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Old 08-31-2017, 09:52 PM
jim jim is offline
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Default Vector Sequencer : Rev 2 Layout & Updated Feature List

First, the updated layout (Image below):

- Added a USB B jack (for easy MIDI input from small keyboards)
- Dropped one trigger jack, made the 3 remaining jacks bi-directional.
- Better button layout and coloring
- Dropped the 3.5 mm TRS MIDI In Jack.


A few general stats:

- The unit is 42 hp wide.

- It is quite shallow -- approx 25mm (including power pins, but not the connector).

- I don't have an exact number on power consumption, but with 2 OLED displays, power draw from the +12V rail will be on the high side. For comparison: The ER301 Sound Computer has a similar display setup and (according to modulargrid.net) draws up to 300mA on +12V rail. Also, the Vector Sequencer will have a USB A jack, which must provide power to whatever is connected to it.

- The module only draws power from the +12V and -12V rails — it does not use the +5V rail at all.

Price-wise, I reported "Around 700US" at NAMM. I will not know for sure until I have a quote for the front panel and a few other items, but I expect the final retail price to be somewhere between 700 and 800, with early buyers getting a small discount. The first production round will be allocated primarily to pre-sales, with dealer availability soon after that.


Everything updated since NAMM 2017:

- The OLED displays now have custom fonts and use double-buffering for smoother updates.

- The firmware now supports 8 independent sequencer parts -- which is the natural maximum for this hardware, based both on the nature of the UI (8 knobs) and the available memory on the CPU.

- Each part also has 2 sub-sequencers, with parameter modulation.

- The structure of Pattern Presets, Banks, and Scenes has been worked out and mostly implemented. (more on that below)

- The SD card now works for storing/loading project files and preferences.

- The USB B jack has been tested both for class-compliant MIDI and MSC (mass-storage) operation, but has not been fully integrated into the sequencing functions for MIDI I/O.

- Output routing for both CV and MIDI outputs is now assignable.

- Prefs : there's now a proper preferences section for global settings like tempo, key, scale, etc.

- There's a new sequencing section: Chance Ops.

- There have been a slew of internal changes related to how the sequencer code interacts with the hardware (buttons, encoders etc.). All of which is very important to implement, but not very exicting to list here. Ditto for a number of decisions regarding parts and assembly -- not very exicting to report (I'm using knobs from Selco), but still both important and somewhat time intensive.

- The single biggest milestone since NAMM is the design of a new hardware revison. We received prototypes last week and are in the process of "bringing them up". The basic design is the same, but there are some important I/O changes and improvements:

- A new, much more accurate 2-channel Pitch DAC.

- The 3.5 mm TRS MIDI In jack has been replaced with a USB A jack.

- The two sets of uni-directional Run/Clock trigger jacks have been replaced with 3 bi-directional jacks for Run, Clock and Reset.

- The per-step LEDs have been moved about 2 mm closer to the OLED displays for better visiblity when the module is mounted in a skiff.

- The buttons in the 'keyboard' (below the main encoders) have been simplified a bit, and now support one full octave (12 semitones).

- What was initially a 'trigger expander' connection with 8 triggers has been massively expanded to include 4 sets of Pitch, Gate and Velocity outs, 8 triggers, MIDI I/O (on DIN jacks) and DIN Sync I/O. These inputs/outputs will be made available on a separate 12hp module.



Features (as of 2 Sept 2017):

Multiple Parts:

The the Vector Sequencer supports 8 independent parts. Each part includes a flexible note-based step sequencer and two CV-based sub-sequencers. The note sequencer generates pitch, gate, and velocity values that can be output as CV or MIDI. The plan is to support polyphonic parts both for drum programming and for chords, but that has not been implemented yet. In both cases, those alternate modes would only be supported on one or two parts -- i.e. part 7 could be set to chord mode, part 8 to drums. The current sequence length is 16 steps, which will be extended to at least 32 steps, possibly 64.

Sequencing Features:

Almost all of the sequencing features from Numerology's MonoNote sequencing module are present:
- Pitch editing (with built-in scale quatization)
- Gate time (with Tie)
- Velocity (a.k.a. variable accent)
- Step Length (in musical divisions)
- Ratchet (up to 4 divides)
- Skip & Mute
- Select : You can select multiple steps, then use the 9th encoder to edit all those steps at once.
- Four different rate modes: Musical divisions, Beat Percent, Speed, Fractional Rates from 1/1 to 16/16.
- Start Step and Length controls
- Hard Sync (reset the sequence every N beats).
- Direction controls: Fwd, Bwd, Two pendulum modes, and Random.
- Octave and Semitone offset controls.


