One of the goals I wanted to do with my guitar stage setup was to be able to control everything the Adrenalinn3 pedal does with two different MIDI foot controllers. This is interesting at least, challenging at best. You can't just combine the output of two pedals, because the Linn doesn't know which pedal the commands came from, and even if it did, it doesn't know what to do with them.
I looked into off-the-shelf pieces to do this, and there were a few that were close, but none of them could do what I needed without custom ROM hacking. I wasn't really interested in that (for time constraints) so I looked into something simpler, easier, and definitely cheaper.
Enter the humble Arduino. This amazing little piece of technology takes a cheap microprocessor and packages it into a board the size of a credit card, with a voltage regulator, and input/output pins. The tools to program them are free and (mostly) easy to use, and they even make DIY add-on kits that let you expand what the board is capable of.
One of the goals of my guitar setup is to be able to use it in 3 different configurations:
- Hardware only
- Software only
Ideally I'd like to be able to exactly the same things with each, but hardware costs money! A lot of money. For instance: a hardware looper that syncs with MIDI clock starts around $400. That's more than what I paid for my whole laptop! It's becoming increasingly obvious to me that dollar for dollar, software is the way to go.
But I'll never completely eliminate hardware, and I don't think I should. It's not that I don't think software is reliable: my laptop runs effects for hours without a hiccup. But you still need hardware for interfacing things together. Controllers, pedals, mixers, etc.
So I guess the question is, what's an acceptable mix of hardware and software? If I say hardware only, I know exactly what I'd need to buy, and it wouldn't be cheap.
For effects, i.e. amplifier models, delays, etc. I've got it covered in hardware. That's easy, and I can control everything without a laptop. Everything syncs to the MIDI clock (delays, drum machine, etc.) and everything works. I'd still like to be able to use the Master Control to select drumbeats and the ART pedal to control effect presets... but because of the way the Linn handles that, it will require another piece of hardware to insert Bank Change signals so the MC will only switch drumbeats. Not ideal, but doable.
In order to control the Adrenalinn's drum and effect presets with two separate MIDI controllers, it requires injecting "bank change" messages into one of them to change the A3's preset mode. This isn't very complicated, except that there's currently no piece of hardware that will do that. However, for about $30, I can build a hardware MIDI filter out of an Arduino Uno board, and it looks something like this: (This is the actual MIDI board I will be using with my Arduino)
As I wrote about last week, I'm usually inclined to flit from one project to another. The problem with that is that I rarely get to finish anything. I spent more than an hour working on arranging and testing my music gear last night. Was it productive? Well, yeah, I think so. But was it critical? No, not really. Why did I do it, then? How does that fit into my vision of getting things done?
Honestly, I don't know. There's a reason for it, of course, and it's one of those things that I will have to do eventually. Why did I work on it instead of other things? I don't know. It was forefront in my mind, and I had to get those ideas out, so I just ran with it.
Where am I going with this?
Basically, with all the things I write about coping with ADD, you'd think I'd have a better grip on that stuff. And then I get an idea, and I go all Doc Brown and stay up working on some mad scientist thing that may or may not ever actually get used.
One of the toughest challenges in using the Roger Linn Adrenalinn III pedal (henceforth referred to as the "A3") is figuring out how to use it! The pedal is nearly perfect, and yet there are ways I want to use it that don't fit how it was intended to be used.
For starters, the pedal is basically two machines in one: a full-blown digital guitar effect pedal, and a Drum Machine. You can connect the two, but I want to be able to use them completely separately, with two separate sets of controls. The pedal's buttons can control certain things, but can only change presets up/down. You can use external MIDI commands to switch presets, but you can do either FX or drums, or both together, but you can't use two different controllers to change presets separately.
My setup is a bit complicated, I'll admit. I have a rack unit that I want in the MIDI chain, for clock-synced delays AND preset changes. But I want the presets to change with the A3's FX presets, and NOT the drum patterns. I want the Molten Voltage Master Control (henceforth referred to as the "MC") to provide clock and PC only for drums... and a second controller to provide PC and CC messages only for the rack unit and the A3's FX side. I also want to leave the A3's buttons alone to turn individual things on and off. So how do I make this all work??
Here's a short demo of using a 7" Android tablet to control MIDI effects on a laptop. TouchOSC is a cool little app that lets you make custom control surfaces, with sliders, buttons, knobs, and X-Y pads, and you can assign them to any parameters. With a hardware OSC to MIDI bridge, you can control any MIDI device with it, too. Very slick. In this video, I'm using PureData to convert OSC to MIDI messages on the laptop. I can then route them back out to control external devices, or control effects on the laptop. (Sorry for the noise, was just trying to demo the MIDI functionality)
My guitar pedalboard is finally finished! Got a Molten Voltage MIDI pedal to switch presets on my rack unit and also give me tap-tempo MIDI clock for my delay effects. Check it out.