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Simulators

What is a simulator? RInging with a simulator

A simulator behaves sufficiently like something else to be useful, usually for training. Simulators help people learn to fly aircraft, to drive trains and to operate of complex industrial plant. They nhave realistic controls, a (hidden) model of the dynamics, and realistic feedback (visual, aural, tactile).

The picture shows a trainee with a bellringing simulator in the tower at All Saints Wokingham 

Bellringing simulators

Simulators for bell ringers have been around since the 1970s. The late Peter Cummins, built one and used it to develop his own ringing, and teach others. His early simulators (some preserved in the Bellfoundry museum) used discrete electronic logic but modern simulators use software on a computer. A practical simulator needs connecting to something physical for the trainee to 'ring'. Often this is a real bell, with the clapper silenced, and sensors on the wheel that detect the bell's rotation and send a pulse to the simulator when the bell would normally strike. The simulator turns this into sound, and mixes it with the sounds of all the other (simulated) bells, all sounding perfectly in sequence. The trainee's has to ring the bell, and adjust the timing of its swing, to fit in with the sound of the others.

The simulator's advantages are: Training doesn't need a room full of (patient) ringers to ring the other bells. The simulated bells sound in perfect time, so the trainee only has to worry about his/her own mistakes. It helps develop a rhythmic style of ringing, with listening the main feedback for accurate striking.

To a non-ringer the last benefit might not seem an obvious benefit, but it is. When ringing with real ringers it is tempting to rely too much on the visual cues from the movement of the other ropes, but this is much less accurate. 'Ropesight' is a valuable skill for ringers. to make sense of the movement of the other ropes and work out what is happening around them, but the rope movement doesn't always accurately reflect the timing of the striking.

A bellringer needs several sets of skills, not all of which can be helped by a simulator:

Subsequent developments

Since the advent of the basic ringing simulator there have been further developments, some of which had unexpected side effects.

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