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  • Alterable Voice Strangity: Problem or Feature?

    Greetings all and howdirrrrooooooooooo

    I finally got my Alterable Voice repaired, but it now has developed a very strange problem.

    First of all it does not always read inserted cards.
    Usually, one care can be read in either 1 or 2 immediately after the organ is turned on.

    The interesting "feature" is that occasionally (!) when I put down the tab, the voice plays at the intended pitch. If the pitch is 8, and I turn the voice off and then back on the pitch changes to 4. Turning the voice off and on again changes the pitch to 2, then 1, then 16, then 8, etc. It's sort of handy, but more annoying.

    As well, and again occasionally, when the organ is turned on later, the voice changes somewhat (ex. Principal becomes stringy, etc).

    The only way I can have stability in the selected voices is to unplug the reader connection in the console.

    I have cleaned the contacts on the reader plug and checked the lights as well as dusted the lights.

    Any ideas? Or is my Allen haunted?

    It is nice to have the reader back and at least I have two important stops read-in: Lieblich Gedeckt 16 and Clarinet 8.

    Bruce

    Bruise in the Muttastery
    Allen ADC-4000

  • #2
    ADC card readers require that the lamp voltage be adjusted within fairly narrow limits. If you are sure the card reader itself is clean and fairly dust-free on the inside, check to see that the USAV board in the cage is properly inserted in its slot (would be a good idea to pull it out, clean the connections, lube with tiny amount of Vaseline).

    Then, regulate the card reader lamp voltage by starting at about 7.5 volts and turning it down a few tenths at a time until the reader quits reading cards correctly. Make a note of this bottom threshold. Now, turn the voltage upward from 7.5 a bit at a time until you reach an upper limit where the reader no longer reads. Finally, set the voltage halfway between these two extremes and it should work reliably all the time.

    Most troubles I've had with ADC card readers are from dust and debris in the reader assembly itself. You may have to disassemble it (very very carefully, making notes about screw, washers, metal spacers, and other little parts, exactly where they go and how they are oriented). Then clean everything meticulously, including the lamps, the holes and slots, the photo-transistors. It really should work once everything is clean and well adjusted unless you have a failed photo-transistor or other component, and the only way to discover that is to swap the reader from a known-working organ.

    Good luck!
    John
    ----------
    *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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    • #3
      Thanks much... I'll give it a shot. But where is the voltage regulator on the Reader?

      Comment


      • #4
        Look at the power supplies in the floor of the organ. One of them will have a small knob or screw-driver adjustable pot marked "card reader voltage" and you'll see the two terminals that send the voltage to the card reader lamps. Measure the voltage across those two terminals and adjust with the small pot.
        John
        ----------
        *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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        • #5
          Thanks muchiful! ;-)

          Bruce

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          • #6
            But how could a flaky card reader cause intermittent problems with the data once they have been read into memory? It seems to me that the problem is more likely to lie in the AV, TG, EG, or FG card associated with the alterable. What about the infamous rechargeable batteries that are supposed to maintain the alterable setting? Weak (leaking?) batteries could cause problems with the backup memory.

            Don

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            • #7
              Good point, Don. The USAV card in the cage would seem a likely culprit here. Other than cleaning it up and repairing any battery damage, there isn't much Bruce can do though without a card to substitute for troubleshooting purposes.

              I have an Allen MDS45 in which the batteries leaked out many years ago before I owned it. The battery leakage seeped into the backplane socket and ruined it as well as the USAV board. Allen wants several thousand dollars to rebuilt the backplane board, so this one will have to do without a card reader. Hope this hasn't happened to Bruce's organ!
              John
              ----------
              *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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              • #8
                Thanks, guys. It has only been about three or four months since the Card Reader and its boards and another "main board" that was causing 'chirping' were replaced. The Card Reader was again returned to the service people and was checked and found to be okay. About a month later the present problem began.

                What is also strange is that when I first turn the organ on I can read ONE card. If I want to read another care, I must either turn the organ off and back on or disconnect and reconnect the Reader inside the console. When the cards have been read, if the Reader is then disconnected the information remains stable.

                Can 'emotional problems' within the organ be treated??? ;-) The organ was in a Methodist church previously but was abandoned for 'rock worship'. ;-)

                Thanks again. I checked the batteries and they appear okay; they, too, are only about four months old.

                bruise in the muttastery

                Comment


                • #9
                  The more I use this organ and talk with people with newer models, the more I appreciate what I have. When my ship comes in (provided it doesn't crash into the dock!!) I would like to have this organ refurbished and restored. The only additions/changes I would want would be perhaps different reeds on the Swell, a few unequal temperaments, and two more Alterable Voices on Great.