Chance Operations:

This is a big expansion of the Probability and Random Jump functions in Numerology's Note Sequencers. Here you can pick one chance operation for each sequencer step, and a probability that the operation will occur.

There are currently 7 categories of operations with 59 total variants:

- Mute, Un-Mute
- Skip, Un-Skip
- Jump : Backwards, Forwards, Any Direction, or any of the first 16 steps.
- Accent : Low, Medium, High
- Gate : A bit longer, much longer, Tie
- Divide : by 2, 3, or 4
- Pitch : Up, Down, Any, Or a specific semitone -- all to a max range of +/- an octave.

There is also a 'bar' setting that can be used to limit the chance op to certain bars: even, odd, 3rd, 4th and 8th. This option very handy for setting up drum fills.

Sequence Operations:

These operations act on a sequence as a whole, and are triggered by holding the Shift button and pressing some other button. Shift + any of the
main editing modes (Pitch, Gate, Velocity, Step Len, etc) ‘normalizes’ those parameters. For example, Shift+Pitch sets all pitches to the base pitch
for the given key, Shift+Gate sets all gate times to zero (muted). Shift+Pattern duplicates a pattern into an empty pattern slot. Shift+C2 — the rightmost
button on the keyboard, clears the entire sequence. Other operations will be added as noted on the latest front panel mockup.

Internal Modulation:

There are two sub-sequencers per Part, each is simpler than the main sequencer (8 steps only, direction and rate control), but they can be used to modulate various parameters on the main sequencer. The current list of target parameters is:

- Semitone Offset
- Octave Offset
- Sequencer Rate
- Sequencer Direction
- Start Step
- Sequence Length


Outputs and Flexible Routing:

The Vector Sequencer has two sets of built-in CV outputs for Pitch, Gate, and Velocity, as well as two MIDI Outputs on 3.5mm TRS connectors and (with the new hardware revision) two USB ports (A and B). Each output can be set to listen to any of the 8 internal parts. This includes setting the functions for the run, clock and reset jacks, which can be used for sync in, sync out, or gate triggers for parts. For instance, the following is a configuration that I frequenty test with, and is easy to setup:

- Part 1 -> Pitch1/Gate1/Velocity1
- Part 2 -> Pitch2/Gate2/Velocity2
- Part 3 -> Trigger the Run Jack
- Part 4 -> Trigger the Clock Jack
- Parts 5 & 6 -> MIDI Out 1
- Parts 7 & 8 -> MIDI Out 2


Output Expansion:

An expansion unit with significantly more I/O is planned. The current design includes:

- 4 complete sets of CV outputs for Pitch, Gate and Velocity.
- Two MIDI outputs with 5-pin DIN jacks.
- DIN Sync Out.
- A switchable DIN Sync In/Out.
- 8 Trigger CVs.

This 12 hp expansion module is currently in the design phase. It's outputs would have the same flexible routing options as the onboard I/O.


Prefs:

There is a preferences section for setting global parameters (tempo, swing, sync, etc), editing part names and setting up signal routings for the outputs.

Patterns, Banks, Scenes and Projects:

Each sequencer has access to 20 pattern locations per bank. There is room for two banks in memory at once. The number of available pattern locations per bank would drop with longer sequences. Each pattern stores all settings associated with a sequence, including chance operation and the sub-sequencers. There is a grid-based Pattern page where all the patterns for a single Part can be seen and triggered. Patterns can be easily duplicated (Shift+Pattern) into an empty pattern slot.

There is a Scene mode, which also has a grid-based UI. This mode displays the current patterns for all parts at once -- each Part gets a column. There are 30 scene locations, which store the chosen pattern for each part, and the mute status of that part.

A project file stores all of the preferences, scene and pattern banks for all parts into a single file on the SD Card.


A CONDENSED TODO LIST:

Of the big items not yet done, here is a list of the most important ‘must have’ items.

On the hardware side:

- Finish 'bringing up' and testing the REV 2 hardware.

- Finish the design of the expansion board, and verify a prototype works properly with the sequencer.

- Finalize and order a proper front panel.

On the firmware side:

- Finish the USB implementation (host and device modes).

- Implement a Bootloader mode (for Firmware updates)

- Sync In and Out (both DIN and MIDI).

- Implement "Bank B" pattern presets.

