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FC-6 and FC-12 foot controllers

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FC6-top.jpg FC12-top.jpg FC-rear.jpg

References

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About the FC-6 and FC-12 controllers

Fractal Audio's FC-6 and FC-12 foot controllers let you control the Axe-Fx III and FM3.

The Axe-Fx III connects to the FC controller through a regular XLR microphone cable, using a proprietary protocol: FASLINK II. The first FC controller also is powered by FASLINK II.

The FC-6 is the same size as an FM3.

The only difference between the FC-6 and FC-12 is the number of available switches.

Specifications and manufacturing

Mini displays

The main display shows up to 20 characters per row (two rows).

The mini displays show up to 11 characters.

"They are graphic displays so the number of characters depends on the size of the font." source
"The scribble strips are black/white." source
"The foot controllers use "transflective" displays that work in any light. The LED rings will wash out in intense light, no way around that. We tested them outside and they were pretty visible even in bright sunlight though. They have adjustable intensity." source
"All the displays are transflective so they don't wash out under bright light." source
"The LCDs are transflective, meaning they are visible in complete darkness to full, direct sunlight." source
"Inverse is reserved for the HOLD function." source

LED rings

"The LED rings are different colors based on function." source

Dimensions

FC-6 — 11.2″ x 9.2″ x 3.5″ (283mm x 233mm x 88mm). Weight: 6.7 lbs (3 kg).

FC-12 — 20.2″ x 9.2″ x 3.5″ (512mm x 233mm x 88mm). Weight: 11 lbs (5 kg).

"The FC-6 is roughly the size of a sheet of paper." source
"The switches are 3" apart on the FC's" source

Technical drawings:

Comparing the size of the FC controllers to the FM3:

FM-FC.png

Compatibility

FC controller, Axe-Fx III, FM3, editor

The FC controller and the editor are both clients to the Axe-Fx III or FM3. Switching stuff on one client will automatically update all other connected clients (and the Axe-Fx III or FM3 itself).

"We rewrote everything using a client-server approach. You can have any number of clients attached, even multiple editors, and they all update automatically when something changes (even if changed from the front panel). The foot controllers are essentially clients as well." source

Not compatible with 1st and 2nd generation Axe-Fx

The FC controllers can't be used with the Axe-Fx II. The communications protocol is completely different, and the FC controllers do not support FASLINK version 1, MIDI or Ethernet/EtherCON.

MIDI

MIDI.png

The FC controllers don't have MIDI ports and can't be used by themselves to control MIDI devices directly.

However, the Axe-Fx III and FM3 have a MIDI OUT port. The FC controller can initiate MIDI operations through Control Switches, which are transmitted via the MIDI OUT port on the processor.

Also, the Scene MIDI block transmits MIDI commands.

"The system has a MIDI jack. It's on the Axe-Fx III! Actions on the foot controller can cause MIDI to be transmitted to downstream devices." source

Connect the FC controller

FASLINK II

XLR.jpg

FASLINK II is the bidirectional communications and phantom power port and protocol that links the Axe-Fx III and FM3 to the FC controllers, using a single XLR (microphone) cable.

There's no need to power down the Axe-Fx when connecting the FC controller.

"The communication protocol between the III and the FC's is proprietary and not MIDI-based. The FC's are sort of "dumb terminals". All the they do is tell the III "button #3 was pressed" and the III responds by saying "light LED ring #3 blue" or "display 'My Preset' on the main LCD". This way all the configuration data is on the III and when you backup you backup the foot controller as well. It also means if a foot controller fails you don't have to reprogram a new one (which is a big deal for touring acts where the gear gets hammered on and last second change-outs are common)." source
"It's not standard MIDI. The Axe-Fx III uses a proprietary communication protocol. Devices can communicate over any physical layer by wrapping and unwrapping the comm protocol. Theoretically you can control it over MIDI, Ethernet, WiFi, RS-232, AppleTalk, Sneakernet, etc. The MIDI basics are there, of course, but to access the tuner, etc. you need to wrap and unwrap the protocol layer." source

Daisy-chain FC controllers

You can daisy-chain up to four FC controllers using the FASLINK II "THRU" ports.

The first FC controller gets its power from the Axe-Fx III or FM3 through the FASLINK II connection. Additional FC controllers have to be powered separately through their power ports, see below.

"They are phantom powered. You can daisy-chain up to four. Any daisy-chained units need their own power supply. IOW only the first unit in the chain is phantom powered." source

Two or more daisy-chained FC units can be forced to remain in sync, showing the same layouts, the same switches and switch states. This is called "mirroring".

Supply power

Read this: FASLINK

When not powered through FASLINK II, the FC can be powered using a 9-12V power supply, 1000 ma, negative center, 2.5mm barrel.

Supplies are available in Fractal Audio's online shop.

