numbering each terminal to avoid confusion. I then labeled each cable with the corresponding number from the picture. I flipped the keyboard over, resting the ends on top of the books to keep the knobs and sliders from resting on the table. Man there are a lot of screws! There are a dozen medium-sized screws right down the middle, a dozen smaller ones in wells along the edges, and 10 deep wells on the back of the case. All of the screws need to come out in order to take the case apart (which you probably could have guessed but I mention it here anyway).

Once all of the screws were loose I grasped the unit firmly on each ends and inverted it face-up, employing gravity to get the screws out. A brand new nice guitar pick fell out too, because I'm special like that. I did this in a safe place so as to lose no screws. It's helpful to note which screws came from which holes, as there are four types in use. I flipped the board back over and set it face up on the worktable with the rear of the unit facing me. The top and bottom are connected by a bunch of ribbon cables which are taped. Also, the front fascia of the top lid (just beneath the front of the keys) is really thin and easy to break. I gently removed the tape and flipped the upper case away from the lower case, like opening a book. Note that the keys are part of a separate assembly, and can be shifted out of position. I left the keys sitting in the bottom half of the case and tried not to disturb them. Ebony and ivory should remain together in perfect harmony. The arrow in the next photo points to the mainboard.

Now it's time to label the cables according to the numbered photo of the mainboard. Yes, I know, all but three of them are different sizes. However, I prefer to err on the side of caution. Each terminal has a small slot to the side, which corresponds to a small "tab" on each side. I had to examine the replacement mainboard to get a better idea of how these fit. I used a small screwdriver to release the tabs on them. Note here that it is important to use caution and never force anything. Once the cables were disconnected, I unscrewed the old board, noting the ground wires on each corner (these will need to be reattached when mounting the new board). I had to slide the board back a bit, then it was easy to remove. Lastly, I removed the board's own ground wire from the chassis. Time to put in the new board.

When mounting the replacement board, I first set it in and slid the non-connector end into the case on the key side, as shown below. The connectors now need to be aligned into their mounting holes.

I found that it was easiest to angle the board up a little so that the tops of the connector jacks just fit under the tops of the mounting holes (it's a snug fit). I then slid the board forward a bit, and gently nudged it until all of the screw holes lined up. Note that the tops of the MIDI I/O ports will end up resting against the inside of the mounting area, they don't go under. The USB port and AC jack need a little cajoling however. When the screw holes line up it snapped into place and I could see that all of the holes were properly lined up.

I screwed in the replacement board, attaching the ground wires on the corners (the two ground holes have a little circle of copper around them). There is a ground wire that is attached to the replacement board. Mine was too short to reach the original attachment point, so I attached it to part of the metal frame that was closer. I used the diagram I made earlier to reconnect the ribbon cables to the terminals, double checking my work before closing the case, taking care that no cables got pinched. Then I flipped it back over and put all those screws back in. The big round-head phillips go into the 12 recessed holes on the back. The small screws with coarse theads fasten the front fascia (the thin part underneath the front of the keys). The small fine-threaded screws go into the recessed edge holes. The slightly longer coarse-threaded screws go into the deeply recessed holes on the back. The 1/2" lag bolts go into the titanium mounting bosses on either side. Just wanted to make sure you're paying attention.

Testing time!!! A number of Avid forum posters remarked that the Axiom 61 performs at its best when it has the maximum amount of USB power available at the port. If you think all USB ports supply the same quality of power, think again. Self-powered hubs (the kind that come with their own wall wart) are generally your best bet. I am going with the IOGear 7-port that is on my desk right now. And I am seeing the blue screen of LIFE this time! After using my Akai MPK25 continuously for several weeks, this feels so lush! The keys are pretty decent quality, and they have aftertouch too. I really like this keyboard and I'm so glad it's back on my desk! Now about those broken sliders. Hey, at least I have the Avid Spare Parts Department phone number. Then again there is always super glue.

