Author Topic: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?  (Read 6971 times)

SeanCostello

Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« on: July 21, 2010, 02:40:32 PM »
Hi all:

I keep waiting to hear about someone building a stompbox around an Intel Atom. Why hasn't this happened yet? (besides cost, power consumption, size, etc.)

It seems like a pedal with an Intel Atom, running a stripped down Linux operating system, with Pure Data or the like as the main audio engine, would be pretty freaking amazing. Most of the 32 bit floating point code that people have developed for modern Macs and PCs would be able to be recompiled and run fairly easily.

I wonder how the Intel Performance Primitives would work on such a box.

Sean Costello

Taylor

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Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2010, 03:01:49 PM »
I think this is beyond the grasp of 99.9% here. I do lots of stuff with the FV-1 but wouldn't have a clue where to start with something like the Atom. A very cool idea though; I've wanted a PD stompbox for years.

Since you know better than most others here, could you give us an idea of what else would be needed beyond the processor? I'm assuming that you'd need to add so much extra stuff that it would quickly begin to look like a netbook with 1/4" I/O.

.Mike

Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2010, 03:46:10 PM »
Muse Research makes a product called Receptor, which is a stand-alone VST host.  Basically, it runs on a custom-tailored Linux operating system made specifically for VSTs, and is released under the GNU General Public License. This seems ripe for DIY. You have to dig to find it, but the code is here.

Maybe this would be a good option, considering there are already thousands of free VSTs out there, and tons that you can buy. :)

Mike
If you're not doing it for yourself, it's not DIY. ;)

My effects site: Just one more build... | My website: America's Debate.

Bard Morons

Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2010, 03:48:29 PM »
If you were really looking to do something like that, I think a Beagle Board might prove a little simpler with similar results.  
http://beagleboard.org/

Or one of the TOA boards...
http://www.technexion.com/

My friend and I used a TOA board as a part of our senior design to play with note detection... unfortunately, we ran out of time to get the software all operating quite right and we had a minor issue with the ADC communication (a trace was placed incorrectly, but we did manage a functional 4-layer PCB in a single semester, haha).  I don't know, perhaps one of these solutions would appeal a little more as there is a great deal of support (especially for the Beagle Board) in terms of getting Linux up and running.  There truly are some unreal options such a design would allow for!  

-Matt

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Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2010, 03:51:04 PM »
Muse Research makes a product called Receptor, which is a stand-alone VST host.  Basically, it runs on a custom-tailored Linux operating system made specifically for VSTs, and is released under the GNU General Public License. This seems ripe for DIY. You have to dig to find it, but the code is here.

Maybe this would be a good option, considering there are already thousands of free VSTs out there, and tons that you can buy. :)

Mike

Sure, there's also the V-Pedal which is cheaper and in a pedal format already, but what fun is that if it's not DIY?  :icon_wink: For practicality, of course, something pre-built would be way smarter, but I do enjoy thinking about difficult puzzles like this.

.Mike

Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2010, 03:54:01 PM »
Sure, there's also the V-Pedal which is cheaper and in a pedal format already, but what fun is that if it's not DIY?  :icon_wink: For practicality, of course, something pre-built would be way smarter, but I do enjoy thinking about difficult puzzles like this.

Right. I'm saying you could make your own hardware to run their software. I wasn't suggesting you drop two grand on a piece of hardware.

You could also then make your own VSTs, of course. :)

Mike
If you're not doing it for yourself, it's not DIY. ;)

My effects site: Just one more build... | My website: America's Debate.

Taylor

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Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2010, 04:04:02 PM »
D'oh, I see what you're saying now. I figured you were saying that you could use their hardware but hack the software to make it do weird things.


SeanCostello

Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2010, 02:22:57 PM »
Since you know better than most others here, could you give us an idea of what else would be needed beyond the processor? I'm assuming that you'd need to add so much extra stuff that it would quickly begin to look like a netbook with 1/4" I/O.

I'm not really sure. I'm a software guy, not a hardware designer. It seems like most of what is needed would be on your average SBC - audio codec, slots for RAM and Flash memory, ability to add on peripherals.

The BeagleBoard seems like a nice low cost option, but I don't know if the cheap cost extends to the development tools, especially for the TI DSP. Plus, the ability to use GCC to compile 32 bit floating point code on an Atom would make development a lot easier.

I'm downloading the Receptor code right now, and will take a look at it.

Thanks for all the tips/advice so far.

Sean Costello

Transmogrifox

Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2010, 07:15:18 PM »
http://www.littlepc.com/products.htm
With a USB MIDI pedal and a DIY preamp to drive the Line input one of those things is basically what you're talking about.  So it stands to reason that if you bought an SBC similar to what is packaged in the Stealth package and added the Line input preamp, then packaged it in your own custom enclosure, and perhaps with a USB LCD display plus pushbutton pad (like MatrixOrbital has) then you would have just what you are talking about.

Recently I have been contributing code to this project:
http://rakarrack.sourceforge.net/

You really need to try a current release (0.5.8 Equinox) or build from current development sources to appreciate its value.

We are in the process of discussing UDP or TCP/IP service for controlling the parameters in headless mode.  Then you could write an app on your iPhone to control the program.  A SBC would lend itself nicely to this kind of application.  In all reality, a netbook mounted in a rack may be the no-brainer way to do this.  If I had money to make my "dream" setup, it would be a rack-mounted high-octane computer with a touchscreen monitor in a ~10U rack. 

