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HELP! Electronic sequencer for vintage door chime. Answered

Seeking any manner of help in making an electronic sequencer for a multi-note doorbell. I restore old door chimes and one particular model from the 1940's-1950's has an electromechanical linear distributor that works as the chime sequencer. It has a limited life expectancy- long since expired- and it defies repair. You can see details of this device by looking up patent number 2245443. The task to be done though is just like that of any more common chime sequencer that uses a rotary distributor. The idea is to replace the electromechanical mess with modern electronics to time the power sequence to three or four 16v or 24v solenoids. Looking for any help… guidance, advice, moral support... but mostly hoping to find someone who can design and build a few of these, as I am largely clueless about electronic design.

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BobS293
BobS293

3 years ago

I recently came across a Rittenhouse 520 chime that didn't work. Since the dashpot seems pretty unrepairable, I turned this into an Arduino project. I had a generic Arduino motor control shield on hand and figured it would also be perfect for driving solenoids. This has worked great and the old chime rings again!

Here some hints for those that want to follow along:

The motor shield is cheap and available on Ebay, see this page for details: http://playground.arduino.cc/Main/AdafruitMotorSh...

I removed the dashpot and simply wired the solenoids to the motor shield (see code)

I powered the Arduino (and shield) with a 12v DC power supply, this gave plenty of kick to the old 522 solenoids.

I modified the code from the above link to remove anything not related to firing the 3 solenoids, that code is below:

TBD: Figure out the button wiring (mine are lit with an LED) (see schematic)

TBD: Create some interesting 3 note melodies to play when someone rings the doorbell! (this could be helpful: https://www.1800doorbell.com/resources/door-chime...)

I hope someone finds this useful!

Bob

// This Arduino code tests using a generic motor shield to drive solenoids from an old Rittenhouse 520 doorbell

// Motor shield is well documented here:

// http://playground.arduino.cc/Main/AdafruitMotorSh...

// (I removed anything not required to drive a solenoid)

//

// Arduino pins for the shift register

#define MOTORLATCH 12

#define MOTORCLK 4

#define MOTORENABLE 7

#define MOTORDATA 8

// 8-bit bus after the 74HC595 shift register

// (not Arduino pins)

// These are used to set the direction of the bridge driver.

#define CHIME_A 2

#define CHIME_B 1

#define CHIME_C 5

void setup()

{

Serial.begin(115200);

Serial.println("Simple Motor Shield sketch");

}

void loop() {

// Suppose there is a relay, or light or solenoid

// connected to M3_A and GND.

// The output is a push-pull output (half bridge),

// so it can also be used to drive something low.

chime(CHIME_A, 1000);

chime(CHIME_B, 1000);

chime(CHIME_C, 1000);

}

// Activate a solenoid to strike a chime

void chime(int note, int wait_time)

{

motor_output(note, HIGH);

delay(20);

motor_output(note, LOW);

delay(wait_time);

}

// ---------------------------------

// motor_output

//

// The function motor_ouput uses the motor driver to

// drive normal outputs like lights, relays, solenoids,

// DC motors (but not in reverse).

//

// The high_low variable should be set 'HIGH'

// to drive lights, etc.

// It can be set 'LOW', to switch it off

//

//

void motor_output (int output, int high_low)

{

int motorPWM;

// Set the direction with the shift register

// on the MotorShield

shiftWrite(output, high_low);

}

// ---------------------------------

// shiftWrite

//

// The parameters are just like digitalWrite().

//

// The output is the pin 0...7 (the pin behind

// the shift register).

// The second parameter is HIGH or LOW.

//

// There is no initialization function.

// Initialization is automatically done at the first

// time it is used.

//

void shiftWrite(int output, int high_low)

{

static int latch_copy;

static int shift_register_initialized = false;

// Do the initialization on the fly,

// at the first time it is used.

if (!shift_register_initialized)

{

// Set pins for shift register to output

pinMode(MOTORLATCH, OUTPUT);

pinMode(MOTORENABLE, OUTPUT);

pinMode(MOTORDATA, OUTPUT);

pinMode(MOTORCLK, OUTPUT);

// Set pins for shift register to default value (low);

digitalWrite(MOTORDATA, LOW);

digitalWrite(MOTORLATCH, LOW);

digitalWrite(MOTORCLK, LOW);

// Enable the shift register, set Enable pin Low.

digitalWrite(MOTORENABLE, LOW);

// start with all outputs (of the shift register) low

latch_copy = 0;

shift_register_initialized = true;

}

// The defines HIGH and LOW are 1 and 0.

