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Ansible

Far communicator, speaks openly.

Connects to Grids, Arcs, and MIDI devices, integrating external controllers into the modular environment. Also extends Teletype. Many modes are available, activated by connecting different USB devices and a preset key:

  • Kria (Grid) live step sequencer, polyphasic parameters, emergent patterns.
  • Meadowphysics (Grid) rhizomatic cascading counter.
  • Earthsea (Grid) polyphonic pattern instrument.
  • Levels (Arc) rotational pattern instrument.
  • Cycles (Arc) physically manipulated waves.
  • (Teletype) further ecosystem output and input, and remote control of other apps.
  • (MIDI) device voice allocation and various arpeggiation.

Grid, Arc, MIDI device, or Teletype required.

  • Eurorack
  • 6hp width
  • 39mm depth

Installation

Align the 10-pin ribbon cable so the red stripe corresponds to the white indicator on the rear of the module’s circuit board. This is toward the lower edge of the module.

Be careful not to misalign the connector left-to-right either - while Ansible is protected against incorrect connection, doing so may damage other modules in your Eurorack case.

If you wish Ansible to communicate with Teletype you will need to attach the ii ribbon cable behind the panel. Be sure to align the red stripe on the cable with the white line on the board.

Secure the module with the two included screws.

Power consumption:

These are maximums. Power consumption varies greatly based on which USB controller is attached and how many LEDs are being lit. You can drastically lower your +12V consumption by using a Switch (discontinued), Offworld (DIY), or some commercial adapter cables (see here) with your USB controller.

  • 200mA @ +12V
  • 19ma @ -12V
  • No +5v required

Firmware Updates

Ansible ships with a strange USB A-A cable. This is used for firmware updates. We expect to be adding features from time to time, and the Ansible is a good candidate for community hacking. It’s suggested to update your firmware to ensure you’re running the newest version– so the following documentation will be applicable rather than confusing.

Firmware update information instructions are available. Be warned that updating your firmware will erase all presets from the module’s internal storage! To preserve your work, you can back up Ansible’s presets to a USB disk and restore this file after reflashing the module’s firmware.

Firmware Version

This documentation documents firmware version 2.0.0. Changelogs and binaries for previous releases can be found here. For versions 2.0.0 and up, you can determine the firmware version of your module by performing a USB disk backup. The created ansible-preset.json file will list the "version": at the beginning of the file.

Basics

Panel Overlay

Output and input functionality vary according to which application is running.

Applications are determined by which USB device is plugged in. For example, when you plug in a Grid after a firmware update, it will be running Kria. Hold the preset key (next to the USB port) to switch to Meadowphysics; push it again to switch to Earthsea. Ansible will remember which application you were last running between power-ups.

Unplugging the Grid and plugging an Arc will change to Levels.

With nothing plugged in the Ansible works as a Teletype input/output extender.

Modes are indicated with a white or orange LED near the mode key. Earthsea is indicated with both LEDs on, giving a “whitish-orange” colour.

USB disk mode

If you insert a USB disk into Ansible, you can save presets to a JSON file on disk, or restore presets from such a file. In addition to archiving or sharing app presets, this can be useful for making backups before updating to a new firmware revision, because future versions will be able to load files saved by older versions. The drive must be formatted with a FAT filesystem, FAT32 is probably your best bet. Note that Ansible can be a little picky about USB disks it will talk to, it’s possible you may need to try a couple for this to work. If you attach an FTDI cable, Ansible prints a fair amount of diagnostic information to the UART which may be helpful for troubleshooting loading errors.

To save presets:

  • Press KEY 2. the white LED turns on to indicate that the device is armed for saving.

  • Press the MODE key to cancel, or press KEY 2 again to write the presets Ansible has stored in flash to the file ansible-presets.json on the root of the drive.

An existing ansible-presets.json file will be overwritten. The white LED blinks while saving and turns off when done. Wait for this LED and any busy indicator on the disk to stop blinking before removing the drive, or the file may be corrupted. If an error is encountered during writing the backup, both the white and orange LEDs will turn on until the drive is removed or the MODE key is pressed. A full save takes about 20 seconds.

To load presets:

  • Press KEY 1. The ORANGE LED turns on to indicate that the device is armed for loading.

  • Press the MODE key to cancel, or press KEY 1 again to read a ansible-presets.json file from the disk into Ansible’s flash storage.

