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Polaris Service Manual: Diagnostics

The "Scratch Patch"

Prior to making any adjustments on the Polaris a "scratch patch" should be established. The "scratch program" is also useful in trouble analysis, since you can be sure there is nothing in the program that will mysteriously affect the sound.

Any program erased from memory will revert to default values thereby establishing the "scratch program". So you need to erase a program, but what if you are working on a Polaris with 132 programs stored? No problem! Simply use the swap feature. The following sequence works fine:
  1. Select program A1. (A1 is now in the workspace).
  2. Press upper function - erase prog. - A1 (Scratch now in A1).
  3. Press upper function - swap prog. - A1 (Scratch now in workspace, A1 now back in A1).

You should hear a raspy sounding sawtooth, characteristic of the scratch program when keyed. This is the starting point for most diagnosing and adjusting.

Channel Enable/Disable

One of the more important functions in troubleshooting is the ability to listen to one voice at a time, or shut off voices one at a time to locate an offending sound. Simply press LOWER FUNCTION - E (CHANNEL CK). Switches 1 through 6 now control the 6 voices. The LED'S, obviously, indicate the on/off status of the corresponding channel. Switch 7 controls the channel most recently played.

Oscillator Enable/Disable

Along the same line of reasoning, you may want to disable the number 1 oscillators or number 2 oscillators. Select pulse and set the pulse width to minimum (0%) or maximum (100%) for either oscillator 1 or oscillator 2.

Diagnostic Readouts

Lower Function - D (Diagnostics) - 1
Displays charge on battery in right column of LEDS in assignable control section. Expect 4 or 5 LED's to light for a normal condition. Replace the battery cells if less than 2 LED'S light. If all 7 LED's light, it may mean that the capacitor on the battery holder has charged to more than the normal 3.2V. Likely, the capacitor will have charged up to +5V indicating an open connection between a cell and the holder terminal. Turning off the Polaris for a short time will not dump memory; off for a lengthy time, clearly will.
Lower Function - D (Diagnostics) - 2
Displays revision level of EPROMS by a flashing number LED. Example: flashing LED number 5 indicates revision 5 software.
Lower Function - D (Diagnostics) - 3
Turns on all LED'S. Useful for checking LED'S and loading the digital +5V supply by drawing maximum current. Voltage levels and ripple should always be checked with the supply under full load.
Lower Function - D (Diagnostics) - 4
Turns on the LED above the master slider when the master slider is positioned to produce a value of 255. This checks out the range of the A/D converter.
Lower Function - D (Diagnostics) - 12, STOP
Erases all RAM and resets the microprocessor. Everything in RAM is wiped out; all adjustments, programs, and sequences. The Polaris must be reloaded and all factory adjustments must be performed following this particular function. Generally, this should be used whenever EPROM'S are changed to a different revision.
Lower Function - 10: MIDI reset
Sends a MIDI reset byte over the MIDI interface to reset any external device that recognizes the standard MIDI reset (hexadecimal FF).
Lower Function - 11: Warm reset
Clears minor glitches. Example: A surge on the power lines can cause impulse or oscillatory noise on the 120V mains. This may result in unusual glitches such as self-sustaining notes, etc. Use this function to clear these kinds of problems without clearing any configuration parameters you may have set up through the software controlled switches.
Lower Function - 12: Cold reset
This is a major reset similar to turning off the power and turning it back on. It will clear configuration parameters and set them to their default condition.

Hidden Functions Quick Reference

The following is a listing reprinted from the Owner's Manual, provided here as a quick reference to hidden functions. It is not intended to be used as a comprehensive guide, rather, every service center should have on hand an actual Owner's Manual. The terms "Lower Function" and "Upper Function" are designated by "LF" and "UF" respectively.


LF, 10 MIDI reset
LF, 11 Warm reset
LF, 12 Cold reset
LF, D, 12 STOP: Erase and reset all


LF, A, 1 Stop mode click volume
LF, A, 2 Record mode click volume
LF, A, 3 Play mode click volume
LF, A, 4 Switch press click volume
LF, A, 5 Error honk volume


LF, B, 1 Main local control switch
LF, B, 2 Link local control switch
LF, B, 3 Sequencer local control switch
LF, B, 4 Main Chroma out switch
LF, B, 5 Link Chroma out switch
LF, B, 6 Sequencer Chroma out switch
LF, B, 7 Main MIDI in switch
LF, B, 8 Link MIDI in switch
LF, B, 9 Sequencer MIDI in switch
LF, B, 10 Main MIDI out switch
LF, B, 11 Link MIDI out switch
LF, B, 12 Sequencer MIDI out switch


