Upgrading the Pacemaker’s hard drive

2013-05-04%2011.16.39

Been doing some of the odd jobs I’ve been meaning to do.

One such task was finally buying the right SSD from Amazon and replacing the old Pacemaker hard drive.

I was looking at the pacemaker forum where someone posted how they replaced their original hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD). So after much time I decided to buy the Kingspec 1.8inch drive from Amazon. Its only 64gig big but to be honest with the old drive I was only using 32gig anyway.

For those thinking about doing the same theres a number of things to bear in mind… You need a ZIF 40-pin SSD/PATA Solid State Disk (MLC type). Zif is the connection and its a ribbon connection like you see on motherboards.

Everything was pretty straight forward till it came to putting in the new drive.

Oh crap I ripped the ribbon!

As the forum post wrote…

DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID AND RELEASE THE ZIF RIBBON FROM THE ACTUAL PMD MAINBOARD ITSELF! IT WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER IF YOU LEAVE IT IN PLACE AND ATTACH THE NEW HARD DRIVE TO IT!

Well somehow I started to rip the ZIF ribbon when moving the drive about and so I was forced to use the longer version which came with the SSD. That extra length is a real pain as you have to fold it without breaking it when putting the device back together.

PATA ribbon in the way

Carefully I put the whole thing back together and as the post says, it came on and complained the device needs a firmware update. After doing that and loading all the music back on to the device from the pacemaker app I was back in action again.

To date everything has worked and the battery life is much better than with the hard drive. Things seems a little more punchy too, so menu updates, etc are a tiny bit quicker (but it was already pretty quick). Can’t wait to put in the new battery and boost that up too.

Hard drive restored

As you can see in the photo, I’m planning on replacing the battery at some point. The battery seems easier but will need some soldering as the one I got has no connector. From the forums it looks like the battery is a 3.7V 1600mAh lithium battery Polymer while the one I got from ebay is a 3.7V 1000mAh lithium Battery Rechargeable Polymer Li-Po. The hope is that my pacemaker battery which back in 2007 lasted on average about 5hours but only last 30-40mins now will jump to about 3-4hours with 1000mAh.

The history of the pacemaker

pacemaker_sonar_june_2007_04

I just noticed the other day Pacemakerdevice.org added a history page. Although most of it is on wikipedia.

In January 2005 Jonas Norberg saw a gap in the market for a handheld portable DJ device that would do away with a DJ’s need to lug around boxes of vinyl or cases of CDs, and the idea for the Pacemaker Device (PMD) (PMD) was conceived. In 2006 Jonas, Daniel Wallner and two friends Martin Renck and Ola Sars founded the Tonium company and developed the hardware which became known as the Pacemaker DJ device and the accompanying Editor software for music library management.

The team rapidly expanded from just a few people to more than 30 employees and Pacemaker was launched with a bang at the Miami Winter Music Conference in March 2008 in March 2008 receiving wide coverage in New York Times, Wired Magazine, Monocle, The Guardian and many more. The Pacemaker Device also received several of the most prestigious innovation and design awards including the Red Dot Design Best of the Best and no less than three CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards. The Pacemaker was released to the DJing public, supported by the on-line Pacemaker.net community website for Pacemaker users. Sales of the Pacemaker device are thought to be in the region of 50,000 units.

In 2008, Tonium had become a fairly large large company and Jonas handed over to a new CEO. One of the first visible changes was that Pacemaker.net turned into LetsMix.com, and all support interaction was moved to a third party “Get Satisfaction” site. Unfortunately for us that meant losing all the posts from Pacemaker.net and the Pacemaker community that had been built up was lost overnight. Let’s Mix ultimately became an on-line mix sharing site for DJs creating mixes by any means and not just Pacemakers.

In July 2010 Fazz, a Pacemaker user, created the Pacemaker User’s forum as means of rebuilding the Pacemaker community that was lost. Although this free forum was not without problems, it has built a membership of nearly 1000 members in just over 2 years. Most of the posts here were technical queries from users and the administrators Fazz, Sox, Regis & Migzy were only too happy to provide an answer if they had one.

