vendredi 2 décembre 2016

Volkaoss Arduino firmware BETA1 is here - VolcaSample and Kaosscilator as true synths

Quick setup :

Hardware

You can search on Ebay for "Aduino Uno" and "Arduino MIDI SHIELD".
For example : Arduino Uno from UK  and Arduino Midi shield from HK .
It should cost less than 15 €, shipping included.
You simply have to put the Midi shield into the Arduino Uno socket. That's all you have to do !!

Firmware download and uploading to the Arduino.

Download the Volkaoss binary firmware BETA1 for Arduino Uno here.  This is a beta version, so you know what it means !   To push the bin firmware to the Arduino, you will need the excellent XLOADER utility , from Russemoto.  Arduino is usually found on COM 4 or COM 5 after you have plugged the USB cable.

I don't publish the sources because that was a lot of work, and it needs cleaning and formatting. I will probably do in a next future, if users like Volkaoss. For the moment, if you want to support Volkaoss, you can donate !

 
That will help me to buy a new gear not to become a millionaire !

update : build 1.071216.0040 allows you to save permanently activated channels on the Volca Sample, and the KV to Kaossilator MIDIN IN .  To store use C0 + D0 on the channel 16.  To retrieve default parameters, C0 + E0. 

VOLKAOSS - MULTI-DEVICES MIDI CONTROLLER
Build number : 1.071216.0040
==========================================
Parameters retrieved from EEPROM
==========================================
Version                             : 0.00
VK Midin                            : 16
Kaossilator Midi In                 : 7
Kaossilator Midi Out                : 11
Kaossilator transpose               : 36
Kaossilator  PAD default value      : 64
Volca Sample midi in channel status : 0

==========================================



MIDI setup

The kaossilator must be set to 4 octaves, scale must be chromatic. The Key is usually better fixed to C minus. The receiving MIDI channel is 11 by default. It must be set to 11 in Midi / MSSG / GL.CH else the koassilator will not receive messages from Volkaoss.  The bank A,B,C,D buttons must be configured to  C2, C#2, D2, D#2.  This is the default configuration.
TIPS : If you want to store permanently your Kaossilator configuration,  set your key, scale, and range , and store them in to a program bank.  Then save programs to bank 0, and again ALL to bank 0. At the next boot, you kaossilator will be ready to use with Volkaoss.

The firmware covers both Kaossilator Pro 3 / Pro 3+ and the Volca Sample. You need a splitter cable to control the 2 devices at the same time. Otherwise, simply use a classic midi cable if you own only one of these devices.
  • Plug the MIDI OUT of your keyboard to the Midi IN of the Volkaos. 
  • Plug the splitter cable to the MIDI Out of the Volkaoss.
  • Plug first out of the splitter to the Midin In of the Kaossilator pro, and the second one to the Midi IN of the Volcasample.
  • Plug a +5V power supply or a USB cable to the Arduino board, then choose some samples on parts 1-10 of the Volca Sample.

Testing

On the kaossilator, choose the piano patch (A42), and send notes to the channel 1, beyond C1. You should hear a piano sound and see the green light on the pad.
Send notes from C2 to the channel 10 : you should hear the Volca sample sounds.


VK for the Kaossilator Pro 3 / Pro 3 +

  • Map midi notes to specific pad press and X, Y control changes 
  • Manage holded note on while playing another as a mono synth do 
  • Pitch bend handling relatively to the note currently pressed on the keyboard 
  • Map Cutoff, Reverb level or Modulation Wheel to PAD Y 
  • Map Resonance to a totally free PAD X 
  • Velocity sensitivity 
  • Commands on the C0 octave (C0 beeing the "command key") : 
  • Start/stop bank A, B, C, D. 
  • All banks on / off (2) 
  • ARP/GATE start / stop 
  • ARP speed increase / decrease (cyclic) 
  • Change Midi In channel (cyclic)

To enter a command, you must hold both the command key (C0) and the key corresponding to the function you need to use. If a midi clock is received, the banks, and the ARG/GATE are started synchronously with the BPM. The ARP/gate speed increase/decrease are cyclics.
If you need to change the midi in channel for the Volkaoss, you must tap the "Change midi in key " a number of time corresponding to the channel number.  Beyond 16, it will restart to 1. The channel will change only after you release the command key. So, don't forget to adjust the midi out channel in your midi keyboard.

