Orca - alternative firmware for white whale


I just replaced Kria by Orca and quite like it at a first look. It’s great that I can feed it an irregular clock!

Now when I press and hold the panel button to save to flash is there a visual feedback? I don’t see anything but Orca switching to what I suppose is the current counter few: The lower half of the grid illuminates from left to right with every clock impulse. (on a side node, what is the use of this display mode? Did not get it by now apart fro that it looks good)


yeah, there should be visual feedback (the left 2 columns and the right 2 columns should flash quickly), you can see it in the quick start video at around 3:01.

try holding it for longer perhaps? also, another way to save is to double press the preset page button (2nd column from the left, 4th row from the top).

single press on the front panel button does show the current counters - this was more for debug purposes but also a nice eye candy, so i left it in.


Thanks scanner, I had a very quick test in the morning and while there is the mentioned feedback when I double press preset, there is none when holding the panel button (I suppose no-one ever has hold it as long as I did yesterday :laughing:). So it might be a bug.

It seems to do the trick though, i.e. it saves a changed preset to flash. Doing that it switches to the current counters mode and the display freezes for a short moment but not as the original wale would do with it different slot design.

I prefer this way as it seems safe to me because I am used to do so frequently when patching and programming the trilogy and only use that button for that purpose - no hassle with wrong button presses on the grid or bad timing on double presses and messing up saving or accidentally loading something and erasing the current state instead. Storage errors are my main issue on complex devices…:scream:

On another side note: I noticed that the presets slots are already filled - are there any meaningful things in it? I mean like a collection of short reset licks, musical sale progressions, examples for a tutorial (as with teletype) or “just” nice presets randomly filling up the slots?


Just want to quickly confirm that the save by double-tap as described in the quick-start video has been working fine for me! Prefer this method as it’s right on the grid and no hassle about getting to it and knowing what it does.


it’s strange, both the front button and double pressing the preset page button should act exactly the same in terms of confirmation but yeah, when i tried it yesterday it seems there is no confirmation when using the front button. i’m working on the next minor release for orca and will look into fixing this (maybe just increasing how long the notification is displayed for).

one difference between the 2 methods is that both store to flash but only the front button will also store to a USB stick. i’ve updated the manual to reflect that.

so, one thing that i’m considering changing is being able to store individual banks/presets. right now it stores all 8 banks and 8 presets, so if you changed one preset, switched to another one, changed the 2nd one and then saved it will save the changes for the first preset as well. the pro is that if you forgot to save the first one it will still get saved. the con is that you might actually not want that… especially if you use the rotate/mutate sequencers, you might not want to store the changes introduced by them. in this case i suggested creating a preset, then copying it to another one and using that one for any mutations / live changes, so that your main sequence always stays intact. alternatively, you can reload a preset from flash to abandon the changes before you save.

thoughts? is it more convenient to be able to store individual presets / banks? i guess it could do both with different presses, either store all presets or individual ones. and what button combo should be used for individual save? i wish i didn’t use the same gesture (double press) for reloading a preset (when you double press a preset) and saving all presets (double pressing the preset page button), but at this point i also don’t want to change it to something completely different as it would add to confusion. perhaps it could work this way: double pressing a preset still reloads it from flash, double pressing the preset page button stores the currently selected preset, and pressing and holding the front button stores all presets?

re: initial presets - no special meaning, when orca is started for the first time it randomly selects values for the track divisors and phases, as well as track selection for CV A and B from one of the arc presets, the rest is just a default state (0 for resets and chance, no rotate/mutate sequencers, trigger outputs follow their respective tracks, track weights are set to 1, 2, 4, 8). and then it saves it right away to flash, so next time you turn it on it will still have these initially randomly selected presets.


I like the idea of saving the preset I am currently working with.


Sounds great as possibly saving a changed preset I don’t want to (esp. after mutating/randomizing stuff) by saving some changes on another preset later in the process was the only thing I got a little worried about when I read the manual and I found the workaround a bit clumsy (but I also did not get used to OS X changed ‘save as’ behavior by now) so I would like the new single preset change feature.
I tend to save quite often in the process of programming the trilogy modules after having forgotten it a few time in the beginning. It’s like pressing cmd+s every single moment when working on ancient computers/software. So I most certainly won’t forget to save preset I want to keep.


agreed, i think this would be a useful addition. i’ll include it in the next release.

what would be a good button combo for this? as mentioned above i wish i didn’t use double press for both saving and reloading but that’s where it’s at now… might also be nice to add the ability to reload all from flash without powering down. so with that in mind here are some possible options.

current state:

  • press and hold the front button - save all to flash and USB
  • double press the preset page button - save all to flash
  • double press a bank or preset button - reload that bank or preset

option 1:
same as now but double pressing the preset page button just saves the current preset instead of all

option 2:
same as now, to save a bank or preset press and hold the preset page button and then the bank or preset you want to save

option 3:
same as now but double pressing a preset or bank saves it instead of reloading

what do you think?