Comments (38) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I’m going to need to follow this guide so thanks alot for putting it up. It’s awesome! The only thing is I can’t for the life of me get a hold of the spare parts department. I tried the number you put up but I get some weird message from some guy..

    • Yeah, they never answer directly. Leave a message and let them know what you want, they will call you back. I just ordered a second part, since all of my sliders got snapped off when the unit was in storage. $22 for a new slider board! Not bad considering they could really gouge you since where the heck else are you going to get it?

  2. Oh alright. Thanks man!

  3. Hi..I had the same blue screen of death in an axiom 61 and i ordered a pcb too. i installed it and its still blue:( so i guess is it the lcd that is faulty…any ideas?

    thank you very much

    • Sorry to hear that. My best suggestion would be to double-check all of your connections to be sure that they are in the right place. There are at least a couple of connectors that could conceivably be swapped. From there, you might go up the chain a bit. You may be right, perhaps the LCD component itself is bad. Sorry I don’t have any more specific advice beyond standard troubleshooting. You still have a few components left to go before it becomes economically un-feasible! Good luck and let me know when you find out more.

  4. Hello I’m from Argentina, I’m willing to buy a damaged Axiom 61. As the seller says, it seems to be the same problem that you experienced.
    The thing is that I’m not sure if I can get this replacement board shipped to Argentina at a low price, because of customs taxes. If the price is not low, it does not suit me.
    Do you know what shipment methods do they use? and if they ship it to another country?

    Thanks for posting that info.

    • Sorry, I do not know what their international shipping policies are. I would call the number, or maybe check their FAQ online. Sorry I could not be of more help.

  5. hey guys…, i had an prblem with may axiom 61.When 3 notes are playing together, that produce noisy sound.. those 3 notes are F,A,B flat in every octaves.. what shal i do nw..?
    hw i fixed this prblem?
    can i buy parts from them ?
    im in sri lsnka..? please help me..?
    give me there mail addres…
    thnk u…

  6. hi, what is the part number of that board?, i need one of those to replace it on my axiom 49, im in the BIG list of axiom´s blue screen of death, but want to be in your list of blue screen of life.

  7. Hi, I have the same problem! My axiom 61 just stopped working. I could only see blue screen, no number showing and would not connect to my MBP. I need this new board.
    Could someone give me information who to contact, number? location? etc.
    Thanks guys!!!

    • Hi Fred, you must contact the Avid Spare Parts Department: (626) 610-2529, Monday–Friday, 9am – 5pm Pacific time. Leave a message for them and they will call you back. Best of luck repairing your keyboard!

      • Thanks Will, I could get mine in Singapore the closest to where I currently live. They said, I need a new PCB Board…

        Anyone could send a picture of newer version of the board?

        Thanks guys!

  8. I just got the BSOD, I haven’t even really used this keyboard so of course it’s a real bummer, hopefully I can get a replacement chip and fix it up.

    Thank you so much for the detailed tutorial!

  9. My Axiom 61 is working fine now after changing the PCB Board. I did it by myself, thanks for this post! Thanks M-Audio Singapore for the spare part.

  10. Will, thaks for putting this all up.
    This also gives an idea of upgrading gen 1 to gen 2 without a lot of expences…
    One small question: What are the endless encoder pots look like from inside there? They’re terrible, and I thought of modifying them to regular, “ending” pots. Is it possible, or those are digital potentiometers? I really don’t want to disassemble all the Axiom just to see it’s dogital pots.
    Thanks!
    Max

    • Hi Max, those are rotary encoders, although I’m not sure what the specs are. I’m guessing you want to upgrade to get away from the incremented feel of the knobs, and move to something smoother? Because the logic board is designed to work with that specific type of encoder, your first step would be to find out what the specs are, and then see if any higher-grade components are available (check Mouser.com or DigiKey.com). Ideally the replacement encoder would have the same form factor so you could just swap the parts out. If all you’re after is a smoother feel, that MIGHT be possible at the same resolution. If you want a higher resolution, that probably won’t work like you expect it to (maybe 1/4 turn would become 1/8 of a turn, or maybe it won’t work at all). My advice is to spend your time and money tinkering with something more fruitful. Get an Arduino and design your own custom controller! Here is some good info about tinkering with encoders: http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Main/RotaryEncoders.

