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  • Rock Band & Guitar Hero with Real Drums – Part 4: pro setup

    Posted on October 29th, 2010 Shawn 1 comment

    This is Part 4 of a multi-part series.
    Part 1: the discovery
    Part 2: intro and shopping
    Part 3: basic setup
    Part 4: pro setup

    This post is long, LONG overdue.  It began in January 2009 when I discovered that an electronic drum kit could be used to play Rock Band and Guitar Hero (see Part 1). Then I set out to buy the gear needed (see Part 2), which included a Guitar Hero World Tour drum kit. Once we get the basics setup, we are able to play Rock Band and Guitar Hero with Yamaha and Roland drum kits. Now that Rock Band 3 is out, it’s time to finish up this series with the “pro” setup.  How fitting that 21 months ago, I titled this post “pro setup” and Rock Band 3 also calls this “Pro” drums. Great minds think alike, I guess.

    First, lets discuss what my current drum kit consists of. A simple Visio picture should speak a thousand words.

    My Roland/Yamaha Drum Kit

    I did not purchase a specific drum kit. Instead I leveraged the fact that I owned a very old (but fully capable) drum brain, and purchased my drum kit piecemeal. Most came used from eBay, some new from Guitar Center and J&R. in all, I probably spent about $700 over the past 2 years to get this setup.

    There are four drum pads (red PD-7, yellow PD-8, blue PD-8, green PD-8) making up the typical drums on a Rock Band drum kit. I also have three cymbal pads (yellow/blue VH-11, blue CY-8, green CY-8). There is one kick drum pad (Orange KD-8), with a Gibraltar double-kick pedal. For the drum brain, I have a (circa 1994) Yamaha TMX, though any Roland, Yamaha, and some ION brains should do the trick. All of the equipment is mounted on a Roland MDS-10 stand.

    This part is a repeat from Part 3, step 6 to help set the scene for the MIDI note mapping. Configure each pad on your e-drum kits brain with the following MIDI value.  NOTE:  The voice (actual sound) doesn’t matter, what matters is the MIDI value.

    RockBand Settings (CREDIT: Doc_SoCal)

    RED – MIDI Note 38
    YELLOW – MIDI Note 46
    BLUE – MIDI Note 48
    GREEN – MIDI Note 45
    KICK – MIDI Note 36

    GHWT Settings are the same, you just add the orange pad at MIDI Note 49.

    1. I started with the basic Rock Band drum kit setup, 4 pads (RED, YELLOW, BLUE, GREEN) and 1 kick (KICK) pedal. This is all plugged into the Guitar Hero World Tour drum kit’s MIDI port.
    2. Next I added a single cymbal, which for Rock Band I mapped to GREEN as a crash cymbal.
    3. I created a second “drum set” in the TMX brain for Guitar Hero, and repeated the MIDI mapping in step 1. For the cymbal, I mapped it to the ORANGE cymbal specifically used in Guitar Hero games. I switch back and forth from my Rock Band “drum set” and Guitar Hero “drum set” depending on which game I use.

      1. NOTE: For Rock Band 3, I currently use just the Guitar Hero drum kit. Rock Band 3 makes use of the Guitar Hero orange pad by mapping it to a cymbal.
    4. Next I added the hi-hat. This is a fully functional hi-hat (though only made up of one cymbal) which sits on a real hi-hat stand, and utilizes the stands hi-hat pedal. It has two 1/4″ inputs for open/closed/pedal voices. For my Rock Band “drum set”, I mapped the closed voice to YELLOW, the open voice to BLUE, and the pedal voice also to YELLOW. The reason for this is in Rock Band games, closed hi-hat sounds are sent to YELLOW, the open hi-hat sounds are sent to BLUE.
    5. Just this week, in preparation for Rock Band 3 Pro Drums mode, I picked up another cymbal pad and mapped it to BLUE. This will give me the third cymbal pad I need for the upcoming Mad Catz MIDI adaptor (coming November 28) for Rock Band 3.
  • Getting into the Mobile App Dev arena

    Posted on October 28th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    It’s been a while since I dove into a programming gig. Some of you may know that one of my alter ego’s is JavaDevelop (@JavaDevelop on Twitter) and Don’t waste your time visiting that website since it will only bring you back here. I started my programming days in the late 1990’s with LotusScript on Domino/Notes applications (well actually the 1980’s if you count me playing with Basic on an Atari 1200XL).  Then progressed into the web world with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS; and finally went into the middle-tier of Java, and SQL database work. Around the late-2000’s I got bored and took a programming break.

