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So I bought a Behringer FCB1010, it’s a (cheap as hell) twelve switch, two expression MIDI foot pedal. I’m thinking I can control my laptop with it while I play guitar and sing. 

Anyway, the entire experience has been great but not because of the device itself. The manual is terrible, the factory settings don’t work with Ableton Live out of the box and programming it via the foot pedals is tedious.

One of the greatest things about buying gear for me as a total nerd is when there’s a thriving user community around whatever I just bought. And there’s a great one around the FCB1010. Here’s some of what I’ve found:

  • There’s a great Yahoo Group full of resources for it. Photos, utilities, tutorials, patches, sysex dumps, hardware mods and more.
  • Hackers have made $10 replacement firmware chip for the FCB1010 that adds a lot of great functionality such as tempo tap, stomp box mode, not needing to put the device into “sysex receive mode” to transmit patches to it and more.
  • There’s an excellent home-brew PC Editor for programming the device.
  • A great FAQ.
  • Plenty of tutorials for getting the FCB working with Live.

As I was describing this, particularly the replacement firmware, a friend of mine wondered why Behringer doesn’t open source their firmware. They make their money on the hardware (unlike video game consoles for instance) and are also widely criticized for ripping off other company’s designs, manufacturing them cheaply and selling them at a fraction the price.

Seems to me they’d have nothing to lose by open sourcing their firmware. Hackers could add all the functionality they want, people would buy their products with the intention of tricking them out, it’s free R&D that they can fold into future devices, and their nerd karma would go through the freaking roof.

Posted on - January 24, 2007 [at] 12:18 pm by Brad
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