A new MOD competitor

Dear all,

I’m not an expert in this field but i would like to know if there is a way to build myself the Poly Digit pedal (a kind of DIY project). The firmware is available (.deb), I don’t know which single board computer is used (It is mentioned Orange Pi in the gitHub/Linux folder…). I am a student and I have no money to buy this pedal, but motivated to build it myself (if it’s possible…).

Did someone open the box to see what’s inside ? Which ref is the ADC ? Is there some DSP/FPGA inside for signal processing?

In other word, can I build this pedal myself by using a raspi (or other), an appropriate shield for In/Out and some piece of hardware (footswitch/rotary encoders/screen,…) ? Which information is missing to do this ?

Thank you in advance for your answers.

This Debian packages are only certain parts of it. There’s definitely some data missing when I was exploring the firmware.

I have to quote myself…

This hardware is freely available here: https://store.pine64.org/product-category/sopine/

There must be some kind of DAC/ADC chip built it.I highly doubt that there’s any other chip involved since this project seems to be a one-man-show and the price is pretty low. I’m sure that you will find some clues about the audio I/O if you examine the firmware.

The easiest way for experimenting would be buying the compute module + base board or the ROCKPro64: https://store.pine64.org/product/rockpro64-2gb-single-board-computer/
Plus some kind of touch screen and a class compliant USB audio interface. I wouldn’t go further than that until most things are working with this setup. Happy hacking :wink:


Thank you a lot for all your answers ! :slight_smile:

Hi there !

Hum, this big colorfull touch screen ! Has something like this never been an option on the upcoming Dwarf unit ?


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Even if the display is nice and big, I don’t think that creating boards on that size is fun. Even with the Line6 Helix I preferred to use the computer to get the settings. You also have to remember that such a big display also has its disadvantages.

  1. the power consumption is skyrocketing. Stupid, if you want to use the Dwarf on a multi power supply on the pedalboard.
  2. the bigger the display the faster it is broken. Once you step on it during a gig and you have broken glass.
  3. a reasonable GUI draws processor power. I prefer that for more effects.

Btw. when they introduced the Poly, I had seen a video where patch-switching took forever. Is that still the case?

Maybe it’s also the question how to use it. On the desk it will look good, but you can also use a computer to adjust it, which is probably already on the desk. On the pedalboard on the floor the touchscreen won’t do you much good unless you want to kneel down all the time (as long as you don’t have very long arms and very good eyes).

Hi there.
Your points are all good and completlty justify the choice of the actual screen !

I still fancy a pretty interface though, even if its not sensible :smiley:
My reference is the headrush gigboard that seems (I never tested it) very user friendly thanks to its large touchscreen.
The usecase question also depends on the unit interface. If it’s not too practical, you will use tablets or PC. If it’s practical (like in large screen and smart knobs) you will be more inclined to edit on the fly directly from the unit.
When it’s time to choose the unit, it’s all a matter of taste. In my case, as I spend my days on computer screens, I am happy not to need a PC to edit the multi-effects (mooer ge300 in my case).

But your points (especially 1 and 3) make real sense.

I agree with your points - it’s all about tradeoffs right? At least, if you’re like me, there’s probably no perfect device. Recently my Duo unit of a few years has become too unstable for use and with the Dwarf delivery out on some horizon, I was faced with some choices about how to continue my creative work and what might best serve my needs. A few things that stood out for me:

  • For a while I’ve longed for more of an all-in-one device - with any non-trivial pedalboard you run out of actuators quickly.

  • I have been able to use external USB controllers successfully, but the all-around experience for managing device mappings could use a lot of improvement IMO. A few examples:

    • There’s no way to know what’s mapped to what when you load an arbitrary pedalboard.
    • I’ve always wanted to depend heavily on the idea of managing state through patches/presets/snapshots but these features are still clunky and unstable. I’ve spent a lot of time re-checking Duo and controller settings to make sure the channels are correct etc., restarting devices, to get the snapshot and pedalboard MIDI navigation to work.
    • Displaying current pedalboard and snapshot name still not working consistently, etc.
    • MIDI use is a black box - no logs or monitors available yet.
    • Due to underlying tech / spec details passing state back-and-forth between plugins is difficult to implement, meaning things like coordinating hardware LEDs with toggles is usually non-existent. Other systems offer much more in terms of custom coding LEDs / visual indicators to reflect changes in state. If you rely on MIDI controllers, you lose a lot of potential visual cue feedback since the LEDs are effectively meaningless (and often technically wrong) when switching between pedal states or snapshots.
  • Computer/browser-based editing hasn’t been an important feature for me. It’s nitpicking but I’ve never loved the web interface from a productivity perspective. For 95% of my needs a grid and panel approach would likely be a smoother and faster experience. With young boys running around, I’m always cautious that the music space is one accidental bump or cord trip away from a laptop disaster. (As you point out, the large screen will also be a liability in this manner). Beyond my own judgements of the browser-based editing though is the question of how editable things are without the computer. As of today, on a Duo, you basically need to map every possible parameter you might need to an actuator in case an on-site adjustment is needed. I’ve had a few times of taking the Duo out for jams or gigging and having gain or EQ problems that I couldn’t do anything about.

