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TOPIC: Custom floor controller for S-Gear

Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13445

Hey folks,

Thought I'd share my newly-completed MIDI controller setup with you. I've mentioned it in the forum here before when it was still embryonic but it's now essentially complete and working. I hope this post gives people here some ideas! :)

The core design premise was that I wanted to be able to play live using just virtual amps and effects but did not want to have a laptop on stage with me.

My solution consists of a custom-made floor switch unit (which I call Floorshow) with 16 buttons and two sockets for volume/wah-type pedals. In front of this is placed a custom-made floor-standing monitor, angled so I can see it clearly.



Both these units are powered by USB cables (which can be up to 5m long) and for Floorshow this serves as the MIDI connection as well. Inside Floorshow is a Teensy board running a simple C++ program.



Behind me I have a small rack inside which is a rack-mounted Mac mini (not visible as a computer) and the interface. The Mac runs Mainstage in performance mode (i.e. full screen). The rack has a shelf for keyboard and mouse but they are just used to get it up and running.



I arrange Mainstage so that each bank is a song and the patches within the song are the sounds I need for it. A couple of banks are actually just grab-bags of useful sounds (for practising and rehearsals/songwriting). The concert shown in the photo only has three banks in it - it's more for illustration/testing purposes.



The only amp sim I am using at the moment is S-Gear. I've got others but they just don't cut the mustard like Mike's beautiful code does.

Four of Floorshow's 16 switches are for bank & patch control and the others are assigned to tuner and effects but the effect they control will depend on the current Mainstage patch. So OD can control the Nick Crowe driver in one patch but a Tubescreamer sim in another. Some switches are left 'generic' in function.

Similarly with the pedals: I mostly have one on volume but the other can switch between the depth of an effect or wah, for example, depending on the patch.

The monitor is a Lenovo USB-powered 14" monitor.

For me this set up works really well; the only real hassle is the amount of planning I need to - I have to make sure the programming of Floorshow matches the Mainstage setup. Right now any changes require re-flashing the Teensy board; although this is a trivial thing to do it's not the best approach so I am working on a Mac app that will allow easy configuration management, then send the resulting configuration as SysEx to Floorshow, where it will get stored in Teensy's EEPROM.

Regrettably I am 'between bands' at the moment so I have not been able to try this live yet - but it's a lot of fun to use while rehearsing. Can't wait to try it on stage.

A couple of other things: you'll see in the pictures that I have a rack unit with just knobs and switches. That is not finished yet but will be a hardware controller for S-Gear's amps. It's hard to beat tweaking sounds with an actual knob. This unit will be Teensy-controlled as well.

And my monitor is (for now) a Tech21 Power Engine 60 (with an added tweeter) but I'm not sure I really like this. I might upgrade to something more genuinely FRFR. Obviously a stereo signal can also go to the PA.

qryss
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Last edit: 3 years 5 months ago by qryss. Reason: typo
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13446

That's a very nice setup you've got there.

Keep up the good work!

Your very truly,
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13448

Wow, this is exceptional. I don't know what you do for a day job but I'm sure there are plenty of companies in the MI industry who would like to hire you :thumbs up:

Keep us updated on your developments.

Cheers,
Mike
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13450

Wow, this is incredible! Is there any way to replicate this? I'd love to build one myself but I'm lacking the technical knowledge- also, I don't wanna steal your ideas, but would love have such a controller for my personal use with S-Gear.

Mad props, this looks great!
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13453

That is fantastic, you put a lot of work into that. I used to have a tech21 amp and I liked it for what it could do.

Have you seen these FRFR speakers? They have built in digital audio interfaces. Expensive but they probably would do a lot for your live sound since they are FRFR and not a amp speaker. My little KRK rockits sound better the louder they get, they are very piercing though.

missionengineering.com/?product=gemini-1-2
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13456

This reminds me, I wanted to do a follow-up on my first impressions review of my Gemini stereo amp.

All I can say is go get a FRFR speaker! It's so much better than any colored amp I used before it. Even through good studio monitors, it's lacking that punch. The Gemini has that plus the linear response which is perfect for S-Gear. Aside from the occasional ten minute preset adjustment spree, it feels like a real guitar amp. Plus the total recall and gazillions of options and effects...it's close to perfect.