VK for the Volca Sample :

  • Map notes on channel 10, C2 octave to Volca Sample parts on midi 1 to 10, and play chromatically the last part played (not used for recording) beyond C2 
  • Velocity sensitivity 
  • Commands on C0 to toggle midi IN for parts (5-9) to use them for specific Volca controls or playing chromatically when recording with a DAW 
  • Reset controllers values 

Notes are starting with part 1 at C2, part 2 at C#2, etc... on the channel 10 (as the General Midi drums standard). All commands must be sent from the channel 10, at the C0 octave. No command key here.

Enabling MIDI IN channels will allow you to tweak part in real time, like the knobs of the Volca Sample. Only channels from 5 to 9 can be enabled. To activate/inactivate (toggle) the part midi in channel, you must first select it, by emitting the note on the channel 10 corresponding to that part.

The "Reset all CC" command will initialize all CC values to their original value for the selected part.

update : build 1.071216.0040 adds a command key to the Volca Sample.  The Command key is C0.  To toggle MIDI IN or Reset CC , you must now use command key (C0) + respectively D0 or E0.

Issues reporting


If you find any issue, you can report it here, in the comments.


mardi 29 novembre 2016

Volkaoss (VK) : A MIDI controller for the Korg Volca Sample and Kaossilator Pro - Use them as true synths


Photo : My home studio setup....TT (TB) 303 not on the photo, Roland FP2 piano keyboard, Arturia midi keyboard, Korg Microkorg, Arturia Microbrute SE, NI Maschine, Cubase 6, UMX midi keyboard, Korg Kaoscillator Pro 3, Volca Sample, and the 3 new fun Pocket operators. No more room !Since a few months, I use more and more hardware gear and synths, and a little less frequently software like VST plugins, the urge to touch buttons, turn knobs, plug and unplug cables. Thus, my setup is becoming a patchwork of "old" analog synths, sequencing softwares, sampler, and other more or less recent gears ...

The common point of all this: MIDI (not always). And in the world of MIDI, it is sometimes complicated to talk to each other.




The Korg Volca Sample :


I like very much this small white box capable, for a very low price, to spit sounds really percussive, if you make the effort to process samples correctly. The big catch is that it is not really usable on a MIDI chain, because it monopolizes 10 channels, one per sample part, from 1 to 10.   In addition, the samples loaded in the beast can not be played chromatically with a MIDI keyboard. To change the pitch, you have to manually adjust the Speed knob (or send the ad-hoc MIDI controller).

See also my previous post on the installation of a MIDI OUT on that box.

The Korg Kaossilator pro 3 (KP3) :

I also have another kid from Korg, a little bit older, but, with huges sounds and an X/Y pad : the Kaossilator Pro 3. This device is also not easily integrable in a MIDI setup, simply because it does not recognize MIDI notes, but only non standard midi CC controls.  For sure, some will tell me the KP3 is a pad and is finally more a surface controller rather than a synth. I absolutely disagree !! Some patches are so clean and cool, especially bass, most others are good, drum kits are very dynamic, the vocoder is a nice feature, and there are still 4 banks to record and play samples.

BUT, anyone who has tried the Kaossilator knows that : playing a precise note on the PAD is almost impossible (sorry I have big fingers !!), even using the SCALE function. Second problem, the recorded samples are difficult to synchronize with the BPM because there is no Start / Stop MIDI implemented in the KP3. To start a sample, you have to press the "Bank n" button on time : it is more tricky than you think. Better to be awake ! It is a serious issue.

Despite the big potential of the KP3 unfortunately constrained by Korg's design mistakes, after a few months to play with, it finally remains in the closet, and slowly takes the dust before being sold a misery. While precisely I was thinking to sell mine, I renounced after played a "last time" with it because it sounds so good.

