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Alpha: Basestation ports

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written by: geert

Ah, I know Schneiders Bureau ... they're the only European store that stocks the Continuum! ;-)

written by: geert

Thu, 10 Jun 2010 08:25:13 +0100 BST


I'm wondering about some of the ports on the Alpha basestation, could someone detail me their purpose or future capabilities for me so that I can properly describe this in the review I'm writing?

* I2C port, is this for the upcoming voltage control interface?
* MIDI in/out, what is this going to support? Real-time instrument MIDI input/output or will the driver just be good enough for control messages?
* Footswitches, I got the foot pedals to work but am wondering about the foot switches. Are they supposed to be used independently, how do you hook them up to something in EigenD? Which footswitches are supported
* Extension, is this to connect a second basestation to be able to cover longer distances?



written by: Tenebrous

Thu, 10 Jun 2010 09:37:17 +0100 BST

Geert, some of the answers are in this wiki page but I'm thinking you're needing a bit more detail than that.


written by: geert

Thu, 10 Jun 2010 10:29:22 +0100 BST

Thanks Tenebrous, it does provide some more info but indeed not as much as I'm looking for.

written by: barnone

Thu, 10 Jun 2010 17:28:38 +0100 BST

I'd like to know these answers too. I'm assuming the I2C is simply reserved communication for any type of expansion interface, yet to be defined.

written by: john

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 14:36:26 +0100 BST


The Basestation Pro currently has several sockets on the back that do not yet do anything. These are, as Geert has pointed our, a MIDI in/out pair, an extension socket with the same connector as the instrument and an I2C port with a latching mini XLR connector.

We will be implementing these over the next few months, starting with the extension port. The firmware for this is now complete and is in testing, so you may see a firmware upgrade become available that enables this in the next few weeks. This port allows you to extend your Basestation Pro by connecting it to a Basestation (the one that currently ships with the Tau) using an Eigenharp cable. The Basestation Pro, Basestation and the Eigenharp can then be powered from the remote Basestation. This means that you can have the Basestation at the back of the stage, next to your computer, while the Basestation Pro can be out front where you're playing so that your pedals are where you need them. Also, if you're playing in a situation where there may be moisture present (such as an open air stage) the interconnect only carries 24V, so performer safety is improved (although we seriously advise that you do not get your Eigenharp wet, they are not designed to deal with this). If you currently own a Basestation Pro you will need to add a Basestation and an additional cable to be able to use this feature. If you own a Basestation you will need to add a Basestation Pro and a cable. Both the Basestation and Basestation Pro will become available as accessories shortly, probably to coincide with the firmware update.

The MIDI in/out ports are a work in progress at the moment (firmware mostly done, host software not started as yet) and it is likely that they will be enabled in a firmware update later this summer, probably at the same time as improvements to the way that MIDI is transported within EigenD. We are planning that these will be general purpose MIDI I/O, although they are mainly intended to be used with footboards and pedals.

The I2C port is currently planned to support additional accessories. We have early plans for an extender box to be able to use more continuous control pedals as I think two is a bit light. There is no ETA for this. We're also adding this port to the Basestation later this year so that any accessories that can be used with the Basestation Pro can also be used with the Basestation.

I hope that clarifies things..


written by: geert

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 15:05:59 +0100 BST

Thanks a lot for the detailed information John. What's the status on the CV/Gate that was mentioned during the early Alpha presentation videos?

written by: barnone

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 02:26:01 +0100 BST

Thanks John for keeping us in the loop. I agree with gbevin that a cv/gate breakout box would be highly desireable. Something similar to what the continuum uses. Much more desireable than more pedal ins, although I guess those are similar to cv in. Could they be combined into a cv/gate breakout? Maybe that would be a logical upgrade.

Also note that another interesting controller the Manta (touchplates) is getting a new cv/gate breakout box this summer. The analog crowd is quite excited. Of course the fact the cv has very high resolution would be a perfect fit for the eigenharp.

written by: john

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 09:18:57 +0100 BST

We have a working prototype of a 4 channel CV/Gate interface in the lab. From the electronics and firmware point of view it's largely done, but there remain a couple of obstacles - CE/EMC compliance testing (which is several thousand pounds worth of external lab time plus the usual internal resources needed to support such activity) and the software support in a USB driver, which is quite a bit of work. We've had a number of interesting conversations (with people selling products in the analogue synthesis world) recently about the actual size of the market for such a device and I have to say it's really really small, so small in fact that the chances of us ever recouping the costs (never mind making any profit) of qualifying, finishing and supporting an actual piece of hardware don't look good. So we are currently re-evaluating whether or not we will bring this to market.

The other piece of information that has come to our attention recently is that some modern audio interfaces are capable of outputting DC voltages. This does make our little hardware interface a bit redundant, and MOTU have recently bought Volta out to exploit this fact. Although Volta is MIDI -> CV only right now, it does look like a very neat product. We're looking at options using external audio interfaces at this moment from a purely software point of view and I'll try and keep you all posted as to progress in our thinking on this.


written by: geert

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 09:26:03 +0100 BST

Oooo, relying on the DC capabilities on audio interfaces is a great idea. I have a DC-couple ULN-8 Metric Halo interface, which should be able to support this. I think I remember some users are indeed using Volta with it. Now I just need to become crazy enough to delve into the analog synth domain ;-)

written by: john

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 09:47:50 +0100 BST

If you're feeling a bit mad there is a great shop in Berlin (which we visited last week when we went to see NI and Ableton) called Scneiders Bureau that sells all sorts of modern CV/Gate driven modules. The chap that runs it (Andreas Schneider) is pleasantly eccentric ('computers, pah!, only useful to write invoices..') and very obsessed with analogue synthesis. We took an Eigenharp to show him (not with any anticipation that he would stock them, just for his interest and as a good excuse to visit his store) but he was completely uninterested in it when he discovered that you had to plug it into a computer, even if that computer could have no screen! He did however have quite a few bits of hardware with embedded processors in stock, so there is obviously some acceptable level of computer. Perhaps its the number of bits. I can't really see EigenD running on a PIC though...


written by: geert

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 09:57:38 +0100 BST

Ah, I know Schneiders Bureau ... they're the only European store that stocks the Continuum! ;-)

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