TOPIC: S-Gear in-a-box Project

S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17919

I decided to start s project to put S-Gear in a hardware device to be able to use it without the need of a computer. Being myself a software engineer I can't resist the idea of building something portable that will allow me to use S-Gear everywhere carrying the smaller possible rig.

I still have to decide what will be the form, there are many options
  • Small pedal enclosure. No controls, just on/off and master volume. Everything is configured in advance using a computer. I'll need a midi controller to change presets and adjust EQ. Line output and Midi input.
  • Big pedal enclosure with basic midi controls. Knobs to adjust Volume and EQ, footswitches to enable/disable effects and change presets. Line output and Midi in to use another midi controller to have more control.
  • Head (Kemper style) will allow to control most common stuff with knobs. 7" touch screen to visualize the app and change everything on the fly. Line out and Midi in
  • Other ideas are welcome.
In any case I have to find an audio interface to provide an input to S-Gear. I currently use an Apogee 96K that does its job perfectly so I'll use that one in the meantime but my goal is to find an interface in a board that can be embedded in the enclosure.

1st STEP
The first step is to find a SBC (Single Board Computer) to run Windows 10 + S-Gear + Any other software needed (Mainstage, GigPerformer...)
I've only found 3 SBC that are intel based and offer 4GB of Ram and also decent CPU
There are also SBCs with powerful ARM CPUs. Windows launched recently an ARM version of Windows 10 that can run (almost) any Intel based software using some kind of emulation, but I'm not sure of that option. ARM offers more battery life and usually are cheaper than intel processors but for that kind of software having to do any kind of conversion/emulation to run the apps I'm pretty sure will end up in some kind of performance issues. So as for now, my main option is an Intel based SBC with 4GB Ram, 32GB HD and QuadCore 64 bit CPU

Any help, comments, ideas or rants are welcome.
I'll keep you posted.
Regards, Miles.
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17920

Hi Miles !!

It is exactly what I have in mind :thumbs up: :thumbs up: :thumbs up:

My idea is to build a all-in-one setup in the style of a Kemper Head or with a case like Bias Head Mini.

Up core and Udoo are clearly good ways to go for the project :)

The only concern is about audio interface. I don't see any good solution to avoid using an external USB interface... I don't think that Up Core/Udoo sound cards are ASIO compliant.

Concerning the knobs layout, do you have an idea on what to choose ? Only volume, gain, treble, meds and bass ?

It can be a good idea to replicate the bias head mini behavior
- Knob to choose between 16 presets
- Basic editing with Vol, Gain, Tre, Mid, Bass
- Capability to save preset
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17921

Love the Bias Mini form factor!!

Regarding the audio interface, I didn't search too much but it seems difficult to find just a card interface, another option would be to put something like a Scarlett inside the head and connect card inputs and outputs to external in/outs with extension cables, or remove the enclosure and only use the card. Not very professional but it will work.

Not sure yet about the knobs, I change my mind all the time :) Sometimes I want a pedal, some other times a head, sometimes more knobs, sometimes less knobs... In the end those knobs are midi so you can assign them to whatever you want and change the layout based on your current needs.
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17922

I know nothing about the subject, but am very interested indeed!

I was thinking about combining a small computer screen or a screen=computer (all in one unit) inside some kind of a monitor wedge enclosure, which will also contain the interface (Focusrite do not have a very good reputation for their latency!), but these LattePanda/Up Core/Udoo would do a great job. I was thinking also about introducing a sliding shelf underneath the screen (still contained in the overall enclosure), similar to those used for computer keyboards, which will contain the MIDI footswitches (Tech21 MIDI mouse), perhaps a Novation or AKAI LPD8 to manually controls the knobs when needed, and hopefully a Expression pedal of some sort (there are some mini pedals that would perform well).

