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Thread: Sheet Music Computer for my Piano

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    woy...collokweee...weeble weeble blaaaat artoodeeto's Avatar
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    Default Sheet Music Computer for my Piano



    that's an old photo of the piano in question...I thought the "coming soon" on the TV above it was rather appropriate

    You may have seen my thread in the Idea Zone subforum; if you haven't, here's the plan. I have an ENORMOUS sheet music collection. I've printed about 40,000 pages of music on my faithful little Samsung ML2851ND laser printer, double-sided of course, and then bound them into books (the one on the piano in the photo above is one of my 3 Tchaikovsky books).

    I have every piece written for solo piano or keyboard by around 60 different composers ranging from the late 1600's to the late 1900's. And I've got piano pieces by another 50 or 60 composers where I'm still missing much of what they wrote, but I've got at least 1/3 to 1/2 of their output for my instrument. Overall it's about 15GB of pdf files...!!

    Ok...so it's a LOT. My current set of books weighs in at 300+ pounds - now only 1 shelf on one of bookcases in the photo above is empty. I don't really want to print any more music because of space and weight when it comes time to move again. And I have enough additional music to fill up probably another half a bookcase.

    Enter the computer idea. About 80% of my music, maybe 90%, is free public domain pdf files from imslp.org, my own trips to libraries, etc. The rest is in real published books, and I can either scan it or find much of it online in old editions that are public domain now. I will build a relatively low-end, no frills machine whose purpose in life is to display said pdfs, full-screen, showing 2 side by side pages at a time. I can also use it, via Soundforge, to record myself playing.

    The equipage? Glad you asked Overall I've only spent about $50 on it! Woo hoo!!

    First, nicer but older pre-TV and pre-bookcases shot of the piano:


    Pentium 4 system with 1GB PC-2100 RAM, onboard sound and video, and a 275W PSU. According to nevermind, who sold me the MB, RAM and PSU, I'll need to dismantle the PSU because its casing hits a heatsink and tends to short it. the blower on the CPU is pretty large, about 3" tall or so, and I'm thinking of getting a different HS/Fan. I *do* have an idea to do something with the one that's there...more on that if I can make the idea work. I realized I forgot to photograph the hard drive - it's an IDE 80GB Samsung I picked up in a trade with Sxrguy.







    I'll be using an extra Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse:


    Now for what'll make it unique. The major question that may have sprung to mind if you play an instrument is, how in the world will I turn pages?? It's all well and good to practice reaching for the page down key on the keyboard, but there's a high chance of missing it, and what does one do when there's a repeat to a prior page and one needs to use pageup?

    Solution! I bought two USB footpedals from an ebay seller in Hong Kong. I'll map one to pagedown and one to pageup. Then I can just tap the footpedal when I need to turn a page. I typically use my right foot on the damper pedal, but there's only a couple pieces I play where I use my left foot on the piano pedals too so most of the time it'll be fine.


    Lastly, I have an extra 21.5" Sceptre screen. It was my fiancee's screen, but she didn't like how it displayed reds....admittedly they are more of a neon orange...but hey, for BW music pages it'll work just fine. Physical dimensions of the displayed pages will be almost exactly 11" tall - smaller than standard published music books but the same size as my homemade ones. In the photo below, I left the base of the screen off. I've been keeping it in its box, and the base needs to be removed to fit it in there. The base is a MAJOR PITA to remove once it's clipped on.


    Next up...I need to come up with a case design. I'm thinking of something shaped like this gorgeous wooden case from nMedia:


    I lack the woodworking skills and equipment to do something like that, and I don't have $$ or space for that particular case. But I'm thinking I can maybe modify the design to fit my space, and make it out of plywood at least to start...we'll see. any advice in that area is appreciated!!
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  2. #2
    Fresh Paint
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    Default Re: Sheet Music Computer for my Piano

    cool Love to see where this is going

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    woy...collokweee...weeble weeble blaaaat artoodeeto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sheet Music Computer for my Piano

    yeah - it's gonna be pretty low budget as I'm out of a job ATM...but I want to make it as cool as possible. And I have extra bits left over from old projects that I'd like to use. For instance, I have a piece of acrylic that's about 1 square foot that'd make a good window, and some leftover thin foam rubber that'd be good to glue on the underside of the case to prevent it scratching anything.

    I've come up with a few design possibilities -

    1. Remove the screen from its plastic housing, and do a poor man's imac sort of thing - screen and computer as one unit. Screen would need to be tilted back at about the same angle as a normal music stand. I'd make a frame around the screen that would look like the music stand, but be bigger to accomodate the screen.

    2. more or less same as above, but don't integrate the screen into the case.

    3. Similar case as the nMedia one, but smaller - the nMedia can fit a full size ATX board, while mine is a mAtX form factor. I probably wouldn't do the metal panel on the front either - no budget for that sort of thing. Depending on how it turns out, and on how big it is, it would either go next to the monitor on piano, or on the floor, or behind the monitor.