Sounds good - I think option 2 feels most natural for me. I would like to keep the single prest reload function and the double press again seems most natural to me for that. Reloading everythin surely is a nice option too but would not be crucial for me at this point. I assume when I have manged to mess up all banks or have totally lost control over what I have done to which preset it’s time to power down anyway…:sweat_smile:


reload all - actually thinking about it it’s fairly easy to do already, you just have to reload each bank, so 8 double press will do it. not ideal but doable.

i do like option 2 best as well, since it doesn’t change the existing behaviour.


for folks that build/mod orca: i’ve updated it to use libavr32 as a submodule, so cloning with the --recursive option will also pull libavr32, no need for a separate mod clone [big thanks to @sam for the submodule organization!].

in addition to making dev setup easier this should open up some interesting possibilities…


I am getting better with orca and enjoy it. Today I experienced something strange though. Wondering why it does not seem to play the right notes I switched to CV preview mode and noticed that it actually does play the notes of the row above the active row - as if the scales part of the display is shifted one row relating to the the 4x4 grid. One LED of the grid is lighting up but it plays the note one row above (folding to row 4 from row one). In CV preview mode everything works okay. All shift sequencer are set to inactive but they should shift the scale visually too, shouldn’t they? Any idea what I have done here?


yeah, rotate scale sequencer shifts the scale visually as well, unless you’re in cv preview mode (since rotate sequencers are disabled while in that mode).

this could be a bug, i will take a look. does this happen consistently or only for certain combinations of track parameters?

edit: should mention, i’m away this weekend so won’t be able to look into this until monday.


No problem - I could do some experimenting on different settings later today. What I can say is that it stays like that after powering down. When I noticed it I had not worked with any peculiar parameter combinations. What I did before it uncured to me, and I don’t know if the issue has been before as I hadn’t had a look at the scale, is shifting scales back and forth with the scale sequencer. After noticing the bug I tried to get it inline again with some scale shifting but it did not work.


I think I found it and it seems that me is the bug since I obviously misunderstood the concept of scale selection for both channels…



i’ll do some testing just in case, that part was a bit tricky so entirely possible threre is a bug. if there is one it’s likely around which note is displayed as the current note, not around how a scale is shifted, so in this case shifting a scale would just move the notes but it would still display an incorrect note.

let me know if you notice anything else unusual! i should probably do another video for scale editing as it is the most complex part of orca. one tip - when you are on scale editing you can tell if it’s CV A or CV B by checking the 2 rightmost columns, top 4 rows (CV track selection), it only shows the CV whose scale is being currently edited.


I am quite sure it was user error: When I explored it further I noticed that I was on the wrong scale edit page (CV A vs. CV B) and then I got confused when I changed something on one page and it seems to affect the other page until I realized that it has to work like this since I had the same scales selected on the scale select page (the one you get to with a long press on the scale edit page button).

So I was actually looking at the 4x4 grid of CV B while listening to CV A with different weights on both of them. Of course then I see for example the lowest row of the 4x4 grid being light but the notes of another row were played and according to the weights I had chosen CV A seems to be always one row above CV B which was just by coincidence and mislead me. The scale select page was a bit hard to understand for me but once you got it is pretty clear and turns out to be pretty on spot in the manual…sorry for all the needless fuss!


no fuss - this is great feedback, very helpful for me as it can be hard to understand how it’s perceived from a user’s perspective.

and this gives me an idea, when a scale is shared between both CVs i’ll change it so it doesn’t hide one of the CVs. this should serve as a reminder when you have 2 different scales selected.

btw, track weights (and other track parameters) are always shared between the 2 CVs, the only things that can be different between them is which tracks are selected and scales.

this has me also considering adding a button combo to shift a scale up or down manually while you are on the scale editing page, this could be a neat feature, copy a scale and assign it to CV B and then shift it up or down.


Yes, easy scale shifting sounds like a nice idea! With different track weights I was referring to the last two columns of track view where you chose which tracks are affecting which CV out. Of course the weights itself are the same, weight distribution may have been the better fitting term.


Quick question, I was taking a look into the manual, I didn’t spend much time with orca as I went back to ww and then Kria, but planning to install it again this week. I was looking into scales, the editable user scales means I can for example write a Dom7 b13 b9 scale and copy it to shared right?