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 Post subject: Portability
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:55 am 
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Location: Sweden
So I've been thinking...what would be the most portable (smallest, battery driven) device that could run Buzz with decent stability and control (as in keyboard and ersatz mouse)? Either an existing product or something one could build with existing parts. I'm not thinking pocket size, but less wide than the average laptop. Minimal width being more important than thickness and weight. Latency also not being particularly important. If it could be used without a table, that would be a plus.

One thought that hit me with regard to building something is to have a computer in a bag (with an extra opening for cooling) or on a strap over the shoulder and just have the control part be handheld (with just a screen on hinges, a texting keyboard with white and black keys and maybe a d-pad for arrow keys and a thumbstick with shoulder buttons for mouse). Kind of like having a hand controller that looks like a slightly larger Pandora, plugged into what's essentially a mini PC. The controller/screen thing seems like something that would be difficult to build without a 3D printer, though (unless such a thing already exists).

Anybody got any ideas for Buzz-friendly portability solutions?


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 11:54 pm 
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not sure about portability. raspberry pi 2 I'd said to be able to run some version of win 10 but with several machines running...

I think you're after some kind of controllerism. lots of things can be done with various miditoys. wireless keyboard with patternist and a gamepad for starters?


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:21 pm 
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not cheap, but maybe what you're looking for?

www.artiphon.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:37 pm 
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No, I'm very specifically not looking for MIDI solutions. I'm talking about Buzz, specifically, being controlled by keyboard and pointer, with a screen, and running on a Windows PC of some sort, small enough to carry around everywhere but powerful enough to at least run Buzz smoothly on high latency.

I'll look into this Raspberry Pi thing, to see what that's about.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:13 pm 
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Heck yeah!

The last year of my life has been spent trying to answer a similar question for myself. You don't want a raspberry pi, not unless you're not expecting to demand much from the system. You want to build a mini itx or nano itx system and put it in the smallest, coolest (literally and figuratively) case you can find.

There are nano itx boards that can take a core 2 duo. Those are made by portwell. If you want something truly tiny that's going to be your best bet. There are a lot of cool mini and nano itx cases you can chose from. On the nano itx side many are designed to be used in a car pc.

If you go up to mini itx, which is where I'm at you can use any of the best processors on the market except the hyper-enthusiast x99 based haswell-e chips. These cases tend to be larger, but if your cpu isn't too spicy(hot) you could use one of the low profile cases that put the pcie card on a daughter board (assuming you want to use a sound card).

I've got a lian li tu 100a with a 4770k and a esi juli@xte. I use a 10 inch tablet for my screen.
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=htt ... w&tbm=isch


If you're comfortable using onboard sound or a DAC a lot of things are much simpler for you. The asus Maximus VI impact has truly excellent onboard sound with shielded components and would be an great choice.

If you go the nano route the psu ends up outside the box, as in the case of a laptop brick. You can buy that kind of setup from pico-psu, but they tend to have very low wattage, so you may be limited in your choice of cpu. I don't know, I never fully looked into it. One advantage of this route however is that I believe they sell a linear psu, which is a big deal for audiophiles.

It's a very fun project if you have the time and the money, although it isn't without it's share of frustrations and challenges. If you have the money, but haven't the time I could build one for you for a small fee. I'm thinking more and more that I'd like to turn this into a job.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 8:59 am 
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Mozart von Robot wrote:
No, I'm very specifically not looking for MIDI solutions. I'm talking about Buzz, specifically, being controlled by keyboard and pointer, with a screen, and running on a Windows PC of some sort, small enough to carry around everywhere but powerful enough to at least run Buzz smoothly on high latency.


Read your opening post on the phone. Seems like I could have read it more careful. Like the idea with a keyboard with painted buttons.
Maybe something like this? It has something that might be able to use as d-pad.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:43 pm 
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I looked into Raspberry Pi. Yeah, that's unlikely to work for this purpose (but I ordered one anyway because it's cheap and I can always find other uses for it...like learning pure data and realizing my old sampler idea or something...or making an arm worn computer).

I'll look into this Nano ITX thing. There could be something in that area. Keep me updated on developments and discoveries (especially specific recommended motherboard models and where to get one), onecircles, and I'll do the same.

