Midify old Conn or get new midi keyboards?

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Midify old Conn or get new midi keyboards?

damuehlbauer
I have a Conn 652 that works about 90% but almost impossible to repair. I am
considering either converting it to midi or just getting rid of it and using
2 or 3 inexpensive midi keyboards to create a virtual theatre organ.

I'm sure there are lots of factors but my first question is how reliable are
midi conversions using 30 year old Conn keyboards? i know that I have had to
periodically clean those wires and buss bars to avoid missing notes or
static. I don't mind a little maintenance, but I don't want to take the
considerable time it would take to midify those keyboards to only find them
unreliable.

Your experiences?





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Re: Midify old Conn or get new midi keyboards?

grahamg
Hi,

I've MIDIfied three Conn consoles (using Midigadget Boutique encoder
boards) and they've all worked well. The encoder boards that I've used
run on 5v, so you have to make sure the wires/buss bars are clean and
making good connections. It really helps them to be played often!
These conversions were for other people in the Theatre Organ club.

It is a chore to remove the old wiring and solder in a new system. But
this keeps the console looking good and everything fitting together.
Using midi keyboards would be quicker, so it's really up to you.

GrahamG

On 2/7/18, damuehlbauer <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I have a Conn 652 that works about 90% but almost impossible to repair. I
> am
> considering either converting it to midi or just getting rid of it and
> using
> 2 or 3 inexpensive midi keyboards to create a virtual theatre organ.
>
> I'm sure there are lots of factors but my first question is how reliable
> are
> midi conversions using 30 year old Conn keyboards? i know that I have had
> to
> periodically clean those wires and buss bars to avoid missing notes or
> static. I don't mind a little maintenance, but I don't want to take the
> considerable time it would take to midify those keyboards to only find them
> unreliable.
>
> Your experiences?
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> Sent from: http://jorgan.999862.n4.nabble.com/jOrgan-User-f999863.html
>
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> Check out the vibrant tech community on one of the world's most
> engaging tech sites, Slashdot.org! http://sdm.link/slashdot
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>

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Graham Goode
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
VPOs with jOrgan, LinuxSampler, Fluidsynth, SFZ, GrandOrgue, NI Kontakt, and Hauptwerk
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Re: Midify old Conn or get new midi keyboards?

jbeach2646
In reply to this post by damuehlbauer
If the console is in nice, cosmetic condition and you decide to keep it, the
least laborious or tedious transformation would be to midify the pedalboard
with a midi hardware kit and get two decent, USB Midi Controllers.  I
recently purchased an Acorn Instruments 61-key Masterkey Midi Controller
($99 new, available on ebay.com).  It is an organ-style keyboard,
touch-sensitive and, actually, works better than the system of MIDIfication
I used to retro-fit the manuals and pedalboard of a vintage, Allen TC-3
organ.
My problem with the midification of the manuals is that I used a kind of
retro-fitting which used the same type of key-tail to crank arm to
contact-wire system which was original and standard with all analog, Allen
organs prior to the digital computer models.   Had I purchased the standard
replacement, phosphor-bronze, contact wires from the company, which have a
perfect tensile for the application, I would probably have had greater
consistency and not had to, occasionally, replace the standard, shirt-pins
which I used.
Having done this retro-fitting 13 years ago,  knowing what I know now, I
would go with the 61-key, USB Midi controllers and retro-fit the 32-note
pedalboard with MIDI.
My guess is that such a set-up would be less than $500 total.   Another
consideration is the sound output from the computer running jOrgan.  If you
can input it to the
organ amplifiers and use the organ speakers,  you should save money and get
good-quality sound.   This should not be difficult.

At present prices, to retrofit the entire Conn with a system such as
Artisan-Instruments Micro-Midi Unit and 3, 64-position Input
(screw-terminal) boards, wiring to each
of the keys and pedals, (ribbon cable works well for this) for basic MIDI
Note-ON/Note-OFF is about $550.  If you added another Input board, you could
wire the stops, couplers, combinations,etc. of the Conn, physical console.
I never did that because the stop tabs could only correspond to one single
jOrgan disposition, although couplers and combinations might correspond to
all dispositions, at least, partially.    You may find the midi hardware
more cheaply from other sellers.


