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Orba hacking knowledge base

This thread is intended to gather the feedback of Orba tinkerers.

27 people like this idea I probably said, the reason I started thinking about ESP32 is because:


...contains a folder called "artiphon_esp32_programmer", but the other stuff I've been digging up talks about STM32 which seems to be a different board, so...dunno.

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...grr, I hate mini Allen keys. They're so fiddly and flaky. What's wrong with screws...? :-(

I have a box set but none worked; of the closest two, one was just too large, and the other just too small to turn the screws, though not to strip them.

I visited the local hardware store at lunchtime and tried every one they had (and they had a lot). One of them turned a couple of screws and I managed to extract them, but the others were too damaged. I thought the second Orba might be OK, but I've realised it's fractionally too small and won't turn them reliably, so I've given up in case I damage those beyond repair too. Hopefully it isn't too late.

The key I picked up was in a tray labelled 1.275. I'm not sure how to identify and obtain the exact key I need to open the Orba.

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Wow stick t6...

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And there I stoppen. I don't have a spare Orba

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Before I read that...

...I tried drilling out the other two screws, which didn't really work; it only loosened it. So at that point I tore it apart. It's been sacrificed on the altar of science. 

Perhaps one day I'll rebuild it and it will beep anew. In the meantime...

Base grille


Unscrew that, and you see the speaker


Below that, the battery


Below that, the back of the main PCB. "Reply hazy, try again".



Flip the PCB to reveal the top side...


The main silver chip is labelled: "Expressif ESP32-SOLO-1"


The smaller black chip is labelled: "STM32F730". So it has both; that's the answer to that question. I think the STM might have some kind of bootloader function (he said, not knowing what he's talking about. Pass the hammer...).

Below the main PCB lies the back of the sensor board. There's a connector it clips into.



The top of the sensor board looks like this:


...and...that's it. The rest of it is for the ants.


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Thanks for this, @BJG145 . I've been scurrying around downloading and reading the relevant Espressif datasheets. So ESP32-SOLO-1 is a single core version of the very powerful Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-equipped ESP32 module. I assume there's no external memory on this board, so the ESP32 module's internal memory is used. This comprises, according to the ESP32-SOLO-1 datasheet: • 448 KB of ROM for booting and core functions. • 520 KB of on-chip SRAM for data and instructions. • 8 KB of SRAM in RTC, which is called RTC FAST Memory and can be used for data storage; it is accessed by the main CPU during RTC Boot from the Deep-sleep mode. • 8 KB of SRAM in RTC, which is called RTC SLOW Memory and can be accessed by the co-processor during the Deep-sleep mode. • 1 Kbit of eFuse: 256 bits are used for the system (MAC address and chip configuration) and the remaining 768 bits are reserved for customer applications, including flash-encryption and chip-ID. I think people who were hoping to use sampled sounds in the Orba 1 can now see why this was not possible.

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Ouch! Sorry for the formatting mess.

Hi folks, I'm afraid I don't have much to contribute to the hacking  part of this thread, but I am reading in idol curiosity.

I am hoping that what you have been able to discover will help me in using my orba2 when I get it.

I happen to be blind. My interaction with computers and phones is with screen readers. But Artiphon has not yet, and makes no promises, to implement any accessibility in to their apps though they do use JUCE which has embraced accessibility in it's more recent versions.

Anyway, as we know, the Orba is cool, but the software opens up the possibilities to change keys and sounds and other stuff.

So, I'm wondering how you hackers may be able to help make Orba more accessible. Any chance that accessibility may be considered in the software you are putting together?

Generally things are accessible if the conventional navigation and control  features of the OS are observed. Things get less accessible when custom UI features are used.

So, any thoughts for this blind musician hoping to exploit the Orba in my music making journey? :)


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COnnecting to the main card, I can still boot it in DFU mode and flash the firmware, but it won't boot now; just flashes the LEDs. Not very surprising. Possibly it wants battery/speaker connections to boot, or maybe I damaged it. I'll carry on tinkering with it a bit. 

I'm interested in the layout of the sensor board, which seems to be capacitive-touch based; the folder:


...contains a file called: "orba_capsense_bootloader". I'm familiar with simple touch-on/off capacitive touch, but I'm curious about how the Orba is able to detect finger movements aropund the pad.

Hi Rusty - the Orba is controlled entirely by an on/off button beside a rocker buttons on the pad, by touching eight sensitive triangular areas around its circular top together with a central button, and by various "gestures" which involve eg shaking or turning the device.

I think the hardware is actually quite cool; I still like it, and I think it would be quite possible for a blind person to play and enjoy using the hardware. I can't really talk about how accessible the software is, which allows you to change sounds, etc., as I don't know what's involved in that.

As far as playing the hardware goes, you may find you can orientate your fingers relative to the controls on the side, or perhaps put physical markers around the edge if that helped.

It makes an excellent wireless MIDI controller for use with software  like Ableton Live, so if you have an accessible DAW music program on your computer that can  work with MIDI controllers that could be another option. 

AKM4386ET (adjacent to the STM32 chip on the main board) is an audio DAC. It expects an I2S input and produces a voltage to drive a speaker (usually via an amplifier.)

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Winbond 25x40CL (not far from the AKM DAC) is a 4Mb (ie 512KB) serial flash memory.

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0Hi @BJG145 and thanks! Yes, I played with the Orba a bit last week at NAMM. It is immediately engaging and I had a hard time putting it down and walking away from the booth.

I do use a DAW (Reaper) and if it weren't for the possibility of using it as a midi controller, I probably wouldn't consider buying an Orba because it really bothers me that the software provided by Artiphon is not accessible and so I wouldn't be able to change keys or presets.

In following this thread, it seems that @Subskybox has been developing some sort of app, but I haven't fully fleshed out what it is or what it does. But I'm hoping that work may be more useful to me than the current Orba app is. I want to be able to change keys and presets so I can have fun with the orba apart from my DAW.

In any case, I don't have an Orba yet. The new ones are set to ship in July.

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CY8C4025AZI-S413 (on the rear of the sensor board) is another ARM processor. This one is a Core-M0 design from Cypress Semiconductor. I think of its function here as the keyboard processor.

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Hey @BJG145 I feel bad cluttering up this thread.

I'm going to start another thread. :)


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