Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

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dicknorton
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Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

Post by dicknorton » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:10 pm

I purchased the Rodgers Trio new in 1984. In the late 90's, I had MIDI installed on the three keyboards so I could connect the Rodgers to a digital keyboard. I have gone through several digital keyboards, the latest version being a Technics KN7000. The addition of the digital keyboard with its 1100+ sampled sounds certainly transformed the Rodgers into a more enjoyable instrument. Still, I was never able to make it sound like a true Wurlitzer pipe organ. Until now.

Enter the Miditzer 260. I discovered this a week or so ago, and became fascinated with the possibilities. I downloaded it on one of my computers, bought a MIDI to USB connector, and hooked it all together. The output of the computer sound card feeds into the Rodgers AMP which, of course, has large powerful speakers which really helps with the sound. The MIDI system also sends expression signals, and the toe studs were wired to send program change information to Miditzer for quick registration changes.

So far, this has been an excellent experience! I played around with the placement of the monitor screen - and eventually ended up to the side of the organ. I am planning on getting a smaller footprint of a computer and smaller monitor.

The computer currently running Miditzer is an XP SP3 system. I am replacing it with a Windows 7 64-bit computer. From reading the posts, it appears it should work, but upon registration I need to disable a feature in safety and security.

My only regret - not having the pedals MIDI'd when I had the three keyboards. Fortunately, the Rodgers has nice pedal stops so it has not been a problem. I tried getting them added, but the technician ran into some issues and they do not work. I may have to switch to a different MIDI system since the company that made the system I used 12 years ago is pretty much out of business. Any suggestions on a MIDI product I can use from those of you who have done this modification to an analog instrument?

I am looking forward to learning more about the capabilities of this Miditzer system. So far, I love it!!!
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Jim Henry
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Re: Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

Post by Jim Henry » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:31 pm

The Trio pedals use a magnet and reed relay. A technician with the schematics for the Trio should be able to confirm that you could wire a MIDI encoder to the reed relay with an appropriate interface. Alternatively, you could add a second set of reed relays for the MIDI encoder.
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Re: Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

Post by Organ531 » Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:00 pm

Dick,

Your Rodgers Trio looks great and I agree that by the addition of an outside theatre organ sound source it is even more enjoyable to play. My Trio is the 321 which is an older model from your 321B but I believe the basic organ layout is the same.

I added 4 Midi encoder boards about 10 years ago and everything worked well until I had to have a service call on the organ about 4 years ago. Luck would have it that the area needing service was covered by my Midi boards. Since my wiring 10 years ago was a mix of ribbon and Cat 5 cables, I decided to rewire with a better wiring harness when I relocated the boards for the service call.

Since you already have Midi boards on the three manuals, I'll not comment other than to say my takeoff source was at the Tibia keying circuit. The source I used for the pedals was from the termination points on the swingout panel. The enclosed picture shows the blue cable coming across the bottom and then fanned out and soldered to each pedal note on the circuit board. I first considered soldering to the reed relay on the business end of the pedal board as Jim suggested, but because of the cramped area found the easier to reach area instead.

I used 4 Midi encoder boards from Syndyne (LS6400). Sometime during my installation, Syndyne changed the design of the boards so I have 2 new style and 2 older style. I've enclosed a photograph of the re-located boards.

Hope this info helps.

Don
Pedal Midi.JPG
Midi boards.JPG
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Re: Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

Post by dicknorton » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:18 am

Thanks, Jim and Don, for your comments/suggestions. The system currently in the organ was developed by Intermidi - a company in Northern California. The tech that did the original installation in the 90's developed arthritis and was unavailable a year ago to do the pedal board. He recommended another tech who eventually got me a board from the company's founder (he had some lying around as I recall), and he came out to install it.

The tech did the wiring (on the swing out panel) and plugged everything together. Nothing on Channel 4. A day was spent and after a significant dent in my check book, I was still without Channel 4. Further, I lost the original pedal sustain. When I unplugged the ribbon cable from the midi board, the sustain feature returned. Apparently, the MIDI board is dragging down the voltage too quickly from the caps that (from my review of the schematic) create the sustain effect. I am not sure of a solution to that problem - except perhaps putting in diodes for every note.

After a number of weeks and e-mails between the tech and myself, the gentleman at Intermidi felt that the ROM needed to be updated to permit Channel 4 to work. So, several weeks later, I got back a box with two new ROMs to replace the ones in the main board. I have been nervous to have the tech tackle this project again as I fear the pedals will still not work, or worse yet, something will happen to the existing system and then I have nothing. Further, I still have the sustain issue to deal with once it is hooked up.

