Sunday, June 26, 2011

Project KOW : The portable organ project

For my current musical project I thought it would be fun to bring a virtual pipe organ to the recent North Carolina Maker Faire, but a traditional organ console was not very practical. I would need something more portable. Portability was necessary for my situation. But what if portability were a design goal rather than an inconvenience?

This requires a rethinking of the organ console, which has remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years. Since I have only recently started piano lessons, I have no preconceptions of how an organ console should work.

The computer side is relatively easy if your goals are modest.

The organ that I displayed at MakerFaire was rather minimal -- a touchscreen, a laptop and a 61 note MIDI keyboard. I ran the jOrgan software under Windows XP.

My goals for the console design are :
AGO standard manual (keyboard) spacing - An organist can play it
Self-contained - No separate computer
Reduced size and weight - I can carry it
Appliance philosophy - The computer is there, but hidden
Don't reinvent the wheel - Use commercially available parts when practical
Flexibility - Be able to experiment with different interfaces without having to start the project over
Modularity - Be able to expand without having to start over

Next : Design

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