Elements Alchemist

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Elements Alchemist

Screenshot showing the main interface of the software:

The Main screen of the Elements Alchemist software

Overview

The Elements Alchemist software is both an assistant for assembling your Elements with the Brain, as well as an interface for editing the settings for the controls. The Elements Store represents all the available Livid Elements. You can drag Elements from the Store into your personal inventory area called Collection. Then, using the Elements you own, you can assemble the Rack into your own custom controller. In the Rack, the Elements will be color-coordinated with header pins to help you determine where to connect the Elements to the Brain. Based on those connections, you can then use the Editor interface to modify the settings of each control, such as note number, continuous controller number, or a variety of other properties.

Unboxing

When you first get your collection of Elements, you'll want to open the Elements Alchemist software and fill up the My Elements area, dragging and dropping the Elements you've purchased from the Elements Store. Once you have filled your inventory with Elements, you can add them to the Rack (by dragging or using the + button), and organize the ones you want to use into a custom controller, with the layout you desire.

Because the Brain ships with a standard set of default settings that may or may not work with the Elements you have, you will probably want to create an Editor, press "send to Brain," then "save to Brain" once you have everything hooked up. If you have the 4K4F and 4E4F4B modules, you will definitely want to do this because they have special configurations that the Brain will need to be aware of for the modules to work.

  • The four Faders on the 4K4F output a value of 127 when the faders are at the bottom, and a value of 0 at the top - the Alchemist, however is aware of this incongruity and has the "flip" parameter ready to send to the Brain once it knows where the analog header is attached to the Brain.
  • The four Encoders on the 4E4F4B will need to be configured on the Brain. Once the Alchemist knows which button header this module is using, it will be ready to send the proper configuration data to the Brain.

For example, you may have two 16B, a 16K, and a 4K4F modules. You may want to group two button modules on the left side and the knobs and the faders on the right side.

However, for a different setup, you may want to alternate the modules an arrangement of 16K, 16B, 4K4F, and 16K. These different arrangements can alter the suggested connections to the Brain Bus board, and, therefore, the MIDI assignments for each control. At first, it may seem redundant to have the personal inventory and the rack, however, it is not unlikely that you will want to modify your rack with different Elements, buy/trade/sell Elements, or, in general, use fewer Elements in a controller than you own for different purposes. With this distinction in place, the Elements Alchemist becomes much more flexible.

The Interface

The Store

This is the "infinite inventory" of all current Elements, where you can create your own inventory of the modules you own. The Store is not just a metaphor - you can use the shopping cart icon and add Elements to the online Livid Store and buy more elements from within the Elements Alchemist. The Livid online shop appears in an embedded window and is used as an online store is normally used where you can view your order and checkout and pay for your items. Of course, you must have an internet connection for this feature to work!

Show/Hide Store

The Elements Alchemist software with store hidden

The first time you open the application, the Store will be visible. Because you generally don't need the store, if you have any Elements in your Collection or Rack at the time you start the Alchemist, the Store will be hidden from view. The Show Store button will slide it into view, and if you want to hide it, you can press the button again.

Cart

The Elements Alchemist software with cart visible

If you add an Element to the cart and close the store, you can easily open it with the cart button that will appear. The cart button is hidden until you actually press the shopping cart icon in an element, so don't be surprised if you don't see the cart button when you first open the Alchemist!

On Windows

Due to arcane, toothless privacy rules that only Internet Explorer respects as necessary, the shop will not work in Elements Alchemist. If you click on a cart button to add to the cart, the store will display with an empty cart. The embedded browser in Elements Alchemist is based on Internet Explorer, so if you want to use the online store in this application, you'll need to enable a privacy action for the Livid website.

Internet Explorer privacy tab
  1. Open Internet Explorer
  2. Select Internet Options from the Tools menu
  3. Click the Privacy tab
  4. Click the Sites button
  5. Add lividinstruments.com to the Address of website field
  6. Press Allow

Alternatively, you could just open your preferred browser and navigate to http://www.shop.lividinstruments.com.

The Collection

This area is where you create a collection of Elements that you own. Drag elements (or use the + button) from the Store to add controllers to your personal collection. From this collection, you can add to your Rack. If you sell, lose, or destroy an Element, you can use the - button to remove it from your collection. You can get a bit more description or admire the artificial rendering by pressing the magnifying glass. Both the Rack and Collection are saved and will be restored when you start the Element Alchemist again.

