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questions on custom gear
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mi_dach



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:22 am    Post subject: Re: questions on custom gear
Subject description: a little research on what people would like to have
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elektro80 wrote:
This is interesting. Do you have a website?

As for ideas.. a "better" and more extensive take on the Cynthia´s Anything module could be worthwhile. There are very few such modules around at the moment. Patching whatever into whatever seems to slowly become popular again. Also: CV controlled compressors that will interface well with analog modulars. Also silly and even simply mad envelope generators.. And there is still a lot of potential in wavetable modules that can be patched in new and hopefully insane ways. Why not use a wavetable thingie for controlling envelopes? ( This is of course not a new idea as such.. but when you consider what you can really do with wavetable modules... Laughing )

And is there yet a Doepfer compatible beer tap?


I have a personal website but it's hardly business promotional material, so please don't hold that against me!!

As it is, I am simply wondering what kind of things people would like to see, if there is any money in it, and if I am the right person to implement em. At the moment, wavetables are quite beyond my experience, I can help out with entry-level equipment , no more, im not out to revolutionise the synthesizer world (at least not yet!)

I think for a commercial start project, I might try custom MIDI controllers, after that, a VSTi synth with a hardware interface. Eventually, I hope, I can do more advanced cutting-edge instruments. Without the blue LEDs Smile
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think a VST instrument with a hardware controler interface is a very worthwhile idea. You could have all the power of software and all the convenience of knowing for sure what knob goes where which is kinda nice in the dark when doign three things at the same time after a few beers.

Also, what I'd realy like is stuff with a more classy oldfashioned look. Something involving wood and copper. Current controlers are all plastic and even if my prayers for OSC will once be answered MIDI will be around for a long time. A good MIDI interface won't age as quickly as a pc or most synths so it would make sense to build one that will be with it's owner for -say- ten years. Something you like looking at and like touching.

It'd be a high end product, but a set of matching wooden designs for computer keyboard, two octave music keyboard with some faders and knobs and a wooden mouse would look quite stunning and classy. People pay extra (implicidly) for good looking tube compressors with VU meters, why would the same people be stuck with off the shelf plastic components for those? There might be a market there?

About the leds; I think it's mainly the "bright" element that makes it so obnoxious. Rob has bright blue leds on his LFO's and I made hime turn those all the way down into the minute range because the blinking in the corner of my eye was slowly driving me insane.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The Korg KLC is like that. This is a wonderful concept. Now I am hoping they will build a 1:1 replica and with a matching softclone of the PS 3200.

Another issue is that I don´t see why all these devices should use USB. Why not use ethernet? That would make both the studio and stage a lot less messy. In a perfect world we all would want shitloads of external controllers and whatnot. Using USB simply doesn´t make sense at all.

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mi_dach



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Another issue is that I don´t see why all these devices should use USB. Why not use ethernet? That would make both the studio and stage a lot less messy. In a perfect world we all would want shitloads of external controllers and whatnot. Using USB simply doesn´t make sense at all.


Wasn't that what USB was designed for? It can even power smaller devices. I don't understand the advantage for ethernet, you'd need shorter, flexible cables, hubs, and development is at least as complicated as USB... what advantage do you see in ethernet?
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mosc
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A USB device can only talk to the host it's plugged into. A device on the ethernet can talk to anything on the network.
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Indeed. I think that aside from that being apealing purely on a technological level it makes a lot of sense for colaborations, particularly colaborations that span multiple locations.

The Lemur Jazz Mutant already uses this.

Decoding to MIDI if needed could be done on a "driver" level but of cource you could go way beyond MIDI since you'd have controll over both the hard and software. I feel that manifacureres a missing a chance by using USB at the moment. USB is fairly tempramental and even if you currently don't like OSC and only want the connection for sample dumps or whatever then at least OSC would be open for a future firmware update.

That'd probably add complexity to the design but it would also add compatibility. Ethernet is well defined and listening to ports isn't nearly as hard as making a driver and keeping it up to date. Any OS that can listen to Ethernet (which currently includes basically anything) could use it without any need to port drivers.