// So this is valid.

bitWrite(latch_copy, output, high_low);

// Use the default Arduino 'shiftOut()' function to

// shift the bits with the MOTORCLK as clock pulse.

// The 74HC595 shiftregister wants the MSB first.

// After that, generate a latch pulse with MOTORLATCH.

shiftOut(MOTORDATA, MOTORCLK, MSBFIRST, latch_copy);

delayMicroseconds(5); // For safety, not really needed.

digitalWrite(MOTORLATCH, HIGH);

delayMicroseconds(5); // For safety, not really needed.

digitalWrite(MOTORLATCH, LOW);

}

Doorbell1.png
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gentleLion
gentleLion

4 years ago

I was going to make a simple electronic sequencer to replace an old Rittenhouse 520 chime's dashpot using simple relays and capacitors (cheap and crude but effective). However, while examining the dashpot to document all its electrical connections, I found you can reduce gravity's influence on it by rotating it most of the way sideways. Note you must keep the metal can grounded to the holder, it's part of the circuit's return (if you don't keep it in contact it will not chime).

You can perform this fix simply if your wires are long enough and you have room in the assembly. My Rittenhouse 520 did. After rotating the dashpot style sequencer slightly sideways and zip-tying it firmly in place, it's been operating flawlessly for the past 8 years. See attached pictures.

One last note to anyone performing professional repair and/or restoration work, make sure you're adding a fuse. Should be standard practice for conscientious minded vintage electronics repair people (many vintage radios, TV's, etc. didn't have them). The adjustable rheostat in the 520 would be the first thing to poof if the chime jammed on.

Rittenhouse 520 Doorbell.JPGRotated Dashpot.JPG
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caesarvall
caesarvall

Reply 4 years ago

I just started on my parents 520 doorbell and rotating it does make it work. It was previously missing the last note. I am going to look into determining the proper fuse to use....maybe even a "self healing" fuse or a time delay fuse. I will report back.

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caesarvall
caesarvall

Reply 4 years ago

So I hooked the doorbell up to a 16VAC supply (my old Lionel train transformer) through a 1 ohm resistor and monitored the voltage across that resistor on a scope. The doorbell takes about 2 amps for about 80mS for each of the 4 chimes. Based on that, you might think it should be simple to just add a slow-blow fuse in the 0.5 to 1 amp range. However, this will not work in real life. In real life, you have kids that will press and hold the doorbell button for several seconds at a time. When the doorbell button is pressed, it will also draw 2 amps until you let go and you don't want the fuse to blow. I am thinking a re-settable fuse may be the way to go; see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resettable_fuse

I just need to find some re-settable fuses around the .5 to 1 amp range and see which one will allow the doorbell to work properly under normal conditions but will "trip" if something is kept powered on for more than about 10-20 seconds.


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caesarvall
caesarvall

Reply 4 years ago

I got the best results using a LITTELFUSE SMD050F-2 Resettable fuse. These cost under $1, are smaller than a dime, and seem to easily allow 2 amps to flow for a short amount of time; about 5 seconds or so. After that, the device rapidly decreases current flow to a steady state of about 100mA. That results in a total power dissipation of about 1.6 watts. This is very unlikely to cause a fire should a solenoid get stuck ON. Without this resettable fuse, 32 watts would be dissipated and that could cause a fire.

After power is removed, or some kid stops pressing the doorbell button, the fuse returns to normal in just a few seconds.

Attached is a picture of the device, one with some heatshrink used. I would have preferred to use the thru-hole version of this fuse, but this surface-mount device was the only style we had in stock. This tiny device will get hot under a short circuit condition, so keep the device suspended in free air. Do not try to heat-sink it as that defeats the whole purpose of the device; it is supposed to get hot!