So from this wedge, when positioned on stage, I could slide the shelf and have all the controls and footswitches available and already connected for me to use. The idea of having it all in a sliding shelf is to make it more compact when transporting.
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17923

asintoras wrote:

I was thinking about combining a small computer screen or a screen=computer (all in one unit) inside some kind of a monitor wedge enclosure

I'm definitely into the all-in-one in the wedge monitor! @qryss had a small version with the screen which was great www.scuffhamamps.com/forum/6-general-dis...ontroller-for-s-gear

But I think having a larger wedge would provide a rugged enclosure for an all-in-one. So who's gonna make it?!
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17925

milespg wrote:

Love the Bias Mini form factor!!
Not sure yet about the knobs, I change my mind all the time :) Sometimes I want a pedal, some other times a head, sometimes more knobs, sometimes less knobs... In the end those knobs are midi so you can assign them to whatever you want and change the layout based on your current needs.

I maybe have an idea for that : Dual function buttons can save space and be a smart solution

For example let's say you have 6 knobs on the case for amp settings. Just press a button to change these buttons attributions and tweak delay, chorus, reverb etc... So with this switch you have 2*6 knobs with the contextual view
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17926

In UDOO datasheet they mention realtek ALC283 soundcard www.seco.com/misk/UDOO_X86_datasheet.pdf

Maybe it can support ASIO4ALL as realtek is compliant with WDM drivers...
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17927

t13nou wrote:

I maybe have an idea for that : Dual function buttons can save space and be a smart solution

For example let's say you have 6 knobs on the case for amp settings. Just press a button to change these buttons attributions and tweak delay, chorus, reverb etc... So with this switch you have 2*6 knobs with the contextual view

That sounds very good, didn't know about those buttons.

The problem with the midi controller is that everyone will have different needs or preferences so maybe the best idea is to just add very basic controls: preset up/down, EQ, Master volume and tuner on/off maybe and let everyone use the midi controller they prefer.

PS: do you know if S-Gear sends info through midi like the tuner info, preset name, etc?
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17928

I don't think S-Gear can manage to send information. Mike may correct if I'm wront but it is designed to receive MIDI messages but not to send information with MIDI out or some kind of API...

Some information in this thread : www.scuffhamamps.com/forum/tweakers-cafe...ear-parameters#17532
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17929

t13nou wrote:

I don't think S-Gear can manage to send information. Mike may correct if I'm wront but it is designed to receive MIDI messages but not to send information with MIDI out or some kind of API...

That's a pity but maybe using something like Mainstage or GigPerformer as a host that can be worked out. Another thing to check :)
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17930

milespg wrote:

do you know if S-Gear sends info through midi like the tuner info, preset name, etc?
That's kinda proprietary info embedded in firmware to a proprietary hardware device, so no; not likely without some kind of partnership with a Footcontroller manufacturer.
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17931

kierank wrote:

asintoras wrote:

I was thinking about combining a small computer screen or a screen=computer (all in one unit) inside some kind of a monitor wedge enclosure

I'm definitely into the all-in-one in the wedge monitor! @qryss had a small version with the screen which was great www.scuffhamamps.com/forum/6-general-dis...ontroller-for-s-gear

But I think having a larger wedge would provide a rugged enclosure for an all-in-one. So who's gonna make it?!

Yes, those all-in-one computers are pretty cheap second hand, and most have enough capabilities for S-Gear to be used (4GB RAM, Dual Core, etc.). In addition, some have touch-screen capabilities, which would be a nice feature. We would only use wireless keyboard to start and then move them away (or perhaps the touch screen enables a virtual keyboard). The performance would have to be on the side of a good interface. Should be pretty easy!

This, combined with a speaker cabinet loaded those new Celestion speakers developed to be used with modelers, and one of those small power amp pedals would make for a really nice gig setup!
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17933

milespg wrote:

PS: do you know if S-Gear sends info through midi like the tuner info, preset name, etc?

I've done some work with Reaper's scripting capability to do a custom ui/viewer for S-gear and other fx plugins.
www.scuffhamamps.com/forum/6-general-dis...ance-view-for-reaper

I'm limited to using the parameters that S-gear exposes as a VST plugin. This doesn't include preset names, however if people are willing to enter all their preset names in a text/csv file, then my app will be able to display them (I'm currently building support for this).

