12 10, 2023

A Melody of Innovation and Nostalgia: Analog Audio Design’s TP-1000

2023-10-16T20:30:53+11:00Categories: Appliances|Tags: |

The gen4-uLCD-50DCT-CLB display integrated in the Analog Audio Design’s TP-1000

Once a cornerstone of musical delight, the tape player has long held a place in the hearts of music enthusiasts. Many still believe music on tape offers qualities superior to that in digital format; a warm, rich sound, a wide dynamic range and a more authentic representation of the original sound. For some, the tape player remains a soulful connection to the past.

It’s unexpected, then, that a new analogue tape player would be released against a backdrop of smartphones and wearable IoT. However, Analog Audio Design, a small company based in Pleumeur-Bodou in France, saw an opportunity and embedded modern innovation into a late 1900s relic.

Last year, Christophe Martinez, the founder of Analog Audio Design, released the TP-1000 ⸺ an open reel tape recorder. At first glance, it looks like a nostalgic nod to decades past, but the TP-1000 is a harmonious blend of classic charm and cutting-edge innovation.

Here’s how 4D Systems assisted Analog Audio Design with the development of their modern tape player by providing the perfect LCD display solution.

Beyond Vinyl: Reviving Vintage Sound

The recent re-emergence and popularity of vinyl records and audio cassettes prompted Christophe Martinez to consider a new tape recorder project.

“Since 2014, the return of vinyl hasn’t wavered, with sales still on the rise. Today there’s also talk of the return of the audio cassette. Both technologies are based on analogue sound.The market for magnetic tapes has been growing steadily for several years, but the tape recorders capable of playing this type of tape are ageing, difficult to maintain, demand keeps growing and second-hand prices are skyrocketing.”

Christophe Martinez, the founder of Analog Audio Design

Identifying a gap in the market, Christophe began development of a modern tape recorder in 2017. His goal was to provide music-lovers with an unrivalled sound experience, surpassing even vinyl records.

In 2022, he launched the TP-1000, offering customers a new, reliable machine capable of delivering an unparalleled analogue sound experience. The device is entirely analogue and designed for the reproduction of 1/4″ magnetic tapes.

“TP-1000 customers are passionate audiophiles looking for unrivalled sound, superior to that of vinyl. It’s a worldwide market.”

Christophe Martinez, the founder of Analog Audio Design

Harmonising the User Experience

One of the key challenges in TP-1000’s development was providing users with ergonomic access to advanced functions. Having the perfect display module was pivotal to the project’s success.

Christophe had worked with 4D Systems more than a decade prior and, based on this experience, he reached out for assistance.

The simple serial link between the microcontroller and the screen and the screen-integrated graphics processor resonated with Christophe’s vision for the tape player, and he chose the gen4-uLCD-50DCT-CLB display module with cover lens bezel.

The gen4-uLCD-50DCT-CLB is a powerful 5.0″ Intelligent LCD-TFT display powered by DIABLO16. It features an 800 x 480 resolution, delivering RGB 65K true-to-life colours.

Christophe says the touch screen streamlines the design by removing the need for buttons.

“The advantage of a display is that it eliminates the need to add physical buttons for the functions mentioned above, and in the future, it can also be used to add other functions simply by downloading new firmware.”

Christophe Martinez, the founder of Analog Audio Design

The display has been programmed to showcase time counters, speed and equalisation options, audio output levels, and maintenance pages.

A Classic Symphony with Modern Riffs

After four years of development, the TP-1000 successfully addressed the demand for a high-quality, modern tape recorder for audiophiles worldwide.

The tape player boasts impressive technical features, all conveniently accessible through the display interface (gen4-uLCD-50DCT-CLB), making it exceptionally user-friendly. For example, the REW + Play feature automates the tape rewinding process to the beginning and seamlessly initiates playback. The device calculates the optimal rewind distance based on the remaining tape diameter and core diameter, both adjustable on the intuitive touch screen display.

While being somewhat vintage in appearance, the tape player boasts a range of modern capabilities, including a 6.35mm headphone output and an RJ45 Ethernet socket which allows remote control and software updates.

The final outcome garnered immense praise at its launch listening session at the Acoustic Gallery in Paris, leaving attendees astounded by the depth and quality of sound, precision in tape movement and the feeling of unlimited bandwidth and dynamics.

Encore: Soundscape of the Future

Christophe Martinez has ambitious plans for the future, including the development of the TR-1000 recorder version, which will be an advanced edition of the TP-1000. The gen4-uLCD-50DCT-CLB display will see further use, with plans for a touch-screen remote control in subsequent projects.

Analog Audio Design’s TP-1000, equipped with 4D Systems’ gen4-uLCD-50DCT-CLB display module, has successfully brought the unparalleled sound experience of analogue devices to passionate audiophiles worldwide. The incorporation of the intelligent display has added convenience, functionality, and an elegant design to the TP-1000, making it a remarkable and sought-after open reel tape player.

In an increasingly modern world, the TP-1000 remains an ode to music, a testament to the enduring appeal of analogue sound, and proof that technology and culture can co-exist in harmony.

Until next time.

14 08, 2023

Enhancing User Experience in Liquid Duratec’s Partnership with 4D Systems

2023-09-29T22:45:04+10:00Categories: Appliances|Tags: |

Duratec, a leading manufacturer of liquid handling devices, services the chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. They’re committed to delivering exceptional, accurate and user-friendly devices to their clients, spanning governmental institutions, research institutes, universities, hospitals and specialised service providers. The company was seeking a solution to simplify the control interface of their new devices. Here’s how 4D Systems helped Duratec launch a new product suite with an intelligent display module and user interface.

