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  #1  
Old 07-29-2013, 02:12 PM
ghengisjim ghengisjim is offline
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Question Custom Project, MSA-R Configuration

I'm working on a custom project (fountain display).

I've started tinkering with the MSA-R with 8 channels. I've downloaded the sqwerl program to begin configuring SysEx messages.

Broadly I think it will make sense to start with describing what I'd like the system to do, and then we can hone in on some of the details as I go with your support.

I have CakeWalk Sonar on my computer (trial version) with the goal being to play an audio (wav etc) from this program and then also output a MIDI stream of messages from my computer simultaneously, which will allow me to use the MSA-R to drive a custom water display (solenoid valves will operate based on notes and drums in the song).

I still need to get more familiar with Cakewalk to be able to do this, but the only part that will affect system operation is understanding what MIDI notes that come out of my interface (I'm planning on getting a simple USB to MIDI hardware interface and corresponding drivers on my computer side).

Would a good place to start be to DL the MIDI specification to fully understand MIDI messaging protocols?

Or should I start with just digging into the Sqwerl software, firmware and hardware documentation, and just try to configure the MSA-R by itself?

The big thing I'm not seeing is if there's a way to 'test' the configuration of the MSA-R, and/or observe how the thing operates without hooking up an actual MIDI source. That shouldn't be a problem, but I don't trust my ability to hook up a MIDI source (yet) with the right notes etc outputting that would match how I configured it.

The one other more direct question I have is around what to actually connect the MSA-R to when loading this firmware into it. I assume some of that is documented in the Sqwerl software and MSA-R firmware documentation, and I also assume that perhaps it involves a USB interface/breakout from the computer... Although I'm just not sure yet!

BTW I'm sort of thinking out loud on some of this stuff. I understand much of this is probably in some of the documentation, but I just figured some high level directional help may be a great aid to me from more seasoned users of this hardware.

I think also that I need to get some of my terminology straight... Channels... Notes... Etc... This is all stuff I need to understand how it affects how the MSA-R operates..
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  #2  
Old 07-29-2013, 03:57 PM
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Hi Jim, welcome to the forum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghengisjim View Post
I'm working on a custom project (fountain display).

I've started tinkering with the MSA-R with 8 channels. I've downloaded the sqwerl program to begin configuring SysEx messages.

Broadly I think it will make sense to start with describing what I'd like the system to do, and then we can hone in on some of the details as I go with your support.

I have CakeWalk Sonar on my computer (trial version) with the goal being to play an audio (wav etc) from this program and then also output a MIDI stream of messages from my computer simultaneously, which will allow me to use the MSA-R to drive a custom water display (solenoid valves will operate based on notes and drums in the song).
Awesome!

Quote:
I still need to get more familiar with Cakewalk to be able to do this, but the only part that will affect system operation is understanding what MIDI notes that come out of my interface (I'm planning on getting a simple USB to MIDI hardware interface and corresponding drivers on my computer side).

Would a good place to start be to DL the MIDI specification to fully understand MIDI messaging protocols?

Or should I start with just digging into the Sqwerl software, firmware and hardware documentation, and just try to configure the MSA-R by itself?
Check out this thread for some good background info on MIDI:

http://forum.highlyliquid.com/showthread.php?t=95

It's not terribly complicated. But you won't need to know too much about the inner workings of MIDI for this project. Just the basic concept: that the MIDI interface transmits events, but not "audio".

With that understood, you can probably go straight to experimenting with the MSA and Cakewalk.

Quote:
The big thing I'm not seeing is if there's a way to 'test' the configuration of the MSA-R, and/or observe how the thing operates without hooking up an actual MIDI source. That shouldn't be a problem, but I don't trust my ability to hook up a MIDI source (yet) with the right notes etc outputting that would match how I configured it.
You might be surprised. The MSA ships with a default configuration: it responds to 8 adjacent notes starting with "Middle C". If you can sequence a few notes in Cakewalk, I bet you can get the MSA to respond. There's no harm in experimenting--just do your initial testing before you connect the solenoids to the MSA. Look for the MSA output indicator LEDs to light up. You can't break the MSA by sending it MIDI of any kind.

