Ultimate practice room

Convert the X stand included with most keyboards into a table stand with isolation from the floor.

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There's simply not enough room to have a seated position at a keyboard, in an apartment under $10,000. Long wanted to go back to the standing position of adolescence, but cheap X stands don't go high enough for an adult lion.

After years of hitting walls, ideas have emerged which finally might allow it for an acceptable price. The other requirement is padding under the keyboard, to silence it for morbidly obese, bitchy downstairs neighbors. It's just a shame to throw away the X stand & spend over $60 on a new stand for something that might rarely ever be used.

Long wanted to do it.  After years of hitting walls, ideas have emerged which finally might allow it for an acceptable price.  The other requirement is padding under the keyboard, to silence it for morbidly obese, bitchy downstairs neighbors.  It's just a shame to throw away the X stand & spend over $60 on a new stand for something that might rarely ever be used.  The greatest keyboard stand ever made is the mighty $240 deal from Elton John's "I don't wanna go on with you like that"

It was more like a keyboard throne than a stand.  A similar design is still sold today but the original chrome fittings from 1988 are long gone.

It looked so robust & good on camera, but it's financially unattainable.  There's no way to make the X stand look like it, either.   

The keyboard itself is the mighty $1000 Yamaha CP33.  Lions put a lot of effort into cleaning it & enhancing the sound quality.  In the decade since it was acquired, every great classical composition recorded by every great musician landed on the goo tubes.  The thrill of manually making music by simulating an acoustic instrument was lost.  Its mane redeeming factors are rarely, there's a piece which has never been recorded, it's still easier to manually make music than get a computer to do it & every scene of Physics Hottie at home shows her keyboard on an X stand.

If lions can outdo that, in the time before she gets married & Studly McStudmuffin buys her a Steinway, it would be an achievement.

Of course, goo tube is an ocean of hotties who never age past 30 & the real world is an ocean of middle aged men who still imitate the eternal adolescence they see on goo tube.  The other problem is a stand for music or a laptop.  The $50 item from Yamaha won't hold a laptop & now costs $60.  

  • Monitor dreams

    lion mclionhead05/04/2021 at 07:21 0 comments

    The arrival of cheap, portable 15" 1920x1080 monitors

    got lions revisiting the idea of a digital 2 page music display (, For so many years, the choice in music displays has either been extremely small 7" tablets, extremely expensive 12" tablets, or massive TV's requiring a floor stand.

    Reading music on a 12" ipad has proven difficult, over the years. It has to be cropped to be legible & turning a single page at a time is very slow.

    $150 now buys what is basically a 15" tablet with lower resolution. Music would only be able to use a 1080x1562 window because of the aspect ratio. The densest music lions have worked on in recent times still seems pretty legible at 1080x1562.
    You can get slightly over 1080 horizontal pixels by turning on individual RGB channels, you can stretch it to use all 1920 vertical pixels, & you can crop it. The stretched, uncropped version might actually be easier to read than 1080x1562.

    Even a single 15" monitor would be an improvement, but lions really want the childhood memory of seeing 2 full pages of music at a time, without actually storing thousands of square ft of paper. Most of the paper music could be scanned in, saving millions of dollars in square footage. Indeed, the cost of storing paper music is the mane justification for a $300 monitor system. The mane concern is how heavy 2 portable monitors would be.

    1080x1562 version:

    Stretched 1080x1920 version:

    The remaneing needs would be a keyboard & touch pad for annotating.

    $300 is still a lot of money for a lion.  Even a $200 stand was too much.  The stand is still an open ended problem so it's more like a $500 wishlist.  Using 2 pedals while standing is hard.

  • Lighting methods

    lion mclionhead11/06/2020 at 20:34 0 comments

    There was once a ring light which didn't work.  It would have to be aimed separately from the camera because of the wide angle lens.  This was deemed impractical.

    Then came a return of the light panel in carbon fiber form.  This would allow more sideways direction.

    Manely back to the way it was, but slightly easier on the eyes to have them on the sides.  The heat sinks for the voltage regulators form horizontal supports.

  • Outboard front panel, standing up

    lion mclionhead04/05/2020 at 19:55 0 comments

    The ideal place for the music is right on top of the front panel, 

    but this makes it very hard to access the front panel for using the metronome or changing instruments.  Lions never change instruments, but need the metronome.  1 idea was to cut some holes to make the music stand easy to flip up.  This would expose the metronome, but not the whole panel.  Everything but the metronome can be controlled through USB.

    After cutting a hole for the metronome, there was still the problem of moving the music out of the way to access the metronome, but it was bearable.  It still doesn't have persistent settings, on the CP33.  The whole matter is pointing to a breakout board with another 7 segment display & set of buttons.

