Monday, August 29, 2011

Fixing an electric piano...

...or really, my first attempt at time-lapse photography. My friend gave me a Roland MP 300 that had a few broken keys. It is a synthesizer that has actual hammers instead of springs. Two hammers were broken and their remains blocked others from functioning properly, and I broke two more taking it apart. There's 5 different hammers for each 12 tone octave, and I went to all the trouble of looking up the correct part numbers and sizes, but if you order them directly from Roland, you actually need to just give them the note (A#, D, etc.). They couldn't look them up by the part numbers.

To take the images, I used a Canon A470 with CHDK installed. It was a nightmare trying to put the images together. I tried to use iMovie on my iPhone but it kept crashing. Windows Live Movie Maker for 2 different Windows 7 computers could build the entire movie, but would crash when trying to save it. The only one I could get to work was Movie Maker for Windows XP. Even still, it was a pain in the neck. The only Windows XP computer that I have is one that's running on my headless VirtualBox server. Movie Maker doesn't run over Remote Desktop or without any audio hardware, so I had to enable VRDE in VirtualBox and install a "virtual" sound card into the machine. Don't worry if that doesn't make any sense.

The interval is 5 seconds per picture, and there are 1200 images. That's roughly 1.5 hours over two days.

The hardest part was figuring out how to get the keyboard out because there were many brackets and hidden screw and tabs, plus the frame that held the hammers and keys is a big chunk of steel. The keyboard alone probably weighed close to 40 pounds. I only have one leftover screw!

The sound quality on my dad's Yamaha keyboard is better, but it's much more pleasant to play the Roland with the inertial hammers and keys. I can pipe the audio output of the Roland into the Yamaha to get the best of the two, but it does require having two keyboard set up in the basement. When I get good enough to play something recognizable, I'll record and post.

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