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Nov 20, 2007


Johannes K. Drinda

Interesting, you mentioned the "cost of making plastic parts is coming down drastically". Do you mean the 3D printing costs? About four months ago, I addressed several 3D printer services on eBay and they still quoted about 10$US for each Yamaha Tyros replacement key. I mean 600+ dollars isn't exactly cheap. I would say 200 dollars for the whole Kbd would be cheap.

Johannes K. Drinda

Hi Ken & Jim, I wished I could do it now, but I plan to move back to tropical Australia soon and so, I will have to leave it all for later. Yet, that kind of adapter I had long time in mind. To cover all mainstream Kbs sizes, it would only require two or three variations. The most impressive thing with it is its reduced cost factor!! I always warned you to stay away from costly Synths manufacturing and to leave it to Roland, Yamaha... The simplest and best Janko adaptation idea is what we want.

Ken Rushton

Hi jjj,
Your design looks feasible, and if i was not busy learning to play my jammer, i would be pursuing it. The cost of making plastic parts is coming down drastically.

Johannes K. Drinda

Since I like the idea of an "Janko Adapter", I gave it a bit more thought, here:

Johannes K. Drinda

Here is a drawing of an adjustable Janko adapter, which could just be placed over any existing zebra piano Kbd of any key size and width:

It shouldn't be too costly to build and thus, sell at a modest price. The hardest part is its development and from then on it would only be a mater of assembling it.

Johannes K. Drinda

All in all the idea of creating a Janko adapter is far superior, less complicated and more affordable, than trying to sell a Janko Synth or Janko MIDI controllers.

As shown in the picture, this adapter basically consists of laterally adjustible, (underneath) felt-cushioned metal levers, which form a platform onto which the epoxy-glued Janko support wood blocks and key tops are mounted. That's all there is to!

This requires some fine mechanics know-how, because:
1) ...these levers need to be mounted in a way, as to be easily, laterally adjustable.

2) ...have to have tight horizontal fit/stop, which keeps them in firm contact with the zebra keys.

Yet as you see, this type of investment is more profitable, because it will costs you less to produce and it's easier to sell. Think about it. I can join you in this project, by doing some test to overcome the above mentioned two technical challenges.

Johannes K. Drinda

I still believe that if someone develops an adjustable Janko adapter, which can be placed over any zebra piano Kbd, many people would want to love to have the chance to try this option. The thing is... it can be done/ made and I'm pondering about it for quite some time now.

Ken Rushton

Thanks for the feedback Jonathan.

a couple or three remarks.
1. After trying to learn the jammer for three years, and gradually succeeding, I can tell you that in my humble experience, it is indeed a different instrument.
2. I experimented with non-velocity sensitive keyboards. Because we are used to velocity sensitive ones, they sounded quite dead, like playing an organ when you hadn't learned to use the other controls to make the organ sound interesting.
3. I have nothing patented, and the patents have all expired. I'll happily advise anyone that wants to build an alternative instrument.

Have fun.

Jonathan Hart

Okay, I've been reading up on isomorphic keyboards recently, and I just want to share a few thoughts that I keep having as I follow the development of various new products. This isn't specifically directed at the above post.

1. Stop trying to sell it as "an entirely new instrument." It's a midi controller. Who uses midi controllers? Keyboardists - many of whom have taken no piano lessons at all, and would have little to no trouble adapting to a new layout. They also tend to have a lot of gear crammed onto a table, with even a 49-key keyboard taking up the most space. Anything smaller than that, in the same price range, would be hard to pass up.

2. It does not need to be velocity-sensitive. The vast majority of organs and synthesizers made in the last fifty years are not velocity-sensitive, and the people who would really want that feature are already proficient on a traditional keyboard. Most electronic musicians would probably rather have aftertouch instead of velocity, but again, you don't need either on an entry-level instrument.

3. It doesn't have to use moving parts. There are a lot of touch-pad midi controllers available, and they sell well because they're cheap enough to buy even if you don't know how or if you're even going to use it. I could definitely see the contact/pressure-sensitive touch-pads that are used on the Music Easel and other Buchla synthesizers being better suited to an isomorphic layout than a traditional keyboard.

So, now that there are five or six distinct isomorphic layouts vying for attention - Wicki-Hayden, Harmonic Table, Janko, whatever the Terpstra uses, whatever the Chromatone uses, and probably something else that I just haven't stumbled across yet - I don't think it will be long before one actually catches on and is widely used by electronic musicians. Which one it will be will probably just come down to what is readily available to the average hobbyist. I personally hope it's the Harmonic Table layout that succeeds. The "Thummer" had a good shot at the mainstream, but in hindsight it looks like the creator spent far too much time and money trying to integrate motion sensors and a hand-held housing, taking it from what could have been a great-selling table-top midi controller, to an overly-complicated gizmo that is held much like a saxophone or concertina - neither of which is particularly appealing to keyboard players. The symmetrical layout seems like a brilliant idea, and could be applied to any of the above. Oh, and most of these layouts are currently patented, but anyone with a little DIY ability can build one. Hell, anyone that knows someone with half-decent 3D modeling skills could make all of the parts for a really nice one on a 3D printing site like Shapeways. And if any of these entrepreneurs were to go the Elon Musk route and give their patents to the public domain, there might suddenly be a market for these novelties.


How is this little description? Let me know where it's not clear.
As shown on my home page, I'm in the throes of creating a conversion kit.
Approximate cost? the prices are firming up, I think.

Keys only - under $200 (you have to buy an $300 M-Audio keyboard).
Keys plus pre-cut case & parts about $120 more
A completely assembled, rebuild M-Audio keyboard. : $750



[this is good]

Interested in making one -- canyou help with "Jammer for Dummies" instructions?

Many thanks.


[this is good] Thank you Jim. I'm pleased at the rising level of interest.
These "homemade" jammers should quickly become:

-  more practical (this one is good enough to take on the road in terms of ruggedness and reliability - the M-Audio components are really solid),
-  effective (the colour scheme seemed gaudy at first but now I've found it is nearly critical to speedy learning)
- easier to make, as the economies of scale kick in.
I visualize this steps as very solidly reducing the risks you will face, as you will get a more refined design to kick off from.

Jim Plamondon

[this is good] Way cool!

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