The FH-1 by Expert Sleepers is a USB-MIDI host in an 8hp Eurorack module. It can be used to convert the BLOCKS' MIDI data to several channels of control voltage and to control a modular synth with each of the dimensions of touch.
Depending on your BLOCKS setup and the ROLI Dashboard apps you choose, you may use BLOCKS in many different ways to control various aspects of your modular. This guide will show you how to use a Lightpad Block to play melodies expressively with your modular synth. When using the Note Grid app, each note from the Lightpad carries several different pieces of information, each expressing one of the dimensions of touch. In this guide we'll use outputs 1–5 from the FH-1 to create the CV signals for a monophonic path with full response to the Lightpad or Seaboard Block's Strike, Press, Glide, and Slide dimensions of touch.
After setting up the FH-1, the outputs will carry the following signals:
- 1: Pitch
- 2: Gate/Trigger
- 3: Velocity (Strike)
- 4: Aftertouch (Press)
- 5: Slide
The same script can be used to use a Lightpad Block as an XYZ Pad controller. In this case the FH-1's outputs will be:
- 6: X
- 7: Y
- 8: Z
Step 1 – Prepare the FH-1
- Download and uncompress the attached zip file containing the hex file.
- Switch off the FH-1.
- Copy the hex file onto a USB stick.
- Plug the USB stick into the FH-1.
- Switch on the FH-1.
- Wait until all the LEDs start flashing red and blue.
- Hold down the encoder for 1 second and then wait until all the LEDs stop flashing.
Step 2 – Prepare the Lightpad Block
- Connect the Lightpad to your computer by USB or Bluetooth and launch ROLI Dashboard.
- Load the "Note Grid" app.
- Select Use MPE: Off.
- Select MIDI Channel Start: 9.
- Select MIDI Channel End: 9.
- Disconnect the Lightpad from your computer and connect it by USB to the FH-1. The ROLI Dashboard settings will be saved on the Block.
Step 3 – Set the FH-1's pitch bend range
- Click the encoder to enter menu mode.
- Rotate the encoder to move the blue LED to the third one down (C position), and click the encoder again.
- Click on position 1 on the red LED to change the pitch bend depth.
- Move the encoder so that only the blue LEDs in positions 5 and 6 are on. This sets the pitch bend range to 48 semitones, matching the default range of the BLOCKS Dashboard Melodic Block mode program.
- Click the encoder to save the pitch bend range and exit menu mode.
Step 4 – Hook up the FH-1's CV outputs to your synth and play!
Using a Lightpad Block as an XYZ Pad Controller with the FH-1
The script above also allows you to use a Lightpad Block as an XYZ Pad controller. To use the Lightpad Block as an XYZ Pad, follow the steps above but replace Step 2 with the following:
- Connect the Lightpad to your computer by USB or Bluetooth and open ROLI Dashboard
- Select "XYZ Pad "
- Select MIDI Channel: 9.
- Ensure that X axis CC is 113, Y axis CC is 114, and Z axis CC is 115.
- Disconnect the Lightpad from your computer and connect it by USB to the FH-1. The ROLI Dashboard settings will be saved on the Seaboard.
You may also use two Lightpads simultaneously, one in Note Grid and one in XYZ Pad mode, for example.
Modifying the script
If you'd like to modify the script for your own purposes, you may download the attached script. See the Expert Sleepers page on FH-1 scripts for details on writing and compiling scripts.
Using "Gated Aftertouch"
Version 1.7 of the FH-1 firmware introduced support for "Gated Aftertouch," allowing you to use the Press dimension of touch to directly control a VCA, for example. See here for details on modifying your script to enable this feature.
Using the FHX-1
If you'd like to use multiple voices, you may expand the FH-1 with one or more FHX-1s. For more information check out the FHX-1 user manual.