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Hohner Stringvox repair notes (part 1)

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Posted under Musical Technology at . Last updated 2024-01-15 19:15.

The Stringvox (without a space) is Hohner’s rebadging of the ELEX K2 electronic piano/string machine. There were three versions sold by Hohner, the original silvertop (K2r1 by my nomenclature) which seems to have begun production in 1975, the slightly changed rev.2, and the blacktop (K2r3) from 1979. All are in effect built into their own flightcases with lift-off lids, but the r3 case shape is different. (For more information on the series see A Spotter’s Guide to HIPs and Strings.)

I have only been able to find out a little about these previously; in particular I have little information about the interior. [1] Recently an r3 came up for repair, so let’s have a look.

[...]

This Stringvox (K2r3)

K2r3 with lid on, top front view, on arrival

This was sold as in need of repair, with the main known problem being that the plug side of the appliance fuseholder is missing. [IN1] Other than that, it came with a stand but without its case-attachment bolts. [IN2] (This is one of those instruments which can rotate on its stand to get a better playing angle, though the stand doesn’t adjust vertically so that’s of limited use.) It could of course do with a clean up and maybe some repair of the vinyl. [IN3] There’s a bit of rust on the hinges. [IN4] As is quite common with these keyboards, the plastic edging on the ports hole on the rear is incomplete. (This is what you get when you put the ports on the outside of the flightcase.) [IN5] It hasn’t been used for some time, perhaps several years, so given its age we can expect some capacitor issues. [IN6] However, under the cover it’s in better condition than most I’ve seen. It would originally have come with sustain and volume pedals and a music stand but these have all gone. It has a socket for a bass pedal board but they were optional extras, and since I’ve never seen Hohner or ELEX bass pedals, they probably weren’t popular.

Condition

On arrival . . . it’s heavy! This is certainly the heaviest single-manual keyboard I’ve ever handled. Its lid is slightly misplaced as if something has bent but we’ll see. Some of the keys have slight dents and scratches but they all operate well and the bushes don’t seem to have hardened. This one originally had two bass-range marker tabs but one has gone. [IN7: Consider missing tab replacement.] There’s a vaguely mushroomy smell, but I understand this has been sitting doing nothing for about ten years so not surprising. The switches all operate without too much stickiness and only two of the faders are a little sticky. [IN8: Clean faders.] There’s a power cable under the lid (nice plug, 5A cable, 13A fuse . . . replaced with 5A for now), and what looks like part of the handle in the packaging. I reattached that before going any further. I can’t do much else without replacing the fuseholder, so time to get it open.

K2r3 open, front view, on arrival
Lid off (and handle repaired).
[...]

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the Debian Desktop Experience, part 1

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Posted under Other Technology at .

How long has it been since I ran Debian Desktop, rather than Server? I forget. Debian has been my go-to server environment since . . . well, it’s probably the only server OS I’ve used in serious production contexts, apart from a few stints on shared hosting and I don’t know what they all were. But as time goes by I’ve been thinking of using it as my primary environment for everything that needs internet connectivity, but never quite got round to it. Last night an opportunity arose to try it on an old-ish laptop which threatens to become unusable for its primary purpose because:

the main websites its owner uses have announced they will drop support for the installed Firefox at year end, or have already done so Ubuntu 16.04 LTS won’t upgrade the installed Firefox Ubuntu have dropped i386 support in later versions

So it looks like it’s goodbye to Ubuntu. Debian then, maybe?

As I write, after a long overnight and a lengthy sleep, my memory is just starting to get hazy on some of the details but I can note some points.

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That Time of Year

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Posted under Art & Photography at .

kitchen froglet
Seems it’s that time of year when all the froglets come into the house . . . 
(Rana temporaria temporaria again)

later gosling

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Posted under Art & Photography at .

And another. One of this year’s brood came right in by the house, not yet bothered by humanlike things and their strange doings.

a barnacle gosling standing by a road on a grainy morning a banacle gosling standing by a road on a grainy morning

The flock have been sticking aound late in the morning recently, perhaps because the children are growing, but especially on grey drizzly days like today.

a barnacle gosling standing by the side of a road, looking at the camera

It wandered round a while occasionally trying to decide about me. Eventually an adult called from the field and . . . bye then.

a barnacle gosling running to take off

morning goose

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Posted under Art & Photography at .

morning goose 2023-08-05 6

A goose flew over the fence the other morning, beaked around a bit, and flew back when a van approached.

morning goose 2023-08-05 13

Dark Time firmware update

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Posted under Musical Technology at .

The Dark Time had a failure. Not really sure why at this point, but when I started it up yesterday it showed an odd pattern of lights and was entirely unresponsive. Repeated power cycling. And I’ll admit that’s a kind of pretentious-sounding phrase especially as applied to something you do just switch on and off rather than go through a more macroscopic shutdown/startup process, but it’s a bit more concise than turning off and on again. Did nothing apart from eventually change the pattern of lights.

So I thought, let’s check the power supply. The Dark Time according to the labelling uses 12V AC and this is the original adaptor I got with it (though not Doepfer own-brand, which may be normal), and is also rated 12V output. It’s actually giving 16V no-load, which seems a little high. Some PSUs limit the voltage until they detect a load but starting up high is less common. But a little online probing tells me that some Dark Times were supplied with 15V supplies, so maybe this is in-range. Powering the thing with 12V AC from a lab supply makes no difference. [1]

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