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Exposing my organ in public...

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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby Arpangel » Mon Feb 24, 2020 8:00 am

Incredibly inspiring story, and a I hope you manage to get it working as intended, before resorting to Hauptwerk.
Reminds me of the days back when I was working for an organ builder, struggling with SSL digital control systems, they were a bit of a nightmare.
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby Logarhythm » Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:41 pm

Today we have learnt some things:

1) Modern computers and operating systems are a luxury. I'd forgotten what the bad old days were like (and never actually used Win ME - went straight from 98 to XP).
MoBo battery swapped out but no change to booting progress. Therefore set about disconnecting the current HDs (don't want to accidentally format them - a lesson learnt the hard way many years ago... :lolno: ) and getting the new one connected up. I don't actually have enough power connections for it but it's a modular PSU thankfully, so I can expand when I need to reconnect the other drives. Alas that may not be immediate, as the Win ME disk I have doesn't appear to be bootable, which means I'll need to make a floppy to go with it. But the only drive I have is in the PC that won't boot, and is a size for which I don't even have a drive bay in my current rig so can't temporarily move it over either :protest:
This week's shopping list: SATA power cable and USB floppy drive...

2) With the longer USB extension I've managed to connect the controller part to my main PC, and W7 has kindly identified a driver and installed it. This is progress of a sort.
It's not the instant recognition as a MIDI device that I'd perhaps over-optimistically hoped for, but it now shows in Device Manager as a USB Serial Converter. I've therefore enabled "load VCP" so it is also showing as a USB Serial Port, which I believe theoretically means I should now be able to point this towards a conversion utility that takes the serial input and generates MIDI output. Unfortunately this is still very much theoretical only, as neither of the two I've found that'll work on W7 (Hairless Serial-MIDI converter / Spikenzie Labs' Serial-MIDI converter) are showing any data coming in, so as it stands I don't have anything to point at MIDI-OX :(
This raises the question of whether it's a software thing at the computer end, or something awry at the hardware side of things. I think I can safely assume that power and data are reaching the controller as Windows was able to talk to it to decide what driver should be installed, but I suppose that doesn't necessarily mean that all the gubbins on the other side of the Serial/USB converter are actually working correctly.
I think the next step is to have a look at whether any data is actually coming over the serial port - any suggestions for monitoring utilities gratefully received please! (Google throws up quite a few but I'd rather not play the adware/malware lottery if someone can actually point me towards one that is trustworthy).

At this point I've spent quite a few hours going around in circles so I'm going to take a break from it and eat a Hobnob or two :beamup:
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby James Perrett » Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:00 pm

You need a terminal program like Hyperterm or Teraterm to look at the data coming in from the serial port. It could well be a proprietrary format which the software decodes and then sends out as MIDI. It doesn't sound like a particularly difficult job for someone who knows about these things and can certainly be done in a newer version of Windows so, personally, I wouldn't worry too much about getting the old machine going provided you can read the discs and get the software off them.
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:12 pm

It's encouraging that the console USB output is apparently working and recognised as a data source. From what you've said about the system originator, though, I imagine the data protocol will be something entirely bespoke -- it's very unlikely to be standard MIDI. Presumably there'll be some description in the system notes?

Obviously, you could run a terminal programme or USB data logger to track and analyse the transmitted data corresponding to different keyboards, notes and registration switches, but is there really any point?

If you wanted to use the console with commercial organ software, you'd almost certainly need to write some bespoke software to translate the custom data stream to standard MIDI.... Which could be tricky and very time consuming. Again, if you want to go down that route it would be quicker, easier and more future-proof to rewire the console with dedicated MIDI interfaces as previously discussed.

So, for the time being I think I'd just assume the console and USB interface are working fine, and focus on getting the software up and running... which is clearly going to be a substantial challenge itself.

I wonder if the software could be run in a 32-bit emulation mode on a more modern OS?

