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maestro

newbie looking to drive small pipe organ with midibox

7 posts in this topic

Hello all,

I will start by saying that I am completely new to midibox. I have read through every pipe organ-related topic I can find and I have also been reading through the wiki...but I do not yet have a lot of electronics knowledge and need guidance on how/where to start.

I have a small 3 rank pipe organ and would like to eventually use midibox to control everything. Relays and other electronics from organ companies are far out of my price range.

I need some help getting started. From my reading thus far, I understand that I should use MidiBox 128. Is it possible to drive real pipes using midibox without a PC as part of the system, or do I need to run it through a PC program like jOrgan? It is preferable to control the organ without a PC as part of the system.

Also, is it possible to achieve unification and coupling with midibox?

Any help is appreciated. I found lists of how many CORE, DIN, and DOUTs to get on the wiki, but I am unsure of what other parts would be required and also would not know quite where to begin putting the pieces together.

Thanks!

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I do not yet have a lot of electronics knowledge and need guidance on how/where to start.

I have a small 3 rank pipe organ and would like to eventually use midibox to control everything.

Yes, this could be done with MidiBox. No, it is not an easy project. I think a few people have done something like this but I don't know if they watch this Forum on a regular basis. You would probably be largely on your own and that is not a good place to be if you aren't pretty comfortable with electronics, software, and organ wiring.

I assume your organ does have an electro-pneumatic or electric action. It would be easier to use a PC in the middle with the console sending MIDI In to jOrgan and using MIDI Out from jOrgan to drive the pipes. Replacing the logic provided by jOrgan would be a MAJOR software effort in MidiBox. There is a reason why organ relays cost what they do. If you want to play your organ rather than spend a lot of time mucking with electronics, you might want to think again about trying to find the money to go with a commercial solution. There are some that are pretty reasonably priced considering the amount of effort it will take you to do it yourself. Look at Opus Two and the Artisan microMidi (?) if you haven't already.

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Thanks for your response. The organ has direct electric action. I wouldn't mind running a system through jorgan if using 100% midibox would add too much complexity to what seems to be an already complex project.

The hardware part of midibox doesn't intimidate me too much, I think with a little help I would be capable of this. The software/programming part is probably where I would need the most assistance, but if there are few people out there who can help with this sort of thing it's likely I would get stuck.

The concept of simply driving direct electric magnet valves doesn't seem all too difficult, but it seems like the stop drawknobs/combination action portion of the organ would be more complex to set up. (perhaps the combination action would be similar to that of a digital organ like a hauptwerk console???) Any thoughts?

I have looked at Artisan microMIDI. Their product seems great. It would be possible to save up for this some day (still several hundred dollars just in parts, but much cheaper than conventional products from a company like Peterson), but I do enjoy the DIY process.

Well, I suppose the question is, can I tackle this realistically with jOrgan and MidiBox combined and have a good DIY experience, or is this going to be unrealistic?

Anyone is welcome to offer input...I appreciate those who are more experienced tolerating the questions of a total newbie.

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The way you probably want to tackle this is to split your organ in half and put jOrgan in the middle. Console -> jOrgan -> Pipes

MidiBox will provide the -> by converting between the electrical signals used by the organ and the MIDI messages used by jOrgan. The console to jOrgan should be straightforward as many people have Midified various organ consoles to control jOrgan and other virtual organs. The output side is where you'll be part of a small group because only a few people deal with real pipes.

I think jOrgan can produce MIDI output to signal stop changes which you can use to make the stops track what jOrgan is doing. You would send a stop change message when you change an individual stop so that jOrgan can follow those changes. You would send a piston message when you want to select a combination and jOrgan would use its virtual combination action to set the virtual stops and send MIDI messages to move the console stops to match. You should run this by the folks on the jOrgan Forum to see if there are any problems with doing this.

I would start by creating the organ you want to have entirely in jOrgan without worrying about how you are going to connect the real organ. A virtual organ exists entirely in the computer without the need for any real hardware. Any real hardware that is connected to the virtual organ is either causing its virtual counterpart to follow the hardware, e.g. the console, or is following its virtual counterpart, e.g. the pipes. You need to have a jOrgan configuration that exactly matches your real hardware so you can tie the two together.

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I believe forum user Robin Fawell may have done the most work on using MIDIbox to create an organ. You might search his older postings and email him to see what the current status of his project is. The MIDIIO128 project provides a base (switch inputs, control outputs) that you could build on top of but offers little organ functionality (relay) on its own. Jim's suggestion of using jOrgan has merit. You may also want to search for the work of Trevor Dodd who used jOrgan and MIDIbox to operate a Wurlitzer theatre organ.

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Yes, it not only can be done, but I built a 5 rank pipe instrument using midibox devices for all encoding and decoding functions. jim henry is absolutely correct about jOrgan, it is a super relay replacement and can duplicate all functions normally found on a pipe organ, including combination action. Read back posts on the midification topic, especially back in 2005.

Good luck

Johnc

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maestro,

I agree with everyone else that you really need to have jOrgan in the middle. In addition to the COREs, DINs, and DOUTs, you'll need something relatively "beefy" to drive the DE magnets. I managed to get away with ULN2803 transistor drivers because my Wurlitzer magnets were only 150-180 ohms.

Trevor

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