DIY Custom Midi Controller

DIY Custom Midi Controller

I wanted to accomplish a few things with this project. First, I wanted to create a physical interface to trigger video clips in one of the main VJ apps i utilize, called Cell VJ. Second, I wanted to make it easier for audience members at live events to play with the visuals. Third, I always want to get some good soldering time in, and this project would require a lot :-)

The Cell GUI interface has an 8 x 8 square of video thumbnails. First, I needed a bunch of buttons. After an extensive search of catalogues, finding the right features, right voltage, etc, I found some nice green push toggle buttons with illuminated red LED and had them ordered from China.

The remaining parts of the midi controller are recycled from stuff I had lying around. The main enclosure was made from an old aluminum computer case. The handles are from a cabinet. The majority of the hardware was salvaged from an old CASIO keyboard.

The hardest part of this project was using a dremel to cut out the 64 squares for the buttons. After that was done I installed the majority of the hardware and started mapping the matrix of wires that triggered the keys on the keyboard. Starting from middle C, I wired the correct wires to my buttons. Note, different combinations of wires create different notes, so it wasn’t as easy as just finding the right two wires to hook up to each button. I had to reuse wires and split them correctly.

I wired the illuminated LEDs on the buttons to pull power from the keyboard PCB so I didn’t have to include a separate power supply.

I can now send midi key strokes to my computer using this device and map it to trigger the corresponding video thumbnail on my screen.

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