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Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 3:06 PM

I work with a group of kids and music is a big part of what we do one child in our group has always wanted to play the recorder with the other kids but he has a birth defect and has trouble blowing through the mouth piece he can however suck air in I have tried to think of ways to reverse the playing so he could breath in to play instead of out after ruining quite a few recorders I am officially stumped any suggestions would be greatly appreciated thank you I'm advance.

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#1

Re: Need engineering help please read should be simple!?!

02/06/2017 3:36 PM

I'm a musician, not an engineer. I'm not sure you're going to get anywhere with just a recorder...the labium (slot closest to your face) is beveled toward the end of the instrument, so I don't think it's designed to be played backwards, so to speak. My first thought would be to use some kind of bellows mechanism to provide wind, even if it's a fireplace bellows and a hose. (Not sure how involved you want to get with this.)

The only wind instrument I can think of that involves sucking is a harmonica, so that might be a good alternative.

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#2

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 3:43 PM

I too would suggest an harmonica.

This, however, will make the boy different from his classmates.

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#16
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 10:14 PM

A harmonica could work, but rather limited I think...

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#3

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 3:45 PM

My first thought is to go electronic....the modern electronic flutes have a breath controller knob that can be adjusted, I don't know if this would work, but still pretty cool...plus you have a lot of diversity of sound, really amazing....

http://www.akaipro.com/kb/article/1715

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#5
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 4:31 PM

Great idea but just you wait - all the kids will want his!

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#9
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 6:18 PM

Whatya kiddin' I want one myself....from what I understand you can adjust the breath air down all the way to zero and it plays like a keyboard....I guess you must lose some tone and volume within the note though....but who knows it might work as an aid to develop more breath control for the kid....worth a trip to the local music shop for a looksee...

http://www.akaipro.com/product/ewi-5000

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#4

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 4:03 PM

I agree with the other posters who suggest that making the instrument more of an electronic instrument than a wind instrument is your best option for this boy.

Do offer him a harmonica, though.

Maybe for the recorder, make the mouthpiece active electronic so that very slight changes in mouth pressure, air flow, etc. will change intonation, volume, etc.

Look at some open-source electronic websites, like Spark Fun to see what is out there. There are other web sites, offering robotics hacks, etc. and after only a few searches good things may appear.

You might get lucky and find where someone has incorporated an Arduino micro-controller and programmed it for just this purpose.

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#6

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 4:37 PM

At first I wasn't following this thread at all. I didn't know that there was an instrument called a recorder. If there are others like me then this link http://www.squeakysrecorderplayhouse.com/recordermaster.htm might help.

It would seem like a similar instrument could be build "backwards". The sound quality would probably suffer but for what you described it might be good enough. The reed or whatever creates the vibrating or turbulent air might have to be backwards and that might be easy or it might be harder than it sounds.

Some people that make wooden crafts specialize in "toys" such as wooden flutes and wooden whistles. If you can find them on an Internet forum then they might be able to either make a suggestion or fix you up with something.

You might also search for a university that specializes in the type of birth defect that this boy has. Physical therapy students working on senior projects or needing clinical hours might be interested in spending some time helping you.

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#8
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 5:59 PM

Recorders are wooden flute like instruments that are blown from the end.

Air blown over an obstacle generates a vibration and this vibration makes the column of air inside the recorder pipe vibrate. The sound "bounces" off the open end and the sound travelling in both directions generates a standing wave. The standing wave has points of no pressure variation called nodes.

The recorder has holes which are covered by the player's fingers. When a hole is uncovered, it moves the node and changes the pitch of vibration.

As you can see, sucking air in would not work because air would enter the instrument through an uncovered hole and not through the mouthpiece end.

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#33
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 8:32 AM

Just found this thread and I was thinking about that. Sucking would work if you move the labium section to the far end. As Rixter says, the air must first pass over the splitter before entering the holey part. (tech terms R us!) The boy would have to learn reverse fingering...you'd have to turn the whole recorder upsidedown.

The biggest problem I can see is in the natural friction losses along the tube. When you blow, the air is moving fastest at the labium. To get the same air speed in reverse, you'd have to suck a lot more that you blow.

Hmmm...interesting challenge...I'll think more - sorry lunch time over!

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#34
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 8:40 AM

And the sucking muscles are much weaker than the blowing muscles.