    Now, as my interest in mobile technology is increasing, I’m getting my programming skills sharpened and focusing first on iPhone development. This is a very new space for me, since iPhone development takes place on a Mac (I’m a Windows purist), and is written in a language called Objective-C, which is heavily based on the C programming language (see my background above to identify the discrepancy). That said, my iPhone skills are getting sharper each day, and I have some projects to work on (which I will announce at a future date).

    I may also work on apps for the other devices, including Android, Palm, and BlackBerry. Though, that would take me in a very different technical direction, so don’t expect it soon.

    To keep up with my mobile development activities, for now you can follow me @JavaDevelop on Twitter.  Sometime in the future, I will revive the website with all that I’m working on.

    If you have any app suggestions with the platform you’d like to see an app on, let me know.  Maybe I will take community suggestions for future direction.

  • Rock Band 3, Everything & The Kitchen Sink?

    Posted on October 27th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    It’s Rock Band 3 launch day.  I have an unboxing video coming as soon as I can edit all the pieces together. For now, let’s talk about some first impressions.

    Keyboard Bundle

    • Price and Build – The keyboard bundle, at $129.99, isn’t cheap in more ways than one.  The price is steep. The keyboard feels heavy and very well built, especially the actual keys.  I’m truly impressed at the feel of the keys, plus the casing also is made of a strong plastic.  The Xbox buttons and d-pad feel a little flimsy and loose, not as solid as on an Xbox controller, but still not bad.
    • What’s in the Box – Along with the keyboard, you get just about everything you would want from an OBE, out of the box experience.  You get a strap for the keyboard, in case you want to hold it like a guitar. It also comes with 3 Energizer AA batteries.
    • The Game – Of course, a sealed copy of the Rock Band 3 game was also in the bundle. In the game box, there is a 50 page manual (though it’s only so thick thanks to the multiple language translations).

    Drums (very significant information for drummers)

    • Supports all Rock Band and Guitar Hero (GH) drums.
    • GH drums orange cymbal is now mapped to green cymbal, in non-Pro mode.  During fills, your green tom and orange cymbal will have different sounds.  This is awesome that Harmonix took the time to code the game for GH drums.
    • Electronic drum kits going through the GH drum MIDI connector work as expected, in non-Pro mode. If you have a cymbal mapped to orange, it will react just as mentioned above.
    • Any combination of Rock Band drums with cymbal add-ons work in Pro and non-Pro mode. If you have one, two, or three cymbals, you can configure the game to accept those cymbals and Pro mode will adapt appropriately.


    The Game

    Everything has been overhauled in the game. Don’t think about getting the linear tour experience of Rock Band 1, 2 or Guitar Hero games. Now, in my short time playing the game, there’s so much to get used to in this new experience. Some major bullets below.

    • Drop-in / Drop-out play – This is great where one person can start a song, and others can join in at their leisure, and anyone can drop out at their leisure.  This works locally, and online players can drop-out.  I haven’t seen drop-in yet online, so not sure if this exists.
    • Network Disconnection, Rocking Continues – If you are playing online and someone in your party (including you) gets disconnected, your session continues without failing out.  In fact, I was accidentally booted out of an XBox Live session today and the game reverted to a local single player only set without failing.  This feature is just incredible.
    • Cut scenes – There are cut scenes during the menus, before and after songs. Gone are the “Loading…” screens with band facts.  I miss the facts, but the cut scenes are truly beautiful and entertaining.  I’m not certain how many cut scenes there are, so not sure how soon I will get sick of them.
    • Road Challenges – These are fixed and customizable short sets somewhat like Rock Band 2 challenges. This makes for quick tours which is great online. No waiting in Quickplay screens for someone to scroll up and down the Impossible DLC list. Instead, you pick a Road Challenge and you play what you get.  There’s still a lot for me to learn in this mode, but I like what I see so far. (FYI, Quickplay still exists though.)
    • Vocal Harmonies – Just like Beatles and Green Day, harmonies are back. The important new note here is, even if you are playing a song without harmonies in-game, you can still connect up to 3 mics and sing along. I really like this party-type feature, which ultimately just retired my need to ever play Lips again.
    • Free DLC – Make sure you get right into the Music Store in-game for 3 free Doors tracks.  That will expire next week.
    • Minor Disconnection Issue – When a player disconnects from an online session, a message covers the screen for about 5 seconds completely covering the center players lane. You will not be able to see the chart during this time, but the game will continue to play. I hope this will be fixed in a patch.
    • Stage Kit sadness 🙁 – Here’s a sad story for me.  The Stage Kit add-on from Rock Band 1 and 2, which is a USB connected light and fog kit, doesn’t work with Rock Band 3.  Harmonix, please please add support for this back in.

