2011-2012 Holiday Shop Closing

Thanks to all of our new friends and customers for making 2011 a really big year for us at Disaster Area Amps.  We couldn’t have done it without you!

Disaster Area Amps will be closed from Monday 26 December until Tuesday 3 January.  The Store will remain open, but email support will be limited.  If you ordered before 15 December, we’ll do our best to ship your pedal before the end of the year.  If you ordered after the 15th or if you have custom firmware or other special options, your order will probably ship the first week in January.  Orders placed during our shutdown will likely ship the 2nd week in January.

In 2012, we’ll be offering a few new products including the DMC-3XL.  Stay tuned.


DMC Series Power Over MIDI

Some MIDI devices can get “phantom power” from the MIDI out of the previous device in line.  One pin of the MIDI out is at 5VDC, current-limited with a 220 ohm resistor, and the other active pin is connected to ground by the microcontroller or microprocessor in the device.  Although it’s not technically part of the specification, it is possible to steal some current from that 5V pin.  In order to do that, we need to make ground available to the device that’s stealing power.

On the DMC-3’s, the MIDI jack has pin 1 grounded by design.  On pedals with a PCB-mounted jack (DMC-2, -4, -6,) the ground may or may not be connected to pin 1.  The first thing to do is plug your other device into the DMC MIDI out and see if it works.  If not, here’s how to fix it: Continue reading

DMC Series Wiring Diagrams Added

A lot of folks have bought DMC PCBs lately, and the existing wiring diagram is a little too general to be helpful.  I’ve added a new drawing that shows the DMC-2, DMC-3, and DMC-4 wiring, plus the internal box layout for the DMC-3.  There is only one way to get all the parts for a DMC-3 in a 1590B sized box, believe me!

Head over to the Files page and check it out.

November Updates

Still working hard to clear the backlog, trying to get delivery time to < 1 week.  This week’s batch has some black sparkle pedals but is otherwise standard.

Also trying hard to complete a couple of important custom jobs so that we can get around to the next new product.  More details coming soon.

October Updates

There’s a new version of the DMC-6 non-RGB firmware in the works.  It still does either 6-button looper control or 6 presets, selectable at power-up.  The new twist is that it also supports a “combo” mode that allows both 5-button looper control (no pre/post) and 5 presets.  Hold button 6 at power-up to enable combo mode, and the DMC-6 will remember it from then on.  Press button 6 (upper right) to switch between looper and preset modes.

Hit up the Files page for the download.

Also, new pics in the Gallery this week including a Black Sparkle DMC-6 and a Citrus Orange DMC-3.  Big batch is shipping tomorrow and will clear out a lot of the backlog.  We really appreciate your patience 🙂

DMC-2 Strymon Firmware Released!

Lots of updates this weekend – this one is the DMC-2 firmware.  The DMC-3 was originally designed to take the various options from the DMC-2 and make them all switchable on the fly.  That’s great for some, but lots of folks want something simpler.

The DMC-2 has three modes, selectable at power-up.

Press L for Bank Mode

Press R for Program Mode

Press L + R for Looper Mode

Looper Mode runs like the DMC-3 with Instant Stop enabled.

Here’s a sweet DMC-2 in Antique Brass:

It’s just a little something different.  Firmware release is on the Files page.

Disaster Uploader Info

We’ve had some inquiries about uploading firmware for the DMC pedals, for future upgrades in the field.  Until now, we had a pretty solid method of uploading firmware on a Windows PC using a small application that’s available on our Files page.  Mac users have been out in the cold, though.  This really stinks because I’m a Mac user!  The issue was that the avrdude program that we can easily script on a Windows machine using Visual Basic or etc. installs in a different way on a Mac.  It’s not impossible to do, though…

With Disaster Uploader X, Mac users can now upload their firmware without having to install Arduino and compile from scratch.  Instructions and the download are on the Files page.

UPDATE:  Due to some strangeness with the previous version of Disaster Uploader X, please re-download and use v1.03.  This moves the programming process to its own Terminal window so that the user can see any error messages as they happen.  Sorry about the inconvenience.






September Gallery Update

Two new pics in the Gallery today.  These are from the current batch that’s shipping out this week.  Black Sparkle is our most popular custom color at this time, but I think the Granny Smith Sparkle is amazing.

If anybody out there has pics of their pedalboards with DMC controllers, I would love to post them in the Gallery.  Contact me and I’ll make it happen.

Fancy, Fancy!

Working on a new batch including some custom colors.  We’ve recently switched vendors on our powder coating, now we’re using the excellent Mammoth Electronics.  The quality is incredible and our customers have been very pleased with the results.  The results are on the Gallery page, and the pedals look super sweet.  Black Sparkle might be my new favorite finish…


This batch will be shipped this week,  and the average backlog is running 10-15 business days.  It’s good to be busy, and we appreciate your patience.  For those interested in custom colors, we order the boxes from our supplier when you order so that we have them in stock when your build slot comes up.  Right now, custom colors don’t add any time to your order so pick a color you love and we’ll do it up for you!

We’ve also added some links and buttons to connect to our new Facebook page.  We’re VERY new at the whole social media thing, but we’re trying.


New DMC-3 Firmware Release

Version 1.20 is available on the Files Page.  This version allows the user to change a couple of parameters to customize the pedal to their tastes.

Blue Mode is now changed to allow either Bank Scrolling or Program Scrolling.  With Bank Scrolling, a press of the buttons increments or decrements the Timeline Bank display, then you press A or B on the Timeline itself to engage a preset.  With Program Scrolling, a press of the buttons goes directly from one program to the next, with the preset already activated.