A number of our members such as DJ Pip, Doogyrev & Ubergeek were not only keen Pacemaker DJs, but also coders and tinkerers and so the hacking of the Pacemaker began. Pip found access to an unreleased version of firmware 16219 on the Tonium website, and methods of manually installing it were also found. It included new beat-lock functionality, but unfortunately the device would sometimes stop working as it hadn’t been finished.

In June 2011, Tonium decided that Let’s Mix was no longer financially viable, and the company filed for bankruptcy. As the owners of the rights to the Pacemaker, this meant that the Pacemaker would no longer be in production from that time on. A sad time for all Pacemaker fans.

Although the Pacemaker was no longer being manufactured, there were (and probably are) still units available for purchase (both new and second-hand), and the Pacemaker Users forum continued to grow. On Thursday 12th January 2012, Jonas announced on the Pacemaker User’s forum that he, the inventor of Pacemaker, had just purchased back the rights to the Pacemaker software from the liquidators. Not only that, but he had plans in the pipeline that would help ensure that the Pacemaker lived on – in one way or another – and he was fully behind what we at the Pacemaker Users forum were about.

Also interesting reading the patent filing. No wonder I’m buying another one and getting my current one upgraded with a SSD and new battery.

Looks like the Pacemaker app goes iOS?

Big Boom boxPacemaker?

Seems through out the South by south west festival those guys behind the Pacemaker were out in force with an ipad?

Yes strange but I assume the deal with Blackberry ended and they ported the software to another platform. iOS it seems, going by whats in his hands? Shame because I had hoped developing the app for the Blackberry would make it easy to port to Android.

Nothings been announced yet but it seems pretty obvious to me at least… Which begs the question if I would buy a ipad just as a dj tool? Unlikely…

Pacemaker playback

Blackberry Playbook

Some of you may have noticed my tweets about finally getting a Blackberry Playbook.

Some of you maybe wondering why the hell I bought one of those?

Well the truth is the original pacemaker guys (Olof Berglof, Jonas Norberg and Willem Demmers) sent me one after my experience of the pacemaker app during Over The Air earlier in summer. Blackberry/RIM suggested they might send me one but after the blog post, they pretty much didn’t want anything else to do with me. Bear in mind, this was after I asked them to send me the playbook to test out before I got to Over the Air.

Thanks from the Pacemaker Team

Anyway after the blog post, I shared it with the un-official pacemaker community which had started when Tonium wouldn’t answer any of the questions. This is where the original pacemaker guys (now free after Tonium) saw it and got in touch with me.

The guys admitted the version I was using was a early beta and it was a lot more stable now. We got talking and they agreed to send me a playbook maybe they felt it was the right thing to do or they wanted to keep me involved in the pacemaker community. Either way I’m happy to say I got one thanks to the Pacemaker guys! And its running the Pacemaker App Trial right now.

Pacemaker App

I won’t talk about my frustration with the actual playbook. Including how the mass storage mode failed to work on Ubuntu and how I had to transfer my music collection over wifi using Samba till I discovered this USB hack. Weird thing is it was just as slow. I won’t talk about the pain of trying to get the latest OS update but it not letting me till the battery was over 20% (I left it over night charging in the end). Finally I won’t talk about the pain of getting a blackberry ID.

The Pacemaker trial is rightly so much more stable than the version I experienced before. Its not crashed on me and it does seem a lot more together. But I have to say I still find some of the latency problems are still there (maybe Android 4.1 Butter is needed but you would have thought QNX would be ideal for this). For example don’t try and do hard cuts with the crossfader as you will be very disappointed. The layout makes a little more sense now but I’m finding lots of things are missing from the pacemaker device including recording, effects and of course external output to a mixer. The later means everything you do is played out over the headphones or split into mono.

Pacemaker App

The Pacemaker guys are going to put me on the beta list so hopefully I’ll get a feel for changes and progression soon enough. Right now, its a much poorer relation to the pacemaker device. There is no way I could play out with this, only have a play now and then when in the mood. Still early days and the pacemaker guys have done some great stuff, but I do wonder if it will get good at the point the platform goes away or dissolves. Of course the Pacemaker guys can’t/won’t talk about beyond the playbook but I’m already thinking of solutions around the dual stereo output problem involving usb sound cards or even 2 devices (phone and tablet anyone?)

