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Thread: New life for an old Allen

  1. #71
    p Piano Moller Artiste's Avatar
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    Leisesturm, did you even think that perhaps Timbres wanted the satisfaction of "doing it himself?" Your comments are a bit harsh. The diversity of the forum members is what makes the organforum enjoyable. All of us can learn something whether we agree or not. Even though my console was MIDI-fyed with Artisan uMIDI components, it took many hours of wiring plus writing the program to define what the hardware is supposed to do. If you prefer a more off the shelf approach, that's great; it will save you time and perhaps your experience will help others.



    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    Full Disclosure: I have not personally built a VTPO... but I know about 95% of what I need to. I've just decided to check into this thread and after about 10 minutes scanning posts I am just dizzy. I don't even know where to begin. About all I can say is that the process should not be nearly as hit and miss as it appears from the ongoing narrative from timbres. There seems to be a tremendous amount of trial and error, and re-invention of the wheel. I won't touch the MIDI encoding/decoding aspects. My choice would have been to use off the shelf products designed for that purpose, but if I had experience with Arduinos, I don't know... maybe I would try them?

    One question... what has been the cost of using and programming Arduinos for an organ of the size of the Allen? What I will say at this juncture to the o.p. is STOP! Take a break. Read a lot more about how others have put their audio chains together. The Presonus Firebox is a discontinued piece of audio equipment when I Google it, but what data I can gather on it makes me wonder why you are using it as your audio interface. I am not sure why you need 7 audio channels for such a small instrument. I could have told you that the bass split in the Hauptwerk would not work. What you need is a cross-over in the pre-amp to send higher than sub-woofer frequencies to different amps.

    The cable with 1/4 to RCA plugs... why did you cut it? Can we start over, all the way back to the soundcard(s) that you are using, and work forward till we get to the speakers? The relay thing... I have a similar need... I have an Alesis keyboard and a computer/internet radio and I use an 8 channel audio mixer to switch between them. In fact with my method I can have BOTH my keyboard (or your organ) and my computer playing at the same time. This allows me to accompany something playing on the radio, or my singing or playing an acoustic instrument with the electronic keyboard. It also mixes down several channels of outputs from a VPO to just two. Need more? Get another mixer! They are only $99 each. I've got more, but I'll stop here and see how well (or not) this goes down. Peace.

  2. #72
    mp Mezzo-Piano Leisesturm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moller Artiste View Post
    Leisesturm, did you even think that perhaps Timbres wanted the satisfaction of "doing it himself?" Your comments are a bit harsh. The diversity of the forum members is what makes the organforum enjoyable. All of us can learn something whether we agree or not. Even though my console was MIDI-fyed with Artisan uMIDI components, it took many hours of wiring plus writing the program to define what the hardware is supposed to do. If you prefer a more off the shelf approach, that's great; it will save you time and perhaps your experience will help others.
    I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote that post to try to remove as much harsh as I possibly could. I get everything you said and I agree. That's why I left the organ side of it alone. The audio side I thought I could possibly help with. My SO calls me a "solutions guy". It is hard for me to leave someone in the dark if I think I have been on their path before. Anyway, I meant no harm.

  3. #73
    ppp Pianississmo timbres's Avatar
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    2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote that post to try to remove as much harsh as I possibly could. I get everything you said and I agree. That's why I left the organ side of it alone. The audio side I thought I could possibly help with. My SO calls me a "solutions guy". It is hard for me to leave someone in the dark if I think I have been on their path before. Anyway, I meant no harm.
    I wonder if you are reacting partly to something about my writing style. I am self-taught in electronics, audio, and woodwork, so I'm sure that someone with more experience would get there faster. I could have written differently, focusing only on the solutions, which might have sounded less chaotic and more confident, but I thought the journey, complete with mistakes and back-tracking, was interesting in and of itself. It's also a story about starting a very complex project, and breaking it down into bite-sized chunks, finally leading to a successful outcome.

    I love to learn new things by working it out for myself. For example, I could have purchased MIDI hardware, but I learn more by developing my own software. Also working with an existing keyboard, the solutions emerge from the hardware. I was able to re-use existing wiring which not only reduced the amount of soldering but also allowed me to see and respond more directly to the architecture of the organ.

    Regarding audio, I think I can answer some of your questions. The Firebox is a product I've used before, and it was under $30 on Ebay, so really good value. My experience is that six channels is markedly better than two plus a subwoofer, so I'm happy with the solution bar the hum. I also considered other strategies for mixing / switching the audio, but I couldn't build anything better for close to the price of the snake plus relay box. Also by doing it this way I have access to eight channels of high quality class AB amplification (part of my home theater setup).

    Finally, with two kids in college, and a mortgage to pay, the cost of the project is a major deal. Apart from the cost of Hauptwerk, I believe my total spending to get to a fabulous instrument, better than I originally dreamed, has been less than $150.

    Make sense?
    Allen Theater 12 reconstruction w/ DIY scanners, amplifiers and speakers. Hauptwerk on an old Mac Pro.