  11. HI there first of all thank you for uploading this article theres not much info out there on opening up an Axiom. I currently have Keys D Sharp 4, E 4 F4 and F Sharp 4 not sending any midi info. Am thinking maybe, since you found a plectrum inside yours…. that something somehow has got lodged inside mine somewhere and that is why they are not working. Am wondering if you would kindly tell me which screws i would need to take out to just take the back off or is it a case of removing all screws to take any part of the case off. I hope you will kindly respond. Thank you reading. Tobe.

    • You are correct, it is a case of removing all screws to take the keyboard apart. Be sure and refer to the section of the tutorial that describes how to open the unit once you’ve got the screws out. It opens sort of like a book.

  12. This detailed walk through saved me a lot of time (and probable frustration). Thanks!

    John

  13. so, i have the same problem … its better if i get the
    AC Power Adapter Replacement for M-AUDIO Axiom 61 once is fixed ?

  14. Hi, do you know what was the defective part in the MOBO? I have a BSOD Axiom and woul very much like to repair it, but seems the boards are no longer available. Also, M-Audio was sold (again) and the forums are not being answered by them. Thanks

    Alvaro Medina

    • I believe the problem had to do with the power regulator on the board. The power regulator on the original board did not have a heatsink, but the new one does.

  15. Is there anywhere you can still find a mainboard? Maudio sold there company. And are now refc customers to independent companies for repair. Can I fix this problem myself?

  16. Thank you Will for all this info. I have a faulty pitch bend on my 1st Gen Axiom 61 as do many others judging from all the axiom complaints online. Since you opened the keyboard you might know..can I replace it and is there a replacement part available somewhere?
    I would appreciate any help.
    Eero

    • I’m certain that you could probably fix the pitch bend, although I did not disassemble that part. Getting the exact OEM replacement part might be tricky, but I’d start by contacting Avid. If that falls through Doepfer (http://www.doepfer.de/) has some mod wheel/pitch bend kits aimed at modular synth folks. And if that fails I believe pitch bend is governed by a 10k linear potentiometer in most hardware. Another possible resource is http://www.syntaur.com/m-audio.html. Best of luck in your repairs!

      • Thank you for reply. I was able to locate pitch bend assembly at instrumentalparts.com for $42.00 including shipping so I feel tempted to replace it. Do you think the problem lies in the physical pitch bend assembly or could it be some other component? That’s the only chance I’m taking. Other option is my repair man who is going to charge $65 just to tell me what’s wrong.

        • I think it’s a safe bet that the part itself is bad. Look carefully when you are disassembling it, it might be an easy fix (disconnected wire or other broken connection). Take a look inside before you order any parts.

  17. I have a 49 key and won’t power on. Do you think the mainboard for the 25, 49 and 61 keys the same? Coz I’m thinking of getting a used 25 and swap it’s board to my 49 to get it into life again. Thanks!

    • I would guess that the mainboards are different for each one, but it’s worth a try. If it fails you can always reassemble the 25 and at least use that.

  18. Estimado amigo, tuve el mismo problema el de la pantallita azul, donde conseguiste la placa, de donde se solicita, en mi pais nadie me da solucion al tema. soy muy nuevo en el tema de isntrumentos… y cuanto te costo??
    espero tu respuesta..

  19. Dear friend, I had the same problem the blue visor, where did you get the plate, where requested, in my country gives me no solution to the issue. I am very new to isntrumentos theme … and how much I cost?
    I hope your answer ..


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