I’m greatful to the Pacemaker guys for what they did, its really cool. Because although I was thinking about buying a cheap playbook, after my experience I was dead set against Blackberry and the playbook. Good to know certainly people can take feedback on the chin and move forward…

Pacemaker under glass…!

In my last blog post I wrote how I was given the opportunity to play with an early build of the Pacemaker app on the Blackberry playbook at Over the Air 2012…

I won’t comment on Over the Air 2012 which looked frankly amazing and how great it was to catch up with old London friends even for a few minutes. That was all great and I look forward to catching up with people in the week when I’m down in London.

This is about the playbook and the pacemaker application.

The top line is… almost unusable, shocking and sadly uninspiring!

First of all it took ages to get the files on to the device, for some reason the playbook wouldn’t mount on my ubuntu thinkpad laptop, even though the machine which the guy was using was the exact laptop. Yes even he had a Thinkpad X220 but was running Windows 7 and had installed some magical playbook driver. So we had to copy most of my collection over to his laptop over USB sticks and my Android phone. That problem I blame RIM/Blackberry for… No mass storage mode, even MTP would have been a start. So I assume no Linux support is coming?

Once the files were loaded on to the Playbook, the guy started the Pacemaker application and I was a little underwhelmed to see they had gone with the two decks and a crossfader approach. I was expecting something a little more clever specially with the pacemaker under their belts. The guy whos playbook it was, didn’t know how to use the application and certainly didn’t know how to dj. However there were common interfaces elements with the pacemaker which made it understandable for me. But there were bits like the legendary P switch which was missing. So it wasn’t till half way through that I found out how to change the EQ and Gain. That problem was certainly Tonium’s.

I started with my pacemaker and tried to mix from the pacemaker to the app and it was the most painful mixing I’ve heard in a long while. The problem was the app not only kept skipping and pausing on beats but there was no monitor/headphone out. This for me make the whole thing pointless to use! Not only that, unlike on the pacemaker which showed every beat using an highly efficient system to show you the next 4 beats of both tracks, so you can almost dj without monitoring with some knowledge of the track structure. Tonium opted for the Virtual Dj/Tracktor/etc whole track waveform (forgot to add how long it took to render each wave form, although you can play it blind while it renders). Not very useful when your beats are galloping like some runaway horses. I even tried to use the sync feature but frankly that was rubbish too. The mix was all over the place. Once again Tonium’s fault, as I’m sure the playbook is capable of playing two tracks together at the same time. However RIM/Blackbery need to get 2 discreet outputs otherwise its always going to be a joke (stereo splitters deserve to die, and as I said to the guy. No club is ever going to let you plug in if your splitting the audio! Further rendering it as a bit of fun).

The latency of the touchscreen of the Playbook made the whole thing a total joke. The only time I’ve ever had such bad latency when djing is while trying to mix on a piece of glass during the Thinking Digital conference 3 years ago (by the way the blog about thinking digital is coming soon).

If you don’t understand what I mean by latency go have a look at this great Microsoft research demo where they got the latency of a touchscreen down to 1ms. But it wasn’t just that… As switched back and forth between the Pacemaker and the app, I could feel something was missing. Even with the touchpad of the pacemaker, I could do multiplate it in ways which were just ignored by the playbook. Honestly the interaction rant about pictures under glass was never more apt for this moment. Whos to blame for this? Well both and everyone. Although the trackpad of the pacemaker could be seen as the same as the multitouch screen, its certainly not.

I know a few of you are saying, yeah yeah give it a few weeks and you will also like it But honestly no I won’t. Of course if RIM/Blackberry want to give me one to fully try out over weeks or months then great I won’t say no but I think the end result will be the same. Even if Apple or even Google were to release a Dj app for iOS or Android, I would be saying pretty much the same. The problem isn’t RIM/Blackberry or even Tonium’s, its pictures under glass. You can’t get away from it…

The guy who’s playbook it was, said the later versions he had seen was more stable but frankly if it was bulletproof… Theres far too many other problems…

If I was Tonium, I would scrap the copying Virtual DJ, Tracktor, etc and take advantage of the beat chart system they enabled on the pacemaker. You need to be able to mix without hear the track, because I’m sorry to say the splitter option is a instant no for any self respecting DJ.

