Das Ortofo Version 2

Das Ortofo V2 is a nice tool to use the Behringer BCF2000 fadercontroller with a GrandMa lighting desk. It gives you the functionality of using motorfaders and supports all the Elements of the BCF2000 to be used with GrandMA (onPC).

Here is a video to demonstrate its functionality:

I’ve built version 1 a few years ago and since then have been asked a lot of times about the possibility for USB support and whether I’m selling them.

Good news: Das Ortofo now supports native midi over USB. Furthermore did I build a batch of 10 devices which are all for sale (September 2010). Contact me if you want to get one.

The following diagram shows how everything is connected (click for larger image):

The midi-in port of the BCF2000 (the first from the right in the above picture) is connected to the midi-out port of Das Ortofo. The first midi-out port of the BCF (the middle one) is connected to the in-port of Das Ortofo. If you want to control a GrandMa onPC you can use the USB port on the backside of Das Ortofo.  If you want to control a hardware GrandMa you can use the second midi-out port of the BCF2000 (the left one) and connect it to the GrandMa. Please note that the BCF2000 has to be set ont mode ‘S2’ in order to be able to be used with Das Ortofo.

This is the midi output of Das Ortofo. For easier understanding I made it as an overlay for the midi-sheet of the GrandMa console.You will realize that the first half of the midi-sheet isn’t used. This makes it possible to add a 2-octvae USB-midi-keyboard without interferring the functionality of Das Ortofo (click for larger image).

Note that midi notes 62 and 63 (GrandMa: Midi_Btn 63 and Midi_Btn 64) have to be configured to call the macros for ‘Page-‘ respectively ‘Page+’. These macros take care of connecting the faders of the actively selected faderpage (on the GrandMa) to the faders of the BCF2000. In a new show they have to be called at least once to create a working midi mapping.

This is the ‘Page+’ macro (click for larger image):

Userbuttons 3 + 4 are situated in the lower right corner (click for larger image):

I compiled a simple show to demonstrate how everything might look like (GrandMa onPC version 6.600). You can download it here .

When you use Das Ortofo with GrandMa onPc, don’t forget to set the midi-input (via the ‘Options’-dialog):

And in either case (onPC / real console) don’t forget to activate midi-input:

This Video shows the device in conjunction with a GrandMA 1 fullsize console. The power is taken from the GrandMa’s USB port. The midi data are sent through the second midi.out of the BCF2000 and into the midi-in port of the GrandMa. Even though I don’t really see a reason for doing this it at least shows that it could technically be done….

Next up I mapped the first three rotary encoders to the faders. Again: It might not make the most sense to use Das Ortofo together with a fullsize console but it shows that you -can- control the console with it. If this works then it should also do with a GrandMA Pic or Micro…..

This video shows some of the backdraws. Notice how ‘grainy’ the fader moves even though the fader on the BCF2000 is fluently moved up and down. somehow I’m not surprised. First of all, the GrandMa surely is super-optimized for (internal!) DMX control. Secondly DMX is about 8 times as fast as Midi is. No wonder there are little differences.

Feel free to contact me If you have questions regarding Das Ortofo V2. Since a lot of people are asking similar questions I compiled an faq-list with the most common ones. Chances are good your question has already been asked. Please read them before contacting me.

What actually IS Das Ortofo?

It’s a hardware-based midi-translator with a little bit of extra features. It is optimized for receiving midi-data from Behringer’s BCF2000 and processing them in a way that MaLighting’s GrandMa (onPC) can handle it.
Why the name?

The first version’s housing was a box of Ortofon-needles. After cutting the hole for a display it was only “Ortofo” being left over.
Is Das Ortofo limited to GrandMa lighting desks?

Not really. Even though the whole workflow surely is optimized for GrandMa use there is no “GrandMa specific” code within. It’s just midi.
Can I connect it to a real GrandMa or only to GrandMa onPC?

You can use it with a real console (via midi in) as well as with GrandMa onPC (midi or USB). Connection diagrams can be found on this website.
What Version of GrandMA?

Everything was tested with GrandMA 1. It should work with GrandMA 2 as well since makros and midi-functionality didn’t change that much. But I can’t guarantee.

Does Das Ortofo provide the same look-n-feel like the motorfaders on a fullsize console?

No. there is a difference between using a 30.000 (+) € hardware console and an onPC-Version with some crappy midi-interface. Especially around the 0-value the display of fadervalues differs a recognizable bit (even though a BCF2000 fader at zero will lead to an OFF fader on the grandma). Furthermore DMX is about 8 times as fast as midi is. This inevitably leads to some ‘different’ behaviour (look at the videos above). Taking into consideration that the MA Lighting engineers surely did everything to optimize their consoles for (internal) DMX you can only come ‘a little closer than nothing’ to a fullsize console. This hole thing is NOT an alternative to a console with built in motorfaders. Keep in mind that they use ALPS faders in the GrandMa. I’m sure they don’t use them in a BCF2000.

