Digital Piano Notes Display



About: I'm a retired IT consultant. Besides answering questions on StackOverflow I play around wth Atmels in various home projects. Recently I played a lot of Minecraft but since the hardcore mode does no longer th...

A while ago we sold our old Clavinova to replace it with one of the newer generation which has much more of a piano touch than the previous one. The new Clavinova not only has more of a piano feeling, it also got more of a piano look. While the older ones were rather narrow, the new ones rise up behind the keyboard like classic pianos (I guess it's just air since the electronics will definitely not need that place). Anyhow, our former solution with placing a simple monitor on top of it would no longer work - except one would take the risk of getting a stiff neck from starring up all time to see the notes. So I thought of a way to get the monitor to where the piano notes are usually placed. And here we go.

Step 1: Getting the Material

I did not want to invest lots of money (the Clavinova was expensive enough) and/or search for some solution which probably does not exist anyway. So I grabbed

  • some of the plywood like shown above (18 mm for the frame and 10 mm for the plates).
  • two short metal pins of 10 mm length and 5mm diameter I cut from some leftover
  • a wooden rod of about 20 cm length and 8 mm diameter
  • some black paint
  • thin felt to protect the piano surface
  • wood glue
  • some wood working machines.

This and only a little time got me a new monitor mount which apparently looks like it was bought along with the piano.

Step 2: Basic Construction

Here you see the side view of my construction. There's a top frame with some hook to the back which clamps on the top cover of the piano. The front part is hung up with pins so it leans towards the place where the piano notes are normally stored. The monitor is screwed on this front part with a standard VESA mount. The top part will hold the computer. Felt between monitor and frames prevent scratches on the piano. I also added PDFs with construction details in the size I used. I did not draw measures since pianos have no unique construction. Basically the whole thing is build that simple, you can eventually do it free hand.

Step 3: Top Frame

As you can see from the photos, the top part is very simple in its construction. The frame stabs were cut on the saw at 18mm x 18mm to the right length. To the front there are two elongated bores which later take the metal pins to hold the front frame. The hook to the back is just glued with wood glue so it fits snuggly the piano top cover. For the top plate there's a little recess to glue it also in place. I have a tiny milling machine to make them and also the front hook bores. However, this can also done with manual wood working tools. It will just take a little longer.

Once all parts are prepared, top and hooks are glued and when it's dry, everything gets sanded well.

Step 4:

The front frame is even simpler than the top frame. The plate is cut to form on the saw and the bores for the VESA mount are drilled (100 mm x 100 mm with 3 mm bores). I made the screws from threaded M3 rod and nuts. Just cut the rod at the right length, screw the nut on one end so the rod protrudes half a millimeter and place it in the vise. Mine has a little triangular recess where I can stick in rod/nut while only loosely closing it. Now a smack with the hammer and rod/nut are welded.

The both stabs were also cut 18mm x 18mm from plywood. The hook for the top frame was made from some 5mm stainless steel rod I had lying around. Just 2 pieces of 1 cm length filed at the end so you have no sharp edges. These pins need to fit into the half bores and will later be used to hang the front into the top part. The lower stabilization rod is cut to the right size and shall fit snuggly to the half bores in the side stabs.

Make the recess for the front plate and test fit it with the top frame. Once everything fits, glue all wooden front parts with wood glue. Again test fit and sand everything.

Step 5: Finish

Both frames are painted with black lacquer. I took a satin finish, but of course you could make your masterpiece by applying shellack :-)

Once the lacquer was dry, I glued felt stripes where the top frame will have contact with the piano. Here I used plain paper glue which dries faster than wood glue.

Finally the metal pins were pressed into the front part. The front part should be easy to move fore and back.

Step 6: Mounting

EZPZ: Just place the top frame so it hooks up at the back. Screw the monitor to the front frame and hook both to the top frame. Now the monitor should lean back to where normally the piano notes are placed. I have a couple of old 2009 Mac Minis (but obviously not enough, so I shot another one for 99€ at the bay). This machine rests nicely on the top frame and hosts a program I wrote to store and display the single note sheets. It also controls turning of the pages as described in this i'ble.

A note on the monitor: I especially looked for one that was flat (of course) and with connections going down like you can see on the picture in the previous step. Perpendicular sockets like most monitors have it will increase the depth of the whole thing. You will likely notice that the display is nearer to your eyes than a normal note sheet would be. But you get used to that after a short time and having all your notes at a mouse (or foot) click is worth it anyway.

The piano lamp (see front picture) for which I made a LED replacement is now out of use ;-)

Step 7: Playing

As mentioned I also wrote a little program to manage the scanned piano notes. As you can see on the picture the list to the left shows all works with name, genre, composer and a display for favorites (# of hearts) / number of views (triangular gray bar), which can be sorted individually. The middle window shows a preview of the selected notes. The button below reveals the original PDF in the Finder so you can make edits (cropping/annotations). The right window allows to filter the list on the left for all criteria (title, composer, genre are obvious). The "Sammlung" (collection) allows to group single sheets to where they had been derived from (e.g. "Wohltemperiertes Clavier") and to filter them. The "Neutral" pop-up allows to filter by the number of hearts you assigned. Switching between "Filter/Bearbeiten" (filter/edit) allows to change the metadata and/or add/delete sheets. Finally the "Anzeigen" (show) button shows the selected work in full screen (you can see on the intro picture). It's typeset in red because the picture is taken from my test environment and I had not connected my foot switch.



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