For the tuner, the script monitors whether the user has activated the tuner eg
via midi (as this parameter is exposed) and then the script will bring the S-gear window to the front with all the rack items collapsed so it's only the tuner being displayed, and it will then hide the S-gear window again when the user deactivates the tuner.

These scripts can be run automatically when Reaper starts.
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17953

Dear Santa,

I would like a multi-effect that has good sound, not complicated and especially not heavy to carry.

A thing like AXE FX2 but much cheaper and simple because my Helix line6 is still too complicated and the overdriven sound is crap. A device that can connect to my tube amp or a mixer and that is not worth 2500 €. What? Santa does not exist ??? Ok then... I will have to build something

It was early summer 2017 ...

Early summer I thought:
1) There is computer amp simulation softwares.
2) Why not mount a PC in a 2U rack that fits in a suitcase and build a multi-effect from A to Z?

Studying a little I realized that it was feasible. On computers, today's acquisition cards allow a latency of 2ms or an imperceptible delay in processing. This corresponds to an additional listening distance of 66 cm compared to a normal amp, which is negligible.

You're going to tell me, a PC is fragile and when it is dropped after it works no more . No No . If we put an SSD hard drive we can drop it without problem.

The software to use: SGEAR FX of course. This is the best in computer amp simulation. All pro use it in studio for recordings. Moreover, it is controllable by midi so we can interface it with a microcontroller that is connected to buttons and knobs and we can control the software without going through a keyboard or a mouse.

In short I mounted the computer, installed windows 7 + Sgear, installed a high-end sound card (asus essence STX) with the drivers that go well and mounted a panel with buttons and knobs. I also build a footswitch to change the sound patches.

The software can be controlled via the rack or a handheld device (via VNC) or a screen + keyboard and mouse. I can change my presets with the footswitch. The computer is a Mini ITX core i5 with 8 Go of ram. No video card as it is integrated to the core i5. The sound card is an Essence STX and is really what you need. 124 db of SNR. It is fantastic. I chose also not to have a cable between my guitar an the rack. I integrated the line 6 G10 relay inside the box. I also integrated a bluetooth module to be able to play backintracks while I play. The overall boot time of the system is like 15 seconds with the SSD.

If anyone has questions,I'll be happy to help.

More info on my facebook page : www.facebook.com/marcobricole/

Marco,
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Last edit: 1 year 6 months ago by Marcobricole. Reason: Error with the text
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17954

Impressive! I am always amazed to see people doing this type of work. Great job. :good job: :rock out:
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17964

If I win the lottery I will donate the funding to create and take into production a killer piece of hardware to house Mike's killer S-Gear software.

Here's to good fortune!
Last edit: 1 year 6 months ago by swaite.
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S-Gear in-a-box Project 1 year 6 months ago #17977

Marco, let me add what you told me on Facebook just in case there's someone interesting on building something similar ;)

"The soundcard accepts line or microphone input with the same 6.35 mm input jack. You can choose either solution by software.

The problem is that the impedance of guitar microphones don’t match the impedance of the card. It will work but the sound will be bad. Just as if you connect directly a guitar to the regular input of a soundcard.

One solution is to put in between a buffer (wich is basically an opamp) and use the line Level.

The other solution is to go wireless and use line6 G10 relay. No impedance match problem. I chose this solution which is very convenient. Nethertheless I added an homemade buffer with gain (based on LM6172 chip) to increase the line level signal because the essence stx card needs for a unknown reason a stonger signal level than the regular 2.1 V RMS. Without the buffer it worked but my signal wasn’t reaching the optimal amplitude expected by SGear to have the best sound.

You can see the buffer I made on the picture. It is just at the entry of the line level. Red and a white cable coming from the card provide + and - 15V for the buffer.

Nethertheless, The essence Stx II is the best choice if you overcome this difficulty. 2ms latency at 24bits 96khz with UNI Xonar Driver and a fantastic 124 db of SNR."
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