    One other thought - if anyone on this forum DOES have the woodworking skills to make a case similar to that nMedia one, let me know how much you'd charge to make the parts for me assuming I came up with the design/measurements. It may not be realistic since I'm trying to do this on the cheap, but it's at least worth asking
    Quote Originally Posted by ElevateThis View Post
    I'd mod my dog if i could.
    Quote Originally Posted by AmEv View Post
    (Steam me.... that sounds bad >_<)

  4. #4
    Why must hard drives fail together? TheMainMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sheet Music Computer for my Piano

    If you decide to go the second route the VESA mounting holes in the back of the monitor would be a way of integrating the case and monitor together quite cleanly. I know they make mini-pc cases that mount that way but it should be pretty easy to make your own.
    An example would be this one from VIA. Just my two cents.
    TheMainMan

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    woy...collokweee...weeble weeble blaaaat artoodeeto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sheet Music Computer for my Piano

    Ya, I'd thought of doing something like that. (TBH, I wish I had the cash for one of those VIA's - I'd much rather do something like that). Mainly the reason I began ruling it out is that if I integrate, then I want to be able to still put normal piano books up, which means needing a front framing that can double as a music stand. If it's just the monitor there with the PC bolted on the back, that may not work out as well. I'm keeping it in mind though
    Quote Originally Posted by ElevateThis View Post
    I'd mod my dog if i could.
    Quote Originally Posted by AmEv View Post
    (Steam me.... that sounds bad >_<)

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    woy...collokweee...weeble weeble blaaaat artoodeeto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sheet Music Computer for my Piano

    I've spent the morning fiddling with different arrangements in sketchup - I spent next to no time modeling as that wasn't important.

    It took a few hours of moving things around, but I think I got it to the most compact arrangement possible. It's only about 8.5" deep, even including the screen. The case by itself at the base is only 6.5" deep, and at the top it's about 3.5" deep. Height is 9 5/8" and width is 13.75". The screen is also angled back like a music stand, although it'll be standing a little straighter than the music stand currently on my piano (I didn't want to make the base that much deeper).

    The HD will look a little funny hanging from the top but hey, it doesn't fit well anywhere else.

    Oddly enough, I tried a normal ATX PSU in the model instead of the weird one from the old HP system, and the normal ATX PSU was even harder to accomodate without making the case bigger.
    I also plan on hinging the wall the monitor is mounted on so I can open up the case easily to get at the computer, and also easily get at the screws that will hold the standless monitor on the case.

    The power cord will stick out the right side as will the monitor power cord; I'm hoping to fully contain the VGA cable in the case. I'll have holes drilled in the right side or back of the case so I can run USB cables into it.

    Lastly, on the left there's a 120mm fan, and on the right 2 80mm fans. These fall into the "using up old otherwise useless stuff" category

    Incidentally, while the screen's about 3" thick in the middle it's only about 1.5" or so thick at the edges; I just didn't feel like making a more accurate model of it when it served no purpose.



    Quote Originally Posted by ElevateThis View Post
    I'd mod my dog if i could.
    Quote Originally Posted by AmEv View Post
    (Steam me.... that sounds bad >_<)

  7. #7
    Measure once, curse twice nevermind1534's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sheet Music Computer for my Piano

    You can try running the power supply fully assembled first. If it's one of the bad older revision ones, the computer will likely power off within a few minutes. If it's the newer revision with plastic insulating the heatsink with current in it from the casing, it will be fine. It will run cooler, though, with some of the casing pulled off and fans blowing onto it.
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    woy...collokweee...weeble weeble blaaaat artoodeeto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sheet Music Computer for my Piano

    Yeah I've already pulled off the top of the PSU case (it'll be staying off), and won't be using the fan it came with. It does appear that it was one of the newer ones, as there are several plastic sheets in there (including one stuck on the inside of the removeable top).
    I'm wondering too how much of the PSU problem was lack of airflow - it's a terrible design, and the one I've got is super dusty. Cleaning is now added to today's agenda
    Quote Originally Posted by ElevateThis View Post
    I'd mod my dog if i could.
    Quote Originally Posted by AmEv View Post
    (Steam me.... that sounds bad >_<)

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    Will YOU be ready when the zombies rise? x88x's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sheet Music Computer for my Piano

    Quote Originally Posted by artoodeeto View Post
    I lack the woodworking skills and equipment to do something like that
    Bah! That's defeatist talk!

    Though, I will admit, doing woodwork properly in an apartment is difficult. If you decide not to try it yourself and can't find anyone else closer, I'd be willing to fab that for a reasonable fee. I might even be able to source the wood for free...just break down some of the drawerless dressers in my shed and hit them with a sander.
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    woy...collokweee...weeble weeble blaaaat artoodeeto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sheet Music Computer for my Piano

    I may take you up on that - I just fabbed the parts myself today, but they're not going to look uber fantastic. On the other hand, it'll probably be ok since the case will hidden behind the screen.

    I should probably rephrase what I said before about not having woodworking skills - it's more lack of tools I think. I really only have a jigsaw and power sander. No fence or straightedge, which is the biggest problem. Still, the parts I made today are fitting pretty well so we'll see how it turns out...
    Quote Originally Posted by ElevateThis View Post
    I'd mod my dog if i could.
    Quote Originally Posted by AmEv View Post
    (Steam me.... that sounds bad >_<)

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