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  • Gutting a MIDI keyboard to extend MIDI functions on my organ

    I have a Galanti Praeludium II that has limitited MIDI functionality. I have 4 toe pistons in addition to the manuals and pedals that are MIDI capable. I am thinking of an economical way to get my 2 expression pedals as well as the remaining toe and thumb pistons as well as the stops to be MIDIfied. Has anyone sacrificed a standalone keyboard and wired it to the various buttons? I could use the expression and pitch wheel pots for the organ expression pedals as wire the buttons to a specific key on the keyboard's board. I think it would end up being cheaper than buying a standalone MIDI board?

  • #2
    Since your experiments with the Allen organ indicated that you lack a basic understanding of audio systems, perhaps you should describe to us a bit more about your knowledge and education in electronics and mechanics before you ask people to help you tear into another piece of equipment.

    We are happy to help with projects but sometimes people get into things that are enough beyond their abilities that the thread on here bogs down in frustration for both the helpers and the helpees. For instance, do you know how to read a circuit diagram? How much soldering experience do you have? Do you understand power supplies and working safely around them?

    Digging into the guts of an organ to modify the circuitry requires a certain level of knowledge of how the instrument works and often a set of schematics. And even then experienced techs can run into trouble trying to mate two dissimilar pieces of equipment when they are unaware of the details of operation. How will the organ continue to work if you connect devices for MIDI to its native circuitry? You can't just "tap in" a foreign device to the Galanti and expect it to work without a thorough understanding of how it works in the first place.

    Even a standard MIDI board would present problems if you connected it directly to the Galanti electronics that run the native expression and toe and thumb pistons.
    Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Saville Series IV Opus 209; Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Gulbransen Rialto; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI.

    Comment


    • #3
      Sure, you can gut a midi keyboard. I do this all the time. There are dozens of little half-pint personal keyboards from the 90s that sell on Craigslist cheap as chips. They make for great midi pedals and other items.

      I doubt any one keyboard will do all you want. You may have to go custom. For instance, no, you really don't get to turn pitchbend into expression on hardly any kb I know. PB sends it's own special resolution Midi out and modulation sends a decidedly lower resolution midi. It's not just as simple as assigning it to a different destination as PB is never given that option like the Mod wheel is.

      It's not a big computational problem. It's Arduino stuff. But someone has to noodle with the code. Look around. I'm sure there are vendors that provide the boards even today in different capabilities. It's not rocket science.

      Lots of fiddly bits, but it can oftentimes turn out to be pretty fun. I've also seen ADD kick in and folks lose interest by the time the soldering and mapping was done. So, you know, proceed at your own risk, eh?

      That said, it's never a bad thing to have whatever documentation you can find for both source and destination keyboards. If you unwittingly head down the wrong path, schematics and repair manuals can help put it back on track where you might be stuck forever. It doesn't always matter, but when it does, there's no replacement except reverse engineering - which i'm too old to do, anymore.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm going to echo the preceding comments. Before you head down this path, you need to understand the circuitry involved. What are the voltages? Are the contacts multiplexed? Is the expression pedal analog or digital? You will fail if you assume that you can simply move a wire from a switch on the gutted keyboard to a switch on the organ.

        You can likely accomplish what you wish to do, but only if you have basic knowledge of electronics, digital logic circuitry, MIDI, and perhaps a bit of programming experience.
        -Admin

        Allen 965
        Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
        Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
        Hauptwerk 4.2

        Comment


        • #5
          Devices with multiple buttons are often designed as scan matrixes, making the "extraction" of a few buttons more difficult. There might not be a common ground between all the buttons you want to relocate to a new hardware location. Devices using those cheapie rubberized mats and conductive spots make this even more difficult. You'd need to experiment with the device still in operational condition first, using wires to parallel the new button to the original one.

          Comment


          • #6
            So, it appears the takeaway from earlier posts to the o.p. is that maybe this isn't well advised. I have to agree. It's hard enough to fix these beasts if something fails, modifying them to add functionality they weren't designed with is nigh impossible. But what I am curious about is why the need for this? I don't understand "I have 4 toe pistons in addition to the manuals and pedals that are MIDI capable". There are MIDI Encoder kits that are designed to be retrofitted to existing instruments like yours. You still have to know what you are doing. The manufacturer of MIDI-Boutique encoders will, if asked, look at pictures of your unique instrument and suggest the best places to make your solder connections. This is not going to happen if you buy a MIDI keyboard and try to ... ... I can't even finish that sentence that is just a non-starter idea. Bottom line though, looking at the Praeludium I see a basic two manual organ with pedals. Many people don't need anything more. However, if you have outgrown yours ... you need a new organ. Even if you succeed in hooking it up to VPO software you are still limited by the physical constraints of what you are working with as a console.

