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Author Topic: The 21st Century Box  (Read 34830 times)

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Chris Ryall

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The 21st Century Box
« on: September 14, 2011, 09:18:07 AM »

I've been waiting for the British entry level poll to end, but voting is no longer 'steady' and it's now a matter of waiting until polls close for Peter Snow to dust off his ol' swingometer. 

Having looked out some new kit in the past 7 years, I'm deeply impressed with some of the innovation going on. At Ch.Ars there were some intriguing novelties in Gurdy lutherie.  Here are melodeon/accordeon examples from my own experience

  • Gaillards humpback whale sized airhole, and thinned wood that vibrates with the low notes, aluminium panels inside
  • Oakwood's structural incorporation of plywood - strength without weight.
  • Van der Aa's amazing compactness (he grinds the plate edges down)

This is intended as a Blue Skies thread.  Ideas for structural redesign of the melodeon taking full  advantage of 21st Century materials.  I'd like to exclude 'midi' and keep to physical music making, but otherwise anything goes. Laminate box walls (titanium alloy even?), magnesium reed blocks as per motor-bike engines, carbon fibre bellows, superglued ceramic reeds. We could discuss different box shapes or 'ergonomic' keyboards.

We are after a light, perhaps compact multi voice box that plays like a nightingale, and might be amenable to scale manufacture. Despite what happened to poor M Loffet - bought in parts are allowed!  We'd like it a bit cheaper than the otherwise lovely walnut a cabinet maker luthier produces. Frans has shown us what can be done in deluxe finishes (car paint, apparently) - or we can use laminates if we want grain to show.

Please - I'd like this to be a 'reflective' rather than reactive thread, so do 'sleep on it' before you post. Makers, engineers and materials scientists particularly welcome!  :P
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rmenhinick

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2011, 10:33:24 AM »

Sorry if this is considered "reactive" but it seems a good point to mention the thread about Peter "Stormy" Hyde's Foam constructed boxes which certainly seem to fit the criteria which you have set - i.e. modern materials selected for their superior properties - in this case strength and lightness from boat-building foam sheet.   http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,7117.0.html

Boat building materials have a lot of promise - I used to compete in kayak and canoe slalom where advanced materials like carbon-fibre/epoxy-resin laminates are widely used to create complex hull shapes with great strength and rigidity while being incredibly lightweight. The basic melodeon "box" and keyboard cases could easily be formed using carbon laminate for a very light and strong chassis on which to mount the reeds and mechanisms. .

..Hmm an all carbon box would certainly look pretty cool!


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Christopher K.

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2011, 10:47:06 AM »

As a universal standard, single row German style accordions should all have stops that are down for on, or if it has to be the other way around, stops that don't fall when up. This is 19th century technology. I know, I know! Tradition trumps all, and stops on a single row  like the ports on a Buick. But a better idea is a turning knob that looks like a traditional stop and works a mechanism inside that moves the slider. For a more contemporary look, a single streamlined dial or switch working the same mechanism.

Hohner should offer swing and dry tuning options. Also options for octave reeds in Erica and Corso.

There was (still is?) a manufacturer of Styrian accordions that was building the casework from CFRP. With so many reeds, this seemed to me like a good idea to reduce weight. I guess the downside is the cost compared to plywood.

oggiesnr

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2011, 11:55:15 AM »

Point of clarification please. 

Are you looking for a box which will be cheap enough for most people at least to be able to think about buying or for a box at the top end of the market that we'll all go "wow" over but realistically never do more than drool over?

Steve
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Chris Ryall

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2011, 04:01:55 PM »

Are you looking for a box which will be cheap enough for most people at least to be able to think about buying or for a box at the top end of the market that we'll all go "wow" over but realistically never do more than drool over?  Steve

Most present stuff is on circa 1930's designs and materials have moved on.  So it could be 'a better/lighter/stronger/sweeter voicing quality box', or a way of making that quality affordable. Blue Sky thinking is in order. No immovable preconceptions.

Sorry if this is considered "reactive"

Not at all. In fact a styrofoam inner construction, with a few necessary struts and carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer shell is definitely worthy of consideration.  We might even save on the paint job. What'd you make your reed blocks from? 

