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#827798 - 02/17/09 06:20 PM DIY MB-24 meter bridge?
headwerkn2 Offline
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Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 638
Loc: The Countryside, Tasmania
Hi all,

Having been part of the VS world for a little over a year now one of the things I think is really cool is that Roland, at least while they were supporting the platform, was the wide range of accessories. Certainly no other hardware virtual studio platform had that kind of support.

What's also become apparent is that a lot of the good stuff is really, really hard to find... rarely on sale and always at quite high prices. The MB-24 meter bridge is a prime example. It can't be bought new any more and the occasional one that shows up on eBay or on the VS classifieds go for hundreds of US dollars. Which is a fair bit for a metal box with a bunch of blinking lights ;-)

This got me thinking... a community DIY effort to make a third party/open source meter bridge.

The MB-24 itself is a fairly basic unit, functionality speaking. It takes in a stream of proprietary (read: unknown at this stage) MIDI data and converts it into a bunch of LED level meters, status lights and a numerical readout.

Some of you might be familiar with the MidiBox project, which is a MIDI operating system combined with a series of build your own hardware modules which can be used to create MIDI controllers, sequencers, basic synths and so on. They've also created a compatible Mackie Control Unit (MidiBox LC) control surface and one guy has used this to create a meter bridge for a Tascam US-2400 controller (http://www.tsrecords.at/pult_main.htm).

The short of it is that the MidiBox platform can take in MIDI data and use it to drive LEDs, etc. All we need to do is figure out what data the VS spits out represents which meter bar or status light, etc. on the meter bridge. I do plan on shooting an email to Roland though I'm not expecting them to hand over the goods, so it will undoubtedly come down to running a monitor over the MIDI connection and figuring it out ourselves.

Anyone interested in helping out?

Cheers, Ben.
_________________________
Back to analog, gentlemen... Tascam 688, Teac A3440S, Teac 2A, Teac MB20, Akai X-160D, Teac A-350
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#827828 - 02/17/09 07:03 PM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: headwerkn2]
Frank Griffith Offline
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Sounds like a good idea.
Hopefully some of the geniuses on this forum can help to make this happen, sorry, I'm not one.
Later, Frank.
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#827920 - 02/18/09 02:10 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Frank Griffith]
Spargo Offline
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Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Smoky Mountain Foothills
Great - I been thinking the same thing.

Although I fall in an even lesser non-genius catagory than Frank!

But we're not trying to reinvent the wheel are we? I mean you'd think there would be some software stuff out there that would receive midi data so you just point click and drag and build a custom meter view - that is assuming Roland will cooperate......

Although - analog VU style meters will be real cool too....

Too bad I can't build one outta sheetrock screws and 2X4s - I can work with that stuff!

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#827925 - 02/18/09 02:26 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Spargo]
Spargo Offline
StrayDog
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Registered: 02/20/04
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Loc: Smoky Mountain Foothills
http://www.darkwood.demon.co.uk/PC/meter.html
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#827928 - 02/18/09 02:46 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Spargo]
Spargo Offline
StrayDog
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Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Smoky Mountain Foothills
Or something like this?: http://pas-products.com/multimeterbridge.htm
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#827950 - 02/18/09 05:34 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Spargo]
Arjan van Gog Offline
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Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1243
Loc: The Netherlands
I barely have time to do any recording as it is so count me out but it seems very feasible, especially if you use the MidiBox hardware.

Finding out the MIDI format may be easier than the Wave Export but actually programming the microcontroller and building a physical meter bridge is going to be quite a bit of work.

I'm wondering if the format really is unknown? Anyone with a MB24 can check if the manual includes the MIDI implementation details? I seem to remember from the D-10 that Roland uses what I believe they called memory mapping: you could send a certain SysEx sequence in a standardized (for Roland) format to set certain bits and bytes which would correspond to things like patch parameters and so on. This was all detailed in the D-10 user manual.

I wouldn't be surprised if the MB24 also has a 'memory map' where each bit corresponds to a specific LED or display segment. And if it's not memory map based it's probably just a fixed SysEx sequence to set turn a LED on/off or set the level for a specific channel. I doubt they would use MIDI Controller messages for something like that.

If the format does have to be reverse-engineerd I'd start by using a regular PC with a MIDI in and a sequencer that will record SysEx. Then play back a very short blip on each channel in turn and see how the SysEx sequence changes. Change the amplitude and then see what changes and so on. Or perhaps it's better to feed something into the VS input so that it's not actually playing, that might cut back on the amount of data that gets sent to the MB24 for transport/location updates.