USB port

Usb.png

"Future expansion. Currently it does nothing but in the future we may enable it so it can be a "USB MIDI Controller". source

Troubleshooting

If the FC controller won't power on properly, it's almost certainly caused by the cable. Use another standard microphone instead.

Update firmware

Icon-firmware.png

The FC-6 and FC-12 are updated through firmware updates. Most FC features are actually Axe-Fx III or FM3 features, so the firmware for the Axe-Fx III and FM3 also updates the FC controllers.

The FC controllers also rely on separate internal firmware for basic low level functions. This sometimes require an update, but only when Fractal Audio says so. Watch the FC main display during startup to see its current internal firmware version. Visit the user forum occasionally to check for updates.

The latest internal firmware for the FC controllers can be downloaded here

Installation steps:

  1. Unzip the firmware.
  2. Read the enclosed Release Notes.
  3. Make sure the Axe-Fx III (or FM3) and FC controller are connected via FASLINK II. Remove any daisy-chained units and MIDI cables from the FC.
  4. Make sure the Axe-Fx III (or FM3) and computer are connected via USB.
  5. Power cycle the Axe-Fx III or FM3.
  6. When “Initializing…” appears in the main display of the FC, press-and-hold the top left footswitch, until "Failsafe v0.01" is shown.
  7. Release the footswitch and wait for the Axe-Fx III or FM3 to finish booting.
  8. Launch Fractal-Bot. Do NOT select “Axe-Fx III” or "FM3". Instead, select “Utility” as follows: press-and-hold [Command ⌘] (Mac) or [CTRL] (Windows) and then click the dropdown to reveal and the hidden “Utility” option.
  9. Select “Axe-Fx III” or "FM3" under the “Select an Output Port“ dropdown.
  10. Ensure that the MIDI Buffer Delay slider is set to 300 ms.
  11. Load the .SYX file frm the unzipped folder and start the transfer.
  12. When the transfer is complete, power cycle the FC (disconnect and connect the cable) and verify the ynew version by watching its main display.

Installation instructions are also included in the firmware zip file.

Tutorial video by AxeFxTutorials

Configure the FC controller

On the Axe-Fx III, FM3 or in the editor

To configure the FC controller:

  • hardware: Setup > FC controllers
  • software: Axe-Edit III or FM3-Edit

The Per-Preset configuration menu on the Axe-Fx III and FM3 is reached through the Controllers menu.

"All configuration data is stored in the Axe-Fx III. There is no management software needed for the FC. Configuration is done via the Axe-Fx III (or Axe-Edit)." source

Reset the FC configuration

When executing Utility > Reset System on the Axe-Fx III or FM3, the FC will be wiped clean.

To restore the default layout, use Setup > FC Controllers > Reset.

Back up the FC configuration

Fractal-Bot.png

Use Fractal-Bot to back up and restore the settings of the FC controller(s).

Show Preset and Scene numbers

You can configure whether preset names and scenes are should be preceded by a number in the main display or not.

Operate the FC controller

Assign switches

EZ Mode in Setup > FC Controllers lets you tap a switch and then configure its Tap and its Hold functions. Use other tab pages in this menu for advanced configuration, copying and more.

Things you can assign to switches:

  • Presets (make sure to also set Bank Size to the correct value)
  • Banks
  • Scenes
  • Effects (engage or bypass)
  • Channels
  • Tuner
  • Tap tempoControl
  • Looper controls
  • Control Switches, see below

Control Switches

Switches on the FC controllers can act as Control Switches. These allow transmitting MIDI from the Axe-Fx III, or controlling modifiable parameters.

Tap and Hold functions

The switches support two types of action: Tap and Hold.

To engage the Hold function, tap-and-hold the switch.

The time that a switch has to be held for the Hold function to kick in, can be set.

The Hold function of a switch is not indicated on the mini display. To see what's there, assign a switch to Reveal Hold.

Layouts

The FC controllers provide 8 layouts. Similar to "pages" and "layers" on other controllers, layouts re-map the physical switches (6 on the FC-6, 12 on the FC-12), allowing the use of the available switches for multiple tasks.

You switch to a different layout by pressing an assigned "layout" switch in the current layout or by using the Master Layout Menu (MLM).

Layout Linking is a feature that allows any footswitch to also change layouts. For example, if a switch is assigned to recall a preset, it can also switch to the programmed Scenes layout.

To load the factory default layout, use Setup > FC Controllers > Reset.

The documentation provides a number of layout examples.