Perhaps this isn't for you, at this moment, but I think it's a ball that's been dropped by the large manifacturers and it's been dropped for no good reason at all.

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jksuperstar



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ethernet is also spec'd for hundreds of meters, not 25 feet. And there are standards in the works for power over cat-5 cable as well, not to mention the many implementations that already exist. In another 2 years, you will see a giant boom of internet attached devices for the home because of this (you can already find lots of embedded controls from atmel and philips touting embedded ethernet MACs).

Also, I can see USB disapearing as fast as it came. It seems to have won the short term battle with firewire, but I don't think the war is over. Ethernet is very stable, and prolific in pretty much all modern operating systems. The packets themselves may need decoding by special drivers, but the physical layer is extremely robust. Which brings us to it's other benefit: As the physical layers change (and you go from 100Mbits/sec to 100Gbits/sec) the payload itself doesn't change. So your driver is still identical to what it was before.
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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:

That'd probably add complexity to the design


Osc .. yes as text interpreters are not really fun on small controllers, but ethernet not really (see http://www.tibbo.com f.i) and on the computer side Ethernet is much more pleasant to interface than USB (which also sucks on the hardware level IMHO).

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mi_dach



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Interesting suggestions indeed!! I'll do a bit of research into MIDI-to-Ethernet adapters Smile Off the top of my head, I don't see huge problems with it... must look further into osc stuff aswell.
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
Kassen wrote:

That'd probably add complexity to the design


Osc .. yes as text interpreters are not really fun on small controllers, but ethernet not really (see http://www.tibbo.com f.i) and on the computer side Ethernet is much more pleasant to interface than USB (which also sucks on the hardware level IMHO).


My knowledge of this isn't nearly as deep as yours but as long as we are only sending and not getting feedback in (which admittedly would be very nice!), wouldn't messages be fairly static, except for a variable or two? It's more then MIDI for sure but dealing with MIDI on a byte by byte basis and sorting it all to figure out wether cc46 on channel 12 might have changed didn't look like all that much fun either, last time I looked at some sample code. It was only a page or so but I hate pages of code with loads of numbers that mean something but where the meaning isn't clear in reading it.

From what I understand about sending it all the major issue is what to do if you generate more data then your line will take. What to do if somebody with large hands decides to ram up 16 faders from 0 to max in a quarter of a second? what if there's also a clock and various messages about notes? That's the bit I heard people complain about most and I think that stays the same but you don't run into it as quickly when you can generate a few MB a second (wether your computer will like dealing with a MB of instructions a second might be another matter....)

The one thing I think is fun about USB is that as long as you have something simple you can pretend to the computer it's a regular human interface and you don't need drivers. that's what Marije was doing and it seemed to work quite well.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
A USB device can only talk to the host it's plugged into. A device on the ethernet can talk to anything on the network.


Righto baby!

And this makes sense for musicians even though I get why Methaqualone saturated engineers would go for something like USB. Silly possums.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
It's more then MIDI for sure but dealing with MIDI on a byte by byte basis and sorting it all to figure out wether cc46 on channel 12 might have changed didn't look like all that much fun either, last time I looked at some sample code.


Ho hum, I was just looking into http://z505.com/cgi-bin/qkcont/qkcont.cgi?p=Warning:%20PasWiki%20Is%20a%20QuikContent%20System

Switch ...

Don't know doesn't sound like I would program it that way ... I'd have some processes/tasks (based on cooperative multi tasking) and a midi stream interpreter (as a task) handing off requests to the processes (as events).

A binary interpreter is just a case/switch statement or even just a jump table with some luck. For text I'd have to do string compares - which takes ROM space for the strings and time for the compares The processes would be the same of course. Maybe I should just try to write something out for text for a PIC, to see where it wants to go :-) .

