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Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

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Neil Hester
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Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by Neil Hester » Fri Aug 14, 2015 2:44 pm

Hi,

This has been a long term wish of mine to continue using my Digidesign Pro Control and Fader pack with Pro Tools beyond Pro Tools 10.
For those who do not know this is an ethernet connected control surface the sends a form of midi over ethernet but its not quite so literal as that.
Avid (Owners of Digidesign who have since retired the name) dropped support for the product with Pro Tools at PT10 and refuse to develop the required driver to continue using the unit any further.

So this brings me to the development of an alternative way of using this unit, I love the hardware and will not stop using it so another way must be found.
My investigations have lead me to one person "Indys" who had successfully developed a bridge between the hardware (actually a Control 24 rather than Pro Control but works on the same protocol) the full thread is here on the Reaper user forum:
forum.cockos /showthread.php?t=38389&highlight=control+24

Sadly he was put off by potential legal trouble from Avid (although this is questionable as to whether it even has any substance) and did not release it as a publicly available product.
Legal questions aside (I'm not interested in discussing this) I would like to try and do the same thing for personal use if nothing else.
Sadly I have zero programming knowledge and only have the info in the thread to go by, It appears the data was captured from the hardware using winpcap.org which is readily available but i dont know how to read the data or translate it and I'm wondering if Bome Midi Translator would make the task easier?

Can BMT read the data coming in over the network port and translate to MIDI and vice versa to feed back to the hardware (fader movement and LED Status etc)?
If BMT cannot do it does anyone know enough about what has been discussed in the thread to suggest how i go about learning the language of the data (what even the language is) do do it in the same way as the guy "Indys" appeared to do it ?
I'm willing to learn if anyone can help point me in the right direction, there literally hundreds of people out there in the same situation that just want to be able to use their units but Avid are a brickwall for communication about it.

I've tried to contact "Indys" but not heard back from him yet so in the meantime maybe some of you can help?

Thanks!

Neil

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florian
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by florian » Wed Sep 09, 2015 7:53 pm

Hi, seems that this question was too abstract for anybody to reply! The short answer is that MT Pro cannot access Ethernet frames directly -- which is, however, required for this functionality (I believe). Legal questions aside, we could potentially add support for this, but that would be quite a lot of programming for the Pro Control, an EOL product... Just for completeness I mention that we do payed custom programming for MT Pro or otherwise, however, the scope of this project is probably too big to make any sense financially (definitely a 4 digit dollar amount).

Sorry I cannot help here. Maybe you can persuade Indys to release the source code on e.g. github? That should be a lot less legal risk for him.

Regards,
Florian

Neil Hester
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by Neil Hester » Sun Sep 13, 2015 11:13 am

Ok thanks ,
I would have thought EOL products are the perfect example of a great use for your products (to give them a continued life beyond the manufacturers support) there's a lot of products that run on this protocol (known as diginet) the Pro Control, control 24 , C24, D Command/D Control etc all of which cost literally thousands of $ and there are thousands of units out there.
So I'm sure users would rather pay to be able to continue using them than have to ditch them.
I'm not at all sure of the legal problems after all there is no hacking or decrypting required as the data steam is not encrypted at all its surely no different to reading any other data stream from any other device , the information is not even proprietary it's just MIDI Hex which is an open format .
Anyway I think it would be a huge plus for your products to include the ability to address Ethernet data in general at its the modern transport for pro audio whether it be AVB , Dante, CopperLan or any of the many Ethernet formats out there.
Thanks for your help anyway.

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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by florian » Sun Sep 13, 2015 12:13 pm

indeed, you're right. I've noted it to our "ideas for future versions" list.
Regards,
Florian

Neil Hester
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by Neil Hester » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:32 pm

Great thanks,
Do you have any kind of voting system to allow people to vote for the most desirable features?
I know a huge number of people who would vote for this.

Look at this thread on the Avid forum of almost 2000 replies and 422,000 views.
http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=338894

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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by ibanman555 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 1:29 pm

Hello Neil, I've seen you around and you seem to be a popular individual, and hello again Florian, my Knight in shining armor!

