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Patent Issued for Microprocessor Controlled, Accelerometer Based Guitar Pickup Switching System

February 19, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- A patent by the inventors DeRoche, Leonard A. (New Boston, NH); Schwab, Paul J. (Nashua, NH); Jones, Nelson Spike (Weare, NH); Griffin, Gerald (Mont Vernon, NH); Stevens, John B. (Weare, NH), filed on February 15, 2012, was published online on February 4, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 8642876 is assigned to Rockerswitch LLC (Weare, NH).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Electric guitars generally have a number of pickups, which are electromagnetic sensors that convert the vibration of the plucked strings into an electrical signal that represents the sound associated with the string vibration. These electrical signals can then be amplified and played out through a speaker. The pickups are positioned at different locations on the body of the instrument, typically at the bridge, the neck and the middle (between the bridge and the neck). Although each pickup is reacting to the same set of strings, the sounds will be somewhat different at each pickup because of the varying positions of the pickups relative to the body of the instrument.

"The performer can exploit these sound variations and effects by selecting from among the pickups either individually or in combination. To do so, however, requires manual manipulation of a switch. This switch is typically a five way switch located on the face of the instrument. The performer is forced, therefore, to interrupt his picking hand in order to make adjustments to the switch settings. This has an adverse impact on the playing of the instrument.

"What is needed, therefore, is a way to control the selection of the pickups without requiring the performer to interrupt his playing by forcing the use of either hand to manipulate a switch or control knob."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "One general aspect of the present invention is a microprocessor controlled, accelerometer based guitar pickup switching system. It should be noted that unless the context requires otherwise the term 'accelerometer' is used herein to refer to any device or sensor that can be used to determine an angular orientation, an acceleration, or a position

"An embodiment of the invention allows the performer to select a pickup or combination of pickups based on the angle at which the guitar is held, thus eliminating any interruption of playing caused by the need to manipulate switches.

"An accelerometer senses the angle of orientation of the instrument at periodic intervals. A processor reads these sensor measurements and possibly filters them for stability before determining an angle estimate. The filtering may be a hysteresis filter which takes into account previous angle history to improve the current angle estimate. Based on this estimate the processor may switch in a particular pickup or combination of pickups to be connected to an amplifier.

"In an embodiment of the invention, the performer may train the processor to associate particular orientation angles with desired pickup combinations. There may also be provided a manual override switch to allow the performer to select pickups in the traditional manner.

"The accelerometer, processor, switches and associated circuitry may all be located within a hollow portion of the instrument.

"One general aspect of the present invention is a pickup switching system for a stringed instrument. The pickup switching system includes a stringed instrument, a plurality of pickups that detect vibrations of strings at a plurality of locations on the instrument, a plurality of switches that can direct outputs of the pickups to an audio amplifier system, an accelerometer fixed to the stringed instrument, where the term 'accelerometer' refers herein to any device or sensor that can be used to determine an angular orientation, an acceleration, and/or a position, and a processor that is in electronic communication with the switches and the accelerometer, the processor being programmable so as to select different combinations of the pickups for output to the audio amplifier system according to measurements obtained from the accelerometer.

"In embodiments, the stringed instrument is an electric guitar. In some embodiments, at least one of the pickup combinations is selected according to a comparison of an orientation of the instrument with a plurality of selectable orientation ranges. In other embodiments the processor can select up to five pickup combination corresponding to five ranges of accelerometer measurements.

"In various embodiments the number of selectable ranges of accelerometer measurements can be changed by a user.

"In certain embodiments the pickup combinations are selected based on applying a filter to a plurality of accelerometer measurements. In some of these embodiments the filter is simple averaging of sample values. In other of these embodiments the filter is a hysteresis filter. In still other of these embodiments, the output of the filter reacts slowly to changing inputs by taking into account a recent history of those inputs.

"In various embodiments further include a manual pickup selection control that can be used to override the processor and manually select at least one combination of pickups for output to the audio amplifier system.

"In certain embodiments, at least one of the accelerometer, the processor, and the switches is located within a hollow portion of the instrument.

"In some embodiments, the processor can be programmed by activating a training mode of the processor and then storing training points in the processor by activating a training control during manipulation of the instrument, each training point corresponding to a specific combination of pickups to be selected. In some of these embodiments, for each training point the corresponding combination of pickups is defined by selecting the combination of pickups using a manual pickup selection control.

"In various embodiments the accelerometer is sampled at a sampling rate that is between 1000 samples per second and 100 samples per second. In certain embodiments data obtained by sampling the accelerometer are stored in a data array of size 11 by 11.

"In some embodiments, the processor is able to initiate a sequential switching process whereby combinations of pickups included in a specified sequence are sequentially selected at times separated by one or more specified time intervals. And in some of these embodiments the sequential switching process can be initiated by manipulating a control or signaling mechanism.

"In embodiments, at least one of the pickup combinations is selected according to measurements of motional speed or acceleration obtained from the accelerometer.

"In some embodiments, selectable modes of operation of the processor include processor controlled switching, manually controlled switching, selection of pickup combinations from an ordered series of combinations in ascending order, selection of pickup combinations from an ordered series of combinations in descending order, switching according to slow movements of the instrument, and/or switching according to rapid movements of the instrument.

"In various embodiments at least one of the pickup combinations is selected according to a measurement of a translational position of the instrument. In some of these embodiments the translational position of the instrument is measured relative to a position of a foot pedal in wireless communication with the processor.

"Another general aspect of the present invention is a method for switching between combinations of pickups that detect string vibrations on a stringed instrument. The method includes measuring at least one of an angular position, an acceleration, a rate of motion, and a translational position of the stringed instrument, selecting a combination of pickups according to the measurement, and directing outputs of the selected combination of pickups to an audio amplifier system.

"The features and advantages described herein are not all-inclusive and, in particular, many additional features and advantages will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in view of the drawings, specification, and claims. Moreover, it should be noted that the language used in the specification has been principally selected for readability and instructional purposes, and not to limit the scope of the inventive subject matter."

URL and more information on this patent, see: DeRoche, Leonard A.; Schwab, Paul J.; Jones, Nelson Spike; Griffin, Gerald; Stevens, John B.. Microprocessor Controlled, Accelerometer Based Guitar Pickup Switching System. U.S. Patent Number 8642876, filed February 15, 2012, and published online on February 4, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=75&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=3732&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=20140204.PD.&OS=ISD/20140204&RS=ISD/20140204

Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, Microprocessors, Rockerswitch LLC.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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