So I was thinking somewhat smallish controllers with 32 or 64 kByte ROM max and some hundreds of bytes or maybe a few kBytes of RAM. Running at 10 MIPS or so at most.

I know nothing about the capabilities of HID devices, I did use some virtual serial port USB devices though. Not too hard to do, but you need drivers. and so its not very portable. For HID devices I suppose you'd need some USB directory stuff on the controller - which seems a bit OSC like to me. The virtual serial port devices don't need any special support on the controller, you can roll your own protocol which is something I've done often enough to be comfortable with. And on the computer end it looks like a serial port as well. Not realy hard either and again not very portable either.

Ethernet is easier for me, given my background and my tooling, easier to share over different platforms as well.

About information overload .. I think we are talking about simple controllers here, not needing loads of data. Anyway the controllers I had mind have limits at hundreds of bytyes of receive buffering, another reason to go for a binary protocol.

But first I'm going to read up on this FreePascal stuff a bit, and the pascal web stuff especially. It has more appeal than PHP somehow.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:

Ethernet is easier for me, given my background and my tooling, easier to share over different platforms as well.


True! Connectivity, crossplatform, riding on the upgrade surf.. sure.. Ethernet is Queen, King and hamster. Ethernet is the coolest thing this side of lysergics.

Last edited by elektro80 on Sat Jan 14, 2006 1:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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jksuperstar



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I thought I read somewhere OSC maps to a binary protocol for transmission? (Ie- Both sides "know" about osc1.freq.fine, but it gets assigned to a 32 bit # such as FF45A830. I didn't think the whole name was transmitted everytime. Guess I'll have to go back & start reading more).

About bandwidth though - I think that wil always be an issue. The more you give, the more people use Smile But I think if controllers were to become something different, something more expressive, that mean more sensors and more data to transmit.

That said, there's still NetMIDI, sending simple UDP packets over ethernet. If OSC is too big a jump (for embedded processors like AVRs and PICs), there'as always MIDI > OSC to be done on the host, for the moment. That still gets you into ethernet. And ARP and ICMP aren't terrible protocols to implement either in little processor, which makes things almost as easy as DHCP to configure (in my mind).

This also sounds great, because the ARM7 embedded controllers are finally super cheap & everywhere, and still 60MHz+, so plenty of bandwidth to deal with protocols in software if needed.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

OS X already has "midi over ethernet" built-in.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I would like to have the smallest possible set up. (An "all in one" piece of hardware is ideal, a laptop with a damn good controller at a second place.) I use the Nord G2 pretty exclusively, but there are two things that are considerabley lacking: I would like at least 8 more rotary encoders WITH accompanying LCD screens for name assignment and value display. Exactly like whats on the G2 already, just more of them...the BCR2000 fills this gap decently, but I'm sick of labeling what the knobs are on pieces of paper or masking tape. (The German company that makes the foot pedal which accomanies the "Guitar Rig" software by NI makes a control box like this...but its pretty expensive as I remember.)

Other than that, maybe a ribbon controller, keyboard (anywhere from 3-5 octaves), standard pitch stick and mod wheel, and X/Y/Z axis touchpad all on the same interface with at least 16 of those rotary encoders / LCD screens (featuring 'parameter pages' for overloading the knob assignments) would be stellar. (yeah, thats a lot of stuff but it would be really useful to have all of the above on one controller).

The future of sound generation seems to lie in software...but interfacing with software is always going to be dependent on hardware. I think hardware developers should focus on this...making intricate interfaces with features like I've described so people can consitently use the same control interface for whatever software they have or will have.
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mi_dach



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks all for the valuable feedback, it was really great!!! Now it's back to studying the business course for a little while longer. With a little luck I can have my first devices available in a month or two, I'll post about it when it happens. In the meantime, feel free to PM me to discuss the future of gear and gadgets anytime!

Once again, thanks everyone for the responses, it was lots more than I ever expected and was very encouraging Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'd like to see a breath controller that responds to lip pressure as well as breath. Such a controller coupled with a Continuum would be killer.
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