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Thread: Kilgen Opus 7722 - Conversion of a Pipe Organ Console to VPO - Part 1

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    Kilgen Opus 7722 - Conversion of a Pipe Organ Console to VPO

    After having played my converted 2-manual Moller pipe organ console, our Church organist expressed an interest in having a virtual pipe organ console for himself. As luck would have it, we were offered a 3-manual Kilgen console built in 1955. I am now in the process of converting this console to MIDI for use as a virtual pipe organ. I have decided to create this thread in an effort to record the process of converting a pipe organ console for use as a VPO so that members of this forum will have a reference and guide for their own conversion projects.

    PROJECT SCOPE:
    I will be converting this 3-manual console for use as a virtual pipe organ using the HWCE2X, Bundle 1 from MIDI Gadgets Boutique (http://www.midiboutique.com). All keys, stops, couplers, expression pedals, and piston controls will be sent to the MIDI controllers. However, all of the electro-magnet operation of the combination action will be preserved. For console testing and development, GrandOrgue, with free pipe samples, will be used as the organ sound generating software. Hauptwerk, with an adequate commercial sample set, will eventually be used as the permanent sound generation solution. Where ever possible, all original equipment will be preserved and utilized in the final VPO.

    CONSOLE DELIVERY:
    When I first laid eyes on this console, it was delivered in a trailer. It had been disassembled and stored for several weeks. So, I had no idea of what I was facing with this project since I had not seen the console in its original condition. All of the wires leading to the stop jambs and the manuals had been cut. On the bright side, the fact that the console had been disassembled made it easy to move into its new home.

    CONSOLE OVERVIEW:
    This console is quite massive. The stop jams have a total of 70 stops and couplers. There are 13 toe pistons and 5 to 11 pistons per manual. There is also a cancel per division, along with a general cancel. The expression pedals consist of Choir/Great and Swell. There is also a Crescendo pedal. On one jamb, there is a 6-position Chimes switch. There are pilot indicators for Wind, Crescendo, and Sfortz. The on/off switch is somewhat unusual in that it consists of two momentary pushbutton switches labeled Start and Stop. All of these original features will be preserved and used in the final organ project.

    CONVERSION STEP 1 – POWER REQUIREMENTS:
    When a console has been removed from its original home, odds are the power source has been disconnected. This makes it a little difficult to determine the power requirements for the console. On this particular console, there is a rather large solenoid per stop jamb. What is unusual about these solenoids is they have a center tap on the coil. So, I took a UPS battery and a multi-meter and measured the current required to activate one of these solenoids. The amperage through the full coil measured comfortably under 6 amps and the center tap measurement was under 3 amps. I am assuming that the center tap is used for divisional pistons/cancels and the full coil is used for general pistons/cancels. When the generals are pressed, the current draw for both solenoids should be 12 amps.
    As part of the combination action, there are 13 electromagnets per division. Each one of these electromagnets draws 0.5 amps. When all four divisions are triggered the total current draw for these electromagnets should be 2 amps.
    There are 4 relays that control the pistons and one that controls the Great to Pedal Reversible. These relays draw 0.25 amps each.
    The MIDI controllers are rated for a 0.5 amp power supply. The indicator lamps are rated for 2 watts each, which is about 0.2 amps per bulb at 12 volts DC.
    So, the total power consumption of the console at 12 volts DC should fall just under 17 amps when a general piston is held. This is a fair amount of power; but considering some 650-watt PC power supplies can output 12 volts DC at 52 amps, 17 amps should be feasible without too much cost.

    CONVERSION STEP 2 – RECONNECTING & REWIRING - Part 1
    Since the wires to the stop jams were cleanly cut, and the connections per division fell under 25 wires per connection, I decided to use DB-type connectors and keep the existing wiring. For the manuals, there are way too many wires per bundle for these types of connectors. So, I will abandon this wiring and run ribbon cable directly from the keys to the MIDI controllers. I am currently in this phase of the project.

    More to come…
    Last edited by JayR; Aug-10-2010 at 03:27.

  2. #2
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    Looks like it could be a fun project. Do you have any sample sets in mind as yet or will you be selecting ranks from more than one set?

    Best of luck anyway.
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    I will be using the Enigma wet set for most of the pipes initially. It looks as though I will eventually have to go with the Salisbury Cathedral when we move onto Hauptwerk.

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    I found I had to extend the top end of the Enigma samples by 5 notes, otherwise excellent. I combined selected stops from Enigma and Steihr Mockers for Grand Orgue.
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata greatcyber's Avatar
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    This is certainly one thread to watch...
    Stephen

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret) Ghekorg7 (Ret)'s Avatar
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    Hi Jay !
    Quite impressive !!

    Wet Enigma is very good, Salisbury one of the best and Mike's hybrid amazing.
    But whatever VPO program in use it's my belief that it needs a good reverberation plug-in or hardwere rack and high quality amplification/speaker system.

    Try Enigma dry with SIR2 cathedral true stereo impulse responce. The result is centuries better than the Enigma wet !!

