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Old 08-31-2017, 09:52 PM
jim jim is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 4,421
Default Vector Sequencer : Rev 2 Layout & Updated Feature List

First, the updated layout (Image below):

- Added a USB B jack (for easy MIDI input from small keyboards)
- Dropped one trigger jack, made the 3 remaining jacks bi-directional.
- Better button layout and coloring
- Dropped the 3.5 mm TRS MIDI In Jack.

A few general stats:

- The unit is 42 hp wide.

- It is quite shallow -- approx 25mm (including power pins, but not the connector).

- I don't have an exact number on power consumption, but with 2 OLED displays, power draw from the +12V rail will be on the high side. For comparison: The ER301 Sound Computer has a similar display setup and (according to draws up to 300mA on +12V rail. Also, the Vector Sequencer will have a USB A jack, which must provide power to whatever is connected to it.

- The module only draws power from the +12V and -12V rails — it does not use the +5V rail at all.

Price-wise, I reported "Around 700US" at NAMM. I will not know for sure until I have a quote for the front panel and a few other items, but I expect the final retail price to be somewhere between 700 and 800, with early buyers getting a small discount. The first production round will be allocated primarily to pre-sales, with dealer availability soon after that.

Everything updated since NAMM 2017:

- The OLED displays now have custom fonts and use double-buffering for smoother updates.

- The firmware now supports 8 independent sequencer parts -- which is the natural maximum for this hardware, based both on the nature of the UI (8 knobs) and the available memory on the CPU.

- Each part also has 2 sub-sequencers, with parameter modulation.

- The structure of Pattern Presets, Banks, and Scenes has been worked out and mostly implemented. (more on that below)

- The SD card now works for storing/loading project files and preferences.

- The USB B jack has been tested both for class-compliant MIDI and MSC (mass-storage) operation, but has not been fully integrated into the sequencing functions for MIDI I/O.

- Output routing for both CV and MIDI outputs is now assignable.

- Prefs : there's now a proper preferences section for global settings like tempo, key, scale, etc.

- There's a new sequencing section: Chance Ops.

- There have been a slew of internal changes related to how the sequencer code interacts with the hardware (buttons, encoders etc.). All of which is very important to implement, but not very exicting to list here. Ditto for a number of decisions regarding parts and assembly -- not very exicting to report (I'm using knobs from Selco), but still both important and somewhat time intensive.

- The single biggest milestone since NAMM is the design of a new hardware revison. We received prototypes last week and are in the process of "bringing them up". The basic design is the same, but there are some important I/O changes and improvements:

- A new, much more accurate 2-channel Pitch DAC.

- The 3.5 mm TRS MIDI In jack has been replaced with a USB A jack.

- The two sets of uni-directional Run/Clock trigger jacks have been replaced with 3 bi-directional jacks for Run, Clock and Reset.

- The per-step LEDs have been moved about 2 mm closer to the OLED displays for better visiblity when the module is mounted in a skiff.

- The buttons in the 'keyboard' (below the main encoders) have been simplified a bit, and now support one full octave (12 semitones).

- What was initially a 'trigger expander' connection with 8 triggers has been massively expanded to include 4 sets of Pitch, Gate and Velocity outs, 8 triggers, MIDI I/O (on DIN jacks) and DIN Sync I/O. These inputs/outputs will be made available on a separate 12hp module.

Features (as of 2 Sept 2017):

Multiple Parts:

The the Vector Sequencer supports 8 independent parts. Each part includes a flexible note-based step sequencer and two CV-based sub-sequencers. The note sequencer generates pitch, gate, and velocity values that can be output as CV or MIDI. The plan is to support polyphonic parts both for drum programming and for chords, but that has not been implemented yet. In both cases, those alternate modes would only be supported on one or two parts -- i.e. part 7 could be set to chord mode, part 8 to drums. The current sequence length is 16 steps, which will be extended to at least 32 steps, possibly 64.

Sequencing Features:

Almost all of the sequencing features from Numerology's MonoNote sequencing module are present:
- Pitch editing (with built-in scale quatization)
- Gate time (with Tie)
- Velocity (a.k.a. variable accent)
- Step Length (in musical divisions)
- Ratchet (up to 4 divides)
- Skip & Mute
- Select : You can select multiple steps, then use the 9th encoder to edit all those steps at once.
- Four different rate modes: Musical divisions, Beat Percent, Speed, Fractional Rates from 1/1 to 16/16.
- Start Step and Length controls
- Hard Sync (reset the sequence every N beats).
- Direction controls: Fwd, Bwd, Two pendulum modes, and Random.
- Octave and Semitone offset controls.

