Pipe organs are impressive displays of math and engineering, but they may not necessarily catch many people’s eye in the modern world of computers and flashing lights. However, if you computerize a pipe organ, like Wendell Kapustiak did you’ll surely draw a crowd much like he did at Maker Faire Orlando.
Wendell didn’t start off with the intention of building a pipe organ. He started with a device that would take a MIDI signal and strike wine glasses to make music. After getting a single octave built and working, he found that keeping the wine glasses in tune was quite difficult. At some point, he discovered Raffi Giangiulio’s specifications for building organ pipes and decided to put his wood working skills to use. After a building a couple pipes an finding the results to be pleasant, he decided to change his idea from wine glasses to a pipe organ. You can imagine that simply hooking up a basic blower would be less than optimal due to how loud they can be. Wendell found plans designed by Matthias Wandel for a nice quiet “wind chest” that lets you output the correct pressure of air with little extra noise.
His MIDI control system, which uses a raspberry pi for the user interface and an Arduino to control all of the solenoids was easy to transplant to the new idea. After combining all of these projects together, you get what you see in the video; a MIDI controlled pipe organ.