Laptop Trackpads and MIDI Controllers


A bunch of pads connected to a MIDI out port is as old an idea as the Akai MPC. creating a homebrew version is great, but [Scott] took his version one step further. He used old laptop trackpads to control note on and note off commands when the each pad is tapped, and also added MIDI CC values for the touch pressure and the x and y-axis position.

The trackpads were identical models, each having their own PS/2 output. A few ribbon cable to 8-pin header adapters were manufactured, and the entire ensemble encased in a wonderful maple and aluminum enclosure.

The electronics are based on an Arduino Mega with 16 clock and data points for each touchpad eating up 32 of the 54 available pins on the ‘duino. The PS/2 protocol is well documented, but running 16 separate PS/2 id most certainly not. [Scott] ended up writing his own asynchronous PS/2 communications library to get the latency of his midi device down to about 50ms.

It’s an amazing bit of kit and comparatively inexpensive, given that [Scott] now has a 16-channel Kaoss pad. Video of the device hooked up to a MicroKorg below.

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Kaossilator on the cheap

We recently stumbled on a way to turn a regular laptop into a poor man’s Kaossilator. Using the touchpad of your laptop, some PureData software, Touchpad2MIDI and a couple custom patches, [zenpho] has set everyone up to create that crazy electronic music that kids listen to these days.

But what was that? You cant afford a whole laptop, and need to make this happen on an even tighter budget? Oh, we’ve got your back. Using just the trackpad and an Arduino, [Bastiaan] has created a basic PS2 to Arduino to USB link which can be parsed by your favorite language of choice into a working MIDI interface. Good news for all the lazy hackers out there, he’s planning on swapping out the Arduino for a Teensy, and making a real USB to MIDI interface.

Flaming Lips Guitar Hero mod

Here’s a fun little suprise that showed up in a recent Flaming Lips interview. Frontman Wayne Coyne built this custom guitar rig out of a double-necked Epiphone. It has a neck from a Guitar Hero controller, which triggers a built in KORG Kaossilator touchpad synthesizer. Checkout the video interview at around 1:55 for a demo. He went with the Guitar Hero controller because he feels that it’s replacing regular guitars in childrens’ perception of how guitar is played.

[via Joystiq]