Something to do or just drop it to the trash ?


I had already seen projects, quite experimental on all kinds of platforms, to map the notes in MIDI controls and to trigger the sounds of the Kaossilator. Likewise for the Volca sample, a company is selling a special MIDI cable embedding a MIDI powered microcontroller for about € 35 + delivery that allows to operate the Volca Sample with only the channel 10 / as a GM module. I watched the demo video on their website : this is close to what I imagined doing when I thought about it, and it's rather well done, but that is a little too dedicated to the Volca in my opinion...

Volkaoss : keep these gears boys !!


Because developing software is a part of my job, I therefore started the development of what I called the "Volkaoss" (VK if you don't speak Klingon). I wanted to make VK a MIDI controller / converter that is both the most universal and the most economical possible... I happen to have an Arduino Uno at the bottom of a drawer!

I wanted a plug and play solution, without soldering, so I ordered an Arduino MIDI SHIELD for less than 10 euros, and after several rather intense weeks of development, I produced a firmware which runs quite well in the Arduino Uno.



I used a master MIDI keyboard and to get 2 midi outs, and simultaneously drive the Kaossilator and the Volca sample with KV , I used a "midi splitter" cable. You can find some on Ebay for few euros. You can also make one easily with 3 midi cables by connecting all RX, all TX, and all ground together.

KV receives usually on channel 1 for the KP3 and channel 10 for the Volca Sample.

It is a real pleasure to play on the KP3 with a keyboard, at the right pitch, transforming it to a very powerful mono synth at a price defying competition and to be able to use the Volca Sample as a real drum machine, managing velocity, and Compatible GM / channel 10 !!




VK features for the Kaossilator Pro 3 / Pro 3 +
  • Map midi notes to specific pad press and X, Y control changes (1)
  • Manage holded note on when playing another as a mono synth do
  • Pitch bend handling relatively to the note currently pressed on the keyboard
  • Map Cutoff, Reverb level or Modulation Wheel to PAD Y 
  • Map Resonnance to a totally free PAD X
  • Velocity sensitivity
  • Commands on the C0 octave  (C0 beeing the "command" key) :
    • Start/stop bank A, B, C, D.  (2)
    • All banks on / off (2)
    • ARP/GATE start / stop (2)
    • ARP speed increase / decrease (rotate from max to min and min to max)
    • Change Midi In channel
(1) The kaossilator must set to 4 octaves, and scale must be chromatic. The Key is usually better fixed to C minus.
(2) If a midi clock is received, the banks, and the ARG/GATE are started synchronously with the BPM

VK features for the Volca Sample :
  • Map notes to channel 10, C2 octave to Volca Sample parts on midi 1 to 10, and play chromatically the last part played (not used for recording) beyond C2
  • Commands on C0/ Channel 10 to toggle midi IN for parts (5-9) to use them for specific Volca controls or playing chromatically when recording with a DAW
  • Velocity sensitivity
Download here : http://techiesexpedition.blogspot.fr/2016/12/volca-sample-and-kaosscilator-as-true.html

Comments are welcome !!

dimanche 20 novembre 2016

Marre du SPAM vocal ! (in french)


Je ne sais pas pour vous, mais ces derniers temps, je reçois sans cesse des appels sur mon n° de téléphone mobile, du style :
"Oui bonjour c'est au sujet de notre RDV de demain...clic (fin de communication)".
Je rappelle, et je tombe sur une messagerie vocale "Bonjour. Je ne suis plus joignable sur ce n°. Pour me joindre composez le 08 XX XX etc..." bref, un n° surtaxé à 2,99 € la minute !!!

