Get Serious About Building A Sequencer

This is the fourth generation MIDIbox sequencer which has a features set that’s several screens long. We’ve embedded the teaser video of this 16-track marvel after the break. You can use it via a traditional MIDI connection or with USB. Standalone Ethernet features are also in the works. It’s fully documented and you can etch your own PCB if you’re brave but it might be easier to get in on the group PCB buy if you just have to have one of these. There’s no all-in-one kit, but that will just make the taste of success sweeter once your soldering iron cools down.


[Thanks Juan]

55 thoughts on “Get Serious About Building A Sequencer

  1. Midi sequencers are the most pointless invention ever. They are not flexible enough for live performance, they take to long to program for studio work, and you cant send out OSC data. Buy or make a fucking Monome. You really need a strong community backing a product for it to really have any worth.

  2. No matter what you publish, amazing or not, exist comments out of focus. Blame the video quality or make a trascendental afirmation about how useless is a sequencer is a pointless comment.

  3. @Juan Pablo Kutianski

    Discussions are meant to exhibit opinions for and against something. So quit being a little bitch and back up your own opinion. Unless you don’t have one and you just like to complain.

  4. The community over at midibox / ucapps is pretty impressive; just tossing that out there. (and it’s been around for a decent amount of time). The *platform* is also pretty damn impressive. Folks can build some pretty neat custom hardware / software using the modules. The software (OS) is upgradable via Sysex once you have your hardware all put together.

    Don’t know if anyone noticed but there is a iPad app that emulates the base version of the MidiBox SEQ v4 in development.

    Maybe i’m just biased; I’ve personally built two different MidiBox SID synths. I love this stuff.

  5. I like this. I am not one to really make music (I play guitar – not a synth) but I do find things like this fun.

    I think it looks great though and whether it is practical or not should be an afterthought :p
    It has given me some more ideas for projects :)


  6. After seeing that thing I need a change of drawers. That is an epic project.

    I would really like to see a writeup from someone more knowledgeable about uC programming on how to use the infinite rotary encoders for input (as midi CC controllers for example). I can use pots, but they have high and low stops that can get in the way.

    As far as sequencers being useless, I’ve been producing music both hardware and software for upwards of 10 years and I still use sequencers on a regular basis. They’re great for a more hands-on control of your hardware, instead of doing everything in software.

  7. anyone who questions the useability or usefullness of this sequencer doesn’t understand midi or does a little bit and is a pussy for not wanting to program midi data. if you know your equipment well enough then performing live is not a problem. fuckingwhinyasslazypussies. bad ass posts mike!!! today is the best group of HAD post i’ve ever seen on here. i’m building this one, and your use of the vcr display on your other project is pretty sweet to. thank you for sharing!

  8. @Chocobo, @whatwhatinthebutt:
    stop using “bitch” and “pussy” as generic insults and take a moment to consider what you are really saying.

    sexist exclusionary language does not belong on this site, thanks

  9. Agree with most above: File this under “something I’m not even fooling myself into trying to build”.

    Kudos to the builder- it is quite impressive and very professional looking.

    As to the other comments and the folks that jumped on them- they have very valid points. I have been using MIDI for 20 years and sequencers are a pain. They are a very unfortunate pain but most work decent enough if you have instruments that will lock on the same ppqn BUT computers have made this SO much easier graphically that I really can’t see too many uses for actually building this except for proof of concept and a shiny “brass bollox” soldering iron. Some folks said it is useless and maybe not hackworthy and they DO have points. You can get old hadware sequencers that do all of this and much cheaper and change their timing resolution etc for pennies on the dollar for the build cost of this thing. Your standard 10 year old laptop can run loops around this in terms of interface and is a cost effective method of a portable sequencer. It is great that many of you builders have cutting machines, laser etchers, multimode/multivoltage selectors and ice cream that makes ice cream lol, but it isn’t common man materials by any means and I think some folks feel disenfranchised by that. I personally felt alienated at many projects on here but that is what hackers do: they make do. If these projects seem prohibitive in scale or cost or wife-glaring, then I would suggest circuit bending to those folks for a quick fix and a small budget. So yeah, this is a really cool thing to see without “Korg”, “Alesis”, or “Roland” on the front of it, but seems a little backwards in logic if you are really wanting to sequence right now lol. sailormouth has a lot of info on injecting 555 timers into the bends and using one as a sequencer for other machines.

  10. Is this going to devolve into some sort of ‘My midi-epeen is larger’ discussion.?

    IMHO. If we are going to see posts on this site about other devices that are produced using programable microprocessors (or arduinos) then this is definitely hackworthy. I personally find things like the MidiBox FM/SID/LC more interesting; There are hundreds of diverse and distinctively different controllers that people have put together using the Midibox64 design. It used to be the only way to get your hands on a practical midi controller for a softsynth (although the market has now been flooded with consumer off the shelf controller products)

  11. @Chocobo

    I’ve an opinion but it’s tacit because I sent this to Mike.
    Video out of focus? Sequencer is pointless invention? What’s important here the ideas that he use or discuss about the out of focus of the video?
    Get serious about comments!

  12. @jtb

    I know you’re just a troll and aren’t going to read any later posts, but this needs to be said for others to read.
    Hacking is in part about bucking the system and patriarchy and sexism are huge parts of our culture. If we want to move forward and prove that our power as individuals is greater than those in power (politically, economically) we need to make sure to be inclusive and respectful.
    Big corporations and the scientific community have used gender roles and stereotypes to sell us crap and exclude new ideas. It’s time to stop quantifying arbitrary characteristics and realize that all humans are valid regardless of sex, gender, orientation, bodily ability or cultural background. Avoiding attaching negative values to words like “bitch” and “pussy” are a huge part of this.
    Hackers need to stop augmenting the status quo by selling their ideas and values. Let’s really turn the world upside down and fight dominate hierarchies across the board, not just in our parent’s basements.

