Sunday 30th April 2017
A simulator. What is it? Does it hurt? Does it tickle?
None of the above frankly, though it could depend on who is standing with you...
The simulator is bellringing's response to the 21st century, combining modern technology with our ancient art with an eye to helping prolong what we love doing - ringing!
One obvious advantage when you see it in action is that it allows us to practice, whether it's on one bell or several without anyone outside hearing us. This is because the bells have their clappers tied so the bell makes no sound. On the wheel a sensor is placed so that when it passes another sensor as you ring the bell normally, it sends the sound of a bell electronically through speakers inside at the same time as the bell would've normally rung. With me still? Good.
This is then linked to a computer programme which can make the sound of any number of bells around you from six to twenty-two! As such, you can ring almost any method on almost any number of bells without needing other humans on bells around you.
And this is the other obvious advantage. As much as I am proud of the ringers we have here in Suffolk, they are only human, including myself, you'll be glad to know. Occasionally we make mistakes, a quick handstroke or slow backstroke. The computer programme doesn't and so this allows you to practice your striking without upsetting anyone's piece of ringing or with anyone hearing outside. Meanwhile you are just ringing away as normal!