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#827954 - 02/18/09 06:02 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Arjan van Gog]
LakeStone Karl Offline
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Registered: 06/26/02
Posts: 15818
Loc: Eastern PA, USA
Not owning one, I didn't knw the MB24 connected via the MIDI port!

Now, where does one go to enable that??? Guess I gotta start snoopin' around...
_________________________



-karl

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#827964 - 02/18/09 06:21 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: LakeStone Karl]
Arjan van Gog Offline
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Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1243
Loc: The Netherlands
I don't believe you need to enable it per se, it seems like the VS2480 always sends out the corresponding MIDI messages just in case an MB24 is connected.

From the manual:
 Quote:
Attaching an MB-24 Level Meter
Connecting the MB-24 to the VS-2480
1. With the power to the VS-2480 and the MB24 turned off, connect the VS-2480’s
MIDI OUT to the MB-24’s MIDI IN using a MIDI cable.
2. If you want to connect another MIDI device to the VS-2480, connect its input to the
MB-24’s MIDI THRU jack using a MIDI cable.
3. Turn on the power to your devices.

When using the MB-24, set the VS-2480’s MIDI OUT/THRU parameter to Out
(Page 300). To learn how to configure the meter


and

 Quote:
EXT LEVEL METER (MB-24)
Use these parameters to set the behavior of the MB-24 meter bridge (purchased
separately) attached to your VS-2480. If you’re not using an MB-24, you can ignore these
parameters.
DISPLAY SECTION
The DISPLAY SECTION parameter selects the type of signals shown in the MB-24’s 24
SECTION level meters. They can be turned off, or set to show:
To learn how to attach an MB-24, see “Attaching an MB-24 Level Meter” on Page 382.
Parameter Value: Meters show:
ANALOG INPUT 1-16 the levels received at the VS-2480’s analog inputs
R-BUS/COAX/OPT IN the levels received at the R-BUS and S/P DIF digital inputs
INPUT MIXER 1-24 input channel levels
TRACK MIXER 1-24 track channel levels
FX1-8 RETURN effect processor output levels
AUX1-8/DIR1-8 Aux bus and Direct bus levels
ANALOG OUTPUT analog output jack levels
R-BUS/COAX/OPT OUT R-BUS and S/P DIF digital output levels
The “Supplemental Information” chapter provides further information regarding the
MB-24. See “Roland MB-24 Notes” on Page 396.


and

 Quote:
Roland MB-24 Notes
The optional MB-24 Level Meter Bridge adds a full-sized meter array to your VS-2480.
To learn how to connect and MB-24 to your VS-2480, see Page 382. “EXT LEVEL METER
(MB-24)” on Page 360 explains how to configure the MB-24 for use with the VS-2480.

When used with the VS-2480, the MB-24 does not use its PRE EQ, SECTION (1st UNIT/
2nd UNIT), MULTI OUT, FLEX BUS, MULTI IN, INPUT, DIM,” or TALKBACK
indicators. Also, you may occasionally notice that PRE EQ and 1st UNIT light
immediately after the MB-24 is turned on. This does not indicate a malfunction.

The MB-24’s tick indicator—when the TIME DISPLAY
parameter is set to MEASURE/BEAT—shows one-tenth
the actual number of ticks since there are only two digits
available for this purpose, as shown here.

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#829389 - 02/20/09 09:31 PM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Arjan van Gog]
MEFlyingV Offline
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Registered: 12/29/08
Posts: 20
Loc: New York City
Does anyone have a link to the manual?
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#829471 - 02/21/09 05:33 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: MEFlyingV]
Arjan van Gog Offline
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Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1243
Loc: The Netherlands
It's not at roland.com but I downloaded it from

http://safemanuals.com/user-guide-instructions-owner-manual/ROLAND/MB-24-_E

Don't know if that's a legit source but the pdf that I downloaded seems fine (even if it is obviously scanned from a hardcopy). It contains no interesting information whatsoever as to MIDI details.

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#829495 - 02/21/09 07:42 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Arjan van Gog]
TrumpetPlayingMan Offline
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Registered: 03/04/08
Posts: 392
Loc: 53or4or5N 3or4or5W
At Roland's UK site...

Manual for MB-24

All t' best...