LF, C, 1 Cassette load monitor
LF, C, 2 Cassette save monitor
LF, C, 3 Cassette input level: Off = audio, on = digital
LF, C, 4 Cassette output level: Off = low, on = high
LF, C, 5 Chroma program switch
LF, C, 6 MIDI program switch
LF, C, 7 Chroma panel switch
LF, C, 8 MIDI panel switch
LF, C, 9 MIDI omni mode
LF, C, 10 MIDI mono mode
LF, C, 11 Main workspace program sent out over Chroma interface
LF, C, 12 Main workspace program sent out over MIDI interface


LF, D, 1 Charge on battery
LF, D, 2 Revision level of EPROMs
LF, D, 3 All LEDs on
LF, D, 4 ADC range

Channel Check

LF, E, 1 Channel 1 enable/disable
LF, E, 2 Channel 2 enable/disable
LF, E, 3 Channel 3 enable/disable
LF, E, 4 Channel 4 enable/disable
LF, E, 5 Channel 5 enable/disable
LF, E, 6 Channel 6 enable/disable
LF, E, 7 Most recently played channel enable/disable


LF, H, 1 Metronome normal
LF, H, 2 Metronome master, pulses out sync interface
LF, H, 3 Metronome master, timing bytes out MIDI interface
LF, H, 4 Metronome pulses out sync, timing out MIDI
LF, H, 5 Metronome slaved to sync input
LF, H, 6 Metronome slaved to sync, pulses out sync
LF, H, 7 Metronome slaved to sync, timing out MIDI
LF, H, 8 Metronome slaved to sync sync pulse & MIDI timing out
LF, H, 9 Metronome slaved to MIDI input
LF, H, 10 Metronome slaved to MIDI, sync pulses out
LF, H, 11 Metronome slaved to MIDI, MIDI timing bytes out
LF, H, 12 Metronome slaved to MIDI, sync pulse & MIDI timing out

Sync Input

LF, I, 1 Sync in 12 clocks/beat
LF, I, 2 Sync in 24 clocks/beat
LF, I, 3 Sync in 48 clocks/beat
LF, I, 4 Sync in 96 clocks/beat
LF, I, 5 Sync in 192 clocks/beat
LF, I, 6 Toggles polarity of sync in trigger
LF, I, 12 Toggles level of sync in

Sync Output

LF, J, 1 Sync out 12 clocks/beat
LF, J, 2 Sync out 24 clocks/beat
LF, J, 3 Sync out 48 clocks/beat
LF, J, 4 Sync out 96 clocks/beat
LF, J, 5 Sync out 192 clocks/beat
LF, J, 6 Toggles polarity of sync out
LF, J, 7 Sync out rate limit 1200Hz
LF, J, 8 Sync out rate limit 600Hz
LF, J, 9 Sync out rate limit 400Hz
LF, J, 10 Sync out rate limit 300Hz
LF, J, 11 Sync out rate limit 200Hz
LF, J, 12 Sync out rate limit 150Hz

MIDI Channel

LF, K, 1-6 MIDI basic channel (b) = sum of these
LF, K, 7 MIDI in, no extra channels
LF, K, 8 MIDI in, extra channel b+3
LF, K, 9 MIDI in, extra channels b+3 & b+4
LF, K, 10 MIDI in, extra channels b+3, b+4 & b+5
LF, K, 11 MIDI in, extra channels b+3 through b+6
LF, K, 12 MIDI in, extra channels b+3 through b+7


UF, A Flashes currently selected sequence number
UF, B Chains current sequence to sequence specified by no. (1-12)
UF, C Toggles cue flag at end of current sequence
UF, D Sets sequence tempo to metronome if on; erases if off
UF, E Select (A-K, 1-12) initial program for current sequence
UF, F Select sequence (1-12)
UF, G Erase sequence (1-12)
UF, H Swap current sequence with sequence (1-12)
UF, I Save current sequence on tape
UF, J Save all sequences to tape
UF, K Loads one sequence over current sequence from tape


UF, 1 Store current program into (A-K, 1-12)
UF, 2 Erase program from (A-K, 1-12)
UF, 3 Swap current program with program (A-K, 1-12)
UF, 4 Save current program on tape
UF, 5 Save all programs on tape
UF, 6 Loads one program from tape into main workspace
UF, 7 Displays in Assignable Control approximate memory used
UF, 10 Toggles cassette motor control
UF, 11 Runs tape to verify. Any error stops tape, sounds honk.
UF, 12 Runs tape to load programs and sequence