                  I really enjoy my card collection and it's so much fun to play old English Diapason movements on various sounds: French Horn is really cool, Quintade 16, Bell Gamba 16, Rankette 16, Regal 8, Krummhorn 8, Musette 8, all combines with various 4' flutes. The possibilities are nearly endless and I don't have to have a console the size of a box car to accommodate them.

                  The overall sound of the instrument is good for a small room with warmth but no reverberation (I don't like store-bought reverb!), and with the speakers placed around the room there is nice presence. I have four Technic 14 x 24 speakers, one Radio Shack 14 x 24 speaker, and two sets of three speakers from "boom boxes" that I procured with FreeCycle. It's a very satisfying set up.

                  Sort of reminds me of the study done years ago to determine the best stereo system. The result was that it was not the cost of the system but whether you had $200, $500, or $1500 ears! Experts could not agree on the "best" system.

                  Thanks again for all of your help.

                  Bruise

                  bruise

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                  • #10
                    Since pulling the plug on the card reader (which is to say extinguishing the lamps) stops the data from changing, I'm beginning to suspect that you have a faulty reader, in spite of the fact that it has been replaced recently. Bad parts do get out of the factory sometimes, and sometimes a dealer or tech is carrying around some pretty old parts in his kit, which parts sometimes get sold as "new" parts. Check to see if the card reader came with a one-year factory warranty. It should have, if it was actually a brand new one. Even if the dealer or tech didn't order it fresh for you, Allen may go ahead and honor the warranty as if it had been new, as long as it had not previously been used.

                    Of course, the USAV board is also involved in decoding the cards, so it could be the culprit. I'd just try replacing the reader itself since the problem goes away when the reader is detached from the system.

                    If you find that the reader is not covered by any kind of warranty, you could still do the complete dismantling that I mentioned earlier. Dust and debris can work into the unit and wreak havoc with the photo-transistors even when you have cleaned them the best you can with canned air from the outside. Could also be some bad solder joints on the little pc board that holds the photo-transistors and other components. Or one of the lamps could be flickering slightly, perhaps about to fail or maybe not soldered in solidly. Such a flicker might be sending some kind of unwanted data into the system, causing the pitches to change.

                    At any rate, you have a nice instrument and a great setup. Do I recall that it's an ADC4000? We had one of those at church for a while and I loved it. This is one of the few models with the pedals divided up meaningfully between the two channels so that each 16' stop truly adds something when drawn. I hope you can get it working properly and enjoy it for many years to come.
                    John
                    ----------
                    *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

                    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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                    • #11
                      John, I agree that an intermittent in the card reader could be generating false data bits. I have one other thought: The card reader connects to the multiplex board, which encodes its data onto the serial busses that run to the card cage. Could we have a bad multiplex board here?

                      Don

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                      • #12
                        I would think that if the card reader assembly was generating false data, it would only affect the alterable currently selected.
                        -Admin

                        Allen 965
                        Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                        Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                        Hauptwerk 4.2

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                        • #13
                          Hi John,
                          The card reader was not replaced, but was checked by the service people in their shop and returned to me, so there is no warranty. My next project is to get a can of "air" and blow the dust out. Hopefully this works. As well, I will be checking the voltage regulation. You guys have been super helpful.

                          Thanks again.

                          Bruce

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                          • #14
                            I finally managed to get my gout under control so I could get to the organ! yeesh! But, after taking the back off I cannot locate the power supply marked "card reader voltage." There appear to be two power supplies on the floor of the console, one on the extreme left, the other on the right, but neither are marked. Any idea which is which. I thought I'd ask before I take out my trusty screw driver.
                            Thanks again for the help.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              In their infinite wisdom Allen no longer has on the tech site nice photos of the organ console interiors for many models, so I can't find a pic to tell me exactly what you are seeing. I believe on the left you would have the capture action power supply. There may be another supply or two in the organ floor depending on the exact configuration. One of them will have a pot clearly marked "CR Lamp" or "Card Reader" so you will know it when you see it. I think it will be the same as the 12 volt unregulated supply, which is a plain aluminum chassis with some filter caps and a transformer sitting on top. I am not certain, though, as it has been a while since I've worked on an ADC of that type.
                              John
                              ----------
                              *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

                              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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