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HEADER 3 MIDIbox SEQ V4 User Manual --- Hardware Options

<P CLASS=INFO><B><A HREF="midibox_seq_manual.html">Back to main page...</A></B></P>

<H1>MIDIbox SEQ V4</H1>
<H1>User Manual --- Hardware Options</H1>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Hardware Variants </H2>

<P CLASS=INFO>We mainly differ between a <A HREF="midibox_seq.html">MIDIbox SEQ V4</A> which is based on <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">Wilba's frontpanel</A>, and the "traditional" variant which is based on the <A HREF="midibox_seq_v3.html">MIDIbox SEQ V3</A> hardware with a replaced core module. Both are running with the same firmware, so that you won't miss any software feature!</P>

<P CLASS=INFO>Wilba's frontpanel greatly reduces the complexity of the hardware, and is therefore the prefered choice. The traditional variant is still interesting if you want to create a fully customized version of the sequencer, with a different layout and dedicated buttons/LEDs.</P>

<P CLASS=INFO>Premade PCBs for both variants can be purchased at <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">SmashTV's MIDIbox Shop</A>. He also provides kits and some other parts (like rotary encoders), but please note that the <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">lead time</A> for a frontpanel kit is still very long (several weeks/months!) so that it makes sense to buy the frontpanel PCB only, and to source the remaining parts from an electronic shop like <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">Reichelt</A> or <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">Mouser</A>! Alternative electronic shops can be found in the <A HREF="">Wiki</A></P>

<P CLASS=INFO>Here a list of components which are required to build a MIDIbox SEQ V4 based on Wilba's frontpanel:
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2><A HREF="mbhp_core_stm32f4.html">MBHP_CORE_STM32F4</A><BR><A HREF="mbhp_midi_io.html">MBHP_MIDI_IO</A></TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>the brain of MIDIbox SEQ V4 + MIDI IO breakout board.<BR>
Please note that older core modules such as <A HREF="mbhp_core_stm32.html">MBHP_CORE_STM32</A> and <A HREF="mbhp_core_lpc17.html">MBHP_CORE_LPC17</A> are supported as well, but the future "MIDIbox SEQ V4 Plus" firmware will require the higher amount of embedded RAM and Flash memory of the MBHP_CORE_STM32F4 module.</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>PCBs in <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">SmashTV's Shop</A>: ca. 11 EUR</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2><A HREF="mbhp_core_stm32f4.html">MBHP_CORE_STM32F4</A> parts</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>Currently no kit is available for this newer module (but it could become available in future, please check at SmashTV's side).<BR>
Here the part list: <A HREF="mbhp/mbhp_core_stm32f4_orderlist.txt">mbhp_core_stm32f4_orderlist.txt</A><BR>
Since the STM32F4DISCOVERY board and the SD Card adapter are not available at Reichelt, but (for example) at Mouser, it actually make sense to provide an alternative list for Mouser. If somebody created such a list, please let me know and I will add a link here.</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2><A HREF="mbhp_midi_io.html">MBHP_MIDI_IO</A> parts</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>Currently no kit is available for this newer module (but it could become available in future, please check at SmashTV's side).<BR>
Here the part list: <A HREF="mbhp/mbhp_midi_io_orderlist.txt">mbhp_midi_io_orderlist.txt</A></TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2><A HREF="mbhp_sdcard.html">SD Card</A></TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>A SD Card (no adapter required since it's part of the MBHP_CORE_STM32F4 module); size should be around 1GB (but 2GB and 4GB cards will work as well).<BR>Note that a SD Card is a *must* when you are using Wilba's frontpanel, because the dedicated button/LED assignments will be loaded from a special <A HREF="">MBSEQ_HW.V4</A> file which has to be stored in the root directory of the card. Without this file the frontpanel won't work!</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2><A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">Frontpanel PCB</A></TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>PCB only without parts</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>available in <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">SmashTV's Shop</A>: ca. 24 EUR</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2><A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">Frontpanel Parts</A></TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>As listed at <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">this Wiki page</A></TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>ca. 100 EUR</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>Aluminium Panel</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>Can be ordered from <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">Schaeffer Apparatebau</A>, the .fpd file is available at <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">Wilba's page</A></TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>ca. 120 EUR</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>two 2x40 Displaytech "LCD 402A LED"<BR><I>Hot tip: such displays are mostly available at <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">EBay</A> for less than 10 EUR!</I></TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>currently no standard case - take a wooden box! ;-) Or search/ask in the <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">MIDIbox forum</A> for options.</TD>
    <TD CLASS=TABCOLOR2>ca. 10..100 EUR</TD>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> USB MIDI </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>Thanks to the integrated USB peripheral of the MIOS32 cores, USB MIDI is natively supported by the firmware. This simplifies the upload of new firmwares, and speeds up MIDI transfers to your DAW and/or virtual synthesizers up to 100 times and more - see also <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">this forum article</A>.</P>
    <P CLASS=DESC>The sequencer will also run without USB of course. Up to four MIDI IN and MIDI OUT ports are provided by the <A HREF="mbhp_core_stm32f4.html">MBHP_CORE_STM32F4</A> module in conjunction with two <A HREF="mbhp_midi_io.html">MBHP_MIDI_IO</A> modules for connecting MIDI devices such as synthesizers, drum machines, Fx gear, keyboards, etc.</P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> MBHP_IIC_MIDI modules </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>Up to 4 <A HREF="mbhp_iic_midi.html">MBHP_IIC_MIDI</A> modules can be added if desired (note: with a simple hack in the IIC firmware even 8 modules could be accessed from the sequencer - infos available on request).</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>Main advantage of multiple MIDI ports is reduced latency (as MIDI events can be sent in parallel), and relaxed MIDI channel handling (for 4 synths you don't need to take care about the MIDI channel at all)</P>
  <P CLASS=DESC>The MIDI IN port is <B>not</B> supported, accordingly the <A HREF="mbhp/mbhp_iic_midi_out_only.pdf">"OUT only"</A> version is sufficient.</P>
  <P CLASS=DESC>Following diagram shows the <a href="midibox_seq/mbseq_v4_interconnections_lpc17.pdf">module interconnections</A>.</P>
  <P CLASS=DESC>The modules will be detected by the MIDIbox SEQ application automatically during startup. "Hot plug&play" while the application is running is not supported.</P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Power Supply </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>The power consumption of a common MIDIbox SEQ V4 configuration is about 400..1000 mA depending on the used LCDs and LEDs. Especially blue backlights and LEDs can increase the consumption dramatically!</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>Today it's common practice to supply the MIDIbox SEQ from a "selfpowered" USB Hub like <A HREF=";ACTION=3;LA=444;GROUP=EU3;GROUPID=4831;ARTICLE=99781;START=0;SORT=artnr;OFFSET=16;SID=11TVLbZ38AAAIAAG9MIgIec1e46ae3eb4fc2fe4e011f269170227" TARGET="_blank">this one from Reichelt</A>. Advantage: it has a power-switch!<BR>