    • I know at least one series of devices has a “hands-free” editing mode which lets you change parameters and values using the footswitches and exp. pedal
    • The main system of organization Banks has a slow and less-than-elegant interface for organizing and managing pedalboards. You cannot go directly to a pedalboard that you see in the Banks view to that pedalboard (For example, by being able to click on a pedalboard or “open this” button)
  • I’ve always hoped for more progress related to file-system integration and related features. When I first got my Duo I hoped there would be a way to load up samples or backing tracks and trigger them with the device. Similarly, be able to capture looper recordings, record live audio and access these files at a minimum. Other market devices offer these capabilities as well as features like audio interfacing / DAW integration / re-amping tracks. I know that these things are coming to the MOD devices in various forms but it has been a long wait

  • The all-in-one nature of the MOD system can be both a blessing and a drawback. How cool is it that I can setup a guitar, vocal effects, and MIDI synth all on the same device? However there are some scenarios for axe-players where some important details can make a big difference that haven’t been addressed like:

    • On-the-fly ability to change the pedalboard’s amp/cab setup - critical if you move between spaces or venues and might be playing into any of PA or amp / cab available.
    • Reverb tails - switching between snapshots that are using different reverb or modulation states leads to nasty artifacts unless those are specifically handled
  • The diversity and quantity of plugins available is neat and offers lots of opportunity for the curious and patient. Still, I find myself a little frustrated sifting through dozens of plugins with no descriptions or information about what the params do. For me the “wild west” nature of the store is a little distracting and I’d enjoy more of a catered experience. I don’t mind shopping at the second-hand store if I’m not looking for anything in particular, but if have a goal in mind I’d rather go to the department store where I know they’ll have something good enough for my needs


Hi Unbracketed

Please excuse my lack of knowledge of the platform, but is there no way to reinstall the OS on the Duo (or other Mod unit) to start again from scratch, and have a stable system again (like in computer OS reinstall) ? I thought the Mods devices were some kind of HW for an effect/music oriented OS that you could upgrade or reinstall at will.

Regarding this part of your post, I too agree that (among other thing) being able to twick a device live is kind of critical. That implies easy reading of the current state of the pedalboard, easy access to controls, patches etc. As I own none of the Mods device so far, I can’t really speak first hand but you description show some important flows.

This leads me to another question (sorry again, I really don’t know how the Mods ecosystem works): what is the development roadmap , what are the priority, how are features defined and chosen from the plethora of possibilities etc ?

Thanks in advance if someone have 5 mins to answer :wink:

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The devices are pretty robust in this regard; in my case the device is frequently hanging at the boot screen. I’m able to use the device fully after a restore up until the next freeze up when I have to repeat the process. I believe this is a hardware problem and am in contact with the support team.

My perspective is one of a few-year forum participant and I’ve occasionally looked through the Github repositories to learn about the inner workings.

The company tends to stay quiet about big product plans. I check the forums frequently and am subscribed to communications. For me, the announcements of both the DuoX and Dwarf came as surprises - at least, I don’t remember any “we’re working on something big” kinds of hints appearing.

I don’t have any insight about how work is prioritized but have gotten the impression that the team is frequently discussing the best path forward while weighing out user requests, product goals, and market pressures. In my experience the team is pretty good about responding to user feature and bug requests with at least a cursory acknowledgement of whether something might be feasible and where it might fall on their roadmap. I feel this is again a place where the generalized, powerful nature of the device is a blessing/curse. Being able to accommodate different instruments and different genres means users come up with lots of technically viable possibilities. Some people want more synths, some want more powerful loopers, some want better IR / cab sims, some want MIDI passing between plugins, some want audio interfacing, etc. It’s a lot to sift through and consider, and ultimately each new feature and plugin added to the system implies more complexity to support and maintain in perpetuity.


All right. Thanks a lot for the extensive answer. I understand better now how things works, device and company wise.
The level of headheach must be huge in the dev and HW teams when it’s time to make choices as options and requests are almost endless. Nevertheless, as you stated, the pressure of the market could be of an help if you need to choose between features. At some point, I believe pragmatism must speak in order to keep the product on par with competitors, even though no choice is easy.

