Tower Bell Simulator
Using Abel as a tower bell simulator, it's normal to have one person ringing a silenced bell, and Abel ringing the rest; the ringer has to keep in time with Abel's perfect rhythm, by listening carefully and adjusting the speed of her bell. It is possible to have more than one person ringing with Abel, but it is then increasingly difficult for the people all to keep in time with the simulator.
If you have selected "Moving Ropes" in the Screen/Print Options, and the ringer can see the screen, they can try to ring by ropesight (it is easier if you turn off movement of the user's own bell, from the View menu). Note that with normal sensors, which tell Abel when to make the bell sound, you must ensure that the Ringing Menu item "User Bell Sound Delay" is not ticked.
When you are using Abel in the tower, it is extremely useful to have footswitches connected and configured, since it saves you having to find the right keys or mouse clicks. You can configure switches to do various commands such as Go, Bob and Rounds; and also sequences of commands on a single switch, such as Start/Go/Bob: see Configuring External Control Switches.
Starting the Simulator - AutoStart
The traditional way to ring with a simulator is to start ringing a real bell, then start the simulator ringing at the right moment to fit in with the ringer. Alternatively, you can start the simulator, then start the real bell at the right moment to fit in with it. Both of these require some skilful timing and, if the ringer is to stay in time, requires that they synchronise their ringing speed with that of the simulator. With Abel, there is a better way.
First start ringing the real bell. Wait until the speed is steady, then click the Auto button on the Tower toolbar (or press a footswitch, or F10). After a few blows, Abel will then join in rounds with the ringer, at just the right time, and at the right speed.
Of course, if it is a learner ringing they may not stay in time with Abel (some experts may not, either). It's good training to adjust the bell speed to get back in time, but if this is too hard you can click Auto again; Abel pauses for a moment, then resynchronises with the ringer in rounds, at the speed they're now ringing.
Note that you can use AutoStart without having Abel adjust its speed to the speed of the bell, if you un-tick the "AutoStart in sync" box in Options/Ringing Options; this can be useful with very a light bell, or with a dumbell.
Changing Bell Mappings
In a tower with sensors on all the bells, usually when ringing with the simulator you ring a bell in its natural position: if you want to ring the 3 in a method, you ring the real 3rd. However, there are times when you want to ring a particular bell, but have it sound as a different bell, say the tenor. Most commonly this is to allow a learner to ring a light bell while practising covering, or to practise using a heavy bell as treble, or to ring a bell that doesn't exist in your tower: the 9th in a 6-bell tower. You can easily do this with Abel. Select the composition and method you want to ring, then click the mouse on the bell you're going to ring (3rd), hold the button down, and drag to the bell you want to ring as (tenor) before releasing the mouse button. If the bells are displayed in a circle, you'll see that the bells move round so that the tenor is now in 3rd position; if the bells are displayed across the screen, you'll see that a line under the treble moves to the fourth, showing that the external 1st now sounds as fourth, and hence the third sounds as tenor. When you start the simulator, the external 3rd will sound as the tenor. When you want to get the bells back to their normal positions, stop the simulator and click on the treble, which will move back to its "home" position. (You can click it without stopping, if you haven't got call changes turned on.)
If your tower has only one (or two) bells with sensors, you should normally configure these as bells 1 (and 2) in Options/External Bells. Now view them as being equivalent to ringing from the keyboard with the J (and F) key(s).. So if you want the (first) bell to sound as 4, say, just click the 4.
When teaching learners, it can be useful to make some of the simulated bells ring silently, to make it easier for the learner to pick out her own bell sound. For example, when learning to ring rounds with the simulator, it can be useful if the learner rings the 2, with the simulator ringing 1 and 3 to give a gap to fit in, with 4/5/6 ringing silently, thus getting the rhythm of six bells without all the confusing notes! You can turn off and on the sound for each bell by right clicking it. A dialog appears with a check-box that you click to silence the bell, and click again to restore its sound. (The rest of the dialog contains striking controls for the bell.)
Disconnected BellsAnother useful capability when teaching, is to have the teacher ring a bell with Abel, and the learner ring another bell simultaneously with the teacher but not sounding at all. Thus the learner learns to get their timing to exactly match the timing of the teacher, whether in rounds, call changes, plain hunt, or a method - whatever the teacher has told Abel to ring. To allow this, you can tell Abel that a bell, to be rung by the learner, is NOT to be used as an external bell: ie, that it is to be ignored. To do this, right click the bell that the learner will ring (normally the one in the circle with the same bell number, unless you've rotated the circle), and remove the tick in the Ext bell checkbox. This has immediate effect: you do not have to close the dialog box.
The Reset and Reset All buttons in the dialog ensure that the current bell and all bells (respectively) are used as external bells: that is, they tick the Ext Bell checkbox(es).
Striking Display and Striking Summary
When ringing with the simulator, you can turn on a real-time display of your striking: click the View menu and Striking Display. When the simulator has stopped, you can examine a review of the striking, with a summary of the striking of the real bells. For details, see Monitoring and Reviewing Your Striking.