Musician On A Budget MIDI Bass Pedals

bass_pedal1

Organ pedal boards have been around forever — they’re an easy way to multitask while playing the piano, organ, or even the guitar. [Ville] plays the electric guitar and wanted to give bass pedals a shot — the only problem is, the commercial versions are pretty pricey. So he decided to make his own temporary solution using an old MIDI keyboard he had lying around.

The beauty of this hack is it’s completely non-destructive — although you might find you like it so much you won’t want to take it apart! [Ville] started by marking out spacer keys using green cardboard. He then grouped together other sets of keys using tape and polystyrene sheets, which he recycled from a plastic waste bin. He then marked off each set of keys with the range of notes to program into the MIDI receiver — on a 49 key keyboard you get just a bit more than an octave of bass pedal keys! It’ll certainly do until you get your hands on a proper organ pedal unit.

From there it was just a matter of re-mapping the keys on the software end of things, and disabling the other unused keys. He offers a few different methods of doing this, including using VST plugins, and Pure Data — to which he’s provided a patch he made to simplify the process.

To see it in action, stick around after the break and hear [Ville] play One Hour Backwards on electric guitar.

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The Most Beautiful Floppy Disk Jukebox Ever

Rail

Playing music on floppy drives is something that has been done to death. [kiu]‘s RumbleRail is something else entirely. Yes, it’s still a collection of floppy drives playing MIDI files, but the engineering and build quality that went into this build puts it in a class by itself.

Instead of the usual assemblage of wires, power cords, and circuits that accompany most musical floppy drive builds, [kiu]‘s is an exercise in precision and modularity. Each of the eight floppy drives are connected to its own driver with an ATMega16 microcontroller on board. The microcontrollers in these driver boards receive orders from the command board over an I2C bus. Since everything on the RumbleRail is modular, and the fact [kiu] is using DIP switches to set the I2C address of each board, this build could theoretically be expanded to 127 voices, or 127 individual floppy drives each playing their part of a MIDI file.

The RumbleRail can also operate in a standalone mode without the need for a separate computer feeding it data. MIDI files can be loaded off an SD card by the main controller board, and decode them for the floppy drivers.

If you’d like to build your own RumbleRail, all the board files, schematics, and firmware are up on [kiu]‘s git. There are, of course, a few videos below of the floppy jukebox in action.

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Fubarino Contest: Minecraft, Zelda, Arduinos, And Hackaday

song

In a clever bit of pandering to the gamer crowd for the Fubarino Contest, [Laurens] has combined The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft, and an Arduino to create something really, really cool.

[Laurens] cobbled together an Arduino, MIDI connector, and LCD display that will read a MIDI keyboard and detect when one of the songs from Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask is played. The Arduino then plays back the song slower and longer, just like in the game.

Here’s where things get cool: Since [Laurens] has an Arduino that knows when an OoT/MM song is played, he can have the Sun Song control the lights, or the Song of Storms turn his sprinkler system on. He chose to pipe all these commands into Minecraft, where the Song of Healing gives some health to the Minecraft character, the Song of Storms controls the rain, and other awesome mashups of Zelda and Minecraft.

This project offers more than enough to stand on its own, but [Laurens] also added a Hackaday easter egg. When playing the letters HAD in ASCII on the keyboard, our favorite URL shows up on the Arduino and inside Minecraft.

Here’s an image gallery and the source code (dropbox, so don’t spam it) for [Laurens]‘ awesome project.


This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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The Nickelphone

nickelphone

[Tyler Bletsch] sent us a tip about his new build: a keyboard that redefines “coin-operated.” The Nickelphone can emit square wave tones via a piezo buzzer, but [Tyler] made this 25-key piano as a MIDI keyboard capable of driving a full synthesizer.

He chose an ATMega644 as the brain because it’s Arduino-friendly but has more data pins—32—than the usual ATMega328 chip, which allows him to provide each key with its own pin. Each coin was soldered to its own wire and connects up to a 1MΩ resistor array. Coin-presses are recognized by the simple capacitive sensing technique outlined here, but [Tyler] needed to take advantage of a workaround to accurately detect multiple presses.

Check out [Tyler's] detailed project guide for more information as well as the source code. Check out the video of the Nickelphone after the break, then browse through some other capacitive touch hacks, like the Capacitive Touch Business Card or the Capacitive Touch Game Controller.

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Laptop Trackpads and MIDI Controllers

pads

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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Polyphonic Arduino Sketches

MIDUINO

Creating music for the Arduino is simple – just use the tone() library – but it truthfully doesn’t sound that great. That’s because this library is monophonic, making chords difficult or at the very least sound a little weird. [Connor]‘s miduino aims to change that, turning raw MIDI files into polyphonic Arduino sketches.

To convert MIDI files into Arduino sketches, [Connor] whipped up a Python script based on midiCSV that reads the notes and channels of a MIDI file and converts it into the language of the Arduino. Unlike the built-in tone() library, miduino is polyphonic making the music produced from any Arduino sound great. It’s basically the difference between writing music for a PC speaker and a true keyboard; sure, you’re only getting square waves, but it sounds much better.

Oddly, [Connor] hasn’t put up his Python script as far as we can tell. All the MIDI songs are being converted on [Connor]‘s own Raspberry Pi. This is supposed to be cheaper than a VPS, and makes for a very cool project to boot.

Edit: Miduino isn’t polyphonic yet, but [Connor] says he should have that wrapped up in a week or two.

FlightDeck: A “Touchless” MIDI Controller

flightdeckmidi

[Edward] wanted a different way to modulate notes on his MIDI controller, so he decided to go touchless. Inspired by the pressure-sensing modulation on his Edirol keyboard, [Edward] aligned eight sensors into a row of playable notes and used infrared to sense the distance of a player’s hand from the keys. He also included some function buttons to cycle through 10 octaves and RGB LEDs beneath the table that perform alongside the music.

He chose SHARP GP2D120 sensors (direct link to datasheet) for their low threshold, which allowed the board to detect distance close to the sensor. Each is mounted onto a sheet of frosted acrylic along with its own “hold note” button and an LED to indicate the key is playing. The lower panel houses an Arduino Mega that drives the system along with an RGB LED strip and its driver board. [Edward] used Maxuino and OSC-Route to interface the Mega to a Max/MSP patch which runs the show.

Learn more about the FlightDeck’s features in a video demonstration of the controller and the software after the break, then check out some other MIDI hacks like this organ pedal or the Arduino-driven MIDI sequencer.

[Read more...]

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