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My Virtual Organ Project

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  • My Virtual Organ Project

    Hello everyone. Here is to document my journey through the VPO project.

    I came across this forum about 3 months ago while searching for knowledge and tips on how to build a home organ, especially the pedalboard. I registered as a member about a month ago, and a few days ago I made my first comment on a post that gave me a critical hint on how to midi-fy a pedalboard. That was when I realised the tremendous level of assistance, support and resources that we can have and give on this forum!
    The steep learning curve suddenly became flattened for me. Thanks to all who have reached out to help, both publicly and privately.

    Stay tuned as I gradually upload what has been done so far. Thanks to you all.

    Aduragbemi Adeyinka

  • #2
    Keep the faith. It may be a frustrating and challenging journey at times, but I feel sure that the outcome will be worth the effort. I look forward to following your project.
    -------

    Hammond M-102 #21000.
    Leslie 147 #F7453.
    Hammond S-6 #72421

    Comment


    • Aduragbemi
      Aduragbemi commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you so much. These encouragements keep me going.

  • #3
    The VPO journey began June 2021. I cant remember the details, but after watching some organ videos on YouTube (Piping Up is my favourite), I heard about Hauptwerk. Before then I've had some experiences with virtual musical instruments, but not a virtual pipe organ. The prospect of a VPO bringing me close to the real pipes spurred my interest, and I begin searching.

    Eventually it was GrandOrgue that I settled with, partly because it's free and also because my laptop has just 4GB RAM. The demo sample that came with GrandOrgue sounded really good to me. I also found some samplesets, like Pitea and Kalvtrask, that were not so resource-intensive. However I had no organ hardware to play them.

    Later I found out that people built their own hardware and they documented the process. While I have a keyboard that I could use to play the manuals, I didn't have a pedalboard. So it was my first mission to acquire one. Online search... and I discovered that they were expensive and difficult to ship. Last resort, to build one!

    I came across many resources online, but I dey out with Lars VPO website http://familjenpalo.se/vpo/
    Many aspects of my project relied heavily on this resource, and are modified from what he did.
    Last edited by Aduragbemi; 01-23-2022, 04:38 PM.

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    • #4
      I wanted to have as many manuals as I can manage to build (my favorite Piping Up is played on 5 manuals).

      Here are some of my project goals.
      1. Build on a tight budget - spend as less as possible.
      2. Build with materials that are available locally.
      3. Use materials that are easy to work with, within the limit of my limited woodworking expertise and tools.

      Eventualy I concluded at building a three 61-note manuals and a 32-note pedalboard.

      Comment


      • #5
        The hardest part would be the pedalboard so that's what I wanted to do first. I had never set my foot on any pedal before, so the thought of having one was so exciting.

        I chose to build concave parallel pedalboard; easier to build for me. I found many websites useful, including Stuart Blanchard's https://stuartblanchard.com/a-new-pedalboard/
        and Lars Palo's http://familjenpalo.se/vpo/pedalboard/
        Both of them built BDO concave parallel.
        Vidar Fagerjord https://fagerjord.org/pipe-organ/524/ built an AGO concave radiating, but he was very detailed in his documentation. It took me days to go through but I gained a lot of insight into building a pedalboard even though I chose to do a concave parallel. They all referenced the Laukhuff's catalogue so I searched and downloaded it (sad to learn later that Laukhuff closed down middle of last year).

        A hardwood is the preferred material, but that wasn't easily available/workable for me. Someone in Russia built with pinewood which I could easily get locally.

        Early November, I bought a number of palettes (locally we call them packing woods) and salvaged the woods for the pedalboard. Picture below. The woods are thicker than the recommended pedal key thickness 22mm or â…žinches. And that's where the pedal project is stuck till date. Most furniture makers that I talked to either did not understand the technicality involved, or did not have the right tool. So I'm still searching. Till then, here's my pedalboard in the rough, shown below.

        Another aspect that I that might find difficult is midi-fying the pedal. The encoder kit is not sold in my country, and it's not easy to pay abroad online in foreign currency in excess of 100dollars, due to some foreign currency limitation policies here. Shipping could also be problematic. Last option... build from what's available.
        Though I don't have the pedals yet I continued searching for the midification solutions and that's what led me to this forum. Details on that later.
        Attached Files

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        • #6
          Can you buy a circular saw? Then just clamp the workpiece down with another board as a guide, and cut to the desired thickness. That’s what I do all the time. You may still need to plane them true, unless you can find someone with a jointer and a planer.