Steve
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#829512 - 02/21/09 08:28 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: TrumpetPlayingMan]
LakeStone Karl Offline
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Registered: 06/26/02
Posts: 15818
Loc: Eastern PA, USA
Well, I just snooped it out...there's a TON of data to decipher, mostly sent as "aftertouch" messages.
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LakeStone On The Web

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#829580 - 02/21/09 12:09 PM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: LakeStone Karl]
John A Offline
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Registered: 11/17/07
Posts: 64
Loc: Newcastle upon Tyne. UK
I used to have the MB24 meter bridge, and I sold it on Ebay, its more of a gimmic to me, and not really essential. But, if you have any problems building one and making it work, save yourself a lot of hassle, and find someone with a Tascam MU1000 meterbridge for DM3200 or DM4800, im pretty sure it will be compatible with the VS2480 because it works in the same manner, Midi messages. the only difference as far as I can tell, is that to switch between the various metering options, such as input, multitrack returns, aux sends etc. On the roland, you have to select what it is you want the meterbridge to read from the utilities menu (I think its the utilities menu anyway). the tascam DM4800 for example sends all the midi information at once to its meterbridge, and there is a series of buttons on the meterbridge which is what you press to meter whatever it is you wish to meter. Hope that makes sense coz im pretty drunk at the minute, but i know this info is relevent to the topic, because i was toying with the idea of buying a DM4800 as a home base setup, and using my roland for on site recording. Anyone friendly with there local music store who happens to have a DM4800 instock with a meterbridge fitted? or a friend with one? if so, i think it would be good to find out if it works anyway.
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#829823 - 02/22/09 08:38 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: John A]
Arjan van Gog Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1243
Loc: The Netherlands
 Quote:
a Tascam MU1000 meterbridge for DM3200 or DM4800, im pretty sure it will be compatible with the VS2480


I'm 99.99999999% sure it will not be compatible. Roland is the King of proprietary protocols and manufacturers in general are very good at inventing unique and original communication protocols. The changes of Roland and Tascam coming up with a compatible protocol are astronomically small.

That said, it may be an option to build a MIDI processor box that translates the VS2480 midi messages into the appropriate MU1000 messages.

 Quote:
At Roland's UK site...

Manual for MB-24


Strange that roland.com doesn't have it. FWIW this file is bit-wise identical to the one from safemanuals (but I like this source better).

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#830986 - 02/25/09 07:19 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Arjan van Gog]
headwerkn2 Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 638
Loc: The Countryside, Tasmania
Hi all,

Well, it's amazing what you can find in the user manual(s)!

Page 100 of the VS2400 Appendices (http://media.rolandus.com/manuals/VS-2400CD_AP.pdf - the VS2480 has the same info) and low and behold, what do we have here... the MIDI Implementation for level meter values sent on channel 16! Hmm sounds a helluva lot like an MB-24! Anyway, it's actually all quite simple... the data for all the meters is sent as polyphonic key pressure data... you have a note number from 0-23 for the physical meter on the MB-24 and that's fed a value from 0-127 corresponding to the -dB value (ie 1 = -1dB, 10 = -10dB, 127 is -infinity). Notes 40 to 63 are used to send channel status data, and various notes between 73 and 91 are used to update various other status LEDs and the timecode/midi clock numbers.

What was confusing me for about 2 hours was that the 0-23 note range is used to control the physical meter lights regardless of their setting (INPUT, TRACK, AUX, FXret, etc.) and there was no note number to update the SECTION status LED to indicate what meter data is being sent... I now refer you to page 354 of the VS2400 (page 360 in the VS2480DVD manual) "EXT LEVEL METER (MB-24)" - DISPLAY SECTION. It appears the MB-24 doesn't "follow" the VS2400/2480s onscreen meter and counter display. Instead you have to select what you want to display under System Prefs. Clearly the MB-24 wasn't designed with the VS recorders in mind.

Now all I need to do is figure out how to control nearly 500 LEDs efficiently with a handful of DOUT modules... ;-)

To be continued...
_________________________
Back to analog, gentlemen... Tascam 688, Teac A3440S, Teac 2A, Teac MB20, Akai X-160D, Teac A-350
Currently seeking - Teac 5A and 5EX mixer, Revox C270/C278 or Otari 5050-2 and 5050-8 track RTR decks - Please PM!
Digital stuff... Digi001, Mbox 2 Mini, Protools, Logic, iPad 3.

