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Chimes and MIDI

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    Chimes and MIDI

    Hello everyone! hope you all are doing well!

    I have recently acquired a set of 21 Maas Rowe Chimes along with its action. I am looking to hook this up to some sort of MIDI control system that will allow me to connect this to my current Allen ADC 2160, use as a stand alone instrument with its own keyboard, or play MIDI files(although this isn't that important

    Could I get some guidance as to how and where I should start? I have never done anything with MIDI before and am very inexperienced in this area.


    I'm no MIDI expert, but I have seen "driver" units listed on the pages of various MIDI supplies, generally intended to drive pipe valves with MIDI, but which should work for chimes just the same. We service a Rodgers PDI organ here that has a set of real chimes added on via MIDI, using a driver board that was built by Walker.

    You should be able to do it with some guidance from one of those suppliers. Or you could just wire the chimes to a set of contacts placed below the Allen keyboards (as Allen used to do when equipping an organ to be prepared for chimes). Or just use one of those mini keyboards they used to hang on to the front of an organ console or build into a small stand.
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches


      Part of your selection of a driver board will be determined by whether your chimes action runs on AC or DC power. I'm presuming that you have solenoids on your striker action. My Deagan chimes use an AC transformer. When I finally get my music room set up I want to have the chimes driven via MIDI.

      I saw a Walker chimes driver board on the Daffer Organ online store but there was no documentation about it - the voltage, connections and protocols - so I did not buy it. Peterson has an AC chimes driver board but it requires a separate MIDI decoder and is expensive. Classic Organ Works has a universal (AC or DC) chimes driver board with both contact closure and MIDI inputs but it is quite expensive. The Classic board does have a lot of desirable features like volume control and per-note strike intensity adjustments.

      I've also considered using a standard DC MIDI decoder board controlling the coils of electro-mechanical relays where the relay contacts are fed with the AC transformer outputs. Since my project is at least a year out I've not come to any conclusions about how best to do this but I know there are other options out there besides the ones I mentioned.
      Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand name.

      Main: Allen RMWTHEA.3 with Rocky Mount Electra-Piano, Allen 423-C + Gyro cabinet, Britson Opus OEM38, Saville Series IV Opus 209, Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI
      Lower Level: Hammond 9812H with roll player, Gulbransen Rialto, Roland E-200, Vintage Moog
      Shop: Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with 18 speakers and MIDI, 4 Allen theater organ tone cabinets (including 3 Gyros, but don't call me Gyro Gearloose!).


      • jbird604
        jbird604 commented
        Editing a comment
        Good points, Larry, and some stuff I hadn't considered. No doubt it will be expensive to do this, and just any driver board might not work, especially if the chimes run on AC. Might be cheaper by far to just add extra switch contacts to the Allen keys.

      • Victor222444
        Victor222444 commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes i've realized that. I've been looking at driver boards recently and contacted some organ builders in my area to see if they could help me purchase from OSI but have been left without a response. And the ones I see online on several websites all seem to be expensive.

        I have contacted the Daffer store and they said that the Walker driver board was made for a Rodgers organ and won't work with anything else unless its reprogrammed which they have never seen that done before.

      • AllenAnalog
        AllenAnalog commented
        Editing a comment
        There are some relatively inexpensive MIDI decoder boards out there and someone was kind enough to point out to me that you can buy Chinese relay boards on ebay with 8 or 16 relays for incredibly low prices. It's a bit more work than the ready-made solutions but probably 25% of the cost.