|So what is this developer stuff all about?
Yeah, we’re guitar playing geeks. We just can’t leave a thing alone. We stick all kinds of crazy stuff on our guitars to make them louder (remember, there was a time before the first magnetic pickup changed the world), more expressive (once there was no floating trem!) and just more us.
We change guitar strings, pick-ups, cables, bridges, nuts and on and on and on. We buy amps and dial in the settings. If it’s a tube amp, we change the tubes. We experiment with cabinets and speakers and even different grill cloths.
But mostly…we buy pedals. And more pedals, and then the next one, and then I have to have that one.
Once we get these pedals home, the more adventurous of us open them up and start modifying them. There are generations of folks with soldering irons who’ve swapped out transistors, diodes and op-amps just to see what it sounds like. Pedal boards around the world are filled with pedals from folks that started doing it as a hobby (ok, obsession), and found a life-long career.
Well, at Line 6 we’ve had a tone-jones going for a while now. And we love analogue pedals. We’ve modeled a bunch of them and put them in our products! However, we really love what is possible in the digital realm. We’ve made a whole bunch of great sounding pedals, and some of them do things that analogue pedals have a really hard time doing. That’s where we love to tweak.
And now, you can too. That’s the whole idea behind the ToneCore DSP (Digital Signal Processing) Developer’s Kit. We’re offering an easy access platform for DSP programmers and pedal nuts who want to work in a software-based approach to sound design. Now, with our hardware platform and this set of developer tools from Freescale, we’ve made it possible for you to go in and “muck-around” with software based effects and hear the results in a real world setting, without having to go out and manufacture the hardware.
We hope you enjoy the adventure, and we look forward to hearing what you come up with. Who knows? You might develop the next sound of rock and roll!
Frequently Asked Questions
How does this work?
The kit contains a special Line 6 Developer ToneCore Dock, which in addition to containing the Freescale Symphony audio DSP, audio circuitry and ToneCore Module docking slot, can be connected directly to a PC via USB. The ToneCore Programmable Module is customizable and stores DSP code in the FLASH memory of the on-board Freescale microcontroller. DSP code development is performed on the PC and then a programming tool is used to FLASH the MCU with the new DSP code through the Developer ToneCore Dock.
You plug our pedal into your computer via USB, use the software we give you to write some fancy code, then shoot it back to the pedal, which now stores it in memory. Now when you plug in your guitar to the pedal, it does to the sound of your guitar whatever you’ve told it to do!
Can anyone do it?
That depends. If you have any experience writing software you’ll probably be just fine. If you don’t, and are willing to learn, we’ve made it possible for you to get started by giving you the example of a simple two-band EQ, and a step by step by guide to assemble the code and download it to the module.
How hard is it to actually write DSP code?
Again, that depends on your experience level and motivation. We recommend that you read up on the basic concepts of DSP, gain some familiarity with Freescale’s Symphony DSP assembly language, and explore MusicDSP.org and the JOS Website for audio DSP code examples and more information. You might decide to take a class, or find a buddy who’s done some programming. If after doing a little research you find it interesting, give it a shot!
What kind of code would I use?
The TCDDK example code is written in Symphony DSP assembly code. It is also possible to write in C using Freescale’s Symphony Studio tools. For more information, please go to Freescale’s website.
What if I don’t want to program my own effect?
No problem. Get one of the eleven ToneCore pedals and modules we’ve already created.
What’s in the box?
The ToneCore Programmable Module, the Developer ToneCore Dock, a USB cable, and directions on how to download the actual software tools. We’ve decided to make the software tools downloadable so you can be sure of having the latest, updated version of the assembly tools. (And we couldn’t get the dang DVD in the box!)
What kinds of things can I do with this kit?
As a point of reference, the processor in the Tone Core Programmable Module is just as powerful as the processor in the POD 2.0. We imagine that it will enable you to do a lot!
Can I use the Programmable Module in any ToneCore Dock?
Absolutely. All of our Docks are completely compatible and you can use them in both Stereo or Mono docks, depending on the code you write. You can even write code to sense whether you are plugged in mono or stereo, and treat it accordingly!
How do I label my knobs?
We provide a metallic overlay with no silkscreen. The down and dirty way would be to just write on it with a Sharpie. Also, we’ll make available a to-scale template you can download and print onto anything your heart desires. Some folks have had great success using our template with their own designs printed out on photo paper instead of our overlay. You could get crazy with a label maker or even go nuts with paint. (Leather, anyone?)
How much does it cost?
The complete ToneCore DSP Developer’s Kit will be $199.99 and the additional modules will be $34.99 each. They will be available exclusively from our on-line store.
What if I come up with the best thing since sliced bread? Can I sell it?
Absolutely. We only ask that you follow the guidelines outlined in the developer’s agreement. All ToneCore Developer Docks and Modules must be purchased as new from Line 6. Your programmed modules can be sold at your discretion.
Will this platform be available on the Mac?
Probably not, sorry. Freescale, the company that makes the processor, writes the development tools and as far as we know, they have no Mac development tools planned. However, it may be possible that these tools may work on an Intel-based Mac using one of the Windows emulating solutions.
Can I re-use a module?
Yes, it behaves like any other re-usable flash drive, and you should expect the same kind of life expectancy.
If I give away a module with my cool effect, can someone copy it off my module?
No. Once you’ve programmed your effect, no one else can copy it from the module itself, even with the Dev Kit. You don’t have to worry!
Can I reprogram an existing Line 6 module?
No, the effects we sell cannot be re-programmed. They are not designed for that purpose.
Can I use my Developer ToneCore Dock like any other Line 6 Dock?
Yes, it behaves just like any other of our docks when not plugged into a computer.
Why are you doing this? Aren’t you afraid you are creating competition for your own products?
Just like we hope our PODs and other products have inspired folks to make music, we hope these tools will inspire folks to make the next generation of guitar effects. Of course, we’d love it if folks had a chance to discover our other ToneCore pedals and see the cool sounding pedals we’ve come up with. But we also love encouraging new talent, and are always looking for the next generation of DSP engineers (as well as the next cool pedal for our own rigs!)
What are the PC system requirements for the ToneCore DSP Developer Kit?
How is the Developer ToneCore Dock powered?
- Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or later (does not support Vista 64)
- x86 processor running at 500 MHz
- 128 MB of RAM
- 16 MB of disk space
It works in the same way as our other ToneCore pedals. You can use a standard 9 volt battery, or our DC-1G Power Adapter.