Outdated control panels and an opportunity to improve user-centricity

Liquid handling and automation offer significant advantages over manual processing in terms of accuracy, quality, and reliability. With the right components, single or multiple process steps can be partially or fully automated. This enhances precision and reduces the risk of errors and failures. It also frees up valuable time for end-users to focus on more valuable tasks. The user interface is a vital component of liquid handling and automation systems by ensuring the operator can interact with the equipment quickly and efficiently. However, Duratec’s existing devices relied on software or complex control panels, with outdated control methods hindering the user experience.

“Until now, our previous devices were controlled by software or older and more complicated control panels. However, customers demanded simpler and also more modern technology.”

Matthias Hönig, Duratec’s Head of Sales

Duratec’s goal was to enhance customer satisfaction by providing a user-friendly and modern interface for their liquid handling devices, while maintaining the capability to control them through the RS232 interface.

Solution: Choosing 4D Systems and the right display module

With a collaborative team approach to problem-solving, Duratec conducted their own market research to identify the most suitable solution and technology partner.

Duratec’s research led them to 4D Systems, who stood out as the ideal choice due to the comprehensive range of products.

After extensive research, Duratec selected 4D Systems’ gen4 range of intelligent display modules. Specifically, the SK-GEN4-35DCT-CLB touch display was chosen to address their customer pain points and deliver a better experience for their users.

After extensive research, Duratec selected 4D Systems’ GEN4-uLCD-35DCT-CLB touch display to address their customers’ pain points and deliver a better experience for their users.

The gen4 3.5″ Diablo16 Integrated Display Modules are part of 4D Systems’ latest gen4 series. They offer a 3.5″ colour TFT LCD display, easy Arduino integration, touch detection, storage, communication, and audio generation. Designed with ease of integration and use in mind, the gen4 series is built to prioritise space and functionality and minimise the impact of display related circuitry, providing an easy, intuitive platform for integration.

As Duratec were first-time users, they chose the starter kit (SK-GEN4-35DCT-CLB) which includes everything needed to begin development immediately:

  • gen4-uLCD-35DCT-CLB display module
  • gen4-IB interface board
  • 4D-UPA programmer
  • 4GB Industrial microSD Card
  • 150 mm FFC Cable
  • 5-way female-to-female ribbon cable with male-to-male adaptor

“4D had exactly the product we were looking for. SK-GEN4-35DCT-CLB has an integrated processor and is freely programmable. Furthermore, it has RS232 and I/O interfaces, which were needed early for the control.”

Matthias Hönig, Duratec’s Head of Sales

  • Powerful 3.5” Intelligent LCD-TFT display module powered by DIABLO16.
  • 320 x 480 Resolution, RGB 65K true to life colours, TFT Screen with integrated 4-wire
  • Choice of resistive, capacitive touch or non-touch interaction.
  • 6 banks of 32750 bytes of Flash memory for User Application Code and Data.
  • 16 General Purpose I/O pins for user interfacing, which include 4 configurable Analogue Inputs.
  • 30 pin FPC connection, for all signals, power, communications, GPIO and programming.
  • On-board latch type micro-SD memory card connector for multimedia storage and data logging purposes.
  • DOS compatible file access (FAT16 format) and low level access to card memory.
  • Full colour image display, including animations, icons and video clips.

Outcome: Projects powered by 4D displays

With the implementation of the gen4-uLCD-35DCT-CLB touch display, Duratec launched three new liquid handling devices: D-Drive Pump C30-X60, D-Drive Dispense C30, and D-Flow. These devices drastically improved the user experience with user-friendly touch displays, allowing customers to control, monitor and interact with the devices.

They showcased Duratec’s commitment to innovation and meeting customer demands, enabled by 4D System’s display technology.

Product 1: Flowmeter d.Flow

The Flowmeter d.Flow is designed for checking the accuracy and fluctuation of HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) or dosing pumps.

The Flowmeter d.Flow is designed for checking the accuracy and fluctuation of HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) or dosing pumps.

The measurement is volumetric by opto-electronic detection of the liquid level in a rising pipe. It determines actual liquid flow rate by measuring the time to fill a tube with constant volume. The time that passes between reaching a lower and an upper level is being measured and the flow is being calculated. When the upper level is reached, the rising pipe will be drained via a magnetic valve and the measurement starts again.

The integrated display (gen4-uLCD-35DCT-CLB) shows the measured value and the filling level. The measured values can be logged or transmitted directly via RS232.

Product 2: d.Drive DISPENSE C30

The d.Drive DISPENSE C30 SPS is a compact and high accuracy pump module designed for liquid handling applications in the range of 250 nl to 12.5 ml.

The dispenser is suitable for a variety of liquids, including aqueous, organic, aggressive, highly viscous, gaseous. The module can be controlled manually via the touch display (gen4-uLCD-35DCT-CLB), computer-aided via RS232 or using a PLC via the I/O interface.

Equipped with an active valve and a self-priming syringe, the module enables complete filling using the LOAD command. It offers 5 STEP functions that facilitate the execution of successive doses with adjustable parameters such as volume, dosing flow rate, start speed and end speed.

By modifying these dosing parameters, the flow and dosing characteristics of different mediums can be optimised to achieve precise and efficient dosing.

Product 3: d.Drive PUMP

The d.Drive PUMP is a high-precision, low-pulsation dosing pump for laboratory, process engi­neering and industrial applications for dosing from nl/min to ml/min.

The pump can be controlled via the touch display (gen4-uLCD-35DCT-CLB), computer-based via RS323 or by PLC via an I/O interface.

The pump consists of two individual syringe drives. While one syringe delivers the liquid, the other syringe prepares for the subsequent stroke, ensuring smooth and continuous operation.

The flow rates of the pump, depending on the assembled syringe, cover a wide range from 0.04 μl/min to 300 ml/min. The pump also allows for both finite dosing and continuous flow.