Tearing apart an organ and making a MIDI keyboard

pedul

What do you do if you’re in a band and have an old, dead organ lying around? Build a MIDI foot controller, of course.

After dispensing of the old organ guts, [Mark] mounted the pedals in a handsome road case and started working on the electronics. His first inclination was to mount an Arduino Pro Mini on a piece of stripboard, but after that failed decided to learn Eagle and fabricate a PCB. each key of the organ pedals are connected to a switch read by the Arduino which sends data to a Korg Microsampler over MIDI.

The swell pedal from the organ was also reused, but because the old incandescent light in the pedal was toast, this was replaced with an LED. It still works, allowing [Mark] to do volume swells on his new, fancy, MIDI foot controller.

You can check out a video of the controller below.

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MIDI out for a Korg CX-3 organ

midi-out-for-a-vintage-korg-cx-3-organ

[Michael] loves this old organ of his, but recently he wondered if it would be possible to add MIDI out without altering its original functionality. With a bit of research and more than a bit of hard work he accomplished his goal.

The nice thing about working on a quality piece of hardware like this is the resources you can find regarding how they work (which we bet is tailored for how to repair them when they break). [Michael] found a website with plenty of info on the circuit boards and how they work. From this he was able to locate a few chips which stream serial data regarding which keys have been pressed. Bingo!

Once he located the three signals he was after he built a board to translate them to the MIDI protocol. His circuit is based around an ATtiny2313. It is supported by a liner voltage regulator circuit as well as a buffer chip which converts the incoming signals to the 5V levels needed. His home etched board is clean and well mounted, and the success of the project can be heard in the clip after the jump.

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Organ pedals fill in when your bass player is missing

organ-foot-pedals-instead-of-string-bass

Since his string bass player isn’t always around [Antoine] built his own electric bass stand-in using the pedals from an old organ. The project — which he calls the Organ Donor — was inspired by a similar standalone organ pedal bass project. That instrument was built using a 555 timer to generate the sound. But [Antoine] has a little more room for growth as he’s using an old microcontroller development board to generate sound.

The octaves worth of pedals were pulled from an old broken Yamaha A55 Electone organ. After extracting the assembly from the instrument he built a nice wooden case around it. This doubles as a stand for the amplifier which broadcasts the sound. An old Freescale development board is wired up to twelve of the keys (the top C is unused). It generates a square wave at the appropriate frequency for each key. This signal is fed through a low-pass filter before being routed to the audio jack on the back of the case.

Future improvements include building an amplifier into the pedal assembly. We would also love to see different signal processing to expand the range of sounds the pedals can generate. We’re not sure of the capabilities of that microcontroller, but it would be neat to hear tone generation using stored samples.

BaceMaker weds organ foot pedals with guitar whammy effects

[Jon Ferwerda] managed to fry the analog electronics on an old electric organ while conducting some circuit bending experiments. It’s a loss, but he’s still left with some cool equipment to play with. Recently he got to work generating tones using the organ’s foot pedals.

There were two types of foot pedal included with this organ, the set that is arranged like a keyboard, and a rocker pedal similar to what you might use with an electric sewing machine. Since the music generation was handled by those fried bits of organ [Jon] got to work interfacing the foot keyboard with a 555 timer. He used a fairly large capacitor to get the frequency into the bass range and wired individual pedals to different parts of a resistor network. But he didn’t stop with that. The rocker pedal has its own variable resistor hardware which lets him bend the pitches are they are being generated which sounds  alike like a guitar whammy effect. He shows his work in the clip after the break. We think he nailed it! This is a perfect supplement to any type of electronic music setup.

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Making old organs more portable with MIDI

In the 60s 70s and early 80s, roadies would lug hundreds of pounds of musical equipment around to gigs. Although the 8×10 Ampeg bass cabinet wasn’t fun in the least, the absolute worst was the Hammond organ. These behemoths of tonewheel organs sounded great, but moving them was a pain. For better or worse, portable MIDI keyboards caught up with the sound quality of these old electromechanical monsters. Everything is still not right with keyboard players; a good set of organ foot pedals is still hard to come by. To solve this problem, [Jeremy] converted his old Hammond A-100 organ pedals to MIDI giving him all the feel and aesthetics of an ancient instrument without all the heft.

To transform the ancient A-100 bass pedals into a keyboard, [Jeremy] turned to the HighlyLiquid MIDI CPU. This small board provides a few dozen pins to wire up to switches and potentiometers. A new switch assembly was built for the bass pedals using a momentary push button switch under each key. These buttons are wired up to the MIDI CPU, and everything worked out wonderfully.

Although there’s no video of the newly portable Hammond organ in action (something off Zeppelin I, [Jeremy]…) there is a great Flickr photoset of the entire build. Awesome work, [Jeremy]

Amazing pipe organ desk features secret compartments and an all-wood logic board

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Feeling pretty good after putting together your brand new standing computer desk? Step aside please, [Kagen Schaefer] has something he’d like to show you.

His Pipe Organ Desk is undoubtedly one of the coolest pieces of furniture we have seen in a long time. The project took [Kagen] over three years to complete, which sounds about right once you see how much attention was put into every last detail.

This desk is amazing in several ways. First off, the entire desk was constructed solely from wood. The drawers, the supports, knobs, screws, and even the air valves – all wood. Secondly, when one of the desk’s drawers are pushed in, air is directed to the organ pipes at the front of the desk, which plays a note.

A small portion of the air is also directed into the desk’s pneumatic logic board, which keeps track of each note that has been played. When someone manages to play the correct tune, a secret compartment is unlocked. The pneumatic logic board is an unbelievable creation, consisting of well over 100 wooden screws which can be tuned to recognize any number of “secret tunes”.

Sure a well-placed axe can open the compartment too, but who would destroy such a fine piece of work?

[via Make]

Behold, the Oomphalapompatronium!

Oomphalapompatronium

For over 25 years, [Len Solomon] has been performing a one-man variety show that features crazy-looking, hand-made musical instruments that operate on air. Some of his more famous instruments include a callioforte he constructed, as well as his Majestic Bellowphone, both powered by some form of bellows, of course.

His most recent musical creation is something [Len] likes to call the “Oomphalopompatronium” (try saying that five times fast). The bellows-driven Willy Wonka-esque organ looks to be built from just about anything and everything he could get his hands on. We spied a few plastic and glass bottles, plenty of PVC pipe, and a few tin cans before we stopped looking and just listened.

At first glance you might think that the Oomphalopompatronium will produce some cacophonous excuse for music, but once [Len] stepped up to the keyboard we were pleasantly surprised. The sound is that of a small scale Oompah band, much like the name implies.

We think it’s a fantastic creation – we’re just bummed that it we can’t check it out in person.

Stick around to see a video of the Oomphalopompatronium in action.

[Thanks, BoKu]

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