WP_20170103_002.jpg
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knock
knock

Reply 4 years ago

GentleLion- Thanks for the note. Yes, I have observed that tilting the dashpot can “restore” operation. I have not passed that tip on to owners of them as I think it’s just a bad idea to use these. If the action ever stalls and leaves a solenoid powered on, it becomes a little heating coil that could theoretical cause a house fire. Your advice to add a fuse is an excellent idea that could address that risk, if done right- and you know- actually used and not just bypassed if fuse/s pop.

Your observation that the volume control would act like a fuse and usually go first is true, but regardless, in that case it’s the volume control instead of a solenoid field coil that becomes the heating element that might cause ignition.

Of course, that risk exists to some degree with any solenoid-struck chime.

Whatever, these are just so troubled that I don’t recommend using them. If I’m not mistaken, many vintage electric devices that are filled with oil, contain PCBs. I don’t know if these do or not, but add that to the possible problems with these. KDB

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knock
knock

4 years ago

Multi-note chimes latch onto power after the momentary press of the button. Note sure how long a Ritt 520 runs, but 10 seconds is likely. It would be great to find a fuse solution that would work for all sorts of momentary 2-note chimes as well as motorized multi-note chimes that might take 12 seconds or so to run, and chimes that are powered by transformers in the range of 8volt/10watts to 24volts/ 20 watts. The risk of burning out a chime volume control or solenoid field coil is not something measured in seconds, more like minutes or maybe hours of constant power.


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JonAMax
JonAMax

4 years ago

I have a Rittenhouse Model 552(?) but it only plays 7 notes. What do I need to do to get it to play the missing note. The sequencer seems to be wired correctly but what do I know...please help

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knock
knock

Reply 4 years ago

It probably needs service . Contact me through www.knockdoorbells.com and we can take it up from there.

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AdamN15
AdamN15

5 years ago

Hi - just found this topic. I was in touch with Knock a while ago. I'm looking for a solution to replace the dashpot for a Rittenhouse 550 with 4 solenoids, chiming 8 notes. Did anyone ever solve this challenge? If so, I'd be interested in buying a replacement electronic sequencer - and whatever else I need to get the chimes working (transformer?). If I can't replace the sequencer, I might be in the market for a working 550 if anyone has one.
Thanks in advance - please contact me at adamnelson@comcast.net.

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knock
knock

6 years ago

Sylvia- you have something entirely different from the topic of this discussion. The RC prefix suggests 1980s vintage or maybe later, for sure a number of decades after the last dashpot model was made. If you like, catch up with me at knockdoorbells.com and show me what you have.

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Sylvia0825
Sylvia0825

6 years ago

Oh my, I just read the lengthy responses from everyone on this site and am now wondering if fixing my rc535 Rittenhouse will be worth the cost at this time. I have seven old clocks and when I tapped the dysfunctional vintage chimes of the Rittenhouse in the home I just purchased, I knew I had to let it "sing" again. I contacted Knock (haven't heard a response yet) but you gentleman, who seem to know what is involved, say that it is very involved (more than repair of a vintage clock). I would hope that one of you has decided to "jump in" and give repairing them a try. I would love to hear it chime again.

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g0tee
g0tee

10 years ago

Here is the schematic. The electronic sequencer I built has been in service at my friend's house since January 2009 (my 3yr old daughter is particularly interested in testing it repeatedly whenever I visit). Adding a 4th output would not be difficult. Having the ability to program the sequencer has allowed me to tweak the solenoid dwell times and make the tone of the bells a little cleaner. I also have the obvious ability to change the sequence for the front/back door zones to whatever I want. Currently, modifying the sequence requires some minor modifications to the source code and reprogramming of the microcontroller, although with a little effort a simple serial interface could be added to allow for sequences to be uploaded to it. I agree with Knock in that if the rotary sequencer can be refurbished that is probably the best (i.e. easiest and cheapest) way to go if you want to keep the doorbell intact with the original function. The doorbell I fixed had a rotary sequencer and I created an electronic sequencer moreso as a neat project I could finish rather quickly than anything else. Fabricating a proper PCB for this would likely cost upwards of $60+ each and with little demand it may not be worth doing for such a specific application. Making a Radio Shack proto-board version cost me less than $20 and several hours worth of effort (for just one board!), but doesn't look as pretty.

