Using Abel in the Tower
This section describes special features of Abel that are mainly intended for use in towers: in particular, features that are useful if you have sensors on one or more of your bells, connected to the PC running Abel. You may also have footswitches connected, to allow convenient control of the simulator without having to get to the mouse or keyboard. Of course, many features of Abel that don't depend on external bells and switches may also come in useful in the tower: for example, the ability to display and print - and listen to! - the blue line for methods, and the ability to ring from the keyboard (e.g., with headphones on, during a wedding!).
Information on making sensors for tower bells is given in External Bells, and on configuring Abel to use the sensors and switches is given in Configuring Abel to use bell sensors and Configuring Abel to use control switches. This section assumes you've already made and tested your sensors and switches. It also assumes you've set Abel's general options appropriately for use in your tower: for example, the ringing speed, bell sound, and rope/sally pictures; you do this by clicking the Options menu, then clicking on Ringing Options, Sound Options and Screen/Print Options, respectively. Notice that the Sound Options also allow you to specify that you want Mono sound: Abel normally provides a stereo effect, matching the circle of bells on screen, but you can turn this off if you don't find it helpful in the tower.
When all this is set up, there are two main ways to use Abel with external bells: for Silent Practice and as a Tower Bell simulator.
A few points apply to both of these:
- If you try to run other programs at the same time as Abel, the rhythm will be irregular in the simulator, and for both silent practice and simulator it is possible that Abel may miss signals from the bells (see below). Always make sure Abel is the only program running on the PC.
- If Windows decides to use the PC disk, this too can cause irregularities. To help avoid this, start the PC and immediately go into Abel, without doing other things first. That way Windows has no excuse for tidying things to disk later on.
- Turn off your screen saver!! Normally screen savers start up when there's been no keyboard or mouse activity for a while – and activity on external bells and switches doesn't count. If the screen saver starts up in the middle of the ringing it can disturb Abel (and maybe the ringers too!). To turn off the screen saver, click Start/Settings/Control Panel, then double click Display, click the Screen Saver tab, click the down-arrow in the Screen Saver box, and select the top item "(None)".
- Depending on your sensor design, if Abel misses a signal, or detects an extra signal, from a sensor, then a bell may start ringing as the sally/tail comes down, rather than as it rises. The only cure for this is to stand all the bells, then press the reset button on the Tower toolbar (or press F4). If you have made sure that Abel is the only program running on a newly started PC, and have well-made and properly installed sensors, this should be a very rare event. It cannot happen if you are using sensors with single acivators, for example with one of David Bagley's Multi-Bell Interfaces.
- If your bells frequently "flip" to ringing on the down-pull, you should use Abel's Port Monitor facility to see whether the bells are sending signals to Abel regularly: see Debugging external connections.
Click on one of the buttons below to find out more about how to use Abel in the tower:
Tower Bell Simulator