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An Arduino Stepper

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    An Arduino Stepper

    There are two types of piston sequencers:
    The American style where any piston can be programmed in any order, or the European style where pushing the "Next" piston causes the general pistons to be activated in order. The European style sequencer is often referred to as a stepper.

    We are in the process of transplanting an older, Syndyne, combination action from a donor console into a four-manual, electro-pneumatic, Casavant console. The organist, steeped in the British tradition, asked whether we could supply a stepper. Although a stepper is built into the newer Syndyne combination action boards, it is lacking in the legacy boards we are using. Still, I assured the organist that we could meet his request. To me, it was clear that this would be a perfect application for an Arduino Microcontroller.

    What the Arduino has to do is straight forward: it needs to sense when one of the 15 general pistons is pushed, display the number of that piston, and activate the corresponding combination. On the other hand, if the "Next" piston is pushed, it needs to advance to the next number, display that number and again activate the corresponding combination. When number 15 is reached, pushing "Next" causes the combination action's memory level to increase by one, and the general piston count to revert back to one.

    I used an Arduino Mega because of its multiplicity of assignable inputs and outputs. Interfacing to the combination action was achieved via a pair of those ubiquitous eight relay output boards. Relays are overkill but that's what I had on hand and they provide complete electrical isolation between the stepper and the combination action. The Arduino was also programmed to directly drive the two digit, seven-segment, LED displays.

    This is actually one of the simpler Arduino applications I've put together and a good example of how, for about $50, one can add a stepper to any organ with a combination action.
    John
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