Introduction: Piano Pedal Device

Picture of Piano Pedal Device

Out of all of the instruments someone could choose to play, one of the most popular is the piano. While most everyone struggles during the learning phase and then becomes better with practice, some people must continue to deal with the struggles of learning a piano due to their physical limitations. For example, some pianists must deal with certain diseases or disorders that make pressing the pedal down consistently extremely difficult. This can be due to a lack of strength, not being able to feel the pedal because of minimal feeling in the feet, etc. A possible solution to this issue is for the pianist to operate the pedal with the movement of his/her leg. If the pianist can push their leg outward with enough strength to be able to push the pedal down, then a simple lever device can be utilized. The device works by the pianist pushing outward on one end of the lever, while the other end pushes down on the pedal.

For this project, you will need the following:

3D Printer (I used a Stratasys professional grade printer; I believe it was the Dimension 1200es)

ABS Filament

Support Material

Dissolving Solution

LOCTITE Epoxy Plastic Bonder (the link for Lowe's is here: http://www.lowes.com/pd_44649-69-1363118_0__)

(1) Bowl or Plate to mix the epoxy in

Several stirrers to mix the epoxy and apply it (I used plastic coffee stirrers)

Paper Towels

(1) 3 1/32" long, 1/2" diameter Aluminum Tube (you will have to purchase a 1/2" diameter aluminum tube and cut it to the correct length)

(2) 1" long, 1/8" diameter Tension Pins

(1) 1/4" Bolt (I recommend a minimum of 4" long; I used a 5" long bolt)

(2) Washers

(1) Nut

Foam

Drill (with 1/8" bit and 1/4" bit that can drill both plastic and metal)

Sandpaper or File

Pliers, Screwdriver, etc. to remove the support material from your print when it is finished

Hammer

Wrench

Velcro Strap

Step 1: Printing the Parts

For the first step, you will need the following:

3D Printer (I used a Stratasys professional grade printer; I believe it was the Dimension 1200es)

ABS Filament

Support Material

First, you need to download the .stl files below. If you would like, you can load them into CAD software and edit them as you need for different sizing. Once you are ready to print, make sure the files are saved as whatever file type your 3d printer takes (.stl is common).

Next, you need to print the parts. Print the parts with a high density infill. I set the Stratasys to print high density. For 3d printers like the MakerBot, where you set the infill percentage, I would recommend trying 50% infill. Due to diminishing returns on the strength as the percent infill increases, I believe an infill around 50% will create a part that is strong enough. I also highly recommend using a professional grade printer like the Stratasys to save yourself some of the headache of print failures. Professional grade printers are more reliable and consistent than basic level printers. I did not do this initially, using a MakerBot Replicator 2X, and had to deal with several print failures of certain parts.

Also, make sure supports are turned on. Some of these parts have hollowed out areas and will need the support material to print correctly.

*These parts will take a long time to print! Mine took around 24 hours of printing to finish most of the pieces. I loaded as many pieces onto the print bed as I could so reduce the number of times I had to start a new print.

Step 2: Preparing the Prints

For this step, you will need the following:

Dissolving Solution

Pliers, Screwdriver, etc. to remove the support material from your print when it is finished

Drill (with 1/8" bit and 1/4" bit that can drill both plastic and metal)

Sandpaper or File

Now that your parts have been printed, it is time to retrieve them and remove any support material. Wait for the print bed to cool and be careful taking the parts off the print bed. Support material will be in most of the parts and will need to be removed carefully. I started by using pliers and a screwdriver to chip, pull, and pry out whatever support material that I could. Don't overdo this, as you could damage your part. It is also likely that you will need to place some of the parts in a dissolving bath to get rid of all of the support material.

Check all of the parts to see that they printed properly. If some did not, go back to the previous step and reprint them.

Now, you need to prepare the prints for assembly. Check to see if the parts fit together properly (a list of the parts to be connected to one another are below). Each connection should be snug, but you shouldn't have to force it. If you find that you would have to force the parts together, sand or file the connection down so that it fits snugly. Do not force the parts together or at least one of them will break!

Next, check the holes where one of the tension pins and the bolt will go. My prints left the holes slightly too small, so I used a drill with a 1/8" bit to open up the hole for one of the tension pins. I used a drill with a 1/4" bit to open up the hole for the bolt.

List of Part Connections:

Base Plate Back -> Base Plate Front -> Lever Pivot

Lever Arm 1 -> Lever Arm 3 -> Lever Arm 2

Lever Pivot Bar -> Pedal Press

Step 3: Connecting the Printed Parts

For this step, you will need the following:

LOCTITE Epoxy Plastic Bonder (the link for Lowe's is here: http://www.lowes.com/pd_44649-69-1363118_0__)

(1) Bowl or Plate to mix the epoxy in

Several stirrers to mix the epoxy and apply it (I used plastic coffee stirrers)

Paper Towels

Before starting, read the instructions for the epoxy completely so you know exactly how to use it. I also recommend practicing it on some scrap material, so you have an idea for how to mix and apply the epoxy before you start putting it on your parts.

