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Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: johnstaf] #2921177 12/09/19 06:52 AM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Enjoy! I've just finished rebuilding my action with new parts.

Would love pics!

I've watched so many YouTube videos about piano repairs and regulation, the Reblitz book is my bible already laugh And I know how many things I can do to that poor old keyboard to make it good but the list is endless and if I follow it I may never finish it. Even now, more than a year after I started, I have no huge progress due to having not enough time and being lazy. So, I kind of look at that project as a prototype and Proof of Concept and need to put the limit somewhere already. But it would have been nice to replace front rail bushings, hammer knuckles, re-pin some hammers.

Last edited by CyberGene; 12/09/19 06:53 AM.

My YouTube, My Soundcloud
Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
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Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2921188 12/09/19 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
So, I kind of look at that project as a prototype and Proof of Concept and need to put the limit somewhere already.

Words of genius. I completely agree with that philosophy. I've seen so many project fail from the desire to perfect. Systems which were already good but never released because the original developer wanted to tweak.

One piece of open-source software I know took 20 years to get out of "beta". 20 years for software is a lifetime. But this isn't even so unusual for some open-source software projects, unfortunately.

I knew of someone who worked on a kit-plane he bought the plan and parts for. It was never finished. (Over time I tracked his progress on a website he set up with pics, like the pics posted in your thread.) He tinkered on it every weekend for 25 years. He made engineering changes to reduce the cost, such as to the motor, which added years to the development time. Then he died of a heart attack a few years ago. Don't know what happened to the partially completed plane after that. Perhaps his wife tried to sell it or just scrap it. (I know I wouldn't buy someone else's partially completed kit plane on which the original builder have taken creative license!)


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Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2921196 12/09/19 08:23 AM
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johnstaf Offline
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Enjoy! I've just finished rebuilding my action with new parts.

Would love pics!

I've watched so many YouTube videos about piano repairs and regulation, the Reblitz book is my bible already laugh And I know how many things I can do to that poor old keyboard to make it good but the list is endless and if I follow it I may never finish it. Even now, more than a year after I started, I have no huge progress due to having not enough time and being lazy. So, I kind of look at that project as a prototype and Proof of Concept and need to put the limit somewhere already. But it would have been nice to replace front rail bushings, hammer knuckles, re-pin some hammers.


I'm sure it will be fine. Pianos Inside Out by Mario Igrec is a must read, although it made me neurotic about things I needed to do. If you thought Reblitz was detailed...

Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2921197 12/09/19 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Enjoy! I've just finished rebuilding my action with new parts.

Would love pics!

I've watched so many YouTube videos about piano repairs and regulation, the Reblitz book is my bible already laugh And I know how many things I can do to that poor old keyboard to make it good but the list is endless and if I follow it I may never finish it. Even now, more than a year after I started, I have no huge progress due to having not enough time and being lazy. So, I kind of look at that project as a prototype and Proof of Concept and need to put the limit somewhere already. But it would have been nice to replace front rail bushings, hammer knuckles, re-pin some hammers.


Reblitz is a great tool, but youtube videos speak thousand words, so I am sure you are on your way wink

Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2921225 12/09/19 09:38 AM
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Awesome project CyberGene. So take lots of photos or videos if you like.

As this is a beta project and the keyboard needs a lot of rework and you have limited piano repair experience, I would look at rebuilding in two stages.

First, get the action clean and usable state. Button up the electronics and tweak. See how you like the project.

If you like the preliminary results, revisit the keyboard refurb in the future. I also think taking big refurb in two steps will improve the learning curve, making for a much better refurb.

If the results are great, you may be motivated to finalise the keyboard refub 2.0 very quickly. If the results are absolute rubbish, better to find out sooner than later.

Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2935641 01/18/20 09:17 AM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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I know you’re expecting updates and there will be but I had a funny story today I have to tell.

Around Christmas my sister was at home with her husband. He saw that our bedroom was turned into a workshop with a grand piano action and was quite interested in the project (or maybe because he’s a clinical psychiatrist 🤣). And I got a call from him today that there’s some old grand in his fathers house that they need to get rid of. It’s in his words in bad condition, so I can borrow some parts if needed. I asked for pictures and he sent me this one:
[Linked Image]

Well, I was disappointed to see it’s again a 85 key action 😒 Doesn’t seem well preserved either. So, I asked if he knew what brand it was and he said he didn’t know and was already preparing to leave and couldn’t see it.

Anyway, he apparently has found a moment to go and make a picture of the piano brand and sent a picture of it with the words “here’s a picture of the brand, whatever that name means and read.... have you heard it?”.

