|Words, Technology, and Factorio
||[Mar. 10th, 2017|12:38 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
I learned recently that the English "chauffeur" comes from a French word meaning one who heats. References to obsolete technology in daily life (in this case, referring to when the driver would need to get a head of steam on the car's boiler before it could be driven) make me happy. Incidentally, now I understand why a chafing dish is called a chafing dish, and can guess at a connecting etymology between that and to have chafed skin. Language is cool.
Speaking of obsolete tech, I have a problem. I have bought another vintage hi-fi receiver. It was $30 at the thrift store, and while I was looking at it, the clerk announced that there was a half-price sale on electronics, but it was ending and people should get in line now to qualify. I'd been trying to find info about it via Google and had a general idea that it was a nice piece of gear, but few specifics. So, time running out, I grabbed it and got in line.
It turned out to be a great find. Not only an unusual piece of hardware, but a piece of local history. It's a Sherwood receiver; the company began here in Chicago and one source says they produced the first ever fully solid-state receiver. Mine is a 1974 S8900a, with support for an external quadraphonic adapter (for a system called Dynaquad), and is likely one of the last Sherwood units made in the United States. It can put out 60 watts per channel with 8ohm speakers, so is notably more powerful than my later 20 watt Marantz. It was top of the line in its day; I've seen a cost of about $400 in '74! I keep thinking that someone must have really loved this unit once. It's the only receiver I've ever seen with a sliding pot to set phono line sensitivity too. I powered it up and it all seems to work. The tuning dial lights up in a beautiful rich blue and even without an external antenna, the bouncing signal strength meter told me it was picking things up as I rolled through the frequencies while squatting on the floor of the store. After getting it home, I found that sound gets all the way to the speaker terminals, though one channel seems come in and out. Maybe I can try to fix it up.
And on the topic of fixing things...I feel more and more like I want to get Posi to help me learn to do component level electronics repair and tuning. Oddly enough, it comes from thinking metaphorically about all the Factorio I've been playing. Building a factory in Factorio, I was thinking a while back, feels like building a multi-stage rolling ball sculpture. I can watch things go in, get transformed, follow a path, over and over. I've enjoyed things like rolling ball sculptures, watching liquids flow through a system, or, later, imagining the flows of electrons and information through computer networks I built, ever since I was a kid. Factorio appeals for the same underlying reasons, and it's enthralling. What else, I asked myself recently, would have that feeling?
It's a lot like how electrons flow through an appliance, isn't it? They enter the system, are shaped and transformed by various components of that system (I know, in AC they don't actually 'flow' as such), and eventually exit again. Modifying those circuits modifies the flow. It's a logical, intriguing system. Posi has an oscilloscope, a soldering station, and a lot of electronics experience. I think when I visit him this Sunday I'll bring the service manual for the Sherwood with and ask him how doable the procedures therein seem and whether he'd help me learn to do them.