An English Church Bell Simulator
An in house proof of concept project undertaken when work was non existent due to the 2020/2021 COVID pandemic.
Commercial flight simulators have been around for many years and typically consist of a small cabin mounted on hydraulic actuators. These devices look nothing like real aeroplanes but provide pilots with a realistic and immersive flight experience through the use of software simulation. Pilots use these devices to learn to fly aircraft in a safe environment without risk of damage to expensive hardware and potential injury.
On similar principles, a new world first true simulator has been designed to help teach and demonstrate the art of English church bell ringing. The simulator device, known as BellSim, looks nothing like a real church bell but is designed to control the position, motion and pull force of an actual bell rope through the use of software simulation. This replicates the ringing of most weights of church bell capable of being handled by a single ringer.
Click the video to start and stop. Note the sound icon at lower right of the video.
Designed from the ground up using reliable industrial automation equipment, the bell rope is wound on to a small drum and driven by a high performance servo motor to provide the user with a realistic ringing experience. The bell and resultant rope motion is simulated in software by solving the equations of motion in real time within a cost effective industrial programmable logic controller (PLC). Rope force is measured using a strain gauge load cell to provide feedback to the software model and allow motion to be modified just like the actual bell.
Freed from the constraints of an actual bell, rope motion can be controlled in ways which would be impossible with actual bell hardware. Examples of this are the ability to immediately stop rope motion and operate at reduced speed which are invaluable for teaching new ringers the art.