Friday, December 26, 2008

More Knobs!

Purchased all knobs except the mystery super large one. still not sure what to do with that, and have not found a suitable jumbo/giant aluminum to replace. Also still waiting on a couple factors for the final buttons, originally intended to be small square illuminated, ala casino machines almost. however, its not clear to me that i will be able to power them all from the USB through the UMC's, so i have a question out to the company that builds them.

sure hoping that my smorgasboard approach looks okay, but i guess we will see in a few days.

ordered about 100 of these:

and a dozen of these:

from this website:

And for the large volume knobs, ordered these from some hong kong seller on ebay:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

First controls purchase

Okay, from this website:

I began purchasing most of the arcade buttons. i got a combination of standard green, standard black, and chrome illuminated red and green for the start/stops on each channel:

And a joystick controller from the classic pac man style:

Waiting on a few other factors before picking up the UMC32's, and have an outstanding question out to about how much power is needed for their illuminated pushbuttons.

Now to search for acceptable knobbage....

Face Panels

Probably not going this way, but recently discovered a very cool method for getting a custom face panel or control panel:

looks a little pricey, but if you are going all out this would rock. basically you DL their software, design it and label everything, send it to them, pay, and they machine the whole thing and send it to you, ready to mount and attach.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Enclosure Start-up

Checked out several websites this weekend for plexiglass. My wife, a talented artist in the visual realm (pottery, painting, woodwork), suggested i go with plexiglass for the panels originally, and has even suggested having a custom giant plexiglass knob for the main volume control since i am havign trouble finding one anywhere else. could be neat.

Found this website - - and ordered several samples to be sent. they should arrive just after christmas. looking for different thicknesses, different colors and translucense level (if thats a word). i reckon this company is like many others in that they are willing to do custom jobs, cuts in advance, and even bore all the holes if you send them a specific design (see the Visio draft below). Apparently drilling in plexiglass requires a special drill bit.

Will post pics of the samples when they arrive.

The other part of the enclosure will be the wood housing around, under, and above the control panels. Once again my wife is eager to help build that part, but we have not talked through it much yet.

Online research bears fruit

First off, what boards are out there that are ready to accept data and translate it into MIDI or USB to feed straight into your computer? This is an important piece for me, as I would rather spend my time figuring out the design and control surface than the programming and firmware and blah blah of building a PCB. Well, there are those that work for joystick, keyboard, more gaming-centric controls: - VERY free form, not sure this is for me - close and has quite a few controls - again too much for gaming, will literally make your PC think there is a second keyboard. Could be interesting for a future application.

Or jump direct to the very few who’ve built a device specific for music apps: - MIDI only - with USB, but very pricey - UMC32 - good luck here if you aren’t super computer programming savvy.

If going the joystock/gaming route, the main advantage seems to be price. I can’t think of much else, although it may also be a little simpler. I recently saw a you tube video here: - that does just that. Its incidentally a good tutorial as well, and plays to a couple similar ideas I have for my controller (such as the arcade buttons).

Going the route of MIDI/USB appears the way to go. The Doepfer controller is what I found first. I skipped the CTM because its MIDI only, and I wanted to have USB. The USB64 is actually what I originally decided on, but it is VERY pricey. Its carried domestically by analogue haven and probably a couple others.

But then someone referred me to the UMC32 by Hale Micro. Its an unknown and has half as many control points - BUT its less than one third the price of the Doepfer, and the guy who builds them (his name is Ken) was immediately responsive and helpful. He offered tips and advice, offered discounts for bulk, etc.

In short, this is the one I’ve decided on, and have begun designing the schematics and control limits with this device in mind. At present, intending to purchase 6 of them and chain them together using a powered USB hub (self-powered to prevent low power issues with so many devices sucking juice from a single USB out of the computer).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Begin Searching for Parts

After doing a bunch of checking on how various things worked, seeing a few other ideas and success stories, i decided to tear apart my old behringer mixer to use the potentiometers out of it. unfortunately it was not until after i did so that i discovered there is a difference between panel and surface mount....

Next i set out to start searching for the parts i could use. parts list with exact part numbers, manufacturer, and where bought to come. i have some catalogs laying around, but they seemed way overpriced compared to what i found online:

Planning Drafts

some first pics of the planning stages.

12/16/2008 - began by thinking about how to swap out standard computer keyboard buttons for others to create a basic USB-ready controller for ableton and cubase. Started looking online for it.

12/17/2008 - multiple sources from UN, technoMF, other places say pulling apart a keyboard and swapping contact points is far more difficult than it sounds, suggested joystick controls instead.

12/18/2008 - began finding many sources for USB-ready control cards prefab. Soon found USB-MIDI conversion that was ready to accept data points from several sources.

Began drawing up initial design:

12/19/2008 - started a parts list after extensive research online about what to get. many links to follow.

First Draft with Visio

Attempting to upload a picture from my desktop. This is saved as a JPEG from the Visio draft that was done of the MIDI controller i have begun designing.

EDIT - it did not turn out exactly how i thought, cut some sides off, etc. nevertheless you get a general idea - except that at the moment its intended to be 4ft x 2ft. ;)

Ressurecting the Blog

Okay, so i set this up ages ago to get access to the Equulei blogspot, and then never used it. But here i am wanting to track some projects and thoughts i have over the next year, so i am back to revive the blog and try and figure out how to do things like upload pictures, links, etc.

Stay tuned.