As for the dwarf goes, HW organisation (fs and knobs at least) seems pretty close to the HX stomp. The presentation clip also insists on the ability to twick you settings on the fly. Sounds really promising to me…

There is a thread going on regarding beta plugins hanging in the store forever.
I believe support should be limited to HW of course and to a certain amont of ‘validated / production’ plugins. Otherwise it’s just not possible, the scope is too wide.

thanks again for you reply.

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The latest development update posted today on kickstarter will give you a bit more of an idea about the current progress and feature priorities :wink:


Thank you James, very interesting update.
Looks like the Dwarf will soon be ready !
Very good work indeed from the Mod teams ! Congrats !

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@unbracketed I had some time to read through your post earlier and since you took the time to formulate a very detailed message I wanted give you a detailed response

I personally would love to design a new device that has 10 footswitches, 2 expression pedals and maybe 8 knobs, that is an all in one. In the same space as the Helix for example. Or perhaps a controller of the same design to be used with the dwarf or duo x. But it may not be what everyone wants and there are many products that we want to develop. One step at a time

I agree, I think ideally each footswitch on a midi controller should have it’s own display or the device needs to have a really large display that spans across it so the labels can be spatially paired with the footswitches. This is really expensive though and requires some serious RND

MOD UI v1.10 is planned to add improvements for this because they are needed for the Dwarf. It’s likely to get even better in v1.11/v1.12

This feature is also planned to come to the Duo in v1.10

v1.10 is planned to bring raw MIDI data access to plugins. There will be a MIDI monitor plugin available.

v1.11 is planned to bring HMI widgets. This means plugins can take over the part of the display + actuator state + LED

There are many other plugin effect systems out there that work like this but they generally lack in terms of routing flexibility. That’s the beauty and uniqueness of our platform. Infinite routing possibilities. I really like Guitar Rig and Amplitube but the routing options in our system are much better in my opinion. I think it would be crazy to change that unless it were to be an extra more simplified pedalboard builder. Could be a separate app that uses the same pedalboard builder back end but this would still be in the web gui. The pedalboard blocks might be the solution for you then we have an on the fly pedal board builder coming with the dwarf that should also get ported over time to the Duo X and also the Duo if possible.

OTF (on the fly) pedal board builder may help with this. The Pedal Board Builder will also see the addition of “Pedal Board Blocks” which will mean we will have blocks with premade assignments so you don’t need to make all the assignments yourself. For now, if bringing your laptop to a rehearsal is too much trouble then you can also use your phone if you have a bluetooth dongle in the device.

This is something we talk about fairly often. The feature request is in our backlog and we definitely will address it but it has not been scheduled into a software release yet

File management is almost here. It’s coming with v1.10 which is our next release. We are already testing an IR loader for cab sims, an IR loader for convolution reverb and there are 3 new loopers coming which will integrate recording and HMI widgets

Audio interfacing over USB is in the pipeline. We have already managed to get input working. More testing needs to be done to see the full capability but currently there are more pressing issues on the developers plates

We’re a small company trying to achieve a lot of big things simultaneously while also trying to keep ourselves afloat financially

The situation will be much better with the introduction of the OTF pedalboard builder and pedalboard blocks

This is very much caused by the implementation of the plugins. Therefore we can usually not do much about it other than request the plugin developer to fix it. Please report issues with specific plugins either directly to the developer of said plugins, or to us so that we can forward the report.

I totally agree with this. Firstly we are getting very close to going live with “LABS” which will make a much clearer distinction between official and community made plugins. Secondly, we have spent some time already conceptualizing a better way to categorize and browse the plugins. The OTF pedalboard builder was a big driver for this and we have made some improvements browsing plugins on the device. I hope this will also be reflected in the web GUI since we want to improve the experience there too but the process is evolving over time.


Thanks so much for sharing all this info - it’s really exciting to hear about these developments and future plans! IMHO it would be fantastic if the roadmap was shared a bit more regularly and transparently to keep backers and investors excited and engaged. It wouldn’t have to include any dates, and it would also be fine if it changed direction over time, as a roadmap is a roadmap, not a promise or guarantee. This is somewhat related to Is MOD building products or a platform?.


I totally agree and I have brought it up with the rest of the team on tuesday actually. The conclusion at the moment is that we agree that it would be really nice but we need to think more about how we can achieve this and right now we don’t have the luxury of time to solve it. I just thought I’d reply so you know that we’re listening and we do indeed want to improve the transparency


Much appreciated! And don’t let me distract you too much from important work on the Dwarf and expression pedal, since I’m eagerly awaiting both!