    Another problem lions have encountered is using 2 pedals while standing up.  This has never been perfected.  There might be a degradation in tone quality from not using the left pedal.  The CP33 doesn't have a real una corda sound, but it does increase the dynamic range.

    Watching David Foster playing his late model Yamaha CF-III in his $600 office chair reminded lions of what a seated position could be.  Lowering the keyboard would require buying a commercial stand.

  • The lighting panel

    lion mclionhead07/05/2019 at 21:54 0 comments

    The new panel used 10 x 8W LED lightbulbs converted to 21V.  The current ones use 10.5V per LED chip.  The lion kingdom continues looking for easier sources of LED chips, but converting lightbulbs remanes the cheapest method.

    It's a shame to put 10 x 8W LED lightbulbs in a panel that only uses 15W.  They have to run well below rated power because of the loss of the heat sinks & the loss of 1 LED per light.  Leaving them in the original lightbulbs would require a much more massive panel with manes voltage & expensive edison sockets.  Adding heat sinks to replace the lightbulbs would also make it heavy.  The only advantage to a 15W panel instead of 2 lightbulbs is the wider lighting area.

    A 10 x 8W panel with the original lightbulbs would cost $70 but put out the equivalent of 600W.  The highest lions ever had in the same area was a 200W equivalent lightbulb.

    The meager light panel emerging from this conversion still gives impressive results.

    A 60W CFL of past videos had to be farther away to reduce glare, was less directional & created more shadows.  

    The lion was blinded by bare LEDs, so a diffuser was installed.

  • Camera placement for piano recordings

    lion mclionhead06/30/2019 at 08:10 0 comments

    The lion kingdom has used the traditional narrow depth of field DSLRs like on Guutube, telephoto lenses, normal lenses, cheap camcorders, & action cams.  The best cameras for piano recordings have been fisheye action cams.  Even better are dual action cams for hiding each edit.  

    This shot of Josh Wright showed the power of a wide angle lens.  There's a lot more going on than in the traditional telephoto shot.

    The first action cam shot lions ever saw in a piano recording was this shot of Denis Matsuev.  They didn't defish it.

    The standing position was challenging because the tripods don't go high enough to get eye level shots.  The gopros needed some custom extensions.  Only then, it became clear that the best position was close to the keyboard, negating the tripod extensions. 

    The best format is 4k 16:9.  Then defish in software.  The keyboard should be diagonal.  The defishing process widens the keyboard, making the paw movements bigger.  

    Lighting is still unsolved.  It might require investing in proper LED panels instead of the CFLs of the last 10 years.

    The gopro 4 was useless for landscape photos because it's front focused.  It's better for closeups like this.

    The gopro 7 has a wider depth of field.

  • Another height adjustment, another hour.

    lion mclionhead05/27/2019 at 00:27 0 comments

    After finally settling on an increase of 3/4", the 8 holes were drilled.

    That's as tall as it can go without a major investment in a new stand.  The stand height was now 35"  + 2.25" of spring height. 

    Also visible is the latest in music stand technology, 4 magnets non destructively bolting down a sheet of cardboard.  The panel is inaccessible.  Former attempts to make a stand with duct tape left adhesive everywhere.  It was finally removed with much acetone & erosion of the plastic parts.  Another iteration would involve a hinge mechanism to access the panel.

    After a few months, this height proved acceptable.  It made the sound less harsh.

  • Music monitor ideas

    lion mclionhead12/22/2018 at 22:15 0 comments

    The 10 year old 30" monitor would be as good a music stand as a new 4k monitor.  Bolting such a heavy monitor on the keyboard is made impossible by the use of springs to dampen it out & the top heavy standing keyboard stand.  The lion kingdom has nearly settled on the top heavy, standing keyboard stand.  All LCD's are still made of solid glass.  Even dual ipads would unbalance it.

    The largest light weight display is the $700 13" diagonal Sony DPT-RP1.  Far cheaper than an ipad, but useless for any games.  It's only use is reading PDF's.

    Instead of a higher resolution display, there's also simplifying the music for a lower resolution display.  

    320x100 was once plenty of resolution for a line of music.  Forget about cut & paste.  The lion kingdom actually did painstakingly copy a short Dan Coates arrangement to Music Construction Set.   With today's knowledge, it would have been faster just to write a better program. The C64's graphics features would have had an easy time supporting this kind of program.

    Being able to notate music is a big wish for the music screen.  Rather than combining a drag & drop interface & MIDI, it would almost be easier to use a keyboard & MIDI.  Modern touch screens are more like keyboards than mouse interfaces.