          Current: Allen 225 RTC, W. Bell reed organ, Lowrey TGS, Singer upright grand
          Former: Yamaha E3R
          https://www.exercisesincatholicmythology.com

          Comment


          • Larason2
            Larason2 commented
            Editing a comment
            No problem. You can also cut to thickness with a traditional saw, it just takes more time. Either way, you clamp the work piece to your bench with another piece to act as a guide.

          • gtc
            gtc commented
            Editing a comment
            @Aduragbemi: That's a very creative solution for your situation. Fork lift pallets are usually made from hardwood, which can be very tough on a saw blade, especially when cutting along the grain (rip cutting). Bear this in mind when looking for the appropriate saw blade type, circumference and circular saw. The saw needs sufficient power, too.

          • Aduragbemi
            Aduragbemi commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, a woodworker pointed this out. He was willing to help but he was concerned about the wood damaging his saw; he uses it to cut plywood.

            I will take note of this point when I'm buying mine. Thank you

        • #7
          Here is my first, and only, attempt at building a pedal board.

          Click image for larger version

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          The naturals were hardwood dowels and the sharps, kitchen cupboard door handles.
          It worked but not very well. By pivoting the sharps at the front, I was able to insert the the bench legs as shown. I built the bench from scarp hardwood flooring a friend donated to me. Contacts were copper on copper. Not recommended. All in all, a great learning experience. Does anyone else care to share failed projects?

          Comment


          • Aduragbemi
            Aduragbemi commented
            Editing a comment
            Interesting. You have gone a long way!! Effort well appreciated (applause). And showing the way not to do something from your personal experience is a way to help others shorten the learning curve. John, you are amazing!

        • #8
          VPO Journey Continues...

          When the pedalboard construction stalled, I decided to go ahead with the manuals. I would use MIDI keyboards and construct a keystack for them.

          Again, Lars' and Vidar's websites provided lots of insights. Both of them used M-Audio midi keyboards. They noted that the keys are semi-weighted, but they lack some key features of real pipe organ keys, such as tracker action. I have never played a real organ before, so I don't know how a tracker action feels (smiles -- I guess it's different from hammer action on a piano, which I have played a few times).

          Early December, after lots of search for suitable keyboards on a tight budget, a friend introduced me to a shop that sells used electronic keyboards at a fair price. Fortunately for me they had only two M-Audio Keystation 61ES. When I told the seller that I needed three identical keyboards, and showed him the picture of Lars console, he was interested in the project and he supported me by offering, at the same price, three Keystation 88ES (the 88-note version) because he had five of them in store. Crazy idea to think that I would have a VPO with 88 keys in the manuals. I'm so grateful for this twist of fate.

          The keyboards were old, and the white keys have turned yellowish-brown probably due to long term exposure to the elements, but they are essentially functional. They have USB connectivity - means I could do without a midi interface. They are also USB-powered therefore no external power adaptor required when using USB to connect. However one of them won't connect without external power, but I thought I could manage with that in the meantime. I planned to use that as the topmost manual and simply switch it off when using a two-manual disposition.

          At initial test-run, using my laptop running GrandOrgue with Piteå MHS sampleset (again - thanks to Lars), I discovered that only 61 notes, rather than 88, would play a sound (large grin); that is, from C1 to C6. Shortly after, I discovered that the unused keys to the right and the left can be configured to actuate the stops (wide-eyed with excitement). Awesome! A whole 88 minus 61 multiplied by 3, equals 81 possible stops!!! So, no need for another peripheral or touchscreen... I was elated.

          It's these features that inspired the rather-unusual design of my manual keystack.

          To be continued....
          Attached Files
          Last edited by Aduragbemi; 01-24-2022, 02:05 PM.

          Comment


          • #9
            I am constantly amazed with the creativity people use to obtain an organ! Kudos to you on your inventiveness.

            For the pedals, rather than using a circular saw, do you have a friend available who has a planer? I would think you could plane the wood to thickness (width & height), and sand the pallet sticks from there. Also, do you know how old the pallets are? If they have been made of green wood, please make sure they are properly seasoned (dried) before working with them as a finished product. As the moisture leaves the wood, it can cause warping and twisting. This issue is more common with soft woods, but can also happen with hard woods. Do you have a friend with a table saw? Many necessary cuts can be made on a table saw (with the right blade) by angling the blade. That way, you would only need to sand out the angles–and then, only if you wanted to.

