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MMD > Archives > May 1998 > 1998.05.04 > 16Prev  Next


Solenoids vs. Pneumatics
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  I'm not going to present my normal attitude concerning the
deficiencies of solenoid operated player pianos.  Instead, I'd like to
present a thought concerning how to eliminate the inherent problems.

Since the major drawback of any digitally controlled device is it's
inability to perform more than one task at any given moment in time,
why not create a device that utilizes a multitude of digitally
controlled devices (computers) working in sync with each other?

Computers have come a long way in the past ten years.  They're smaller
and faster.  So why limit the control of ALL the solenoids to one
computer.  Why not dedicate one tiny computer to each note when more
than one note is suppose to be played simultaneously.  Surely the
information contained in a MIDI (or other format) file could be so
written that it forewarned the 'brain' that a chord was coming and then
split the functions accordingly.

Thinking along these lines also introduces a whole new range of
possibilities concerning accenting single notes within a solid chord in
a very controlled and predictable manner (something that even the best
pneumatic units struggle to attain).

With regards to the problems of acceleration and deceleration of the
solenoid itself -- well, I'll put my little gray cells to work on that
too.

It's somewhat interesting to note that in the old Wurlitzer solenoid
units, the manufacture realized the problem of acceleration and
deceleration and purposely introduced what might be referred to as
excessive lost motion between the solenoid stack and the piano action.
If anyone has ever removed that lost motion and then listened to the
ensuing music, they would understand what I'm saying.  Also, the
Wurlitzer, crude as it was, had no problem (save a weak power supply)
playing multiple notes simultaneously since they were activated
with ... a paper roll.

Thoughts from a madman (not angry ... just out there),

John A. Tuttle


Key Words in Subject:  Pneumatics, Solenoids, vs

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