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The Source (a book of patching and programming)
Published by Polyphony
Price $4.00

This is a compilation of the best synthesiser patches devised by Polyphony readers from 1975 to 1978. Polyphony is the house magazine of the PAiA Company which manufactures synthesiser and computer/synthesiser modules (see April's E&MM for a review of their 8700 computer/controller). It is a fun book!

The Source, quite naturally, has a heavy tendency towards PAiA equipment and, in fact, all the patches are designed to be used with PAiA modules but don't let that put you off. The patches are presented in a schematic and symbolic form so rather than show the front panel of a particular synthesiser, symbols are used to represent the VCOs, VCFs, ADSR units and trigger sources etc. A list of 'symbology' is included and the universal patch diagrams really are easy to follow. Allowances will have to be made depending on your synthesiser but all the basics are there.

The book is in five main parts. Part one consists of tonal-melodic patches resulting in sounds you would use in tunes (hopefully). Part two consists of atonal patches and sound effects. My favourites include a jungle patch — complete with drums and flying birds — a laughing hyena (I kid you not) and a drill (this won't hurt a bit...). Part three describes various techniques usually incorporated into a patch rather than resulting in a sound themselves, although many do. This section applies more to the characteristics of the PAiA modules than the others but there are goodies here too including a "Beat the Sequencer" game. Section four is concerned solely with the Gnome, a ribbon-controlled micro-synthesiser manufactured by PAiA (selling for $59.95 in kit form). In spite of the specialisation of this chapter, you can usually follow the signal path to create similar effects on other synths. I can recommend the bull frog and the helicopter but didn't quite manage to squeeze a sneeze out of my synth. The last chapter is devoted to software for their computer equipment and includes a program for composing 4-part harmonies.

As far as I am aware, The Source is only available directly from Polyphony (which involves sending a dollar-draft — no trouble, see your bank). It's worth every penny. If, like me, you enjoy experimenting and generally messing about with synthesisers to see what happens (very unprofessional, I know, but we need some relaxation), then The Source will provide you with dozens of ideas to use, develop and improve upon. Anyone with even basic synthesiser knowledge should be able to adapt the diagrams to their own equipment.

Buy this; you will use it and enjoy it.

PAiA Electronics address: (Contact Details).

Oscilloscopes How To Use Them, How They Work
by Ian Hickman
Published by Newnes Technical Books
Price £4.20

Many amateur constructors have reservations about purchasing an oscilloscope, feeling that either it is too complicated to use or that it is an over-estimated luxury for the cost incurred. I think Ian Hickman has managed to put the record straight in an admirable and concise manner when compiling this book.

In his opening paragraph, the author proves his authority not only in the subject matter, but of etymology and route derivation (this is totally by-the-way and of no practical value to the average reader). The first two chapters describe the basic theory and application of the instrument, with chapter three culminating in an overview of the more dedicated and expensive scopes that are not often seen or used outside the profession. The fourth chapter examines the many specialised accessories that can be purchased to compliment the oscilloscope. This section tackles not only probes but cameras, which can be used to make a photographic record of the trace, calibrators and graticules. To most people the graticule is simply a grid from which the measurement can be expressed in real terms, however, the text accompanying this heading proves that this small part of the overall unit can play a large part in the usefulness of the instrument.

The next two chapters detail the use and handling of 'scopes and are as explicit as most of the instruction booklets that would accompany your purchase as far as modus operandi is concerned. It is in the final chapter that the author briefly discusses how the circuitry is actually employed and delves a little into the electronics behind the screen. All-in-all a useful book for the constructor's bookshelf.

Auto Electrics
by Joss Joselyn and Bob Krafft
Published by Newnes Technical Books
Price £5.65

This book is a must for the practical car owner. It assumes no previous knowledge of wiring or electrical equipment associated with cars and starts with an explanation of basic electronics, which can probably be skipped by most amateur constructors. The authors have taken a very systematic and logical approach which ensures complete understanding, and with some of the regular maintenance procedures included, will enable the reader to get their car in perfect working orderand free from unnecessary electrical failure. The authors have impressed that practical maintenance, fault-finding and repair can be done cheaply.

Briefly, the main points covered are: wiring, battery, starter-motor, dynamo, alternator, ignition, lighting, instruments and wipers and other accessories. The following two chapters deal with the optional extras that can be added such as radios and tape cassettes. The final chapter in addition to giving a trouble-shooting guide, explains where you stand with your car electrics and the law.

The general layout of each chapter is bold, easy to follow text and a profusion of excellent diagrams on the right-hand side of the page leaving the left-hand column for clear reference headings and the occasional schematic that would have been distracting or isolated if carried on to the next page. (This is an excellent approach and one I have rarely seen elsewhere — it is perpetually annoying to find figures referenced within the text located on a completely different page, which constantly causes one to lose one's place.)

If I were asked to judge the book on its merits I would award it top marks, for it is excellently presented and easily digested.

Electronic Projects For Beginners
by F. G. Rayer
Published by Bernard Babani
Price £1.35

All newcomers to the subject of electronics seem to effervesce with an unrestrained enthusiasm that can only be satiated by wielding the soldering iron and churning out forms of electronic contraptions that seem to mystify all bar the budding constructor himself. With this pent-up eagerness and the need to keep on building, it is imperative that the overall cost of each project should be minimal and that the required literature to provide the enthusiast with his construction data should be within the range of his pocket. Here's an inexpensive book that's packed full of simple but useful projects.

The book has been divided into four sections, the first of which is devoted to projects that can be built without the aid of a soldering iron. The author describes how to construct baseboards with nuts and bolts to act as terminals and yet, with this 'Stone-Age' approach manages to outline 12 circuits including an intercom, a simple radio and some amplifiers. The second section headed 'Miscellaneous Devices' gives a brief introduction to soldering and is followed by some of the usual projects to be found in this type of book (water level indicator, flashers, sirens and treasure locator).

The third section is concerned with radio and audio frequency circuits and explains how to build radio signal boosters, pre-amplifiers, tone controls and mixers as well as three different amplifiers. The final pages are assigned to power supply circuits, the last chapter givi ng a table of semiconductor equivalents.

I think it is an excellent book for the price and should give the new constructor hours of fun as well as a greater insight into the subject.

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