OK, je ne me laisse pas avoir (cette fois-ci ?) mais les messages deviennent de plus en plus subtil, pour vous soutirer quelques euros, et ces sociétés ont pignons sur rue, comme 123 Multimedia, de Toulouse que j'ai pu retrouver sur la plateforme d'annuaire inversé http://www.infosva.org/

 Cette société n'en est pas à son coup d'essai et lançait déjà en 2008 (!!!) des campagnes d’arnaque au n° surtaxée par SMS.  Mais que font les tribunaux et surtout les opérateurs télécoms, qui prélèvent mécaniquement depuis tout ce temps, les quelques euros des pauvres couillons qui se seront fait berner. Oui, car les opérateurs attendent "plusieurs signalements" avant de couper les n° incriminés. Pourquoi ne pas purement et simplement bloquer tout reversement à une société en cas de signalement de spam sur le 33700.fr, en attendant une vérification plus approfondie ?

Les sociétés comme 123 Multimédia connaissent bien la musique. Elles disposent de plusieurs n° d'avance, configurés en quelques secondes dans les automates d'appels et savent qu'à l'heure actuelle, elles ne risquent pas grand chose sur le plan juridique. Et visiblement cela rapporte gros.
Le patron de 123 Multimedia n'est autre que le fondateur de Tache.com, un "site de rencontres gratuites et tchat pour célibataires", bref, un site pour trouver un plan cul bidon avec des animatrices  vite fait (nb : Il y a volontairement une faute sur le nom du site , je ne vais pas faire de la promo en plus non ? cherchez vous-même).

On peut notamment lire dans les mentions légales de ce site que, je cite:
"dans le cadre des Services proposés sur ce site l'utilisateur s'interdit de : [...] télécharger, afficher, transmettre par e-mail ou de toute autre manière toute publicité ou tout matériel promotionnel non sollicités ou non autorisés (notamment se livrer à du "spam", à la transmission de "junk mail", de chaînes de lettres ou toute autre forme de sollicitation) le spam est interdit sur ce site, [...]".

Culottés les mecs de 123 Multimédia non ?

Il y a quelques mois, ce monsieur a été invité à faire part de son expérience de chef d'entreprise "digital-2.0-web-dynamique-et-trop-cool" à l'Epitech Toulouse, une école d'ingénieur en informatique réputée. Bel exemple d'entreprenariat !!
https://www.facebook.com/123Multimedia-514099445347975/

L’arnaque industrialisée qui finance les startups. L'Epitech devrait mieux choisir ses intervenants à l'avenir.

Voir aussi : http://www.police-nationale.interieur.gouv.fr/…/Arnaque-a-l…

Test of the new Roland TB-03 boutique, the little brother of the legendary TB 303

TB-03

Oh yeah !!

When I realized that Roland was re-editing the TB 303, I was delighted. Finally I was going to be able to play with a TB (3) 03 made by the master : Roland itself.

I therefore expected that the builder of the TB303 in 1983 would be able to make the best model on the market, allowing us, to own a new TB 03 for 400 euros only,  rather than 3000 € for a used and very old TB303.

I was waiting sound that kills;  improved ergonomics, and especially something better than the clones (Xoxbox, TT 303 And other VST).

Well no. That's not it at all.....

The sound is a bit too metallic and especially on the slides : It was impossible to reproduce well known patterns with the TB-03 while the TT 303 can do it too easily.

ABL3 , a very good VST plugin from Audiorealism, which is the best software emulating the TB 303  can also do better .. And, as in the TB-03, it is a software emulation.  Maybe Roland labs should give a call to the ABL3 team....

The TB-03 does not compare one minute with my TT 303.
By dint of looping and looping again my patterns during my tests, I ended up believing it was me...
I did not unconsciously want to return this gear because that was a pretty one with a big Roland logo in my set, letting me think, at a 3 meters distance, it was the true TB 303  !!!

So I finally asked to other ears around me: the TT was the winner without a doubt... We all agreed.

The TB-03 sound seems a little muffled while it bites with the TT, a pure analo". The slides are a marvel of modulation, while it is a bit flat on the TB 03.
The TT 303 groove, the TB-03 slaps.

Even with a fine adjust with my fingers poked on the knobs in all directions, impossible to have that fluidity I have with the Cyclone analogic TT 303 ... and this modulation in the slides.