            Comment


            • #7
              Tough crowd here.

              I got this organ for a couple hundred dollars for a local guy. It had issues with some of the stops but the MIDI worked so it was worth it. I've had it running as a VPO with Grand Orgue for about 6 months. I'd like to be able to map the stop tabs as couplers, control divisionals, additional generals etc. I'd rather not have to use a screen for everything even though I do have a touch screen monitor. Only 4 of the 8 pistons do anything. I could add thumb pistons under the Swell manual as well. I'm not opposed to using a MIDI encoder kit. Just thought I'd ask.

              I don't use or will ever use the built in sounds. It's a MIDI controller at this point and all mods are on the table.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by AllenAnalog View Post
                Since your experiments with the Allen organ indicated that you lack a basic understanding of audio systems, perhaps you should describe to us a bit more about your knowledge and education in electronics and mechanics before you ask people to help you tear into another piece of equipment.

                We are happy to help with projects but sometimes people get into things that are enough beyond their abilities that the thread on here bogs down in frustration for both the helpers and the helpees. For instance, do you know how to read a circuit diagram? How much soldering experience do you have? Do you understand power supplies and working safely around them?

                Digging into the guts of an organ to modify the circuitry requires a certain level of knowledge of how the instrument works and often a set of schematics. And even then experienced techs can run into trouble trying to mate two dissimilar pieces of equipment when they are unaware of the details of operation. How will the organ continue to work if you connect devices for MIDI to its native circuitry? You can't just "tap in" a foreign device to the Galanti and expect it to work without a thorough understanding of how it works in the first place.

                Even a standard MIDI board would present problems if you connected it directly to the Galanti electronics that run the native expression and toe and thumb pistons.
                I'm fairly adept at soldering. I've rebuilt broken circuit boards on a few pieces of musical equipment from blank bread board and making my own traces. I haven't dug into my organ to check voltages, but it wouldn't really matter as I'm not expecting them to do anything but send a signal. The built in organ functions are not being used. I just built my own house from scratch and did all my high and low voltage wiring. I've wired multiple offices for low voltage as well as setup Windows/Linux small business network environments for commercial customers from scratch so getting my hands into something and figuring things out is in my blood. I hope I'm not forever tainted on this forum because of a few RCA Y-Cables. Don't pull too much inference from that brain fart.

                Comment


                • mutti_wilson
                  mutti_wilson commented
                  Editing a comment
                  You're right I am a contractor. Does that mean that I can only use a nail gun and pull Romex? I didn't know it was a requirement to have a perfect understanding of electronics to ask a question on a forum.

                  Don't most organs that are configured with draw knobs have all their couplers/misc above the manuals?

                • mutti_wilson
                  mutti_wilson commented
                  Editing a comment
                  For the record I'm perfectly ok with it not being a viable option.

                • Leisesturm
                  Leisesturm commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I don't see that you have any stop tabs to spare on that console. Besides the way a coupler behaves is different from the way a stop behaves. The MIDI message that is sent when a stop knob or tab is activated is different from the message that is sent when a coupler or reversible is activated. You can't without seriously getting into the firmware of the organ override that. The borrowed guts from the sacrificial keyboard will have its own way of doing things. Your instrument won't have any means of recognizing an additional expressive element because it didn't have it to start with. You cannot just add the hardware you also have to add its presence to the system software.

              • #9
                Originally posted by guylavoie View Post
                Devices with multiple buttons are often designed as scan matrixes, making the "extraction" of a few buttons more difficult. There might not be a common ground between all the buttons you want to relocate to a new hardware location. Devices using those cheapie rubberized mats and conductive spots make this even more difficult. You'd need to experiment with the device still in operational condition first, using wires to parallel the new button to the original one.
                That makes total sense. Now that I think about it, the likelihood of it working is dicey. I'll get my hands on a keyboard and at least do some testing.

