Author Archives: guitarphil

Blue Nebula Review

US-based guitarist Mark Sorenson (aka ‘Synchro’) has posted a very comprehensive review of the Blue Nebula on the gretsch-talk.com forum which, if you are possibly considering a purchase, would be well-worth your while to read.

Gretsch Talk Review

The Blue Nebula can be ordered direct from Stanley FX. Price is £249.99 plus £15 worldwide shipping.

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New MemBuilder Effect Files

By popular request I’ve just uploaded two new effect files for use with my MemBuilder app.

  • Reverb / Tremolo is the standard effect pre-installed in MEM 2 slot 6
  • E-MATIC 1 F Spec is the ‘special’ version of the Meazzi Echomatic 1F based on the details supplied by Alan Jackson of the settings implemented at Abbey Road by Dick Denney and of a “FAST” speed setting. (See Appendices 1 & 3 in the Blue Nebula User Manual for more information). This is factory installed in Slot 5 of MEM 2.

These two effects complete the full set of eight MEM 2 effects as supplied with the Blue Nebula by StanleyFX and this will enable you to use MemBuilder to assemble your own MEM 2 set of effects, retaining any of the original ones you wish to keep and replacing others you don’t want with an alternative effect from the list here.

 

Translating the MemBuilder User Manual

First off, thanks to Tonnie for his Dutch translation of the MemBuilder User Manual. Tonnie provided this translation quite a while back but due to my extended holiday over Christmas and the New Year I’m only getting around to uploading it now. As usual the links to all software and manuals are on the LATEST UPDATES HERE link in the navigation bar at the top of each page.

Earlier this week I got an email from Microsoft explaining a new document translation feature in Word for Office 365. With this I can translate a Word document into almost any language with a couple of clicks of the mouse!

After a wee bit of editing to ‘untranslate’ things like the names of buttons and changing la Nebulosa azul back to Blue Nebula for example, it seems to produce a fairly readable translation.

So, I’ve now ‘autotranslated’ the MemBuilder manual into French and Spanish and added these to the updates page.

I’d be interested to read any comments of my French and Spanish readers if this has turned out good enough to be useful. It’s certainly much less labour-intensive than translating a whole manual by hand!

Version 4 Firmware Released

The long-awaited release of the new Blue Nebula Firmware Version 4 has arrived at last!

DSC06268 editNot only has the firmware been updated with new features and improved Shadows pre-sets but many of the emulations have been extensively re-written and improved and several new ones have been added.

NB: Before attempting to update anything on your Blue Nebula you should make a back up of your User patches using the Librarian as initialising your pedal or uploading new patches will overwrite anything you may have edited yourself.

To update your Blue Nebula to Version 4 proceed as follows:

(All required files are on the ‘Latest Updates Here’ page as usual – see menu bar above – so make sure you have downloaded them all and you know where they are saved).

  1. First download and install the latest version of the Librarian for your system (Windows 32 bit, Windows 64 bit and Mac OSX versions are provided).
  2. Power up your Blue Nebula with the 12V supply and then connect your Blue Nebula to your computer via the USB cable and make contact with the Librarian by selecting the correct Serial port from the dropdown list.
  3. Get All patches from your Blue Nebula and save them to your computer.
  4. Click the Librarian’s Firmware Update button, browse to where you downloaded the firmware file and click Open. Wait until the firmware upload has finished and the BN has reset itself.
  5. Click the Re-scan button and reselect the correct Serial Port to re-establish contact.
  6. Ensure the MEM 2 radio button is selected then click the Upload DSP button and browse to where you saved the Mem2 hex file and click Open. Double-check that the Blue Nebula screen says ‘DSP Code uploading to Mem 2’. Wait until the new DSP code has finished uploading. Remember you must have the Blue Nebula powered up from 12V for DSP upload to work.
  7. Click the MEM 1 radio button on the Librarian window and then click once again the Upload DSP button. This time choose the Mem1 hex file and check that the BN screen says ‘DSP Code uploading to Mem 1’.
  8. Remove the USB cable and switch off the 12V power for 15 seconds then power up the Blue Nebula again and it should show the V4.00 startup message shown at the start of this post.

New Firmware Features

  1. Improved button handling avoids inadvertently skipping over a menu item.
  2. New ‘OK to Initialize’ option before initializing the user patches back to their factory settings to avoid accidentally wiping your own patches.
  3. New ‘Tweak’ mode lets you quickly adjust the Wet/Dry mix on-the-fly in a live situation without having to edit the patch.
  4. When naming a user patch the up and down buttons now auto-repeat to help speed up scrolling through the characters.
  5. All the Shadows pre-sets have been improved following user suggestions and extensive testing.