  13. @The Manatee Miltia

    I don’t know what these fagitards are talking about. That was an awesome post and I totally like bitches and pussies too. Hackers really do need to stop augmenting the status quo. I dominate hierarchies all the time btw…

  14. Wow…the tension and raw nerves in this dialogue. Did Oprah go off air and force everyone to come here? Lets see if we can keep the immaturity going…

    Ready? Here it comes-


  15. Yes, the folks who can’t converse in a civil fashion are wrong.
    Also the folks who are overly sensitive about language are also wrong.

    We’re all wrong in some fashion, okay?

    Now will one of you dorks hand me the freaking SOLDER??? We got shit ta build!

  16. @tehgringe – Damn Bible thumpers. There, now it’s out of the way. Maybe we can elevate the intellectual level of this discussion.

    @ Those stating the real lack of need for a sequencer. Many of you have never really understood how flexible MIDI really is, and the vast majority of the commercial product’s barely even scrape the surface of what a motivated, and innovative person can do with simple MIDI trigger’s. Using this sequencer as the basis of a project, I’m sure I can come up with several method’s of automating an entire workshop, or even simple robotics into doing pretty much whatever your little heart desire’s. Try doing that with a software package that require’s actual synching to even register a MIDI device on the end. If you want a dumb trigger box, which is what a sequencer is, this example is a great stepping stone to get there. MIDI is by far the most stable and robust timing signal protocol to use for the hobbyist.

    Like it was stated before, you guy’s are not even aware of what can actually be done with MIDI. You are looking at it purely from a musical standpoint, which sequencers have outlived their usefulness. You are missing the rest of the picture, which is what hacking is all about. Making thing’s do something that they are not originally intended to do.

    This guy’s project was his own, and he did a great job on it. Commend him for the level of dedication to having something done the way he wanted it done, and following through with it. Learn from what he learned, and what he developed, and add it to your project’s if you see it being usefully to you. If not, note his achievement, and move on about your business.

    Bickering over crap like that doesn’t make you into someone that will get you far in the world. The world has plenty of asshole’s already.

  17. @David.

    *applaudes* Well said that man.

    It’s a shame this site is turning into a bit of an emo theatre. It’s a weird disparity – I think the hacks of late have been getting better and better, but the comments are falling into a pit of despair.

    I don’t have the ‘mad skillz’ to attempt anything like this myself, but it has rekindled my enthusiasm for playing around with MIDI a bit.

  18. I’m going to try to ignore all the controversial stuff and just ask a straight question about the project.

    That thing *looks* amazing. It looks like they had the control panel made by some company called Schaeffer-Apparatebau ( which appears to only ship to Europe. Does anyone know of companies that do similar stuff in the U.S.?

    P.S. Sexist assholes are lame.

  19. @David
    Yes, let’s not “bicker” by calling out sexism, racism, etc. Let’s all just focus on “getting far in the world” and making lots of cash!

    Sixty years ago you’d probably be the guy complaining that Rosa Parks was “overly sensitive” about having to sit in back of the bus.

  20. I fully support this debate about sexist comments, however my earlier comment omitted something:

    This project looks amazing. Totally professional. I’m just getting into to DIY electronic music and this blows me away.

  21. I’m kind of blown away by the comments here. The work that the Midibox community do is absolutely amazing- their projects are also completely open source and the wealth of info they share for free is mind-boggling. I highly recommend having a read of their site- I can definitely see myself building a Midibox based project in the future.

    I was kind of expecting to see this echoed in the comments but instead there’s all these weird, off-mark jibes about the usefulness of hardware sequencers (I see plenty of people still finding use in them), lack of “strong community” (lol), trolling and bickering about sexism etc. (Does this really belong here?).

    I keep on hearing all the time that the quality of the posts has gone down on Hack a Day (I still enjoy them for the record), but I think it’s the commentators that need to stand back and take a look at themselves.

  22. @blue carbuncle – pussy
    school me in midi? thanks but blow it out your ass. you guys are getting overly sensitive.
    yea atari st’ are cheaper, and sequencer can be found on the oddest of equipment, but building your own seems so much appealing. i’m building all of my own equipment, even the guitar, cable, tube amp, pedals, analog synth, everything. why? because i can. I dont care about the time/cost, i’m building my own equipment.

  23. @octel

    Nah, but launching into a massive, off-topic diatribe because somebody used the word ‘pussy’ as a synonym for wuss (the way it was weighted means I doubt there was any genuine sexism meant by it) isn’t really constructive here and certainly isn’t furthering the cause of gender equality.

    BTW Nice ad-hominem misrepresenting me too.

  24. whatinthebutt ‘pussy’ really? Is that the best you can come up with? You aren’t building anything. You just strung together a bunch of pop words used in many projects here. I don’t think you have the slightest idea what you are talking about, but that is fine. You keep on being sweet sugarbritches :)

  25. My big issue with the MIDIbox is that it’s not an open source hardware project. For better or worse, TK keeps it *his* and controls the hardware and official software releases.

  26. @what?

    why are you calling it a product? it is a diy project and, check out teaser #2 that he made, it is well over good enough.
    if you wanted to send out osc data you could build one that does. that is the glory of this.

  27. @blue carbuncle
    i dont care what you think i know. you don’t know me. don’t post something if you don’t have a point other than bickering. knowitalls experience less anyways, ditch the ego and realize you’re wasting time on someone named whatwhatinthebutt.
    @ everyone else
    whatwhatinthebutt whatwhatinthebutt

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