Welcome to Blue Box. This section and the following section “Operating Blue Box controls” provide a quick way to get up and running and understanding the basics of how Blue Box works.
First Time Use
To use Blue Box for the first time, simply plug in a guitar, connect headphones or an external amplifier, start up the application on the iPhone or iPad. The application will scan for Blue Box devices – your Blue Box device will be displayed similar to the following:
The application will now pair with the selected device
Tap “Pair” to accept the pairing request and away you go! Play away!
Pairing happens the first time that you connect to a Blue Box device that your iOS device has not connected with before. After the first time, the application will automatically connect with the Blue Box device
Powering Up/Powering Down
Blue Box operates off of a rechargeable Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery. Internally, Blue Box has two power sections; a digital section that includes the Bluetooth micro-controller and radio sections and an audio section that includes all of the audio input and output circuitry.
The digital section is powered up all the time. This provides the fastest way for the application to connect to a Blue Box device. The audio sections are powered up or down as follows:
- If no guitar is plugged in, audio will not power up. This means that you cannot use the Blue Box device to listen to audio on the Line In input when there is no guitar plugged in
- When a guitar is plugged in, this event is detected and the audio section is powered up
- If a guitar is plugged in but there is no guitar activity and no application activity for a set timeout period, the audio channels will be powered down. This means that the user can walk away from a playing session and the audio – which consumes the most power – will automatically shut down. Refer to the Settings Screen section for instructions on how to change the duration of this timeout period
- If a guitar is plugged in but the timeout period has elapsed and the audio sections have been shut down, the Blue Box device will power up again if it detects a musical signal on the guitar input (just strum the guitar) or if there is new activity on the application (starting the application up or changing any control setting if the application is running)
Do not leave an unconnected guitar cable plugged into the Blue Box device. An unconnected cable is likely to pick up noise and continually power up the Blue Box device thereby draining the battery. If you wish to disconnect, always disconnect from the Blue Box end
Charging the Battery
Connect the Blue Box device to a USB power source via the supplied USB charging cable. The Blue Box device will display a red LED indicator to show that the device is charging. Also, the application will display the battery level with a power flash across it .
The battery will recharge at 500mA maximum which means that it can be recharged from the USB port on a computer. However, 500mA is the maximum that a single USB port can supply so make sure that there are no other devices connected to the same USB port via an unpowered port splitter. A port splitter with a separate power supply is acceptable. If in doubt, recharge from a “wall wart” USB power adapter
Operating Blue Box While Recharging
If, for any reason, the internal lithium battery is completely discharged, the Blue Box device can be operated normally while the battery is recharging. The recharging circuitry first supplies power to the device then to the battery. Note, however, that the battery may take longer to recharge in this situation
Blue Box Device Indicators
The Blue Box device itself has two indicators:
an orange LED flashes periodically to show that the device is operating normally. If the Blue Box device has not been operated for a long time, the time between flashes will increase up to a maximum of 30 seconds in order to preserve battery power. If the orange LED is no longer flashing it is an indication that the battery has fallen below its minimum operating voltage and the device has shutdown
Operating Blue Box Controls
Blue Box has a number of different types of controls. This is a quick introduction on how to correctly operate these controls.
Slider switches have a fixed number of positions either horizontally or vertically. An example is the Guitar Input Pad control shown here.
To change the position of a slider switch, stroke up or down (for vertical switches) or left to right (for horizontal switches) on the centre line of the control. Each finger stroke moves the switch by one position only.
Rotary switches have a fixed number of positions arranged in a circular manner. Examples are the acyclic repeat pattern switches on the Metronome Screen.
To change the position of a rotary switch, stroke up or down on either side of the switch. For example, to turn the switch clockwise, stroke down on the righthand side of the switch or stroke up on the lefthand side of the switch. Each finger stroke will move the switch by one position only.
Linear sliders have an unlimited number of positions arranged vertically or horizontally. Examples are the Stereo Out mixer volume control, the EQ control and the Line In volume control.
