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Like CyberGene's Cybrid or Jay Kominek?

I'm doing it myself and I'm interested in connecting (especially if you are in Colorado or nearby state).

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Great question!

I am continuing to chip away at my DIY piano approach. Documenting with videos, see link in signature if interested.

Forcing myself to make a short video at each milestone is helping me keep track of work and decisions (although videos are consistently approx. 2 months behind progress).

Have not put anything on github, nothing is stable. More fun learning, designing, and being engineering disciplined - than hurrying to done.


I looked back through pianoworld history and got updated on your project. That looks like an awesome direction!

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Originally Posted by stemPianist
Great question!

I am continuing to chip away at my DIY piano approach. Documenting with videos, see link in signature if interested.

Forcing myself to make a short video at each milestone is helping me keep track of work and decisions (although videos are consistently approx. 2 months behind progress).
Wow, you've got great progress! And being 2 months behind, you must have almost finished now!

Originally Posted by stemPianist
Have not put anything on github, nothing is stable. More fun learning, designing, and being engineering disciplined - than hurrying to done.
I agree with the not hurry to be done, within some limits... (family wants to reclame square footage...)
For github, well, IMHO it is for storing and collaborating, not for stable things. Also, repos can be made private and shared only with limited number of people if that's the desire.

I have a number of questions to ask you (and a couple of suggestions, even though they might be a moot point now). Are you interested in such a discussion? If so, what's the best venue? Publicly in this thread on this forum? PM? Youtube comment? Github? The other piano forum? Email? Videocall?

Originally Posted by stemPianist
I looked back through pianoworld history and got updated on your project. That looks like an awesome direction!

Thank you! Happy to share what I've done if you are interested to know the details and/or compare with what you've done and/or get inspiration about what you haven't done yet. So far I've done almost nothing in the electronics and almost everything in the mechanics, action and cabinetry.

Looking forward!

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Greg- I really enjoy your DIY videos, especially the areas that intersect with your expertise as you optimize the plan. All that said, the learning to soldier video was fun and I'm sure you've got that down now.

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Originally Posted by stemPianist
I am continuing to chip away at my DIY approach.

Greg: wonderful effort. I just watched the 2-3 more recent videos, so will have to watch from the first to understand your approach, but if I got it correct you are continuously analog sampling hammer position? You calculate note-on velocity on hammer going up and note-off on release from back check, right? Can that approach be applied to key motion (instead of hammer)? For keys, you need to have more positional readings, and a lot more coding to separate silent strikes from ppp. Do you have loop time to add more code?

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> Are you interested in such a discussion?

Good questions on collaboration. Am happy to discuss via PM or on the forum.

> the learning to soldier video was fun

Yes soldering is going much better! But the first several videos (including that one) I accidentally recorded mono audio .... argh.

Most important lesson from project so far: get ready to spend hours, days, weeks and decades soldering.

> you are continuously analog sampling hammer position?

Yes, continuously sampling 24-bit, 8Ksps. Note-on is hammer going up. Note-off is estimated by the hammer returning position. I have better ideas for future.

Loop time is probably ok. With respect to positional readings, hammer motion is measured over a distance of about 1/4 inch. I get ALOT of ADC samples even during fast hammer motion. So, keys should work fine.

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Great, nice chatting with you about this project! Let's start here on the forum (by default I like it public) and we might switch to somewhere else if needs be.

I really liked your videos. I wish I had the stamina to document what I have done in such a nice way (I just have random pictures and some text).

Let me start with a "disclaimer". Since I am straight-talker and very curious, because I want to learn from others, understand what they know, and try to apply their knowledge to my projects, and also don't want to be even more verbose than what I already am, sometimes I appear blunt or even rude in my emails. Please accept my apologies in advance should I sound that way with you: it's the exact contrary of my actual persona, since I am kind and gentle. Let's start!

1) As pretty much everyone else, you are using the Vishay CNY70 sensor. Have you considered / experimented with the Everlight EAITRCA6?

2) I've already spent decades doing through hole soldering, and I'd rather quit than double down the efforts with surface mount :-)
Of course some soldering is needed, especially for the early prototypes (but even that I'd argue for doing as much breadboard and air-wiring as possible). Once we get close to something final, I'd rather switch to something else. Many of the PCB manufacturing services offer surface mount soldering services. That sounds very appealing to me and (like all these things) the economy of scale makes it even inexpensive the more (identical) boards one purchases. That was part of the reason for me posting this message: if we at least some of us can agree on a common design, and order everything together, that would be cheaper and easier. At the moment we have 3 different designs: @CyberGene's Cybrid, @JayKominek's piano-conversion and @stemPianist's (does yours have a name)? I have discussed a bit with Jay (who more recently became unresponsive -- perhaps he's lost interest or is busy with other stuff) and studied his design which I like. I would love to look in more details at yours and discuss it with you, with the double purpose of learning from each other and perhaps coming with a common design so we can order together -- assuming that you are located in a place where it would be easy to ship parts to each other (if not meet in person -- feel free to respond to this part as a PM or even not responding at all if you don't want to disclose your location).

3) Have you considered using a system like https://us.misumi-ec.com/vona2/detail/110302684530/ instead of drilling hardware store parts? That is what I am assembling for me now, and it's really another planet, in ease of use, flexibility on what you can do, and how sturdy they are compared to the wimpy hardware store things. All, at an affordable price!

4) the next questions I have are more technical about the latency, some design choice (sensors on the back of the key and "simulate" back action a-la Kawai Novus, UDP, raspberry, display, etc) but let's get started with the easy stuff first and then we'll jump into the rabbit hole (and lose the rest of the audience, ROTFL)

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> sometimes I appear blunt or even
No worries!