Extended User Patches

Includes almost 40 new patches for extra Shadows tunes, including Dance On, The Rumble, Gonzales, Perfidia etc, plus several Binson Echorec patches and even a couple for David Gilmour fans. See the Excel Song Sheet for a list of all the patches.

  1. Song Sheet (Excel)
  2. Patch File – use the Librarian to upload this to your Blue Nebula

New and Improved Echo Models

  1. All the echo machine emulations have been re-written with the exception of the Roland RE301 and “Factory” Patches have been re-styled to take on board Users’ experiences,
  2. The echo halo and repeats handling and filtering is improved to give a much more analogue sound that “sings” more than the originals,
  3. Signal to Noise Ratio is improved.
  4. A new and improved Tape Saturation Routine has been incorporated that attempts to emulate the way in which magnetic media saturates with different amplitude and frequency signals to provide compression/limiting and extra harmonics,
  5. New emulations have been added such as Meazzi PA306 (5-head modified spacing version), two Copicat 3-head emulations, i.e. vintage valve and IC300 solid-state. (See Table 3 in the User Manual). Note that the ‘Echomatic II Bank’ model has been removed and the E1-F Special is now in the second memory bank.
  6. Emulations have been adjusted to use recent information we have received, e.g. Vox Long Tom now has a setting, which is similar to the Bjorn Andersson YouTube video of Wonderful Land, The E1-F special has been re-written to follow details supplied by Alan Jackson of the settings implemented at Abbey Road by Dick Denney and of a “FAST” speed setting. (See Appendices 1 & 3 in the User Manual for more information).

Acknowledgements

The Blue Nebula Development Team has worked long and hard to bring these improvements to fruition and wish to thank the efforts of Peter Korving and Roger Cook for their expertise and time spent testing these improvements.  Special thanks to Piet Verbruggen for always encouraging us to improve the Blue Nebula and also for his excellent measurement expertise to prove that the new Tape Saturation Emulator was working as expected.

Broken Links

Due to a change made by DropBox, a number of the links on this site to user manuals and software have been broken. I am fixing these as quickly as possible so I would ask you to be patient while I do this.

Update: I’ve been through all the links and hopefully all have been fixed 🙂

If you find any other broken links please do post a comment below to let me know.

Minor Update to BN Librarian

I’ve noticed that a few people, myself included ;-), sometimes forget that, when uploading  new DSP code, the Blue Nebula must be powered from the 12V DC supply input. If you only have the USB cable attached it will appear to work but in fact the new code will not have been uploaded – only the effect names will have changed.

(Technical note: this is because the USB cable only powers the microcontroller and the LCD in the Blue Nebula but the memory chips require 12V from the DC input jack).

To try to avoid this confusion, I’ve added a reminder message that will pop up when you click the Upload DSP button:

2017-08-22

Once you click OK the usual file selector dialog box will open and you can proceed as normal.

This Version of the BN Librarian is 4.04 and, as always, you can download it from the ‘Latest Updates Here’ link at the top of this page.

Updates/Releases for Mac OS X

I finally got my hands on a nice pre-owned Apple Mac Mini at a reasonable price from that well-known online auction site 😉 so I’ve been able to update the Mac OS X version of the Blue Nebula Librarian app to the latest version (4.03) and the new MemBuilder app is now available for Mac OS X too.DSC06063 copy

My Mac Mini is running macOS Sierra 10.12.6 but these apps should work with any Mac OS X from 10.9 onwards.

Important: If you are new to these Blue Nebula apps and you haven’t already done so, you will need to install the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) from this page on the Oracle website (choose the .dmg Mac OS X file).

To allow the Librarian and the Blue Nebula to communicate with each other you will also need to install the driver for the CH340 USB-Serial chip in the Blue Nebula, if you haven’t already done so before. (This driver is not required for MemBuilder).

Since the last release of Librarian for Mac OS X I have found a ‘signed’ version of the driver which simplifies the installation. You can find the driver here and once it’s been downloaded to your Mac double click it to unzip it, then double-click CH34x_Install_V1.4.pkg and follow the instructions. Restart your computer after installing. When you connect the Blue Nebula to your Mac and run the Librarian, click the Serial Port drop down and you should see /dev/cu/wchusbserial440 in the list (the number may differ). This is your Blue Nebula’s serial port.

If you are a Mac OS X user please leave a comment below to let me know that you are using these apps.