The Rack

The Rack is your controller. You will want this to visually match the controller you have assembled with your Elements, as it is foundation for the Editor. Add Elements from the Collection by dragging them into the Rack, or by (surprise) using the + button. If you decide to remove an Element, just drag it back to the Collection or use the - button to put it back. If you decide you want a different layout of controls, you can click, drag, and drop on Elements in the Rack to re-arrange them. Both the Rack and Collection are saved and will be restored when you start the Element Alchemist again.

The Bus Board Headers

As you add Elements to your Rack and rearrange them, the Bus Board Headers will keep track of your design and tell you how to connect the button, LED, and analog headers on the Elements to the Bus Boards. Just match the background colors of the Elements in the Rack to the colors (and text labels) on the Bus Board Headers. It is important to connect your Elements as described by the Alchemist, otherwise the Editor will behave quite unexpectedly, and any settings you make will probably be surprising.

Details

The Alchemist uses information about each Element to determine which headers are needed and how to hook them up. Where an Element's button, analog, or LED header is connected to the Bus Board determines how the Editor communicates to the Brain so it can correctly make changes as you make them. If you create a Rack that uses too many connections, you will be warned, and you will need to remove some modules. For example, a 16K module will use two analog pin headers, and a 4K4F4B will use one analog header for the knobs and faders, one button header for the four buttons and an LED header for the LEDs behind the buttons. Although it is theoretically possible to connect up to 16 buttons to a single header pin, the four buttons of this module will only use four of those 16. The next module you connect will use the next available header.
If for some reason you really really need those extra button connections, you are more than welcome to construct a header attachment that will free up those connections for another module, however, the Alchemist will not be able to directly accommodate this. In this case, you would need to use the #Advanced window to configure your non-standard setup.

Edit MIDI Assignments

The Elements Alchemist software with cart visible

Once you have organized and connected your controller to the Bus Board, you can change the values of the notes, continuous controllers, and other properties. Press the Edit MIDI Assignments button, and the Editor will appear. You can click on any control (knob, slider, button, encoder, etc) and you can use the MIDI Settings panel to edit the appropriate values. Buttons that have backlighting LEDs are slightly different than other controls: click on the right of the button to bring up the Button MIDI settings, click on the left of the button to bring up the LED settings.

Update

When you make a change in the Editor for a particular control, such as changing the Note number, or some other property, you need to press "Update" so the program knows you have made the change. You can make multiple changes to a selected control, then press "update." For example, you could change the MIDI field, the type menu, and toggle checkbox for a button, then press "update" - there's no need to press update after each change on a control.

Send to brain

Once you have edited all the settings for your controls, press the send to brain button to transfer your changes to your controller.

Save brain

Finally, after you have tested and edited all your settings, press save brain to write your changes to the memory. The reason this is a separate button is that there are a finite number of "saves" that the Brain's flash memory can handle. While this is a very high number, we like to be conservative, even if it is a bit cumbersome to use.

The MIDI Settings Panels

There are three categories of controls that correlate with the three types of header pins: Buttons, LEDS, and Analogs. When you click on a control, the Alchemist will show the appropriate panel and select the first field so you can quickly edit the control's settings. Like any form on the web, you can tab through parameters to quickly change values. As you change values for all your controls, your changes are stored, but you must press send to brain for the controller to recognize the changes.

Help

Press the help button to open this wiki page in an embedded window in the Alchemist interface.

The Elements Alchemist software with help page visible

Sidebar

Most of the Sidebar area is identical to the Brain V2 Configure#Settings settings panel, however, some general discussion is below.

Advanced

Click the Advanced button for a comprehensive editor for all possible settings on the Brain for your controller. This is the same interface that is found in the Brain V2 Configure software and is covered with extensive detail in the Brain V2 Configure wiki page

Tools

The Tools button opens a window with some utilities to send MIDI messages and view incoming MIDI to test your controller and reassure yourself that you have configured the Brain as intended.

Menu

The top menu has a few items of interest.

File

  • Open - Opens a file previously saved that contains MIDI and other configuration data for your controller.
  • New - You will be given the option of clearing out your Collection and Rack and resetting the Brain to default settings.
  • Save - Saves a file that describes all the MIDI and other configuration settings on the Brain.
  • Save As… - Same as Save.

Edit

Nothing happens here!

More

  • Wiki Manual - opens the Livid Wiki page for this application
  • Open UI in Browser - Mostly for development, but it seems worthwhile to leave in in the case of any unusual issues or general curiosity. The Elements Alchemist user interface is largely created as an HTML file, so the interface can be used in a browser while still maintaining a connection to the hardware.

Examples

some example setups and configurations can go here