About Hamilton

Trying to keep the revs up

Crumar Orchestrator -yeah!

I am not one to take a big chance on an unknown condition synth, but a slightly risky $ on eBay is easy to deal with if it’s cheap enough.  In this spirit I bought one of two Crumar Orchestrator’s that were listed for $89 each on eBay from the same seller.  It had been listed for a while at a higher price with no takers but when $89.99 landed I bought one and someone bought its twin within minutes.  Unknown problems?  Okay -just nothing major please…

Recently landed Orchestrator.  Looking pretty good.  What could possibly be wrong?  It came with the lid but no pedals.  I hear the ‘Swell’ pedal is amazing -need to find or build one.  Anyone have one for sale?

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Moog Opus 3: Part 2 -so long sweet prince

You can only stack them so high as I like to say.  Once I cleaned up the guts I refinished the wood case, detailed it and put it all back together.  Despite some efforts it remained silent except for the VCF.  I dropped it off to Chris and he gave it a few weeks of very part time attention -mainly due to shipping times of ordered chips.

At the end.  Notice it has all its slider caps here.  Thanks Doug for the three I needed.

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Arp Omni heaven -or, er, quite the opposite

I’m not sure how it happened -but I have two somewhat dead Arp Omni’s hanging around expecting my attention.  I admit -they’ve been getting it, but I haven’t been thrown much of a bone in return yet.

Unit 1: the silent type.  Got it pretty cheap on eBay when there were several broken ones on there at the same time.  I completely recapped it but it persists in its’ silence.

Unit 2:  Not quite as cheap but also not the silent type.  Lots of bleed through from bad capacitors, but most of the functions sort of work.

Who is who?  Look at the capacitors.  Complicated beasts these Omni’s -all out of proportion to their street value.

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Daniel Miller ‘Sunflight’ cover by my band ‘The Stranger’

I’ve got some instruments and if you are here reading my blog about synthesizers, you probably do too.  I have noticed that in many of the worlds of collectable stuff, the function and purpose of the stuff seems to take a secondary meaning to the acquisition and ownership of the stuff, with vintage musical instruments -synthesizers included- being no exception.

In the spirit of appreciating synthesizers for their intrinsic capabilities, here’s a cover song by my band.  The original was written and recorded by Mute records founder Daniel Miller for his ‘Silicon Teens’ project.

Instruments on this track include: Moog Source, Roland SH-1000, Sequential Circuits Prophet 600, Roland Jupiter 6 and others.

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My Roland RS-09 on eBay

I’m moving and in addition to not wanting to move a bunch of keyboards, I could use a little cash so I put my Japanese market RS-09 version 3 ‘Organ and Strings’ synthesizer on eBay.  Basic ‘It works and sounds great’ estate sale find descriptions after plugging in headphones and touching a few keys do not apply here.

This unit has been serviced by a tech to fix a faint continuous C# (couple of capacitors) and stubbornly noisy volume pot (new pot).  Since servicing it has been used on several recording sketches and performed flawlessly.

Clean, attractive and ready to make music.  Buttons and slider caps are the same as Jupiter 8.

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Moog Opus 3: 20 years in a damp basement

So I’m weak, I admit it -really really weak.  Monday evening I saw this ad for a Moog Opus 3 on Craigslist.  $400 -doesn’t work.  Worked when last tried.  About 2 miles from my house.  I resolved to call in the morning around 9, hoping it would have sold and I’d have that weird 30 seconds of self reproach for not acting sooner followed by the bliss of carrying on moments later and forgetting.  I call -no answer.  I start to leave a message and as I’m half way through it they call me back.  10 minutes later I’m getting in the car to go look at an Opus 3.  30 minutes later I’m driving home with it -lighter of wallet, but only 7/8th’s as light as I could have been.  Alas.

In all its colorful what-were-they-thinking glory.  Missing a few slider caps, crappy looking wood and dirty.  Nothing I can’t handle.  Oh, and it powers on but doesn’t work -yeah- that too.

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Arp Omni 2 fix up part 2: capacitors a plenty

So between the 8 boards in an Omni 2 there are about 80 capacitors of the Tantalum variety -those known to fail suddenly either closed or open.  An Omni with its original capacitors is prone to fail with voices stuck on or voices silent -either way the synth becomes unusable as an instrument.

Replacing a tantalum capacitor is straightforward enough -you remove the old one and replace it with a new one of the same capacitance and at least the same or higher maximum operating voltage and polarity while applying as little heat as possible to the board.

Those little blueberries are the capacitors you’ve read so much about.  There is a trick or few to removing them.  I probably took this picture to remind myself where the ribbon cables go.

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Arp Omni 2 fix up part one: Key replacement and Slider clean up

While I wait for my Juno 60 toggles I might as well tell you about my Omni 2…  Here’s the first in a probably two part series.

I bought this Omni 2 off Craiglist in April 2011 for the seeming current market rate of ~$200 for one that powers up, makes most sounds correctly and has some ‘lingering’ voices.  While the lingering voices are alright if your fooling around, they are a roadblock to being able to make recordings with it -which is my intention.  A quick web search told me this was a common problem and not difficult, just tedious to fix -with a high success rate for machines that have basic functionality when you start.

Arp Omni 2 sandwich -the meats bigger than the bread.  Source looks positively petite on it.  Arp is pretty nice other than the chipped tooth -courtesy of careless TSA baggage handlers the PO told me.  Note the 6 vertical panel sliders have caps -also note that each slider has a white grease pencil line -one way to store a patch!

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Roland Juno 60 resto part 9: a little this and that

The waiting (for the package from Hong Kong) is the hardest part but it has given me the chance to get some little stuff done and replace the capacitors in a friends Arp Omni (more later).  One of the things that has bothered me about the Juno 60 is the connections to the panel in the power supply that have to be cut or de-soldered to remove the panel -yesterday I added an EIC socket that unscrews from the inside so it can be removed from the panel and today I added spade connectors to the wire that runs to and from the power switch so it can be pulled out of the top.

Pretty colors!  The Arp Omni has spade connectors to the power supply from the switch so it should be okay right? I added a few layers of heat shrink to the connectors to protect against problems.  Note the little string knot holding the two purple wires together -it was someones job to tie little knots all day long -can anyone say RSI?

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Roland Juno 60 resto part 8: Sliders, plug mod and capacitors

Lots of little details to wrap up and then I can start enjoying this synth for what it can do -I suppose the last installment will be a song composed for and entirely played on the Juno 60.  I’m waiting on a package from Hong Kong based Technology Transplants that will be the new toggles I need along with a slider cap set and some other stuff I can’t remember.  In the mean time I’m moving slower than normal but it has given me a chance to do some little jobs like install an IEC type plug.

I love the convenience of having the same cord power all your stuff.  This was pillaged from my parts Prophet 600.  It’s a cheap part but it saved me a drive pulling it.  Thursday I’ll get my drill and Dremel from my dads house (long story) and modify the panel.

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