If you -ever- worked with a fullsize console you won’t like this at all.
How do I have to configure the BCF2000?

Factory Preset 1, Mode S2.

Can I use multiple BCF2000 devices?

At the moment Das Ortofo supports only one BCF2000. I simply don’t have two Behringer controllers so it’s impossible for me to write code for it.
Can I use the USB port of the BCF2000?

No. Communication with Das Ortofo is done via the midi ports of the BCF.
How do I have to configure Das Ortofo?

You don’t have to. Connect it to your computer via USB or to a real grandMa console via Midi and you are good to go. The only thing you need to decide is where you want to get the electrical power from. There is one switch at Das Ortofo. If it points to the USB port it’s powered via USB. If the switch is pointing to the DC-connector it’s powered via external power supply.

What else do I need?

You need to program at least two macros within your lightshow. These macros are connected to the midi-data being sent when the page+ or page- buttons on the Behringer controller are pressed. These Makros take care of connecting a page’s faders to the faders of the BCF2000. The makros can be found on this page.
Is an external power supply included?

No. I have been contacted from people all over the world. It wouldn’t make sense to include a german power supply.
What’s the specs for the external power supply?

5 Volts DC output. Shield outside.
Do I necessarily need an external power supply?

No. If you use it on a PC via USB you should not use an external power supply at all. If you want to use it with a real GrandMa console you should use an external power supply. There is a chance that you can use a real GrandMa’s USB port as a power supply but I didn’t have the possibility to test what happens when you connect Das Ortofo to a GrandMa hardware console via USB. Probably everything will do well (since it’s just USB). But maybe the USB stack of the GrandMa gets messed up…..I don’t know.
What drivers do I need to install when using it with GrandMa onPC?

None. It’s plug-and-play. On a German windows XP it installs itself as an “USB Audiogerät”.

What operating systems are supported?

I am testing on Windows XP SP3. Vista and MAC OS should do as well. It’s just a generic USB device so Windows 7 will probably work as well.
Can I use a mouse to move the faders on my GrandMa onPC? Will the faders of the BCF2000 move then?

In short: The complete communication between Das Ortofo and GrandMA is ONE-WAY. If you change anything at your console (active faderpage, fadervalues, etc…) it will not be recognized by Das Ortofo. Depending on the situation this might lead to funny or terrifying results.There are a few videos on the net where people move the fader (GrandMa onPC) via mouse and the change is reflected on the BCF2000. Unfortunately there is a built-in limitation in GrandMa (onPC) which only allows the first 40 faders to send a feedback from the console which could be analysed. I didn’t implement this. Please note that it’s generally not a good idea to use the mouse to switch between faderpages etc. when working with Das Ortofo. It’s simply a limitation you get when you use some semi-self-built low-cost devices instead of a fullsize console.
Can I use GrandMa onPC’s faders 1-10 AND 11-20?

You can use either or. The Problem is that the button which switches the fadergroups (1-10 or 11-20) cannot be midi-controlled. That’s why it can’t be controlled via Das Ortofo. That’s why the switch between faders 1-10 or 11- 20 is neither analyzed nor supported. However, I am working with GrandMA onPc for quite a few years now and I found the best solution is to only use faders 1-10 at all, regardless of Das Ortofo or any attached hardware. It’s easier to scroll  through your faderpages than to scroll through your faderpages AND having to use the mouse to switch between faders 1-10 and 11-20 on every page. If you have ever been in a hurry on stage searching the fader for your fog machine you probably know what I am talking about.

What about Keyboard shortcuts?

Das Ortofo is optimized to NOT use keyboard shortcuts. You might use a software which takes midi data from Das Ortofo and translates them into keypresses but the results won’t be as streamlined as using it natively. The aim of Das Ortofo is to have something that can be used with real consoles and with the onPc without major configuration changes.

What elements of the BCF2000 can be used with Das Ortofo?

The faders, the userbuttons on the lower right corner (two of them being semi-hardcoded for usage with Das Ortofo). The 2 rows with buttons above the faders.The knob encoders and the buttons within the knob-encoders of encoder group 1(!).
What is controlled by which fader or button?

Nothing. The controls of the BCF2000 are mapped to your GrandMa’s midi-sheet. It’s up to you what you do with them.
Why does Das Ortofo only use encoder Group 1 of the BCF2000’s rotary encoders?

GrandMa (onPC) only offers 72 ‘slots’ for using incoming midi notes. It’s technically not possible to use all encoder groups via midi for GrandMa onPC.