Schematic.jpg
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pdac
pdac

Reply 10 years ago

Many thanks for the schematic. Unfortunately it seems to be too small to see any detail (maybe there's a way to enlarge it - I don't know).

It's interesting what you said about it being a neat project for you. I have (or had) zero knowledge of microcontrollers until I started to search for a solution to my doorbell problem. I've now read a couple of tutorials on the web and have started to build a basic programmer with a view to learning more about these devices (I've been a software developer for many years now and used to build all sorts of electronic projects as a kid - so it fits nicely with my interests).

I'm still thinking about looking at the rotary mechanism, but I'm now keen to see if I can build a microcontroller based solution too. I can't tell from your schematic what controller you've used, but I've got myself a PIC16F628A to start my new hobby. If your code is compatible, I'd be interested in seeing that too (a bit cheeky, I know).

Anyway, many thanks for the response.

Pete

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g0tee
g0tee

Reply 10 years ago

I couldn't find an option to change the image size in the post. Maybe a link to the uploaded file will work: https://www.instructables.com/file/FCJK94QGC4GCO6J/?size=ORIGINAL I used a freescale micro only because I've been using it for years. Almost any micro with an ADC and a timer can do the job.

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pdac
pdac

Reply 10 years ago

The link to the uploaded file works perfectly - many thanks.

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pdac
pdac

10 years ago

I've just got my hands on an old 4-chime doorbell and I can't get the controller to work. It would be a great help if you could submit your schematic - I'm fine about constructing electronic devices but I've no idea how to design them myself.

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knock
knock

Reply 10 years ago

pdac- In my view, an electronic replacement should be option of last resort. Better to keep the chime original, as anything else wil hurt value , and also because its just easier. Of course, if yours is a Rittenhouse dashpot, it's a different matter. I advise you to send me pictures of what you have and I'll advise.

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pdac
pdac

Reply 10 years ago

The original controller consists of 12-point rotary mechanism driven by an A/C motor. When I got the doorbell, it wasn't working and it looked like someone had already tried to re-wire it to get it to do something. It was described as a "Westminster Chime" doorbell, so I decided to try to wire it up according to that tune. I now have it playing the tune correctly, but it suffers from the following problems: a. The controller sometimes runs in reverse b. The controller sometimes does not stop at the end of the sequence c. Sometimes it's a comination of both I have been searching on the internet for solutions to these problems and, after failing to find any answers, I decided to look for an electronic solution. The only suitable solutions I found in that area were those using PIC controllers, but they seemed a bit expensive and also I've no idea where to start with them (although the propsect of being able to send MIDI data to define the sequence seems really great). Anyway, my hunt for a solution finally lead me to this thread and that's why I was interested in the schematic. But I'd be just as pleased if you (or anyone) can help me get the mechanical controller working reliably. Pete

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knock
knock

Reply 10 years ago

Pete- My view is that any non-dashpot electro-mechanical sequencer can be fixed. The problems these naturally develop are predictable and usually easily dispatched. The worst challenges result from someone learning how to "fix' one. The run-on op is typical and addressed with a tweak of the internal on/off switch, on some models anyway. The reverse spin is not anything I have ever heard of and may be the result of amatuer repair. If you like, contact me through knockdoorbells.com , send photos for a postive ID and maybe a visual clue to whats up, and we'll go from there. Agreed that MIDI control would be kool, but my opinion is that there are plenty of hopeless dashpot chimes out there to do that to. More wholesome models with rotary seqeuncers should be saved intact. Tim

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pdac
pdac

Reply 10 years ago

Knock, I'll try to get some more details to you when I get a chance to. In the mean time, I can say that it's a Freidland bell and it has a rotary controller by Venner. Does that mean anything to you? Pete

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knock
knock

Reply 10 years ago

I think Freidland is an English brand. Never had one. If it has a rotary sequencer, probably same idea as all others.

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g0tee
g0tee

11 years ago

I had designed something like this a while back to replace a tired sequencer in a friend's doorbell and just stumbled across this thought some of you might be interested.

