MC2 April Progress
Date: 3/4/2016
Tags: mc2
So here is a scary idea... I'm playing next weekend in my live band. Should I use the MC2 for the first time? If I get a bunch of stuff finished I don't see why not, although I'll definitely have the MC1 packed in case it doesn't go smoothly. The main hurdle will be the expression pedal ports which I haven't really done any work towards other than getting the ADS1115 chip to show up on the I2C bus. Nothing like a dead line to get you moving.

Running progress:
  • 1/4
    Wired up the rest of the encoders, and their buttons. Implemented the software side to read all their state changes. I now have 6 encoders fully working.
  • 2/4
    Fixed the button handling to only do something of the "down" event. Lowered the maximum brightness of the Neopixels a lot... otherwise they are almost white instead of the selected colour. This also uses less power, which is nice.
  • 3/4
    Implemented software button debouncing to remove duplicate up/down events. Also added "held" buttons events that fire if I button is held down for more than 1200ms. This is useful for hiding advanced features. I might use it to access the Y settings of Axefx2 blocks connected to Instant Access buttons for instance.
  • 4/4
    Implemented tuner support on the higher resolution screen of the MC2. Yay for not having to make custom text characters to display a line.
    Hooked up the encoder output to the Axefx2's EXTERN 1-8 CC messages. Limiting the range to 0 - 127 and adding a little acceleration if the user is turn the dial a lot. I've managed to get one twist of the dial to go from 0 to 127 and yet retain some fine control when moving slowly. It seems to be reasonably good transitioning from non-accelerated to accelerated.
    Bought some stereo switched insulated jacks for implementing 2 expression pedal ports. The system supports 4 but I only need one at the moment. Also bought some plastic knobs for the encoders, just till I work out what ones I really want. Ideally I'd get something that is suitable for recessed shafts. Most knobs cater to raised shafts, where the nut is above the panel surface.
  • 5/4
    Drilled and deburred holes to mount the MIDI and expression pedal jacks on the case.
    Soldered together the expression port jack and hooked it up to the ADS1115 chip. The stereo socket is a DPDT switch as well which allows me to detect when there is no expression pedal plugged in. Basically I set +3.3V for that condition, and start about +3V for maximum expression.

    Wrote the corresponding code to read the value from the ADS1115 chip over the I2C bus. This was pretty straight forward. I keep a min and max value to auto-calibrate to the pedal.
    And that technically means the MC2 is out of Alpha into Beta! All the basic functionality works. However there is a lot of road testing to go :D
  • 6/4
    Added a row of labels under the IA config buttons to say what the buttons are currently configured as.
    Added an continuous parameter mimic control to display graphically the position of things like encoders/expression pedals. This looks like a circle, with a line showing the "amount" radially, just like the Axefx2 parameter display:

    Fixed some display bugs when switching presets.
    Added a script to start the MC2 application on startup. Obviously I want the program to start automatically when I'm using the system live.
    Added a button on the setup page to shutdown Linux. There is a confirmation dialog before that happens. Now I can start and shutdown the whole thing without a keyboard attached. Excellent!
    Took the plastic off the touchscreen... oooooooooooh! ;)
  • 7/4
    Added a MIDI disconnect event to the Raspberry Pi hardware layer. Basically if it doesn't see any MIDI for 3 seconds it flicks over to "disconnected" mode. Normally the tempo messages keep this from happening. There is no easy way at a hardware level to see if MIDI cable has been unplugged.
    Going to start "testing" things by doing my personal rehearsal during the day. Then tonight I have the full band rehearsal.
    Fixed the select scene 'n' IA button selecting scene 'n+1'.
    Removed the nice highlights on the buttons to improve rendering speed. Currently the GUI thread is running the controller code, and message passing is limited by the redrawing of the screen. This is not ideal and I will fix it at some point but I just want it to work ok for the weekend. So things like the expression pedal send a message from the hardware IO thread. And it's laggy because of the screen updates. At some point I'll need to break out the profiler and find out where the time is going. Most likely there are a number of CPU bottlenecks in the graphics and text handling code.
    Changed the expression pedal reads to happen every 8ms instead of 16. Again in an attempt to improve latency. I can probably improve that again by reading up on all the ADS1115 modes. I think it can do like 800 samples a second but I'm getting a lot less than that ATM.
  • Band Rehearsal
    There were no major issues at the rehearsal. It all worked pretty much as I wanted it to. The only minor issue is that if I configure a bunch of IA buttons the text on the labels is pushing the layout off the right edge of the screen:

    So I'll have to fix that in the layout code. One problem is that the edge of the touch screen doesn't really work, so if things are too near the edge you can't activate them. The second issue is that is just looks bad. Hahah.
    I'm really liking the layout of the hardware buttons. Having the IA buttons along the near edge is much better for triggering things during the song. And the tap tempo on the corner is also better than the location on the MC1. Being able to dive in and setup a new IA button quickly was also really useful (I decided I needed some Phase90 in my life last night).
    I also noticed a text clipping bug when text is off the right edge of the screen it wraps around to the left edge. Hmmm should fix that sometime.
  • 8/4
    Fixed the layout bug by adding some CSS to the text label cells:
    max-width: 59px;
    The text overflows a bit for larger labels, but at least the position of the buttons doesn't move.
  • 10/4
    Live play testing!
    Yes I took it out to play live this weekend. It went pretty well overall. For the most part everything worked as well as I had hoped. The main glitch was at the very end of the first set the buttons stopped responding for a little while. Touch screen was still good so I just shut it down and restarted for the next set. It didn't affect my performance though. After rebooted it seemed to settle in ok and the 2nd set went without any problems. The expression pedal lag was still there obviously but I worked around that. There may be some display issues with the IA LEDs. I thought I noticed some block IAs in the wrong state after scene changes. But I was pretty busy just getting on with playing rather than analyzing the IA states. Something to follow up later.
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