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My Transportable Console

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My Transportable Console

PostFri Nov 29, 2019 4:11 am

The story of this console starts in 2006 when I was still in school. For quite a long time I enjoyed playing my loyal Technics KN-5000, but it kinda annoyed me that I always had to ride to the church to practice with my feet. Buying a digital organ was, well, out of scope for financial reasons, but one day I got extremely lucky on eBay and bought a used pedal (with the contact board and everything) for just 1€. The seller also offered me two old manuals from a Johannus organ, and all in all we agreed on 50€ for the pedal, the manuals and some other parts. I was extremely lucky (and happy), but the only catch was that I would have to pick the parts up. Quickly!

So on a rainy morning between Christmas and New Year's Eve my dad and I boarded a train to ride all across Germany. 6 hours later in a very small train station we received all the stuff and boarded a train back home. On the way back we could not take the fast train, we had to take one that actually had the space for all the stuff - which meant the journey back would take almost 8 hours.

I put the manuals away for "later" and started with the pedals. My dad did the woodworking, I bought the electronics and soldered everything together. It worked really nice, but the sounds of the KN-5000 were... limited. Thats when I discovered software like the B4, the mighty MidiTzer and - of course - Hauptwerk. Having upgraded my PC from 2GB to 4GB opened so many possibilites...

Some years passed, I started studying computer science, got myself a part-time job as a programmer and was approached by my former organ teacher if I was interested in being a regular organist. I agreed, met the pastor and got the job. So suddenly I kinda had the need to have a "real" organ at home to practice. But I always felt limited when playing organs with only two manuals. So again I browsed eBay and found two manuals - this time by Viscount - for a very, very resonable price.

Again my dad and I split the work - he constructed and built the organ case, I cobbled the electronic together. This was the very first trial if the electronics worked.

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I then had to figure out which cable belonged to which key - which meant going two day without combed hair :-D

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This is the first test with all four manuals. The Johannus at the bottom, the Viscount at the top. The top manuals did not have cables attached, you can see the yellow and white cables coming from the two manuals.

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I also added lots of buttons and 4 displays at the top and after the wood got painted, I could put everything into the console. I also sent a prayer to every known deity that I would never, ever have to fix something in there...

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Following a lot of test runs I decided to play a concert with this organ in Püchau, one of "my" churches. The organ there - a very nice 1923 Jehmlich, never altered, but also never really taken care of - was and is still awaiting renovation.

The console was built with the purpose of being portable, therefore the stand is foldable, pedal and console can be transported individually. The bench was borrowed from the organ of the church.
One of the challenges while building was to add the inclination of the manuals, but we did it. At the time I used my desktop pc for Hauptwerk and had to push and pull stops with the mouse. Not the most convenient way, but it worked.

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Then some years passed again and some events led to me buying a Surface Book 2 at the end of last year. Which now meant I had a touch display for controlling the stops. Also at the time the organ in Nepperwitz was under reconstruction and the organ builder was not able to finish it in time for the traditional christmas concert. So I decided to bring my organ with me. I actually bought the speakers two days before the concert, but that is another story...

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As you can see, the church is quite small but it was packed. I decided to put the organ in front of the audience so that everybody can see it. The tablet is on the music stand right in front of me.

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And now to something completely different... a friend of my mum is the head of the local observatory and they recently were gifted a rather good audio system. While having too much wine together we figured out that an organ concert in the planetarium would be a great way of testing said audio system. Also, it would be a rather unique experience watching stars while listening to organ music.

So I put together a program with some space themed pieces (like "Major Tom") and brought the organ there.

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The planetarium only has room for about 40 people, so it was like a club concert. Both audience and organist really enjoyed it!

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(I blurred the audience a bit for privacy reasons)

The exact date is yet to be set, but everybody agreed that such a concert will happen again next year :-)
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magnaton

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Re: My Transportable Console

PostFri Nov 29, 2019 11:47 am

What a great, heart warming story! Thank you for sharing. It's post like these that just enhances the value of Hauptwerk and the DIY appeal. I love the progression of getting parts for a bargain price then having to incorporate some wood working and electronics spread over a period of time. As a father myself of 2 teenage sons, I love the "with the help of my dad. . . ". plus taking a 6 hour train ride, one way, then 8 hours back just for organ parts felt like I was reading a novel. The ironic thing is that your homemade MIDI console is capable (or perhaps it does already) of sounding much better than any new Viscount or Johannus!

For the concerts you performed, if I were attending, would be much more appealing to read or hear about your journey of this transportable console rather than "this guy purchased a portable Content organ and wanted to give a concert" :lol: !

I would like to hear more about the speakers you bought 2 days before the Christmas concert, a story for a later time as you say :D


Danny B.
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Re: My Transportable Console

PostFri Nov 29, 2019 5:01 pm

magnaton wrote:What a great, heart warming story!

Thank you :-)

magnaton wrote:For the concerts you performed, if I were attending, would be much more appealing to read or hear about your journey of this transportable console rather than "this guy purchased a portable Content organ and wanted to give a concert"

I usually do a short introduction, explaining, that I brought a virtual organ with me. Everytime I compare the dimensions of the room to the dimensions of the PAB, something like "It is a good thing the organ fits into this tablet, because the largest pipe of that organ is actually longer than this room."

magnaton wrote:I would like to hear more about the speakers you bought 2 days before the Christmas concert, a story for a later time as you say


If you insist :lol:

So... the concert was to take place on the 4th Sunday in Advent at 5 pm. I planned on spending the whole Saturday with friends and family taking photos on a heritage railway. So on Friday I called our "sound guy" to coordinate setting up the speakers on Sunday. He told me "4:30 should be enough." and I was like "Well, no, at 4:30 the church will already be half full...". So, he also told me he could not make it earlier which kinda left me without a sound system.

I then tried out my speakers from home - albeit very sufficient for the living room the sound very quickly got distorted when I raised the volume above room level. So about two hours before the shops closed I took the manual of my good ol' Technics amplifier and drove to the nearest electronic store (imagine "Best Buy", but smaller). Directly heading to the audio section I approached the sales men with the following monologue:
Hello. I have this amplifier, I need two speakers to fill a small church with. I'll smother you with money but I need to take the speakers with me now.

One of the guys showed me two Yamaha tower speakers and I asked if he could turn up the volume while I listen from the other side of the store. About 50 meters away from the speakers and my ears hurt a little... The rest was just paperwork and then I just had to wait until the guys had packed the speakers into the boxes. All in all, this just took me about an hour and the sound at the church was magnificent.

At the church, this is visible at the photos, we then pointed the speakers away from the audience so that the sound was reflected by the apsis. This made sure that the people in the front row did not lose their hearing and it also very nicely mixed the sound from both speakers. The church never experienced a 32' before 8)

Coincidentally, the sales man was a huge fan of classical music and asked me for the exact date, time and location of the concert. Two days later, he actually showed with his wife and was very pleased with his recommendation.

The speakers are now part of my setup at home and I, more than once, had to fixate parts of the heaters because the 32' is just... vibrant :D
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dw154515

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Re: My Transportable Console

PostFri Nov 29, 2019 5:55 pm

Bravo!!!
Drew A. Worthen
Master of Music in Composition - Butler University
http://www.drewworthen.com
Director of Music & Website Admin - Greenwood UMC
http://www.greenwoodumc.org
Field Engineer - Diversified (Formerly Sensory Technologies)
http://www.sensorytechnologies.com

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