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MakeItShredNo1

Helix and Airturn

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So there's been some posts about using the Helix switches to trigger page turns on sheet music apps, or triggering things like Loopy HD with Helix, but they all basically come down to using MIDI.  I have an iPad (older, used only for sheet music) that I trigger page turns with the Airturn BT-106 and a dual momentary switch (basically an AirTurn Duo, but different pedals).  So, I figure, Helix should be able to trigger the AirTurn with the ext amp output.  

So here's my testing procedure:

I take my physical momentary switch - it has two TS outs rather than TRS, so I take a dual-TS-to-TRS Y cable, plug into my momentary switch, and into a pedal that has a remote input (Bogner Ecstasy Red).  Everything goes fine - I can turn the pedal on and off, and engage the boost.  

 

I take away my momentary switch, and leave everything else as is - I plug each of the TS cables from the Y cable (still attached to the remote switch on the Bogner) into the "ext amp" on the helix*, I of course I only have access to either on/off or boost depending on which TS cable I have plugged into Helix, but both work fine.  

Then I take away the Y cable, and plus the TRS cable straight into the "ext amp," and I have access to both functions on the Bogner, exactly as expected.  

Ok, now, I hook my momentary switch into the Airturn BT-106 - one TS cable into "pedal 1/2"  on the BT106, and another TS cable into "pedal 3/4."  Using the momentary switch, the AirTurn connects to my ipad, and I can turn pages in forScore, and I can see the pedals activated as expected in the AirTurn Manager App. 

 

So, I have a momentary switch that I know controls the AirTurn and a guitar pedal perfectly well.  That same guitar pedal is controlled perfectly well by the Helix "ext amp" function.   YET, here's the problem:
Connecting the Airturn to the ext amp function does nothing.  So far I've tried:

Connecting one input on the BT-106 to the "ext amp" via a TS cable 

Connecting one input on the BT-106 to the "ext amp" via a TRS cable 

Connecting both inputs on the BT-106 to the "ext amp" via a TRS-to-dual-female-TS Y cable plugged into the Helix and a TS cable plugged into each of the BT106 inputs.  I also tried reversing the TS cables.   

and in each test I tried toggling both the 1 Tip, 2 Ring and 1 and 2 Tip and Ring setting in the Helix

 

Has anyone tried to do something like this, and have you found any success?  Any troubleshooting recommendations?

 

As for a use-case for this - it allows me to charge my ipad while using a page-turner, which using a midi-adapter would preclude.  As for why I would want to take up Helix pedals to do this - it's because on gigs where I'm doing a lot of reading, I typically need fewer sounds, and I also typically have cramped stage/pit space on these gigs, so this allows me one less thing on the floor.  

 

*since both the bogner and the Airturn are expecting momentary switches, and the Helix typically uses latching for ext amp I am either double-pressing a helix switch, or merging the ext amp switch with a "Simple EQ" block set to momentary.  

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So - Update

I gave up on getting Airturn to work with Helix.  What does work wonderfully is the Yamaha MD-BT01.  

 

So, if you're not familiar, the MD-BT01 is a bluetooth LE (low energy) dongle that plugs into MIDI in and out (getting power from the midi out) on a device, and then broadcasts the MIDI over bluetooth.  To get it to work on older ipads (and by some accounts even on newer ones), you have to have an app that will specifically pair with BLE devices (Yamaha has one called Digital Piano, though I couldn't find it in the App Store - a google search for it did eventually lead to the app store link).  Once paired, then iOS will see it as a bluetooth device in settings, and then it will send midi to whatever app you want.  

So, on the Helix I just programmed two pedals to send arbitrary midi signals (I choose Channel 1, CC 68, Value 127, more or less randomly, and since it didn't conflict with anything else I use should I use the Helix's midi-over-USB for a different project in the future).  Then I opened forScore, and under Settings, "Shortcuts," tap on "Next Page" and it starts listening for commands - press the Helix pedal assigned to the midi CC, and viola - it should see it, interpret the MIDI as a Hex string, and now pressing that pedal on my Helix changes the page on my ipad.  

 

One problem I have found is that eventually (over several hours, or if the ipad is repeatedly screen-lock'ed) the connection stops working, and you have to completely disconnect (in the Digital Piano app, and by turning off bluetooth in Settings) and then repair the MD-BT01.  But so far I haven't had problems with disconnects over the course of a set.  

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I've done a cantata and a few rehearsals with this setup, so far no problems so long as I verify that it is working and connected before the show/rehearsal begins.  With forScore, using a MIDI shortcut does not preclude the typical "Page Up/Page Down key" shortcuts (that AirTurn uses) - so for the first couple rehearsals I had the Helix/MD-BT01 setup and also an AirTurn with a momentary footswitch as backup.  So far I have not needed the AirTurn, so eventually I'll stop using it.  It remains to be seen how reliable it will be.  I'll post again when it's more gig-tested.  

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So - thread necro.  But I said I'd report when I had used the setup at more gigs, and I have.  (it took a while because I don't always play shows where I read charts)

So, as I said, I have the AirTurnBT-106 with a two footswitch, TS/TS compact pedal.  I had it on standby for a few more church gigs and a jazz gig.  But I never ended up needing it.  

I've got through several shows now with the Yamaha MD-BT01.  Basically, you just have to use the Yamaha app to connect it, and then it works like a champ.  I can only speak from my personal experience, but I'll be using it exclusively for now.   

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