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Orba hacking knowledge base

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

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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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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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These table might help:

Voice Message           Status Byte      Data Byte1          Data Byte2
-------------           -----------   -----------------   -----------------
Note off                      8x      Key number          Note Off velocity
Note on                       9x      Key number          Note on velocity
Polyphonic Key Pressure       Ax      Key number          Amount of pressure
Control Change                Bx      Controller number   Controller value
Program Change                Cx      Program number      None
Channel Pressure              Dx      Pressure value      None            
Pitch Bend                    Ex      MSB                 LSB

The first nibble of each byte is the type. So NoteOn in hex is 9x and NoteOff is 8x. Note On will be a decimal value of 144-159 because channel is the second nibble. NoteOff will be 128-143. This is the midi standard. To be more precise.. here is that section of the code from the Editor:

switch (command) {
        case 153: //DrumOn
        case 152: //BassOn
        case 159: //ChordOn
        case 144: //LeadOn

        case 137: //DrumOff
        case 136: //BassOff
        case 143: //ChordOff
        case 128: //LeadOff


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

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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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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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Try playing the Orba on a flat surface.. it will emit less CC data and mostly Note data. Also this may help you to decode the values. If you can get me the serial data log and the corresponding eventData I might be able to figure it out. I've got a good understanding of MIDI messages and hex and binary data. 

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...grr, this process of trying to figure out what board is inside it and talking to it is annoying me now. I did start to attack it with a hacksaw but it was tuned on and started playing some notes in protest so I relented.

It appears as "USB Serial Device" in Device Manager but I can't get beyond that; can't talk to it with Putty or the Arduino IDE. Tried various drivers for ESP32 and FTDI. Don't really know what I'm doing. I tried putting it in DFU mode (hold down Volume+ when while power on) and connecting it to a Windows PC that had never seen an Orba before, and got an entry in Device Manager for "STM 32 Bootloader"; haven't found a suitabloe driver yet. Is that a different board...? I've messed around a little with Arduino and Teensy is all, don't know about this other stuff.

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Sequences are:

1) Lowest note

2) Second note

3) Third note

4) Two notes (loud)

5) Two notes (soft loud)

6) Four notes at double speed. (The others were on the beat.)

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@BJG145 said:

  • "So I guess maybe delorean.bin is loaded into memory from Flash on startup...? Maybe note data and other settings are stored there, then written on shutdown."
I had a funny experience recently where I was recording a song. I was pushing it harder than I usually do and the Orba App crashed. It rebooted itself and when it returned a song that I was working earlier was now in memory?! I totally lost my song but at least this seems to support your theory.

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On LiveCode, for what it's worth: it does seem to be possible to retrieve installers, binaries, etc from the old open source edition (meaning hopefully that you don't have to build the Livecode development system from source) from This information from the readme of openxtalk, which is intended as a placeholder for a possible open source continuation of the development.

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@GJ van Mulbregt

"I copyd the raw content of the files to my PC, with the original filenames. That made it possible to open them with Powershell and Chrome."

That is a great solution! In this way your PC would believe that "you" wrote the Powershell script and it would be trusted. I do think there is a setting somewhere to Trust scripts from the internet but I'm not sure how.

BTW, the new Editor doesn't require the use of any Daemon anymore :)

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I check out Roger's synth patch editor to see if could be adapted as a drum patch editor.

It was created via a visual programming system called "Live Code" which used to be open-source, but is now subscription-based.

It sounds like you can still access old unsupported versions on GitHub, but it looks like it has quite a learning curve, and given the new monthly subscription it would probably be best to start from scratch using a web interface like the Chord Fiddler.


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Great Work! 

On another note I'm looking at various ways to manipulate song data. I've found this great online sequencer that can interface with Orba and then export midi files. I think I could write a script that converts these midi files to song files :) The one problem is that it appears that Orba will only output sound from the voice mode that it is currently in. For example, if I plug in a midi keyboard and send notes to Orba, it plays those notes through the current voice mode (e.g. Drums) regardless of the channel I'm sending those notes on. I swear at one point that I could change the channel on my external keyboard and target the four voices by using midi channels [1,9,10,16]?!

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Just some more musings while I'm waiting to open it up. I still don't quite understand the ESP32 / STM32 thing, or exactly what this is based on, so I'll be interested to look at the chips.

Anyway, in:

C:\Program Files\Artiphon\Orba\usb_driver

...there's a file called "libusb_device.inf" which starts with the following info:

DeviceName = "STM32 BOOTLOADER"

VendorName = "STMicroelectronics"

SourceName = "STM32 BOOTLOADER Install Disk"

DeviceID = "VID_0483&PID_DF11"

DeviceGUID = "{B32A0570-39E3-4CE5-8DBE-08DA462C8B2E}"

I came across an interesting website here...

...which allows you to connect to DFU devices and upload/download firmware files etc from them.

Still don't know a lot about DFU mode; seems to be a general firmware update mode that you can enter on the Orba by holding down Vol+ while powering on. It will seem to become unresponsive, but it's still awake, To turn it off from this mode, you can hold down Vol- with the power key, and after that you can boot up normally. This is explained in Artiophon's notes about recovering an unresponsive Orba.,your%20Orba%20back%20to%20life.

DFU mode is described as "Update mode".

I found that I could connect the Orba, put it into DFU mode, then go to that website and enter "0483" as the Vendor ID. That comes from the entry above; "VID_0483&PID_DF11". VID = Vendor ID which is 0483 (I think). Haven't looked up what PID is.

So, if you enter that and click "Connect", I get a message saying: "devanlai wants to connect - STM32 Bootloader". I can select it and click OK, at which point I see this:


It's the list of devices I posted above, from dfu-util. I could get upload/download to work from that utility, but it works with this website. I'm wondering if any of these areas might contain something like song data that could theoretically be uploaded//changed/downloaded. ("uploaded" in this context means "read from device"). If this was possible it would take some experimentation; grabbing the file, recording something, grabbing the file again, messing with the changed data, restoring it to the device etc.

Just a thought. As always I take no responsibility for anything bad that might happen to yor Orba if you try this. :-)


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