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Actuator Keyboard for Player Organ

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  • Actuator Keyboard for Player Organ

    I am almost done with converting one manual in my Schober Recital Organ to MIDI. (I will report on that further, when completed, in another post on Encoders.) BUT, before I start on Manual #2 I wondered if anyone makes a MIDI keyboard with built in actuators (e.g. Solenoids.) I have seen home made versions of these, and Diskklavier pianos, but would be interested in a ready made 61 key organ keyboard with built in actuators.

  • #2
    Adding solenoids to actuate keys has been done of course, e.g., on a reed organ:


    Just for fun I tried something similar by building something like a Vorsetzer for use with a tracker organ. Decoding the incoming MIDI stream with an Arduino was the easy part, but the driver boards were a bit more complicated. An appropriate solenoid operating on its rated voltage and current operated the key quite nicely. But most solenoids will overheat if the full current is sustained for any period of time. So after the initial activation, lasting maybe 1/10 of a second, I reduced the current by half during the "hold" phase. The solenoid was happy with this. After successfully building and testing one octave's worth, I decided that the 61 solenoids needed would simply cost too much. Such keyboards are therefore inherently an expensive item even if you could locate a source.

    But a solenoid activated keyboard only makes sense if you are going to play an actual physical instrument. What would be the point of adding it to your Schober? As I understand it, you are going to take a MIDI data stream, decode it and operate the physical keys which are connected to electrical switches whose output you are going to encode back into a MIDI stream. What am I missing here unless you simply want to watch the keys move.


    • Steve Baer
      Steve Baer commented
      Editing a comment
      Coenraads: You are correct. The main goal of the keyboards I am converting are to use as physical input devices to run G.O. But I was thinking that as long as I had the keyboards removed, it would be nice to know if someone made a commercial product to also be able to move the keys, at a reasonable price. No such thing, it turns out. True, it would have been a Rube Goldberg.