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How to wire old keyboards with 34-pin flat-ribbon

Building organ consoles for use with Hauptwerk, adding MIDI to existing consoles, obtaining parts, ...

How to wire old keyboards with 34-pin flat-ribbon

Postby CornéM » Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:51 am

I'm converting an old Cantor 3-manual organ console (probably 30 years) for our church. I have stripped all the old stuff, and I'm now trying to figure out what parts I need to rebuild the organ.

We will have two keyboards and pedal, with 44 draw stops, which we will make and wire ourselves.

However, I'm not sure what to do with the keyboards. It looks like they are old Fatar keyboards, but don't yet have the diode matrix and typical connectors. Instead, I have these two 34-pin flat cable connectors (pictures below) that I don't know what to do with. I haven't been able to find any MIDI boards or extensions that support these connectors.

I intend to use Roman Sowa's MIDI components (which I have used before and am quite happy with). He has this BBS-1K extension board, which takes 64 wires and converts it to an 8x8 matrix, which can then be connected to the MIDI128 controller.

I'm not exactly an electronics whiz, though I have successfully soldered my own connections before.
Could it be as simple as removing the 34-pin connector, splitting the existing cable and putting two 16-pin connectors on it instead, and then plugging it into the BBS-1K?

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Re: How to wire old keyboards with 34-pin flat-ribbon

Postby NickNelson » Fri Dec 21, 2018 6:25 am

It looks to me as though the contacts are the kind that have conductive rubber 'hats' which are pressed by the keys. I might be wrong, but my instinct is to say that this technology is more recent than 30 years ago. Not that it matters.

From what I can see, each 34 way connector has 3 lines common, probably earthed, and 31 each going to a 'switch'. This would give the 61 notes with one over which is almost certainly not connected since I think one of the contact boards will be shorter by one key.

There is no matrix associated with this kind of connection, and I'm inclined to think it would be extremely untidy to try and reconfigure the contact boards for the matrix approach. You will need an encoder which accepts 61 separate lines per keyboard. These are available, though I don't use them.

Hope this helps,

Nick
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Re: How to wire old keyboards with 34-pin flat-ribbon

Postby adrianw » Fri Dec 21, 2018 6:38 am

Yes, you will use the BBS-1K. (But it doesn't convert it to a scan matrix - it IS the keyboard scanner for non-matrixed keyboards.) Unfortunately it doesn't support note-for-note remapping (at least in the version of software that I have used - although you could check with Roman) so you can't just split the cables, plug them in and hope for the best. The right notes have to go to the right pins! You will need a meter to work out the mapping.

To make the connections ,I would just cut the cable, strip each wire carefully and use Roman's WIPLUG As the manual says "This special breakout board is available for BBS-1K if you wish to use existing wires instead of ribbon cable to connect keyboard contacts. Two of those boards, called WIPLUG, can be plugged on both sides of BBS-1K, and instead of header pins you have nice push-in terminals for inserting bare wires. No soldering or tool is needed for connecting wires, maybe except small screwdriver, pencil, or tooth stick to push the lever when inserting the wire. This can be also done with finger nail."

- Adrian.
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Re: How to wire old keyboards with 34-pin flat-ribbon

Postby CornéM » Fri Dec 21, 2018 4:22 pm

Thank you for your replies.

@NickNelson: Correct, one board has 31 connections, the other has 30.

@adrianw: Thanks for the clarification. You are right, it's not as easy as splitting the cable into two halves, but looking carefully at the PCB it's actually quite easy to trace which wire belongs to which key. I'm definitely going to give it a try with the BBS-1K. Unfortunately, it looks like WIPLUG isn't available right now, but I will check with Roman.
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Re: How to wire old keyboards with 34-pin flat-ribbon

Postby organtechnology » Sat Dec 22, 2018 2:09 am

CornéM wrote:Thank you for your replies.

@NickNelson: Correct, one board has 31 connections, the other has 30.

@adrianw: Thanks for the clarification. You are right, it's not as easy as splitting the cable into two halves, but looking carefully at the PCB it's actually quite easy to trace which wire belongs to which key. I'm definitely going to give it a try with the BBS-1K. Unfortunately, it looks like WIPLUG isn't available right now, but I will check with Roman.


The not available notice means they are not in stock but you can still order them when Roman returns from vacation.
They will ship after they are made.

Thomas
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