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#831040 - 02/25/09 09:14 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: headwerkn2]
Arjan van Gog Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1243
Loc: The Netherlands
Well, that certainly helps. I did take a quick peek at some of the data sent by the VS2480 but I could not readily identify the one channel that I was varying the meter value for.

 Quote:
Now all I need to do is figure out how to control nearly 500 LEDs efficiently with a handful of DOUT modules..


Typically that would be done using a scanning matrix consisting of x row and y columns. You select a row, send current to the LEDS for that row that should be on and then select the next row, cycling very rapidly so that it looks as if the leds are constantly illuminated.

row 1 -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-   \ 'switch'
row 2 -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-   -*--->GND
row 3 -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-   /

         1  2  3  4  5  6   7

With an 8x10 matrix you could drive 80 leds. With 16x16 256 and so on. It would make sense to use one row for each channel's meter.


Edited by Arjan van Gog (02/25/09 09:32 AM)
Edit Reason: typo

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#831435 - 02/25/09 08:56 PM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Arjan van Gog]
headwerkn2 Offline
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Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 638
Loc: The Countryside, Tasmania
You are indeed correct. They actually provide an example under the MidiBoxLC project (http://www.ucapps.de/midibox_lc/midibox_lc_ledrings_meters.pdf) which replicates the LED rings and meters on a Mackie MCU. You can control a 16x16 (ie. 256) LED matrix from a single DOUTx4 module. Each standard channel requires 13 LEDs (10 signal, one clip and 2 for the status, using a dual colour LED... 13x24 = 312) and the 8x7 LED segment display requires 2/3rds of another so I should be fine with 3 DOUTx4 boards and one core board.
_________________________
Back to analog, gentlemen... Tascam 688, Teac A3440S, Teac 2A, Teac MB20, Akai X-160D, Teac A-350
Currently seeking - Teac 5A and 5EX mixer, Revox C270/C278 or Otari 5050-2 and 5050-8 track RTR decks - Please PM!
Digital stuff... Digi001, Mbox 2 Mini, Protools, Logic, iPad 3.

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#831973 - 02/26/09 09:36 PM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: headwerkn2]
Spargo Offline
StrayDog
Planeteer


Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Smoky Mountain Foothills
Duhhhh .... I'm impressed! Go Go Go!!!!
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#832460 - 02/28/09 05:13 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Spargo]
Arjan van Gog Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1243
Loc: The Netherlands
Just for fun I wrote a little Windows app this morning that emulates an MB24 on a PC:



Guess what: it works! The meters are updating in real-time exactly as they are on the VS internal display. It's simplicity itself (on a Windows PC that is).

I used a .NET library from CodeProject by one Leslie Sanford so the actual code that I wrote works with very simple abstractions but it should not be difficult to recognize PolyPressure MIDI messages even when interpreting a MIDI bytestream. I'm sure that this MIDIbox project has plenty of code that deals with such stuff.

If anyone wants to try the above meterbridge experimental software you can download it here:

mb24.zip

It requires the Microsoft .NET 2.0 framework to run but I think that most Windows PCs will have that installed already these days.

It will automatically start monitoring the input from the first MIDI input device that is available. You can select another MIDI input device from the MIDI|Input device... menu if necessary.

Oh BTW it looks like the values for the meters range from 0 to 66.

I've left in the original functionality of the Sequencer Demo that this was based on. So you can open and play back MIDI files (either through the Microsoft GS Wavetable SW Synth) or send it to an external MIDI module) and the piano keyboard will also send note on/off events to whatever MIDI output port you have selected (default for MIDI output is normally the Microsoft GS Wavetable SW Synth).

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#911647 - 10/19/09 05:48 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Arjan van Gog]
Yves Hertoghs Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 182
Loc: Belgium
Arjan,

Very intresting ! In what language is this written ? Care to share the source code ? From this i could develop code and add this as a control surface plugin for reaper, so i can drive my MB-24 from reaper :-)

Yves

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#911657 - 10/19/09 06:53 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Yves Hertoghs]
Arjan van Gog Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1243
Loc: The Netherlands
The first library I happened to find for handling MIDI was a C# .NET library so that's what I used. I've looked briefly into a C++ based library for another project but have not really pursued that.

