Pianocorder and MIDI and driver boards

OK Mike. I have a couple other questions.

This customer would like to control an upright piano from the organ console. This piano has a pianocorder in it. I did find this interface but it does not seem that it would interface well to the uniflex. It controls the piano with an audio out from the computer to the piano. Do you know of a way that people interface the pianocorder to the uniflex?

On the subject of interfacing, I saw a diagram that says the uniflex will work with a synthesizer like Qsyth. I am familiar with using that in a Linux system but not in a Windows system. Is it possible to have Qsyth have a ll the right settings and voices at boot up so that it does not need effort when started? DO you simply use the audio output from the computer?

One more basic question about the Uniflex system. Do the output boards drive high or low (maybe they do both)? Should the other side of he magnets be wired high or low? We kinda fell into a partially completed project and don’t have the right documentation.

 

Answer

Is it a PianoCorder brand unit, or something else?  PianoCorder was a tape-based system which was discontinued about 30 years ago.  If you’re speaking generically, any piano system that accepts MIDI input should be just fine with Uniflex.

QSynth is a graphical front end for Fluidsynth.  I know Fluidsynth runs on multiple platforms, including Windows, but I haven’t worked with it.

There are Fluidsynth types for Units and Ranks, which pretty much mirror the structure of MIDI units and ranks.  Based on that, I’d say that they should work the same way.  Just as with any rank or unit, physical or otherwise, you need to set it up in the definition file, and to use it you need to have a function to interface the stop to the rank/unit.  So it isn’t any more practical with Fluidsynth to make those voices available “on the fly” as it is with any other rank type.

Looking at the Fluidsynth website, I wouldn’t expect any problems with having the right configuration settings at startup, which should be part of the computer’s boot process.

As to audio output, you need a sound card attached to the computer.  There are some internal cards, but most that we use with Uniflex are external, and the smaller ones are USB connections.  That will convert the output from Fluidsynth or any other program to an output signal to go to an amplifier, which will then go to the speakers.  Again, not having worked with Fluidsynth, I can’t say how flexible it is in terms of directing the output to a specific amplifier channel.

There are also larger ones with use a dedicated interface card in the computer (MOTU has some which fall into this category). In that case, you need to be sure that the computer will accommodate the interface board’s required form factor.  As computers become more compact, options become more limited.

The Uniflex boards are available for either negative- or positive-common.  Negative common is more common (no pun intended).  If you’re buying new boards, the difference is easy to spot: Current generation negative common output boards have 128 pins (16 connectors) and two fuses; positive-common boards have 96 pins (12 connectors) and no on-board fuses.  Input boards are also available in either form, and I think they are marked either negative or positive common.

It doesn’t much matter for the chambers whether you use positive or negative common.  Of course, there’s a difference in how much work you’ll need to do in order to properly fuse things.

The console, on the other hand…. If you’re using the air combination system, then you can use either – again, you’ll have fusing issues to deal with.  But if the console is using electric stop actions (SAMs) you’ll need to match the polarity of the SAM.  Peterson SAMs are marked (-) or (+) on the circuit board. Syndyne SAMs are marked on the permanent magnet – negative common has a daub of white paint on the magnet, positive common has none.  All I can tell you about Reisner magnets is your best bet is to replace them with Syndyne or Peterson….

 

 
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