Celebration: A 122-Pipe Handmade Organ

Celebration: A 122-Pipe Handmade Organ

celebration organ

New York-based electronics engineer Michael Falco set out on a unique mission four years ago: to scratch-build a carousel band organ based on a Wurlitzer 105 Military Band Organ, circa 1919. He based his build on a 1978 spiral-bound publication titled, “Wurlitzer Building Plans and Voicing Tips, Model 104/105,” authored and self-published by R. M. Stanoszek. He also utilized the knowledge of the online band organ community to inform his build. Michael will be showing his organ, named “Celebration,” at our annual World Maker Faire New York, taking place on September 21 and 22 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens.

organ start

In his own words:

My goal was to construct a band organ that looked and sounded like an original. While I achieved those goals, I nevertheless incorporated modern technologies where it could be done discreetly. The instrument has 122 pipes divided into 9 ranks, constructed of wood and brass, that speak via moving pressurized air. They include: 18 piccolo, 18 flageolet, 16 trumpet, 12 cello, 18 violin, 5 bass cello, 18 melody flute, 12 accompaniment flute, and 5 bass bourdon. The pipes are variously of types: cross-blown flute, open flute, stopped flute, open Frein Harmonique, brass resonator. It also has a bass drum, snare drum, and cymbal. Dimensions are 6’W x 2.25’D x 5’H, weight 340lbs, and is operated, moved about, and displayed in a factory-customized 6′ x 10′ Haulmark trailer. For the electronics, I am using 3 microcontrollers: Arduino Uno, Arduino Mega, Atmel-based Midio128 card, driving 132 pallet magnets. The player/controller is a custom Android app running on a Google Nexus 7 Tablet. Control is wireless using Bluetooth serial communication. All firmware, software, and the custom app were written by myself.

Here is the front detail:
celebration closeup

celebration back

celebration side
celebration side2

In its factory-customized Haulmark trailer:
celebration transport

Celebration playing Zwei rote Rosen, ein zarter Kuß:

YouTube player

6 thoughts on “Celebration: A 122-Pipe Handmade Organ

  1. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  2. ka1axy says:

    That is quite the project, and it sounds great, too. How does he get the music into the controller? Is there a standard format for these carousel organs, like player piano rolls or something?

    Next project: a carousel built around the organ?

  3. Andrew Terranova says:

    What a great project. I can’t wait to see and hear it at Maker Faire!

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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