Simbell is the result of a few months of designing and testing after our head of technology started to learn to ring bells at his local church.His wife has been ringing for many years, but on an “open” day at the Church he decided to “have a go” - and was hooked !Being in a small village, bell practice was 7:30 to 9.00 pm on a Thursday but this was not always convenient and he wanted to be able to practice with others at other times, or earlier or later and he then discovered that there were bell simulators which would connect the bells to a computer and “play” the sound at the required time. On enquiring about these, cables were required and these appeared to need a faculty at the Church for installation, unless they could be a “temporary” feature, but with the very high ceilings and tower at the church this would not look very neat as a temporary installation and of course in his world technology has moved on a lot.
Wired and Wireless.
The use of a wireless system could have some distinct advantages over wired, not only speed of installation, but such a system could be portable and installed at different locations for an evening, The basic requirements were for a system that would connect with little or no setup as far as a transmitter / receiver was concerned and would have the range to meet the vast majority of towers.In initial testing, Bluetooth just did not have the range, WiFI was a possibility but required an element of routing and setup that would be annoying for the non-technical and some of the latencies would cause issues of timing that would be unacceptable. It was decided that standard Radio Frequency transmission (RF) was the answer as this had most importantly no setup requirements apart from an aerial, had good range when a small aerial was used and almost zero latency ( a few micro seconds )
Power to the system
When investigated, very few towers had power in the Belfry (apart from lights), so to use a mains power source was not an option. It was decided that keeping the power requirements of the transmitter unit as low as possible it was quite possible to power 6 or 8 transmitters for several hours on a single rechargable battery pack. It was considered initially whether each transmitter unit should contain a battery unit, however as the power requirements are so low, the decision was made to use a DC supply of 9-15v so that clients can choose whether to use a mains supply with a “wall wart” power supply if they have it available or use a rechargeable battery pack.Software and Compatibility When the idea was first conceived for SIMBELL, it was purely as a training aid so the bells could be rung and practice made without disturbing the neighbours. The transmission protocol was designed for simplicity and a small piece of software was written that would decode the transmissions and play the appropriate sound. It was suggested during initial testing that it could be compatible with some of the existing software that was available for ringing, particularily the Abel Simulator Software ( http://www.abelsim.co.uk ) so we contacted the author who also put us in touch with David Bagley the creator of the Multibell interface who were both extremely helpful with the details of the protocols that were required, David even provided the MBI protocols which was very kind indeed. Amusingly and purely by chance the protocols that we chose were almost identical to those used so in fact when we tried the Abel Software it worked for 6 bells immediately we set the speed of the interface to the correct one for Abel. We are not going to be trying to reinvent Abel, we will always provide a simple training aid that rings at the requisite time, but when you consider the complexity of Abel (and others) we don’t need to be in that market, it is such a low cost for the functionality you get, we strongly recommend that you look at it, and the others on the market, to meet your requirements.
Lane End CottageLong LaneTilstonMalpasCheshireSY14 7HAhttp://www.elginhill.comRegistered in England No 06330404 SIMBELL is a trademark of, developed, produced, owned and marketed by Elginhill Limited.All rights are reserved
SIMBELL is an Elginhill Product
We would like to thank Chris Hughes, the creator of the Abel Bell SimulatorSoftware, David Bagley who invented the Bagley Multi Bell Interface (MBI), Doug Nichols the creator of Virtual Belfry and Derek Ballard, the creator of Beltower for their help and assistance which has enabled us to ensure that SIMBELL is compatible with all of these simulator software products.