So before loading a new configuration onto the MSA (and before using Sqwerl), you can just start with getting the basic i/o working, and then move on from there...

Quote:
The one other more direct question I have is around what to actually connect the MSA-R to when loading this firmware into it. I assume some of that is documented in the Sqwerl software and MSA-R firmware documentation, and I also assume that perhaps it involves a USB interface/breakout from the computer... Although I'm just not sure yet!
Make sure to download the MSA hardware user manual and review it before beginning the project. It has some diagrams for the basic interconnections.

Quote:
BTW I'm sort of thinking out loud on some of this stuff. I understand much of this is probably in some of the documentation, but I just figured some high level directional help may be a great aid to me from more seasoned users of this hardware.
Just let me know when you have some specific questions. The basic first steps are:

1. Get the MSA powered up (try a 9V battery)
2. Get the MIDI i/o working (see this thread)
3. Consult your Cakewalk documentation for sending MIDI "middle C" (note #60) on channel 1. This activates output #0 on a factory MSA.

If you can do that, you are well on your way. Feel free to ask more questions when you have them.

Quote:
I think also that I need to get some of my terminology straight... Channels... Notes... Etc... This is all stuff I need to understand how it affects how the MSA-R operates..
Check that link earlier in the thread if you want the technical details about the terminology. But it will probably easier to get some basic functionality working before you try to digest a lot of the MIDI spec.
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  #3  
Old 07-29-2013, 05:36 PM
ghengisjim ghengisjim is offline
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Default Great thanks so far

I had some issues with HEARING output (either audio or MIDI) so just got back from Sam Ash and purchased an external sound card with all the USB/audio/MIDI ports and bells and whistles. Would love to figure out a solution to not have to use that, but for now I think I'm limited by my computer's sound card.

Good to know on all the basics. Once I get sound to come out of this beast, the next step is to hook up the MIDI part of everything.

This means that I need to know the following:

1. I cut into a standard MIDI cable and it has 4 wires with the following colors: WHITE, YELLOW, RED, BLACK. I see the hardware info in the documentation but I'm wanting to take these wires and terminate directly on the MSA - any thoughts on which one is which? I would have to guess and check with 4 separate wires unless these colors indicate a standard pin termination.

2. Want to confirm I'm not going to blow up anything with a 12VDC input. That's all I have available for now!

Thanks!!!
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghengisjim View Post
I had some issues with HEARING output (either audio or MIDI) so just got back from Sam Ash and purchased an external sound card with all the USB/audio/MIDI ports and bells and whistles. Would love to figure out a solution to not have to use that, but for now I think I'm limited by my computer's sound card.

Good to know on all the basics. Once I get sound to come out of this beast, the next step is to hook up the MIDI part of everything.

This means that I need to know the following:

1. I cut into a standard MIDI cable and it has 4 wires with the following colors: WHITE, YELLOW, RED, BLACK. I see the hardware info in the documentation but I'm wanting to take these wires and terminate directly on the MSA - any thoughts on which one is which? I would have to guess and check with 4 separate wires unless these colors indicate a standard pin termination.
I don't think there are any standard colors for the wires inside the cable. In any case, it should be pretty easy to determine which is which by using a continuity tester.

MIDI wiring is diagrammed in the MSA hardware user manual.

Quote:
2. Want to confirm I'm not going to blow up anything with a 12VDC input.
That should work fine. If the MSA voltage regulator gets too warm for your liking, just change to a lower voltage supply.
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  #5  
Old 07-31-2013, 08:17 PM
ghengisjim ghengisjim is offline
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Default Coming along...

Progress report..

I hooked up a MIDI Controller and connected the MSA-R just to see if the lights came on, and sure enough, the middle C and up started lighting some things.

Next step was wiring the device to the valves and sure enough, we've got action when connecting to a MIDI controller! Fun stuff..

My next step(s) are to go down the road of experimenting with a piece of software such as Cakewalk Sonar and/or Reason that can in theory act as the device that can output MIDI while simultaneously playing music. I have gotten a little assurance within the Reason environment that by adding an 'External Instrument' and then configuring the output, this will actually drive MIDI output (thru a cheapo USB to MIDI interface). If anyone has any experience with 'creating' or 'sequencing' MIDI from a computer, please chime up!

