New Effects Pedal Launching Soon

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New Effects Pedal Launching Soon

Postby G7nomi » Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:59 pm

Hi All,

News ! ... Manual.pdf ... ctions.pdf

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An Unexpected Journey
Mar 25

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Chapter One

Back in February 2013 (is it really over three years ago?) I started this blog with the idea of documenting a little project that I had been working on since the previous November.

Little did I know, like Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit”, where my ‘unexpected journey’ would lead. In the next few posts I’m going to recount how this …

November 2012: The First Prototype. It won’t win any prizes for good looks!

ended up with this …

March 2016: The Blue Nebula

I’d been using a Zoom RFX2000 with the EFTP patches for a couple of years but my ears pricked up back in November 2012 when I heard a couple of demos by Dave Robinson of a new (to me) echo circuit called the eTap2hw which had been designed by Piet Verbruggen.

I couldn’t find anywhere to get a kit to try it our for myself so I posted a question on the ShadowMusic forum and discovered that the kit could be bought from Newtone in Piet’s homeland of the Netherlands. Even then I had to email the guys at Newtone to find out the price and order details.

I managed to order a kit and it went together without any problems thanks to the very detailed instructions Piet had provided on his Echotapper blog and it worked first time. I’d had a lot of experience since I was a young ‘un of building and designing electronics so that probably helped so before November 2012 was out I had a working prototype that, while not pretty (I’d built it in a die-cast box from an old project lying in my garage), it sounded just wonderful. Not only were the echo timings apparently spot on for the various vintage echo machines it was emulating but the unit had a nice warm sound that belied the digital signal processing that lay behind those emulations.

Having heard my prototype in action at the Northern Ireland Shadows Club, my good friend and el-president of the Club, Des McNeill, also started raving (nothing unusual there) about how good and ‘analog’ the eTap2hw sounded so we ended up buying another three kits, two for Des to build and another one for me. What had we started here!

It was now time to produce a proper housing for the eTap2hw’s we were building and Des’ skill as an aero modeller came to the fore here. Des and I worked out a design for the front and rear panels which he then had made up by a company in Belfast. By the time of our next Club meeting Des had his new enclosure built and the first kit assembled and ready to try out and it looked and sounded great.

The boxes Des designed and made (remember I said he was an aero modeller) were constructed beautifully from precision cut plywood, lined on the inside with aluminium foil for screening and covered on the outside with a lovely beige tolex.
The manual unit, front view
The Ins and Outs.

These proved so popular with the Club members that Des ended up building five or six more of them and they are still in use regularly on Club days and by the guys who play gigs.

While I was delighted with the sound of my eTap2hw there was one thing I thought it needed to make it even better: a way to store the settings for individual tunes – mainly because I kept forgetting which echo to use for a given tune – TMB syndrome (too many birthdays!).

Librarian and Blue Nebula Version 3.0
Mar 24

The release Version 3.0 of the Blue Nebula firmware and the matching Librarian app Version 3.0 are undergoing final testing and will be released here shortly.

Librarian V3 Screenshot

A quick glance at the new Librarian User Guide (link below) will show you the many interesting features and how it works with the Blue Nebula to give a really unique and exciting new effect pedal experience.

Briefly, the Librarian app allows you to transfer your patches between the Blue Nebula and your computer and it allows you to back them up by saving onto the computer – but it does a LOT more!

It also allows you to edit your patches, for example renaming them or tweaking the parameters, as well as having copy and paste functions and it allows you to create set lists so you can have the tunes arranged in the order you want for a show. The up and down footswitches then allow you to step through the list with the LCD display showing you the name of each tune.

The Blue Nebula comes with 8 vintage echo effects already installed in its first memory chip (MEM 1) but the new Librarian’s biggest and most unique feature is probably its ability to upload another 8 effects via USB to the second memory chip (MEM 2). This updates the effect and parameter names on both the Blue Nebula pedal and in the Librarian app which will recall them next time it’s run so that it always stays in sync with the effects on-board the pedal.

These additional 8 effects can be chosen from a wide range to standard guitar effects that are already available on the internet – many free DSP programs are listed on the Spin Semiconductors website. In addition there are several unique new effects that the Blue Nebula design team is currently working on and we will be making these available (also free) ready to upload to the Blue Nebula via the USB input.

‘Standard’ effects include popular guitar effects including chorus, phaser, flanger, delays and reverbs and the new effects currently in development include emulations of the classic Binson Echorec and an enhanced Vox Long Tom emulation.

User Guide for Librarian Version 3.0 (pdf)

Mar 21

As some of you will have heard on social media and various forums a new guitar effects pedal to be called the Blue Nebula will be launching soon. The Blue Nebula is a compact stomp-box style effects pedal design with a strong emphasis on accurately emulating the sounds of vintage tape-based echo units but with the ability for users to upload new effects that cover a wide range of other popular sounds.IMG_3108Designed by a four-man team including yours truly (firmware and software), Steve Mitchell (new analog preamp design), Piet Verbruggen (DSP programming) and Mick Taylor (hardware and PCB design), the Blue Nebula is released as an open source/open hardware project.

The Blue Nebula will be available as a kit or built-to-order. Prices to be confirmed.
Main Features

Accurately emulates many classic tape echo machines
Can be loaded with up to 8 additional general guitar effects such as chorus, phaser, reverbs, shimmer verb and other echo effects which can be uploaded via USB
Other effects in the pipeline include emulations of the classic Binson Echorec (think Pink Floyd) and an enhanced Vox Long Tom echo.
Three parameter control knobs which, for example, can control dry/wet mix, feedback or chorus rate.
Built-in USB and MIDI In ports
All firmware updates and new effect sets are uploaded via a normal USB cable – no need for additional special ‘programmers’.
Advanced built-in automation firmware controls the Blue Nebula and provides full editing facilities
Firmware easily updated via the USB port
16×2 Character LCD display shows patch names, parameter knob functions and other details when editing
22 built-in factory presets for classic Shadows tunes such as Apache, Wonderful Land etc.
128 User definable patches to store any other settings you can come up with
Can also be used in a simple manual mode – just select your effect and tweak it by adjusting the parameter knobs in real time
Up and Down patch change footswitches and True bypass footswitch
Advanced low-noise 4-FET preamplifier designed to emulate the valve preamplifiers used in some of the classic tape echo machines
Gain and Pre Level knobs control the generation of ‘valve-like’ harmonics and match a wide range of guitar pickups from vintage single coils to ‘hot’ humbuckers
Master output level control to match the bypass level or maybe set it for a clean boost with a ‘No Effect’ patch
Fully-featured Patch Editor & Librarian application which is Free to download.

Some links to the Blue Nebula User Manual, the Building Instructions and the Bill of Materials are given below.

If you are thinking of building a Blue Nebula please read the Building Instructions thoroughly to determine if it is within your capabilities. Most of the components are through-hole types but there are a few surface mount components. The kit can be supplied with these already soldered in place for you.


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