Tonium claim they used Blackberrys’s QNX platform because it was quicker and more responsive then others out there. If thats true, then make it so! Right now I’m not seeing anything advantages over the other platform. Even having dual outputs would have put Blackberry well ahead of the game and made the platform much more attractive to djs and artists but right now it looks no different to the rest except there are few apps, few developers and fewer buyers. If RIM/Blackberry really want to do something radical, getting Tonium to build the pacemaker software for them isn’t going to fly unless theres serious hardware changes too.

It hurts me to say it because I really wanted Tonium to go on to a winner and heck if the blackberry platform was the place to do that, then great. But instead what they have done is aped DJ software already out there, added a few bits from Pacemaker and done an very disappointing job.

The thing which is never meant to happen while djing happened! Yes the Pacemaker software crashed and left me scrambling for my pacemaker. Not only that, there was clear machine/software distortion through out when you feel the system was under-stress.

I believe nothing can save this pacemaker app unless its a new blackberry playbook (with low latacy  and 2 outputs)  its going to run on?

There’s a open life in the Pacemaker yet

pacemaker_sonar_june_2007_07

Just when I was starting to wonder if I was going to have to switch back to using a laptop to dj… I receive a email message from the new Pacemaker community

As you probably know we were trying to get hold of the Pacemaker source
code so we could see a future for the Pacemaker.

We have now had contact (has joined our forum) from Jonas who was to
original inventor of the Pacemaker and founded Tonium. He has purchased the
rights to the Pacemaker design & software back, and intends to take this
project forware again!

Not only that he has already offered that the GPL’d source code WILL be
made available on Sourceforge.

We are yet to find out Jonas’ intentions, but this is exciting news for all
us Pacemaker users. Keep checking our forum for any updates.

Jonas posted a message on the forum

Dear PMD users, I invented Pacemaker back in 2005 and founded Tonium later that year. It makes me very happy that PMD is still alive and being used, despite the lack of support and hardship that I know you have gone through. I even recognise some of you from the good old Pacemaker.net days – Sox, Migzy, Regis and many more, you are all remembered.

Developing Pacemaker was among the most exciting things I have ever done. It was a project that came out of a pure passion for music and a feeling that it had to be possible to create a DJ system in the size of an iPod. Developing Pacemaker was also the toughest thing I have ever done. Starting from scratch with nothing but an idea for a hardware device. Luckily, I was very naive and did not foresee the challenges lying ahead.Following the launch and our expansion in the spring of 2008, I was exhausted. We had basically expanded from two people to more than thirty in just a little bit over one year, while developing PMD, PME and Pacemaker.net. Honestly, I was a little bit over my head in managing the kind of company Tonium had become. Therefore I stepped down as the CEO in May 2008. That proved to be a mistake. I was not too impressed with how the company was managed going forwards. But that said, it was not easy for the new management, they were in for a great challenge given the global economy crisis, the smartphone revolution and new disruptive music services popping up. And now, as you all know, Tonium have ceased its operations.

But! I have some news for all of you. On Thursday January 12, it will finally be official that my new company 100 Milligrams have purchased the intellectual property rights for Pacemaker, something I have been trying to do for years. Taking part in this venture is my long time friend Daniel Wallner, co-founder of Tonium and the engineering genius behind Pacemaker®. I am also happy to say that we have added a fresh face and a third member to our core team, Olof Berglof, an innovative designer and marketeer. We have also been able to get a little bit of funding and the three of us are now working day and night to transform Pacemaker into the new music and technology landscape.

We would also like to help supporting PMD users in the best kind of way. Your forum is fantastic and we will point people in your direction as well as trying to be here ourselves as much as possible. When it comes to hardware problems, we will try to be as helpful as we can by providing component information, schematics etc. Unfortunately we cannot promise new firmware versions, at least not for some time. We just do not have the necessary manpower. However, we will in time make sure the auto upgrade from Pacemaker® Editor is working and the GPL source code from Pacemaker Device will be available on SourceForge.