    Overall, the new interface is vastly different and will take some getting used to.  People I played with online last night were a bit confused navigating around.  I’m chocking it up to being new and we will get used to it quickly.  The game is beautiful, and just about every gripe of the past two years has been addressed (excluding the Stage Kit support). There are plenty of other details, which I can report on.  Though, I’m focusing on the things that might be lesser known at this point. Much more coming soon.

  • MyGGGo – The Rock Band

    Posted on October 23rd, 2010 Shawn No comments

    A couple weeks ago, I put a call out here, on Twitter, and Xbox Live to form a new band for the release of Rock Band 3.  I got an overwhelming response (though you wouldn’t know it via the blog comments). Tuesday, October 26 is launch day for Rock Band 3.  I will be picking up my copy as soon as my local mall opens, and likely heading home to play all day.

    Based on the initial wave of respondents, there are many Xbox Live’rs who want in. Some are committed, some can only play on occasion. I fall in the middle; thanks to work, life, and other unimportant things. Now I need to come up with a new band name. Any thoughts?

    The current lineup (or maybe we will call it tryouts), consists of many players with varying backgrounds. Check it below via Xbox Live Gamertag and instrument preference.

    AppleTrak (that’s me) – Pro Drums, Pro Keys, Vox

    Pomegranate72 – Guitar, Bass

    Ellync – ?

    Axl VanRoth – Bass <– This person has a pre-release copy and has a leg up on us all.

    XxzPapaRoachzxX – ?

    Keulenmuck – Drums, Guitar, Bass

    jellisjenius – Guitar, Bass, Keys

    Sarpathian – Keys, Bass, Vox

    Klamalama – Bass

    KaliniuS – any


    BlondeSk8rchick – Guitar, Bass

    Sea Stewardesss – Guitar, Bass

  • Rock Band 3 – Street Date Broken!

    Posted on October 21st, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Let’s see, Twitter and my Xbox Live friends list are proving that many people have their hands on Rock Band 3. They are getting achievements and rocking out. Sad thing is, I don’t have it yet.

    Let’s see who’s got it and what dirt we can find. The names have been blocked to protect the innocent.  See anyone you recognize?

  • Rock Band 3 – The New Instrument Videos

    Posted on October 21st, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Over the past couple months, Harmonix has been releasing introductory videos to the new instrument peripherals. Now that all the videos have been released and we are just days (YES DAYS!!!) away from the launch of the most anticipated game since 2008 (in my eyes at least), I’m posting them all here in one location for you to watch over and over and over, maybe even simultaneously too if you roll that way.

    Pro Guitar – Gameplay

    Keyboard – Gameplay

    Pro Drums – Gameplay

    [Thanks to the RockBandAide YouTube feed for the videos.]

  • Fable II Free on Xbox Live

    Posted on October 16th, 2010 Shawn 1 comment

    This is the tale of how I stumbled on a free copy of Fable II. Hopefully, you did too.

    Friday was a somewhat typical day. I worked a few hours from the office, and the rest of the day from home. My trusty Twitter client (SocialScope) installed on the BlackBerry, updates me when great deals are found via @slickdeals. That’s a community driven deal finder web site, which has saved me hundreds of dollars in less than a year.

    At 3:22 PM, I received a tweet from @slickdeals announcing a free game download of Fable II. My immediate assumption, it was a typo and that only Chapter 1 of Fable II was being offered for free. The first chapter deal has been made available in the past, which I picked up. It was a nice way to get familiar with the game, and hoping you’d buy the rest of it. Plus the single chapter informed you when you earned an achievement, but teased you as it wouldn’t give you the achievement until you purchased the next chapter of the game. I never purchased Chapter 2 or the full game.

