Relaying the PCB for the next version of MuSeq is well underway.
There are a few changes; * gone is the extra display and rotary encoder as it really wasn’t useful. * Added a switch for mode selection, just below tempo knob. * allowed more space for the DIN connectors for MIDI/Sync24. * shortened PCB so it actually fits in the case. * a new way of updating in the field has been found. * going to attempt to add USB MIDI in, this may or not be included in the final version. It’s very much dependant on what the impact is to the performance of the sequencer.
Routing the PCB is going well, but it’s going to take a while to complete. My aim is to finish the PCB before the new year.
I’m taking some time over the holidays to consider the future and direction of Dove-Audio. But a few things are certain, MuSeq will be resumed, and it’s going to need a new processor which means a lot of rework so will be a while before there are any real updates.
2020 has been a tough year for everyone, without exception. At Dove-Audio we’ve felt the impact, sadly sales this year, 2020, have slumped which means that I am probably going to need to do another Kickstarter to raise money for MuSeq, something I had hoped to avoid. It’s also going to have a knock on impact into the what we can develop, prototype and put into manufacture in 2021.
Delta, the poly synth, is going well at this stage but still has a long way to go. It is making sound and you can ‘play’ notes on it from a midi controller, but there is a way to go and there will need to be a revision of the analogue PCB.
The design we did for Tangible Waves for a wavetable oscillator came out really well, with 7 wavetables and two oscillators (de-tuneable by up to an octave) it sounds better than we could have hoped for. We’re pleased to have been able to work with Robert on this and we’re looking at a Tangible Waves format WTF module.
Well things were going swimmingly and then I hit a problem.
Basically with the current software development (SDK) and tool chain I’m using there is no way to get “self programming” to work. Self programming is basically the bit that allows you to update in the field from an SDCard, USB, MIDI, etc.
To get around this I’d have to do one of the following; – Swap to a new micro processor and new SDK and start from scratch (will take a lot of work, several months)
– Swap to a new SDK and port over the code and libraries I’m currently using (will take a month of two of work)
– Send out programmers to repair centers around the world to allow them to do updates (no extra time, but a lot of extra cost and annoyed customers).
None of the above are particularly appealing and I need to have a think about which way to go.
2020 has been a terrible year for Dove Audio sales wise, and I’m just about treading water financially, yes I do this as a hobby so don’t have salaries to worry about but I do have accountants bills, website bills and tax bills to pay.
These two things, and a number of personal issues I’m dealing with, have hit my mood very hard and I can feel myself dropping back into depression.
So, I’m going to be stopping for a while whilst I try and get some semblance of a “level playing field” back into my personal life and have a think about MuSeq.
A few people noticed something odd to the left of my Q119 sequencer from synthesizers.com. This is my trigger expander, basically I wanted something that would let me trigger noise shots, or toggle end points on the sequencer.
Now, synthesizers.com very kindly put a header on the back of the Q119 which brings out the key signals you need to do this, so adding an external trigger module was simply a case of reverse engineering the pin out and making a PCB.
This shows the PCB, and what I wanted to accomplish was that this was something people could make themselves rather than something I was going to sell. Why? well a number of reasons, I don’t honestly believe many people would be interested in buying and also the cost of the switches would make it quite an expensive module to sell, for what it does.
So I made it through hole, this was a huge pain in the butt, routing PCBs with surface mount parts is so much easier because you can run tracks under pads, with through hole, every track has to go between the holes. Add to this the fact I wanted to keep it 1U wide.
This PCB ended up being 4 layers, but is still quite cheap (4 layer PCBs from china only cost a couple of dollars more than 2 layer versions).
You’ll need to be careful about the order in which you solder parts on, I’d suggest that the second to last is the switches and the final parts are the LEDs (so you can position them at the correct height. You’ll also need to solder ground and output wires to the three connectors which are not mounted on the PCB.
In the ZIP file of the project I’ve included the schematics, gerbers and KiCAD files you need so you can make your own, or tweak the design as you see fit.
If I was to make these again, I would pretty much certainly make it surface mount to make it easier to route and this would make it cheaper to manufacture in quantity.
Another quick update for MuSeq, This time I’ve added the ability to set the “clock out” rate, so you can go from 1 clock per 4 beats all the way to 32 clocks per 4 beats. A short video is below
There are a few things left to do, so here’s a list;
Clock in from front panel (feed it say 8 clocks and get 24 PPQN resolution)
Self updating, i.e. you can update from SDCard
Sync 24 Out
Some internal tidying up of sequence loading/saving, particularly when in Bank play mode.
Redesign of PCB and Front Panel
The big hurdle is going to be the self updating, it always is. As it essentially requires you to boot into a bit of code to check for updates, then clear itself and load the main code, add in the ability to make it so you can’t brick it and things become quite difficult quite quickly.
The remainder should be straight forward, then it’s a case of getting prices and looking for a couple of beta testers before it can be shipped.
Well, the move went “ok”, I can’t say it was the most enjoyable experience, nor the smoothest, but it’s done.
I’ve unpacked about 75% of things and now have my soldering iron and workbench set up again. Which now means I’m starting to catch up on orders that were placed during my move.
