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Punchlight USB

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Punchlight USB

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Feb 13, 2015 12:20 pm

This post is about the Punchlight USB - a simple but useful gadget.

Maybe it's because in a past life I was a Unix programmer, but I have a real liking for things that do just one thing but do it well. This idea is at the heart of what has been called the Unix philosophy whereby to accomplish a task of arbitrary complexity you just bolt together a pipeline of simple tools. If a tool that you need is missing from your pipeline then you write it and make it available to everyone else.

Of course, this couldn't be further removed from our huge and bloated (at least in some eyes) do-aything DAWs but it is nice to find something that does something useful and does it well but doesn't try and make the tea at the same time. So, this is the Punchlight USB:-

Image

You plug it into a spare USB port on your computer and start up your DAW. When you enable tracks for recording the Punchlight flashes yellow. When you actually start recording it glows a steady red. And that's all it does.

Image

This is amazingly useful for the people you're recording as they know at all times whether the mics are live. Or if you're near enough to the door you could stick one outside - I haven't tried it with a USB repeater cable so I don't know if that would work. (It doesn't look red in this picture because it overloaded the camera a bit but it is in fact a nice shade of crimson).

Basically it presents itself to your DAW as a very simple control surface that sits alongside any other control surfaces you may - no conflict with my Mackie MCU Pro, for instance. It needs a little configuring so it comes with a configuration utility that looks like this:-

Image

Be aware that it requires Java to run but once the Punchlight is configured to your liking you don't need the utility or Java on your computer (you can configure it from within a virtual machine - I tried that and it worked).

The only other thing to tell you about is the amazing technical support provided by Punchlight the company. I had a couple of problems with it when I first got it (annoying though not show stoppers) so I emailed them and got straight through to the developers. They said they had a fix for one of the problems but unfortunately the device couldn't be flashed to fix it. They then invited me to beta test their flash updater routine. To cut to the chase, the punchlight can now be flashed and both problems have been fixed. Plus they were nice people to talk to.

You can get a Punchlight USB from Thomann for 77 euros, or 66 euros if you don't mind Thomann's logo on the top.

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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby The Korff » Fri Feb 13, 2015 12:38 pm

What a charming little device! A great idea, and elegant implementation.
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Wonks » Fri Feb 13, 2015 12:47 pm

Have you tried running it from a USB hub? Can't see why it shouldn't work, but you never know.
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Feb 13, 2015 1:05 pm

That's how I'm running it. The hub is built into my second monitor and the Punchlight is plugged into that.

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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Wonks » Fri Feb 13, 2015 1:22 pm

Great. Thanks.
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:07 pm

It may be a little flash, but I like it!! 8-)


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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Zukan » Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:08 pm

Novel yet funky.
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:59 am

Neat!
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Wonks » Sat Feb 14, 2015 10:27 am

Martin Walker wrote:It may be a little flash, but I like it!! 8-)


Martin

But maybe a little too racy for Cornwall?
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:26 pm

Perhaps, although I suspect Andy will be OK in Devon, as they are a tad more open-minded there.


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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Zukan » Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:38 pm

Do they torch outsiders in Devon as well?
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby zenguitar » Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:11 pm

Zukan wrote:Do they torch outsiders in Devon as well?

Depends how fast they can run Zuke.

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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Feb 23, 2015 7:57 pm

Funny how discussion on this forum can move from looking at a device for use in recording to consideration of some of the, um, colourful rural customs practised in some of the more outlying and perhaps more idiosyncratic areas of fair Albion. It's a real privilege to post here.

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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Wonks » Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:03 pm

I'd avoid Devon then, Eddie.
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Zukan » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:15 pm

No [ ****** ] Wonks.
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Forum Admin » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:22 pm

Greatly useful device - and it's even named after your studio. :D

£83 from Outpost Distribution in the UK, compatible with most DAWs...
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Logarhythm » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:32 pm

Don't worry Zukan, Andy was joking - we don't burn people in Devon :)
Everyone knows the shotgun is the preferred remedy for "outsiders" :bouncy:

And yes, the stereotype really is true - distinctly recall being accosted by a farmer with his favourite double-barrel, and told in an extremely broad Cornish accent: "I know your mothers, and I know your fathers. Now get orf my land and don't let me see you here again!".
In fairness to him we'd stopped for a ciggy break taking a shortcut on the way back from a party in the middle of nowhere - He must have wondered WTF a group of teenagers were doing in his remote Cornish field at 3am...
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Forum Admin » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:34 pm

Logarhythm wrote:He must have wondered WTF a group of teenagers were doing in his remote Cornish field at 3am...

Planning to make a crop circle?
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby zenguitar » Tue Mar 03, 2015 4:50 pm

Forum Admin wrote:
Logarhythm wrote:He must have wondered WTF a group of teenagers were doing in his remote Cornish field at 3am...

Planning to make a crop circle?

Geometry? That's witchcraft!!!

Pass me the torch...

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Punchlight USB

Postby Logarhythm » Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:05 pm

I stand corrected - Andy is of course entirely right that we *do* burn people in Devon, but only for engaging in dark arts such as geometry, use of internal combustion engines, photography, anything requiring electricity etc :D
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