Progress On My MIDI Controller – 04/02/18

Since making the basic schematic of my MIDI controller, I right away started to begin to build it. I ordered all the components I needed from various online stores such as Amazon and Ebay, and began to experiment and test the various wiring configurations that would appear in the final controller.

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I first wanted to test wiring up the 10k potentiometers with the power and ground wires in series. Getting this step right was key to the rest of the project, as once this was successful, I could begin to wire up the rest of the components together. This was my first ever experience with soldering, so this process took longer than expected. After many soldering attempts, I was successful in wiring the potentiometers in series, which mean’t I could go ahead in wiring all 6 together.

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Wiring up the 6 potentiometers was a relatively simple process, made easier by the fact I tested the wiring with 2 potentiometers. It was at this point that I encountered a major problem with the design of the controller, a problem that lies with Ableton’s Arduino device. In the schematic of the controller, I originally planned to have 8 analog inputs: 6 10k potentiometers dials and 2 potentiometer sliders. However, the Arduino device only allows for 6 analog inputs, no matter what type of Arduino is detected by the device. This left me with two options going forward. Either, I hack the Arduino device, as it was created with Max For Live, or use only 4 of the dials instead of 6. Hacking the Arduino device would have been the most ideal option, however that would be extremely complicated and rather time consuming, as I wanted to move forward with this project quickly. I decided then that the best option would be to go forwarding using only 4 of the dials and keeping both sliders.

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The next step was to make sure that I could get the sliders and the arcade buttons to work with the Arduino. The slider component was relatively self explanatory, as it contains an identical pin set up to the dials, just in a different order. The arcade buttons initially seemed to be rather confusing, as it had a pin set up that was different to the both sets of potentiometers. However, after some time experimenting with said arcade buttons, I came to realise it was exactly the same as the potentiometers, but instead of using the analog inputs, it uses the digital inputs. This is because the button doesn’t have a range of values, instead, an ‘on off’ state, or how the Arduino registers it, ‘0s and 1s’.

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After all the wiring testing was complete and successful, it was time to begin placing the components on the acrylic sheets that I’m using to create the casing for the controller. I only had the drill bit that can make holes for the dials, a 6mm drill bit. I marked the acrylic sheet with a permanent marker and a ruler, making marks where I want to place the components. I drilled all 4 holes for the dials, and filed the inside of the holes, to make sure that dials fit nicely with enough space to adjust and tighten them in with the washer and the nuts. I made adjustments to the wiring to make sure that the cables weren’t being pulled to tightly, otherwise there could be risk of the cables snapping or coming loose from the solder. Once they were wired up and place securely into the acrylic, I wired it up to the Arduino and tested it, which was successful. The next step is to acquire a 25mm drill bit to make the holes for the arcade buttons and a saw, to make the rectangular holes for the sliders.

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