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Polymoog prototype

Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:09 pm
by MC
(not mine)

From the estate of Tony Marchese, former production manager of Moog Music/Buffalo

Prototype Polymoog with C-B keyboard and different panel layout

Don't count on getting this fixed - highly unlikely that schematics for this thing even exists

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Moog-polymoog-keyboard-synthesizer-203a-prototype-museum-piece-/251501906338?pt=US_Pro_Audio_Parts_Accessories&hash=item3a8eae89a2

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Sat May 03, 2014 10:28 pm
by Bryan B
The schematics for the model 203A do exist. I know that for certain because I have an original printed color copy of them.

Image

I aquired them from a friend along with a bunch of other great and rare schematics (including the Polymoog 280A).

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Sun May 04, 2014 9:24 pm
by MC
This is a prototype that needed over 200 engineering change orders before it was ready for production. Dave Luce was notorious for changing his circuits. Very unlikely that the 203A schematics will match.

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Sun May 04, 2014 10:26 pm
by EricK
The buyer didn't pay for that and it sold to a friend of mine for $500. It's going to be a table.
He plans to leave it as it is but to make it as a museum piece with historical notes under plexiglass, so it's not the typical "table" in the sense that it will be rendered functionless.

Eric

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Tue May 20, 2014 4:03 am
by Voltor07
EricK wrote:The buyer didn't pay for that and it sold to a friend of mine for $500. It's going to be a table.
He plans to leave it as it is but to make it as a museum piece with historical notes under plexiglass, so it's not the typical "table" in the sense that it will be rendered functionless.

Eric

That's AWESOME! :D

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Tue May 20, 2014 6:28 pm
by EMwhite
What is more complicated and separately, what is more difficult to service given the amount of knowledge and lack of schematics and delta between available docs and reality: CS-80 or PolyMoog?

Looking at Scott Rider's CS-80 pictures, there must be a mile of wire in there.

Tom Oberheim recently said that the new Two-Voice Pro has > 120 feet of wire just for the patch panel. Pretty crazy? Looks neat enough from the outside (all of these did/do) on the inside... Mayhem...

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Wed May 21, 2014 4:15 am
by BrianK
In the old days, the tech services here used to charge TWICE as much per hour for CS80 work. Mainly because of the horrible tuning issues - tune it, close the lid - it's out of tune. So repeat and repeat and repeat til done. Could take hours, and then you move it - more trouble. They used to sometimes put the compatible CS60 oscillators in, which would stay in tune and sound about the same. When the factory had spare osc's in stock, this was easy...

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Wed May 21, 2014 2:36 pm
by MC
I've seen the inside of a CS-80. Having been inside my Memorymoog too many times, I decided that one rat's nest synthesizer was enough.

When I was getting ready to expand my OBX by adding the upper voicecard motherboard for four more voices, I was mindful of folks who said they always had trouble calibrating the lower voicecards. I installed standoffs a 1/2 inch taller than the original ones for the upper voices. This permitted better air circulation so that heat didn't accumulate and throw off the calibration of the lower voices. It has worked like a charm, but I doubt that a simple solution like that would had worked for the CS-80.

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Thu May 22, 2014 12:09 am
by BrianK
Whoever got this, it's very worthwhile to have, even for a great coffee table. Which also means it's preserved for future use/restoration. There ARE people in this world who could figure it out. Might be costly though.

However, if ANYONE who reads this thread turns up schematics for the APOLLO version (not the 10 unusual Prototypes that were built), there is a need for that from a current owner. I can't find anything... thanks.

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Thu May 22, 2014 10:06 am
by Bryan B
I have 2 different Polymoog Schematics sets (203a and the 280a), so I am pretty sure that I don't have anything for the Apollo. I hope to scan them as soon as I have some time.

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Thu May 22, 2014 10:21 pm
by synthpro
Hey Guys,

I am finally back on the Moog forum..feels great!!

I am the one who bought the prototype polymoog and am extremely happy to own this part of moog history and I am documenting as much as I can about it....I already have a few videos up of it that will be continued to as well.

After looking into the circuits, I may actually semi restore this poly, I do not want to really replace or modify any of the engineering mods but simply clean and preserve this wonderful beast.

Here are some videos for you guys:

Part 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJBEB-3NFi8


Part 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZMWDVzEQfo

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Thu May 22, 2014 11:42 pm
by EMwhite
Well, all I can say is 'thanks' for putting this together and for sharing your passion for these instruments with us. I really like seeing the internals of these older synths. I think Dave Luce ran out of shrink wrap tubing with all of those hacks/mods. It would be really great if you could get a few more parts of it working; I wouldn't know how to begin and I wouldn't want you to blow anything up, especially those custom ICs.

I always wanted one, doubt I'll ever have the disposable income or the space to have one. Funny thing is that I have the 1980's version of the PolyMoog; that being the monolithic, overpriced monster piece of the day and in this case, I'm talking about the Kurzweil 250. I'm not comparing the two but they are about the same size, and were certainly at the higher end of the price spectrum. And mine was owned by a Kurzweil Engineer who hacked the board up as well, doubling the amount of code space with bank switching ICs and jumpers all over the board and the kicker is a custom version of code that may not exist anywhere else in the wild. Sure it's digital hacking, not analog but unique none the less.

Following the viewing of your second video, YouTube recommended the 'promotional' videos and maaaaannnn, they are funky and out-there. Screaming shag rugs. If they could have only trade Mike Boddicker for Julie, you could have had Herbie and Chick as the Mod Squad. Now T H A T is history.

I saw Chick Corea @ the Blue Note when he did the Elektrik Band reunion (Victor Wooten sat in for John on Bass) but he's a class act and his name is all over synth history, from the Oberheim 8-voice that Dave Spiers now owns, to his use of the MF Ring mod on his Rhodes, to this (who knew).