Thanks again, Mike, for this wonderful product. S-Gear is the best in the virtual amp world.
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13458

I'm hoping the new 1100 watt Alto TS210 (or TS212 depending on the 210 vs 212 Reviews) will be a great inexpensive solution for an FRFR speaker.
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13462

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the kind words. To be honest I'd love a career in the music industry but I think I've left my dash a bit late. I'm a developer (mostly web) by trade at the moment.

Never say never, though. I always keep my options open!

:)

While I'm deeply impressed by the longevity of MIDI as a standard - pretty much unchanged since 1983 - it seriously lacks a few things. One thing this exercise has really shown me is that there is no real (standard) concept of API: MIDI entities don't expose themselves in any standard way. So my Floorshow can't query the things it's connected to and set itself up to suit the context it's in. If only it were possible to get all the manufacturers to agree to an API that allowed that...
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13463

Thanks, jp91.

In fact this is not a complicated thing to get going - if you are comfortable with the world of Arduino and programming. The Teensy is very much like an Arduino but it supports MIDI over USB out of the box and I use a version with lots of pins (the 2.0++).

These devices have various digital and analogue pins and they can scan them to see what's changed. When a change is detected it's easy enough to output the right MIDI message.

Have a look on instructables.com - there are several projects there for MIDI control using Arduinos.
Last edit: 3 years 5 months ago by qryss. Reason: typo
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13465

There have been many, many moments spent on this forum wherein the knowledge, skill and ingenuity demonstrated by forum members have left me speechless. This might just go to the top of the pile. Seriously envious right now. Hats off to you.
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13474

Hi LookyCharms,

Thanks for the comments. I know what you mean about the wisdom in forums (fora?): I spend a fair amount of time in forums various (mainly musical) and some people are just amazing and surprising. One on this forum is GCKelloch: the things I've learned from him about guitar electronics... He also opened my eyes to the wonders of the low capacitance cable. I thought that was tosh till I tried it. :)
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13480

Really nicely done. :rock out:
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13484

Very inspirational! I used to build and design pedalboards but have very limited electronic skills. Was thinking about doing something like this but the lack of knowledge on MIDI and stuff pushed me back.

Congrats on a beautiful job!
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13485

Codeseven wrote:

I'm hoping the new 1100 watt Alto TS210 (or TS212 depending on the 210 vs 212 Reviews) will be a great inexpensive solution for an FRFR speaker.

I got the TS110, but have not tried it with S-Gear yet. Will let you know how it goes.

ges
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13486

ges wrote:

Codeseven wrote:

I'm hoping the new 1100 watt Alto TS210 (or TS212 depending on the 210 vs 212 Reviews) will be a great inexpensive solution for an FRFR speaker.

I got the TS110, but have not tried it with S-Gear yet. Will let you know how it goes.

ges

Thanks ges.

I've been reading that the 110 works very well with amp modelers but the 112 is a bit bass heavy. I suspect the same with the 210 vs the 212.
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 5 months ago #13502

great system, i envy your gear, except of course S-Gear, that i have.
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 4 months ago #13598

:cunning: by the way your floor is really a show lol.... nice wood floor....
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Life is music
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 4 months ago #13604

The funny thing, Gabrielscruff, is that the floor is actually bamboo. Totally sustainable because it grows so fast (in China) and extremely hard-wearing. It's way harder than wood, too.

According to the guy who laid it they grow the bamboo till it's 300mm diameter then cut it down and squash it with heat and glue or resin or something before planing it flat and cutting it into what amount to extrusions - it has a kinda interlocking edge to clip to the next board with.

I'd actually like to try it as a guitar-making wood but that's another story...

One thing I meant to mention in my original post is that if anyone wants to copy the Floorshow idea you can easily use a different floor controller (like an FCB) - the rack-mounted computer and the USB screen are the heart of the setup really. Although you don't get to use Mainstage there are PCs that rack mount better than a Mac mini...
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 3 months ago #13948

:gripped: nice info mate! sorry for the long time reply ... bamboo or wood..man it looks awesome!!! :) really pretty ... tks for share the info is nic to read some o.t but cool info sometimes...
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Custom floor controller for S-Gear 3 years 2 months ago #13989

Wow. This is a really inspiring setup. Well done! And hello from a fellow web developer. :feeling it:


I'd like to know about the sound result from the Alto 210, 110 also as my budget is limiting.
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Last edit: 3 years 2 months ago by ryentzer. Reason: update
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