To move the position of the slider, slide your finger up or down (for vertical sliders) or left to right (for horizontal sliders). Your finger does not need to be on the slider knob itself; it can be anywhere on the centre line. This way, your finger does not cover up the exact position of the knob.
Rotary sliders have an unlimited number of positions arranged in a circular manner. Examples are the Guitar Gain control, Guitar Volume control and the Metronome Volume control.
To change the position of a rotary slider, either stroke up or down or use a rotary motion around the edge of the control. Rotary sliders usually have a limited range of movement of 270 degrees – just like a volume knob on an amplifier.
Spinners are a special version of a rotary slider. They have unlimited positions but, unlike a rotary slider with only 270 degrees of movement, spinners can be rotated as much as you like. An example is the Metronome Speed control.
To change the position of a spinner, move your finger in a circular motion clockwise or anti-clockwise until you reach the desired setting. Also unlike a rotary slider, the change in position does not take effect until you remove your finger from the control – intermediate values are not sent to the Blue Box device.
The main screen shows a top-level summary view of the Blue Box device including:
- Discovery and Connection
- Device Status
- Audio Channels
- Line In
- Stereo Out Mixer
- Function Buttons
Discovery and Connection
When the application starts up, a number of discovery and connections screens are shown depending on whether the application has successfully connected to a Blue Box device previously or not:
- If the application successfully connected to a Blue Box device the last time the application was run, it will first attempt to reconnect to the same Blue Box device again
- If the application fails to reconnect to the last connected Blue box device it will initiate a scan to search for other nearby Blue Box devices
- The first time the application is run a scan is immediately started
- The user can optionally delete the identifier for the last connected Blue Box device which will force a scan the next time the application is run (see Function Buttons – Settings for further information)
Scan For Peripherals
The application scans for Blue Box devices and displays a list on the UI. The user can select from that list to associate that Blue Box device with the application session.
The scan can be terminated by tapping the cancel button (orange “X”). In this case, the application enters “idle” mode and the user will need to start a new scan in order to proceed.
Scanning will automatically timeout after a period of 15 seconds. If no Blue Box device has been discovered during that time or if one or more devices were discovered but the user did not select one of them, the user will then need to initiate a new scan in order to proceed.
A new scan can be started at any time – see section Function Buttons – Scanning for further details.
Connect to Peripheral
The application is attempting to connect to the previously connected Blue Box device shown on the screen. If this attempt fails, the application will initiate a scan as described above. The connection attempt is deemed to have failed after a timeout of 10 seconds. The user may terminate the connection attempt by tapping the cancel button (orange “X”). In this case, the application enters “idle” mode and the user will need to start a new scan in order to proceed.
Device status is updated every 35 seconds
Battery level indication. The Blue Box device is currently connected to an external power source. When connected to an external power source, the Blue Box device itself will display a red charging indicator
No Blue Box device has yet been associated with this application session. This can occur because the application has not discovered any nearby Blue Box devices or, one or more nearby Blue Box devices have been discovered, but the user has not selected one for this application session
A nearby Blue Box device has been associated with this application session and is actively connected. To save power consumption on the Blue Box device, active connections are dropped after a period of no activity on the UI. This timeout period defaults to 30 seconds. A new connection is established as soon as there is new activity on the UI
Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI)
The strength of the Bluetooth signal as seen by the Blue Box device. Under normal close-proximity conditions, an RSSI of between -40dBm and -60dBm can be expected. The receiver sensitivity is rated at -94dBm at 1Mbps – should the RSSI fall to -90dBm or lower, move the application (iPhone, iPad) device closer to the Blue Box device as connection drop-outs may occur at this level
The current settings of the controls on the Guitar Screen. The example above shows:
- The Input Pad control is set to -10dB
- The Gain control is set to 61
- The 3-channel EQ is set:
- Low – 39
- Mid – 22
- High – 31
- The Volume control is set to its maximum of 100
Line In Channel
The current settings of the Line In Screen. The example above shows:
- Music playback speed is… (coming soon – speed up/slow down playback from iTunes library)
- Music playback pitch is… (coming soon – pitch increase/decrease playback from iTunes library)
- Line in volume:
- Left channel is set at 51 and is muted
- Right channel is set at 47 and is not muted
The current settings of the Metronome Channel screen. The example above shows:
- The metronome speed is set to 60 BPM and is switched off
- The acyclic repeat feature is turned off with controls set at:
- Beats Per Bar – 4
- Bars On – 1
- Bars Off – 1
- The metronome volume is set at the maximum value of 100
Stereo Out Mixer
The current settings of the Stereo Out Screen. The above example shows:
- The stereo out mixer left channel is set at 50
- The stereo out mixer right channel is set at 50 and is muted
Select the Blue Box device from the list of discovered devices.