Controller-wise, yeah, I'm aware of the iPazzPort-and-identical keyboards. I have one that's an air mouse (which would suck with a screen attached), but one of the touchpad ones could work (there are a couple different models). Though one downside is that the keys are aligned so the piano layout is lost.
Or I might make some modifications to my Nyko iType 2 controller (with a Playstation-to-USB adapter card I already have). It has a wonky thumb stick, but I might either replace the stick or cut it out to make room for a USB trackball. And stick a screen to it. One downside of the Nyko keyboard, though, is that there are no dedicated number keys (and they're very clicky), so it's a bit cumbersome.

One other possibility is one of those flexible silicone mini keyboards off ebay. Some of those have the keys aligned correctly (though I'm not sure how one would go about dyeing the keys). Gluing one to the outside of some kind of hard plastic case with a screen and touchpad/trackball/joystick could do the trick.

The plus side of using game controllers is you get extra button connections to map in xpadder, making up for shortcomings of a limited keyboard (or as MIDI triggers with JoystickMIDI and LoopBe) - also two joysticks, which is good for making for example one high-precision mouse control and one that zips around fast (which is pretty useful), or alternatively a bunch of HID-to-MIDI possibilities (a joystick can be replaced with two potentiometers).

As for screens, there are a few possibilities with different connectors and power demands. Not sure what's ideal off the top of my head, but in terms of finding crap on eBay, a 7" 16:9 composite screen is among the easiest things to get with low power consumption and no requirement of thick cables, but the downsides are relatively low resolution and obviously the composite thing (which would either require the computer to have a composite video output or using a converter box, which would require 5v and take up space).

Another thought is that the whole thing would probably require two battery packs. One for the computer and one for the handheld module. Running both off the same battery pack might be too complicated in terms of wiring and voltage regulation (and getting enough amp). That is, unless it's all put together, but that would instead be a weight and cooling nightmare.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:15 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:29 pm
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what about modifying a 10" or smaller laptop? would probably give you the best solution to the battery problem, ports.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:31 pm 
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If there's a something closer to an 8" laptop that'll run Buzz decently and has enough ports (or places where one could put ports), that'd be a possible starting point. A 10" laptop might be a bit too much, especially after modifications. I mean, even taking it out of the shell, getting rid of the screen, it would probably be hard to change the shape enough to get the width down. Laptop motherboards tend to have a really awkward shape. Starting from a compact motherboard might be a better move, as components could be stacked on top of each other instead of placed side by side (also, components are cheaper than computers). Personally, I'd rather end up with something the rough size and shape of a GameCube (to carry in a small backpack or something) than something wide and cumbersome. In fact, it just hit me that I happen to have a taken-apart GameCube lying around. That chassis could come in handy for a PC build, with some frankensteining, if a small-yet-powerful enough motherboard turns up.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:25 pm 
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Any chance something like an Ocosmos OCS1 (or other UMPC) would be able to run Buzz (with lots of buffering and no VST's)? If not, is there any chance it might be upgraded to? Or that one could use an old OQO or something as the basis for a controller for a bagtop PC (bagtop being a word I just made up to describe a battery driven computer without a built in screen and keyboard)?


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:37 pm 
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I casually mentioned using a GameCube chassis for a bagtop earlier.
Someone did put a Nano-ITX computer in a GC case: http://forums.kustompcs.co.uk/showthread.php?t=51004 Don't know if it's battery driven, though.
And someone did a non-nano, definitely not battery driven thing with an N64: http://www.thebestcasescenario.com/forum/showthread.php?24650-HTPC-in-a-Nintendo-64

ETA: Someone else had the Nanocube idea as well: http://forums.modretro.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=9739 Again, probably no battery, but...I'm thinking it could be done. If we can just get some confirmation on if there's a particular Nano-ITX board that would be well suited for Buzz. (Line in and line out would be a bonus, obviously, but handling the software decently would be the top priority.)

