The trouble with Forums

The month of May is nearly over and yet only now have we had any time to put computer keyboard to html.

Some synths are still haunting us, the Polysix from earlier is back with ongoing issues with voices 5 and 6 (what is it going to take to sort this?)

The Prophet 5 refuses to take tape loads despite experimenting with every possible parameter, and checking with all the test gear that tape signals are getting as far as the processor.

The Juno 60 despite having the entire front panels rebuilt still has no LFO control, and weird problems with filter frequency control when moving the front panel back and forth. Signs of more problems with broken tracks and connectors.

Funnily enough, over a decade ago when the synthesiser side of the internet was young, someone posted to a bulletin board that Roland connectors could be iffy, and that myth was promulgated across the net for many subsequent years. When Forums came on line, we saw that old chesnut rearing its head again and again.

Over 3 decades of experience with Roland equipment of all kinds from synths, drum machines and effects units, we have never had issues with their connectors (assuming those plug-on connectors that were used until quite recently on all Roland products).

This Juno is the exception, but the amount of abuse this synth has had, and the apalling standard of attempted repairs, would to our mind still enable us to say that Roland connectors are very reliable and not something that would normally concern us.

The other trouble with forums is trying to administer one…

My good friend and Webpage designer Dave www.webeffects.ie who wrote the template for this site rewrote the forum section as an extermal link as the original built in forum was spammed so much as to render it useless. I switched it off while Dave tried a different approach.

Now that the new forum is live, the spamming issue is still not gone, just become more sophisticated.
Either actual people or clever bots are creating new users and then posting a variety of spam from viagra ads to hotel adverts from far off places. We haven’t had one relevent synth related post yet.

The real “fun” is that the forum interface is about 10 times more complex than the web site management system (and learning that wasn’t fun),
In fact we did several years of Windows Server administration, and the forum admin seems far more complex than the Windows Security Policy editor.

I thought the forum might be useful for repair issues for Irish musicians, no subject would be taboo (except viagra and cialis), analog, digital, synths or not, we would create new groups as required.

As it is now, all new posts have to go through us before going live, not a desirable state of affairs right now, as there are only so many hours in the day, and we have no moderators yet.

Shot through the foot (and we’re to blame)!

During a conversation with a client, a desire to find a Jen SX1000 was expressed, and we mentioned that our attic had one. It was fully working before it went there, and it looked fine when checked on last year, so a deal was struck, with the promise to dig it out sometime soon and check it out.

Unfortunately, the heavy snow from last year led to consequences that years of heavy rain failed to achieve, a leak in the roof directly above the Jen. The front panel is now rusted almost beyond recognition, it is a hideous sight. Still we were optimistic that the actual synth was ok, but even that glimmer of optimism was swiftly snatched away.

It had become one of the Zombie synths from last month, and it was one of ours!

Obviously as moisture ingress was involved, nothing could be taken for granted. Even when a piece of equipment is not even powered up (and the Jen has no batteries) rainwater can pick up enough pollution contaminents to form mild acids that will eat through component legs, and it also particularly loves oxidising solder joints.

Opening up the synth for an under the hood examination showed that despite the horrendous state of the front panel, all the front panel pcb’s were absolutely clean, between the knobs and the multiple locking nut system of the pots, not a drop of anything had got onto the boards. A result? wait and see. . .

The keys of the keyboard were filthy, the dripping water and rust from the front panel had run down the sloping panel onto the keys, and seeing as the expensive and rare M110B keyboard interface chip lives here, this was where the life and death decision was to be made. Scrap or resurrect?

The keys were filthy, and all had to be removed for thorough cleaning, and this was done.
The surprise in this section of the synth was that the worst effects of the long storage time weren’t water related but due to the old Italian Synth disease, silver plated contacts turning totally black due to atmospheric pollution. Many of you will have seen how your grannies’ silver, your parents’ silver, or even your own tends to turn black and require polishing regularly.
According to the chemistry textbooks, the black is silver sulphide, and is the result of some complex element exchange due to sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere.

In case anyone thinks we are raining some kind of special criticism on the Italian synth generation, then that is only partially true, but any repairs of Siel’s or Crumar’s or in this case the Jen have always led to special attention to all the contacts, keyboard, tab switches on organ stops, and anything in the machine that was silver plated, especially input and output sockets.
Isopropyl alcohol, the solvent for every occasion just doesn’t cut it when it comes to this kind of tarnish and resort to silver polish is needed.
We use Silvo which is a wadding polish available in most supermarkets. It does a great job of removing tarnish but leaves behind a dry powdery deposit which is probably as non-conductive as the tarnish itself. This deposit can be removed by Isopropanol, and the part dried and polished.

Despite the long term water dripping and the filthy keyboard keys, once the keys were removed, the keyboard bed just showed the usual symptoms of 30 years of age, lots of dust and fluff. We always find it amazing how much detritus gets into any keyboard over the years. You would think that the keys are very close together and there would be no space for anything to get in there, but dust and airflow can surprise us all.

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