These days my stompboxes live in a basket on a dusty shelf. I have a USB audio card, my laptop and the Behringer FCB1010 MIDI controller and Debian Linux.  Primarily I use Rakarrack simply because I know it intimately... and it is truly versatile...but also is PD, Guitarix, Calf Audio Plugin Pack, all kinds of LADSPA, DSSI... really is amazing what software is available for free and some has very top-notch performance and DSP practices (like Calf... K Foltman is a genius).  VST only represents the most well-known standard for software DSP, but really anything that uses jack on a realtime kernel is a great platform for embedded processing.  "VST" is getting to be like Microsoft Windows where most people aren't even aware that there is such a thing as an alternative.

I hope to pull out my soldering iron again & do up some great analog stompboxes when I get my fill of digital experiments...but the digital domain really gives me a place to quickly prototype ideas and do experiments.  I can make digital "virtual distortion pedals" for instance, then use the same filtering & tone blocks implemented in an analog circuit if I like the digital unit...

This seems like a possible board:
http://www.axiomtek.com/products/ViewProduct.asp?ptype3=183&pos=2&ptype2=205&ptype1=202

Also winsystems has some good SBC's based on the Intel atom:
http://www.winsystems.com/index.cfm

With a Linux distribution, this is actually really easy to implement.  You make a bootable USB stick and you can even boot off a live USB image and don't really need to install if you don't want to.  Dumping the image on a flash card for these systems is really not a highly technical task, either.

I also have discovered this project:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/gnuguitarinux/files/
lightweight debian + fluxbox system ready to fly for a live guitar processor.

My general assessment is if you already have a netbook, laptop or old PC there is no good reason to spend large amounts of money on commercial hardware FX...for most people. 
trans·mog·ri·fy
tr.v. trans·mog·ri·fied, trans·mog·ri·fy·ing, trans·mog·ri·fies To change into a different shape or form, especially one that is fantastic or bizarre.

PRR

Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2010, 01:19:11 AM »
> a stompbox around an Intel Atom. Why hasn't this happened yet?

Not counting traveling musicians: it would be easier to use a full PC.

AFAIK, that has not been widely done. Sure, folks record to PC and post-process in ProFools etc. And I just saw a guy play a whole techno concerto by stabbing at a MacBook, probably a sampler (we used to use the Mellotron). But using a PC for real-time sonic modification is uncommon AFAIK.

> this is beyond the grasp of 99.9% here.

That too.

Transmogrifox may be the exception.

When it becomes popular at-home, someone will jam it into a SFF case for road-work.

I'm not over-impressed with the Atom. Yes, it runs very cool. And yes it is ample power for most email, web surfing, even low-res videos. It beats a 486SX.

It may be even better without Windows under it. But for real-time audio, I'd need to check the O/S for "burps", the way Windows will sometimes tie-up the CPU for a second while it diddles its Registry or updates a large disk-write or the net-driver gets into a time-out. The fatter Linuxes have their own burps, sometimes very bad. I know unix can be better; but unix does not like me (even after 25 years) so I don't fiddle with it.

At the same size, and tolerably more power supply, you can get much faster CPUs.

edvard

Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2010, 01:40:02 AM »
Linux with a real-time kernel and not a whole lot of peripheral business going on would be quite burp-less.
Yes, a fully loaded Ubuntu would not make a good choice, but something lightweight like TinyCore or Damn Small would be a good foundation, especially without X as long as the kernel is compiled for low latency.
As it stands, my Ubuntu 9.04 64-bit system (sans PulseAudio, yeeeccchhh...) with RT kernel runs ~5-8 msec latency, and imagine I could do much better if X weren't running.

An interesting Idea, to be sure.

All children left unattended will be given a mocha and a puppy

The Tone God

Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2010, 02:31:44 AM »
Recently I have been contributing code to this project:
http://rakarrack.sourceforge.net/

You really need to try a current release (0.5.8 Equinox) or build from current development sources to appreciate its value.

Yeah I saw you have been submitting patches to this project. I have been playing with it off a live CD tweaking a bit of code here and there too just for my amusement. The progress has been excellent on it. Thanks for the work! :)

Andrew

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Re: Has anyone shoved an Intel Atom into a stompbox yet?
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2010, 02:32:20 AM »
But using a PC for real-time sonic modification is uncommon AFAIK.

!! A chance to correct PRR.  :icon_idea:

Before I got into building hardware effects, I ditched all my commercial effects for a fully-software effects rig. I would build all my own programs in Plogue Bidule, a modular DSP environment kind of like Puredata or Max/MSP. It was awesome, and allowed me to do stuff that's basically impossible in hardware, like convolving my bass with a ride cymbal, but the little pops and glitches, and lack of hardware GUI annoyed me too much. This was about 4 years ago, and I've met lots of other musicians who use laptops as their effects rigs.

I mean, uncommon is of course relative. But lots and lots of regular guys are doing this. The idea of having a machine built purely for the purpose of audio processing, combined with a nice DIY MIDI controller (or OSC would be better for the sticklers - I'm more of a "good enough" kind of guy as far as control resolution, etc.) would be great.