            In looking at a map of Ikorodu, I see there is a Government Technical College, and a couple of other locations that might have schools. Here in New England, Regional Technical schools (in high school) generally have a woodworking program where you might ask the professor/teacher if there is a way to use their equipment to help with your project. They may even be able to use your project as an educational tool for the students. Community Colleges also have carpentry programs where they might have similar equipment. It's worth a try!

            Best with your project!

            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)
            • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

            Comment


            • Aduragbemi
              Aduragbemi commented
              Editing a comment
              I will take time to look for someone with planer, or visit more woodworking workshops and the Technical College as suggested.

              I don't have an idea how old the pallets are, but I guess that they may not be very old. I will ask someone who knows about woods to help me check them out.

              Thank you for the suggestions.

            • myorgan
              myorgan commented
              Editing a comment
              Wood generally seasons in approximately 1 year. However, if you have a moist climate, it might take a bit longer.

              Michael

          • #10
            Manual Keystack Construction

            I studied the resources to know what the standards are, and looked into what other people did. They mostly used 61-key keyboards. Since I have 88-key keyboards, I modified the designs to "shorten" the middle 61-keys out, and make the rest available for the stops.

            I made a 3D design then laid out the components on an outline of 2440x1220mm plywood (see pictures below). I used a 15mm thickness prefinished plywood (called HDF here, but online search showed it's just plywood).

            The choice of colour was influenced by two things; the yellowish brown (dis)colour(ation) of the natural keys, and the GUI colour of Friesach, the sampleset that I was just falling in love with (grin).

            A furniture maker assisted me to cut the plywood with circular saw and jigsaw. I took the pieces home and screw them up. Viola! My keystack!!
            Attached Files

            Comment


            • Aduragbemi
              Aduragbemi commented
              Editing a comment
              The dimension is from British Organ Console Dimension - Recommended Standard - 1967

            • Aduragbemi
              Aduragbemi commented
              Editing a comment
              The initial 2D design is significantly different from the final form. As expected, there were some modifications as construction went on. The 3D design however represents the final form.

          • #11
            The layout.
            Attached Files

            Comment


            • sandstone42
              sandstone42 commented
              Editing a comment
              You've made great accomplishments in a short time - congratulations.

            • Aduragbemi
              Aduragbemi commented
              Editing a comment
              Thank you very much sandstone42. I'm following your posts as well and I'm learning a lot from what you're doing.

          • #12
            Click image for larger version

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            In progress.

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            • #13
              This is a great thread! You have really done some ambitious things in a short time. Well done. I look forward to more reports and pictures.
              John
              ----------
              *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

              Comment


              • Aduragbemi
                Aduragbemi commented
                Editing a comment
                Thank you very much. More reports to follow soon.

            • #14
              Update: Not So Recent!

              (Most of my updates here are actually past events; I just decided to make a write-up on the project, thanks to long-term members of this forum who encouraged me to do this).

              Towards Christmas, while the manuals were still under construction. I came across a post where samplesets for HW and GO were discussed. https://organforum.com/forums/forum/...vpo-sample-set

              Friesach by Piotr Grabrowsky was mentioned frequently. The video of Friesach stops tour also helped, plus I learnt that it's free.

              I downloaded and installed it. But it couldn't load properly on my GO; I had a measly 4GB RAM.

              So I made a purchase of and installed a 16GB RAM, and tweaked some GO settings. I loaded fully. I clicked out a very big chord with all stops pulled out (something that won't possibly happen at normal play) and it played satisfactorily to me.

              That was when my love story with Friesach began.

              Thank you Piotr for this wonderful gift to the world.

              Cheers. See you all later.

              Comment


              • gtc
                gtc commented
                Editing a comment
                The Friesach organ for GO was a very good choice by Piotr.

            • #15
              I must admit I thought it was a stroke of genius to use the notes to the left and right of the 61 keys in the middle of the 88 key keyboards to trigger stops! I thought you planned to leave it that way. Using dowels to press the keys thus creating stopknobs just doubles down on the genius of it. Chapeau! Only thing is, once triggered, the stopknobs will return to their OFF position. Do you plan to have lights to indicate which stops are active? Amazing work so far. Godspeed.

              Comment


              • Aduragbemi
                Aduragbemi commented
                Editing a comment
                I'm happy to see you here @Liesesturm. Thank you for assisting and encouraging me on this project.

                Yes I will have the indicator lights. Presently I am learning how to use Arduino to do this. But really it is not so much of a priority at the moment... I want to have a pedalboard first. I can see the stop activities on the monitor screen.
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