Chance Operations:

This is a big expansion of the Probability and Random Jump functions in Numerology's Note Sequencers. Here you can pick one chance operation for each sequencer step, and a probability that the operation will occur.

There are currently 7 categories of operations with 59 total variants:

- Mute, Un-Mute
- Skip, Un-Skip
- Jump : Backwards, Forwards, Any Direction, or any of the first 16 steps.
- Accent : Low, Medium, High
- Gate : A bit longer, much longer, Tie
- Divide : by 2, 3, or 4
- Pitch : Up, Down, Any, Or a specific semitone -- all to a max range of +/- an octave.

There is also a 'bar' setting that can be used to limit the chance op to certain bars: even, odd, 3rd, 4th and 8th. This option very handy for setting up drum fills.

Sequence Operations:

These operations act on a sequence as a whole, and are triggered by holding the Shift button and pressing some other button. Shift + any of the
main editing modes (Pitch, Gate, Velocity, Step Len, etc) ‘normalizes’ those parameters. For example, Shift+Pitch sets all pitches to the base pitch
for the given key, Shift+Gate sets all gate times to zero (muted). Shift+Pattern duplicates a pattern into an empty pattern slot. Shift+C2 — the rightmost
button on the keyboard, clears the entire sequence. Other operations will be added as noted on the latest front panel mockup.

Internal Modulation:

There are two sub-sequencers per Part, each is simpler than the main sequencer (8 steps only, direction and rate control), but they can be used to modulate various parameters on the main sequencer. The current list of target parameters is:

- Semitone Offset
- Octave Offset
- Sequencer Rate
- Sequencer Direction
- Start Step
- Sequence Length

Outputs and Flexible Routing:

The Vector Sequencer has two sets of built-in CV outputs for Pitch, Gate, and Velocity, as well as two MIDI Outputs on 3.5mm TRS connectors and (with the new hardware revision) two USB ports (A and B). Each output can be set to listen to any of the 8 internal parts. This includes setting the functions for the run, clock and reset jacks, which can be used for sync in, sync out, or gate triggers for parts. For instance, the following is a configuration that I frequenty test with, and is easy to setup:

- Part 1 -> Pitch1/Gate1/Velocity1
- Part 2 -> Pitch2/Gate2/Velocity2
- Part 3 -> Trigger the Run Jack
- Part 4 -> Trigger the Clock Jack
- Parts 5 & 6 -> MIDI Out 1
- Parts 7 & 8 -> MIDI Out 2

Output Expansion:

An expansion unit with significantly more I/O is planned. The current design includes:

- 4 complete sets of CV outputs for Pitch, Gate and Velocity.
- Two MIDI outputs with 5-pin DIN jacks.
- DIN Sync Out.
- A switchable DIN Sync In/Out.
- 8 Trigger CVs.

This 12 hp expansion module is currently in the design phase. It's outputs would have the same flexible routing options as the onboard I/O.


There is a preferences section for setting global parameters (tempo, swing, sync, etc), editing part names and setting up signal routings for the outputs.

Patterns, Banks, Scenes and Projects:

Each sequencer has access to 20 pattern locations per bank. There is room for two banks in memory at once. The number of available pattern locations per bank would drop with longer sequences. Each pattern stores all settings associated with a sequence, including chance operation and the sub-sequencers. There is a grid-based Pattern page where all the patterns for a single Part can be seen and triggered. Patterns can be easily duplicated (Shift+Pattern) into an empty pattern slot.

There is a Scene mode, which also has a grid-based UI. This mode displays the current patterns for all parts at once -- each Part gets a column. There are 30 scene locations, which store the chosen pattern for each part, and the mute status of that part.

A project file stores all of the preferences, scene and pattern banks for all parts into a single file on the SD Card.


Of the big items not yet done, here is a list of the most important ‘must have’ items.

On the hardware side:

- Finish 'bringing up' and testing the REV 2 hardware.

- Finish the design of the expansion board, and verify a prototype works properly with the sequencer.

- Finalize and order a proper front panel.

On the firmware side:

- Finish the USB implementation (host and device modes).

- Implement a Bootloader mode (for Firmware updates)

- Sync In and Out (both DIN and MIDI).

- Implement "Bank B" pattern presets.

- Implement operations for managing projects (New, Save As, etc.)

- A number of miscellanous features related to sequencing, sequence recording, modulation and so on.
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Last edited by jim; 09-02-2017 at 03:52 PM.
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