  • Music stand

    lion mclionhead12/08/2018 at 08:18 0 comments

    Anyone serious about music nowadays wouldn't bother with paper.  A full computer monitor is a lot more economical than an ipad & easier to read.  There's a 4k monitor for $180.

    Just whack a raspberry pi on it.  The minimum resolution for a page of music is around 1600 vertical.  There are many used monitors in the 1600 pixel range for $50, or the 1920 pixel range for $60.  Stand one on its side & the deed is done.  

    There are 2 surviving 15" laptops from years ago.  A 17" one which contained one of the very 1st 64 bit opterons is gone. If the electronics are rearranged, they might become displays.

    Reading a single page at a time is not ideal, but the lion kingdom has gotten by with an ipad.  There will always be the memory of viewing 4 printed pages at a time.

    The trick is a stand for it.  Even better would be a music notation program for it & a way to draw annotations.

  • The recordings

    lion mclionhead07/05/2018 at 23:11 0 comments

    The stand was 1/2" too low, but as suspected, it was real hard to adjust.  Ended up just living with it being too low.  There's either drilling new holes or putting wood spacers on top of the springs, which of course, would change the spring behavior.  Pedaling is real hard, when standing.  Even damper pedaling alone is not as precise.  You have to practice more with pedal.   

  • Music stand for an electric piano

    lion mclionhead06/04/2018 at 21:13 0 comments

    Momentarily used a cardboard box for the laptop.  It was a pain to set up, but worked.  The only use was capturing MIDI in Finale, which was a painful program to use on a Mac.

    Stand bolted to piano:  What lions used before.  Too small for the laptop.  Holds 4 printed pages at a time, or a tablet.  The time required to develop a laptop stand could be used to write a better MIDI capture program for the tablet.  No existing program works.  

    Ultimate stand: a 32" x 16" digital display bolted to the piano.  

    This guy won the internet.

    Looks the best on camera.  A TV would need a steel floor stand.  Floor stands need a lot of space.  E-ink costs more than a stand made out of money.  Portable projectors stop at 1280x720 & cost a lot.

    Head mounted displays are another idea, but are the flying cars of generation millenial.  

    The lion kingdom has a donated ipad pro, but as popular as they are, they just show 1 page at a time & have a limited lifespan before they have to be replaced.  

    The current project being what it is, the solution was cardboard stuck with magnets & forgetting about anything electronic.

    A much better one could be made, while still relying on magnets.

    It's a bit of a downer to do something as manual as playing music in a time when the BFR is under construction. On the other paw, running instead of driving is a very manual from of transportation, but lions still do it.

    Running for lions is a bit more mechanized, where the machine enhances the capability. The electric piano only degrades the manual process, so it's like a cave lion way of doing a century old method.

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Starhawk wrote 08/09/2020 at 02:13 point

Pardon commentary from a mental metalworker ("I'm not a machinist, but I play one in my mind!" ;) lol) -- but that Elton John stand doesn't look too hard to build if you know someone who can weld and has a way to cut iron/etc pipes. Someone who works, oddly enough, in the hot rodding business would be an ideal contact, believe it or not.

Start with the stand you linked to, if possible -- there's one or two on eBay still; maybe others have one to sell (check eg Craigslist) -- or hope your pal has a tube-bender and experience with rectangular tube (aka box tube, altho IIRC that can be square *or* rectangular... they're not too different tho) as well as with powder coating and stencil painting.

If starting with the existing stand, all that needs making are the chrome parts. The bottom square "U" is mostly chrome tubing. Use steel tube (plumbing pipe if you have to, but it won't be quite as nice -- NOT electrical conduit, tho, that's galvanized and welding it gives you zinc fume fever nastiness -- go look it up!) and chrome it after welding. The feet look to be chrome balls at the back (audience side lol) and maybe casters up front (Elton John side)...? Kinda hard to tell from the posted screenshots. But that stuff can be had fairly easily at a hardware store... probably. The two verticals are just rods -- drill the tube/pipe, stick the rods in, weld, chrome.

If having to fabricate the whole thing... the upper part is one long piece of tube, bent at the corners (estimate radius, fill tube with sand or salt, bend around something using long-handled Vise-Grip pliers (they make em -- 15in long usually) extended a few feet (literally) with a bit of black iron pipe, if your pal doesn't 't have a proper bender), and the center vertical is a bit of rectangular tube cut and welded in at what appears to be a 30ish degree angle from vertical.

BTW, do lions use Hackaday's PM/Chat system? Sent one a very long time ago, never got an answer -- about to resend because hey why not.

EDIT: sent it :)

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