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MMD > Archives > May 1998 > 1998.05.01 > 14Prev  Next

"PowerRoll" MIDI-Controlled Tracker Bar
By Larry Broadmoore

>[ Tom is speaking of the new device under development by MMDers Larry
>[ Broadmoore and Laurent Coray.  The first production model can be
>[ used with any 9-chan/inch tracker bar, including Ampico; a variant
>[ for Welte T-100 rolls will be next.  For more information write to
>[ Larry Broadmoore <>.  -- Robbie

(Minor correction, Robbie -- my e-mail address is

The new PowerRoll(tm) (patent pending) tracker bar interface is now
working superbly and we will be glad to demonstrate it for anyone
interested.  It is usually impossible to distinguish between the
playing of an automatic instrument actuated through the PowerRoll by a
"roll image" or scan, and the same instrument playing the paper roll
from a copy of which the scan was made.

Where a difference has been discerned, listeners have commented that
the piano actually sounded better when played by the PowerRoll than by
the paper roll.  This is due to the evenness of roll travel speed and
perforator wear correction made possible by the scanning process when
done properly, as well as to the lightning-fast articulation achieved
by PowerRoll electrical valves, which can move atmosphere into tracker
bar ports instantly when actuated, whereas perforations uncover the
ports a bit more gradually.

Thus far, with roll files kindly furnished by Wayne Stahnke, we have
used the device on an Ampico "A," an Ampico "B" and a Duo-Art in my
shop, with wonderful results.  We enjoy hearing these instruments play
all day long, without ever having to leave the workbench to change a
roll.  Mike Ames has also tested a PowerRoll unit on two Ampicos, an
"A" and a "B."  With no modification of any kind, it will also fit any
American-style Welte (Licensee or "Original"), any ordinary 88-note
player, Recordo system, or "O" roll machine; in short, any
nine-holes-to-the-inch roll format.  Mike Ames has kindly offered to
scan some "O" rolls for me so that I can try the PowerRoll on the three
"O" roll orchestrions now in my shop.

We are also able to make special versions of PowerRolls to fit nearly
any tracker scale (as Robbie says, we are currently filling an order
for a unit compatible with a German-style "red roll" Welte Vorsetzer).
A pressure version of the device is also under development, for use
with certain European orchestrions and band organs.

Those familiar with this product know that it is the least invasive
digital conversion device for pneumatic automatically-played
instruments ever made: not a single change need be made in an
instrument to install it.  Once adjusted to any spoolbox (a process
taking only a couple of minutes), I have timed removal and replacement
of the device, ready to play, at only a few seconds!  This means that
installation does not prevent the owner from quickly and easily
removing it and putting a paper roll on the spoolbox, in its place.  As
can be readily seen, the PowerRoll is, for all purposes, an electrical
music roll.

We are also offering this device in in-line form, whereby it can be
teed directly into the tracker bar tubing of any instrument, instead of
rubber-gasketed to the tracker bar.  Although, as a purist regarding
instrument restoration, I would never condone doing this if it meant
disturbing original metal tubing, I can see no harm in such an
installation when teeing into rubber tubing, as long as the unit is
placed where it can't be seen.  This is not difficult to achieve, since
the massively built PowerRoll unit is only about the width of a music
roll, 11-1/4,"x 4-1/2" x 2" high.  It weighs about seven pounds.

Laurent Coray's (Octet Design Corp.) excellent MIDI-conversion
electronics board is built into the PowerRoll unit, therefore a thin
cable containing fewer than ten tiny wires is the only connection
needed to the PowerRoll unit.  It can be operated either by a PC or an
intelligent dedicated disk player with many special features such as
remote control, which will be offered soon by Octet Design Corp.

We expect to demonstrate the unit at the upcoming AMICA convention.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information.

Larry Broadmoore
Broadmoore Research Corporation
1709 First Street, Unit "C"
San Fernando, CA 91340
Phone: (818) 365-6231 or  (800) 497-4266 (49-PIANO)
Fax:   (818) 361-0911

(Message sent Thu 30 Apr 1998, 23:05:47 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  Bar, MIDI-Controlled, PowerRoll, Tracker

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