John Beach




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Re: Midify old Conn or get new midi keyboards?

Aaron Laws
I have an Allen T-12 which I midified a year or two ago. I rolled my own equipment using a microprocessor with custom code (TeensyLC), and 16 or so multiplexers. The Teensy cost $12, and multiplexers were $2 each. I installed a motherboard, hard drive, PSU, etc. to make a working jorgan instrument.

Some of the keys are unreliable, though many offer no problems at all. Some very unreliable, some moderately so. TeensyLC, getting its voltage from USB (5v), is currently driving voltage to the common bus at 3.3v from a very small on-board voltage converter. I have the small circuit boards ($3 each), I am planning to make the key voltage work on 12vdc on a blade server power supply (capable of some 75 amps). I'm hoping this increase in voltage will help reliability.

If not, I have some other options: currently I'm using only one of the original stops; I could use them all to increase the number of connections, and hopefully the quality of the connection. As a nearly-last resort, I can attempt to clean (and coat?) the contacts. As a last resort, I can either make do or trash the unit and get midi keyboards.

Godspeed!


In Christ,
Aaron Laws

On Wed, Feb 7, 2018 at 6:29 AM, John Beach <[hidden email]> wrote:
If the console is in nice, cosmetic condition and you decide to keep it, the least laborious or tedious transformation would be to midify the pedalboard with a midi hardware kit and get two decent, USB Midi Controllers.  I recently purchased an Acorn Instruments 61-key Masterkey Midi Controller ($99 new, available on ebay.com).  It is an organ-style keyboard, touch-sensitive and, actually, works better than the system of MIDIfication I used to retro-fit the manuals and pedalboard of a vintage, Allen TC-3 organ.
My problem with the midification of the manuals is that I used a kind of retro-fitting which used the same type of key-tail to crank arm to contact-wire system which was original and standard with all analog, Allen organs prior to the digital computer models.   Had I purchased the standard replacement, phosphor-bronze, contact wires from the company, which have a perfect tensile for the application, I would probably have had greater consistency and not had to, occasionally, replace the standard, shirt-pins which I used.
Having done this retro-fitting 13 years ago,  knowing what I know now, I would go with the 61-key, USB Midi controllers and retro-fit the 32-note pedalboard with MIDI.
My guess is that such a set-up would be less than $500 total.   Another consideration is the sound output from the computer running jOrgan.  If you can input it to the
organ amplifiers and use the organ speakers,  you should save money and get good-quality sound.   This should not be difficult.

At present prices, to retrofit the entire Conn with a system such as Artisan-Instruments Micro-Midi Unit and 3, 64-position Input (screw-terminal) boards, wiring to each
of the keys and pedals, (ribbon cable works well for this) for basic MIDI Note-ON/Note-OFF is about $550.  If you added another Input board, you could wire the stops, couplers, combinations,etc. of the Conn, physical console. I never did that because the stop tabs could only correspond to one single jOrgan disposition, although couplers and combinations might correspond to all dispositions, at least, partially.    You may find the midi hardware more cheaply from other sellers.


John Beach





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Re: Midify old Conn or get new midi keyboards?

John Reimer
Administrator
In reply to this post by damuehlbauer
damuehlbauer wrote
> I don't mind a little maintenance, but I don't want to take the
> considerable time it would take to midify those keyboards to only find
> them
> unreliable.
>
> Your experiences?

damuehlbauer,

My feeling is that if you can find some of those fairly cheap USB-output
keyboards intended for VPO use, and you are satisfied with their “touch”,
that is the best way to go. They may not last for as long as some dearer
products nor look as good, but they will not cost a fortune to replace when
the time comes, and you will be spared the frustration of having to give up
valuable playing time to nurse along an ageing  keyboard with contact
problems that are only going to get worse. There could even be a bonus using
one of those new keyboards. Some of them have switches at the left which you
could use as combination piston switches.

