The view from the top.

Rube Goldberg’s Disappointment

I don’t really understand why, but Dave occasionally asks my help with some of his projects. He recently joined a Pink Floyd cover band and discovered during a performance that he was not comfortable playing two keyboards placed catty-corner to one another. He uses three keyboards. A Rhodes piano, a Yamaha organ, and a Mini Moog. He decided he wanted them all stacked. Either the Yamaha or the Moog sits on top of the Rhodes, but not both. Since the Yamahs is bigger, it won the position on top of the Rhodes.

This is where I enter the story. Dave wanted to create a stand for the Moog to suspend it above the Yamaha. But, the Yamaha has top mounted controls which make it impossible to put anything on top. That and the fact that it is too narrow to support anything the size of the Moog made Dave’s plan more dificult.

So for two weeks we both ruminated on design concepts. I came up with the notion of something which would be supported between the case of the Rhodes and its top cover, which slips inside of the case. It would be angled to the front and then sit off the top of the Yamaha. It would then have horizontal supports for the Moog and then diagonal supports for side to side stability. Of course, it would have to be collapsable so it could be easily transported. Dave’s concept was, as far as I could tell, basically the same.

Original DesignSo last Saturday, after drawing up a rough sketch and taking some measurements, we went to the local Home Despot and started looking for supplies. It appeared that as we looked at the available options we weren’t really clear on what we were doing and more to the point, how exactly it would work. There were definitely some vagaries in the design. Like how it would be collapsable, and how it would sit on the Rhodes’ case.

As we wandered the giant store we looked at all the options for parts we could use. We realized that perhaps threaded rod and pipe hangers would make an excellent basis for the supports. After all, 3/4 inch threaded rod is very stiff. An actual plan was forming. However, the thing that is infuriating about the Home Despot, they never have just what you want (even after you realize what you want). We decided to go back to my place and regroup.

Modified DesignWhile dave finished off the remainder of some lamb stew I had made, I went about drawing the basics of what we had in mind. The rods would be attached somehow (again, we weren’t bothering with detail, the answer would arrive eventually) to the case and then to a piece of 1/2 inch plywood, most likely by going through the board and attaching with nuts on either side. (Having finished eating, Dave now drew the Moog onto my sketch as we talked.) Then, there would be a third leg in the front at some sort of angle that would sit atop the Yamaha. Excellent. With this plan in mind, we headed to the hardware store across the street from my apartment.

I’ve never experienced love at first site. I hope the sensation is similar too, but much, much greater than discovering the parts at the hardware store. While looking for the ceiling hanger we discovered there were also wall hangers. That was the lynchpin we needed to finalize the design. The two ceiling hangers would attach to the back of the Rhodes. We would formulate some sort of pivoting receptacle for the threaded rods on the plywood board. This would be accomplished using steel keyed slot plates stacked two deep to the plywood. The shorter front threaded rod leg would be attached rigidly to the board using the pipe ceiling hanger. So simple. We found all the parts in about 20 minutes including screws, keyed slot plates, rod, nylon locking-nuts, wing nuts, and a push nut for the foot on the front leg.

Then it was back to my place to assemble the stand. It was as if we were following detailed instructions. I measured and cut the board while Dave measured and cut the threaded rod. He mounted the two wall mount pipe hangers to the Rhodes and I measured and positioned the key slot plates for the supports. He added the locking-nuts to the rods to keep them set the correct height and make the rod rigid when screwed tight. I attached the keyed slot plates and the front leg mount. Then I attached the push nut to the front leg and mounted it on the board along with a wing nut to keep it rigid when tightened.

Then, when the orgy of gay sounding terms which was in fact just the assemblage of parts was completed, we tested the stand. Eh, not quite right; the front was still too high. So we cut about an inch or so from the front leg. Then we tested again.

First, the rear supports were screwed in and tightened to the Rhodes. The front support was screwed in and tightened to the board. The board positioned so the key slots fit over the rear supports but let the board angle to any position. And then, the front leg was lowered down to the Yamaha to rest between the control knobs. We placed the Moog on top of the board and it was perfect. The other perfect thing about it is that it will collapse into a one foot by twenty inch by quarter inch board and three short segments of threaded rod. Beautiful.

Of course, it hasn’t been used in practice, and most likely will rip out of the back of the Rhodes with prolonged use. But hey, that’s why we have versioning. Mach-2 will be amazing!

(Note: I do not have any pictures of the completed project as Dave took the Yamaha and Moog home with him. Without at least the Yamaha, the stand has nothing to stand on.)

May 12th, 2008 Posted by | Friends | one comment

1 Comment

  1. The organ is question is a Roland XK-8. And the stand is a work of art.


    Comment by Dave Kopperman | May 15, 2008

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