Tap on the Cancel button (orange “X”) to cancel the scan.
Named profiles allow the user to save different setting combinations (volume, gain, EQ etc.) for later recall. Switching between settings for different guitars or for different “sounds” is easy without having to remember the exact settings for a guitar or sound.
Save Profile always takes the current settings to save. Type is a new name in text box in order to create a new profile. Alternatively, tap a profile already in the list to update the settings stored in that profile.
Click the Accept button (orange check mark) to save the profile.
Click on the Cancel button (orange “X”) to cancel out of the screen without saving.
Tap on a profile in the list followed by the Accept button (orange check mark) to load that profile into the Blue Box device.
The default (-Default) profile is pre-supplied and sets all controls to mid-point and turns the metronome off. The default profile cannot be changed from the Save Profile screen.
Tap on the Cancel button (orange “X”) to cancel the operation without loading any profile.
The Guitar Screen provides the ability to adjust the guitar controls:
- Input Pad
- 3-Channel EQ
- Overdrive On/Off
- Overdrive depth
Guitar Channel Controls
The input pad provides a 0dB or -10dB input attenuation prior to the guitar signal flowing further downstream. Stroke the control down to apply -10dB attenuation; stroke the control up to remove the attenuation.
The Volume control provides from 0dB to +15dB of amplification ahead of the EQ filter network. Stroke the gain control up or down on either side of the control to set the desired level.
The Eq provides 3 channels with +/-12dB of gain. Channels are centred on 80Hz (Low), 800Hz (Mid) and 3.2kHz (High). Stroke any channel up or down to increase or decrease gain for that frequency band.
Stroke the Overdrive On/Off control down to enable overdrive, up to switch overdrive off
This control increase the amount of overdrive from zero to maximum
Tap on the Dismiss button to close the Guitar Screen and return to the Main Screen.
Line In Screen
The Media playback screen provides selection of audio tracks from an iPod library on an iPhone or iPad with the ability to speed up or slow down the playback as well as increase or decrease the pitch of the playback.
Creating loop segments is under development
The high pass/low pass filter provides the ability to cut low or high frequencies respectively
Media Playback Controls
After selecting an audio track from the iPod library, basic information about the track is displayed here:
- Track Title
- Track Artist
- Album Title
The playback controls provide start, stop and loop the track.
The range of the speed control is from 50% (half speed) to 200% (double speed).
The range of pitch control is +/-12 semitones (+/- 1 octave) in increments of 1 semitone
Position in Track
Low Pass/High Pass Filter
Note that both low- and high-pass filters cannot be enabled at the same time
The Metronome Screen provides full control over the basic metronome itself (BPM, volume) as well as an “acyclic repeat” feature. The acyclic repeat feature provides the ability to set the metronome on for a set number of beats followed by silence for a set number of beats.
Acyclic Repeat Controls
Acyclic Repeat On/Off
NOTE: the acyclic repeat on/off control and the metronome on/off control operate together as follows:
- If the metronome on/off control is not on, the acyclic repeat control cannot be turned on
- If the acyclic repeat control is on and the user changes any of the repeat pattern control switches (see below), the acyclic repeat on/off control is automatically turned off. This allows the user to set up the controls as desired without these changes being immediately sent to the Blue Box device. One the repeat pattern controls have been set as desired, the user can set the acyclic repeat on/off button back on.
