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Messages - valentenet

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Hello Mitch. I hope it´s not too late to try to help you.

I also have many DIY projects and I can try to exchange some of my experiences.

They are very superficial suggestions, more conceptual to you start your project. You should use these informations and after try some modifications and empirical tests for improovements.
The pianet it´s a nice option to start what you are looking for. I recommend in special the Pianet T to use as a reference. This pianet have a very simple design, mechanical parts and also the electronic circuit.

For you project I recommend you use Accordion Steel Reeds. They are vey easy to find and are very cheap. They are thinner than wurlitzer reeds that is better to get the sound using pads. To get the notes start testing differents sizes and putting some load with a soldering iron and tin, and removing the excess with a file, exactly as they do to wurlitzer reeds.

You can make your pads using a soft silicon rubber, the same used to make silicon molds. Look for "DIY pianet sticky pads" on the web.

The pickups are very simple to do. You need to make a bobbin using plastic caps, a "iron" pin for the pole piece (the same as used for the metal structure in buldings constructions, something around 3 or 4 millimiter of diameter), a piece of magnet (neodymium disc) , some bond glue and copper wire (the same for guitars, something between AWG 36 to 39).
Make the bobbin set - glue the caps in to the iron pin.
Use a electric screwdriver or a drilling machine to roll the cooper wire in the bobbin. I believe that something around 1500-2000 turns may be ok. If you cannot count the rolls, you can try checking the final resistance using a multimeter device, somenthing around 100-200 ohms should be okay.
Fix the magnet piece behind the pickup. You can use a bond glue just to the magnet stay in place.
Use a aluminiun strip to fasten the pickup on place. You can use some stick tape. Tie it well. Bend the strip to find better harmonic positions, closing it to the reed and moving up and down, exactly as they do in Rhodes piano.

Note that the Pianets T has very low impedance pickups, doesn´t have magnets, and the circuit needs a transformer do correct the output impedance. Making pickups with magnets bring you to a more interesting results.

You can use a steel bar to fix the reeds. Cannot be very light otherwise the reeds don´t get proper oscillation. Try to use something with the section around 1 x 1/2 inch. You can try differents metals, copper and brass are easier to work and make the screws. Aluminiun too but probally you will need a thicker bar.
To fix the reeds on the bar, make the holes on the bar and use a thread forming tool, preparing it to receive the bolts. As the reeds holes are too small, I recommend you use a thin bolt, some around 2.8 to 3mm, or a M3 screw and thread forming tool. Use a ALLEN SOCKET CAP or a HEX machine STEEL bolt, need to be a nice and hard steel.
You will need a spacer sleeve, as the Pianet also have. It´s important to settle and accomodate the reed and garantee that it will sound properly. I recommend use a screw nut, with a measure little bit bigger than the bolt, example a M4 nut. Use a nylon insert lock nut upsidedown, they have a special design shape that improove the clamping torque.

I attached some pictures to illustraste the ideas for you.

I hope it help you. God luck.

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