For several years now, our DecaBox Protocol Converter with MIDI to DMX firmware has been received in a wonderful way. We’ve shipped systems all over the world, and they’ve been used with excellent results by musicians and performance artists in a variety of venues.
Today we’re thrilled to release a firmware update for the MIDI to DMX converters. We’ve borrowed code from our RS232 to DMX Engine (a smashing success in its own right, and the preferred tool of hundreds of A/V technicians and systems integration companies) and used it to create automatic, beautiful, silky smooth fades.
In the past, to create fades and lighting dissolves using MIDI commands, a series of either note or CC messages were required. It worked well enough, but wasn’t as elegant as it could be.
This new firmware build automates the entire process, in a very straightforward way. MIDI program change (also known as patch change) messages, which typically are used to switch between voices on a keyboard, such as grand piano, electric piano, vibraphone, etc, now control the DecaBox’s internal dimming engine.
These program changes all have a numeric value. What we’ve done is taken the value and then subtracted one. This number is the time, in seconds, that subsequent MIDI note messages will cause the DMX channels to fade in and out.
For example, Acoustic Grand is PC #1. 1 – 1 = 0. Zero second (instant) on / off times.
PC #10, the venerable Glockenspiel, generates a nine second fade time. 10 – 1 = 9.
And so forth.
Any combination of notes and PC messages may be transmitted. They’ll be processed in the order they are received. Fade times can overlap each other in any combination. The dimming engine calculates all fade times in parallel, so it can be fed a dizzying array of data without skipping a beat.
Note that as before, the MIDI note velocity corresponds to the final DMX channel intensity. The dimming engine only affects the time it takes DMX channels to move from one level to another.
Here’s a video clip which demonstrates the new firmware. In the clip, we used a handful of the LED panels which were left over from the Christmas project shown here.
You can click on the ‘Youtube’ link in the player to see the clip full screen, etc.
If you choose to purchase a DecaBox, this new firmware (v3.0d) will be included at no charge. You can grab yours in the online store – it’s a ‘Standard DecaBox with MIDI to DMX firmware’.
If you’ve ordered one of these after October 1, 2012, we can email you a copy of the new firmware at no charge. It only takes a few seconds to complete the update using your DecaBox’s USB port.
Update 2/6/2013 Firmware 3.2d has been released, with the following additions:
- ‘Note Off’ at any velocity clears the DMX channel. Speed is based on the currently selected engine speed.
- Dimming engine speed can be controlled by (a) MIDI PC messages or (b) MIDI CC#0 messages. This setting can be accessed in the DecaBox’s menu system, and the setting survives a power cycle. Note that if MIDI CC#0 is selected to drive the dimming engine speed, DMX channel #1 can not be also driven with CC messages. This was added because some sequencer programs don’t save program / patch changes messages very well. It was easier to work with a dynamic CC fader / knob tool (which can be automated as part of playback) rather than the PC messages. So now, either method can be used with equal results. In most systems’ MIDI implementation, CC#0 is also named ‘Bank Select’.
- Dimming engine speed is adjustable now in .25 second increments, up to a maximum fade time of ~ 30 seconds.
Finally, if your gear is older than October, we can provide an update for $26. Contact ‘sales AT response-box.com’ for more details.