The band has an old but usable computer with Abel installed on it, donated by Ed Donnen and the Washington Ringing Society, and a set of four muffles that fit the light four (1234). This summer the band voted to buy a sensor setup, which arrived from England a few weeks ago. Now it’s time to get everything set up. Thomas started on this in earnest this week.
The computer · The computer is an old Dell Inspiration laptop, disabled by Ed Donnen so that it won’t do anything but run ringing software and has no attractive pieces for anyone to steal. It sat in the bell tower unnoticed for several years. When I first started it up it failed to boot due to some internal power storage having run down. Ed said: either press F1 when it offers that choice and see if it works, or leave it plugged in for a few hours to charge everything back up. That worked. I’ve left it plugged in and on since, to make sure no further problems arise.
Something to set the computer on · Computers don’t thrive or survive on the floor or stuffed in a corner, plus to use the simulator someone has to give commands to it. My wife and I had an IKEA kitchen cart and not enough space to move everything to Virginia, so we donated it to the tower as a computer stand. It’s the right size for the space and has enough area for the computer, some speakers, and the odds and ends of the sensor wiring.
The sensor setup · It consists of these components:
- (8x) A reflector for each bell wheel, to give the optical sensor something to sense.
- (8x) An optical sensor for each bell. The sensor has a bright LED whose light the reflector can bounce back to the sensor’s receiver.
- (8x) A cable from each optical sensor to the next piece.
- The Multi-Bell Interface or MBI, a box with eight jacks for the cables from the optical sensor and one jack for the main cable down to the computer. The MBI multiplexes the sensor outputs onto one signal line, and probably does various other useful electronic tasks we need know nothing about.
- The main cable from the MBI to the computer. It carries the multiplexed sensor signals down, and also carries power up to run the MBI and sensors.
- The small power supply for the MBI and sensors.
Someone had ordered a one-bell setup some years ago and the parts were still lying about the tower. We shipped those back to David Bagley, who makes the sensor setups, for a discount on the price of our setup. Everything arrived at the tower in July, where it waited until I had time to install it.
Bell silencers or muffles · My original plan was to construct a frame for each bell that fits in its mouth and around its clapper, preventing the clapper from swinging and thus the bell from sounding. But moving troubles got in the way, and I never had time to make them. The backup plan is to use the four muffles Ed Donnen made for the tower some years back. These are sections of motorcycle tire that fit over a clapper. Each has two flaps cut in it to let the clapper through and hold the muffle in place on the clapper. If the tower finds it needs to run the simulation with more than four ringers, perhaps Ed will make more muffles for them.