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by tiredoldgeezer View Post
                  Sure, you can gut a midi keyboard. I do this all the time. There are dozens of little half-pint personal keyboards from the 90s that sell on Craigslist cheap as chips. They make for great midi pedals and other items.

                  I doubt any one keyboard will do all you want. You may have to go custom. For instance, no, you really don't get to turn pitchbend into expression on hardly any kb I know. PB sends it's own special resolution Midi out and modulation sends a decidedly lower resolution midi. It's not just as simple as assigning it to a different destination as PB is never given that option like the Mod wheel is.

                  It's not a big computational problem. It's Arduino stuff. But someone has to noodle with the code. Look around. I'm sure there are vendors that provide the boards even today in different capabilities. It's not rocket science.

                  Lots of fiddly bits, but it can oftentimes turn out to be pretty fun. I've also seen ADD kick in and folks lose interest by the time the soldering and mapping was done. So, you know, proceed at your own risk, eh?

                  That said, it's never a bad thing to have whatever documentation you can find for both source and destination keyboards. If you unwittingly head down the wrong path, schematics and repair manuals can help put it back on track where you might be stuck forever. It doesn't always matter, but when it does, there's no replacement except reverse engineering - which i'm too old to do, anymore.
                  Good stuff. I don't have ADD yet so I have that going for me. At least the risk here is next to nothing. It either works or doesn't and I didn't spend much on it.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Part of the contention here - apart from out-of-the-box thinking which is always on thin ice - is that I've not seeing a clearly defined mission objective.

                    So you got a Galanti Praeludium II. Does it work? Because there are three big questions in the offing:

                    1. Do you want it to work? If you need to fix something, obviously your first and highest priority should be that. It would be a good lesson in tech work, patience, research, and general craftsmanship. It's not rocket science. It's something you can learn. If you think you wanna learn on that organ, go ahead, it's yours and everyone else can go pound sand. Study and practice. The same efforts involved in playing help you learn repairing.

                    2. Do you just want to convert the thing to a midi/usb controller? If you just want to keep the appearance, then sure, have at it. Take a chainsaw to it and gut the thing and start a full-whack electro-rebuild. You will be nowhere near the first nor the last in a long line of people that have done exactly that with all kinds of organs from wheezy pumps to grand consoles. While the organ is arguably "defiled", it's also endlessly flexible because any button can be assigned to do exactly what it should or anything else you desire of it. It's yours; it's your decision. This is possibly the least complicated and simultaneously the most involved.

                    3. Do you want to modify a perfectly good organ to edit, amend, or supplement its capabilities? This is far and away the hardest path and obviously where you're gonna get the most backwash from the spectator crowd. But they're not wrong, either. The only thing worse than gremlins in the system are gremlins you put there yourself. There's lots of interaction that, without specific knowledge of even that model, you could easily foul up, perhaps ruin, or cause catastrophic failure. You can very easily, and possibly permanently, damage stuff with otherwise well-intentioned mods leaving you with little recourse than to return to Option 2 (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

                    So I might be not seeing something, but I don't really have a good idea of exactly where you're going on this. But if it's Option 3, Heaven help ya. You gotta long road unless you get inexplicably lucky along the way.

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Basically, it sounds like he wants to get his expression and the other toe pistons working with MIDI. He'd also like to get the other thumb switches (stops?) working. I'd heard of adding a second pot to an expression pedal. The stops may be scanned like my little Rodgers, and thus unusable. You could add something like a Novation board or X-key strip to add switches without having to modify the organ circuitry. Now this is just theorizing - I've never tried any of this. (I do have a Behringer touch controller that I have used with Hauptwerk. It's fast to switch, but it's unwieldy.) Guys, please correct me if I misunderstood.
                      -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Classic, 1899 Kimball mirrored high top
                      -- Rodgers W5000, Roland RD300nx, Juno DS-61/88 - 1975 Conn 643 Theater - 1959 Hammond M3
                      -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

                      Comment


                      • tiredoldgeezer
                        tiredoldgeezer commented
                        Editing a comment
                        well, yeah, it sounds like that. but it sounds like a lotta different possibilities, too. i just wanted him to articulate it a little more clearly for my cloudy brain.

