• Recap

    James Ots10/27/2018 at 21:43 0 comments

    The original Line 6 Floorboard was a pedal board which worked with the older Line 6 products, including the Flextone II which I have, and the older POD units. It has 8 foot switches, two pedals and a three digit LED display. It connects to the amp via a Cat 5 network cable, but it uses its own, largely analogue protocol for communication. The Floorboard is powered by the amp, which sends 5V DC over the cable.

    At some point they switched to a new controller called the FBV, which still uses a Cat 5 cable, but communicates digitally using, if I remember correctly, something like RS485 or 422. They also switched to using 8V. (At least, that's what I'm getting from my POD 2.0, but perhaps it's intended to be 9V?)

    When I bought my POD 2.0 I had expected it to work with the Floorboard, as I thought they switched to using the FBV connection for the next POD, but it turned out that older POD 2.0s have a 'pedal' connection (for Floorboards), while newer ones, like the one I ended up with, have an FBV connection.

    Fortunately, I was able to find a few places on the internet which had bits of information about how the connections work, with various degrees of accuracy. I also examined the inside of the Floorboard and the POD, which gave a few other clues about how things worked, and I was able to put together an Arduino circuit which eventually was able to do a pretty good job of converting the signals between the two protocols. I used a MAX489E for the RS485 connection, and an L7805 to drop the 8V power from the POD to 5V for the Floorboard and the Arduino, so that no external power is needed. I also added a 2x16 character LCD display which can show the current patch name.

    The circuit started out as an Arduino board, with the extra components on a breadboard. I then moved the AVR chip and crystal onto the breadboard as well, and when that worked I made the whole thing on stripboard. It currently sits inside a cardboard box, with a few slots cut above the voltage regulator to stop it overheating. I tested it for a couple of hours to see if it would get too hot and set the thing alight, but it actually stays at a fairly reasonable temperature. I probably wouldn't want to gig with it in this state though! At some point I'll probably get it put onto a PCB, and either find a suitable case or 3D print one.

    But before that, I have some more development to do, as I now have a Flextone III amp, which uses the FBV protocol, but which uses more commands (and probably expects more responses) which my software doesn't support yet. So I have to resurrect my debugging version of the software (or re-write it if I can't find the original now) and do some more tracing and trial and error, until I can get it to play happily with the Flextone III.