Well, I've still got my Opus III and I have the J.H. PolyMoog resonator clone; I suppose this will have to do for now :D

Thanks again and keep up the good work. (hey, I'm in Florida at the moment but over in Daytona area, a bit too far from you; maybe in future, I'll drive up and invite myself over for a tour of your collection 8)

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Fri May 23, 2014 6:13 am
by fyvewytches
synthpro wrote:I am the one who bought the prototype polymoog and am extremely happy to own this part of moog history and I am documenting as much as I can about it....I already have a few videos up of it that will be continued to as well.



That's great news, it couldn't have gone to a better person. I have been watching your Polymoog videos for a while now, and am looking forward to seeing more of your new "toy" !!

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Fri May 23, 2014 3:31 pm
by MC
synthpro wrote:I am finally back on the Moog forum..feels great!!


Welcome back!

I am the one who bought the prototype polymoog


You poor sap I mean lucky SOB :mrgreen:

and am extremely happy to own this part of moog history and I am documenting as much as I can about it....I already have a few videos up of it that will be continued to as well.


Thanks for sharing. I always wondered about the differences in front panels on those prototypes, nice to see a close up. The one you have may had been their test bed judging by all the modifications. They built five of the C-B prototypes, and in the YT video below Chick Corea is playing a C-B prototype but it has the production front panel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qqnq0qRc2oQ

I know that Larry Fast used one of the prototypes on the early Peter Gabriel solo albums.

After looking into the circuits, I may actually semi restore this poly, I do not want to really replace or modify any of the engineering mods but simply clean and preserve this wonderful beast.


I heard all kinds of horror stories with the early 203a. My unit is a late 203a production model (serial #4xxx) dated Oct 1979 and it had held up so well that I didn't believe the horror stories at first, but I learned that they put a lot of upgrades in the circuits in later units so they would hold up better. I bought mine in 1985 and gigged with it for many years. In the last ten years it has developed some faults and is ready for some serious restoration, but that project is WAY down the list of priorities. I did get a vox humana filter board from a 280 and plan to change some of the presets in my 203a, stuff like FUNK and ORGAN are just useless today.

I note with interest that your prototype says POLYMOOG SYNTHESIZER above the preset buttons. The early 203a were labeled POLYMOOG KEYBOARD, then when the 280 was released that became POLYMOOG KEYBOARD while the 203a was changed to POLYMOOG SYNTHESIZER (that's how you spot a later 203a).

The early Faratron power supplies had an etch error that was responsible for blowing many polymoogs. Hopefully they fixed that one.

Re: Polymoog prototype

Posted: Fri May 23, 2014 5:08 pm
by synthpro
MC wrote:
synthpro wrote:I am finally back on the Moog forum..feels great!!


Welcome back!

I am the one who bought the prototype polymoog


You poor sap I mean lucky SOB :mrgreen:

and am extremely happy to own this part of moog history and I am documenting as much as I can about it....I already have a few videos up of it that will be continued to as well.


Thanks for sharing. I always wondered about the differences in front panels on those prototypes, nice to see a close up. The one you have may had been their test bed judging by all the modifications. They built five of the C-B prototypes, and in the YT video below Chick Corea is playing a C-B prototype but it has the production front panel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qqnq0qRc2oQ

I know that Larry Fast used one of the prototypes on the early Peter Gabriel solo albums.

After looking into the circuits, I may actually semi restore this poly, I do not want to really replace or modify any of the engineering mods but simply clean and preserve this wonderful beast.


I heard all kinds of horror stories with the early 203a. My unit is a late 203a production model (serial #4xxx) dated Oct 1979 and it had held up so well that I didn't believe the horror stories at first, but I learned that they put a lot of upgrades in the circuits in later units so they would hold up better. I bought mine in 1985 and gigged with it for many years. In the last ten years it has developed some faults and is ready for some serious restoration, but that project is WAY down the list of priorities. I did get a vox humana filter board from a 280 and plan to change some of the presets in my 203a, stuff like FUNK and ORGAN are just useless today.

I note with interest that your prototype says POLYMOOG SYNTHESIZER above the preset buttons. The early 203a were labeled POLYMOOG KEYBOARD, then when the 280 was released that became POLYMOOG KEYBOARD while the 203a was changed to POLYMOOG SYNTHESIZER (that's how you spot a later 203a).

The early Faratron power supplies had an etch error that was responsible for blowing many polymoogs. Hopefully they fixed that one.



Thanks MC!

I am almost certain that this is a prototype but I am hoping to find more clues as I go along to answer more questions.

That is a great thing to point out about the Synthesizer tag on the master preset panel...I had the same thought at first when I saw the, "synthesizer" tag but actually this panel is made slightly different as well..I think they were still playing with the branding ideas. I do believe this is a later prototype though because you can tell they had most of this synth almost ready for another run of boards with revisions.

Polymoogs are really not that horrible, I have restored about 9 polymoogs and all of them have a very common issue. Either power supply goes out of regulation or the power supply is out of adjustment, (too much voltage) causing the TVS diodes on the Control boards to start breaking down...this causes all kinds of strange things. The TVS diodes are rated to break down somewhere around 16.4V if I am remembering correctly.

the other common problem is the tantalum caps located on the VCF board, (TR board) are bad about shorting and pulling extra current from the supply causing power supply The power supply itself does not really get damaged but there is a resistor that I see open up causing no voltage output.
I have a video expelling this a little bit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS88mGYQo64

The problem with the polymoog is that most people do not fully understand how it works, it is a a completely different beast than any other synth I have worked on, has a class of its own.

Good luck with your mods to your polymoog and thanks for the post,
Jareth