I will personally update you on the progress of the New Pacemaker Project and let me know if you have any questions or ideas.

Cheers,

Jonas (@jonorberg)

How awesome is that!!!
Can’t wait to see what comes next… Open is the way forward, open hardware, open software, open idles…

End of the zune, ipod and the pacemaker?

The Pacemaker in use

I think we can pretty much say its the end of the road for the Mpeg3 players.

Microsoft pretty much ported the zune software to their new Microsoft Phone 7 operating system, Apple have done the same and look to be killing the ipod range finally. The single purpose music player is pretty much out for the count.

So what about the Tonium Pacemaker?

Well Tonium went bust a while ago… and the thread is tonium alive? charts the disastrous mistakes which were made over time…

Now everyones trying to get the source code, so we can try and extend the life of such a great product…

Can’t believe I’ve owned the product for over 3 years now, I was one of the first to get it. A whole year before Engadget even. I really hope the community can get the source code because besides the poor battery life and dodgy recording of mixes on the device. There’s already people hacking in SSDs into the Pacemaker, so there’s plenty of people up for compiling and hacking around.

Interesting segway – we’re finally setting a challenge for the next evolution or even revolution in djing at the Mozilla festival later this year…

How to use the Pacemaker editor with Ubuntu via wine

How I got the Pacemaker editor working under Ubuntu with Wine

This should be a easy task but Tonium did something to a later version of the free pacemaker editor, so it no longer worked. In the meantime I personally have been running a virtual machine just for the purpose of taking tunes on and off my pacemaker. No one could work out what they changed in the later version but although you could get the software to work, it wouldn’t recognize the pacemaker device at all. I even stuck it on WineHQ to see if that might help…

Many people tried different ways to get it working but none of them worked. Tonium unhelpfully said it was only supported on Windows and Mac.

But they came back with…

Yeah i am aware of this. ubuntu runs a program called ‘wine’ that emulates windows so you can still run windows only programmes such as this. was just wondering if anyone out there had experienced similar problems…

i have looked on ubuntu forums and pacemaker should run fine, apart from it being a bit fiddly to unmount sometimes.

Then today I had a good think about the problem and started thinking out of the box/experimenting over lunch. Last night I was convinced I would need to install a Github version of Wine for the USB to work and thought I’d install wine from source while eating my lunch.

But before I got to remove Wine, I thought I’d have a online search again and look through the wine settings again. Surely someone must have the solution. I found someone who suggested there might be a read/write problem with the pacemaker and suggested the following.

chown yourusername /media/yourpacemaker

chmod u=rw /media/yourpacemaker

After that I thought for a while, surely theres nothing magical happening. I mean Tonium are using open methods for most of the software and the build of the pacemaker. Even the config files are simply .xml files. The only illusion so far is the stm files which seem to be the analysed raw data stuffed in xml files. So we’re talking low level methods to make it all work, surely this would extend to the way Tonium did the method for putting tunes on the actual device. In actual fact, Musicinstinct2 had already started building a manager for linux and got it mostly working except for the stm file part. Then I had a moment of genius…

My thoughts I documented on the pacemaker getsatisfaction help list.

I got thinking that Windows simply mounts the Pacemaker then the Pacemaker Editor simply looks at a certain drive letter. The problem we’ve had is as default Wine sets the Pacemaker hard drive as drive E: as default. Windows from memory allocates drive letters from Z backwards. That or Tonium through they would be clever and use a letter which wouldn’t normally be used!

I also thought about upgrading my Wine to support USB better but I started thinking, wine can see the pacemaker as a drive if I select it. So it must be the editor which is at fault.

So the first thing I did was mounted the drive under Z: Y: X: then used different advanced options to see if that made a difference. By pure chance on the 1st time I loaded up the pacemaker editor it automatically showed the contains of the Pacemaker. I thought it was a mistake and decided to close it down and load it up again. Bingo! Exactly the same thing. So I did some crude operations like copying files, renaming files, etc. They all pretty much worked.

