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Main :: ToneCore Development Kit



Interested in developing, but have some questions
by bryan52803 on 2010-04-11 12:57:50

Hello. I'm having a hard time finding some information about the Tone Core DSP developer's kit:

1) Is there an anti-aliasing filter? Or would I have to put one in myself? Would it be possible to add one on the PCB?

2) Do you offer quantized POTS? In other words, if I wanted a discrete input with more than 3 choices, could I remove the standard potentiometer and replace it with one with discrete levels?

3) Where is the developer's agreement I keep reading about? If I want to sell the pedals, what do I need to take care of?

4) Do the modules have permanent serial numbers on them? I'm curious if I sell the module to a customer, and then they lose the code (accidentally overwritting it or it's lost with time assuming it's a flash based memory) that I can offer to reflash their module. However, I don't want to be scammed by flashing a completely different module for their buddies.

5) Are their any built in DSP function libraries (FFT, convolution/cross-correlation, etc)?

6) I just want to make sure I understand this. If I want to sell the pedal to a customer, I have to get both a dock AND a module, and program the module correct?

7) Why is the dock so pricey? Can developer's purchase blank docks/modules at a reduced or bulk rate?

Thank you.



Re: Interested in developing, but have some questions
by audioartillery on 2010-04-13 07:51:37

1.  AA filter... you'll need to check the hardware doc (one of the Line6 guys posted it on the forum I believe).  I'm not sure why you're asking about this, there are no issues with the sound quality from the device.

2.  The pots on the module are what you get.  You can internally quantize them, obviously, but they don't have any mechanical stops if that's what you're looking for.  Again, consult the hardware doc to see if that's something you can hack up yourself.

3.  Developer agreement... don't know off the top of my head where that is.  I didn't find anything objectionable in there.  Basically you buy the modules from Line6, flash them, and sell them.  I think there might have been some rules about using Line6's name etc.

4.  Serial number, dunno.  I can check mine.  They can't "lose" their flash load so reflashing shouldn't be an issue.

5.  Build in libs... no, nothing but a sample application is provided.  There are a lot of 56k libraries around, I can point you at some FFT libraries.

6.  You can sell either just the module or sell it with a dock.  The hope is a lot of customers already have docks.

7.  I don't know what's up with the docks.  I think I got a stereo dock for $50 a couple months ago off Amazon, but now I only see the mono in the Line6 store for $70.  In my opinion Line6 needs to give developers a discount on docks (perhaps in quantity) if they want to see the developers move a lot of modules.

You seem to be really focused on doing this as a business.  Say your average customer is going to want your effect to come with a dock, your COST is $105.  Maybe you price it at $125.  You need an effect that people are willing to pay $125 for.  So unless you've already got some amazing new effect prototyped and you just need to port it, you're not yet in a place where you can evaluate this as a business model.  My advice is to get the kit, get ramped up on it, get your effect working and put it out on youtube or wherever, see what kind of interest there is.  Worst case you end up with a nice DSP kit and you're only out $200.  Just my 2 cents.



Re: Interested in developing, but have some questions
by bryan52803 on 2010-04-13 09:42:59

1. If frequencies are present in the signal leading up to the pedal that are greater than the Nyquist rate (noise is an easy example), they can be aliased into audio frequencies which is not desirable. I checked the hardware information and didn't see anything explictly (other than the emphasis pair filters)

2. Yes, that's what I wanted. Quantizing in software is not a good solution in my opinion, as it would confuse the average consumer (and would irk me if I were using it). I was wondering if they offer such a POT, but maybe they sell them elsewhere.

3. That's good news, no profit-sharing then, other than the price gouge on the decks.

4. Let me know, thanks. And as an Electrical Engineer I'm skeptical about flash technology. Though classified as non-volatile, there isn't sufficient research on the lifetime of these devices, not to mention it can vary wildly between processes.

5. I see. That's okay. I suppose it's better to use optimized algorithms in ASM anyhow.

6. In your experience, are there?

7. This might be a dealbreaker for me. I don't see the logic in charging the same price. Although the liberal developer's agreement makes sense as mentioned earlier.

Well I don't have $200 to blow on a toy I don't necessarily need, and why wouldn't I want to make some extra income? I specialize in signal processing and communications so I have plenty of ideas/experience to come up with some good pedals; I'm not worried about that. I am worried about investing time+money in this project and LINE 6 canceling the Tonecore module line, or customers not wanting to pay that much for pedals. That said, in your experience, what are people willing to pay for good effects? This part of the market research I've yet to complete.

Thanks for the reply and I look forward to your next.



Re: Interested in developing, but have some questions
by audioartillery on 2010-04-13 11:27:10

I have a cheap reverb pedal that has similar pots for selecting the reverb type... it works ok.  Not ideal, but ok.

I'm also an EE and most of my work ships on flash parts.  I don't really see what your concern is, flash is a very old technology.  We're not talking about max write cycles here since it won't be written in the field.

Market... no idea, I'm about half done with my first interesting effect.  My hope was to throw a listing on ebay basically at cost and see who bites.  I don't think the Tonecore are nearly as popular as the POD line, but that's just my guess.  There are a couple guys who have effects for sale (RedPanda?) but no idea if they've actually made a sale.



