Welcome to myorgan.net!
This page will explain, how to build a home-made digital pipe organ based on cheap, easy-to-find computer parts, and cheap, easy-to-find electronical components, based on free and/or open-source codes.
The pictures on the top:
Left: the organ of the Deák Tér Lutheran Church, Budapest, Hungary. This is the first instrument, where I got in contact with pipe organs, when I was 6, where my aunt played every sunday 6:00 PM. The background music is Dubois' toccata, played by her on this organ.
Center: the console of this organ
Right: the organ of the church at the Lutheran University of Theology, Budapest, Hungary
To get started with your project, get some used piano keyboards, and a refurbished organ pedalboard, and ask permission to your father to use his garage and his woodworking tools...
Your first project, for an 1-manual organ:
MKC 64-key MIDI controller, based on J.D.Petkov's PIC 16F84 firmware
First, of all, you must be capable to build an MKC controller board. It's code is free, the PCB is easy to build, and 64 buttons can be attached to it.
Saw out an organ-sized part of your refurbished piano keyboard, and mount some switches on it, then attach the controller to your computer with a DB-15 sized plug. If you don't have a GAME/MIDI port, get an used PCI soundcard from Ebay. SB Live! and SB 128 series work well, as Audigys with GAME port.
MKC controller instructions: J.D. Petkov's MIDI controller page (page removed in october, 2009, because geocities.com was closed.). I've fortunately mirrored the files 5 years ago, when I made my controller, so they can be accessed HERE
Alternatively, if you want to buy the controller board fully assembled, with superior factory quality, RoHS compliant PCB: MIDI botuique sells it for a price of 55 euros
Advanced alternative controller
I've discovered a new MIDI project, which is not commercial. Read more at ucapps.de. You can download files, schematics, source codes, etc from here. An example of a home-made organ console built with those bricks can be found in the Midibox blog. This project can be used easily for a multi-manual organ with 'classic' stop changes, and also suitable for displaying stop states via LED's, or driving a "real" pipe organ (only electrically controlled windchests) from a MIDI console.
How to play your first organ
To play your keyboard, you must have a computer with a MIDI controlled sampling softfare. Tons of commercial products are available, but you can also find free or demo versions with usable functionality.
You also need some sample sets. Basic sets also can be found easily. Smaller organ sets can be found for free, on the author's sites, or on most p2p networks.
If you want to play a bigger organ, you have to buy (or borrow) a commercial sample set. The smaller, older ones can be ordered on a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or a download. They cost several hundred euros. Some bigger ones are absolutely commercialized, they are chipered with a HASP (russian type, hard-to-crack) hardware encryption dongle, wich prevents its usage on different systems (copy of a borrowed set), and they sold for a fortune. These sample sets - even if you're rich enough to afford them - are absolutely unusable for an invidual, because you need more than 4 GB of RAM, which is supported by the most 32-bit operating systems. You have to install a 64-bit operating system, and a 64-bit version of the sampling software, which is only available as an extra option of commercial software.
Hauptwerk has a free, functional demo with limited polyphony. It's enough for practicing purposes.
MyOrgan was an open-source application. Backups can be found on the network, but the author joined to Hauptwerk's team, and removed the project from sourceforge. The Hauptwerk demo is doing the same job. If You're interested in, a backup can be found in the downloads section of Jeux d'orgues.
GrandOrgue is based on MyOrgan's source with some minor modifications. Supports only 16 bit samples @ 44.1 KHz. Linux versions are available at the Author's private site. Forum can be found HERE
There are several open-source pipe organ simulators, like jOrgan or Puppy Organ are exist. If you have plenty of time, and you're a computer enginier, try them!
You can also play your keyboard with Native Instruments' or other professional software, like GigaStudio.
The best free organ set for practicing is made by Sonus Paradisi. The Zlata Koruna mini can be downloaded HERE. As you see, most of sample sets are huge files. This one has only four stops (8', 4', 2 2/3', 2'), and uses only 384 MB of RAM.
Jeux d'Orgues is an independent site, with a free (and surprisingly low memory usage & good sound) organ sampleset. Give it a try!
UPDATE: HW1/MyOrgan/GrandOrgue samples are removed from Hauptwerk.com and migrated to Hauptwerk 3. These can be only tested with Hauptwerk. 48KHz formats are NOT supported in GrandOrgue unfortunately, so new definition files won't help. Torrent sites or emule can help, many collectors had archived this sample sets!
Try a search on torrent sites or emule also! There are some interesting combinations of the free samples can be found with patience!