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Any wind taken from the bell to supply the pipes would naturally have a tendency to raise the level of the water in the bell and to lower that outside.But if the supply from the air-pumps was kept slightly in excess of the demand by the pipes, so that some of the air would always escape through the water in bubbles, a very even pressure would be maintained.
The second, the most interesting part of his invention, was constructed as follows: a bell-shaped vessel was placed in a bronze basin, mouth downwards, supported a couple of inches above the bottom of the basin by a few blocks.Vitruvius speaks of organs having four, six, or eight rows of pipes, with as many channels.Each channel was supplied with wind from the bell by a connecting tube, a cock being inserted in each tube to cut off the wind at will.Over the box containing the channels an upper-board was placed, on the lower side of which small grooves were cut transversely to the channels, in the grooves close-fitting "sliders" were inserted, which could be moved in and out.At the intersections of channels and grooves, holes were cut vertically through the upper board and, correspondingly, through the top covering of the channels.It would be strange, however, if this important means of regulating the wind pressure had been discontinued while the hydraulus was still in vogue.
About the sixth century organ-building seems to have gone down in Western Europe, while it was continued in the Eastern Empire.
At an early period we meet organs in which the air pumps were replaced by bellows.
Whether in these organs the water apparatus was dispensed with, is not quite certain.
The application of the mechanism is credited to Ctesibius, a mechanician who lived in Alexandria about 300 B. According to descriptions by Vitruvius (who is now generally believed to have written about A. 60) and Heron (somewhat later than Vitruvius), the organ of Ctesibius was an instrument of such perfection as was not attained again until the eighteenth century.
The blowing apparatus designed by Ctesibius consisted of two parts, just as in the modern organ; the first serving to compress the air (the "feeders"); the second, to store the compressed air, the "wind", and keep it at a uniform pressure (the "reservoir").
The wind, therefore, was supplied to the pipes directly from the bellows.