Wait for it, I’ll post it soon 😉

Last edited by CyberGene; 01/18/20 09:18 AM.

My YouTube, My Soundcloud
Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2935643 01/18/20 09:19 AM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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And here’s the picture
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[Linked Image]


My YouTube, My Soundcloud
Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2935655 01/18/20 10:01 AM
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Hehe!

Wow!

I wonder if it's a Viennese action though.

Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: johnstaf] #2935656 01/18/20 10:05 AM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Hehe!

Wow!

I wonder if it's a Viennese action though.

Yep, I’m also afraid it might be Viennese in which case I’ll pass on it. But I’m dreaming that it may actually not be in so bad condition and with a double-escapement action and if that’s the case I might even try to restore it. Dream on 🎹


My YouTube, My Soundcloud
Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2935664 01/18/20 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene

Yep, I’m also afraid it might be Viennese in which case I’ll pass on it. But I’m dreaming that it may actually not be in so bad condition and with a double-escapement action and if that’s the case I might even try to restore it. Dream on 🎹


You never know! Fingers crossed!

Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2935731 01/18/20 12:54 PM
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Score! What a find. It'd be a shame if it were in completely ruined shape.

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but is the capo bar non-adjustable? I thought that was always a thing with Bosies.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2935769 01/18/20 02:21 PM
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TomLC Offline
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Just get that fall board. i forget, is that what it’s called? You can retrofit it into your finished product. wow


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Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: TomLC] #2935788 01/18/20 03:10 PM
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Chrispy Offline
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Originally Posted by TomLC
Just get that fall board. i forget, is that what it’s called? You can retrofit it into your finished product. wow


I love this idea smile


Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO
Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2935791 01/18/20 03:17 PM
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85 is a hint!

worst case, you might fit your own action in it for a start.


-Rhodes74

Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2940287 01/29/20 02:00 PM
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Dore Offline
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Cutout the fallboard out to fit an LCD display. Write the code to automatically display the logo of the piano that you are playing on the VST/Kontakt computer.

Can't wait to see more progress on the controller...

-Dore

Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2940329 01/29/20 04:09 PM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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Here are some updates.

First, I went to see the Bösesndorfer. Unfortunately it has Viennese action and I'm not interested. It's also in a pretty bad shape.

Now, to the DIY controller. It's been a slow progress mainly due to me being lazy and of course due to the N1X which takes almost all my spare time. Man, I love so much the N1X I simply can't do anything else but play that wonderful piano! I may be hallucinating but I think it may have loosened up with the time and became really light-feeling, nimble and lively keyboard and I've never been so much in control of any other piano in my life. It's like I have been born with it. Anyway, this is not the place to brag about the N1X 😛

So, I finished soldering all the PCB-s. There are 17 keyboard controlling units (each serving 5 notes) for a total of 85 notes (remember I have a 100 year old action with 85 keys, not 88). There's also a single processing unit with the Teensy controller. And you can see 10 of the tiny single-sensor PCB-s, each of them detecting the hammer velocity at the base of the shank:
[Linked Image]
There's a white high C key top next to them to get the proportion. I made roughly 5500 manual soldering points... frown It's been so tedious!

Now, I realized that action is too old and something is wrong with it. The key dip is horrendously deep, maybe close to 15-17mm on average, compared to the standard of 10mm. I started digging what' wrong and I think this action might have been modified to fit another piano, or who knows what. I have many clues to that theory, starting with some pencil writings with a piano technician signature and crosss-marks for changed screw hole positions and what not. But mainly, because the wooden members that hold the metal frame brackets for the action seemed to have been cut and manually adapted:
[Linked Image]

Then I discovered that the other wooden elements supporting the middle brackets were actually cracked simply because they were badly made. So, I had to make my own for a total of three like this one:
[Linked Image]

I've never been a woodworker, so It's the first time I used a chisel, etc. Took me so much time to level these elements with the entire assembly. The problem being that the actual assembly of the action with the wooden rails and the cast iron brackets was not level by itseslf, I mean when you put it on a level surface, there were bracket legs above the surface. So, I had to put the heavy action assembly, check for gaps, then chisel from here, chisel from there, repeat, again and again... Took me a few days to adapt them to the naturally non-level brackets frown I guess and experienced woodworker might be much quicker but I was learning.

