Polivoks Update

(Anorak Adventures in Synthland 3)

This is an update to Polivoks Notes.

Getting Further In

As mentioned in the last edition, it turns out that the steel shims holding the Polivoksʼ rotary switch knobs on can fall out while the knob is being inserted. [1]  They could in principle fall through to the base so you might be able to pick them out and finish what youʼre doing.  Alternatively they could get trapped on top of the main circuit boards, where they could potentially cause shorts, and you have to get the whole thing open again and try to remove the boards to find them.  If they donʼt fall out visibly, you donʼt know where they are.  (I do understand why some resort to glue.)

So, refer to the previous getting-the-case-off process.  While shim-hunting, I also want to check the probably-failed reed switch, see whatʼs with the 2nd octave, and see whether thereʼs room for improvement on the key damping to reduce playing noise.  Iʼve commandeered a bit of table space ... and floorspace.  This isnʼt going to make me popular if Iʼm not done by nightfall, so letʼs go.

Advance H1 Notes

Advance H1 Audio Frequency Generator

This is a rather nice thing I laid hands on this week.  Itʼs a valve-based 15Hz–50KHz sine/square wave oscillator, probably made in 1958 [1].  It doesnʼt seem to have been refurbished, but for its age and intended use it looks in good shape.  Functionally?  Well ... weʼll see.

some plug and socket naming

I was trying to explain this to someone verbally, but ended promising to do a diagram.  No, an IEC 60320-1 C-14 connector is not the same as a 60320-2-2 E connector.  Maybe someone else can explain it more clearly, but this is my take on it:

diagram of input and output plugs and sockets

(SVG version here)

scaling the depths

Hereʼs a weird comment:

"But it is important to say we simply don't have any evidence in this paper to suggest that any carbon coming from these seeps is entering the atmosphere."

This quote comes from Professor Adam Skarke of Mississippi State University.  Context: this is an article about recent research into releases of methane from clathrates in the seabed off the American coastline.  As we know, a warming ocean is highly likely to lead to a greater trend of release of methane than has hitherto been the case, because the equilibrium level of clathrate formation and melting changes with temperature.  The released methane mostly is oxidised in the sea, adding a 2:1 molecular ratio of water and dissolved carbon dioxide to it.

Itʼs understandable that Professor Skarke would want to hedge his comments a bit.  But hang on...

The fact that a strong solution of CO₂ is being added to the sea in this way is not unimportant:

Поливокс / Polivoks Notes

(Anorak Adventures in Synthland 2)


Hey, got a Polivoks.

First, some points of nomenclature.  Iʼve had no occasion hitherto to consider it, but I now realise the correct English plural of Polivoks is Polivoksen.  With that established, on the Polivoks:

  • Generator (Генератор) = tone generator = (audio frequency) oscillator = VCO.
  • Modulator (Модулятор) is mainly an LFO.  (The control can select noise as well as periodic functions, so LFO would be incorrect ... a less cumbersome term than Korgʼs ‘modulation generator’.)
  • Glissando (Глиссандо) = portamento (a.k.a. ‘glide’).
  • Pedestal (Пьедестал) = sustain level.

Iʼll use the Polivoks terms here, mostly.

This Polivoks was made in 1987, and came with lid, pedal and cables (5-pin and 3-pin DIN; donʼt know what the 3-pin one was for...).  No power cable but has an IEC C-14 power socket mod. [1]

External Condition

Case: not great; sticky tape residues, heavily scraped and rather indented.  So much for all the “built like a tank” guff.  Built like a fake tank for to confuse the enemy, maybe.  Sheet aluminium bends (like plastic, unlike steel) but doesnʼt rebound.  It seems to have had carry handles at either end; not sure if they were original, but gone now.  The rubber feet on the underside are different sizes – presumably two were replaced at some point.

MagSafe – the Last Straw?

(This post is the long-promised update to A Disturbing Shade of Green.  I had intended to take update photographs of the adaptor previously bitched about, but had no decent working camera for a while.  Now I have camera and two adaptors worth a gripe, so here goes.)