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#37
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 8:51 AM

I had that thought too--similar to an organ flue pipe. I'm assuming that an organ pipe would still operate if some mechanism was sucking air up into the top rather than blowing it from the bottom.

But the finger holes would be in the wrong locations completely--I don't have a recorder handy but I think they'd be totally useless. And recorders are designed to be blown from the mouthpiece, so the labium would be beveled in the wrong direction.

This is indeed an interesting challenge...

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#41
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 12:28 PM

To have the same behavior as blowing in the usual way, inhaling would have to affect not just the opening at the end, but also the opening between the 'upper and lower lip' in the picture, as well as any holes uncovered by fingers.

That would put most of the recorder and some of the kid inside a rigid structure. Even if you sort out how that will work, it might be hard to hear.

Seems like a big problem with an inhaling recorder is that the way changes are made to the resonant tube (to change notes) requires the tube not come between the inhaling person and the vibrating mechanism.

Attempts to reverse to vibrating mechanism could prove successful if suction is provided not only in the tube but above the mechanism (between 'upper and lower lips') as well.

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#7

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 5:42 PM

Is there a way you could rig a small electric blower to supply the air using some sort of tubing that fed into a one way flapper check valve at the mouthpiece?

Something like a T valve that only let the air flow into the recorder?

This may be noisy and need to be isolated from the room somehow.

That might allow them to use a conventional instrument with a modified mouthpiece.

Maybe even a foot operated bellows instead of a blower?

Something like this, in wood.

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#10
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 6:45 PM

https://sculptingstudio.com/speed-control-foot-pedal.html

You could hook this up to a scuba tank with a regulator....

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#11
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 7:00 PM

This looks like a gas tank regulator, Lyn.

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#12
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 7:57 PM

Or a small tank of compressed air equipped with a pressure regulator. I was thinking possibly of a specially-designed mouthpiece fitted with a pressure transducer. Instead of breathing out to operate the instrument, the boy breathes in, the airflow restricted somewhat, making a pressure difference. The transducer measures the pressure change and the signal, via suitable circuitry, operates a valve that admits air into the recorder through the other end of the mouthpiece which is attached to the recorder in a suitable manner which simulates the user's lips. Just an idea of course and maybe out in left field, but I reckon you've got to start somewhere.

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#13
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 8:23 PM

Think organ pedals that the child pumps when he has no air. Then, they pedal more slowly, or not at all, when they have some air to blow.

It is not a regulator. it is simply a check valve.

A small tank of compressed air equipped with a pressure regulator would work but provide no volume control without a throttle. SE suggested this pedal device, I think.

Who knows? Maybe somewhere in all this is a solution.

It seems a worthy cause!

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#14
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 9:14 PM

"A small tank of compressed air equipped with a pressure regulator would work but provide no volume control without a throttle. SE suggested this pedal device, I think."

Thing is, recorders don't really change volume all that much when they're played properly. Increasing the air flow does more to make the played note sound harsh and unpleasant rather than increasing its volume much. The trick is to provide gentle, even air flow.

In my comment the pressure-sensor-controlled valve on the mouthpiece would regulate the air flow to the instrument in an inverse relationship to the sensed pressure. Where a player would normally exhale into the recorder to produce a note, in this case the player inhales, reducing the pressure on the player's end of the mouthpiece. This reduction is sensed by the transducer and causes the air flow in the instrument end of the mouthpiece to increase proportionally. When the player is not inhaling, the air flow stops.

In terms of air-flow, the player is 'playing' only the transducer in this scenario. The supply of air to the instrument is sourced separately. There's a physical barrier between the player's end and the instrument's end.

"It is not a regulator. it is simply a check valve."

I was referring an independent, fixed regulator on a compressed-air tank to limit the flow to some maximum value. A pedal-pump would work also but may pose a distraction to the user and the other players. It could certainly be worth a try of course. A battery- or mains-powered pump would probably be far too noisy.

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#15
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 9:37 PM

Sounds good to me.

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#17
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 10:19 PM

Maybe he could play with his nose....

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#20
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 4:37 AM

Tanks & compressors sounds a bit complicated. Could it be like bagpipes? Some sort of bladder operated by arm or leg movement.

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#23
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 5:51 AM

Better to sound a bit complicated than like a bag pipe.

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#27
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 6:21 AM
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#35
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 8:49 AM

De gustibus non est disputandum.

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No, I know. Several people enjoy bagpipes....as do cats in heat I suspect.