    My best wishes for a big success in your adventure my friend !
    Cheers
    Panos
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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    You have way too much time on your hands young man (I jest). Fascinating thread, keep posting, great stuff.
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    will be interesting to follow..often thought about this for myself..I have an old conn that might be worth the trouble setting up..for VPO.
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
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  9. #9
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    To Contratrombone64 (Love that Moniker!):

    I wish it were a matter of too much time on my hands... I have been wiring the manuals when I take off for lunch and after my kids go to bed

    When I come across a real console, it's too hard for me to see it go to waste. They are extremly complex and so much work went into them. Also, from their feel you just can't beat them for use in a VPO But they are a b-i-t- to move!

    Thanks for reading my thread!

    Jay

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret) Ghekorg7 (Ret)'s Avatar
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    Hi Jay ! A pleasure to read !

    I got in my basement an old Lowrey T2 organ, in a very sad condition _ pedalboard stolen..., can't get el power, upper 3 1/2 oct keyboard almost separated from 4 oct lower, but wooden flat top is still ok.

    Is it worth starting a conversion to VPO ? In it's condition I think's gonna cost much ...
    *It's like a fight with women, which always ends in .... bed.*
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    To Panos:

    Panos,

    Not even factoring the computer and software costs, a conversion like the one I am in the process of doing will cost somewhere around $1000 USD. It sounds like the console you have may cost much more than that to fix. With that in mind, it may not be worth the cost of upgrading to a VPO. Whereas the pipe organ consoles I have been working with would cost $25,000 to $50,000 to replace, with something of comparable quality. I am not sure how things are going in Greece, but here in the USA, a lot of older churches are abondoning their pipe organs and replacing them with electronic organs, if at all. I would suggest getting the word out that you are looking for a pipe organ console. You never know... Someone may practically come begging you to take one off their hands!

    Thanks for the post!
    Jay

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    CONVERSION STEP 2 – RECONNECTING & REWIRING - Part 2

    In the consoles I have seen so far, all of the keypoints are terminated to a common termination point before the wires are passed to the actual pipe valves. I will call this point the termination board for lack of a better term. Each connection of the termination board is labeled per each key, stop, coupler, shade step, etc. In an ideal setting, none of the keypoint wires would be cut, and all of the wiring to the MIDI controllers would originate from the termination board. This would make the wiring very easy. However, on the console I am currently working on, all of the wires leading to the manuals have been cut. Therefore, I found it easier and more economical to bypass the original wiring to the manuals.

    If you look at the attached pictures, you will get an idea of how I ran the wires for the manuals. What is important to note here is that pipe organ manuals have very complex wiring that is not necessary for a VPO. For instance, these manuals have 4 to 5 contacts per key. These contacts are not for redundancy. Instead, the extra contacts are for couplers and borrowing. Since these functionalities can and should be defined in the software (GrandOrgue or Hauptwerk), there is no need to connect any of these additional contacts. Only the main contact, in my case the rear-most contact, is the one that needs to be connected to the MIDI controllers. In addition, all of the solenoids that control the couplers need to be disconnected and the coupler rails need to be positioned in their "off" or "disengaged" state.

    For these manuals, I left the original wiring as a guide to run the new ribbon cable. I passed each wire through the original holes and soldered the conductor directly to the contact per each key.

    The MIDI Gadgets Boutique MIDI controllers expect each keypoint to be connected to ground when a key is pressed. Therefore, all of the common busses need to be tied to ground. Depending upon the console's original wiring, it may require separating all of the bus wires from the wires leading to the solenoids, electromagnets, pilot lights, etc. In my Moller console, the original wiring had all of the busses tied to the positive output of the power supply. So, I had to separate the bus wires from the positive leads leading to the solenoids.

    Once I have finished wiring the manuals, I will have to locate all of the points on the termination board for the stops, couplers, pistons, shades, and pedals. I will continue wiring from there to the MIDI Boards to accommodate all of the keypoints. The trick in this console will be to reconnect all of the wires for the combination action in the right order and verify that the polarity for the piston controls is correct for the MIDI controllers.

    More Later...

    Jay

  13. #13
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    Not sure if to liken that to spaghetti or a bird's nest. Maybe for we older members, memories of mother's knitting patterns, ....... k1, p1, k 2 tog.

    Certainly a major project!
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

  14. #14
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    Hi Jay,

    Thanks for posting your progress and giving us pictures to see all that you're doing

    All the best for the continuation of the project!

    GrahamG

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    Moving Towards Console Reassembly

    I've got the manuals wired - 183 contacts soldered! Some of the key contacts had carbon buildup and showed signs of arcing. This all had to be cleaned as much as possible. WD-40 makes a felt-tip, pen-style applicator. It is also useful for cleaning electronic contacts. So, I used this to clean all of the key contacts. Where the arcing occurred, I used a small file and lightly smoothed out the pitting. I made sure that all of the key contacts were bent in the correct fashion and straightened out any wires that were misshaped.

    Once I re-mate the contacts to their respective manuals, I will be prepared to reassemble the console. The wiring is still not complete, but I can continue wiring the remainder of the console from the rear with the manuals and the jambs in place. This project is now starting to get exciting because, for the first time, we are going to see the console in its complete state!

    Still more to come...

    Jay

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