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Offline Daniel T

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Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« on: April 24, 2014, 12:05:14 PM »
About a fortnight ago there was looked like an awesome offer on my local trading site. TWO broken microcube amps for peanuts.

Sounded like a great platform to build a home made modeling amp into (by embedding a low power computer such as the raspberry pi). In fact one of the hardest things to do would be rewiring the front panel to control the thing. Sadly it wasn't to be. When I rolled up one of the amplifiers was missing in action and the other one had so many missing bits it just want a suitable donor chassis anymore.

So all the ideas that if had about how to make the controls work on the 'cube had to find another way out. I've been busying away in the garage and in my patents dining room during Easter playing with a few bits and pieces and have finally fleshed out some ideas that should work. All the bits for the first (easy) project are on the workbench in the garage and most of the bits for the more complex one are shopping in from China as we speak.

And so the big question... what am I making?

Of course if I like your ideas more than mine I could make that instead...
« Last Edit: April 24, 2014, 12:07:09 PM by Daniel T »
I like to spell peddant with two Ds. That always annoys them.

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Offline davidj

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Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2014, 01:46:36 PM »
This is way above my pay grade, technically speaking, but I'll have a go.

Is it a couple of Midi Controllers?

Or maybe adapting a cheap modelling amp (like a micro-cube?) to be midi-controllabe?

Otherwise - give up!
I'm back - am I the same person or just a clone of myself?

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Offline Daniel T

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Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2014, 08:54:25 AM »
Given the wide variety of things a MIDI controller can control they can be enormously varied. Both my planned projects are completely different. They only thing they have in common is they are MIDI controllers for guitarists rather than keyboard players.

The first easy project is, exactly that, very easy. Its simply an extension of the 1 key keyboard idea I knocked together a few years ago (except this time it will speak MIDI protocol so it can interoperate properly with audio software). Most of the bits for the project are shown here:



The box at the top was a lucky buy on e-bay. Winning the lot was what set the project into motion. Having a pre-drilled full metal box with a nice angle on the top to make it easy to press should really make this project. Below are replacement footswitches (computer accessory pedals like this don't really want toggle switches since it reduces their flexibility, they want simple press down buttons). Finally there is a prototype "brain". This is a spare board I had knocking about and I used to do the software development.

The real much smaller, slower and dumber brain is shown here at the bottom. These things are an absolute bargain, ?5.90 on e-bay, it just a shame you have to hook up all those nasty wires to squirt the first program in (and get it wrong four times first). However with the first program squirted in I can download all the rest of the code using the USB socket which is much, much easier:



There's also a shot of the box with switches replaced (slightly rounder tops):



I plan to implement two modes for this when finished.

The first will be a toggle mode which allows me to do the obvious and allow me to turn effects on and off (I reckon I can hook it up to the Tonelab and use it to turn bits on and off). I'm also planning to implement a button mode to control a looper and maybe might also have a play/pause/record mode as well.

The other thing I'm trying really hard to do is get the software I wrote to make all this work "merged upstream" which means getting it accepted for inclusion into the library programs I used as a template for my work. Basically I found it pretty tough work to get the brain to talk to the computer. However if I can get the code added to a common library, it won't be nearly so tough for the next person (and he or she might be more creative then me)...

Anyhow a combination of easily acquired software and those great little boards I mentioned above means the electronics part of the project ends up a bit like Lego and can be fitted together without soldering and almost even without any programming.

I know I'm a little unusual in bouncing up and down in excitement over silly things like this (or so my wife tells me) but I've still had a lot of fun working on this project so far and I haven't even got it working yet.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 09:10:09 AM by Daniel T »
I like to spell peddant with two Ds. That always annoys them.

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Offline Rob S

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Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014, 09:27:42 AM »
You bounce around as much as you like Daniel  ;D ;D, I find this absolutely fascinating and you are beginning to make an idea I have been harbouring, look possible.
I'll be in touch later on about that. ;)
"I am not a lunatic. I have the psychiatric report to prove it. A slender majority of the panel decided in my favour."

If you lend someone ?20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.

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Johnny-English

Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2014, 10:22:18 AM »
As ever Daniel , its a pleasure to  read and see your projects  develop ,and as Rob said "You bounce around as much as you like Daniel "


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Offline Daniel T

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Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2014, 09:33:18 AM »
So yesterday I completed soldering up the loom in the pedal. Just like electric guitar and/or pedal making the loom is way harder to solder than the circuits (as an aside electric guitar is particular nasty because there's no easy bit, you never get to solder anything *exept* the hard bit). I've used heatshrink for the first time in this build so that I could put more of the circuit into the loom (rather than on a separate board). Its great stuff although I did get that nasty experience where the heatshrink wasn't pushed far enough along the cable and started to shrink from the heat of soldering...

Anyhow all done so I gave it a quick hardware test using a program that flashed the light above the pedal when the pedal is pressed. That picked up a couple of problems but one of the joys of the Lego-ish brain board is that I could fix those by unplugging a couple of wires and putting them in the right place.

So as of now the hardware works and the software is about 90% done. I hope I can be hooking this thing up to SooperLooper early next week (being busy for the bank holiday weekend).

Also I, quite by accident, stumbled across the gem below on a slightly geeky comic site and thought this might confirm a few prejudices (not saying whose). Nothing like a bit of over-engineering:

I like to spell peddant with two Ds. That always annoys them.

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Offline Rob S

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Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2014, 09:41:53 AM »
Brilliant!! I KNEW Scarab Beetles had a use!! Now after all these years I have been proven correct!

ALL HAIL THE SCARAB BEETLE!! ;D ;D ;D
"I am not a lunatic. I have the psychiatric report to prove it. A slender majority of the panel decided in my favour."

If you lend someone ?20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.

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Johnny-English

Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2014, 09:53:15 AM »
Help ........ Have I over medicated  :eek:


Excellent , now I will try and work  out the schematic  :P

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Offline John H

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Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2014, 03:54:24 AM »
I love that schematic. That magic smoke wouldn't happen to be Lucas, would it?

 :eek:
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

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Offline Daniel T

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Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2014, 04:05:49 PM »
It works!

Still a bit of work to do to knock off the rough edges but I had it hooked up to a looper on Wednesday and had a bit of fun with it.  ;D
I like to spell peddant with two Ds. That always annoys them.

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Johnny-English

Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2014, 04:11:21 PM »
Nice work Daniel  :) keep us updated  :)

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Offline John H

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Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2014, 11:46:27 PM »
Sweet! That means you did not let the magic smoke out of the wires.
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

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Johnny-English

Re: Making a couple of MIDI controllers
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2014, 08:01:40 AM »
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D