Now, mix some of the epoxy in the bowl or plate and epoxy the parts together, making one connection at a time (connections are listed below). I recommend working with the amount of epoxy needed for just one connection. Try not to mix too much or you will have a lot of excess epoxy mixture and will be rushing to use it before it dries. This can lead to mistakes and poor connections. I recommend applying epoxy liberally to both pieces you are connecting. After connecting the parts, wipe away the excess epoxy that has oozed out and clamp the parts together according to the instructions on the package (or hold them together with constant pressure like I did).

After connecting all the parts, allow them to sit for 24 hours so the epoxy reaches full strength.

List of Part Connections:

Base Plate Back -> Base Plate Front -> Lever Pivot

Lever Arm 1 -> Lever Arm 3 -> Lever Arm 2

Lever Pivot Bar -> Pedal Press

Step 4: Preparing the Aluminum Tubing

Picture of Preparing the Aluminum Tubing

For this step, you will need the following:

(1) 3 1/32" long, 1/2" diameter Aluminum Tube (you will have to purchase a 1/2" diameter aluminum tube and cut it to the correct length)

Drill (with 1/8" bit that can drill both plastic and metal)

It is likely that you will have to purchase 1/2" diameter aluminum tubing and then cut the tubing down to the proper size. If this is the case, measure a section of tubing to be 3 1/32" and cut it with a hack saw. This piece will slide into the Lever Pivot Bar first. Make sure the tubing is completely in the hole and then use a drill with a 1/8" bit to drill a hole through the aluminum tubing, using the pre-existing hole in the Lever Pivot Bar as a guide. Once you are done drilling, the hole in the Lever Pivot Bar and the hole in the tubing should be flush with one another, effectively being one hole through both of them. It may help to put one of the tension pins in this hole before moving on. However, only put the pin in far enough to hold the Lever Pivot Bar in position. Don't put it in all the way because you will have to remove it later.

Now, you need to slide the Lever Arm onto the other end of the tubing. Again, make sure the tubing is completely inserted. Now, you need to rotate the Lever Arm around the tubing so that it is at an 18 degree angle from the vertical axis (*This should be tailored to the pianist! This angle may need to be bigger or smaller depending on their size.). Use a marker to make a mark on the tubing so you know the exact orientation the Lever Arm should be in, relative to the tubing. Now, remove the Lever Arm from the tubing, take the tension pin out of the Lever Pivot Bar, and remove the tubing from the Lever Pivot Bar.

Next, put the tubing back into the Lever Arm, making sure they are oriented correctly (check the mark you just made!). Now, drill a hole with a 1/8" drill bit through both the Lever Arm and the tubing.

Step 5: Preparing the Foam Pad

Picture of Preparing the Foam Pad

For this step, you will need the following:

Foam

The foam piece will be what the pianist pushes on with his/her leg, so this step should be tailored more toward the individual's preference. If possible, it is easiest to buy foam that is already the size you need. For the sizing of this device, I would recommend using foam that is 4 inches wide, and it can be square shaped or circular. I, however, used a larger piece of foam that I already had, and cut it down to size. I decided to cut the foam to be 5 inches long, but the sizing is merely preference based, so do whatever will be most comfortable to the user! Once the foam has been sized, push the bolt through the middle of it. You may want to consider screwing it on and off after the hole has been made. It will help keep the hole from getting larger and making the foam piece loose.

Step 6: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

For this step, you will need the following:

(2) 1" long, 1/8" diameter Tension Pins

(1) 1/4" Bolt (I recommend a minimum of 4" long; I used a 5" long bolt, but one that is 6" long may be better)

(2) Washers

(1) Nut

Hammer

Wrench

Velcro Strap

You are almost done! At this point, you should have 5 main parts: the base plate/lever pivot, the pedal press/pivot bar, the aluminum tube, the lever arm, and the foam pad.

First, insert the aluminum tube into the lever arm, making sure it is oriented correctly. Take a hammer and tap the tension pin into its hole. Be careful not to damage the lever arm when doing this - tap the pin just hard enough to insert it all the way.

Next, slide the aluminum tube (with the lever arm still attached) through the lever pivot, so that the tube is going into the back and through the front of the lever pivot. Now, take the pedal press/pivot bar piece and slide it onto the aluminum tube. Insert the second tension pin into this hole.

Next, put one of the washer on the bolt and put it through the hole at the top of the lever arm. Then, slide the other washer on and tighten into place with the nut using a wrench. Tighten the nut until it is snug (don't over tighten). Then, screw or slide the foam pad on.

For the last step, take the velcro strap and feed it through the two holes in the base plate. This will be used to strap the pianist's foot down.

Step 7: Play On!!!

Picture of Play On!!!

Now, the piano device is complete and the pianist will be able to use the foot pedals! Hopefully, this device allowed them to get "Bach" to playing their favorite songs!

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