Adding  delay or distortion (very good idea from Roland to integrates these quite goods effects),  didn't help.  Nothing and nothing.  The sounds were close, but it was like watching a great movie in its screener version !!!!

Before trying the TB 03, I was thinking to sell my TT 303, not without regrets, to pay the bill if the the promise was kept.  I still own the TT 303.

About ergonomics now : why Roland want us to return to the 80s  and is forcing us to use the horrible step by step mode of the TB 303,  on that modern machine ?

To propose the original TB 303 step by step mode OK, but the second mode is also a step by tep one...and is not much better.  Roland could have trampled a bit by offering for example a real time mode recording, a TR mode, etc...in the spirit of the new JD-Xi I own also (better purchase between us, for almost the same price).

There were so many things possible, which would have added value to this machine IF the sound was here obviously,...if one believes the promise of Roland on its website.

On the TT 303, you can generate patterns randomly,  can make copy/paste, change the color of the LED according to the pattern category, etc ...On the TB 03 nothing at all. Back to the 80's

One really positive thing is the very good quality of manufacture. We find Roland at the top on this point, contrary to what I could read. The case is made of metal, the knobs are straight. The TT is beaten, by far,  with its plastic case...

The choice of  supplying  power via a micro usb plug is debatable and especially fragile on the long term in my opinion. We're not always connected to a computer. So you have to buy a phone charger and a micro USB cable not provided with that gear.

The TB 03 was returned to the seller (Thomann) after 4 intensive days of testing, comparing patterns on TT 303 and ABL3 (démo version).

A real disappointment. Almost a heartbreak, I waited the delivery more than one month....

Hoping that Roland will quickly release a firmware update, otherwise, the amateurs of  ACID bass will stay on the clones, which are doing the job finally.

Paradoxically the  TT 303 clone costs more than the Roland TB 03!
WTF?

Note : it seems that the TT303 is not sold anymore by Cyclone. They stopped the production.  I can sell you mine for 20 000 euros right now :-) !!!


samedi 26 mars 2016

Changing the LCD screen on a MC 505 Roland Groovestation




I own since few months a ROLAND MC 505 Groovestation.  I love this synth (YES ! it is a true synth not dedicated to DJs !!!) because there are a lot of knobs and buttons you can interact with.





Since I own this device, the LCD has some missing lines and dots, and that is because the original LCD screen from Roland is a very poor quality one.  So, after reading many posts about how to DIY, i did it, and that was not so much a pain...


You have to buy a LCD Display Character Module 2 lines / 16 characters, compatible with the HD44780 protocol.  You can find this kind of parts on Aliexpress for few euros, or around 10 euros with Europeans electronics resellers. 

602-16x2-HD44780-Character-LCD-Display-Module


Then you have to remove the existing one.  Start by unmounting the back cover :






















You can see the LCD white flat cable, on the right of the two blacks.
Carefully unplug all flat cables using a small screw driver. Go slowly as sometimes it is not so easy. Do not force anything.

Then remove the motherboard. You must loosen all plastic bolts at the back of the MC 505 plus some screws. Again, stay cool !!  Plastic bolts are fragile.







So you should be here.  No you can push carefully on the window covering the LCD screen from the inside with a small plastic tool, then finish the job from the outside with the same plastic tool.  The LCD window is stuck with adhesive double sided tape. I prefer this aproach rather than trying to take off the window only from the outside at the risk of damaging the case.  More work, but less risks.

Then you have access to the LCD screws, and you can remove it.

As there is not enough room to place the generic LCD board, you will have to cut some small pieces of metal.  Use a metal saw blade. not cutting pliers !! And again, go slowly....

The schematic below shows the connection mapping between the generic LCD and the MC 505.
With a good solder iron, desolder the flat cable from the original LCD screen and resolder, wire by wire to a flat cable, like those used for IDE hard disk.












Before remounting you new LCD screen, make some tests with the contrast (screen tested and connected to the MC). It is possible you will have to change the 10K resistor value to another, depending on your screen ratio.




