This morning I thought I’d try using touchOSC on my iPad to control VCV Rack. No special musical goals in mind, but touchOSC is a very nice tactile performance surface, and the Trowasoft modules for VCV can receive OSC messages.
touchOSC is made by Hexler. I have what appears to be a current version of the software: It’s version 1.9.10, and the copyright notice says 2018. However, the setup pages bear no resemblance to the setup pages shown in the online manual at hexler.net, so figuring out how to set up touchOSC is a bit of a puzzler. Also, their site offers a download of touchOSC Editor for Windows, but it’s for 32-bit Windows, and of course my computer is 64-bit. Will that run? We’ll find out shortly.
The Hexler documentation suggests testing your OSC connection using Pd. That’s fine — I have Pd. I have, also, a vague memory that I got this working a couple of years ago. Hexler provides a file called basic.pd, with which to test your setup. However, basic.pd uses objects called dumpOSC and sendOSC, which Pd 0.47.1 can’t create. Hexler has, quite evidently, failed to update either the manual or the downloadable file.
So I do a search for “pure data osc” and find myself on the Floss manual page where it tells how to set up Pd for osc. This page has a graphic of a file that includes an object called “import mrpeach”. But Pd can’t do that, evidently because the mrpeach library is not installed. So I search for that library, and apparently it doesn’t exist. There seems to be no release version to download.
My vague memory is that mrpeach was part of Pd Extended 0.43. That version of Pd is now, for some reason, deprecated. In the absence of mrpeach, the udpreceive and unpackOSC objects shown on the Floss page can’t be created. So the Floss manual is outdated as well.
Isn’t this just special?
Let’s try installing the 32-bit touchOSC Editor. Oops:
What we see here is that the editor wants a Java Runtime Environment. I do actually have a JRE in this computer, but its Configuration box tells me it’s outdated. So I click on the update link and get sent out to java.com — where they detect that my browser is 64-bit, assume (on no valid grounds whatever) that I want to run Java in the browser, and offer to let me download the latest 64-bit JRE. Okay, we’ll give that a try.
Nope. touchOSC Editor still complains. At a guess, it needs a 32-bit JRE. Can I find such a thing at java.com? No, I cannot. The links with which to find the 32-bit download appear to be circular: They take me straight back to the 64-bit download, most likely because I’m running a 64-bit browser.
Well, maybe I don’t need the touchOSC editor. I was hoping to use it to test the system because Pd didn’t work.
Enabling OSC reception in the Trowasoft VoltSeq produces no apparent results. Wiggling a slider in touchOSC doesn’t change anything. That’s not even faintly surprising, of course. OSC requires a specific address for each parameter.
Time to consult the Trowasoft documentation. No, no help there. They do provide a touchOSC template that addresses VoltSeq parameters, but I’ll bet that template requires that I be running touchOSC Editor, in order to load the template across into the iPad.
I wouldn’t actually mind getting this thing up and running, if only for the momentary thrill of stroking a few sliders on the iPad and having VCV Rack respond. I think I’ll email Hexler and see what they have to say. It’s their product, after all.
Update: Someone in the Facebook group found the 64-bit editor. I downloaded it, ran it, downloaded the touchOSC template provided by Trowasoft, and sent that template over to the iPad. Progress — yay! After I got the bit about the IP addresses straightened out, Trowasoft trigSeq started responding to messages from touchOSC.
Sort of. TrigSeq has 16 little pads in a 4×4 matrix, which control when triggers will be transmitted. Touching a corresponding square in touchOSC would indeed turn the little pad on — but touching the square again wouldn’t turn it off! This isn’t user error, as far as I can see. It’s a bug in the template.
Can I edit the template in the touchOSC Editor software? No, I cannot. the Edit… item in the pop-up menu is grayed out. Also, the Trowasoft web page alleges that the template can address two of their other modules as well (VoltSeq and TrigSeq 64). There’s supposed to be “a tab” for choosing them. But no, there’s no tab. The tempo adjustment and pattern choose sliders in the touchOSC template work — but they don’t display the numerical values you’re about to send, so there’s no reliable way to select, say, pattern 3.
To paraphrase Bob Dylan, “I’m goin’ back to MIDI. I do believe I’ve had enough.”