Hydraulic coupling from buttons to the air valves anyone?
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Gary Chapin

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2011, 04:46:03 PM »

As a universal standard, single row German style accordions should all have stops that are down for on.
How would you operate them with your chin for THE BIG FINISH?
 :D
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Cooper

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2011, 04:50:31 PM »

As a universal standard, single row German style accordions should all have stops that are down for on.
How would you operate them with your chin for THE BIG FINISH?
 :D
teeth and a big mouth ;-
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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 04:51:12 PM »

How about a 'fly by wire' keyboards which will just open the pads without all the old lever mechanisms.
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oggiesnr

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2011, 06:46:33 PM »

I've been thinking about this and IMHO there are times when "leave well alone" comes to mind.

Whilst the technology and materials have changed little over the years they have the great advantage of being repairable (OK in some cases by a Theo etc) and "bodgeable" if needed.  As soon as you get into more esoteric materials then repairability becomes an issue.

As an example, my first car was a Triumph Toledo, old, solid and I could do all the basic maintenance and troubleshoot on it and even replace bits as required.  My current vehicle (a Ford Transit with engine management etc) I don't know where to start with, if it goes wrong it's the AA and then prbably a tow to a garaage as even their patrols can't repair most faults (or even find them if it's a chip in the EM that's faulty).

Steve
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Lester

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2011, 08:40:54 PM »

As an example, my first car was a Triumph Toledo, old, solid and I could do all the basic maintenance and troubleshoot on it and even replace bits as required.  My current vehicle (a Ford Transit with engine management etc) I don't know where to start with, if it goes wrong it's the AA and then probably a tow to a garage as even their patrols can't repair most faults (or even find them if it's a chip in the EM that's faulty).

Spot on Steve  ;D
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george garside

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2011, 10:16:47 PM »

I've been thinking about this and IMHO there are times when "leave well alone" comes to mind.

 As an example, my first car was a Triumph Toledo, old, solid and I could do all the basic maintenance and troubleshoot on it and even replace bits as required.   Steve

I  thought the toledo was relatively modern & certainly complicated  compared with the 2 cyl Jowett Bradford that I cut my motoring teeth on. The whole thing could be taken apart with a minimal toolkit and its reliability was so;mething in the region of 100%.  IN box terms rather like the good old pokerwork & erica which used to be very affordable & longlasting.  Surely the wit of 21st century man could be turned to  producing  pokerworks of pre war quality & bugger the high tech stuff!

george ;)
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Rob2Hook

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2011, 10:28:29 PM »

Trouble with cars is that nowadays they don't need much care.  I used to check everything weekly  - the other day I was embarrased to have the garage point out there was no oil in the sump...

Making a case for a melodeon should be easy with an alloy extrusion at the corners to slot in a foam/GRP composite or similar much the same way the plywood panels are fitted in an Oakwood.  Forget fly-by-wire, the old technology is probably the lightest.  Injection moulding of reedblocks seems attractive at first, except I doubt wax would stick to many of the suitable plastics, nor a facing material - requires more thought...

Rob.
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Peter_T

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2011, 11:03:36 PM »

Today saw  a report in BBC news of a trumpet made in wood - 120 parts, playable with expert care.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-14910831][url]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-14910831[/url]

Not suggesting wood from scratch, but how about 3D printing? Originally for prototyping, now for small runs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing
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Pete Dunk

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2011, 11:12:47 PM »

Injection moulding of reedblocks seems attractive at first, except I doubt wax would stick to many of the suitable plastics, nor a facing material - requires more thought...

Leather would probably do the job with a contact cement like Bostik or Evostick. Many plastics take screws quite well. I think there's a fair bit of mileage in injection moulding, it certainly shouldn't be rejected out of hand. Plastics would be stable regardless of humidity, an important factor for many players worldwide. Let's not get too obsessed with traditional materials being the best.

I'm a great fan of wood, it has a natural beauty that's hard to beat but good quality timber, quarter sawn and kiln dried is expensive, dense and heavy! If you want it pretty as well it just piles on the cost. Somewhere in the middle there is an ideal box. Well made, brilliant design, lightweight, stable construction, built to last a lifetime and beyond, made from re-cycled plastic bottles (Eek!)  ;D
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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2011, 11:14:15 PM »

I've been waiting for the British entry level poll to end, but voting is no longer 'steady' and it's now a matter of waiting until polls close for Peter Snow to dust off his ol' swingometer. 