  4. #74
    mp Mezzo-Piano Pipeorganbuilder's Avatar
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    Timbres--Love your approach to the end product. I also enjoy doing it myself. Amazing how much you can learn from the experience. Wishing you the best.

    Michael

  5. #75
    ppp Pianississmo timbres's Avatar
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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Michael,
    Thank you for your kind words. Having the ability to participate in a community like this has been key to both the success and the enjoyment of the project.

    Regards,
    Tim
    Allen Theater 12 reconstruction w/ DIY scanners, amplifiers and speakers. Hauptwerk on an old Mac Pro.

  6. #76
    ppp Pianississmo physicsmajor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    ...
    One question... what has been the cost of using and programming Arduinos for an organ of the size of the Allen?
    ...
    My wife and I, independently, decided to use Arduino and a similar approach for a virtual organ project. We specced out the project before we started, intending to overshoot in every respect, and after looking around it became quite clear that it would be a fun learning experience, we'd have the ability to fix it if/when anything goes wrong, we both love DIY and tinkering, and above all that it was massively less expensive. To give you some idea, we decided we wanted to over-spec the project so as to never realistically have the electronics limit our inspiration.

    At the moment our Arduino-based solution can support up to five bus-wired manuals to a single board, one manual per shield. We designed and ordered our own PCBs for this purpose. The diodes are SMD and are mounted on the PCB, not soldered to the switches/stops, which simplifies the actual wiring. The entire cost of the PCBs and diodes thus far has been roughly equivalent to the cost of one Arduino Mega2560 which is required to run the board. The same shields can be repurposed to also handle, via another Arduino Mega, the pedalboard, up to four expression pedals, and around 600 stops.

    Now, it's possible we missed solutions out there, but from what we could find the existing MIDI hardware is orders of magnitude more expensive than the $200 or so we have invested. Also, having the software and hardware expertise to handle all of this lets us have confidence in the ability to support it long-term. We also may move one or more times in the next several years and this allows us to be modular. Finally, we also much prefer to use fully open hardware and software, which to our knowledge would not otherwise have been possible.

    So there are certainly reasons/justification for going this route.

  7. #77
    mp Mezzo-Piano Pipeorganbuilder's Avatar
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    Sounds like both of you are having a great time working thru the different steps. Hope to hear you have it playing soon.
    Michael
    Quote Originally Posted by physicsmajor View Post
    My wife and I, independently, decided to use Arduino and a similar approach for a virtual organ project. We specced out the project before we started, intending to overshoot in every respect, and after looking around it became quite clear that it would be a fun learning experience, we'd have the ability to fix it if/when anything goes wrong, we both love DIY and tinkering, and above all that it was massively less expensive. To give you some idea, we decided we wanted to over-spec the project so as to never realistically have the electronics limit our inspiration.

    At the moment our Arduino-based solution can support up to five bus-wired manuals to a single board, one manual per shield. We designed and ordered our own PCBs for this purpose. The diodes are SMD and are mounted on the PCB, not soldered to the switches/stops, which simplifies the actual wiring. The entire cost of the PCBs and diodes thus far has been roughly equivalent to the cost of one Arduino Mega2560 which is required to run the board. The same shields can be repurposed to also handle, via another Arduino Mega, the pedalboard, up to four expression pedals, and around 600 stops.

    Now, it's possible we missed solutions out there, but from what we could find the existing MIDI hardware is orders of magnitude more expensive than the $200 or so we have invested. Also, having the software and hardware expertise to handle all of this lets us have confidence in the ability to support it long-term. We also may move one or more times in the next several years and this allows us to be modular. Finally, we also much prefer to use fully open hardware and software, which to our knowledge would not otherwise have been possible.

    So there are certainly reasons/justification for going this route.

  8. #78
    ppp Pianississmo timbres's Avatar
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    I'd love to see more information on your solutions. I used a separate Arduino for each manual, and for the stops and expression pedal (I only have one), because the Leonardo is not very powerful, doesn't have that many pins, but does do direct MIDI over USB, so I just connect all the different micro controllers through a 7 port hub.

    Please post some pictures, and your code if you're willing to - it would be great to see another homebrew solution.

    tim
    Allen Theater 12 reconstruction w/ DIY scanners, amplifiers and speakers. Hauptwerk on an old Mac Pro.

  9. #79
    p Piano John Kinkennon's Avatar
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    I think that the folks currently building MIDI and console solutions are doing so for two basic reasons. First, they do so because they possess the knowledge and skills to do so and enjoy the effort. That's a lot like woodworking I suppose. We do it "because we can". Second, some of us are on a budget and amuse ourselves by demonstrating that we can produce a totally state of the art project at nickels and dimes on the dollar. Literally 5 to 10% of the big builder installations when you add the software and the sound and computer equipment to come up with a 2k to 10k installed solution. If someone can locate a free console and turn out a first rate product by adding $200 to $500 in parts plus perhaps 5k of unreimbursed labor then that's a beautiful thing. Chances are a better sounding product won't be on the market at anything approaching the expenditure.

    Great work, timbre and physics major and spouse.

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