<P CLASS=DESC>Alternatively the core module can be directly supplied from an external PSU (e.g. a wall adapter) connected to J1. Jumper J17 (USB Power Option) has to be disconnected in this case!</P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> SD Card </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>A <A HREF="mbhp_sdcard.html">SD Card</A> is required as data storage for patterns, songs, grooves, options, the hardware configuration, MIDI files, SysEx dumps and various other files.</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>The MIDIbox SEQ V4 firmware provides access to the MIOS Filebrowser, which is part of <A HREF="mios_studio.html">MIOS Studio</A>. With this tool, it's possible to download, upload and edit files. The communication is handled via the USB MIDI protocol, so that active MIDI connections stay active.</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>Thanks to this useful feature, it's possible to build the SD Card into the case (no need for an external socket).</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>If you've the choice, buy a SD Card with speed factor 100x or more - it directly affects the access time to files. A speed factor of less than x60 is not sufficient for the realtime requirements (e.g. while changing patterns), the sequencer could sporadically block for a couple of mS which can result into temporal hang-ups.</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>SD Card size: typically only ca. 5 MB are allocated by MBSEQ_* files. The remaining disk space can be used for storing backups, SysEx dumps and MIDI files, but probably never more than 50..200 MB will be used. Accordingly, a 256MB or 512MB card is already sufficient. Using a 1, 2 or 4 GB card is great but not really required. Sizes > 4 GB are *not* supported by the file system (FAT32), and therefore not recommended.</P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Pots or Encoders? </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>MIDIbox SEQ V4 provides an user interface with 16 rotary encoders (endless knobs) + 1 data wheel (the 17th rotary encoder).</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>Analog pots are not supported. The reason: pot control might sound like "vintage", "old style" and "analog sequencer", and possibly could imply that pots are the best solution for perfect sequences, but this is just a popular fallacy and nothing else! In fact pots are only useful for sequencers which are controlling the analog gear directly, but for a MIDI sequencer you defenitely want to have features like "total recall" and "jumpless switching" between tracks, layers and patterns.</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>In addition, the menu pages of MIDIbox SEQ V4 rely on rotary encoders more than before. MIDIbox SEQ has a flat menu hierarchy, and this requires that all values can be changed directly - with the 16 rotary encoders.</P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Inc/Dec Buttons or Datawheel? </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>For the menu navigation and data entry either Inc/Dec (Up/Down) buttons and/or a datawheel can be used. The datawheel (rotary encoder with big knob) should be the preferred solution since it simplifies the selection of parameters with a wide value range (like BPM).</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>If you are planning a new frontpanel, it even could make sense to consider both - datawheel <B>and</B> Inc/Dec buttons, because buttons are sometimes better for finetuning parameters. The Fwd/Rew buttons can be used for the same purpose by default, but only as long as the Song mode is not active.