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#49
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/08/2017 9:40 AM

That was awesome, should be played in tandem with Scot invasion of Ireland to follow.

We need more physical battlegrounds and fields of honor.

Something like they used to have for American football - the game of the week. Let the games begin.

We could select a country of the week, and Scotland could invade first, or maybe Sweden, if they still have their stones. Then if the invaded put up too much protest, the Americans can follow on with shore barrages, landing craft, and helicopter assaults of the villages. It is the whole pay the dragon killer, or be eaten by the dragon thing.

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#58
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

03/03/2017 3:50 PM

You're a bit late...Scotland invaded Ireland several centuries ago...and the Irish have returned the favour.

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#59
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

03/08/2017 12:11 PM

Glad I got to return to work to find that. Scotland and Ireland were just made for invading.

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#55
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/10/2017 9:06 PM

Is this piper one of the "Red Hot Chili Pipers"?

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#56
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/10/2017 9:18 PM

Irish bagpipes (Uillean bagpipes) have custom designed bellows operated generally using the squezzing action of the thighs to provide air pressure to operate the pipes; could these work ?

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#18

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/06/2017 11:59 PM

Have you thought about teaching the boy how to run the mixer and the sound board, that way he can feel like he is really contributing and it will be a big boost for his self esteem as well.

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#19

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 12:04 AM

Where does to air go after he sucks it in? He must exhale it somehow. Perhaps it would be easier to catch that somehow and direct it into the recorder.

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#21

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 5:17 AM

I'm guessing a cleft palate. If so, a snorkel mouthpiece may be all that is needed. It fits along the gums across any gaps (cleft ) and behind the lips. The hose is soft and i am sure you could find one that fits snugly over the recorder. S/he may have to learn to play it a little off centre as the tube is in a U shape and you will need to cut someway around the bend to get the length.

Jim

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#22
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 5:34 AM

Cleft palate is a good guess, but a snorkel mouthpiece would not prevent the unwanted escape of the air through the nose in that condition. Repair of the cleft palate would be the most effective answer, particularly if there is an associated speech disorder.

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#24
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 5:52 AM

Sure, but a swimmers nose clamp would help prevent that. The O.P. is new and hasn't had the usual 'not enough info' barrage as yet. Perhaps we may hear back from him/her soon with more info and some feedback.

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#26
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 6:20 AM

If the mouthpiece is clamped to the recorder and the nose clamp is clamped to the nose, which way are you going to breathe in?

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#28
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 6:49 AM

Try it before you knock it. Easy to breath in by extending bottom lip.

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#32
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 8:28 AM

Sorry, I'm not even going to try. Extending the lip is actually elevating the lip and squeezing the sides together. It does virtually nothing to open up the angle where the lip attaches to the gum. The moisture in the mouth helps to maintain the adhesion between the mouthpiece and the gum and between the mouthpiece and the lip. Getting air that way in is not going to happen to any useful extent.

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#25

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 5:57 AM

Perhaps, using the type of heat moldable mouth/tooth guard used in contact athletics, the mouthpiece could be custom fit so that the student could blow into it well.

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#29

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 6:50 AM

can't some other kid blow for him/her or a system adapted from bag-pipe

the point is that the human respiratory system is unlikely designed to handle "loaded inhale" for longer duration - might result in over stressing it e.g. excess liquid to lungs or exhausting chest or stomach muscles - i'd chose some of the above or consulted the person with appropriate medical education

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#30

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 7:23 AM

there are air pressure generating pumps for misc. pneumatic systems also the fish tank air pumps also misc. mechanical

- for electrical ones is required to determine the pressure overhead requirement for the instrument

(as how many keys is held down releasing the pressure -- in ideal it's quite complex to sense/compensate this)

- so if the air input sys. can keep the pressure overhead no matter how many keys're held down - it likely'll do

((the simple solution is someone else emulating the air pump in person))

((((in case of function reversal -- either mech-. or el.-cal the inhale to "exhale" converter will have conversion losses -- meaning the "poor musician" had to push "2-ce as hard" as it had without fn. reversal converter !!!))))

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#31

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 8:27 AM

Maybe modify the mouthpiece to be like a flute, a little different looking, may need more air supply than a recorder, but maybe worth trying. Close the mouthpiece end.

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#36

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 8:51 AM

How about sucking on the opposite end? Does it even make sound that way?