This happened over the last 48 hours.

Apple L-tip Magsafe connector cable with a cracked sheath

In 2013, after a long spell of financial difficulty during which it wasnʼt an option, I replaced my laptopʼs sadly deteriorated MagSafe [4] power adaptor.  That adaptor (Nº2) went up on a high shelf in the interim.  And the new adaptor (Nº4) was good.  But early this year I noticed the onset of the same deterioration.  I might have blogged about it all the way through, but the last few months have been intense...

The progressive deterioration whilst in normal use of the new (c.2011 and on) cable for these adaptors seems to go like this:

battery troubles


Anorak Adventures in Synthland 1

Rehab & Upgrade the Jen#2, stage 1.

(There will be a stage 2, as Iʼm not currently in a position to do the whole refurb.  No decent working space for soldering right now.)

Jen#2 cleaned, with knobs

Jen#2 (not a “Jenny”, thanks) is a newly-arrived Jen Synthetone SX1000, s/n3326, later-type keyboard, with veneer ends, in moderately poor condition.

After unpacking & supply lead check – 13A plug fuse replaced with 2A here '~' – external condition and basic audio function were checked.  Minor issues: some knobs are scratchy, some are loose.  This should be resolvable, but will require checks at stage 2.

External Condition & Issues

upper storeys

In the news today, NASA adds weight to the common – but curiously inert – conclusion that ice sheets are melting and seas will be rising.  One thing Iʼve not seen much of is actual adaption strategies to this.  Of course in the longer term it remains to be shown that there is any possible adaption which will avoid human extinction or reduction to a form of subsistence economy which makes the concept of adaption moot.  We can hope.

In the short to medium term, though, say we are looking at a 4–5m rise in average sea levels.  The timescale for this may be a hundred or two hundred years (the viability of current models for this is questionable; new points keep coming along to make it worse).  Iʼm particularly thinking about the impact this will have on the town nearest to me.  Much of the existing commercial centre will at some point be under water at normal high tides (rather than parts of it, every few years, at some high tides with a heavy swell).  How can adaption work?  Arguably there could be viable approaches which retain the existing town footprint – flood barriers are popular in some places, but I have doubts about it in this case; spending that amount of money for very small populations may not be an option.  So perhaps a more sensible approach is to require all new buildings or refurbishments to take sea levels into account over their intended lifespan.  (Though buildings are often used beyond their expected lifespan, especially during prolonged economic downturns.)  At this point, if a given piece of work is only intended to last a decade, probably there is no new requirement.  If fifty years, well, maybe occasional protection against higher storm surges than weʼre used to for all but the lowest-lying or most exposed.  Beyond that, we probably need to think bigger.

reasons to switch

One more reason to switch to a normal BSD or Linux.  OSX (10.5, and I donʼt know if fixed in 10.{6,}) makes hard links difficult to use.

Situation:  I have one stylesheet file to be used in multiple ePUB files.  I develop ePUBs with a web browser (in current practice, Safari).  Hmmm ... Safari doesnʼt read MacOS aliases.  Actually I remember that coming up with web browsers before.  It does read symlinks or hard links, good.  But the Finderʼs contextual menu compress command doesnʼt include symlinked files.  Oh well, use hard linking.  Errr...

It turns out that OSX GUI applications, including BBEdit, write new inodes at every save.  (I probably knew that years ago but never had a reason to consider this implication.)  This means the filesystem link to a given inode is replaced at every save – if you make a hard link to a file and then edit the file, the new save (under whichever link you go into it) will be a new inode, while the other links retain the original inode.  You just lost the automatic update of the file which you intended to achieve by hard linking in the first place.  Essentially, hard links and the Aqua interface donʼt mix.

The effective solution in this case isnʼt especially difficult: zip -r <output_file>.epub <input_file> -x \\*.DS_Store ... and this could be stored in the contextual menu or accessed in a variety of ways; or maybe some of the X11 editors avoid this problem, donʼt know.  But BBEdit is probably the biggest thing still keeping me using OSX as my main client OS ... switch++?


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