The idea for Belfree was conceived back in 2013. Initially it was simply to help out a friend who wanted an improved sensor to what was available on the market at the time. Francis and Chris stepped in to help out having no prior experience with bell ringing – they are not ringers, but a product designer and an electronics engineer whilst also being a drummer and a bass player, respectively.
Having been offered an opportunity to demonstrate their technology at the Ringing Roadshow in 2014, they hastily assembled some demonstration units to gauge interest in the product. It was very well received and they returned to the shed to further develop the idea.
The following year saw an eight bell beta-launch demonstration at St Margaret’s in Leicester which again was well received but did show some areas in the system that needed improvement so it was back to the drawing board and made things better.
The ART AGM at Taylors in Loughborough in 2016 was the first real public outing and at this point Chris and Francis were very happy with the sensor offering, however shortly after this event a key component in the design was discontinued. This was a huge set-back and meant they really had to take more of the production into their own hands.
Fast forwarding to today – Belfree WRS is now designed, manufactured and assembled in-house from laser cut cases to hand-soldered custom PCBs.
The main goal for Belfree has always been to target the single bell market – to provide a simple sensor solution which can be fitted to many towers easily and shared if necessary, ultimately offering more opportunities for people to learn ringing.