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#38

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 11:54 AM

If myGFhatesCOD reads this it would be nice if he/she would post a few comments or replies. A lot of people have spent their time trying to help and would probably be willing to invest more time if the direction of the task is refined. With no replies it looks like a question was asked and abandoned without the work of others even being read.

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#40
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 12:16 PM

So sorry, Bruce; I have been away from home and had not checked the forum to see the latest posts. Thank you. ☺

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#39

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 12:11 PM

Thank you all so much for the ideas. I hope to begin working on a prototype soon and will try to keep the forum updated. I was mulling over a reverse chamber that redirects the air being inhaled. Keep the ideas coming; they have been very helpful and some quite funny (aka the bagpipes haha).

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#42
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 12:42 PM

A quick experiment:

Cover all the finger holes.

Inhale on the usual outflow end of the finger hole tube.

Verify vibration is sufficient in vibrating mechanism to motivate sufficient sound.

.

If it isn't vibrating enough, in addition to cutting out the vibrating mechanism and reinstalling it reversed, you may additionally need to fit a connection between the volume of reduced pressure before the vibrating mechanism and over the upper and lower lip.

In that way you are replicating the flow more concisely. In a three way connection, increase pressure in one port can be thought of as reduced pressure in the other two ports.

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#43

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 2:26 PM

..."In the recorder-playing MUBOT, blowing is generated by converting air supplies from an air compressor at a predetermined pressure into at the optimal flow for each tone by a current-to-pneumatic converter. Vibrato is created by delicately changing the value of the flow instruction to the pneumatic converter."...

http://www.recorderhomepage.net/history/innovations-in-recorder-design/

Add in mind control and we can bypass the problem altogether...

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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 2:43 PM

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#45
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 7:51 PM

Hmm, wow. Bagpipes are sounding better and better.

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#46

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 9:03 PM

Have you ever used a C-PAP machine? I have one for my sleep apnea, it has an air pump and sensor/microcontroller that senses when the user inhales, this action opens a valve and air is forced through the face-piece.

I can envision some small modifications to my device that would make it become the forced air input for the recorder while the user controls it by inhaling. These machines are not cheap but a local clinic/supplier may have old or obsolete models at low cost.

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#47
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/07/2017 11:30 PM

Really would only need the proper mask....the air supply should not be needed....but I'm just guessing...

http://www.cpapsupplyusa.com/cpap-masks/default.aspx

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#48
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/08/2017 8:57 AM

If your idea is for the CPAP machine to act as the gas supply for playing the recorder, then driving it from the musician's respiration is far too complicated. All the musician would need is a foot-switch for the air-pump. No need for a close-fitting mask and no need for the exercise of inhaling to play.

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#50

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/10/2017 1:54 AM

A reverse acting recorder player system....

When the student draws in a breath, it opens the valve via diaphragm action and allows the pressurized air to pass through to the recorder...

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#51
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/10/2017 9:58 AM

I would have given you a five star excellent answer, as this is precisely what OP requested, and I am disappointed that I did not think of it.

Unfortunately, the rating system here is only trinary: (1) GA, (2) no rating, or (3) OT.

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#53
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Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/10/2017 11:04 AM

Yes thank you...it still needs some refinement and tweaking though, but this is the basic idea....it would need a plate separating the air chambers with a hole and seal that the valve stem passed through confining the pressurized air from the diaphragm section...

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#54
In reply to #53

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/10/2017 11:43 AM

Usually diaphragm valves (operated by air) have a positive integrity seal between air chamber and the working fluid chamber. I don't see a problem, only that feed pressure should be in range of human breath pressure, and the diaphragm is only lightly spring loaded (adjustable by user) to a point just under lifting the diaphragm by supply air.

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#52

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/10/2017 10:03 AM

I'm thinking a pump that simply turns on and off would not provide the kind of control that a musician would need. You play a recorder or flute with an enormous variation of breath to get the tone you want. The pump would also make noise.

I suggest using a canister of compressed air, like you would use for any air horn, and rig it up with a valve that provides a lot of control over the amount of air going through. I'm thinking about the valves on containers of whipped cream, and I am sure there must be even better ones. The amount of bending controls how much air goes through. I'm thinking that with a little engineering, you could rig it up so the child could control the valve with his or her tongue or by biting on it. If those don't work, a foot pedal could be used.

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#57

Re: Need Engineering Help Please Read Should Be Simple!?!

02/10/2017 11:59 PM

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