"The FC series are like 12 foot controllers in one. The FC foot controllers feature 12 "layouts". Each layout has a unique, user-assignable set of switch functions. For example Layout 1 could have five preset switches, five scene switches and two switches assigned to bank up/down. Press and hold the bottom right switch and the then tap the switch above it and you enter Layout Select mode. Then tap a switch to select a new Layout. This new layout could have six channel switches and six bypass switches. Etc." source
"You can actually assign a button to Layout so you can get there with a tap. You can also assign a button to bring up a specific layout so you could have two layouts each with a button that switches to the other layout. And the way the Layout press-and-hold works is that you press one button and while holding it tap the button above. IOW, you press the bottom button with your heal and then tap the button above. Each tap (while holding the bottom button) brings up a new layout." source

Download blank layout templates for the FC-6 and F-12

FC-6 layout.jpg

Master Layout Menu (MLM)

The Master Layout Menu (MLM) shows all layouts on a single page (FC-12) or two pages (FC-6). Recall the MLM by holding the bottom right switch and tapping the switch above it (this can be disabled in the configuration). The FC-6 can display only 6 layouts at a time, so press the MLM combo switch a 2nd time to reach the remaining layouts. So even if you forgot to program other "layout" switches on your current layout, you can still "get out" of the current layout by engaging the MLM.

You can also assign the "MLM" switch to any (tap or hold) switch.

Notes:

  • If the lower right switch has a Tap function, it will not be activated by the MLM Switch Combo.
  • If the lower right switch has a Hold function, you can still easily execute the MLM Switch before the Hold function kicks in.

The MLM Switch Combo can be disabled in the settings.

MLM.png


Yek's MLM tip — The 8 buttons of the Master Layout Menu (= layout 9) can't be displayed at once on the FC-6, obviously. However, here's a handy way to set up layout 9 (MLM) on an FC-6:

  1. Assign layouts 1-4 to switches 1, 2, 4 and 5 on page 1 of the MLM layout.
  2. Assign layouts 5-8 to switches 1, 2, 4 and 5 on page 2 of the MLM layout.
  3. Assign the MLM to switch 6 on pages 1 and 2 of the MLM layout.
  4. Assign the Tuner to switch 3 on page 1 of the MLM layout.
  5. Assign another function to switch 3 on page 2 of the MLM layout.

Per-Preset switches

The layouts (described above) are global, meaning that they apply to all presets.

If you need preset-specific switches, you can program these in the Controllers > Per-Preset menu. This menu allows you to override "global" layout switches.

Per-Preset Switch Overrides can be disabled globally.

Expression pedals and external switches

Expression pedals

Ev-1-both.png

The FC controllers allow connecting up to four expression pedals with TRS cables.

Using the Axe-Fx III, FM3 or the editor, you can assign functions to these pedals, separately from the expression pedal ports on the Axe-Fx III or FM3 itself.

Calibration and configuration of the pedals is done through the FC Controllers menu.

Read this: Remote control, pedals and switches

External switches

The FC controllers allow connecting up to four external switches. Use a TS cable for a single switch, and TRS for dual switches).

Using the Axe-Fx III, FM3 or the editor, you can assign functions to these switches, separately from the pedal ports on the Axe-Fx III or FM3 itself.

Configuration of the switches is done through the FC Controllers menu.

Fractal Audio: (source)

STAND IN SWITCHES - This feature broadens the capabilities of external footswitches on the FC-6 or FC-12. Previously, external switches could be used only as modifier sources. Now, an external switch can operate globally as a “remote control” for any switch in any FC layout. For example, imagine an FC where Layout 6/Switch 1 has been set to "BANK +1" (tap) and "BANK -1" (hold). When we assign an FC External Switch as a stand-in for Layout 6/Switch 1, that external switch performs the bank up/down functions, even when Layout 6 is not loaded on the FC. The stand-in is an exact surrogate for the onboard switch, and can even be used with per-preset functions. Find the new “Stand-In Switches” page in the “FC Controllers” menu under SETUP. NOTE: Momentary switches will probably be preferred for use as stand-ins, because they more closely mimic the behavior of the on-board switches.

Stand-in switches only work with external switches, not the expression pedals ports.

SWITCH BEHAVIOR - The "Switch Behavior" setting determines how an FC external switch operates a connected device. A switch with the default setting of "Follow Hardware" behaves exactly as you might expect: a latching switch latches, and a momentary switch is momentary. If you want a momentary switch to behave like a latching/toggle switch instead, use the "Virtual Toggle" option. Now, every time you tap the switch, its state on the Axe-Fx or FM3 will flip from ON to OFF, or OFF to ON. Note that if you accidentally apply the Virtual Toggle setting to a physical latching switch, you'll need to tap the switch twice for it to toggle. Find this option for every FC external switch on the “Remote” page of the “FC Controllers” menu under SETUP.

SWITCH POLARITY - The FC now offers the option to reverse the polarity of any connected switch. The option “Normal” assumes a “momentary make” switch. Use the option “Reverse” when using a “momentary break” switch, or for creative applications. Find this option for every FC external switch on the “Remote” page of the “FC Controllers” menu under SETUP.

Possible places to "stash" your Stand-In switch definitions include:

  • Switches 7-12 on the FC6
  • Switches 9–12 on the MLM (any unit)

Demonstration of stand-in switches, by AxeFxTutorials

Also read this: Remote control, pedals and switches