This circuit allows you to keep the lighted doorbell switches and won't burn out a solenoid if the switches stick closed.  The sound of the bells themselves is improved because I was able to tweak the dwell time of the solenoids (the plunger travels just far enough to strike the bell without pressing against the bells and dulling the sound). 

There was probably an easier way to do this, but the main goal of this project was to utilize only parts I had in my bins.  If folks are interested (and if I can find it) I'll post the schematic later.


100_2651.JPG100_2652.JPG
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Professor Electric
Professor Electric

11 years ago

I can design you the sequencer you need. Contact me
wattley30@hotmail.com

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lesander
lesander

12 years ago

Soooo, what is the concensus here? It can be done but 1)nobody wants to, including Nutone, 2)There is no market for it, 3)cheezy chimes are all the rage now? "They can put a man on the moon, but...."

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JonasClark
JonasClark

Reply 12 years ago

Consensus is correct, in a sense. There is no market. About 80% of the American public wants cheap stuff - they don't care less about quality than price, they seem to care ONLY about price. If it's the cheapest, buy it. If it breaks, buy another. If you want a high-quality chime, I say buy one of Knock's vintage ones. Con: The price is high. Pro: The quality is high. You get what you pay for. As noted, I collect old chimes. He's done a few restorations for me... His work is first-rate. I sent him a NuTone Symphonic from 1946, a high-end chime which plays a 4- or 8-note (non-Westminster) sequence on four hand-tuned solid brass tone bars. The cover was fake woodgrain paint over steel, and looked bad, and the brushed brass (probably steel) resonators and decorative band were tarnished - the brass-on-steel tarnish isn't worth trying to fix. The inside was filthy, everything covered in years' worth of greasy fluffy dust, presumably it was in or near a kitchen. It came back looking, honestly, better than I think it looked new - and I have confirmation since, having seen a new-in-box example. The resonators and band ended up being solid brass, so the former were completely diassembled, spin-brushed and lacquered, and the latter was polished and lacquered. The fake woodgrain got some sort of polish, and is now a mirror finish, looks like a piano finish. Everything inside is spotless, the mechanism's gold paint clean and sparkly. It plays every note clearly. The Symphonic plays a two-note second door signal, but this is accomplished (with four individual strikers, one per note) by having one's return stroke close a switch that pops out another - thezse were not made for very long, and this is the only one I have that still functions. Volume control works, too - can reduce the tone down to a whisper. The Symphonic has excellent tone, so it's now my "show chime". I've had a longbell restored by Knock, too, and it also came back practically glowing. That's your best bet. What are high-end homes getting? Electronic 'wireless' junk that plays silly tunes. Not only are those tinny and almost laughable, but they're rife for exploitation - a friend of mine likes to reprogram them to play something bizarre like "La Cucaracha' when he finds them at parties. There's one other person making longbells, can't remember his name offhand and he's making them new, but his sound worse than the mid-90s cheap NuTones, they buzz and rattle. The covers look snazzy, but that's the only selling point, and he never shows photos of the mechanisms which leads me to believe they're taken from cheap new bar chimes. Knock isn't doing restorations right now, so whatever he has in stock is it for the time being, and I'd bet my whole collection that, if taken care of properly, anything he sells saying it's a fuctional restoration, meant to be installed and really used, will be exactly that.