In Green Mode, we now allow either Delayed Stop or Instant Stop on the right button.  With Delayed Stop, a press of the right button will play the loop, and a press+hold will stop.  In Instant Stop, pressing the right button plays the loop if you’re not currently stopped, and pressing it a second time stops the loop.  This is more similar to the Line6 looper implementation, and it means you lose the ability to repeatedly trigger a loop.  Instant Stop does let you stop the loop without retriggering it first, which a few folks requested.

Engaging the new modes:

  • Bank Mode + Delayed Stop:  Press Left SW at power up
  • Program Mode + Delayed Stop:  Press Right SW at power up
  • Bank Mode + Instant Stop:  Press Left and Center SW at power up
  • Program Mode + Instant Stop: Press Right and Center SW at power up
The DMC remembers the mode you were last in and doesn’t need to be reconfigured at every start.
To update your firmware, please review the instructions on the Files Page.  PC users can use the DisasterUploader, which also works in VMWare on a Mac or Linux.  Mac or Linux users may also use the Arduino IDE to update their pedals – full details on this will be coming soon.
Finally, thanks to crxshdxmmy we’ve got a nice video explaining the whole mess:


MIDI Bass Pedals with the DMC

I’ve always been fascinated by bass pedals.  No idea why, but the thought of being able to play a low pedal tone while I play over the top just intrigues me.  Since the DMC boards can read a whole bunch of switches and then send out MIDI, it seemed like a natural fit.  Connect the MIDI port to a synth or a laptop and you’ve got a set of faux-Taurus pedals for a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

I found a junked organ and removed the bass pedals.  Each pedal has its own switch and its own wire, and there’s a common wire.  On the original organ, closing a switch to the common triggers a bass tone.  The original design of the organ pedals gives “low note priority,” so the common contact is run in series to each switch.  When a lower pedal is pressed, the common to the upper switches is opened, and only the lowest pressed pedal makes contact.  Wiring all the switch common contacts together makes the pedals polyphonic when connected to the DMC.

The implementation is simple:  Wire one switch contact to each terminal of the DMC, and the common wire goes to ground.  That’s it.

The firmware is super-simple.  Watch a switch, and if the switch is pressed, send the MIDI note on for that note.  If the switch is released, send MIDI note off for that same note.  Repeat for the other twelve switches.

Future mods include transpose and octave shift buttons – press the transpose button, then step on the key you’d like to serve as the root note.  Octave switching works the same way, but I think I might use two buttons to shift up and down quickly.  I’ll probably also put a 1/4″ jack for an expression pedal to control the MIDI volume.


New Strymon Firmware Posted

Lots of stuff happening really quickly over here.  We’ve got new builds of firmware for the DMC-4 and -6.

The DMC-6 firmware is just full-time looper control.  The bottom / front row of the DMC mimics the Timeline switches:  Record / Play / Stop.  The top row adds access to the “hidden” looping functions:  Half / Reverse / Pre+Post.

The DMC-4 firmware is a little more involved.  The DMC-4 uses the upper-left switch to cycle between three modes, which are indicated by one color of an RGB LED.

Blue mode gives bank up + bank down + program 00 (Bank 1A.)  The bank switches auto-scroll if the buttons are held.

Green mode adds looper record + looper play (hold for stop.)

Red mode offers looper half speed and reverse.

Both firmwares are posted on the Files page.

Strymon Timeline Update!

Thanks to one of our customers, we’ve been able to do some serious testing with the Strymon Timeline.  The TL has some quirks with regards to MIDI, but it’s working great now.

The following video demonstrates bank switching, looper transport control (rec / dub / play / stop,) and looper mode control (half, reverse.)

It’s a little jerky due to the hand-held cam, but it’s a pretty good illustration regardless.

The pedal is a DMC-4 squeezed into a DMC-2 box the first DMC-3.   It’s similar to the DMC-4, but one of the switches is omitted, and the firmware is slightly altered to make it work.  For those interested, the controls function as follows:

Blue Mode:

Left switch:  Bank down (hold for bank scroll down)

Right switch:  Bank up (hold for bank scroll up)

Green Mode:

Left switch:  Record (overdub if playing or recording)

Right switch: Play (hold for Stop)

Red Mode:

Left switch:  Half Speed

Right switch:  Reverse

On the DMC-4, the controls are the same but with some extra stuff for the 3rd button.  The 3rd switch enables a “favorite” preset in blue mode, looper stop in green mode, and looper pre/post in red mode.  The “Favorite” preset just changes to program 00, Bank 00A.

I’m hoping to post some more video of the Timeline in action later this week.

DMC v4 Board Details

I’m probably dooming myself at this point, but I’ve completed a layout for the v4 PCB.  The v4 has some new features to make the controller more universal, and some things to make it easier to incorporate in a project.


  • Onboard DC Power jack (center negative)
  • 8-pin MIDI Out jack, with AxeFX phantom power capability
  • LED driver chip, allows 8 LEDs in addition to standard I/O
  • 8 analog inputs, separate from the LED circuit
  • 8 digital pins, each configurable as either input or output. Continue reading

And now for something completely unrelated…

I bought an iPad a few weeks ago, and I’ve been using GarageBand on it to demo song ideas when I’m not around my normal home studio setup.  It’s a neat program but I was getting a little tired of using the “Smart Guitar” and “Smart Bass.”  I wanted to record some actual audio to the thing and to that end I bought an audio interface for the iPad. Continue reading