It is by extreme chance that I stumbled upon this thread on a flight to LA on business today, and I must say, I am very glad I found it. Here is why:

For a few years, I have been working with MT Pro and Hairless Midi<>Serial in hopes to get my controllers working with Pro Tools in any shape. This was my first attempt to get my JL Cooper ES 8/100 and JL Cooper MCS3 surfaces to at least communicate with the softwares. These controllers terminate RS-232, so I started with a PCI-E card installed and connected directly to the PC. With the help of available HUI protocol documents available now online, I was able to learn the process, program the language into MT Pro and use Hairless to convert the controllers own specific data into available MIDI I/O. Oh s#!+.... IT WORKS!!! I am using 5 control surfaces in Pro Tools, faders, mutes, solos, record enables, selects, Fader flip into Aux sends, shuttle and scrub, full transport etc...

But there's a catch. This process required me to open 5 instances of Hairless, one for each control surface to send and receive midi <> serial, and an open instance of MT Pro doing the translation. More times than not, when things got heavy, something would unexpectedly quit. So, I had to revisit the idea.

With some major time spent learning serial, midi, hex data and C++, I've designed a more "permanent" solution. I was acquainted with Arduino, a open source programmable microprocessor via C++ platform, with the addition of Hiduino, it's saving grace. Hiduino allows the Arduino to connect via USB as a driverless midi device. So, I connect my controllers to the Arduino and loose all the hair on my head + sanity trying to program the HUI protocol to perform the same task as before. Mid 2015 I succeeded and then some, expanding the HUI protocol datasheets upon finding new code. I've eliminated the Hairless and MT Pro software by basically creating my own proprietary HUI translation through a microprocessor. Am I happy??? No.

My controllers are missing knobs for panning, and meters, and just about every other function available on all of these other Pro Tools dedicated controllers. Here's where I begin admiring the Pro Control. Oh... But wait. No no, it's obsolete now. So now what do I do? I am simply a hobbyist with a homebuilt recording studio.

I've read so much about the discouraged citizens of the Pro Tools community loosing the opportunity to use their hardware, that I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand what was happening and now, today, I will begin a "solution" for this exact problem.

This isn't about making money, or getting into a legal battle with Avid. I'm not "reverse engineering" anything (I'm translating), I'm not trying impede on Avid's EuCon Protocol to make my own controllers. I'm not trying to build anything, but just use "Digidesign /Avids" freaking controller!!! It's like they are disowning a child.... I digress... HUI is still available, and it's unsupported/untested because they simply don't have time to TEST every single HUI designed controller out there, made by God knows who. I want what everyone else wants, and it's very very possible.

HUI and diginet protocols are way, way different. So, there's a really good chance that if we were to get our Pro Control to communicate via HUI there will be far less functionality than it originally offered via proper connectivity with diginet. We're talking loss of button functionality, scribble strips, smooth faders, you name it. If there was some basic documents available showing what a Pro Control sends and receives, I'd be very interested to see how it and MT Pro could work together. (I need to and will read the Reaper forum topic you posted.) If it's data transfer is similar, that's a great sign. But even better, is that we are on the verge of the BomeBox. A magnificent invention that in theory, could keep the running MT Pro software out of the equation still, but allowing us at least basic functions of our controllers in PT11 over ethernet.

This would be a lot of work most certainly. But I am on board 100%. It needs to be understood that I only am doing this on a personal level. Just as I am using very old obsolete controllers now with PT11, this is the same thing. How can I get my old piece of crap equipment to work even a little bit. So those willing to spend the time and energy, plus the equipment (BomeBox) needed to get the job done are welcome into the fold.

The HUI protocol is available, it requires a license that one can purchase from Mackie/Loud Technologies. There is a name, and there is an address. So, what requirements are worthy enough for said license? Do I need to be an established company using this license to build a controller, or can I use it to allow others the possibility to use older equipment? Can I simply make a conversion software using it, specifically for Pro Control and HUI? Can I build an "ethernet translator box" just for Pro Control, forever hiding the protocol data from being in plain sight? Can I start a Kickstarter to fund this license? How many people would contribute and donate knowing we have at least used Bomes and a Pro Control in conjunction to at least get basic functions working?? With the full docs, who knows what we could do. The SSL Nucleus connects via HUI, and it does a lot of the same stuff a Pro Control does. Are you excited yet?