Having looked out some new kit in the past 7 years, I'm deeply impressed with some of the innovation going on. At Ch.Ars there were some intriguing novelties in Gurdy lutherie.  Here are melodeon/accordeon examples from my own experience

  • Gaillards humpback whale sized airhole, and thinned wood that vibrates with the low notes, aluminium panels inside
  • Oakwood's structural incorporation of plywood - strength without weight.
  • Van der Aa's amazing compactness (he grinds the plate edges down)

This is intended as a Blue Skies thread.  Ideas for structural redesign of the melodeon taking full  advantage of 21st Century materials.  I'd like to exclude 'midi' and keep to physical music making, but otherwise anything goes. Laminate box walls (titanium alloy even?), magnesium reed blocks as per motor-bike engines, carbon fibre bellows, superglued ceramic reeds. We could discuss different box shapes or 'ergonomic' keyboards.

We are after a light, perhaps compact multi voice box that plays like a nightingale, and might be amenable to scale manufacture. Despite what happened to poor M Loffet - bought in parts are allowed!  We'd like it a bit cheaper than the otherwise lovely walnut a cabinet maker luthier produces. Frans has shown us what can be done in deluxe finishes (car paint, apparently) - or we can use laminates if we want grain to show.

Please - I'd like this to be a 'reflective' rather than reactive thread, so do 'sleep on it' before you post. Makers, engineers and materials scientists particularly welcome!  :P

When I was discussing my "21st century melodeon" ideas with Jerry Tozer, one of the ideas I had was to flat-mount all the reeds for a 2.5 row 2-reed box by CNC milling the reed chambers out of a solid block of ply -- in fact doing it out of aluminium would have been better but didn't suit the person planning to do the construction.

This would not only mean you could have individual ideally shaped (whatever that was) reed chambers with the minimum amount of free space, but would be light (since a lot of the material is milled away) and very rigid, and very fast to do once set up. The reeds (if on normal reed plates) could be held down direct to the aluminium with screws into tapped holes, with no problem with flatness or warpage and a very rigid coupling between the reed frame and the "reed block" -- no resonances like the ones we were talking about that need reed block straps.

Also the "reed block" could be made easily swappable like Stormy Hyde was talking about, for switching keys :-)
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Lester

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2011, 11:18:35 PM »

« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 11:20:14 PM by Lester »
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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2011, 11:22:07 PM »

Worth looking at for 21st century tools for traditional melodeons

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qAaNlVZHnw&feature=share

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1816239605545.2091037.1226742509

Indeed -- but I think his reed blocks are still a heap of bits of wood glued together. CNC milling from solid would mean every reed could have exactly the cavity size and shape it needed, whatever that turned out to be...
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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2011, 11:25:38 PM »

Just trying to think what might be durable, flexible and waterproof for the bellows. Recent high-tech sail-cloths suggest themselves. Don't know the fatigue specs on fold-reversals, though.
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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2011, 11:29:55 PM »

The reeds (if on normal reed plates) could be held down direct to the aluminium with screws into tapped holes

Therein lies a problem. Aluminium doesn't take a thread well and wears very quickly. Built in obsolescence guaranteed. For a long life box think again!
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Chris Ryall

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Re: The 21st Century Box
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2011, 07:54:19 AM »

My BMW bike had aluminium cylinders 25 years ago and the current blocks are made in magnesium.  I'd be willing to bet money that these are clever alloys  ::)  Yes, we'd torque the screws!  :Ph

I've had another 'sea change' idea overnight. At present we run a lever to a paddle covering 2 holes .. which then runs to completely separate blocks of reeds. This means 2 sets of resonance chambers.  If one is in 'low voice'  probably space wasted for the high voice companion.

How about smaller, lighter, faster single hole key/lever/valve mechanism? Then a single resonance chamber?  As we are CADing and milling the block we now have space to truly tune this space to resonate for the reed pair in question. There would be tone change and experiment required

We then mount all 4 reeds (this for 2 voice* box) on a single plate, fix and do any voice register switching on the other side. Any space available beyond the plate might also be considered for acoustic tuning.

Our plates would probably be different sizes in this concept. I guess reed makers would do a single larger size and we'd mill them to fit the grid at luthier stage.  VabderAa does this already, and also fixes his plates with a screw (I'm told) rather than wax.

It might even offer space for more than 21 keys - albeit a mere dust trap on a D/G  ;)

*3 voices make for fair expense if a reed should break!
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