> the Everlight EAITRCA6?
Looks interesting. I bought 88+ CNY so am committed. They work great.

> does yours have a name
stemPianist piano? stemPiano? (as in science tech engineering math).... maybe I need a marketing department

> Have you considered using a system like
Good idea! Might consider.

> the economy of scale makes it even inexpensive
Actually, my plans are more totally over-the-top, loaded with marginally useful features. But maybe someday could drop a stable subset on github.

> sensors on the back of the key and "simulate" back action a-la Kawai Novus, UDP, raspberry, display, etc
Arduino worked better for me than Raspberry because easier to control jitter (simpler OS).
UDP – Yes, using instead of TCP.
Display – Started with LCD but probably to TFT or OLED. Goes in the “marginally useful features” category.

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> > the economy of scale makes it even inexpensive
> Actually, my plans are more totally over-the-top, loaded with marginally useful features. But maybe someday could drop a stable subset on github.

Got you. That answers many of my other questions!

>> sensors on the back of the key and "simulate" back action a-la Kawai Novus, UDP, raspberry, display, etc
> Arduino worked better for me than Raspberry because easier to control jitter (simpler OS).

Yes, in fact my question intended to be: why not something even more low-level and as such even no-OS and less or no jutter,

> UDP – Yes, using instead of TCP.

Ditto as before, but the over-the-top answers it. Both UDP and Arduino makes it easy to add these other features.

> stemPiano?

As a Physicists, I like that. I'll call it so from now on!


So in conclusion (as probably you guessed from my "low-level" comment), my goals are at the other side of the spectrum, with a minimalist design, so there will not be much that we can share (or purchase together), other than experience and comments. I have what I think are nice ideas for the back action (dampers, note-off sensors), and I will post them when I am ready (perhaps after the holidays). Feel free to reach out if you plan to work on those soon and are interested.

If I am not too intrusive: are you far from Colorado?

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Video update by StemPianist

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Originally Posted by stemPianist
I am continuing to chip away at my DIY piano approach. Documenting with videos, see link in signature if interested.

Hi Greg... I was watching today one of your videos (step 11, on latency) and I was puzzled by one thing in your flowchart. You calculate velocity with the Teensy, and then transfer that to the computer to generate MIDI messages, correct? Any reason for not using the Teensy USB-MIDI library that is ready to use in the teensy? Are you processing something at the desktop stage that cannot be done at the teensy?

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This is all completely beyond me, but I love that you're doing this!

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Originally Posted by CraiginNZ
This is all completely beyond me, but I love that you're doing this!

Thanks!

Originally Posted by vagfilm
Any reason for not using the Teensy USB-MIDI library that is ready to use in the teensy? Are you processing something at the desktop stage that cannot be done at the teensy?


yes, hope to develop sampling and modeling algorithms, send line-out. So, its Ethernet to central processor.... Jetson Nano? Cray exascale supercomputer?

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Originally Posted by stemPianist
Originally Posted by vagfilm
Are you processing something at the desktop stage that cannot be done at the teensy?
yes, hope to develop sampling and modeling algorithms, send line-out.

Cool. So, if I understand correctly, you will have 1 teensy per key cluster (8 or 12 notes). Will they connect to a central board and then to the computer? Usb hub?

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11 teensy (1 per 8-channel ADC) -> ethernet -> central processor -> speaker

the design could change as I work on it

I had made an architecture video, if I can find it, will put on youtube. Although that may not happen anytime soon.

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Originally Posted by stemPianist
11 teensy (1 per 8-channel ADC) -> ethernet -> central processor -> speaker

the design could change as I work on it

I had made an architecture video, if I can find it, will put on youtube. Although that may not happen anytime soon.

yes, hope to develop sampling and modeling algorithms,


How would you connect 11 ethernet to one central unit? Will you use 11 ethernet interface on that central board or a 12-port router/switch? Doesn't the teensy have I2C which will allow you a simpler connection?

Are you thinking of implementing a Pianoteq's competitor?

(please remember my "disclaimer" about my inquiries.

Last edited by Del Vento; 12/14/21 09:43 AM.
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> Will you use 11 ethernet interface on that central board or a 12-port router/switch?

Yes, a switch.

> Doesn't the teensy have I2C which will allow you a simpler connection?

Not fast enough for the “marginally useful features” I have in mind smile

> Are you thinking of implementing a Pianoteq's competitor?

Its just a hobby.

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@stemPianist you mention quite low frequency scanning. Are you able to have enough resolution at the highest MIDI velocities? See the issue I opened with Cybrid at https://github.com/ekumanov/cybrid/issues/5 in this regard

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FWIW, I also posted a YouTube update on my project. You can watch it here

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@stemPianist - I just started exploring digitizing my piano, or buying a new hybrid, and found your series of videos.

Great videos, thanks for documenting. Couple of questions:

1) Had you considered using a CAN bus instead of Ethernet? The shared CAN bus could simplify the wiring. Although the ideal - 12 bit resolution, 32000 samples/second with 88 keys, would require over 4Mbps - if you were to send all the raw data across the bus. However, if each key had a microprocessor and ADC, then the key specific microprocessor could determine the strike velocity, and send that detail across the CAN bus. At the end of the bus would be the CAN <-> MIDI gateway (raspberry pi), which could also run PianoTeq, and drive a soundboard attached transducer.

It appears that Microchip makes relatively small/inexpensive microprocessors with ADC and CAN that could fit next to the CNY70 on a tiny circuit board - chaining these circuit boards together (just CAN and power between boards)

2) I’ve watched you try to hand solder some tiny parts. Have you looked at reflow ovens (toaster ovens with PID controllers), or reflow hot plates.

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