    So, when this tweet came in, I headed over to to learn what was up. Hmm, still looked legit, but it had to be a typo.

    I clicked the link from SlickDeals, which brought me to the Xbox Live Marketplace, displaying Fable II and the price listed as FREE. Without hesitation, I logged into my Xbox Live account from the web and was returned back to the Fable II screen…but now it said the price was $19.99. I refreshed my browser and the price was replaced with “Already Purchased”. Very confusing indeed.

    Quickly, I fired up my Xbox, logged into my account, and looked at my downloads. Fable was listed as a 6.59GB download and was currently 2% completed.

    I started reading the SlickDeals comments where people began stating that at the 59% point of downloading, their download ended and Fable II never ran. Others stated that the link had vanished a couple hours later.

    At 5:04 PM, looks like Microsoft began damage control as a tweet from @thevowel stated that Chapter 1 was only in the download.

    Around 7:00 PM, I checked the Xbox again to see I had no active downloads. Looking at my game library, Fable II showed up. But, was it only Chapter I or the full game? I fired up the game and started from the beginning.

    Just a few minutes into the game, I received my first achievement. So far this is looking better than the “only Chapter 1” version which was released last year.

    I didn’t complete Chapter 1 last night, though with the 6+ GB file and receiving achievements, all signs point to me (and others) having scored a free copy of Fable II. No one should be expecting the @stepto ban hammer, since the download was legitimate and no nefarious means were taken to obtain it.

    If this works out, and I get hooked on this game…it may be a great marketing campaign to get me interested in Fable III (coming to stores on October 26).

    UPDATE: Confirmed, I have played for a few hours today (Saturday), am well past Chapter 1, and have obtained a slew of achievements. This deal was totally legit and now I’m hooked on Fable II.

  • Rock Band 3 Gear in Stores

    Posted on October 8th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    I took some time out today to check one of the 5 GameStop stores within 10 minutes of my office. The purpose, check on Rock Band 3 inventory. Here’s what I confirmed:

    • Keys for Wii — In stock and available for purchase.
    • Fender Strat (RB3 Legacy version) for Xbox 360 — In stock and available for purchase.
    • Triple Cymbal pack for all consoles — In stock and available for purchase.

    Everything else, is still not in yet.  I also stopped into the Sears next door. Zilch, nada.

  • Start a NEW Band, Rock the World

    Posted on October 8th, 2010 Shawn 1 comment

    With only 17 days left until the release of Rock Band 3, it’s time to start organizing some bands for fun and a little online competition.  With that, my Rock Band 2 bands “Dunder Mifflin’s Finest” and “Friendz & Family Plan” haven’t had the much play in recent months, so I’m recruiting new players. Think you got what it takes?

    Looking for players in search of gold stars. Expert and Pro players are encouraged, but all levels are welcome.

    For me, I’m planning to be on Expert Pro Drums from day 1, swap over to Expert Pro Vocals on occasion, and try my hand at Pro Keys.  As far as guitar and bass go, that’s not my bag.

    I’m up for some primary players on all instruments, plus some backups. I’ve also sent a message out to my Xbox Live friends list.

    Drop me a line in the comments, Twitter, or Xbox Live if you want in.

  • Rock Band Slacker Radio: 2,000 Songs & Growing

    Posted on October 7th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Rock Band Slacker RadioIn commemoration with Rock Band getting its 2,000th song (counting on-disc and downloadable), I figured it’s time to update the Slacker station. You may have noticed, I have been “slacking” myself on the blog updates lately…sorry bout that, my 9-to-5 has been keeping me busy.

    I just went back and added all new DLC from August, September, and October so far. The Slacker station now has a couple thousand songs for you to enjoy in your browser, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm, etc, etc.

    The Jimi Hendrix ExperienceAre You Experienced album
    R.E.M. pack
    The Doobie Brothers
    My Chemical Romance
    Anthrax pack
    Bob Marley & The Wailers – Legend album
    The Black Keys pack
    and a lot more!

    Direct link to Rock Band Station on

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