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JonasClark
JonasClark

14 years ago

I'm a collector of vintage chimes. I'm glad I spotted this discussion, as I've got Rittenhouse chimes with dashpots in them. There are two kinds of dashpots out there: The first has a metal shell crimped (like a metal radio tube) to a plastic base, in which are the electrical contacts and a brass screw. The screw is an oil port, to add more oil. If I open one and pour in more oil, it'll run right out. Why? The oil inside turns to grease and blocks everything. If you uncrimp one of these and take it apart, the grease can be cleaned out... but unless you can find someone to make from scratch a new spring to custom shape, there is no way to recondition them. None. The second type is sealed. That's right, the shell is attached to the plastic base with a fine seam. No crimps, no sign of glue, no nothing. The only way to open it, were I crazy enough to try, is to saw it apart. I have a catalog from Liberty Chimes, which also usedx a dashpot. Their ad copy states "Sealed mechanism will never need service" Yes, they were not meant to be opened and repaired. Buzznerd, if you think Knock, coming from a standpoint of repair-to-resell, is just being harsh by saying he dislikes these, take it from a collector: I don't want to resell them, I want them to function so I can display them as working chimes, and compared to the more common electromechanical motor-driven sequencers, this design is awful. The mechanical sequencers can be easily opened for mechanical repairs. If you, Buzznerd, can make a dashpot work, I'd like you to show us both how it's done. If you can prove to me that I can make my dashpot chimes go again using the original dashpots, please do. If you prove us wrong, I'll pay you the premium price you set, to repair mine. Oh, by the way... tell me that Knock's restoration prices are high, then go see what new chimes cost compared to how they sound. The only long-tube types out there are the NuTone-Broan ones, which have a tinny buzz due to the cheap tubing used for the chimes and the strikers having a tendency to linger against the chimes. These cost around $350. Or, for $400, you can buy that new monstrosity (I forget the brand - Honeywell?) I see at Home Depot, which has three full-length fake, plastic, chimes, and a recorded electronic tune which sounds like what it is. Knock's chimes aren't for everyone. For those who just want something that announces visitors and looks good under the quick glance most people will give it, the new store-bought stuff is fine. If you're doing a quality restoration of an antique home, you might go to Rejuvenation Co. for exact reproductions of antique light fixtures. As no exact reproductions of vintage chimes exist, Knock is your next best option. Same if you're restoring the vintage home you just bought and you want to keep it as original as possible - you'd send the light fixtures to a specialist who knows what he's doing, thus you'd pay the appropriate price. There is only one person out there who has decided to make a business out of restoring chimes, and if you go to him, you'll pay the appropriate price. True, you could do it yourself, and you're welcome to, but if your plan is for everything to be "professionally restored", Knock is the guy who does that. He has, however, given me very helpful suggestions on doing minor repairs myself.

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lesander
lesander

Reply 12 years ago

Hey guys. I found this forum looking for a doorbell. I have followed your discussion and still wonder, " does anyone make a new long bell door bell of the strike variety?" I am a remodeler/contract maintenance man/tinker, and have a large, stately home that needs a doorbell. I have scoured the Internet looking for a nice sounding 4-note chime which would sound in a room 40'x 20' with a 20' high ceiling. The client would not want a vintage chime due to the maintenance and repairs, but this home needs the beautiful sound of a large, long bell chime. With all the new technology, why all the cheezy sounding chimes? Am I expecting too much to get a beautiful 4-note westminster bell with a second 2-note side door bell? What in the heck are builders putting in the large, estate style homes across the good old U.S.A.?

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westfw
westfw

14 years ago

Are you http://www.knockdoorbells.com/ ? Those are some pretty (and expensive!) chimes. Are you willing to pay $75-100 each for a "programmable chime controller" and commit to 5 or more? Are UL or other safety certifications required, or does the low-voltage bell transformer get you out of that?

There's a significant difference between "guidance" and a turnkey device ready for a commercial doorchime enterprise to drop into old chimes. It SHOULD be doable with a relatively simple microcontroller and some driver transistors or relays, but it'll be complicated by size constaints and such.

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knock
knock

Reply 14 years ago

Yes, hip to the difference- that's why I said that I welcome all manner of help. I just thought that as I enjoy giving people free advice about the topic that I have a passionate interest in, I might find people here who feel the same way. Anyone who feels otherwise is welcome to ignore my call.

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punkbrewster
punkbrewster

Reply 13 years ago

Not sure if this pertains to your topic, but thought I would give it a shot. A few years ago my husband and I were given my grandparents Nutone hanging grandfather clock (doorbell chime--westminster chimes), and when I had it cleaned by a clock person, they converted it to battery operated because of the fact that the wiring was in such bad shape--the clock itself is over 50 years old, and has been in my grandparents home since long before I was born. However, my question is just this....is it possible to use the piece with the chimes? I tried hanging it the other day, and although the clock has places for the chimes to be inserted, there is no place for them to rest. Will it only work as a doorbell and nothing else? Such a beautiful clock, I would hate to shelve it. Thanks so much,

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knock
knock

Reply 13 years ago

Hi Punkbrewster- You should stop by my site and look around. You might find useful info there. If not, contact me from my site for personalized advice. www.knockdoorbells.com