Then I realized the old keys were disgusting, discolored, chipped, broken, different type (probably some individually changed through the years). So, I decided to change the keytops. Ordered a complete set from AliExpress, waited three months for it and then it turned out that this old keyboard I have is actually pretty weird! Why? Because the last three keys on the right (F, G, A, remember it's a 85 keys ending in A) are not actually the shape of FGA but reused the slightly wider C, D, E. Also, the lowest B key (after the very lowest A key) was also with the shape/size of a E key and not B. So, I needed a spare set of new 88 keys to just borrow 4 of them LOL Another three months waiting.

I removed the old keytops and sanded all the keys. Pretty boring activity, a lot of powder, the old glue was badly stuck, I sanded to death for a whole day. And then I realized the keys are very inconsistent also as a height. They need to be squared, etc. Which iss why I also ordered a set of paper punchings, both for balance rail and front rail, felt bushings, black key leveling device, white key dip block:
[Linked Image]


Waited for 2-3 months, went into dispute, the key dip block didn't arrive at all. The rest came yesterday and so I started putting the new key tops. Well, that's another heavy labor since the bloody Chinese keytops come in octave block, sos you need to break the sesparate keys and then shave the connecting plastic. Took me a whole day to do this for all the C, D, E keys and then carefully glue them, here's the result:
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

I need to find another day and finish the other half of the keytops. In the meantime, I've spent a lot of time tinkering with the lateral hammer alignment to the jack and repetition lever, which necessitated removing all the hammer since some of them had paper shims sfor string alignment, also putting some shims to align the whippens to the capstans...

I'll then level the keytops to be in line, will set key dip to 10mm with a self made key dip block (will reuse a white plastic key top and some wood), will set aftertouch, then blow distance, then finally the stop rail which will probably change drastically from current position since as I said the keyboard was pretty off-standard...

Only after all that, I can afford finally preparing the sensor rail with the tiny PCB-s because it needs to be precisely located above the hammer shank bases.

And then comes the calibration through trimpots of every three distance points of every hammer. Extending the software, testing, playing eventually wink


My YouTube, My Soundcloud
Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2940384 01/29/20 07:13 PM
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Thanks for the update!

It seems you've been pretty busy these past few months.

Cheers,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2940386 01/29/20 07:17 PM
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I wish I had your energy, CG.

Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2942060 02/03/20 07:09 AM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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Spent almost entire weekend working on the action.

Finally managed to cut out, sand and glue all the keytops. At last white and shiny keys on the old granny.
[Linked Image]

I also replaced the felt under the rear part of each key. The keys rest on it and the old one was already so compressed and thin it made the front part of the keys to be too high and almost snapping out of the front rail pins, hence the keys were wobbling from side to side.

I also replaced the balance rail felt punchings. The keys need a lot of leveling which I'm gonna do in the next days. Fortunately it's a noiseless thing I can do during the nights without bothering my wife who is already really pi**ed off with me spending the whole weekend with this.

For some time I've been cursing this cr*ppy action because it's too old and has been modified and is too irregular and out of standards. This has dragged me back a lot since I'm ready with the electronics but that action peculiarities were bugging me. However I decided to finally put an end to all that and through a lot of experimentation I got how to align the back rail (one that holds the whippens), which is BTW warped, so that each hammer knuckle is laying perfectly centered to a notch on each double-repetition lever that serves as a guide for aligning jack position behind the knuckle. As always, my bible is the Reblitz book. I can honestly say I've tweaked absolutely every parameter in that action and will regulate it fully. I even started making my own tools for that. I filed and cut a screwdriver to become a tool for jack screws to align jacks behind the knuckles. I've sharpened another thin screwdriver to become a tool for escapement buttons turning (they have holes that you have to put the tool in), as well as capstan turning.

And I've been waiting almost three months for a key dip block which didn't arrive and the manufacturer refunded the money. Which is why I decided to create my own block from a piece of wood and a high C key which I don't need due to having only 85 keys laugh Here it is:

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

I will cut out the excess plastic and will finely sand the wood at an angle, so that it's 10mm thick at the front. I'm thinking of sanding it to match the N1X key dip.

So, as I said, I was cursing this action, but from it I learned A LOT about how the action works. I can confidently say I know the purpose of every single part and the relation between parts and regulations, how changing one affects the other, etc. And ultimately I gained a lot of knowledge about piano actions which is something I love smile So, it wasn't so bad to have an old and beaten action after all.

Last edited by CyberGene; 02/03/20 07:18 AM.

My YouTube, My Soundcloud
Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: DIY real grand action controller? [Re: CyberGene] #2942065 02/03/20 07:29 AM
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I've got to admire your diligence. smile

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