So in keeping with my control surfaces theme I have been looking at answering one of my own questions as to whether it is possible to use a full MCU device as an extender?
There is an irony in the current market as MCU extenders appear to be commanding higher process than the MCU units themselves. (It’s not difficult to realise why this is the case but it does present some interesting options – such as that covered in this blog post!)
A little background
So first off I managed to source a second MCU unit for around 2/3rds the price of a second-hand extender unit (this graph from Reverb shows that second-hand Pro extender prices are currently on the increase as well)
I inadvertently bought an Emagic branded unit which I believe was originally intended to target the HUI interface (and yes, it was cheap!). When I first set it up it simply refused to work. After I updated the firmware to the latest 2.1.2 the unit sprang into life and all appeared to work fine except for the display which simply said “Mackie Control Universal for “Emagic Logic Audio”. I assumed that EMAGIC for some reason had a different HEX address for their versions of the unit and I did a brute force attack on it to find out what the address was. After modifying the address in my code to the new address it sprang in to life and appeared to be working fine.
Two working MCU Units!
So having got this far it was simply a matter of configuring one of the units as an extender in my DAW and it agreeably complied!
The Elephant in the room
So these units are pretty large in comparison to most “compatible” units on the market today and, perhaps more importantly, an “master” unit is considerably larger than an extender. So two things come to mind:
- Don’t try this unless you have plenty of space
- What can be done with the redundant space taken up by the control are of the second unit?
Using the redundant control space on the second controller
This could almost be the subject of a whole post, and indeed it is:
SSL UF8 360 Technology – How can I get that for my own Control Surface & DAW? – Hard Work, Persistence and Passion . . . . (home.blog)
NB I use FL Studio as my DAW but the Touch Portal software can be used with any DAW and is highly recommended!
So my plan (as you may gather from the above) is to get a tablet that sits a little better in the space above! Touch Portal runs happily on older Android devices so I will probably pick up an old Android tablet that fills this space and dedicate it to this job!
What else can I do with a master unit when it is used as an extender?
Those with an eagle eye will have noticed that the time display has a number “29” showing. This is the currently selected track and not only changes with the selected track (via Control Surface or DAW manipulation) but also really comes in to it’s own when you are completely banked away from the selected track! (Achieved through the wonders of the FL Studio scripting language)
These kinds of updates make me feel better about not having a real extender!