- Implement operations for managing projects (New, Save As, etc.)

- A number of miscellanous features related to sequencing, sequence recording, modulation and so on.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Adobe Illustrator CC 2014ScreenSnapz003.jpg (125.6 KB, 55 views)

Last edited by jim; 09-02-2017 at 03:52 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-01-2017, 03:15 PM
somalenny somalenny is offline
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Putting this image alongside the earlier one there are a number of refinements.

For the top row of buttons it looks like just changes to the text legends, Vel/Aux -> Accent, Ratchet -> Divisions, etc.

There seem to be more changes to the bottom buttons. I think it looks better. The keyboard is more obvious, and I think its a good idea moving the Save and Load buttons out of the keyboard to the group on the left.

And I like the larger text for the note values in the displays. :-)

What's the significance of the red squares/circles/diamonds under the white keys ?
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  #3  
Old 09-03-2017, 09:01 PM
jim jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
Putting this image alongside the earlier one there are a number of refinements.

For the top row of buttons it looks like just changes to the text legends, Vel/Aux -> Accent, Ratchet -> Divisions, etc.
Yes, and I'm still tweaking them a bit. As some folks don't like "Presets", I'm trying out "Pattern" as a term, but I'm not completely happy with it -- either way, they're the same as Stack Presets in Numerology.

Also, the button colors are more consistent -- Black for "operations", Blue for Part/Pattern, Yellow for "settings", etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
There seem to be more changes to the bottom buttons. I think it looks better. The keyboard is more obvious, and I think its a good idea moving the Save and Load buttons out of the keyboard to the group on the left.
Agreed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
And I like the larger text for the note values in the displays. :-)
That's one of the main reasons I went with those OLED displays over a 40x2 LCD -- better note display.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
What's the significance of the red squares/circles/diamonds under the white keys ?
To denote "by two" and "by four" divisions of the 8 encoder/button 'step lanes'. Those are the same glyphs the Groove Clock uses. Also, having any color other than black on the front panel is not cheap, so I want to make sure I use it enough, but not too much...

Cheers,
Jim
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  #4  
Old 09-04-2017, 06:43 PM
somalenny somalenny is offline
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Even with that impressive list of features, I've managed to find some things ..

Quote:
- Gate time (with Tie)
I couldn't see any mention of pitch slides.

Quote:
- Ratchet (up to 4 divides)
I'd like to see 'up to 8'.

Step Repeat (not ratcheting, but repeating, as on the Metropolis). Again, up to 8 would be nice.

Good to see 2 pendulum modes, presumably inclusive and exclusive ?

Love the Chance ops. A bit Numerology, a bit BSP and a bit Elektron. :-)

Regarding the panel, the square and rectangular items top left. Are they 2 USB sockets, or is the rect one the SD card ? If both USB, where's the SD card slot ? If the SD card is to be used for saving user data, it needs to be accessible, on the panel. Or are you seeing it more as an internal hard drive, with USB being the way to xfer data to/from a computer ?

Very excited by this project -- can't stop salivating. :-)

BTW, put me down for an expander.

Lenny.
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  #5  
Old 09-15-2017, 08:25 PM
jim jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
I couldn't see any mention of pitch slides.
That’s on the “nice to have” list. It is definitely planned for, but not as easy as one might think — and I have
to make sure it will work over the up to 6 channels of Pitch CV it will generate w/ the expander.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
I'd like to see 'up to 8'.
Funny — I had a long discussion with an influential Numerology user along those lines. I’m taking a wait and see for
a bit on that. I definitely see the need for it at slower tempos, but I have to respect the very hard data rate limits regarding
MIDI, as well as some practical ones with analog envelope generators.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
Step Repeat (not ratcheting, but repeating, as on the Metropolis). Again, up to 8 would be nice.
Yes, easy, just need to knock it out. Will be an Alt page on Step Len

Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
Good to see 2 pendulum modes, presumably inclusive and exclusive ?
yup — exact same function (and code) as in Numerology. Which, BTW, the main sequencing algorithm is very
nearly the same as the one in the MonoNote.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
Love the Chance ops. A bit Numerology, a bit BSP and a bit Elektron. :-)
… and that will be in Numerology 5 too.

Oh, and on the Vector, you can skip all steps, including the start and end step — that’s coming in N5 too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
Regarding the panel, the square and rectangular items top left. Are they 2 USB sockets, or is the rect one the SD card ? If both USB, where's the SD card slot ? If the SD card is to be used for saving user data, it needs to be accessible, on the panel. Or are you seeing it more as an internal hard drive, with USB being the way to xfer data to/from a computer ?

