ProtoDeck – MIDIBOX based controller

[Julien] let us know about his ProtoDeck. A MIDIBOX based controller for Ableton Live using a Big Max for live patch interface.

One thing that we have seen is less and less hacks for are MIDIbox projects. It is no wonder, considering now a days we have touch screen and multiple other interfaces and sound creation tools – MIDI almost seems like a dying art.

The ProtoDeck uses 87 pots, 90 buttons, and 81 RGB LEDs all controlled by 2 PIC 18F4620s. [Julien] says his main goals where to have lots of color and buttons. We think he succeeded.


  1. Agent420 says:

    An ambitious project, nice build.

    But I have come to prefer rotary controllers over pots for any controller that has presets or patches – pots are a pita in that regard because once you switch banks or presets, their position / value is no longer valid, which can cause both visual confusion and odd results when you make an adjustment.

  2. jwscholar says:

    “…for -are- MIDIbox…”? Might want to fix that.

    But yes, if his goal was lots of pretty colors, I think he succeeded. Wish I had that many RGB LEDs. :)

  3. Chris says:

    How beautiful and well implemented. A nice USB connection would be a great addition by switching from the 4620 to the 4550 since I dont think there are many other changes between the chips…. Could then add USB override and things like that.

  4. Ander says:

    Well, I do not think that touch screens are going to replace traditional button- and encoder-based interfaces anytime soon. The physical feedback is just not as good. I cannot see myself doing a live performance with touchscreens, and I think a lot of other people would agree.

  5. protofuse says:

    hello and thanks for the publication.

    – rotary or pots
    pots because I use the hardware in a vERY live manner. I start the gig with all neutral values and I begin to tweak all.
    so rotary, in my case, wouldn’t be useful (and a pain to solder!)

    – touchscreen
    the brain is inside the max for live patch, so I can “rewire” all the physical things as I want, even with the hardware itself.
    touchscreen is too expensive, and very fragile.
    my box can be used for skating… yeah!

    – rgb leds
    used to feedback things from Live

    – MIDI
    why not OSC?
    because MIDI is enough, and lighter.

    – USB?
    I’ll probably update it with a Atmega 32 (core32 midibox module)
    But, yet: MIDI DIN are very enough here.

    all the best

  6. julien says:

    the first video of my protodeck controller for ableton live, designed/made by myself & using max for live:

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