Just over two years ago I had to decide which way to go when midifying the
analogue electronic organ in my local church, which I play for a service
twice a month. It was the first (and actually the prototype) for a number I
“built” for Sydney churches during the 1980‘s. I realised about 3 years ago
that when I could no longer work on it, nobody else would be able to,
because no service manual was ever written. So should I keep the existing
keyboards? I am not an accomplished cabinet-maker, and did not want to cope
with trying to make the result look as good as it has for the past 38 years.
So I disconnected the works and soldered in leads connecting the encoder to
the 122 key contacts involved.

Not surprisingly, it was totally unreliable. After all, the original
switching voltage was quite high: about -70V. D.C. The encoder works on 3.3
V. and expects a short to earth. The original Kimber-Allen contacts from the
U.K. (a well-respected supplier) used gold-clad wires with a phosphor-bronze
shorting bar. I had good supplies of gold-clad wire, and I soldered a small
length along each of the 122 shorting bars. Fortunately it was solderable.
Some keys turned out to be a bit reluctant to co-operate, but two years down
the track, with use each Sunday and also during the week when I practised,
they seem to have fallen into line.

However, the 30 or so stop tabs (mechanical only, so only one contact
involved each time) presented a much greater problem, and I ended up
modifying each one with TWO lengths of gold-clad wire carefully fashioned
into an appropriate shape and soldered into position. With gold-on-gold,
those contacts have given no trouble at all. But it was all a lot of work,
even for one who after a lifetime of soldering, is quite good at it.

It does look good, and it works - for the time being. Yet those high quality
wooden keys can give trouble if the climate plays any tricks. And accessing
the Great manual is not for the faint-hearted.

John Reimer




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Re: Midify old Conn or get new midi keyboards?

Pete Theisen
Get yourself some packaged key contact rails - Peterson, Classic Organ Works, might be others . . .

On 02/08/2018 12:05 AM, John Reimer wrote:
damuehlbauer wrote
I don't mind a little maintenance, but I don't want to take the
considerable time it would take to midify those keyboards to only find
them
unreliable.

Your experiences?
damuehlbauer,

My feeling is that if you can find some of those fairly cheap USB-output
keyboards intended for VPO use, and you are satisfied with their “touch”,
that is the best way to go. They may not last for as long as some dearer
products nor look as good, but they will not cost a fortune to replace when
the time comes, and you will be spared the frustration of having to give up
valuable playing time to nurse along an ageing  keyboard with contact
problems that are only going to get worse. There could even be a bonus using
one of those new keyboards. Some of them have switches at the left which you
could use as combination piston switches.

Just over two years ago I had to decide which way to go when midifying the
analogue electronic organ in my local church, which I play for a service
twice a month. It was the first (and actually the prototype) for a number I
“built” for Sydney churches during the 1980‘s. I realised about 3 years ago
that when I could no longer work on it, nobody else would be able to,
because no service manual was ever written. So should I keep the existing
keyboards? I am not an accomplished cabinet-maker, and did not want to cope
with trying to make the result look as good as it has for the past 38 years.
So I disconnected the works and soldered in leads connecting the encoder to
the 122 key contacts involved. 

Not surprisingly, it was totally unreliable. After all, the original
switching voltage was quite high: about -70V. D.C. The encoder works on 3.3
V. and expects a short to earth. The original Kimber-Allen contacts from the
U.K. (a well-respected supplier) used gold-clad wires with a phosphor-bronze
shorting bar. I had good supplies of gold-clad wire, and I soldered a small
length along each of the 122 shorting bars. Fortunately it was solderable.
Some keys turned out to be a bit reluctant to co-operate, but two years down
the track, with use each Sunday and also during the week when I practised,
they seem to have fallen into line.

However, the 30 or so stop tabs (mechanical only, so only one contact
involved each time) presented a much greater problem, and I ended up
modifying each one with TWO lengths of gold-clad wire carefully fashioned
into an appropriate shape and soldered into position. With gold-on-gold,
those contacts have given no trouble at all. But it was all a lot of work,
even for one who after a lifetime of soldering, is quite good at it.

It does look good, and it works - for the time being. Yet those high quality
wooden keys can give trouble if the climate plays any tricks. And accessing
the Great manual is not for the faint-hearted.

John Reimer




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