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westfw
westfw

14 years ago

For the record, I have no objections to expensive antiques or expensive electronics consultants, as long as everyone understands the situation. The sort of bad feelings that are possible when one person's free advice is used for another person's profit is the sort of thing that disrupts the free exchange of information (ala Instructables, or otherwise.) To my mind, electronics and antique restoral are rather similar; those unfamiliar with them have little concept of how many hours need to be spent to acheive apparently tiny accomplishments. The miracle of mass-production has blinded them... Knock: "we" need to know how important the physical size constraints are. And, for instance, what stops one from replacing the troublesome dashpot with an easier-to-find and easier-to-fix clockwork mechanism? Why do you need/want electronics?

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

I know what you mean there: I attempted to replace a cord in an OLD electric toaster once. One false move and the case came off and hundreds of parts went everywhere. I had much better luck with fixing her all American 5 tuber radio.

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knock
knock

Reply 14 years ago

The actual vintage device measures 3-1/2" hi x 1-5/8' x 1" thick. In some models that's all the room there is... In other remodels there is lots of room available. I measure space in one of the larger ones at 6" x 3-1/2" and 1-1/4". I was not aware of a new mechanical sequencer I could use, but I guess that would be fine. I made the leap to electronics thinking that it would be the natural progression- the smallest, lowest cost, no moving parts to wear out equivalent that would also offer the added advantage of programmability over the original inflexible electro-mechanical design. Maybe I have it wrong, but for what its worth, electronic control is the way the industry went; for a brief period between all- mechanical and all-electronic chimes, there were a few hybrid mechanical chimes with electronic control. Anyway, if you think there is a compelling case for a new mechanical timer, I'm open to that as a possibility. Can you point me in the right direction to find and study one?

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westfw
westfw

Reply 14 years ago

No, I was just assuming that other sequencers (vintage or otherwise) were more commonly available in working condition, and they would have all the voltage translation issues of a microcontroller based solution. If not, then... not.

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knock
knock

Reply 14 years ago

Good thought, but it doesn't work that way. All old motored chimes are pretty rare and precious. I wouldn't want to sacrifice one for another. The Ritts with dashpots are certainly no more valuable that others, in fact given the current state of no viable repair strategy, they have marginal value- except to those people who have them and want to save a family relic or an original feature of their vintage homes. A few weeks ago someone proposed to me that surplus Telechron timers should be available somewhere for cheap and useful for this purpose... "should" and "somewhere" being the operative terms.

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Ex-Rittenhouse
Ex-Rittenhouse

Reply 14 years ago

I found this thread courtesy of Knock, who knew I'd be interested to see any progress he was making on repairing these beasts. I love antiques myself...though I don't own many besides my Studebaker. My story: My in-laws had an old Rittenhouse that started acting-up. Original equipment from a 1947 home. My extensive Googling found Knock's site. He provided quite a bit of free repair advice, as well as recommending a place I eventually bought a replacement chime. I ended-up giving my Rittenhouse to him, rather than trashing it or trying to make a buck (or two) on eBay. I really hope he finds a way to get these working again. I believe it's a labor of love and I'd like to know that he found a way to restore them. Cheers from Silicon Valley

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buzznerd
buzznerd

14 years ago

Knock, are you serious about sending me a unit to try to repair?

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knock
knock

Reply 14 years ago

If you can help your input would be graciously welcomed. If you can find a way to fix dashpots and care to share it, that info will go on my site to help others, just as is my intent with all other DYI info on my site. Heck- if you succeed and want to become the dashpot repair go-to guy, that works for me too. I'm just looking for a solution. But I'll tell you, aside from my own efforts which I think were pretty thorough (and while I'm a dunce with electronics, I'm a decent mechanic) I consulted with an old timer who worked at Rittenhouse in his youth and did chime repair on the side. His opinion was that it was hopeless. I have also talked to my ace clock repair contact who will take on anything including stuff that nobody else will touch. He was optimistic too until he looked at the patent and then concurred: hopeless, pointless to try. I am almost certain that the cause of the problem is a tired return spring. Assuming you would be able to get the assembly apart gracefully and back together again, and reset the adjustable oil flow meter to suit the viscosity of whatever oil you use, and reseal it so that oil leakage could be guaranteed not to never occur, the challenge would be to either recondition or replace the spring. Replacement does not seem to be in the cards as it is very specialized with unique tails on both ends. Shimming the spring to preload it a bit to compensate for its tiredness was my best effort, but that was not effective, probably because of the nature of the way a spring works, plus it changed the overall travel of the swiper, which the mechanism can't tolerate. Should also mention that it is fairly easy to get it to operate at a super fast cadence, but getting it to run with reasonable timing- like all four signal outputs evenly timed on the half second- elusive! Consider these items, review the patent so you can see what's going on, and then if you honestly think there is hope, I'll send one to you. I promise not to laugh and point if you decline.