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Detented or Non-Detented Encoders? </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>In difference to suggestions for MIOS based MIDI controllers, for MIDIbox SEQ I strongly recomment <B>detented rotary encoders</B>! Of course, MIOS provides three types, and all are working. But for a sequencer, where you want to select the notes exactly and not "smoothly", detented encoders are really the preferred ones.</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>Note that there are three different types of detented rotary encoders (see also <A HREF="">this Wiki page</A>). The MBSEQ_HW.V4 file (stored on SD Card) has been preconfigured for "DETENTED3", which is the most commonly used (encoders provided by Voti/SmashTV). If you notice, that your encoders only work in one direction, please change the type to "DETENTED1" or "DETENTED2" at the bottom of the setup file.</P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> How many buttons? </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>This question is only relevant if you want to build a fully customized frontpanel: it's highly recommended to mount at least the buttons which are used in the original V3/V4 design to ensure best ergonomic handling. This means, that you want to use at least 44 buttons!</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>With MIDIbox SEQ V4, some new button functions have been introduced, which should be considered on new frontpanel layouts. These are:
  <LI><B>Group Select Button 1/2/3/4</B>: Four buttons which provide a direct access to the four track groups. In combination with the four track buttons, this allows you to change between the 16 tracks quickly.<BR>
    With the MBSEQ V2/V3 frontpanel, the track group has to be selected with the F4 button.</SPAN></LI>
  <LI><B>Trigger Layer A/B/C:</B> Three buttons which provide a direct access to the trigger layers.<BR>
      With the MBSEQ V2/V3 frontpanel, the trigger layer has to be selected with the F3 button.</LI>
  <LI><B>Step View:</B> Changes to the Step View selection display.<BR>
      With the MBSEQ V2/V3 frontpanel, the step view has to be selected with the F2 button.</LI>
  <LI><B>Utility:</B> changes to the Utility page, e.g. to access the Copy/Paste/Clear function.<BR>
      With the MBSEQ V2/V3 frontpanel, the Utility page has to be selected with the F1 button.</LI>

<P CLASS=DESC>A lot of additional button functions have been added later, mostly based on user requests. A full list can be found in the <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">MBSEQ_HW.V4 template</A> (search for BUTTON_)</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>Note that there is also a <A HREF="midibox_seq/mbseqv4_remote_functions.pdf">MIDI Remote</A> feature available which allows you to trigger button functions with a MIDI keyboard. However, the handling isn't so perfect like with dedicated buttons (especially since the LEDs are missing on a master keyboard), but it works!</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>It isn't required that the buttons are assigned to the same DIN input pins like predefined in the MBSEQ_HW.V4 file (stored on SD Card). You are able to change the pinning for your (existing) hardware. But if you want to keep it compatible, then use exactly the same pinning like me.</P>
<P CLASS=DESC><A HREF="midibox_seq/mbseq_v4_din.pdf">DIN Pinning of hwcfg/standard_v4/MBSEQ_HW.V4</A></P>

