A peal and a quarter during lockdown

Submitted by Simon on Sat, 06/06/2020 - 18:22

This morning I rang in the first internet 10-bell peal.

Guild of St Cuileáin
Handbell Stadium
, UK
Saturday, 6 June 2020 in 2h 58
5040 Cambridge Surprise Royal
Composed by John H Fielden
1-2 Lesley H M Boyle (Reach)
3-4 Gareth Davies (Reach)
5-6 Graham A C John (C - Brimpton)
7-8 Simon Humphrey (Wetton)
9-10 Simon J Gay (Glasgow)
First peal of Royal on Handbell Stadium. Rung with simulated sound.

Most of the ringing was very good, and we managed to build up a good rhythm. It was slower than we would have rung on real handbells, but that's inevitable with Handbell Stadium because delays are inserted to compensate for different internet lag at different ringers' locations. It took a lot of concentration and it was a satisfying performance. Most of the time I kept my eyes closed, because I wasn't finding it very helpful to look at the simulated bells on screen. The exception was when we had the occasional rough patch, when I looked at the screen to help me find my place, for example by waiting until everyone else had definitely rung if I knew I should be together at the back. It was actually my first peal this year, but I hope not the last.

In the afternoon we went to Angela's house and rang a quarter of Yorkshire in her garden, sitting in a long rectangular arrangement so that Tina and I were 2m away from Angela and Jonathan. It reminded me that real handbells really are better than online handbells. As I write this, it's pouring with rain, so we took advantage of the good weather just in time.

Among all this ringing I found time to finish some more motion controllers for use with Handbell Stadium. I used a smaller version of the Arduino Leonardo, called a Pro Micro, and a different accelerometer board based on an MPU6050. These components are cheaper as well as smaller, and the cost per bell was about £10. I made enough for Jonathan, Angela and Peter each to have a set so that we can all ring together in Handbell Stadium instead of using Ringing Room. Unfortunately two of the accelerometers don't seem to be working, so one of us will have to use the original ActionXL controllers until I can investigate the accelerometers further or replace them.

Graham John has now set up a website for Handbell Stadium, which includes pictures of various motion controllers and housings for the ActionXL controllers. Among these are some beautiful 3D-printed dummy bells made by Tim Hart, with a Leonardo Pro Micro and an accelerometer neatly fitted in.