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Visual Studio 2005 / Win9x support
Date: 31/5/2011
Tags: coding
I'm officially migrating to Visual Studio 2005 as my main compiler on windows, from Visual C++ 6. So all the open source apps I've released will be getting VS2005 projects over the next few weeks. Also on top of that rather obvious change I will be deprecating support for Windows 98 and ME, slowly removing that support from Lgi and migrating to unicode as default across all my apps. I've been using Utf-8 and multi-byte charset for a long time, but now the default compile time option will be Unicode instead of Multi-byte characters.

I'll also be looking at building 64bit versions of my apps on Windows in the near future. Now that I need the address space but I would like all the libraries to support that if at some point I DO need it. Over the last week or so I've been switching on the VS2005 64-bit warnings and resolving most of them.

On the Mac I'm going to be using XCode 3.6.2 for a good while yet. I only recently settled on that as my standard compiler there, and did a lot of work getting the code to a point where it compiles without too many warnings. The Carbon backend is a worry though. I can't create new Carbon apps with that XCode so that sucks. Eventually I'll have to address that by porting the main Lgi core to Cocoa. But that would take a good while *sigh*
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Foot switches... 2 of 3
Date: 27/5/2011
Tags: axefx
Bought 25, because that was the next cheaper bracket. Turned out around $3 a piece including shipping. Enough for 2 full boards.

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Axefx controller parts arriving... 1 of 3
Date: 26/5/2011
Tags: axefx
So today the first of three packages of controller parts arrived. At long last.

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Waiting is fun
Date: 23/5/2011
Tags: axefx
So all 3 packages for the Axefx controllers have "shipped" but not arrived. Awesome. The last of the packages to ship was the PCB's which apparently shipped today, although the tracking number hasn't shown up on the postal system yet. And I don't know what the shipping transit windows are either.

The 3 boxes, are the footswitches, all the electronic components (inc the AVR stamps) and finally the custom PCB's. I think at one point last week I had 8 outstanding orders, including unrelated stuff from ebay.

Things have slipped partly because I took a while to verify the drill lists and images of the tracks, and made some minor changes before the PCB's got made. And partly because the vendor making them took a week longer than they said it would take from when they accepted payment and the final design to when they shipped the boards.

While I've been waiting I've started working on a new revision of the PCB that supports a 40 pin IDC connection between the main PCB and the switches / LEDs / expression pots. This is very similar to the setup I used in the prototype but I think I'll end up using it primarily to test complete boards. I'm going to make a test harness that just plugs into the board and lets me test all the functions without having to solder in all the parts directly. Depending on the layout of the final enclosure it might be useful for others as well.
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Mac Mini RAM Upgrade
Date: 19/5/2011
Tags: mac upgrade
I found this guide nailed upgrading the RAM in a Mac mini. Tonight I took out the paltry 1GB and replaced it with 4GB for about $33 AUD. Not bad... not bad ;) The mini runs all the servers (imap, svn, http) in the house, because at 14w it's the cheapest computer to run 24/7. The iMac is 70w at idle, and the PC up around 110w. Yay for minis!
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Axefx Foot Controller
Date: 10/5/2011
Tags: axefx guitar
For the last six months or so I've been building a MIDI foot controller for the Fractal Audio System's Axefx guitar processor. The Axefx digitally models the effects and amps that guitarists use, but on a scale that hasn't been seen before. For me the main draw cards were great audio quality, the ability to practice and record quietly (I have kids and neighbors), and very consistent sound quality in a live setting. Something that I couldn't do with my old tube amps.

The design of my controller is based around an AVR microprocessor built into a stamp that I bought many moons ago for an economy gauge that I never got around to building. I did however build something useful and fun with that stamp. There is a long thread about the various stages in the build process. Which resulted in a plywood prototype that I now use when I play guitar in a live situation every week or two. It allows me access to the important parameters of the Axefx via knobs and switches and displays the current state of the settings and parameters on the LCD. All the software running on the microprocessor is written by me and I developed the support circuit from various information available on the 'net.

About a month ago I switched from building this just for my own use to exploring the possibility of building these controllers for others as well. In kit form, or fully assembled. A few people expressed interest on the Axefx forums, so I created a PCB layout and am currently having those printed up (design acceptance and payment happened last friday), I've also ordered enough parts to build 2 controllers up front. The design can be executed in 2 main ways, as a full foot controller, or as an amp controller, with reduced functionality. When I get the boards back from manufacturing next week I'll build at least one for testing the PCB kit out and then I'll be putting the kits and PCB's up for sale on the site. A new hardware section will be created with PayPal links.

The software that runs on the AVR chip is written in C and has a high level foot controller portion, and a low level hardware specific layer/API. The foot controller part controls all the functions specific to the axefx, the setup menu and the display of information on the LCD. The device specific layer is responsible for talking to the hardware, and running the main event loop. The design is deliberately separated like this so that you can also run the foot controller software on the PC and Mac, mainly for testing things out before committing it to hardware. It far easier debugging on a desktop computer that way. Surprisingly this works really well. There are no #ifdef's in the high level code needed to make the 2 systems run, and they behave exactly the same.
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