Pete Knobloch has been working diligently preparing to install our upgraded Uniflex relay system in our Orpheum Wurlitzer.
Pete, a friend, and member Ken Iverson spent several hours last week pulling the interconnecting network cable through
conduits running between the console's "garage" below stage and the two pipe chambers. As there were other cables sharing the conduits, the fit for the new cables was tight adding to the difficulty of pulling them the distance.
The organ relay is in effect the brains of the organ. It sits between the console and the wind chests and based on which stops are drawn and what keys are being played, the relay determines which stops and pipes speak. Originally the relays for these organs were large electro-pneumatic mechanical devices with hundreds of wires and contacts. Because of their size and complexity, the original relays have been replaced with modern electronics in many organ restorations, including our Orpheum Wurlitzer. In addition, the modern electronic relays replace the mechanical combination setter boards of the original consoles, providing an easier setup of the combination pistons and the ability to switch between multiple banks of combinations, allowing each organist to customize the organ's combinations the way they want.
The Uniflex relay that our installation employs is software based, meaning that it is controlled by a program running on a computer. Our upgrade includes a new computer and new software and peripheral control boards from Uniflex. The Uniflex system also provides for MIDI recording and playback, a feature that allows us and the Friends of the Orpheum to demonstrate the organ without the benefit an organist.