H
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby Logarhythm » Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:51 pm

Thanks for your input, gents :thumbup:
Feel I'm a bit out of my depth on this, or at least have a hell of a lot of reading/learning to do...
I'd considered trying to get the backup to run in a virtual machine - I doubt it'll run native in W7. Did note that the original PC came set up with XP but he's removed that and gone back to ME, and I'm therefore wondering if, as currently written, it won't even cope with something as "modern" as XP.

There possibly/hopefully is something in the notes, but there are a lot of them, spanning 20+ years, muddled up during the handover, and not necessarily complete.
Doesn't feel like there are going to be any shortcuts or easy solutions with this :lol:
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby Folderol » Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:32 pm

Logarhythm wrote:Thanks for your input, gents :thumbup:
Feel I'm a bit out of my depth on this, or at least have a hell of a lot of reading/learning to do...
I'd considered trying to get the backup to run in a virtual machine - I doubt it'll run native in W7. Did note that the original PC came set up with XP but he's removed that and gone back to ME, and I'm therefore wondering if, as currently written, it won't even cope with something as "modern" as XP.

There possibly/hopefully is something in the notes, but there are a lot of them, spanning 20+ years, muddled up during the handover, and not necessarily complete.
Doesn't feel like there are going to be any shortcuts or easy solutions with this :lol:

You'll just have to organise another Exeter SOSage. That way I'll need a stopover :)
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby Logarhythm » Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:45 pm

Learning a new programming language might be the easier option, Will :lol:
A spring SW SoSage could be doable though ;)
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby BJG145 » Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:18 pm

I might be missing something here but...

...these are SATA drives...? You could pick up a SATA/USB adaptor for a fiver, try running a standard disk repair utility on any drives that aren't readable, and see if there's any sign of some DIY software that can handle the custom USB connection...?
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby Logarhythm » Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:35 pm

BJG145 wrote:I might be missing something here but...

...these are SATA drives...? You could pick up a SATA/USB adaptor for a fiver, try running a standard disk repair utility on any drives that aren't readable, and see if there's any sign of some DIY software that can handle the custom USB connection...?

I think they can only handle laptop HDs - not sure USB puts out enough juice for a full fat 3.5" desktop one. There are similar adapters that use an external power supply but they're an ugly mess of cables - had been thinking along similar lines and have an old 100GB external drive that I might repurpose as a caddy. Was only going to do the poking around though, as it hadn't actually occurred to me to run a disk repair utility on them at the same time :oops:
If you PM me your address I will genuinely send you Hobnobs as a token of my appreciation, as that may save me quite a bit of time and prevent me getting caught out by my own stupidity :thumbup:
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby billc2 » Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:18 pm

Could it be the case that the original design was serial and the usb/serial was retrofitted when serial ports disappeared from pc's ?
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby Logarhythm » Mon Mar 02, 2020 7:30 pm

billc2 wrote:Could it be the case that the original design was serial and the usb/serial was retrofitted when serial ports disappeared from pc's ?
It seems very plausible, particularly with design notes going back to the earlier half of the 80s - I think he had probably started on the 1st iteration before the MIDI spec had even been officially agreed, and the idea of USB was a very long way off.
A few hours/days in a room with him would go a long way right now!
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby Folderol » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:56 pm

I'd pretty much assumed it would be ordinary serial comms. I don't know about the Mac but there used to be a free very lightweight terminal emulator (vastly superior to microsfots offerings).

Now if he actually sent text that would be perfect, but it's possible he just sent bytes as text, so a terminal would show pretty strange characters. However, it would at least prove communication was taking place.
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Re: Exposing my organ in public...

Postby James Perrett » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:16 pm

With serial you also have to set the speed and the number of bits so, if you get this wrong, it will also look strange. I'd guess that if Will or I were there we'd get the serial side of things sorted out in a few minutes. I'd be looking for things like 9600, 8N1 in the notes (shorthand for 9600 bits per second, 8 data bits, no parity and one stop bit).

For DOS a program called Procomm was pretty much standard for looking at serial ports (though real diehards would probably use Kermit) while in Windows I always used Teraterm although there are plenty of other alternatives available.
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