You do not need to create a complex system to inform planning. Nor do they need to prepare elaborate texts describing everything. They can simply start with a to-do list. You probably organize yourself into goals and divide them into tasks. It would only be enough to make them public. Some ideias:


I can second that - GitHub milestones work very nicely and are ridiculously simple to get going (especially given that you are already using GitHub). You can also combine milestones with GitHub projects for Kanban-style development. And of course it’s possible to make some or all of this public while restricting who can edit it. As an engineer I know all too well the urge to overthink things :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:, but I suspect @SrMouraSilva is right that no complexity is required here.

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Hi @James

Thank you for your response and for all the information. It’s great to hear that all these points are being addressed in some fashion. I acknowledge that many users are happy and productive with the current state and that many of my annoyances are from a self-imposed desire to have the Duo act as “the brains” for my musical rig. The device and the supporting platform have so much potential that in some weird way it works out for me as a point of frustration because I know that technically all these things can be made to work and I don’t have much control over when.

Before purchasing my Duo I researched everything I could find about it and I decided that the MOD vision was something I wanted to get behind - the open source roots and “computer as audio device” concepts appeal to me. I’ve been active in the forums for the last few years, learning a lot from others and answering questions when I can, suggesting improvements. I participated in the now defunct beta testers group. I’ve had some ups and downs with my Duo unit, including not booting right before one of my first gigs :cold_sweat: This has been an experience :blush:

It sounds like the features in the pipeline will make many of the items I outlined possible. Being priveleged and impatient, I decided to use a different product for now which has all the features I desire today w.r.t usability, hardware mapping/control, and file transfer. When my Dwarf comes I’m hopeful to use it for vocal effects, synth, and probably some additional send/return guitar processing. I still believe that Dwarf / DuoX with 2 footswitch and 1 exp. pedal extensions could exceed the capabilities of other products like Helix, Headrush, etc. That’s exciting to me. Yet as a developer I can see the massive hill that needs to be scaled still to get the user experience on par with the market leaders. (and I’m not assuming that MOD is trying to compete specifically with those products / companies)

I agree that the routing is a unique and uniquely powerful feature. I’m skeptical that most users in the broader consumer market will care about that as a foundational feature when considered against other aspects like:

  • variety in effects available - a good set of effects in each classic category, well-tuned to the DSP hardware, tempo awareness, reverb spillover,
  • quality tones / IRs / good simulators; easy expansion with third-party options
  • usability - the “CRUD” actions for pedalboards, snapshots, presets, actuator assignments needs to flow well and the hardware / displays should provide context-aware options and visual feedback during editing

I recognize that I’m biased as a guitar-player and “infinite routing possibilities” isn’t something we’re used to thinking about whereas this might be more natural with other musicians and genres. For me, I’ve used the capabilities of infinite routing approximately zero times in the last few years, but have logged hours of frustration due to shortcomings in the usability. I’m using another product where the whole experience of building, modifying, and navigating/organizing is fluid and powerful. I know that I’ve traded away some of the potential experimental flexibility, overall variety in effects, and multi-instrument capabilities. However, I’m able to put together and demo a lot more sounds in a fraction of the time and the results have been very good. Problems with noise/static are effectively gone and I don’t miss the chore of polluting level meters and pre/post gains all over the place to understand what’s happening at each plugin.

I understand the MOD team’s philosophy that the platform exists to aggregate the work of others and let the end-user decide what to run on their system. But we both know this will basically never happen (users reporting issues to plugin authors). I’m a long-time developer and I use Github everyday. This is sad to say, but it is unlikely that I’m going to interrupt my creative time to go log a ticket. From experience, I’ve looked through the source code for some of the plugins - in a few cases it wasn’t trivial (to me) after a few google/github searches to find the source for some. I doubt most users will be motivated to acquire Github/Bitbucket/SourceWhatever accounts and regrettably I’ve seen numerous occasions of innocent, well-intentioned strangers wandering into technical corners on the internet and not being well received. I also know from experience that if I spend 30 or more minutes composing a detailed report in hopes the author will be motivated and equipped to take action, there’s no guarantee that I will even receive an acknowledgement.

I don’t have a good solution here, but MOD could improve their stance around all this. For example, including links and reporting instructions into the plugin descriptions would reduce some friction and show MOD’s commitment to following-up on these third-party relationships.


Great post @unbracketed! I’d love to hear more details about the pros and cons of competitor systems you’ve experienced. Presumably that would be useful to the MOD team too.

Potential solutions to the developer problem have been suggested in Is MOD building products or a platform?, as I think you’ve already seen - mentioning again in case others have missed it.