- If both the metronome on/off button and the acyclic repeat buttons are set to on and the user turns the metronome off, the acyclic repeat feature is turned off also. The acyclic repeat feature will not automatically resume if the user then turns the metronome back on. The acyclic repeat feature will need to be individually turned back on
Repeat Pattern Control
The three rotary switches:
- Beats Per Bar
- Bars On
- Bars Off
combine to set the acyclic repeat pattern.
Beats Per Bar
This control can be set to 2, 3 or 4 to determine the base counting unit. For simple time signatures such as 2/2 and 4/4, set this control to 2 or 4 respectively. For simple time signature of 3/4 or compound time signatures such as 6/8 and 12/8, set this control to 3.
This control can be set to 1, 2, 4 or 8 to control the number of bars for which the metronome is on. The number of metronome ticks produced is equal to Beats Per Bar times Bars On. For example, if Beats Per Bar is set at 4 and Bars on is set at 2, the metronome will tick 8 times and then count out the Bars Off count.
This control can be set to 1, 2, 4 or 8 to control how many multiples of Bars On will be used for silence. For example, if Bars Off is set to 2 and the Bars On setting is 2, the metronome will be switched off for 2 multiplied by 2 (4) bars before starting again.
To summarise, the number of ticks produced by the metronome is equal to:
- Beats Per Bar multiplied by Bars On
The number of “silent ticks” produced by the metronome is equal to:
- Beats Per Bar multiplied by Bars On multiplied by Bars Off
The Speed control provides adjustment of the metronome from 40BPM to 240BPM. This control is a “spin” control with deceleration to allow the speed to be set accurately. Multiple turns of the control may be needed. Unlike other Blue Box controls that change the device setting as the control is being moved, changes to the speed control do not take effect until the user removes his/her finger from the control.
The Metronome Volume control provides adjustment of the volume from -∞ to +6dB. Stroke the control up or down on either side of the control to set the desired level. Alternatively, stroke the control in a rotary manner.
Stereo Out Mixer Screen
The Stereo Out Mixer screen provides the ability to set the final mixdown settings such as channel volume and channel mute.
Stereo Out Controls
The Stereo Out mixer control provides adjustment of the final output volume of the combined guitar, line in and metronome audio sources. The range of adjustment is from -∞ to +6dB. Stroke the channel slider control up or down to increase or decrease the gain.
The Settings Screen provides the ability to change various defaults and application operating parameters.
Clear Peripheral Cache – The application stores the identifier of the last successfully connected Blue Box device in non-volatile memory. The next time the application runs, the application retrieves this identifier and attempts to connect to that Blue Box device as a priority. If it fails to connect, the application will start a scan.
Clearing the peripheral cache will force the application to go straight to a scan the next time it runs. This is useful if there is a problem with the iOS Bluetooth software, the application software or the device and re-starting from a known state is desired. Tap on the Clear button to clear the peripheral cache.
Reset To Factory Defaults – this will set the application back to its original state. All user profiles are removed, the peripheral cache is cleared and language is set back to the default. Note that this action does not change any setting on a Blue Box device itself and the application will still pull the current settings from the Blue Box device the next time the application runs.
This feature is only expected to be useful for correcting a problem or debugging issues that may arise. Tap on the Rest button to restore the application to its factory state the next time the application runs.
Select the desired language from the list of supported languages. The language change takes effect immediately; there is no need to restart the application.
Disable Screensaver – while using the application, it may be desirable to prevent the screensaver from closing the screen and require a login to continue. Stroke the Off/On control right to disable the screensaver, stroke left to enable the screensaver.
Note that this setting only applies to the Blue Box application. If the user steps out of the Blue Box application to run some other application, that application will still have the screensaver enabled.
Timeout (m) – after no activity on the guitar or application, the Blue Box device will shut down the audio channels in order to conserve power. Shutdown will occur even if a guitar is currently plugged in to the Blue Box device. After a shutdown, new activity on the guitar or application will power the audio channels back up.