Thanks for the info on the MIDI board you are using and pictures. Now I know I have an option if I go forward with trying to get the existing system to work and it crashes. I would really like to get the pedals working to take full advantage of the Miditzer sounds.

With reference to the Miditzer program, I have noted that the range of expression is limited. It is set for the maximum range - 0 to 127. I am not sure of other settings that might affect it. I have only been at this for a week. Also, I have yet to figure out how to increase the base volume of some of the percussion voices - like the glock. I think there is a manual on how to do all this stuff somewhere on the net, but I have not found it yet.

Again - thanks guys for your comments and suggestions. I am really enjoying the Miditzer. I found some great MIDI files on the forum and they sound great playing through the Rodgers (like a player piano!). There are some talented members out here who play very well and have really mastered the voicing of this instrument.

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Jim Henry
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Re: Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

Post by Jim Henry » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:20 am

dicknorton wrote:With reference to the Miditzer program, I have noted that the range of expression is limited. It is set for the maximum range - 0 to 127. I am not sure of other settings that might affect it. I have only been at this for a week.
Best to tackle one thing at a time.

0 to 127 is the full range of MIDI expression values. If your swell pedal produces less than the full range of values, which is likely the case, you will want to reduce that range to what your swell pedal sends to increase the range of expression. You should use something like MIDI-OX to determine the values being sent by your swell pedal when closed and open to set the range. There is a sticky post that explains how to use MIDI-OX.

The other value that affects the range of expression is the minimum volume when the virtual swell shades are closed. If I remember correctly, "Swell Threshold" controls that level.
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Re: Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

Post by dicknorton » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:15 pm

That was the trick, Jim. I used that Midi-Ox program to find the values from min to max expression, and then reset the Miditzer to those values. Presto! I now have the expression control I was missing. Thanks for the tip!!

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Re: Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

Post by John Kinkennon » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:10 pm

I'll second Jim's earlier suggestion to consider adding a second set of reed switches for the pedals. There are a couple of complications with the Rodgers 321's pedal keying that complicate the addition of MIDI circuits.

While the keyboards use +12v keying, the pedals use either +7v or +4v depending upon the position of the Pedal ff tab. A voltage divider is still needed for each key, but it wouldn't use the same values as the keyboards and it would have to be a comprimise to accomodate both voltages. Second, with the sustain function based upon discharging a 10 ufd capacitor through 47k ohms, the MIDI circuit's voltage divider needs a pull-down resistor significantly larger than 47k. In those ranges noise will easily trigger the MIDI circuits.

Reed relay kits are available prewired from outfits like MidiBoutique and presumably many other sources. Based on a couple of pedal conversions I've done I think the reed switch positioning would be simple enough. I think a number of adhesives would work fine to do the mounting. I'd try ATV myself. Then you will have dry contacts that can be wired in whatever mode the MIDI circuitry wants to see.

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Re: Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

Post by Jim Henry » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:38 pm

John, did you mean RTV, room temperature vulcanizing silicon rubber?

Another "adhesive" to consider for reed switches is beeswax. You do need to have reasonably good mechanical support for the switches if you use beeswax. The beeswax allows the reeds to be easily adjusted as needed. One source of beeswax is in "sewing notions" where it is sold in a cake for coating thread.

Once you have a dedicated set of 32 reed switches, just about anything can be used as the MIDI Encoder. Assuming that you would use a multiport MIDI to USB interface with the Pedal on a dedicated port, it doesn't matter what MIDI Channel is used. Therefore, configurability of the Pedal encoder is not an issue.
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Re: Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

Post by Jim Henry » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:46 pm

As an alternative to the second set of reed switches, perhaps you could make an op amp comparator that compared the pedal voltage to the Pedal ff voltage to generate a logic level out for the MIDI Encoder. You'd probably have to set the trigger threshold relatively high so that Pedal Sustain wouldn't delay the MIDI Off too much. You should be able to get away with that since you would be tracking the variable keying voltage for the comparison.

I think the choice comes down to whether you are more comfortable engineering analog electronics or mechanical switch placement.
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Re: Rodgers 321B Trio and Miditzer 260 Installation

Post by Jim Henry » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:59 pm

Here is a helpful resource for comparator circuits:
http://home.cogeco.ca/~rpaisley4/Comparators.html
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