The final result with a blue LCD  :

..


dimanche 24 janvier 2016

Adding gamepads support to MXQ S805 Android TV box

I recently bought an Android TV BOX from a chinese vendor for less than 30 euros. The model is the MXQ one, embedding an Amlogic S805 quad core UC under Android 4.4 (kitkat).
Board model is "m201".



Connected via HDMI to a Samsung flat screen, I can say it does the job. I can browse my LAN with the 10/100M ethernet to watch HD movies , and that is much faster than using any WIFI connection. It also supports external NTFS USB2 hard drive.
Specifications :
  • Chipset: Am logic S805 Quad-Core Cortex-A5 at 1.5GHz
  • GPU: Quad-Core Mali-450 at 600MHz+
  • FLASH: 8GB NAND FLASH / RAM: 1GB DDR3
  • USB host: 4 High speed USB 2.0,support U DISK and USB HDD
  • Card reader: SD/SDHC/MMC cards
  • High Definition video output: SD/HD max.1920×1080 pixel
  • LAN: Ethernet:10/100M, standard RJ-45 / Wireless: Built in WiFi
  • HDMI: HDMI 1.4b with CEC / AV: Support / SPDIF/IEC958: Coaxial

I have installed the Archos Video Player app from the Google market. This small piece of software is perfect for the box, and much faster and simplier than the XBMC app on Android. It allows me to browse my SMB shares with a really cool GUI, designed especially for TV.

I own 2 PC Logitech cordless rumble pad,
so I wanted to use them with MAME, to play retro-games. But no luck. The Linux kernel of the beast doesn't include any game pad drivers, so Android apps can't see them. I tested also my Xbox 360 game pad : same result.

After a full kernel recompilation, I have now full gamepad support for both Logitech and Xbox gamepads !!

Hopefully, the box is pre-rooted, so you don't have to hack it to get superuser permissions.
Drivers can be loaded as module with the "insmod" shell command, in a terminal session (use adb or a terminal Android app). You must be in su mode.
for instance: 

insmod ff-memless.ko
insmod xpad.ko
insmod hid-logitech.ko

will load Xbox gamepads support (ff-memless is the force feedback driver) + HID Logitech support.

You have to install some "keylayout" to the /system/usr/keylayout directory if you want to use the gamepad to navigate in Android menu and applications.  The kl file maps gamepad events to keys events that Android will interpret. You can edit the mapping to build you customized controls.
To copy theses files , you must remount the system partition as writeable.

I made a zip pack containing all games pads drivers as ko modules I was able to compile with the kernel,  a set of keylayout. and a script to launch modules. I recommend to unzip on the /sdcard and to not modify system/lib.  Modules can be loaded from the sdcard.

To launch modules at each boot, you can use SManager (Script manager), an app on the market, and making the sh script to be "boot" and "root".  It is the most easy and safe way.

Download here
Enjoy !!

lundi 18 janvier 2016

Mon chappy 13F LB 50


Comme les vacances sont propices à la réflexion, ,et bien , je me suis acheté un nouveau jouet, fourni par un de mes amis, fana du modèle :  un chappy 13F LB 50, de 1981, entièrement d'origine.


J'ai eu le plaisir de l'essayer un peu avant : c'est assez fun à conduire, idéal pour les vacances au soleil !

L'étape suivante a consisté à chercher toute la documentation possible sur le web concernant ce modèle, en vue de quelques modifications et améliorations.

Comme d'habitude, on trouve beaucoup de petits rigolos pas très malins qui veulent se faire de l'argent en vendant les manuels techniques en PDF sur Ebay ou autre.  C'est super agaçant, mais on finit quand même par trouver ce que l'on cherche.  Alors pour vous éviter à votre tour de chercher pendant des heures, je mets à disposition tous ce que j'ai trouvé ici, en espérant n'enfreindre aucun copyright.

Bonne lecture.
Docs Chappy et autres 50 cm3 Yamaha