ETA: It just occurred to me that while I do have a gutted GC and a gutted N64...I'm pretty sure I also have a very broken NES somewhere. A bit wider than a GC, obviously, but it's good to keep in mind that that's something I could use for something.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:40 pm 
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What is this madness? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezQ_K1lnF4w
It doesn't have a keyboard, but someone built a handheld gaming PC. It's not exactly ultra-light, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:41 am 
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Portwell is the only company I know of that is making nice nano itx boards.

As for display, I struggled with this question for a long time before I found a really excellent answer.

If you use an android app called splashtop and tether your computer and the tablet you want to use as a display to a wifi hotspot from your PHONE you can stream the video wirelessly. It works absolutely great with very low latency and it's free if you use it this way.

Many nano itx boards don't have wifi hardware though, so that's a limitation. If you found one with a mini pcie slot you could install something, or just use a usb wifi antenna although that's a little less elegant.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:48 am 
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Currently mini ITX is mature, you can do nearly anything with it.

Nano ITX is cutting edge with much fewer options and you sacrifice a lot, but it's small!

Pico ITX etc. are really only for hyper specialized applications, and in that space the raspberry pi is probably a better option.

Small computers are cool, but for me I don't want to sacrifice power. My current board has the z97 chipset with socket 1150 so when we get the Broadwell processors at the 14nm process I'm going to be able to stay totally current. I'm skipping the 4790 devils canyon stuff, although I can't say I"m not jealous of their marginally better performance.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 2:29 am 
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The problem with Portwell, however, is only a couple of their boards seem to even be sold anywhere currently, and I'm not sure it's the right ones. Which one would you say is the most likely to do what it needs to, and where is it sold?


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:31 am 
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This appears to be an i7-compatible nano-ITX board... http://www.hardwarezone.com.sg/tech-news-giada-ni-hm65t-nano-itx-motherboard-packs-desktop-power
Is one of the Portwell boards still a better option than this? If so, which one (and where is it sold)?


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:16 am 
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Nice find! For portwell boards, just do a google shopping search for the model number you want. As to whether it's better, that's going to based upon what you're trying to accomplish, what hardware you want to use etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:05 am 
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I usually think I'm good at googling, but words like "shopping", "buy" and "price" don't seem to get me anywhere. Not for the Giada card nor for the Portwell card.

Here's what I do find:

Portwell's apparently only Intel Core-compatible nano-ITX board I can find anything about anywhere.
http://www.portwell.com/products/detail.php?CUSTCHAR1=NANO-8050
There is a "Quote & Request" link on this page, which is the closest to anything resembling a buy button I've seen so far. No price listing, however.

The Giada website, which doesn't seem to mention the NI-HM65T board anywhere, but it does list a similar board called NI-HM76T, which doesn't mention i7, but it does mention i5, which is what my current laptop has. Maybe the 65T got canceled for playing Icarus or discontinued after selling out or just being pointless.
http://www.giadatech.com/index.php?act=pShow&id=35
I don't see a buy or even request form, though, so I have no idea how to get one of these.

It seems to me like the Giada board is the more powerful option, whereas the Portwell card, being fanless, is the more compact option (though I'd probably add a fan anyway just in case, so that'd bulk right back up). Where the Portwell card is intended for "versatile applications such as DVR, Digital Entertainment and Communications", the Giada overview talks about gaming and multi-channel audio. Neither mentions music creation, obviously (because nobody cares about musicians), but I'm willing to bet one could get more machines going in Buzz on the game board than the surf board. The one apparent advantage of the Portwell board seems to be the four USB ports, but the S in USB stands for serial, so it's not like it'd be impossible to add more of them to the other.

Does anybody know where to look for any of these? I'm coming up all specs and no price, everwhere I look. I guess I could ask a Swedish store to find the information for me, if all else fails.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:32 am 
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Well, this is bad news... I emailed Giada, to ask what I could expect to pay for a NI-HM76T and where, and all they said was this: "I am sorry we are not able to support since we don’t have this model in your country."
So I asked if there's any other country I can order it from, expecting a no. We shall see.


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 Post subject: Re: Portability
PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:01 pm 
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NUC might be worth looking into as a possible alternative... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU_ll5mNo_g
ETA: Apparently there are i7 versions coming out this year, called NUC5i7RYH. Something to look out for, perhaps. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCzt3RIJD5E


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