At this point I had to share my joy with the world by posting up this post.

After this I did some tweaking so it could see my music collection, etc and discovered the option of type was essential to the whole thing working. I had by pure chance selected floppy disc on the correct drive letter. I also tried removing drives to see exactly which drive it was expecting, and discovered it was all about X: it seemed. Without waiting I wrote up the whole thing on the community maintained forum.

Mount the Pacemaker as usual by plugging it into a linux machine (I’m using Ubuntu 10/10 64bit edition)

I set the pacemaker to be writable using,

"sudo chown yourusername /media/yourpacemaker"

"sudo chmod u=rw /media/yourpacemaker"

*warning if you don’t understand the command don’t type it in… and I’m not responsible for anything which happens.

I’m assuming you already have Wine 1.3 and the Pacemaker Editor installed…

In the Wine preferences, setup a new drive letter X: and set it to /media/Pacemaker

Then set the type under the advanced options to floppy drive.

Now start the pacemaker editor with the pacemaker connected to the machine and it should come up and you can drag files on and off it.

Now in hindsight it might just be the floppy drive option not the drive letter and I’m unsure if you need to make the pacemaker writable using the commands above. But to be honest, I don’t see them harming anything and I’m sure someone else will narrow the instructions down soon enough.

The only question left is if Linux pacemaker users will see this or not? I certainly hope so…

New Pacemaker firmware 16219

Pacemaker

Forgot to blog this but it seems like Tonium has pretty much disappeared from the scene but some how they uploaded a secret firmware upgrade package… If you have a Pacemaker and would like to try out the new firmware, here’s the details of how to do it. Bear in mind, this firmware is not official and was found on the pacemaker download site by chance. So its very beta, you have been warned

  1. Point you browser to this address: http://www.pacemaker.net/Default.aspx?documentID=158&
  2. once there you’ll be presented with a XML file… now Copy The sessionID… Then point you browser to this address : www.pacemaker.net/Default.aspx?documentID=159&FirmwareVersion=16219&SessionID=(SESSIONID)&DSN=00AA0xx101XXX
  3. Note Look at the address where is says (PASTE SESSIONID) cut that part and replace it with the ID you got from browsing the other page… once done you’ll can download the firmware file..
  4. Once downloaded, rename it to .ZIP… extract it…. the put the extracted file on you pacemaker in the .pacemaker directory (if you can’t find the .pacemaker directory make sure you can browse hidden files on your OS)… once done unplug the pacemaker and the update will be installedWarning: As there’s no official release, theres no manual as well…

You can also download the firmware here, if you can’t be bother doing the session ID thing.

I’ve installed it on my own and not noticed any side effects except the very small one of losing all my previous setup. After 5mins it was all back to as i remembered it.

New changes seem to be.

  • BeatLock – The beat lock has been much improved according to some people. I always use my ear so it little difference to me.
  • Snapping loops – I think the loops now snap to the beat, making it much easier to loop
  • Beat jumping – You can now skip jump beats if your timing isn’t quite right, this could be useful.

I would have liked to have seen more, but the community is getting organised so we may see some serious hacking very soon. I do wonder if they will respect the GPL by giving us all the source code.

Hacking the Pacemaker (progress)

Pacemaker Manager

At last a break through, someone (musicinstinct2) has cracked the way the pacemaker adds and removes music to the SQLlite database.

My initial experiments involved using the sqlite database browser to open up music.db and enter track information. Then manually copy the tracks over to the device, making up random hash values (as I couldn’t work out how Tonium were creating these hashes). It works! The device doesn’t rely on any particular naming convention, whatever is in the filename field in the database (music.db) is used by the device to load the track.

Fantastic…! Now this is cracked and Musicinstinct2 is working on a open source client to manage tracks. The next stage is to crack and understand the XML file which is attached to every single track uploaded on the device. The bulk of the data in stuck in a XML element called realBeatLocations.

I expect it won’t take long before we have the whole thing pretty much cracked. What would make things move along quicker is if Tonium would publish the source as it was created under the GPL.