The rectangular jack is a USB A jack, “Host” mode — for plugging in a mini keyboard of some sort for programming/controlling sequences.
Or a Launchpad — but I don’t know yet if I’ll have CPU and memory to load the full launchpad mapping — perhaps just for
drums. Anyway, you’ll also be able to use it to charge your phone too — per USB spec, it provides 5V power — and not via
the 5V Euro rail, it has an internal power supply for 5 and 3.3 V — the later is for the CPU….

The square is for USB B, “Device” mode. You’ll be able to switch the thing over to “Disk/Controller” mode wherein it will make
the (rear PCB mounted) SD Card available as a drive on your Mac/PC — a.k.a. USB MSC. That mode will also implement
the “Numerology Controller” mode — i.e. act like a very smart “Performance Controller” for Numerology. That provides you
with a workflow something like this:

- Jam standalone for a while.
- Hook the Vector up to your Mac in D/C mode, load the standalone project in N4 for tweaking/editing. Use the Vector as your
controller, and a handy MIDI/CV interface.
- Save the N4 modified project back to the Vector’s SD card, unplug, go out for a laptop-free gig.

About the rear-mounted SD Card: I know folks don’t like that setup, but when the design started (2-3 years ago), the part that folks are using
now for front-mounted micro SD Cards on Eurorack was not well known. I was told a front-panel SD card would require
a separate PC board, ribbon cable, etc. — i.e. a significantly higher final price — and more risk of physical damage.
Even with the now well-known micro SD card part, I prefer the SD card on the back — no adapters to fiddle with, no chance
of mis-placing the card, etc. Think of it this way: 8GB built-in flash storage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somalenny View Post
Very excited by this project -- can't stop salivating. :-)

BTW, put me down for an expander.
Will do. Hopefully I can twist enough engineering arm to get that bit ready for the main release — I’ve
had other requests for “as much CV as possible”, and I ran into a couple cases last weekend at Knobcon
where it would have been really handy. At one point the Vector was sending clock to 8 different destinations….

Jim
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Old 09-15-2017, 09:35 PM
CF3 CF3 is offline
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Quote:
The rectangular jack is a USB A jack, “Host” mode — for plugging in a mini keyboard of some sort for programming/controlling sequences.
Or a Launchpad — but I don’t know yet if I’ll have CPU and memory to load the full launchpad mapping — perhaps just for
drums.
Oh man, I really hope you can squeeze in some Launchpad mappings. Fingers crossed.
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  #7  
Old 09-16-2017, 02:49 PM
somalenny somalenny is offline
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Regarding ratcheting ..

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim View Post
Funny — I had a long discussion with an influential Numerology user along those lines. I’m taking a wait and see for a bit on that. I definitely see the need for it at slower tempos, but I have to respect the very hard data rate limits regarding MIDI, as well as some practical ones with analog envelope generators.
How about up to 8 on just the drum trigger outputs (on the expander), and up to 4 elsewhere ?

Thanks for answering my other questions and clearing up the USB and SD Card situation. All sounds good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim View Post
I’ve had other requests for “as much CV as possible”, and I ran into a couple cases last weekend at Knobcon where it would have been really handy. At one point the Vector was sending clock to 8 different destinations.
I don't think one can have too much CV. :-)

Any vids from Knobcon ? I couldn't find any on YouTube.

Lenny.
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  #8  
Old Yesterday, 08:31 AM
SOPiiAC SOPiiAC is offline
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Wow, this is shaping up to be something great! A couple questions:

How many notes of polyphony are you aiming to support?
Can you sequence midi cc values?
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  #9  
Old Yesterday, 12:03 PM
jim jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOPiiAC View Post
Wow, this is shaping up to be something great! A couple questions:

How many notes of polyphony are you aiming to support?
Can you sequence midi cc values?
The goal is at least 1 polyphonic note sequencer with up to 6 notes at a time, and a drum sequencer with up to 8. I'd like to support two of each variety, but I have to keep in mind various bandwidth limitations.

As for CC out, the current monophonic sequencer has room for a couple extra 'aux' tracks -- like the MonoNote, and yes, sending those as CCs makes sense.

But, a big caveat: Although the firmware is designed to support both polyphonic sequencing and MIDI CC generation, neither of those items are on the required list for an initial release. Likely they would both come soon after the initial release is finalized.

Cheers,
Jim
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