<P CLASS=DESC><I>TODO: explain optional matrix configuration</I></P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> How many LEDs? </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>This question is only relevant if you want to build a fully customized frontpanel: some button functions require a LED as some kind of feedback which is not given by the LCD. For example, the selected Track and Layer is not always displayed by the LCD, also Solo/Fast/All and especially the played (unmuted) steps.</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>This means that you want to have at least 30 LEDs. One additional LED can be added as beat indicator.</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>With MIDIbox SEQ V4, some new LED functions have been introduced, which should be considered on new frontpanel layouts. These are:
  <LI><B>Group Select LED 1/2/3/4</B>: to display the selected group</LI>
  <LI><B>Trigger Layer A/B/C:</B> to display the selected trigger layer</LI>
  <LI><B>16 Bicolour GP LEDs (Red/Green)</B>: improve the visualisation of the current step position</LI>

<P CLASS=DESC>Also LEDs for Play/Stop/Pause are available now. These LEDs have been requested, but if you ask me: they are not required... however, a full list can be found in the <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">MBSEQ_HW.V4 template</A> (search for LED_)</P>

<P CLASS=DESC><A HREF="midibox_seq/mbseq_v4_dout.pdf">DOUT Pinning of hwcfg/standard_v4/MBSEQ_HW.V4</A></P>

<P CLASS=DESC><I>TODO: explain optional matrix configuration</I></P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Simple 4x16 Button/LED matrix </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>By default the 16 "general purpose" LEDs (which belong to the 16 "general purpose" buttons) display the triggers of the current selected track. If the sequencer is running, they also display the current sequencer position by inverting the appr. step LED.</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>MIDIbox SEQ supports an option to handle 64 LEDs for all 4*16 steps of a pattern (which consists of 4 tracks). This option requires just 4 additional DOUT pins which are driving the cathodes of the LED rows.</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>It's even possible to use Duo-Colour LEDs, so that the step pointer gets an individual colour (no inversion of the active step required)</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>Another hardware option allows to use 64 instead of 16 GP buttons, or, to use the 64 buttons in addition to the 16 GP buttons.</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>All possible options, and the appr. settings are described in the MBSEQ_HW.V4 file of the release package.</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>Meanwhile Ilmenator created a PCB for the 4x16 BLM. More informations can be found at <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">this Wiki page</A>.</P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Giant 16x16+X Button/LED matrix </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>The most flexible and probably also most preferred BLM solution, as it provides much more entry modes.</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>PCBs will be created by the community!</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>More informations, schematics and videos are available in <A HREF="midibox_seq_manual_blm.html">a special manual chapter</A>.</P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Which display size? </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>For MIDIbox SEQ V4, <B>two 2x40 LCDs are required</B>! The menu pages won't be displayed completely on smaller LCDs, a software solution for 2x16 or 2x20 LCDs is not supported (and very hard to realize)!</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>A single 4x40 LCD as replacement for the two 2x20 LCDs is possible, but keep in mind, that this requires to arrange the GP buttons and rotary encoders at the top and the bottom of the LCD, so that they are aligned with the 8*5 character segments of the display. Without this alignment, menu item values cannot be edited intuitively.</P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> BPM LED digits </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>Optionally MIDIbox SEQ can be stuffed with 4 LED digits which display the current BPM value (the 4th digit prints the value after the dot for higher precession - it can be omitted). Note that this only works in master mode, in slave mode SLA will be displayed instead. LED digits with common anode or cathode are supported. They are driven time multiplexed, and have to be connected to two dedicated shift registers like documented in <A HREF="midibox_seq/mbseq_v4_bpm_digits.pdf">this schematic</A>. The DOUT shift register pinning can be customized in MBSEQ_HW.V4

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Dedicated BPM (Tempo) Encoder </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>An encoder for directly controlling the tempo can be added as well. The DIN shift register connections have to be specified in MBSEQ_HW.V4

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Step LED digits </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>It's also possible to add 3 LED digits to display the current selected step (1..256). Interconnections are similar to the BPM digits, DOUT shift register pinning can be customized in MBSEQ_HW.V4.

