Building A Velocity Sensitive Keyboard


Cheap toy pianos don’t usually have MIDI, and getting a velocity-sensitive keyboard from something out of the toy aisle at Walmart is nearly out of the question. If you’re willing to tear one of these toy pianos apart and build your own control electronics, though, the sky is the limit, as [JenShen] shows us with his home built velocity sensitive keyboard.

Usually, velocity-sensitive keyboards have two buttons underneath each key. By having a microcontroller measure the time difference between when each button is pressed, it’s possible to sense how fast each key was pressed. [JenShen] took the idea of a velocity-sensitive keyboard in another direction and instead used a force sensitive resistor strip, cut up into many pieces to provide velocity and aftertouch data.

[JenShen]’s keyboard adds these resistive buttons to the button matrix he already made. The result is a very inexpensive velocity sensitive keyboard with aftertouch, an impressive feat for an Arduino and only a few components.

You can check out the keyboard in action after the break.


10 thoughts on “Building A Velocity Sensitive Keyboard

    1. Who? I have never seen anything but carbonized rubber or silicone, or metal on metal. One add on (Crystal) setup for pianos used optical arms cutting a single beam per note and measured rate of change. Capacitance sensors are used for pressure sensing as aftertouch only, with sore fingers to work them it seems. The optical system seems great, till dust-bunnies get in the way. Yamaha does the best job of sealing the rubber into a clean place. Kurzweil uses the cheap Fatar stuff.
      I am interested in hacking up something for the contact rubbers, as the replacement is planned obsolescence.

      1. That’s actually really good to know. Stumbled on this topic and comment virtually by accident looking for a fix to make my MacBook keyboard velocity sensitive but that simple consumer detail about Yamaha v. Kurzweil is actually surprisingly valuable. Boy you sure do find the darnedest things on the internet. And then maybe decide to take 10 minutes to comment on a 9 year old thread. Oh my god maybe that’s why those years went by so quickly. I need to make some changes. Thanks for the info though seriously.

  1. Hi there,

    Is there anyone in Australia who would be willing to do this for me? I have a keytar with midi capabilities already but it isn’t velocity sensitive.

    I’d be willing to pay ofcourse =]


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