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westfw
westfw

14 years ago

Hmm. Something like Serial Relay Controller with Inputs is probably very close to what you need (and only $50, although not in stock.) It appears to have a socketed microcontroller that provides the "Serial control" function, and you could replace that with a similar micro containing your own specialized chime-sequencing firmware. This would considerably simplify the design effort, I think.

I'm finding it really annoying how difficult it is to use modern electronics on a "system" that is fundamentally 8-24VAC based...

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photozz
photozz

Reply 14 years ago

Yep. That is actually almost exactly the beast. Where he is getting into problems is that the board supplied there may not be small enough to retrofit into existing housings. I was going to use a picaxe 18x and some beefy trasisitors to drive the coils, or small relays if necessary. As far as the AC, I was going to bleed off some current and convert to DC through a 7805 to run the control side. I priced the whole thing at around $18 or so for parts. Maybe an hour for construction. I like the idea of leaving it with the Picaxe firmware, as the editor makes it simple enough for just about anyone to change or setup the timing on the pins.

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westfw
westfw

Reply 14 years ago

Aha. SparkFun has this board with documentation and no PIC installed, for $34. I would think a PICAxe would drop in (depending on whether it can control ALL the IO pins or dedicates some to particular functions.) They also seem to have a Vesion for Atmel AVR

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photozz
photozz

Reply 14 years ago

Cool. appears to be the same board. I'm debating the wisdom of using mechanical relays though. Going with a small SSR would eliminate any chance of a mechanical failure, not to mention simplify the circuit quite a bit. I like these boards, but they might be a little over-engineered for the project.

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westfw
westfw

Reply 14 years ago

A lot of SSRs don't seem to be spec'ed down to the relatively low voltages of a doorbell circuit, and they're rather expensive for "solenoid level" currents. And it's a DOORBELL; operated a couple times a day, perhaps, with a failure mode that is unlikely to be "exciting." (although... fusing the solenoid supply might be good.)

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westfw
westfw

Reply 14 years ago

According to the datasheet, the relay you mention is rated for output voltages from 100 to 240VAC. I can't think of a good reason that they wouldn't work at lower voltages, given what I think the internal circuits look like, but it makes me nervous.
List price is over $4 each (from Newark); which is slight better off than I am; the relays I've been using for similar projects are 'found", and I haven't seen a relay for sale with the same pinout anywhere...

(is "knock" still paying attention?)

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knock
knock

Reply 14 years ago

Yes WESTFW, still listening. I really appreciate input of all participants and especially your efforts to keep the discussion going. I can see that I am probably going to need to have someone construct this for me… and to satisfy the concerns of anyone who may care, my intention is to pay for that, because, you know, some portion of this hobby of mine is a commercial endeavor, modest as it may be. Anyone who is uncomfortable with helping on the planning phase should exit the discussion. Not so thrilled with the comments about my ethics. For anyone else who cares so much about my business, I give away several hours a week of free personalized advice to anyone who asks me for it, in addition to the many pages of free advice content on my site which has taken me hundreds of hours to compile and present. I do it because I enjoy the topic and because I honestly like to help people in this one small way. Let's at least be honest about THAT. I also make a small amount of money from a couple dozen customers a year who have lots more money than time.

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westfw
westfw

Reply 14 years ago

PS: I think you ethics are fine. You made less effort to hide your commercial identity than a lot of people; It was trivial to connect you with knockdoorbells.com, and that site is nicely straightforward, and even has prices posted.