For now that's the only question(s) I have!

Jim
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  #6  
Old 08-01-2013, 05:59 PM
ghengisjim ghengisjim is offline
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Default Power Supply / Relay Operation

I've encountered an interesting 'problem/challenge':

It seems as though when I connect the terminations of some of my valves to the MSA-R board thru the MIDI decoder, for some reason when I try to operate the valves by initiating multiple notes at the same time, this does not work.

Initially I was thinking this was some issue related to either:
1. Too much pressure or some mechanical issue around getting these valves to operate...
OR
2. Issues related to the power supply not being able to handle the in-rush of multiple transient/actuations simultaneously.

I think I've eliminated both of these as the root of the issue, however, for the following reasons:

1. Even when no water is hooked up to the valves, and they are seeing no pressure, but a midi controller is connected through the MSA-R; we have the same issue/problem with operation. IE: when hitting multiple keys at the same time, the valves do not actuate. This is also true when one key is held down and another is pressed - the next one does not cause the relay out to close apparently as the second solenoid does not operate.

2. The power supply when connected directly (24VDC) to the solenoid valves does not appear to have any problem actuating all 4 of the valves simultaneously.

For this reason, I'm wondering if within the MSA-R one of the following things may be occurring:
1. Embedded software struggles to handle notes that are 'close' together
2. Somehow with the way I have the power supply wired to the solenoids 'thru' the relay outs on the MSA-R, I'm creating a situation where the current available is limited...


I figure this might be a good forum to discuss/troubleshoot this.....

Jim
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  #7  
Old 08-01-2013, 06:06 PM
ghengisjim ghengisjim is offline
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Default Another Thought

Just brainstorming for what might be going on....

My power supply is currently two series connected 12VDC to derive my 24VDC for solenoid operation, and I'm utilizing one of these two 12VDC supplies to power MSA-R. The 24VDC is then being applied to the relay outs.

Not ideal and it has only been a temporary solution but I'm wondering if the temporary in-rush because of the solenoids is potentially causing enough of a voltage drop that it is affecting MSA-R operation, especially when multiple valves are actuated at the same time.

Not sure if this is in line with the symptoms of when one key is pressed and then some time passes and another is pressed... But maybe.

I'm going to try to provide a separate (isolated) power input to the MSA-R of 9VDC and see if this fixes this interesting problem....

Jim
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Old 08-05-2013, 04:35 PM
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Jim,

Looks like you'll be receiving another MSA-R today or tomorrow. Let me know what kind of results you achieve with the separate power supply.
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  #9  
Old 08-15-2013, 08:31 PM
ghengisjim ghengisjim is offline
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Default Follow-Up

Hi John,
Got it in the mail - and I got it working at least for a demo.

What's happening now is I have 4 solenoid valves that are working along with pre sequenced music (used REASON software). So, what this means is that I'm satisfied with this as a starting point. I'd be happy to post a video if there was a way on this forum...

I think with our product direction we are likely to be getting away from MIDI. We've started looking into a direct use of audio signals to control this stuff.

The other option architecturally is to use a device that still drives MIDI. The interesting thing is that we're going to have to do some embedded systems design work regardless - because ultimately we found out that a much more cost effective/reliable way to control water is via synchronous pumps and PWM signals (a very small VFD basically).

Jim
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Old 08-19-2013, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghengisjim View Post
Hi John,
Got it in the mail - and I got it working at least for a demo.

What's happening now is I have 4 solenoid valves that are working along with pre sequenced music (used REASON software). So, what this means is that I'm satisfied with this as a starting point. I'd be happy to post a video if there was a way on this forum...

I think with our product direction we are likely to be getting away from MIDI. We've started looking into a direct use of audio signals to control this stuff.

The other option architecturally is to use a device that still drives MIDI. The interesting thing is that we're going to have to do some embedded systems design work regardless - because ultimately we found out that a much more cost effective/reliable way to control water is via synchronous pumps and PWM signals (a very small VFD basically).

Jim
Hi Jim,

Thank you for the update. I'm glad that you were able to get the basic demo working. Even if you go a different route than MIDI (or stay with MIDI, but not with an HL product!) it would still be interesting to hear about your progress. Please post as much media and updates as you would like.
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