Re: Interested in developing, but have some questions
by bryan52803 on 2010-04-13 11:44:37

I suppose you're correct (in that we're not reusing the flash), but it would still worry me to some degree since the modules are reprogrammable. I'm just trying to cover all the angles before I invest. Please let me know about the serial numbers. Also, I'm curious to see how your ebay experiment works. Could you email me when your auction goes live?

It's nice to have another EE on here, and one that seems to be active (or the only one active haha ). I did see RedPanda's work and people seemed eager to part with their cash in the comments, but no word on how many committed to the buy. I'm wondering if he would be willing to part with some sales data or not; I'll PM him and see. Thanks again.



Re: Interested in developing, but have some questions
by RedPandaCurt on 2010-04-13 15:32:52

Hi, audioartillery answered most of your questions, but I can try to answer some of the others.

1) The AKM AK4552 codec used in the ToneCore dock has built-in anti-aliasing filters, so no need to worry.  I think you would have a difficult time modifying the PCB anyway.

2) No, they don't offer any other types of rotary controls to replace the pots.

3) The developer agreement is included in the TCDDK Hardware Guide, which you may be able to download from Line 6's web site before purchasing the dock.

4) Each ToneCore programmable module has a unique serial number (except for the one that comes with the DDK).  I'm guessing the plastic pot shafts will snap off long before you need to worry about the flash.

Yeah, I am selling some ToneCore-based pedals, both with and without docks (sorry I won't give exact numbers).  People don't care whether the pedal is ToneCore-based as long as it sounds good and they feel it is a good value for the money.  The high cost of the ToneCore modules and docks mean you need a product that can sell at a higher cost, but it's not exactly corksniffer hardware so there is an upper limit.  Also people will compare you to the Line 6 modules.

I'm also a EE, FWIW.



Re: Interested in developing, but have some questions
by audioartillery on 2010-04-13 16:15:53

Mr. Panda, I totally understand you not wanting to give exact numbers.  But could you confirm you've sold at least one?  Are you just doing this thru your website?  Or ebay too?



Re: Interested in developing, but have some questions
by bryan52803 on 2010-04-13 16:41:00

RedPandaCurt-- Thanks for the information. Glad to see they do indeed sell. I know the "corksniffers," and it's frustrating that they often don't understand DSP theory and swear off anything digital.

Also, I looked up the data sheet for the codec, and it looks like it oversamples and then decimates with digital AA filters. Not necessarily ideal, but it should suffice. Also glad to see about the serial number.

Hmm so the only thing really bothering me is the high cost of the docks (for developers) and the fixed hardware.

Hey Line6, are you listening? The mechanically quantized pots are a no-brainer. It shouldn't be too difficult to make a semi-modular system for the inputs, and then let the developer choose what type of input to put at each terminal. Also developing/selling modules would be greatly increased if the docks were sold at a reasonable price.

Thanks again everyone.



Re: Interested in developing, but have some questions
by RedPandaCurt on 2010-04-13 18:52:28

audioartillery - yes I can confirm that I have sold at least one, sorry if that was not clear from my previous post.  People have bought them through both eBay and my web site, both with and without docks.

I think the ToneCore DDK is great.  $200 is really cheap for a DSP development kit, especially considering that it doubles as a gig-ready stompbox.  The others in that price range are the Spin FV-1 and Freescale SoundBite; both come with free IDEs but are more traditional dev boards.  Just as an example, for less than $600 you can get the ToneCore DDK and 10 blank modules.  If they sell, order more and repeat.  If not, you didn't sink much time and money into it (and you can always reprogram the modules and try again).   If you want to trade lower per-unit cost for more up-front time and/or money, the FV-1 is pretty easy to design a board around.  The Freescale DSPB56371 (SoundBite) is a bit more complicated, but twice as fast as the ToneCore's DSP.  If you want to avoid PCB design, the Pittsburgh Digital Business Card DSP is a very cool module (TI DSP) and OCT Distribution sells a FV-1 reverb module that you could reprogram (unsupported).



Re: Interested in developing, but have some questions
by groxter on 2010-04-14 01:41:01

Thanks Curt for mentioning those devices, they're interesting. I'd add that TCDDK and SoundBite use exactly the same DSP development tools, you can work with both.

Bryan it's pretty simple. If you just want to experiment with DSP you have a lot of options, but if you want to code your own real music performance stompboxes then TCDDK is the only option.  You can produce professional-grade gear with it because that's what it is, the only thing missing is your professional-grade code.  So deal with the knobs, they're noisy anyway and effectively quantize to six bits.  Figure out how to make them work for you.  Line 6 isn't going to change anything, but a larger community of TCDDK developers might help keep the product line going.  So just jump in and do something, it's not expensive because you're just buying a stompbox. You have to figure out how to make it worth more than the hardware.



Re: Interested in developing, but have some questions
by audioartillery on 2010-04-14 08:16:33

It's really encouraging that people are buying TCDDK-based effects, no matter what the quantity.

I really want to see more people get involved.  I'm working on a guide to help newbies get up to speed fast, hopefully that will help a little.




The information above may not be current, and you should direct questions to the current forum or review the manual.