I'm working on a quick-start guide. For now, here's an FAQ.
Manta Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How do I route data to a program like Abelton Live (or some other MIDI compatible software)?
A: There are two ways. One way is to use Jan Faulkenstein's "MantaCocoa" application, which is posted on the downloads page. Download it, double click the icon, and select "MIDI" as your protocol. Now open your sound software and you should see "MantaOut" as a MIDI input option. You can edit the MIDI values that the Manta sends. This application is Mac OS X only, though.
The second way is to use one of my MIDI router patches for Max/MSP. Download the Max/MSP runtime program from the Cycling74 website. Then, download the Manta Max object from the downloads page of the Snyderphonics site. Also, download the "package of manta examples for Max" from the Snyderphonics site. Install the Manta Max object by following the instructions included in the zip file. Now, open one of the MIDI-router patches included in the Manta examples. The polyphonic patches do polyphony handling, sending different notes on different channels, so that you can use the continuous controllers more effectively with standard software synthesizers. The "midisimple" patches send all the data out, and let you decide what channel, MIDInote, and CC# you want to assign to each sensor. You can create new mappings of the sensor data with the "notemap maker" patch.
There is a MaxForLive object
for the Manta, designed by Damon Holzborn, so if you own MaxForLive, that
is the easiest way to use the Manta with Live.
Q: What is the resolution of the sensors?
A: Each of the hexagons and round function buttons sends values from zero to around 210. This can be squished down to 0-127 for MIDI purposes. The sliders are high-resolution, with values from 0-4096.
Q: I want rubber feet on my Manta. Why doesn't it come with rubber feet?
A: First edition Mantas don't have rubber feet, but you can buy some and put them on. 2nd edition Mantas come with inset rubber feet. If they fall off, send me an email and I will send replacement feet.
Q: Can I use two Mantas at once on the same computer?
A: Yes. If using the Manta Max object, just make two instances of the manta object, and give them arguments with the serial numbers of the two mantas. If using Jan's MantaCocoa application, open up another version of the application and select a different manta.
Q: Do the sensors sense pressure?
A: No, they sense surface area. I find that rolling my finger down over the sensor produces a very even increase in value. Watch this Youtube video for a demonstration.
Q: My manta freaks out when I hold down too many sensors. The lights flicker and dim, and then the manta stops responding to anything.
A: This happens if you use a low-quality USB cable. I've seen this
with those cheap digital camera USB cables from China. It means that
the current the manta needs (around 400mA) can't be supplied by the
cable. The cable I supply with the manta is a high-quality Molex
cable. The part number is 88732-8902 for the 2-meter version, and 88732-8602 for the 1-meter version.
The specs are: 5-pin USB cable, A to Mini-B.
Q: My manta has scratches and subtle stains on the metal surface. It
doesn't look like what I'm used to in a new product. Is this normal?
A: Yes, all mantas have scratches and stains from the manufacturing
and assembly process. They are all one-of-a-kind. You can use a
metal polish on the surface if you'd like to get a more polished look. I've recently started using a metal polish on the circuitboards before I ship them. I really like Cape Cod polish, from this website -- it works well and doesn't smell bad like Noxon or Brasso.
Q: The Manta looks amazing. How do I keep it clean? I'm really worried about spilling something on it.
A: I've spilled soda on my main manta twice. Both times, after
unplugging it from my computer, I cleaned it with Isopropyl alcohol
and a soft rag (like an old t-shirt). This works fine. Get the
highest percentage isopropyl alcohol you can find - it needs to be at
least 90% to not leave residue. You can also use the same alcohol to
clean the wood. This is a good practice anyway, if you find it's
gotten dirty from your fingers.
Q: Is that surface toxic? It looks like lead.
A: No, it's perfectly safe. It's copper, plated with tin. The manta
is ROHS compliant, and completely lead-free.
Q: I'm trying out the Max patches and I don't get any sound. I turned
on the DAC, what gives?
A: It's a good idea to double-click on the DAC object and check your
DSP settings. Make sure Max/MSP isn't confused about what your sound
interface is. This is the most likely culprit.
Q: Why don't you make a manta with a white-tailed deer laser engraved
into the back of it, so I can hang it on the wall of my hunting cabin,
and then take it down when I'm ready to play a gig?
A: What you want is one of the special-edition Northwoods Wildlife
Q: Can the LEDs be dimmed?
A: No. Not with the current hardware. I experimented in early
prototypes with LED dimming methods, and couldn't find a way to do it
without increasing the noise on the capacitive sensors beyond what was
acceptable to me.
Q: Why don't you have dual-color LEDs?
A: The first edition mantas were only single-color LEDs, but when I was thinking of improvements for the 2nd edition, I found a way to do dual-color LEDs efficiently. The current run of mantas has both red and amber LEDs. When you are not controlling the LEDs from the computer (local LED control mode), only the amber LEDs light. If you send data to the LEDs from the computer, you can light the red LEDs as well.
Q: I made something cool with the Manta. How can I show it off?
A: Post it to the forum! Or put it on Youtube or Vimeo or SoundCloud and tell people about it on some internet forum. Also, email me so I can check it out!