The new place is smaller and so I’ve had to downsize my workshop considerably. So I have relutctantly taken the decision that I will no longer be manufacturing Eurorack modules, onc ethe last few Waveplane modules have gone, that will be it. I will however be working with someone to license these designs for their own product line, in much the same way as I did for Tangible Waves “wavetables” module.
There are a number of reasons for this but primarily because I don’t have the space to store all the parts and modules for 3 types of modular system (MU, tangible waves and eurorack). For now, I will be focusing on the MuSeq sequencer for the MU (dotcom) system and the delta poly synth but there are other modules planned which will be available to be licensed for eurorack systems going forward. Likewise the same is true of Tangible waves modules (which I really enjoyed working on). Does this mean I’m sick of modular and/or synths? no, I don’t think I could ever give up synths, I suspect I’ll still be designing them when I’m in my 90s. I still love modular , and non modular, synths, but just right now I have a much smaller space in my new place, so a downsize is a must sadly.
Some of you may have seen some of the pictures I’ve posted of my playing with FPGAs.
This is a bit more than “playing”, what I’m trying to do is see how much/how many oscillators/voices I can fit into a single FPGA. I have a number of concerns over the use of CPUs for creating oscillators and voice control. So I’m seeing if there is mileage in switching to an FPGA in place of the CPUs for Delta.
We’ve finally found a suitable place to relocate to and we will be moving the end of August, this means we will temporarily not be be able to complete and ship further orders until around the middle of September.
This has taken a huge pressure off me personally, as have a couple of major life changes in recent weeks. My mood has lifted significantly in recent weeks as a result.
In short, I’m going to drop my current project list down to just three things and try and focus my efforts on those, they are;
MuSeq – My MU sequencer, there are a number of hardware changes that are needed, so I will be looking at these first. I did post a recent video with an update on some extra functionality that has gone in on my YouTube channel.
Delta – The basics are there, the analogue VCFs and VCAs work and the oscillators are all working. I’m considering a slight change to the VCF to give it a fourth filter mode and there is likely to a processor change (which is why it’s on headers) . I am pleased with how small it is, 110mm by 110mm for four voices.
PJ5CPU project, this is a bit of fun for me, basically it’s a RISC microprocessor made from TTL logic with a single instruction per clock cycle. I’m hoping to achieve 1Mhz/1MIPS from it, but it’s really just for fun and is not aimed at becoming a commercial product.
There are other things I would like to do, for example more modules for Tangible Waves, but for the moment I need to try and keep my focus.
Whilst Dove-Audio remains a hobby/cottage industry things aren’t likely to happen quickly, but I will post updates when I can.
I’ve been quiet the last month or two and I would like to explain a little. Right now I have a lot going on in my life, I’m having to move due to the flat I rent being sold, I am going trough a divorce and I’m having some health issues which are affecting the amount of energy I have, these coupled with the isolation that COVID has brought us is pushing me into depression again. A lot of people are in the same boat as a result of the changes to life that have been brought on by 2020.
I’m not writing this for sympathy, but i want to help others realise there is no shame in suffering with depression, its a major art of my life and has been for decades, I suspect I’ll never fully be free of it, but I no longer feel ashamed of it. I suffer with depression, there said it.
What does this mean for Dove Audio? Well right now things are going slowly, I have very little energy at the end of my day job (I can barely make it through the week and spend the weekends recuperating) and as a result things like MuSeq and Delta have significantly slipped.
I did very much enjoy working with Robert at Tangible Waves on the “wavetables” module, and I would very much like to work on more modules for that Tangible Waves. But for now, I need to focus on my mental health.
I’m hopeful that after September when I’ve moved and things are moving with my divorce that some the “black dog” will diminish a little, I’m working with my GP on solving my lack of energy, again hopefully things will be greatly improved by the end of September. So please bare with me, normal synth-geeky-ness will be resumed.
Just wanted to give a quick update about things going on here at Dove Audio.
Things on Delta have halted for a short while whilst I finish a couple of projects, the NJM2069 Module was one of those and the MuSeq is the next.
MuSeq is significantly behind, basically Dove Audio is just myself, Paula, with the odd bit of help from my partner Jon. I hit a major bug with the MIDI handling in that the library I was using (which seemed to do everything) wasn’t interrupt driven and you had to poll it. Which meant that when syncing to MIDI clock it would sometimes miss clock when switching pages.
Reworking, or refactoring, this took a while. But it’s working. This blow kind of took the wind out of my sales, hence finishing the NJM2069 module first. Now the NJM2069 is out, I am working on the MuSeq again.
New CPUs arrived last week (I bought a spare this time) and after a few tweaks I’m happy to report it’s alive. All four voices are now making basic sounds, in my case each voice has two oscillators, each running a saw tooth and slightly detuned. I’ve done a very simple VCF sweep with sweeping the VCA level and recorded it with some different values of resonance.
This is only once voice right now, the next step will be adding very simple MIDI control and mapping of CCs to allow me to control the parameters.
Work has been progressing with the mechanical design as well, I do have some renders, but I’m not yet ready to share them. Once I’ve got all the features fully implemented on a single 4 voice card, I’ll be sharing the renders at that point. It does look stunning and unique though (yes, I’m a tease).