Peter Cummins was an innovative electronic engineer. When he retired he moved to Camelford in Cornwall where his wife became interested in handbell ringing with a local group. Peter designed and built a simple ringing simulator which enabled her to practice her ringing skills.
He then went on to design a series of more sophisticated simulators and this provoked a certain amount of interest among ringers. He was asked if he would build further copies for use in ringing towers. Eventually his simulators were in use in a significant number of towers throughtout the country.
Ultimately, the personal computer came along and other people wrote simulators to run on these. His simulators became redundant as towers switched to using PCs, although I know of at least one tower where one of his simulators is still in use.
Peter initially built the machines for his wife, but gradually became sufficiently interested to take up ringing himself. As he did most of his practice using his simulators, which are reliable and accurate, he learnt many methods but was not very good at coping with ringing teams, which tend to be less than perfect with regard to timing and accuracy!
Initially, his simulators were built using discrete logic, and were limited to a short list of methods. By making the machines more complex he was able to produce a machine that could be programmed to ring one additional method, of the users choosing. Eventually, the advent of microprocessors intervened and his final design employed one of these and it was possible to include a fairly substantial list of methods that could be rung. A number of variants of this final design, which he referred to as his Mark 16 simulator, were built and one of these was the only machine that was still in working order. Recently we have acquired several other Mark 16's which vary slightly in appearance but are basically the same internally. One has the memory chip, which stores the program and data for the methods, on the front panel, and came with four memory chips. These have different sets of methods in them, thereby increasing the scope of the machine. The program code appears to be the same in each of these.
Most of his machines synthesised the sounds, which are not very realistic, but adequate for practicing. David Bagley worked with Peter and provided some sampled bell sounds and helped design a replacement sound board which could play the samples thereby making a much more realistic sound. We have recently acquired two MK16's which have had these boards fitted and hence can provide good sound quality.
Peter wrote an article for Ringing World Magazine describing his early simulators.
Page Created by Bill Purvis. Last update 21st August, 2015
Contact me at: bill 'at' billp.org
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