                    • #13
                      If you're adding a new MIDI signal source to an existing one, don't forget that you need to merge the two. There are devices available for that.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Mutti,

                        I'm mostly self-taught when it comes to MIDI and how it works. Fortunately, I got into it when it when one had to do bare-bones work. So, with the help of Cakewalk I began using MIDI in the late 1980s.

                        Please don't be discouraged by nay-sayers. The information you need to know is obtainable, but may not be easily attained in a Forum format.

                        Basically, MIDI utilizes various event types to control various aspects of the device (I can't think of the right word right now). Examples of events are Note, Control, etc. A Note event provides the time code (generally measure:beat:tick), exact pitch, the velocity with which it was pressed, and the duration. A Control message might be something like a Pitch Bend message, damper pedal on or off, sostenuto pedal, etc. Patch changes are other events which allow one to turn various sounds on or off.

                        Velocity indications range from 0 (off) to 127 (full on). An average person playing piano (depending on the style) would play at approximately 80-100 velocity. Controllers are either 0 OR 127 to indicate off or on. Patch values change based on the instrument connected via MIDI.

                        The above is an infinitessimally small portion on the subject of MIDI. When one adds MIDI interfaces, electronic interfaces, as well as re-mapping to the picture, the complexity increases exponentially. It's not that the information cannot be obtained or learned by one's self. Rather, one needs to be very precise with the information (s)he needs to know.

                        Originally posted by mutti_wilson View Post
                        I have a Galanti Praeludium II that has limitited MIDI functionality. I have 4 toe pistons in addition to the manuals and pedals that are MIDI capable. I am thinking of an economical way to get my 2 expression pedals as well as the remaining toe and thumb pistons as well as the stops to be MIDIfied. Has anyone sacrificed a standalone keyboard and wired it to the various buttons?
                        In your original questions just quoted above, each question adds a layer of complexity to a simple MIDI implementation. Some of your questions (i.e. certain pistons having MIDI vs. others that do not–Huh?!!!) will lead the experienced reader to wonder what level of expertise you do or do not have.

                        I hope this L-O-N-G post helps you understand people's difficulty in knowing how to help you accomplish what you wish to have. To be honest, as I read your initial post, with each question I began wondering why you don't just purchae a MIDI device intended for use with an organ.

                        Michael
                        Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                        • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                        • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                        • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by tiredoldgeezer View Post
                          Part of the contention here - apart from out-of-the-box thinking which is always on thin ice - is that I've not seeing a clearly defined mission objective.

                          So you got a Galanti Praeludium II. Does it work? Because there are three big questions in the offing:

                          1. Do you want it to work? If you need to fix something, obviously your first and highest priority should be that. It would be a good lesson in tech work, patience, research, and general craftsmanship. It's not rocket science. It's something you can learn. If you think you wanna learn on that organ, go ahead, it's yours and everyone else can go pound sand. Study and practice. The same efforts involved in playing help you learn repairing.

                          2. Do you just want to convert the thing to a midi/usb controller? If you just want to keep the appearance, then sure, have at it. Take a chainsaw to it and gut the thing and start a full-whack electro-rebuild. You will be nowhere near the first nor the last in a long line of people that have done exactly that with all kinds of organs from wheezy pumps to grand consoles. While the organ is arguably "defiled", it's also endlessly flexible because any button can be assigned to do exactly what it should or anything else you desire of it. It's yours; it's your decision. This is possibly the least complicated and simultaneously the most involved.

                          3. Do you want to modify a perfectly good organ to edit, amend, or supplement its capabilities? This is far and away the hardest path and obviously where you're gonna get the most backwash from the spectator crowd. But they're not wrong, either. The only thing worse than gremlins in the system are gremlins you put there yourself. There's lots of interaction that, without specific knowledge of even that model, you could easily foul up, perhaps ruin, or cause catastrophic failure. You can very easily, and possibly permanently, damage stuff with otherwise well-intentioned mods leaving you with little recourse than to return to Option 2 (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

                          So I might be not seeing something, but I don't really have a good idea of exactly where you're going on this. But if it's Option 3, Heaven help ya. You gotta long road unless you get inexplicably lucky along the way.
                          It's definitely not number 3. I've abandoned the original organ functions and use it as a MIDI controller. I'm looking to expand it's rather spartan MIDI functionality.

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