After some major drama in the workshop (leakages, iron dust cloud, broken floor, rainwater coming in, etc) I finally have some time to share a few progress pictures.
First and foremost: IT WORKS! The Goldfish R4 UI board can be used as a stand alone USB-MIDI controller! I had to do some workarounds, but it all seems to work now and I’ve used it together with a few DAWs. The current version has two modes: “control” mode and “xy” mode. In control mode you can use the encoders to control 6 MIDI-CC values at the same time, and press the encoders to select midichannels or different sets of CCs. The Goldfish keeps 36 controllers in memory, so you can see their value on the LED rings as soon as you switch between pages of CCs.
In xy mode you can control two MIDI-CC values at the same time by using the touchscreen. The left and rightmost encoders control which midi-CC is being sent by X or Y. This mode will get some “auto-LFO” options to spice things up.
Here it is, showing the LED rings lighting up for the first time:
To save some board space, I’ve added mounting holes to re-use the Connector board from the Goldfish R3. This board provides MIDI plugs and stereo jacks. (the red PCB):
Development is easy: a standard Arduino-serial module plugs in to the board at the back:
Historic moment: First Fish! The hello-world of Goldfish development!
Lacking the time to lasercut a nice enclosure (see “major trouble” earlier 🙁 ) I just took 1 of the leftover PCBs and sandwiched the thing with some hex-standoffs to protect the insides:
Up next – an extra Arpeggiator mode, one more revision of the PCB and some fluo-yellow lasercutting work for the casing!
To be continued!
After playing with the FPGA boards for a while, I decided to completely overhaul the Goldfish board.
Spending a bit more time and money will make this box much more useful for the coming years of audiovisual experiments!
The current preliminary hardware feature set:
Spartan 6 LX9 FPGA
Freescale MK20 (or MK22) ARM Cortex M4 MCU
2 small 320×240 tft screens with AVR for touch handling (1 screen for the FPGA, 1 for the MK20)
4 to 6 encoders (no more buttons, the encoders also have a button if I need something pressed down 🙂 )
2 microsd slots (again one for each)
Wolfson audio codec with headphone, lineout and linein connected
VGA and HDMI output for the FPGA
USB Host port
USB Client port
This all shall fit nicely sandwiched between 2 15x10cm PCBs
Progress so far:
We were already spotted on the platform of the metrostation “Are you coming for Maker Faire?” – “yes” – “Follow me, I show you”. It must be our geek-sjiek attitude..
Just out of the station there were many of the Maker-red-robots, drones in the air and a rather large Bumblebee (Transformers – yellow one). People were waiting for us with maps and kindness – everything has been really well marked and easy to find.
The Faire itself is bigger than we expected and outside (huh?). We were impressed by the guys from 3rd Ear, a threedimensional music experience. Also, a guy from Music Thing Modular – who builds modular synthesizer eurorack modules- gave us the PCBs for two of their modules: a spring reverb and a random sequencer. With a bit of luck we can find all the components we need for these on the markets later this week.
Other interesting things:
– Bicycle lighting/tracking by Helios
– A bendable sailboat for cleaning the ocean
– Modular controller blocks
Will upload photo’s / video’s and more details later
Let’s make some noise!
Most development starts in a very cushy environment with great debugging support. Goldfish once started in the Jeskola Buzz virtual studio platform so I could quickly test and optimize the algorithms without having to upload and install the binaries on a PocketPC.
The Goldfish and Platinumfish synthesizer plugins for Jeskola Buzz were never released on a big platform. To keep them from disappearing from the internet, here they are again!
Unpack these in the Gear/Generators folder of your Buzz installation.
The Goldfish platform is slowly growing in scope and complexity.
The first three Goldfish designs focussed on getting components to work at all – microcontroller, audio codec, TFT screen and MIDI. The designs I’m working on right now will provide the processing power to do something more interesting than polyphonic ringtones.
The current plan is to move from the Freescale Kinetis K20 to the ST STM32F407VGT6 microcontroller and have an expansion header to host a whole number of other experiments. Most notably – a Spartan 6-with-HDMI board and version two of the prototyping board. This header and the new expansion boards will allow the main Goldfish PCB to become a central JTAG/Debugging environment for the next few months of audio and robotics experiments.
The main Goldfish PCB so far
The MCU board has a few extra features compared to Goldfish version 3 -> there is an extra microSD slot and a big row of expansion pins. USB and reset/program button have been moved to the other side to accomodate the different microcontroller pinout and give a decent place for the pin header. The routing is just a quick autorouter test to see if it would still be possible at all to route it. This design is nowhere near final.
The Spartan 6 FPGA board so far
This is my first FPGA board. I started with the Papilio Pro schematic as a known-to-be-working configuration to start from. Power and IO have been moved around a bit, and the FTDIchip-JTAG setup might be replaced by just a JTAG header. The connected Goldfish microcontroller board should be capable of uploading data to the SPI flash later on anyway, replacing the need for the FTDIchip.
As soon as I can get my hands on a few PCB-mounted HDMI connectors I will add two or three to the board. I’ve been reading up on HDMI-FPGA combinations, and the Spartan-6 FPGA should easily be capable of hosting a few videostreams – even 1080i is within range! (there will be some separate posts on this subject)
Currently I’m putting further development of these boards on hold until I’ve been to the Shenzhen markets. I have no doubt I will find more interesting screens/buttons/leds/plugs to use there – so it makes little sense in finalizing the layouts before going to China.