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


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!


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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Cybraphon, rocks hard to the mood of the internet

Start off with a beat, wood sticks on cigar boxes will do. Add some chimes as accent, a Farfisa organ or record player for a voice, several other instruments for harmony and dissonance, and you’re still just on the tip of the iceberg for understanding Cybraphon.

Not only is this antique wardrobe completely autonomous, playing music with over 60 robotic instruments, its song are based on the current mood of the internet. You definitely don’t want to miss the video (or pictures) on this one, catch it after the rift.

[Thanks to PsychoNerd91]

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Chipophone plays video game classics

This thrift shop organ gets a new life as an 8-bit music maker. Called the Chipophone, it relies on an ATmega88 to produce sounds that you might associate with classic video gaming. [Linus Akesson] takes us through all of the different sound settings in the video after the break, including performances of your theme music favorites.

The original organ uses transistor logic making it rather easy to patch into the hardware. Thanks to the build log we know that [Linus] used 74HC165 input latches to monitor each of the switches for the 120 inputs. Fifteen of these latches work like a backwards shift register 74HC595, cascading all of the parallel inputs into one serial signal. From there the microcontroller takes over, monitoring the keys, pedals, switches, and potentiometers and outputting the appropriate sounds.

[Thanks 7e]

James R. Knight memorial organ

IMG_1613 (Custom)

[Jared] wanted to do something monumental to commemorate his late father. His idea was to take this organ console and convert it to a digital beast powered by Hauptwerk software. The project is slated to take 18 to 24 months to complete, at which point he’s going to donate it to his church. You can follow along as he guts it and replaces all the mechanicals with new parts to interface the computer. He also finds that he needs at least 42 individual speaker cabinets to achieve the sound he wants. This thing is massive, we would love to see it in person.