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Track Position Display </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>For those who are searching for more blink on their box, the Track Position Display, created by Hawkeye and Ilmenator, could be for interest!<BR>
Ilmenator created a special PCB which combines BPM, Step and TPD + encoder + four buttons on a small PCB. More informations <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">on this Wiki page</A>.</P>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> CV Outputs </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>MIDIbox SEQ V4 can control up to 8 analog outputs by connecting an <A HREF="mbhp_aout.html">MBHP_AOUT</A> or <A HREF="">MBHP_AOUT_NG</A> module, or up to 4 <A HREF="mbhp_aout_lc.html">MBHP_AOUT_LC</A> modules to the core.</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>In addition, 8 digital triggers (gates), 4 Start/Stop and 4 DIN Sync Clock outputs are available on two dedicated DOUT shift registers which have to be configured in the MBSEQ_HW.V4 file (search for CV_GATE_SR1 and CLK_SR).<BR>
<I>Note: these outputs are also available at J5 and J10B of the core module, but only at 3V level, and unprotected from the microcontroller IO pins. A 74HC541 based level shifter would be required for a proper output signal to analog synths, but this is also given by the DOUT based solution. Therefore the "direct connection" option is not recommended anymore!</I></P>

<P CLASS=DESC>For those who cannot get enough, 64 additional drum triggers are available in the DOUT chain. They can be controlled with individual key numbers and trigger a pulse of 1 mS. The used DOUT shift registers have to be defined in the MBSEQ_HW.V4 file (DOUT_GATE_SR1..8)</P>
<P CLASS=DESC>Tracks can be assigned to the outputs in the MIDI event menu. It's also possible to route incoming MIDI events to the AOUT/gate triggers in addition (this replaces a CV interface completely). The AOUT channel and trigger routing is described in the <A HREF="midibox_seq_manual_m.html">"AOUT Port" chapter of the User Manual</A>.</P>

<P CLASS=DESC><B>The "old" CV Breakout Port</B></P>

<P CLASS=DESC>Following schematics show the pinout of the "classic" 25-pin CV Breakout port which was used many years by some users: <a href="midibox_seq/mbseq_v4_interconnections.pdf">STM32F1 connections</A> and <a href="midibox_seq/mbseq_v4_interconnections_lpc17.pdf">LPC17 connections</A>.</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>It provides direct gate and DIN sync outputs at 3V level, AOUT and SRIO interface signals + ground. As mentioned above, the 3V outputs were problematic, an external buffer was required to for level shifting and microcontroller protection.</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>Another problem was the limited cable length to the AOUT module! Cables with a length of more than 30cm could lead to instable analog CV values (or no value changes at all!). Also  SRIO transfers could get instable, which affected all shift registers of the DIN/DOUT chain (also by SRs used by the control surface).</P>

<P CLASS=DESC>Due to these problems, the breakout port has been revised:</P>

<P CLASS=DESC><B>The "new" CV Breakout Port</B></P>

<P CLASS=DESC>The revised version provides two SPI connections via bipolar (RS422-like) MC3487/MC3486 based line drivers. This extends the cable length to (at least) 2m!</P>

<LI>Transmitter Side (inside MBSEQ case): <A HREF="mbhp/mbhp_line_driver_transmitter.pdf">mbhp_line_driver_transmitter.pdf</A>
<LI>Receiver Side (inside Breakout Box): <A HREF="mbhp/mbhp_line_driver_receiver.pdf">mbhp_line_driver_receiver.pdf</A>

<P CLASS=DESC>The plan is to use this extension also for additional DOUT (and DIN) modules, not only for DOUT based gates, drum triggers and DIN Sync outputs, but also for external modules such as the <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">TPD</A>. One additional pin is reserved for a DIN Sync clock and start/stop input (not implemented yet!).

<P CLASS=CL>This is work in progress - see also <A HREF="" TARGET="_blank">this forum thread</A>.
Picture of the prototype (only AOUT module is connected yet):</P>

<P><center><img src="midibox_cv/mbcv_v2_long_cable.jpg" width="500" align="center"></center></p>

<H2> <IMG SRC="images/bullet.gif" ALT=""> Ethernet Interface </H2>

<P CLASS=DESC>An Ethernet port can be optionally added to send and receive OSC messages. It requires a <A HREF="mbhp_eth.html">MBHP_ETH</A> module. Details about the possibilities are explained <A HREF="midibox_osc.html">at this page</A>.</P>