You're welcome to use my 'code' but there really isn't much code to share as virtually all the work is done by the library, except for the painting. Here's the code that handles processing the incoming MIDI messages:
 Quote:

public void HandlePolyPressure(object sender, Sanford.Multimedia.Midi.ChannelMessageEventArgs localE)
   {
   ...
   ...
   // This is to emulate Roland MB24 meterbridge
   if (localE.Message.Command == ChannelCommand.PolyPressure &&
   localE.Message.MidiChannel==15)
      {
      if (localE.Message.Data1<24 &&
         localE.Message.Data2!=meterlevel[localE.Message.Data1])
            meterlevel[localE.Message.Data1] = localE.Message.Data2;
      pictureBox1.Invalidate();
      }
   }


and then of course there's the WM_PAINT code in pictureBox1 which will be of no use for your application. I'll be happy to send you a link to download my code if you think it will help you but if you already have a MIDI framework within reaper to work with it will probably be quicker and cleaner if you start from scratch.

I think the second condition in the if is a left-over from an experiment to cut down on the number of WM_INVALIDATE messages being sent to the window but then there are some curly braces missing.

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#911996 - 10/20/09 06:43 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Arjan van Gog]
Yves Hertoghs Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 182
Loc: Belgium
Yeah, reaper already has its own library to send midi messages. I guess i need to find out how the Polypressure message is encoded in terms of track number, meter value, etc. Any hints are welcome!

Edit: actually it seems to be quite well explained in the manuals:
Polyphonic Key Pressure
Transmits the level meter value of VS-2480/2480CD according to the value of “DISPLAY
SECTION.” (MIDI ch. is fixed to 16.)
Ignored when received.
Status Second Third
AFH mmH llH
mm = Note No.: 00H - 5BH (0 - 91)
ll = Level Meter Value: 00H - 7FH (0 - 127)

The Note No. refer to the actual things on the MB-24 like track, etc.

, in the appendix of the 2480 manual, midi implementation
Yves


Edited by Yves Hertoghs (10/20/09 07:26 AM)

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#912059 - 10/20/09 10:16 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Yves Hertoghs]
Arjan van Gog Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1243
Loc: The Netherlands
Yes, it is that simple. If you have an actual MB24 to test with it's even simpler because you can output stuff and see how it reacts. I'm sure setting the locator will not be too difficult either.
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#1548184 - 10/20/17 09:58 PM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Arjan van Gog]
MikeSchmidt Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 10/14/17
Posts: 33
Loc: Minnesota
Anybody take this any further?
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#1548276 - 10/23/17 02:54 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: MikeSchmidt]
Big Ian Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 12/12/99
Posts: 1334
Loc: Gloucestershire, UK
I use this one. http://www.vsplanet.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1457020#Post1457020

Ian

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#1552075 - 11/23/17 03:21 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Big Ian]
MikeSchmidt Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 10/14/17
Posts: 33
Loc: Minnesota
Or has anyone tried the Tascam meter bridge?


Mike

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#1553193 - 12/03/17 05:38 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: MikeSchmidt]
Starliner Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 05/19/09
Posts: 2579
Loc: Florida - Dunnellon
Mike,

Not familiar with the Tascam... do you have a model number for the unit, or for the system to which it connects?

Starliner
_________________________
Half The Lies They Tell About Me Aren't True!

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#1553593 - 12/06/17 09:12 PM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Starliner]
MikeSchmidt Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 10/14/17
Posts: 33
Loc: Minnesota
Tascam MU 24/ DM24 meter bridge
works with
Tascam DM-24 digital mixer and other DM series mixers


Mike

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#1553625 - 12/07/17 09:31 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: MikeSchmidt]
Starliner Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 05/19/09
Posts: 2579
Loc: Florida - Dunnellon
Thanks Mike!


EDIT: I just looked at the back panel of the Tascam unit... it has a different connector (DB -25), whereas the Roland MB-24 uses 5-pin MIDI jacks. So, in order to know if it would work, you'd need to know the signals involved, internal wiring, and pinouts of the Tascam and the MB-24, to see if it could be connected. Then, you would either need a modified cable (at the least), or you would be getting into some re-engineering, if that would even work.

Starliner


Edited by Starliner (12/07/17 09:40 AM)
Edit Reason: Added info
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#1553767 - 12/08/17 05:04 AM Re: DIY MB-24 meter bridge? [Re: Starliner]
MikeSchmidt Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 10/14/17
Posts: 33
Loc: Minnesota
Damn, I had noticed the connector too.
I'm suppose it's a whole different communication protocol.


Mike

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