The orange LED blinks while reading and turns off when done. Wait for this LED and any busy indicator on the disk to stop blinking before removing the drive. If an error is encountered during loading the backup, both the white and orange LEDs will turn on until the drive is removed or the MODE key is pressed. Before loading, Ansible makes an additional backup of its flash contents in the file ansible-backup.bin, and will attempt to restore presets from this file if they were partially overwritten by a load operation that did not complete successfully. If this happens for some unforeseen reason, it may be possible to recover your Ansible presets from this file, please post on lines. A full load takes about 20 seconds.

To save or load presets for only the currently running app, hold the MODE key while inserting the disk. This can take considerably less time than saving/loading everything, and for some apps is fast enough that the LED won’t have time to blink at all.

The JSON files are fairly human-editable, but modifying them with out-of-bounds data may result in strange Ansible behavior.

If you are running an Ansible firmware version that does not support disk backups (v1.6.1 or lower), or you have an ansible.hex file from an older firmware, it is possible to convert a direct backup of a firmware image (ansible.hex) into JSON files that newer Ansible firmwares can load, and “carry forward” your existing presets to the latest firmware. This conversion is done via the extract Python program. If you need help converting a backup, please post on lines and include the firmware version you are starting from in your post if known.

Tuning

It is possible to correct for mismatches between CV outputs or to entirely reprogram Ansible’s tuning table. Scales may be loaded from a JSON preset file, or may be modified with a Grid interface via the tuning page.

First, enter Kria. Hold Key 2 (config). The Scale page key from Kria remains highlighted with Key 2 held. Press it to enter tuning mode. You can let go of Key 2 now to stay in tuning mode, and tap Key 2 again at any time to go back to Kria.

The top four rows, as in Kria’s trigger page, correspond to tracks, with the center 12 keys highlighted to represent the 12 note slots in the tuning table between two “octaves”. An octave in this section will mean a group of 12 note slots, where the first note slot in an octave group is the octave’s waypoint. The currently selected note slot is brightly highlighted, and the currently playing note slots are highlighted for all tracks.

All tracks and therefore all trigger outputs are on by default. You can toggle trigger outputs off and on with the leftmost column of the top 4 rows. Touching the same note slot key that is already selected a second time will also toggle the corresponding track’s trigger output.

The bottom two rows control the pitch of the selected note slot relative to its current value. The bottom row provides keys for increasing (keys on the right) or decreasing (keys on the left) the value that will be sent to the DAC to set the pitch CV when the currently selected note slot is played. From the center out these are +/- 1, 2, 4, 8, … +/- 128 on the outermost keys. Increments which would go out of bounds have their corresponding keys unlit, so in the initial position the left side of this row is off.

The row above the bottom row displays and sets the absolute DAC value of the note slot. As the DAC value increases, the leftmost key will get brighter, then it will turn off and the next key over will get brighter, etc., with keys that have already been passed staying dimly lit, visualizing the full CV range of the track. You can touch a key on this row to jump quickly between DAC values.

The 10 keys on the left side of the next row up are for selecting an octave – you can pick one of ten banks of 12 note slots each. The right side of this row (third from the bottom) is for load/save functionality.

  • The key to the left which is separate from the other two is the panic key – press it to restore your saved tuning table from flash, long-press it to go back to the factory default equal temperament tuning table. This long press does not save anything, so you can quick press the key again to go back to the tuning table you have saved, if that’s different from the factory default.

  • The first key on the right is for interpolating the tuning table between octave values. Quick press it to do a piecewise-linear fit between the values programmed for each octave. Long press it to fit between octaves and then save. What this means is that a straight line will be drawn between each waypoint, that is, the first note slot of each octave, and note slots in between will be assigned the values along that line. This makes it possible to define different CV responses for each output, such as one that gets lower in pitch as the note index increases, or one that gets lower in the middle, or an S-curved response that changes frequency more rapidly toward the center of the note range.

  • The key furthest to the right can be long-pressed to save all note slots with their tunings exactly as currently programmed.

You can leave the tuning page to experiment with your tuning on other Grid apps, but note that tuning changes are not saved to flash until you explicitly save them using one of the rightmost keys on the third row up of the tuning page.

Contributions

Diagrams by Piotr Szyhalski / Laborcamp

MIDI design and code by Greg Wuller / @ngwese

Additional code by @csbolig and @scanner-darkly