Are the midi-values of the other encoders passed through?

Can I connect an extra keyboard to my GrandMa (onPc) together with Das Ortofo?

Sure. That’s why the first midi-‘slots’ of the GrandMa are not used by Das Ortofo. You can, for example, use a 2 octave midi keyboard (set to the lowest possible octaves) and won’t run into conflicts. You will need something like midi-ox to merge your midi data streams, though.
How can I see if Das Ortofo sends any Midi messages?

The little Midi-In-LED on the BCF2000 will flash if it is receiving midi data from Das Ortofo.
How many faderpages are supported by Das Ortofo?

What midi-channel is used by Das Ortofo?

Channel 1.
I am repeatedly hitting the ‘Page-‘ button but nothing happens. What’s wrong?

You are probably at Das Ortofo’s first internal faderpage. You can’t get below.

I am repeatedly hitting the ‘Page+’ button but nothing happens. What’s wrong?

You are probably at Das Ortofo’s last (128th) internal faderpage. You can’t get above.
Is there a reason why I am experiencing a certain latency in some cases?

When you move a fader and instantly hit the ‘Page+’ or ‘Page-‘ -button you will experience a built-in wait-cycle. That’s intentionally because moving a fader causes a lot of midi data to be send to (and processed by) Das Ortofo. The wait-cycles are used to make sure these data are completely processed before operation continues. Please note that the overall behaviour won’t be as slick as it will be on a real GrandMa console. On a GrandMa console the motorfaders are controlled via DMX internally. DMX is optimized to transport the values of 512 channels simultaneously while MIDI always transmitts them one by one. This will inevitably lead to some different behaviour when using MIDI instead of DMX to control any group of faders.
Where are the postions of the faders stored?

Data are stored in the RAM of Das Ortofo. This means if you switch it of you will lose your fader settings. (Not those of the GrandMa, though.)
I’ve sent some Sysex-Data, followed by Midi ProgramChanges to Das Ortofo, why does it show a strange behaviour now?

As mentioned earlier, Das Ortofo is optimized for use with a BCF2000 on factory preset 1. The implemented midi-stack doesn’t cover every possible combination of incoming data.
Are the buttons above the BCF2000’s fader treated like those on a GrandMa?

No. The buttons above the BCF2000’s faders are just 16 buttons. they are not connected to faders, banks, pages or anything. One possible scenario to show the reason for this: GrandMa’s fader 1 is assigned to the effect “Colourwheel 1 = green” of a moving head. Fader 2 is assigned to the effect “Colourwheel 2 = red” of the same fixture. When you move the first fader up it’s activated, the button above is lit. Now you move up the second fader. It will be activated, its button will be lit. Simultaneously fader1 will move down, the button above will be unlit. That’s the logic within GrandMa. It’s not possible to read and analyze this from the outside via midi.
In short: Das Ortofo is optimized for dealing with faders which are configured to control a queue or a chaser.

What about the rotary encoders?

Rotary encoders are not organized in banks or pages. However, you can actively assign them to anything in you rshow when the ‘Page+’ or ‘Page-‘ makros are triggered.
Can I buy one?

Yes! I’ve built ~10 units. All for sale. The Price is 180€ per unit. Please Contact me.

Not yet. I’m a little too afraid of legal problems at the moment. Just contact me.

I’ ve bought one and I don’t like it/ it’s not the right thing work for me. Can I send it back to you?

Not really. This isn’t Amazon. This is all run privately. I don’t have the resources to deal with packaging, refunds etc…. Believe it or not: 180€ don’t make me rich. I am not taking a bath in the money I get from this. If you have ANY questions which have not been answered yet feel free to contact me (english or german). I will answer every question. Please make sure Das Ortofo is the right thing for you BEFORE you order it.
Can I get a real invoice?

Yes. I am running a small business enterprise (German: “Kleingewerbe”). You will get a real invoice with your order. Please note that German laws make it that VAT is NOT listed extra.

See above.

Can I get one in my favourite colour?

I built them in various cases. Available colours are yellow, blue, red and black. If there is a unit in your preferred colour, you can get it. Otherwise …sorry.

Is the BCF2000 included?

I ordered one and it doesn’t work. What about guarantee?

All Ortofos are tested before they are sent out. Please contact me if something’s not working the way you expected. Please don’t open the device yourself without contacting me before. If it’s not working properly due to a mistake on my side you will either get a working one or a refund for your money (in case that all units are sold). In either way, there will be a solution.

!! This is all about being cool to each other, not ripping each other off !!
I used Das Ortofo for an event. Due to an (unspecified) error the pyro shot too early. Everything went into flames. Das Ortofo was involved. Will you pay my bills?


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