Simon H Posted April 24, 2008 Share Posted April 24, 2008 (edited) One of the most frustrating things about being a learning concertina player is not being able always to practice. Causing disturbance to others, not being able to take the concertina on journeys. Or simply not having it when the mood strikes. These are common problems. I've read threads here that express that frustration and decided to try to do something about it. My problem is my electronics knowledge starts and ends wiith simle switches, electromechanical stuff, so anything I made would have to be simple and not be based around midi or microcontrollers or the like. What I wanted was to have a small simulated English Concertina keyboard which would connect to a small kids type keyboard instrument. This turned out not to be as easy as I thought. The keyboard contacts of even very cheap kids keyboards are not easily hackable to allow the soldering in of wired contacts out to the simulated concertina keyboard. Then I realised the ideal instrument is out there, if you can stand the sound it makes - the Stylophone. Simple electronics and a keyboard of metal made to solder onto. The stylus wire would act as a common ground for all the pushbuttons. also headphone and rudimentary mp3 mixing facilities all for £15 quid on ebay. Believe it or not, they've rereleased the stylophone so there is no shortage. I emptied Maplins of suitable pushbutton switches (7mm dia push-to-make) then found a source on E-bay. So no shortage of pushbuttons I have about 90 ! Next I constructed the keyboards with button spacings measured directly off my Wheatstone. Clear platic and a felt tipped pen does the trick to create the correct spacings to transfer to the wood to drill the holes. I've bought a couple of thumbstraps to fit too when all is complete.Then I got to grips with the soldering iron. And that's where it all went a bit pear-shaped After I got the first side just about finished I started testing and found that some of the switches simply weren't working. Instead of using thin wire to wire it up, I'd used a plug and socket wire from PC world that would allow me to separate the Stylophone end from the keyboard end. Problem was it was heavy wire and the soldering damaged a few of the switches. They are so wired in that i'll have to take the whole thing to bits to fix it. So before I commence Mark 2 I thought, has anyone tried this or similar? I'm talking cheap keyboard trainer here, not midi, not something costing hundreds, simply something with buttons that activates a separate small instrument. Have you any learnings to share, anything out there better than a Stylophone to solder wires onto? (that's the easy bit) To do this for Anglo layouts would require a bit of jiggery pockery around microswitches to detect push/pull but it is possible. Anyway, I thought I'd share this at this stage before I plunge into mark 2. I've a feeling a few people would like something to sit in front of the TV with, earphone in place, picking out the melody of that new tune you heard. I hope this is inspiration enough to get started. Attached also a picture of where things got to with Mark 1. I shall strip it down and rebuild for Mark 2 with proper thin connecting wires. If I achieve anything like success I will report back, either that or we could get a few like-minded people to work the designs into something manufacturable, as long as its inexpensive. I've no wish to profit from the concept. My original concept, it has to be said was not much bigger than a cigarette packet with the exact layout of buttons and a headphone socket and little speaker ! Simon Edited April 24, 2008 by Simon H Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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