Sorry for the long winded chat. Let's stay in "close communication" here. Now I just need a Pro Control. :^/
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Neil Hester
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by Neil Hester » Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:54 pm

Hi ibanman555

Its great to hear from you and your experiences along with your enthusiasm for the idea!
I wrote another thread on the BomeBox (because nobody had answered here at the time) where i showed a screen capture of how i had monitored the network traffic and identified the Pro Control data as described in the Reaper forum using wireshark.
see here: http://www.bome.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=11333
I totally agree with you that i dont believe this to be any where near hacking and just a simple interpretation and translation of an open and non-encrypted data flow.
I have a Pro Control and Fader expansion pack which usually setup in pro tools as 8 fader units in the same way you describe HUI.
And i know other people who do too, if you want to contact me privately to discuss please send me a direct private message here.
Thanks !
Neil

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ibanman555
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by ibanman555 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:03 pm

Please send me a PM, I am not authorized to do so on this forum for some reason :| :| I should be able to respond
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by florian » Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:51 pm

Hi,
interesting! We might be able to integrate working code into MT and/or the BomeBox...

And, btw, ibanman, both MT Pro and BomeBox support serial ports for input and output (and thus, translation to/from MIDI). Like that, you can implement your workflow with just MT Pro, right? You will also be able to connect 5 USB-to-serial adapters to the BomeBox and then use a preset to convert it to MIDI/network MIDI.

THanks,
Florian

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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by ibanman555 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:04 pm

florian wrote:And, btw, ibanman, both MT Pro and BomeBox support serial ports for input and output (and thus, translation to/from MIDI).
So what you're saying is that if I connected my RS232 controllers to my serial PCI-E card, those COM 1-4 ports can be read by MTP? In essence eliminating the need for the Hairless MIDI<>Serial software to do the serial midi conversion? I just want to make sure I understand this right. And what would be even better would be to use only 1 BomeBox. I was under the impression I'd need 5....

But regarding the ProControl, help me understand the capabilites of the ethernet and the BomeBox. We're talking the data i/o of this controller is strictly ethernet, and what you said is that data being sent from the ProControl via ethernet cannot be read by MTP or BomeBox, correct?

So what exactly is the purpose of the ethernet ports on BomeBox?

I'm brainstorming the best/only options to convert this ethernet i/o data to midi/serial data... Preferably in hardware form and not software. It's best to avoid software running in tandem with Pro Tools at all, as I've experienced issues previously. Once we jump this hurdle, the rest starts to become easy. We've done it before.
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by florian » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:58 pm

Hi,

Serial Ports: yes, both MT Pro and BomeBox support multiple serial ports, so what you're doing should work without any Hairless MIDI instance.

Pro Control: of course, the BomeBox does understand Ethernet. Right now, we don't have the time to work on adding direct Ethernet support in MIDI Translator Pro or in the translation firmware of the BomeBox (which is, essentially, running MT Pro).

Florian

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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by ibanman555 » Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:08 am

I didn't realize there was a new version of MTP. I see now the serial support. This is really awesome!!

OK, thanks for the clarification of ethernet. I understand it doesn't directly support MIDI... Is the ethernet used to transfer the MTP file into the BomeBox? Is it just used to Daisy chain multiple boxes together? Sorry for my confusion... There hasn't been a detailed explanation for the BomeBox that I have found :|
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by florian » Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:17 am

Hi, the BomeBox uses an own optimized "MIDI over IP" protocol for connecting BomeBoxes to each other, and (planned) to computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. The BomeBox can transport IP over Ethernet and WiFi.

Also planned for the future (but not promised...) are OSC and RTP-MIDI, which are both IP based, too. And once the new "HD Protocol" (standardized by the MIDI Manufacturers Association) is ratified, the BomeBox will support it -- it is also IP based.

And as you say, you can power the BomeBox using a Power over Ethernet source, and then the second port can power a daisy chained BomeBox.

Florian

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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by ibanman555 » Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:44 am

Got it!!! Thanks!
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by sargeman » Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:25 pm

Hi,

Did anyone ever figure out how to get Control 24/Pro Control to work with ProTools 11? I have a Control 24 and need to upgrade tp PT 11. ANy help is greatly appreciated! Thanks! -Brian

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ibanman555
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by ibanman555 » Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:41 pm

It's in the works... Don't hold your breath...
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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by oneway » Fri Apr 29, 2016 3:21 pm

I have stumbled upon this discussion and would like to just say PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know if you have found any way at any cost to get Pro Control working with Pro Tools! Thanks! :<)

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Re: Converting Digidesign Pro Control to HUI

Post by yoshi » Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:09 am

So do I :-)

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